Category Archives: Marijuana Law

Alcohol and Marijuana Go Together Like . . . Oil and Water: They Don’t Mix

Alcohol and Marijuana Go Together Like . . . Oil and Water: They Don’t Mix

The OLCC recently issued formal guidance on recreational marijuana.  In sum, the use of recreational marijuana is not allowed in a public place.  While this may not be a surprise to some, it’s still a secret to many.  Or, more likely, it’s simply widely disregarded.  For those of us living in Portland, it’s not uncommon to see or smell public marijuana use.  Strict enforcement of this prohibition is obviously a tremendous challenge to law enforcement and simply may not be a top priority.  (Hmm . . .what to pursue?  Violent crime or marijuana smokers?)

It’s an entirely different story for businesses with liquor licenses.  Businesses with liquor licenses are considered “public places” and the OLCC is (and has been) making this prohibition a top enforcement priority.

If you operate a licensed business in Oregon, you must be extremely careful when it comes to recreational marijuana.  Oregon law absolutely prohibits the following conduct at licensed businesses:

  1. Using recreational marijuana;
  2. Selling recreational marijuana; or,
  3. Distributing recreational marijuana.
  4. You get the idea: a liquor license means NO RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA!

Even if a licensed business is not currently selling alcohol, it’s still considered a licensed business.  A liquor license applies to the business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  No exceptions.

And, it should go without saying that the prohibitions against recreational marijuana use also apply to illegal recreational drugs too.

The public’s rapidly changing perception about the use, sale and distribution of recreational marijuana poses a significant challenge to licensed businesses.  The public—particularly young people who tend to frequent bars more often—is increasingly coming to accept the public use of marijuana.  They also are more willing to disregard what they perceive to be outdated social conventions about when and where marijuana can be used, even if those social conventions still happen to be supported by current law.  Further, the public is generally neither aware of, nor concerned about, the consequences of their actions on your liquor license.

The practical take away for Oregon licensees is simple: Keep recreational marijuana out of your licensed business!  It is ultimately your responsibility to comply with Oregon law.  Licensed businesses that fail to heed the OLCC’s repeated public pronouncements that marijuana use at licensed premises is a top enforcement priority may find their liquor license in serious jeopardy.

Initiative 91 Passes: Oregon Welcomes Recreational Marijuana

Initiative 91 Passes: Oregon Welcomes Recreational Marijuana

Oregon Ballot Measure 91 is a 2014 ballot measure that passed in Oregon in November 2014.  Its passage legalized the recreational use of marijuana in Oregon.

Key dates include:

  • July 1, 2015.  The possession and use of marijuana for adults 21 years of age or older, including the ability to carry up to one ounce of marijuana, to keep up to eight ounces of marijuana at home per household, and to cultivate up to four marijuana plants per household.
  • January 4, 2016.  The OLCC must begin accepting applications on or before January 4, 2016.

You can find a copy of the initiative here.

The Oregon Legislature is busy reviewing the measure and has already identified a number of areas of concern, including:

  1. Can Oregon do away with the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program now?
  2. Is the eight ounce limit per household for marijuana possession to high?
  3. How should edibles be regulated?
  4. Does the absence of guidance on driving while high require action?
  5. Should the legislature step to make changes and provide express guidance to the OLCC or let the OLCC conduct rule making on some of these key issues?

With my extensive experience working with the OLCC and the striking similarity between the existing alcohol regulatory framework and the regulatory framework set out by Initiative 91, I am uniquely positioned to counsel clients seeking to start a marijuana based business in Oregon.  I will be closely following the development of this area law and making connections from my deep experience in the alcohol regulatory arena.

My Oregon Marijuana Law blog is currently under construction and should be up and running in early December.  The site will be at  Stay tuned!