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Oregon Cannabis: OLCC Proposes Lowering Some Violation Penalties

A few months ago, I wrote on the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s (OLCC) new Verification of Compliance (“Fix-it or Ticket”) program that focuses education rather than penalties for certain rule violations. This week the Rules Advisory Committee (“RAC”) announced a Marijuana Violation Reclassification Package which, if adopted, will reduce the presumptive penalties for certain kinds

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A few months ago, I wrote on the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s (OLCC) new Verification of Compliance (“Fix-it or Ticket”) program that focuses education rather than penalties for certain rule violations. This week the Rules Advisory Committee (“RAC”) announced a Marijuana Violation Reclassification Package which, if adopted, will reduce the presumptive penalties for certain kinds of rule violations. (Full text of the proposed changes here). The RAC is holding a public meeting this Friday, February 12. Details on how to attend virtually may found on the OLCC’s website.

This round of rulemaking addresses six areas – each discussed below. By way of background, the OLCC sanctions schedule is laid out in tiers ranging from the most serious, license cancellation for Category I violations to fines and suspensions for Category II through IV violations. (See here.) For background on what to do if you or your marijuana business receives notice from the OLCC about a rule violation and potential sanction, see here. With that, let’s take a look at the proposed changes.

Notice of Arrest or Conviction

OAR 845-025-1160(2) requires a licensee or applicant notify the OLCC in writing of any arrest, citation in lieu of arrest, or a conviction of a misdemeanor or felony. The current rule requires the licensee do so within 24 hours of the triggering event and provides that the failure to notify so is Category I violation – so the presumptive penalty is license cancellation.

The proposed rule would give licensees 72 hours to notify the OLCC following a triggering event. And instead of a Category I violation for failing to give timely notice, the new rule would make the failure to notify the OLCC of a conviction a Category II violation and the failure to notify the OLCC of an arrest a Category III violation. The proposed change is silent on “citation in lieu of arrest,” presumable the failure to notify also is a Category III violation.

This change makes sense from a practical perspective, as in some instances it may be impossible to notify the OLCC within 24 hours. The downgrade from a Category I violation also makes sense given the magnitude of the harm resulting from a timely failure to notify. Although the sanction is reduced, an arrest or conviction may cause licensee issues at renewal, even if the OLCC was timely notified. Whether the arrest or conviction will do so depends on the nature of the arrest/conviction and the surrounding circumstances.

Required Camera Coverage and Camera Placement

OAR 845-025-1440 requires licensees to have comprehensive camera coverage for licensed premises. The coverage area includes any area the OLCC believes presents a public safety risk and all areas where marijuana is required to be stored, destroyed, or rendered unusable. And the licensee must ensure cameras capture “clear and certain” images of any persons and activity within 15 feet inside and outside of any points of ingress or egress and all locations within limited access areas and where consumer sales take place.

Violating these requirements presently is a Category II violation, but the OLCC proposes changing this to Category III. This is a very welcome change as licensees often found themselves in violation of the camera coverage requirements because of mistakes by the security services provider. That said, licensees should know that violating certain portions of OAR 845-025-1440 remain a Category I violation.

Video Recording Requirements for Licensed Facilities

OAR 845-025-1450 imposes 24-hour video recording requirements on licensees. The current rule requires a licensee to notify the OLCC “immediately” of any equipment failure or system outage lasting 30 minutes or more. The proposed rule gives licensees 24 hours to do so.

The proposed rule also reduces the penalties for certain violations from Category I and II to Category III violations. Among the reductions from Category II to Category III is the requirement that a licensee have an keep off-site backup recordings for a minimum of 30 days.

Again, this is a welcome change as many violations resulted from errors by security service providers or unexpected power outages. Licensees, however, should not take the reduction in penalties as permission to treat the recording requirements lightly. Although the OLCC may be lenient for a single, isolated violation, I expect the OLCC will not take repeated violations lightly traceable to a security services provider or not.

Harvest Notification

OAR 845-025-2090 requires growers to file a harvest notice prior to harvesting usable marijuana. The current rule provides that failure to file a harvest notice is a Category III violation, “for each day the violation occurs.” The proposed rule would eliminate the quoted language

The change is significant in that under the current rule a licensee may potentially be charged with multiple violations for failing to submit a harvest notice for a particular harvest. Suppose a licensee harvests on August 1 but does not file the notice until August 15, that is potentially 15 separate Category III violations instead of a single violation. I read the proposed rule as making that a single Category III violation.

