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Oregon cannabis industry asks lawmakers to tamp down competition

Industry groups want a moratorium on new licenses to move beyond growers and include retailers and other types of businesses.
Credit: Cathy Cheney/Portland Business Journal

PORTLAND, Ore. — A coalition of cannabis industry groups and companies wants Oregon to stop licensing new processors, wholesalers and retailers for two years.

That goes beyond a clampdown on grower licenses that regulators are seeking. It would represent the most significant anti-competitive intervention yet into a state cannabis market that has been more open than most.

The incumbent industry’s ask comes in the form of an amendment to House Bill 4016 in the short legislative session that opened this week.

The base bill would give the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission the power to refuse to issue new producer licenses “based on the supply of and demand for marijuana.”

The OLCC had that power — and used it — until this year under a 2019 law that came in response to market oversupply conditions that pressured businesses and led to fears of diversion to the illegal market.

The industry coalition says the moratorium should be reupped and go beyond producers because the Oregon cannabis market across the board is saturated. A broad moratorium “will protect small and mid-sized Oregon business,” helping ensure a more diverse industry, backers say. This is especially important, they add, as the industry looks to compete nationally if and when federal cannabis prohibition ends.

“Unless some allowance or consideration is given to the entire regulatory environment, then Oregon businesses will be forced out of business or into a situation of selling out to larger, more competitive firms,” the coalition wrote in a letter to Rep. John Lively, the Springfield Democrat who chairs the House Economic Recovery & Prosperity Committee that is considering the bill.

Read the full story at the Portland Business Journal.

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