10 years in the Oregon Cannabis Market

Last month, I invested a Saturday scraping together a curriculum for the Cannabis Law and Policy class I teach at Lewis & & Clark Law School here in Portland, Oregon. In one system, we go through the regulative history of Oregoncannabis From a scholastic point of view, it’s remarkable to take a look at all the important things that have actually taken place throughout the years. From a lawyering point of view, it’s nearly astounding.


I was a second-year legal representative at a company company downtown when a medical cannabis dispensary owner came through our workplace. The store was here in Portland (with a grow in the back) and the owner had actually been passed along by 2 other law practice who felt uneasy recommending him. This gentleman had actually gotten a personal bankruptcy trustee’s notification on his door, recommending that his proprietor remained in a Chapter 7 (I believe). He frantically wished to remain in the structure. Perhaps even purchase it, in some way.

We took a look at the legal representative principles guidelines, called the State Bar Association, checked out the Ogden memo, and so on, and it was uncertain whether we might service the customer– even relating to compliance with state and regional laws. It was uncertain whether our malpractice insurance coverage extended protection. It was uncertain whether our bank would take the deposits. It was uncertain if his company even adhered to Oregon law to start with. Whatever was uncertain; nobody would believe. The very first Cole memo released that summer season, making things a lot more complicated. However, the responses were not plainly “no” and my employer asked me if I wish to attempt. I had no issue with any of it.

We wound up assisting the customer broker an offer to pay lease for a time to the insolvency trustee (which would never ever, ever take place at this moment) and after that I began assisting him with company contracts and whatever else. At that time, there were practically no legal representatives dealing with non-criminal cannabis concerns. He began sending me market recommendations quite quickly. It was an insane time– the work was less advanced however likewise more difficult in specific aspects than much of what we do today.

Regretfully, all of those individuals are gone now.


Oregon was not licensing medical marijuana dispensaries, however individuals were getting brave and opening collective-style shops, like the man I simply pointed out, seemingly under the state’s decades-old medical marijuana statute. That law was not developed for commerce– at all. The concept was to merely to provide an affirmative defense to “clients” and “caretakers” from prosecution under state law for cannabis belongings and usage. That is as far as it went. A great deal of business I handled in those days had actually self-organized as non-profits and collectives and such. I could not discover Certified public accountants for them, or anything actually. It was such a mess.

That fall, Step 80 directly lost at the surveys (47% -53%). Step 80 would have legislated cannabis for adult usage in Oregon, developed a licensing and tax system, and so on, which eventually occurred a couple of years later on under Step 91. Somewhere else, market leaders like California’s Harborside dispensary (who would later on end up being a customer) were going at it with the feds. In those days, whatever was a rock battle.


The Oregon legislature passed a law called HB 3460 that August, directing the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to compose guidelines and release a computer registry system for medical marijuana operators. This was a huge offer! Customers appeared worried: there was no genuine market lobby and whatever originating from Salem appeared reactive. The 2nd Cole Memo likewise released that summer season, in reaction to Washington and Colorado coming online with adult usage licensing programs. It seemed like things were altering quite quickly. My shop company law practice “combined” with a mid-sized law practice downtown that accommodated banks and did not likecannabis I continued to silently do the work.


OHA released its guidelines, which were skeletal, unenforced and ass-backwards on specific things. There were no cannabis screening requirements; no grandfathering securities for present shop operators; a guideline that individuals who had actually been founded guilty for “manufacture or shipment of [cannabis]” could not be “accountable for” a cannabis shop (?!); and I can’t even remember what else. However I keep in mind customers concerning us with many concerns and issues which were basically undeniable, due to the fact that the structure wasn’t there. That November, Step 91 passed, legislating cannabis for adult usage in Oregon. Lastly.


The legislature began monkeying around with Step 91 nearly instantly in quite extreme methods (e.g. tax structure, residency requirement). A few of my customers began to increase to shift into the OLCC program, however numerous kicked back and waited. Individuals were growing and bolder on the medical side. We started to see an expansion of medical marijuana processors and “wholesalers” around this time, although none of this was considered in the guidelines. Great deals of insane stories.

The Oregon State Supreme Court changed the legal representative principles guidelines in February, to specifically enable us legal representatives to deal with marijuana company “relating to Oregon’s marijuana-related laws.” I left my old law practice in June, and began the Portland workplace of Harris Bricken. A great deal of individuals appeared to believe that was an insane relocation, however it was actually enjoyable. I began composing here on the blog site and I composed the very first of 100 columns for the Portland Mercury.

Grownup usage and belongings ended up being legal on July 1, which was uncomfortable in the sense that OLCC had not yet certified shops. The state ultimately capitulated and enabled “early sales” through existing medical dispensaries on October 1. The entire system was still vexing from an agreements point of view– the cannabis being purchased and offered all can be found in through the OHA supply chain, which indicated it was in theory the residential or commercial property of medical marijuana clients, a minimum of to begin.

I remember dealing with another legal representative in my company on among the OLCC committees on rulemaking (wholesale), and after that getting the very first batch of the OLCC program guidelines in October of 2015. The company made a worthy effort there, however company acumen was doing not have. The “monetary interest” and “residency” guidelines were extremely complicated, and standard industrial principles were not attended to, from convertible notes to security interests. The City of Portland was even worse.

Folks began lining up to send OLCC applications on January 1, 2016. I remember arranging and integrating an excessive variety of little business in the months leading up to that date. At that time, a typical setup was somebody with residential or commercial property, a person who understood how to grow cannabis (constantly a person), and perhaps a financier with $200,000 approximately. Actually basic things. I likewise remember affirming at numerous city and county council occasions for customers with regard to cannabis– associated zoning regulation propositions. A few of those hearings were well-run and considerate; a couple of went off the rails.


