By Joseph Ditzler

The Bulletin

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission on Thursday warned recreational marijuana businesses to tighten up their use of the Cannabis Tracking System or risk fines or losing their licenses.

OLCC Executive Director Steve Marks, in a notice to Recreational Marijuana Program license holders, also states that retail marijuana sales in Oregon now exceed $3 million per week, with average weekly sales per shop of $17,000 and more retailers coming on line.

He also made reference to difficulties implementing a streamlined marijuana testing process, which, when first imposed in October, created a shortage of marijuana products and a backlog at licensed testing laboratories.

“Despite its imperfection, the market is growing every day,” Marks wrote. “This is the good news.”

Unfortunately, he stated, about 20 percent of the 900 license holders in Oregon are failing to keep current records on the mandatory seed-to-sale tracking system.

The state contracts with Franwell Metrc Inc. for an online software reporting system to manage and report all activity, from grower to retail sale, that occurs in the marijuana supply chain.

Two rule violations are the “most egregious” examples, Marks wrote. Some growers are not entering batches of dried, harvested flower into the system within 45 days, he wrote.

The other violation arises when plants grown outdoors are recorded as “flowering” long after harvest season. Most marijuana produced in Central Oregon is grown indoors.

OLCC spokesman Mark Pettinger said the number of violations per county or municipality was not immediately available. He said growers commit the most violations, but some retailers have violated packaging rules. No marijuana business owner in Oregon has yet been fined or lost a license due to a rule violation, Pettinger said.

Enforcement of the tracking system requirement will be stepped up, Marks stated. The tracking system is Oregon’s way of ensuring that marijuana does not leak out of the regulated system, part of an understanding under the Obama administration that kept federal law enforcement from cracking down in states where marijuana is legal.

Pettinger said Marks’ letter marks a turning point for the OLCC.

“It’s really to indicate the time for tolerance for adopting the rigors of a new regulatory system has passed,” he said, “and licensees have to be compliant with the rules.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7815, jditzler@bendbulletin.com

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