An amended version of Senate Bill 218 passed the Oregon Senate earlier this week by a vote of 18-10. SB 218 provides that the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) may, “based on the supply and demand for marijuana, refuse to issue production licenses…for an amount of time that the commission determines necessary.” As we reported several weeks ago, a previous incarnation of SB 218 failed to pass the Senate, with Republican legislators decrying the bill as “socialism” and an attack on the free market.
SB 218’s advocates have apparently found a cure for socialism, in the form of a sunsetting amendment that automatically repeals SB 218 on January 2, 2022. Opposition remains, but the amendment was enough to win five additional votes, more than enough to pass the Senate. The bill now moves to the House for consideration. If it passes, Governor Kate Brown is expected to sign it.
How the OLCC would implement this ability is an open question. Per his testimony before the Senate Rules Committee, OLCC Director Steve Marks anticipated promulgating temporary rules whereby the OLCC would continue processing pending production licenses so long as they had already been assigned investigators. Unassigned applications would remain in the queue with the ability to be “processed in the future if circumstances change.” If executed as Director Marks proposed, this would have significant practical consequences for applications submitted in the days leading up to June 15, 2018. As of late April 2019, the OLCC was assigning applications received June 11, 2018. However, there were at least 100 applications submitted after this date. On the OLCC’s current timeline, some of these may not be assigned to an investigator until mid- to late-Summer. SB 218 may very well be implemented before then, putting many June 2018 applicants on uncertain ground.