We muddled through licensing and the system started to release. I remember among our manufacturer (grow) customers being informed they were the “3rd licensee in the state.” The legislature started to fiddle with the system even more, consisting of through repeal of the residency requirement (HB 4014). It’s tough to overemphasize how essential this was: no other jurisdiction on the planet had a cannabis program where non-residents might be owners. Calls began can be found in from all over and individuals might not appear to get their minds around it. However the guideline was clear: you might be from Oregon or California or Israel or Spain. You might be from Mars.

We were asked a great deal of concerns about federal law back in nowadays, which barely occurs any longer. The worry aspect ticked up considerably once again in November, when Donald Trump was chosen President. That exact same election night, California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts all went leisure (and Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota all embraced medical programs), making the state/federal dynamic more dissonant than ever. In your area, a growing number of OHA program individuals made their method into the OLCC system, while others sat tight or went off the grid completely.

The OHA lastly got its act together and began accrediting medical marijuana processors despite the fact that the medical program was plainly en route out. The Oregon Department of Farming (ODA) passed an essential law to move the stalled state hemp program, and we had a couple of customers begin in on that. They had logistical issues you would not think, consisting of finding seeds.


Jeff Sessions was verified as Attorney general of the United States to begin the year. Individuals will state that didn’t terrify anybody, however I’m here to inform you that financial investment slowed a bit. By mid-year, however, the OLCC program started to strike its stride. Things felt mainly “developed” for the very first time, even if a screening laboratory traffic jam continued along with other program kinks. Somewhere else, I started teaching the cannabis course at the law school. Class was offered out and after that some.

By December 2017, there were nearly 900 certified farms in Oregon, and the M&A market began to acquire steam. There was a Great Deal Of talk at this moment about oversupply, unlicensed cannabis and diversion. We were fielding less and less calls from “medical marijuana growers”, although it was understood that folks were still stacking cards and whatever else. That stated, all of those 90-plant medical grows were going the method of the buffalo.

Somewhere else, a lot of the more recent organizations were currently stopping working and folks began taking legal action against one another in earnest. Press reporters still called whenever fits were submitted. I remember putting out advertisements for litigators, and questioning if anybody was going to find out how to earn money in the controlled market. On the hemp side, we saw a growing number of customers pursuing CBD sales, which were entering into style regardless of confusion about the 2014 Farm Costs and whatever else.


Jeff Sessions started the year by rescinding the Cole Memo, which got individuals tense when again. The regional “oversupply” discussion was capping, such that Oregon U.S. Lawyer Billy Williams felt the requirement to author a memo of his own. Instantly afterwards, the OLCC “stopped briefly” its consumption of marijuana license applications– potentially as an outcome of the memo, however likewise due to the fact that the company was so far behind.

The Canadian intrusion was likewise in complete swing at this moment. A number of our regional customers were rolling up on the Canadian Stock market through reverse mergers, or questioning how to do this, or talking with somebody about doing it. Other customers disliked the entire thing. And still other customers WERE the Canadians. Foreign dollars were likewise putting into other western states by this point, mainly California and Nevada.

I can not inform you the number of mergers, reverse mergers, alternative contracts, stock sale contracts, property purchase contracts, convertible financial obligation contracts, and so on and so on we papered around this time. It was extremely vibrant and extremely quickly. Around this duration, we likewise were worked with by a series of large-cap, bellwether U.S. business attempting to comprehend the CBD market and what might be done there. Great deals of viewpoint work.

Beyond Oregon, I question there was ever a larger year for cannabis than 2018. California started its adult usage market, Canada legislated marijuana federally, the U.S. legislated hemp through the 2018 Farm Costs, Michigan ended up being the very first midwestern state to go complete rec, and the U.N. revealed it would reviewcannabis Oh, and Jeff Sessions was sent out on down the roadway. It was amazing.


Hemp was most likely the greatest story in your area in 2019. Almost 2,000 growers signed up to plant over 63,000 acres, an almost 6x acreage boost from the year prior. Then the issues came. Much of the hemp went unharvested due to bad weather condition and lack of experience. Rates likewise went through the flooring the whole time the supply chain, from seeds to end up items. USDA appeared to be slow-walking the guidelines and FDA was as worthless as ever. In all, 2019 was most likely the very first year that our workplace dealt with more lawsuits on the hemp side than on the THC side. Individuals likewise began to utilize ODA licenses as cover for diversion around this time, rather than continuing the OHA (medical) system.

On the THC side, the Oregon legislature lastly passed a law to reduce the award of cannabis production licenses, acquiescing pressure from all sides. It was most likely far too late to have much effect at this moment, although the effort did develop a strong secondary market for production license transfers (which we continue to sell today). The Oregon legislature likewise passed a positive law to enable cannabis exports– the concept here was to establish regional growers for completion of restriction. Lastly, vaping entered the regulative crosshairs (and this continues to be a concern).

In General, 2019 was the very first year that the OLCC market appeared to actually settle out and there was less compliance work than previously. We had paralegals covering all of the licensing. I began doing some skilled witness work in your area, however a peak was flying out to D.C. and assisting the National Cooperative credit union Administration establish its assistance for hemp banking under the 2018 Farm Costs. Beyond that, it was simply offers and offers and offers.


If you made it this far, thanks and I praise you. My 2020 “State of the State” post on Oregon cannabis can be discovered here. It provides a strong summary regarding where we are today.

10 years in, it has actually been a journey, from recommending uncontrolled medical clothing to dealing with personal equity and multi-state operators. In general, it’s simply been actually enjoyable. Let’s see what occurs next.

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