The State of the Marijuana Industry in Oregon – Are you Constantly Updating Your Company’s Drug Testing Policy?
Written by Lucas Kibby, CleanFleet
In 2014, Oregon voters said yes to recreational marijuana, two years after Colorado and Washington did the same. Since then, the marijuana industry has faced many safety issues, regulatory changes, criminal activity, and high market saturation of recreational marijuana shops, especially in the Portland metro area.
We wanted to provide you a list of major milestones and safety issues that have come up since recreational marijuana was legalized in Oregon and remind employers to continually update your company’s drug testing policy to reflect these changes.
If you have any questions about what you should or should not say in the policy, contact CleanFleet for a free review at 503-479-6082.
Timeline: State of the Marijuana Industry in Oregon since 2014
Oct. 1, 2015 – Oregon allows existing medical marijuana dispensaries to sell limited amounts of marijuana to anyone 21 and older
Jan. 22, 2016 – Marijuana use among adults on the rise
Marijuana use among adults 26 and older in Oregon has doubled since 2006, while at the same time use has gone up only slightly in the rest of the country.
Overall, 1 in 10 adults in Oregon said they use the drug, which remains especially popular with young men. Oregon’s marijuana use among adults has exceeded national trends for the past decade.
Three in four adults know that driving under the influence of marijuana increases the risk of a crash, but nearly two-thirds said they don’t know at what point after consuming the drug it is OK to drive.
April 29, 2016 – Oregon Liquor Control Commission issues first licenses to recreational marijuana producers
May 2016 – In Washington, Fatal Road Crashes Involving Marijuana Double After State Legalizes Drug
“The significant increase in fatal crashes involving marijuana is alarming,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Washington serves as an eye-opening case study for what other states may experience with road safety after legalizing the drug.”
July 2016 – One treatment facility in Coburg, Oregon, is seeing an increase in patients as young as 18 years old being admitted for marijuana use disorder
Past studies were based on marijuana with a low concentration of THC. Due to the sophistication of today’s growing techniques and modern means of extraction, the THC concentration in pot is now significantly higher.
The estimated value of recreational marijuana sold between January and the end of July was $134 million
There has also been 200 calls related to marijuana received by the Oregon Poison Center between January and June compared to 158 calls in all of 2015.
September 2016 – There are 380 medical marijuana dispensaries selling to recreational consumers statewide and 148 Portland medical marijuana dispensaries selling to recreational consumers
October 2016 – Oregon issues first ‘health alert’ for tainted marijuana
Just two weeks after Oregon issues first licenses to recreational marijuana retailers, about 130 people bought the dried flowers between Oct. 15 and Oct. 17 and lab testing found the products were contaminated with spinosad, a common insecticide used in the marijuana industry.
Under new rules, marijuana testing labs must alert the health authority when products fail to meet state pesticide standards.
The industry has come to a standstill with low supplies and big price jumps for consumers. Retailers, growers, and processors blame Oregon’s strict pesticide rules for the problem.
The first mandatory pre-emptive testing in the country for marijuana went into effect Oct. 1. But the state has so far licensed only a handful of laboratories to do the tests on thousands of products, including flowers, edibles, concentrates, oils and extracts. After testing, they must wait weeks to get their products back and find out if they passed or failed.
Dec 16th 2016 – First violent crime at licensed pot farm – Masked intruders hit legal marijuana grow
Four masked intruders severely beat and robbed a marijuana grower in Jackson County in the first reported instance of violent crime at a state-licensed cannabis production operation. They filled a rented U-Haul truck with hundreds of pounds of harvested marijuana and took off.
January 2017 – Big change: Medical marijuana dispensaries no longer selling recreational pot
Oregon this month passed the latest marijuana milestone: the end of recreational sales at medical marijuana dispensaries. The big shift ends stopgap state permission for dispensaries to sell marijuana to anyone over 21 as regulators spent the past year and a half drafting rules for the new recreational market.
The transition comes with other significant changes: Recreational consumers can now buy more marijuana flower and will pay lower sales taxes on pot. But they probably will find fewer places to buy marijuana – at least for a while — as dispensaries make the switch.
Though the state is still home to 300 dispensaries, that number is expected to continue to drop as medical-only shops migrate to the larger recreational industry.
Ultimately, the state expects to license about 400 recreational marijuana shops across Oregon, with dozens in Portland, raising concerns among regulators about market saturation. If production exceeds demand, as liquor commission officials fear, marijuana is likely to filter into the illicit market.