Processing for Cardholders

OAR 845-025-3305 governs marijuana processors who work with OMMP cardholders. The current rule provides that the OLCC “may cancel or suspend” processor’s registration under the rule for a violation of any of the provisions. The OLCC proposes to make a violation of OAR 845-025-3305 a Category III violation. The effect of this proposed change is likely minimal as the medical marijuana market has largely given way to the recreational market. But at least it provides clarity for processors operating under this rule.

Permitting hemp on a licensed premises, except as allowed by the rules

The final change concerns hemp. OAR 845-025-8520(11)(e) states that a licensee may not permit hemp or a hemp item on the licensed premises unless otherwise allowed by the rules. (Usually obtaining a license to have hemp on an OLCC licensed premises is a simple task.) A violation is a Category I offense. The proposed change would keep an “intentional” violation of the rule at the Category I level but would make an “unintentional” violation a Category III offense. The reasoning behind this change is opaque. Perhaps it reflects the ubiquity of “hemp items” (e.g. CBD products) in the possession of licensees.

The interesting shift is the division between “intentional” and “unintentional” violations. For years, the OLCC has taken a strict liability view of the rules – meaning the OLCC did not care whether or not a licensee (or its employee) intentionally violated a rule or simply made a careless mistake.

Licensees, and attorneys like us who represent a lot of licensees in administrative proceedings, strongly dislike strict liability. From our perspective, strict liability is too onerous and too often results in punishments that don’t fit the crime. Let’s hope that the trend of differentiating between “intentional” and “unintentional” violations continues as the OLCC continues to revise the rules governing marijuana licensees.

For other recent writings on Oregon cannabis and the OLCC, see:

 

The post Oregon Cannabis: OLCC Proposes Lowering Some Violation Penalties appeared first on Harris Bricken.

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Growing

How to Identify Pests in Your Cannabis Grow

Experienced and novice cannabis growers alike understand that pests can ruin a crop, no matter how well watered, fed, or tended. One of the keys to making sure that your plants grow into healthy, robust, and consumable cannabis is to keep a close eye o…

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Experienced and novice cannabis growers alike understand that pests can ruin a crop, no matter how well watered, fed, or tended. One of the keys to making sure that your plants grow into healthy, robust, and consumable cannabis is to keep a close eye on any pests that might infiltrate your grow, then take the appropriate steps to eradicate them without ruining your garden. Not only will it help keep the plants alive, thriving plants have more energy to produce trichomes and terpenes, making for better bud

Let’s take a look at some common pests found on cannabis plants, how to identify them, and lastly, get rid of them for good. With just a little maintenance and vigilance, your cannabis garden can be pest-free.

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Common Pests Found on Cannabis Plants

According to the Smithsonian Institution, there are likely more unclassified insects in the world than classified, and the running guess is somewhere between 2 million and 30 million. Thus, this is by no means a definitive list of bugs that feed on cannabis but should serve as a good starting point for most pest problems. 

Caterpillars

Before a caterpillar turns into a beautiful butterfly and flits away, it can be very hazardous to your cannabis plants. You know that book The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Turns out it’s a true story about how caterpillars eat everything in sight, including that tasty cannabis. Caterpillars can be very dangerous because they tend to go unnoticed, especially if they are a borer caterpillar, meaning they burrow into the plant and eat it from the inside out. But even caterpillars on the exterior will nosh away, potentially causing great damage to your plants. 

To figure out if caterpillars are ruining your plants, inspect the leaves weekly for holes from feeding, droppings on the leaves that look like tiny black specks, holes, and damage to the stems, and yellowing on upper leaves.

Natural enemies of caterpillars are wasps and praying mantises, and introducing those to the environment could make a difference. These options are typically easier for outdoor grows, but can also work indoors with some preparation. Other interventions include using a product like Bug Blaster spray or neem oil (which you can make at home).

Neem oil use has been controversial in some cannabis circles, as there is a belief among some that it may play a role in CHS (Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome), however, no definitive statements can be made without more research. The connection between neem oil and cannabis hyperemesis syndrome has yet to be fully explored or verified, but it’s still good to be aware and to be sure to closely follow usage directions.

