Oregon has a backlog of some 1,000 pot-related businesses seeking licenses from the state. The state’s answer to the problem is wrong.

The 2019 Legislature gave the Oregon Liquor Control Commission permission to declare a moratorium on new licenses. Existing marijuana business couldn’t have asked for more — a state-protected industry. There’s nothing like getting the state to block and slow new competition for you.

Legislators weren’t without reasons. There was that backlog of licenses. Legislators heard testimony that asserted Oregon had an overproduction of marijuana. Apparently they didn’t care that any overproduction would be great for consumers.

They voted to give the OLCC the authority to declare the moratorium in Senate Bill 218, which is now state law. Only when the backlog has been greatly diminished will the agency be required to accept new license requests again.

For now those OLCC employees who handle marijuana producer licenses and all that goes with them will concentrate on license applications received before June 15, 2018. The backlog of license applications for retailers is much smaller, agency officials say. They didn’t have exact numbers for the size of the backlog for either category when they met with us this week.

Thanks to the Legislature, the growth of the pot industry is stagnated in Oregon. It could have tried to ramp up state staff to meet demand from businesses. But instead, Oregon legislators chose that the state should have an official policy to block competition.

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