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Ante for rulemaking on Oregon pot: nearly $600,000

SALEM — Oregon lawmakers will consider a request next week for nearly $600,000 to get started making rules for legal marijuana.

It's a down payment on a regulatory apparatus that a state fiscal analyst estimates could have up to 30 workers and a two-year budget of $6.4 million.

A month ago, Oregon voters approved legal recreational marijuana, effective July 1. The measure gives the state Liquor Control Commission the chore of making rules and overseeing the trade. Its request said time is short to get rules in place.

It seeks salary and expense money for four initial positions: a program manager, two policy analysts and a public affairs staffer.

The request will be considered on Monday by the Joint Subcommittee on Education and on Wednesday by the Emergency Board. The board is made up of legislative leaders who can allocate money from a contingency fund when the Legislature isn't in session.

The state fiscal analyst, who prepared the request, Michelle Deister, provided the estimate of up to 30 workers and a two-year budget of more than $6 million.

"That said, ultimately the number of employees and therefore personal services expenditures will be dependent on the number of licensees," she wrote.

Deister's analysis spelled out issues the new staff has to address. Among them:

  • Where marijuana production, processing, and retail facilities will be located.
  • How licensed businesses may advertise.
  • Whether medical and recreational marijuana may be sold from the same retail outlet.
  • How to track marijuana as it moves through the system so the state can determine taxes and prevent leakage into the illicit market.
  • Determining civil penalties for violations.
  • Determining the extent to which testing will be regulated.

Deister said the marijuana staff will also be responsible for choosing a computer system to track financial reports and data from licensees; processing license applications and investigating the backgrounds of applicants; inspecting licensed premises; auditing and reconciling tax and sales reports and accounting for fees, taxes, and revenue distribution.

Commission Chairman Rob Patridge said it plans public meetings next year on the new marijuana program. They haven't been scheduled.