Marijuana is weighed before it is placed in one of the childproof, opaque containers to the left. (Seth McConnell, Denver Post file)

‘It’s a disaster’: Oregon marijuana businesses push back against Oct. 1 regulation changes

PORTLAND, Ore. — A marijuana industry group is asking Oregon lawmakers to delay Oct. 1 deadlines for the state’s new pot regulations by at least 30 days.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that the Oregon Cannabis Association last week asked the joint committee that oversees marijuana rules for extra time to meet regulations about how pot is tested, packaged and labeled.

Association attorney Amy Margolis said many businesses simply aren’t ready to comply and can’t afford to shut down while they get everything in order.

“This extension is crucial for the survival of many, many businesses,” she told Oregon lawmakers last week.

Lawmakers on the committee seemed receptive to the extension, with Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, suggesting a 90-day extension.

“We have actually in good faith tried to get everything together and we know it didn’t come together,” he said.

The Oct. 1 deadline for implementing new policies to address public health and safety concerns about recreational marijuana focus on testing and screening for pesticides at accredited and licensed labs. The new rules are far more extensive than what the state requires now.

The rules also focus on labeling and packaging, which some businesses say is costing them.

Cameron Yee, owner of Lunchbox Alchemy, an edible and extract maker in Bend, said he had to toss $8,000 of packaging that didn’t meet state requirements.

“It’s a disaster,” Yee said. “We are trying. We are not going to make it by Oct. 1. We are not going to have product on the shelf.”

Lab owners who have spent tens of thousands of dollars in preparation for Oct. 1 are pushing back against delaying the new testing rule.

“That is a playbook right out of big tobacco, like hey, you need to move the rules so we can continue our unregulated commerce of a potentially dangerous product,” said Anthony Smith, chief scientific officer of Evio Labs, a chain of marijuana testing labs.

Delaying the rule would mean marijuana producers and processors could continue to take their product to labs that aren’t up to state standards.

“It will be exactly the opposite of what Oregon actually wants from all of this, which is safety,” Smith said.

Rob Patridge, chairman of the liquor control commission, on Monday said the agency is evaluating the industry’s request. He said his agency, which oversees packaging rules, is trying to balance the needs of the market with public safety.

Oregon Health Authority spokesman Jonathan Modie said the agency, which oversees labeling and lab testing requirements, is discussing the requests with the Governor’s Office and the liquor control agency.


Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive