Oregon is in dire need of Cannabis Enforcement Reform, and the time is now.
My name is Christine Smith, I’m the founder and CEO of Grön. I have proudly operated in the recreational cannabis market since its inception in 2014. I have, unfortunately, experienced first-hand how inconsistent some OLCC inspectors can be in interpreting their rules, their aggressive approach to simple, honest mistakes made while trying to follow all the rules, and the agency’s refusal to allow basic due process rights. Perhaps most importantly, I’ve experienced OLCC’s dismissive response to learning of inspectors illegally carrying firearms while on duty, interacting with and intimidating licensees in ways that are just plain unacceptable.
Like so many fellow licensees in good standing, I wasn’t aware of these issues until my farm received a notice of cancellation, for events that, at this point, were two years ago. We had no idea we even had an issue until receiving that shocking notice. Now, we are facing OLCC trying to take our license when we invited inspectors to come to our farm, and some of what was discussed and seen was clearly misunderstood or mischaracterized by the OLCC inspectors involved. OLCC is alleging very serious misconduct by us, and yet has refused our requests for reasonable discovery to defend ourselves, including just talking to OLCC staff that were involved. They expect us to just roll over and take losing our livelihoods and dreams, just because they say we were bad long ago. We are not going to do that, and our hearing is set for November.
Over the course of the past year, I have found I’m not alone in this. So many others are out there in similar situations or have already had these experiences. Many without resources to defend themselves appropriately, who are fearful of standing up for themselves against the agency’s heavy-handed approaches, or who just can’t afford to risk losing their license, even if it means admitting to violations, they did not commit in order to get a settlement.
Oregon’s cannabis enforcement and legal system is very young, and understandably far from perfect. As licensees, we all have high obligations to meet the requirements of our regulatory agency. But our regulators have an obligation to work with us as well, as we all navigate understanding what being compliant means. We deserve timely notice of compliance issues and opportunities to fix them. We deserve to defend ourselves fully if we disagree with the agency. We deserve to be treated like businesses to be regulated, not criminals to be caught.
I hope that by sharing my story, I can help inspire others to do the same. Together, we have the ability to help Oregon’s enforcement be a successful tool in a future national market. I encourage you all to share your experiences so we might better be able to correct the inconsistent and unfair treatment that is causing so many good, hardworking people to lose their livelihoods, damage to their reputations, and hampering the prosperity and growth of the whole industry.