Aphids

Even house plants have the occasional plague of aphids. Tiny and red, yellow, black, pale, green, or brown, these bugs can be easy to miss because they cling to the underside of leaves, reproduce quickly, and drain your plant of nutrients. Outdoor grows tend to fare a little better in the battle against aphids since natural predators are present, but indoor plants can be decimated quickly by these teensy pests. Not only do they siphon nutrients away from the plant, they leave a sweet substance called “honeydew” that attracts other insects and turns the leaves black and moldy

Aphids and their honeydew on a plant

The honeydew left behind from aphids leads to further damages to the plant by attracting even more pests. photo credit

Because that honeydew attracts other pests, if you begin to notice a lot of ants or ladybugs coming around your plants, it’s a pretty good sign that you’re well into an aphid problem. Aphids can be hard to shake, but wasps and ladybugs are natural predators. Nonetheless, you should visually inspect the underside of plant leaves at least once a week. If introducing predators doesn’t ameliorate the problem, there are a couple of natural solutions to get rid of cannabis pests to try, like garlic or tomato leaf water. 

Spider Mites

Spider mites are like the supervillains of cannabis pests: uber reproductive, zombie-like in their ability to come back from what you thought was death, capable of spinning webs while eating everything in sight then completely disappearing before turning up again – they’re nearly impossible to spot and even harder to eradicate. Spotting spider mites is difficult because they are minuscule, but doing a daily inspection of both sides of your plant leaves could help to prevent a massive infestation.

Signs of spider mites begins with speckles, then a browning or yellowing of leaves, and premature leaf death.

If any parts of your plant are covered in fine webbing, that’s a sure sign you’re in a bad spot. The best way to avoid mites is to stay vigilant with your leaf inspections. If you do notice signs of mites, try introducing a fan into the environment. Strong air currents make it difficult for mites to breed. Spider mites also prefer temperatures of 60-80 degrees, so experimenting with temperature might also slow an infestation down. Since mites are likely to come back, consider a spray like Azamax or Spinosad to get rid of them for good (again, be sure to follow use directions carefully).

Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats are just as hungry as caterpillars, but their gourmet meal is from the stem and roots of your plants and not the leaves. Beginning at the topsoil level, both larvae and adults will munch their way down into the root system, badly impact plant drainage, and compromise the structural stability of your plants. However, they’re nearly impossible to spot because they are dark in color, as is soil.

Fungus Gnats

Although fungus gnats are small, the damage they leave behind is mighty. photo credit

Seeing swarms of gnats near the base of your plant is one sign you’ve got a fungus gnat problem. Other symptoms are stems that weaken and simply fall over, adult plants that start to droop, wilt, spot, or yellow, or plants that stop growing altogether. 

Fungus gnats love moist conditions, so keeping the top layer of soil dry is a smart preventative measure. Some other hacks to try include placing a cloth on top of the soil to prevent female gnats from laying eggs or laying a sticky pad near the plant’s base to stick larvae. You could also mix some peroxide and water and spray it around the area of gnat infestation. A common-sense tactic for an indoor grow is to put screens on the windows and the doors closed to keep gnats out. 

Why Pests and Bugs Are Attracted to Cannabis

Something to keep in mind about pests, in general, is that they love a monoculture or a space dedicated to growing only one crop. Researchers from the University of California Davis theorize that if an insect makes itself at home in that one crop, it has a large food supply, creating an all-you-can-eat kind of scenario for the pest, making it that much harder to eradicate. As you likely don’t want to introduce other plants into a cannabis garden (for a number of reasons), this issue will always exist to some degree when dealing with weed. 

This is why, as mentioned, another option is to introduce other beneficial insects. Not only do they prey on harmful pests, but they are also an excellent chemical-free pest control option. The bugs already want to be there, you’re just bringing them to the dinner table. 

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The Wrap Up

Identifying pests should be a regular ritual, just like watering and delivering nutrients to your plants. When you keep them pest-free, all that hard growing work will hopefully pay off in healthy and efficacious plants. Once you’ve harvested, you can move on to other fun challenges like doing a proper cure for your cannabis harvest, and how to store your cannabis stash


How do you deal with pests in your cannabis grow? Share your techniques in the comments!

Photo Credit: ilovegrowingmarijuana (license)

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Connecticut

Governor of Connecticut Pushes For Legalizing Adult-Use Cannabis In Budget Address

Connecticut’s Governor Ned Lamont proposed legalizing recreational cannabis in his budget address this week.

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Connecticut’s Governor Ned Lamont proposed legalizing recreational cannabis in his budget address this week.

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News

South Dakota Governor Delays Implementation of Medical Marijuana Initiative

It seems that Governor Kristi Noem isn’t quite done derailing voter-approved cannabis initiatives.

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It seems that Governor Kristi Noem isn’t quite done derailing voter-approved cannabis initiatives.

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