Yesterday’s meeting of the Oregon State Joint Legislative Committee on Measure 91 Implementation was set to gavel to a close when State Senator and Republican Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli blasted the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s ability to handle the task of regulating recreational marijuana, explaining, “Notwithstanding the heroic efforts of the OLCC staff, my confidence in their ability to manage this program is rapidly diminishing.”
The OLCC staff had been briefing the representatives and senators regarding Senate Bill 844, one of many bills addressing either recreational marijuana, medical marijuana, or some combination of the two. This meeting was just one of many bi-weekly sessions on the issue of marijuana scheduled for 2015. Senator Ferrioli brought up his question just as the chair, Senator Burdick, was about to adjourn the meeting. “Some of the complexities that we’ve discussed lead me to believe that there’s a lot of expertise that currently doesn’t exist in the commission,” Senator Ferrioli added, “and it doesn’t currently exist in the staff.”
The senator had opened his line of questioning to the OLCC staff by asking about how other states are currently administering their recreational marijuana programs. “What are the entities in Colorado and Washington State that function as the administrative authority… over the recreational marijuana programs?” The beleaguered OLCC staffer could only answer, “I don’t have that information at this time,” leading observers to wonder how the OLCC could be three months into the regulatory process and not just fail to understand how Colorado and Washington have been regulating recreational marijuana, but fail to even know the name of these agencies (the Marijuana Enforcement Division in Colorado and the Washington State Liquor Control Board, by the way) that they should have been consulting with.
“We’re talking about creating a brand-new agency for research facilities,” Senator Ferrioli said, “yet the [OLCC] doesn’t seem to know the difference between micrograms and milligrams.” Ferrioli also seemed to call on more cannabis community involvement, asking “I’m curious about comments our House colleagues have made about the level of expertise that is in the community that perhaps we’re under-utilizing.”
Senator Ferrioli’s complete unedited remarks are below: