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Struggling with oversaturation, Oregon's cannabis industry calls for new restrictions

Three jars of marijuana.
The current moratorium on licenses will expire this April, and the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission said it will have to start processing applications.

Leaders of Oregon’s cannabis industry are asking the state to permanently restrict the number of new marijuana businesses.

To date, Oregon has approved over 3,000 licenses for the farming, processing or sale of marijuana. Industry advocates say since businesses can’t export to other states, that’s far more than what their customers need.

“There are so many businesses competing for the same amount of market share that it's just not feasible,” said Mike Getlin, the board chair of the Cannabis Industry Alliance of Oregon.

Since June 2018, a series of legislative and informal moratoriums have stopped additional licensure. However, the version that’s currently in place is set to expire this April.

The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission said if that happens, it would have to start processing applications again, and the agency doesn't believe it’s in the legal position to create its own pause.

Now, Getlin is calling on state lawmakers to take action. He's asking them to prevent new licensure until there is significant population growth.

The proposal would require that before any new licenses are issued, there is less than one license for every 7,500 smoking-age adults in Oregon. For processing and wholesale licenses, this would need to be below one in 12,500.

Getlin said the state is far above that threshold right now. He said this change wouldn't stop the current overcrowding, but it will prevent things from getting worse.

“What we're fighting for is not to fix the Oregon system,” said Getlin. “It is simply to not accidentally have a big old knife stuck in its heart.”

Under the bill, marijuana businesses could still sell and purchase existing licenses.

As part of HB 2515, the proposal died in committee last year. Getlin said he hopes a bill with similar language makes it across the finish line in this year’s legislative session.

Nathan Wilk joined the KLCC News Team in 2022. He is a graduate from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Born in Portland, Wilk began working in radio at a young age, serving as a DJ and public affairs host across Oregon.