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Oregon Marijuana Compliance: 5 Things You Need to Know

Last Updated: 11/28/2016

Disclaimer: Although these summaries are helpful, please read and understand your state-posted regulations and consult legal counsel as needed.


Marijuana retail store owners and managers in Oregon have a lot to remember when it comes to compliance and they have to stay diligent and up-to-date on changes in order to properly adapt. Failing to stay compliant can cause a retail marijuana store to lose its license!

Here are five things you need to know as a marijuana store owner so that your licensing remains intact and your doors stay open.


1. Security Systems are Required in All Retail Marijuana Stores

Oregon has strict regulations in place regarding security. When applying for a retail marijuana store license you must include a detailed security plan. Your application will not be considered and a pre-approval inspection will not be conducted if security plans are not in place.

Important: Revocation of license can occur if you have experienced theft of any kind from your store. This includes the theft of money, product, accessories or equipment.

Security Requirements include:

  • Storing all marijuana-containing products in a securely locked safe when the business is not open.
  • Use of commercial door locks is required on all exterior doors.
  • License holders are responsible for maintaining the security of all marijuana items either on-premises or in-transit to the retail store.
  • All video recordings must be archived and kept in a locked area.
  • Electronic back-up systems must be in place for all electronic records to prevent breaches and information theft/loss.

Alarm systems are required in all retail marijuana establishments to stay compliant in Oregon. In addition to the alarm systems, anywhere that has limited access in your facility must have a working landline phone available. To go a step further, all retail marijuana stores must have at least 2 “panic buttons” available in case there is an emergency or dangerous situation. These buttons are linked directly to a security company or local police department.

Oregon instituted these rules to help maintain public safety and the safety of those working in this budding industry. That being said, there are security waiver options, but it can be a challenge to get approved. If you have a security plan that involves a full security staff that is on your payroll, with 24-hour staff on-site, you may be able to forego some of the security requirements.


2. All Employees Must Have Marijuana Worker Permits

Regardless of an employee’s position at your retail marijuana store, cannabis compliance laws in Oregon requires that all employees have a valid marijuana worker permit. Every marijuana worker permit applicant must agree to a thorough background check. The state also requires that all applicants take a test, regardless of your position at a retail marijuana store. Oregon has even taken seasonal marijuana industry workers into consideration – requiring them to hold a marijuana worker permit as well.

Important: Marijuana worker permits can be denied. You can view the denial criteria on pages 62 and 63, section 845-025-5540 of the Recreational marijuana Rules. Denial is most common if you have had a felony conviction or have broken a rule of holding a marijuana worker permit.

Now, regarding the marijuana worker permit test: You have to take and pass the test by at least 70-percent before submitting an application.

Applicant requirements:

  • Must be at least 21 years old
  • May not have any recent criminal convictions
  • No felony convictions

Employees of medical marijuana dispensaries in Oregon are not required to hold a marijuana worker permit.


3. Must Comply with All Packaging Rules

Oregon paid close attention to packaging when instilling the recreational marijuana program. Edibles are limited to 15mg doses in the retail market. The limit was established to help prevent emergency room visits from being over medicated and to prevent the intense side effects that children can experience from accidental ingestion.

Now, if a product is intended for multiple uses, it must be packaged in a child-resistant container at all times.

All marijuana product packages must be approved in Oregon before your retail store can use them.

Some of the items prohibited from marijuana packages and labels include:

  • No cartoon or cartoon-like characters may be on the package
  • No images of minors may be used
  • No imagery that is considered to be “attractive to minors”
  • Packages and designs may not resemble non-marijuana products at all, such as your peanut butter cup packaging cannot look like a Reese’s peanut butter cup package in any way
  • No exaggerated body parts or features
  • No superhero-like images

All packages must include Oregon’s universal symbol, and must be no smaller than 0.48-inches wide by 0.35-inches tall.

Edibles and products with non-immediate activation periods must include an average “activation time”, such as 45-minutes activation time on edibles. The wording of labels must also be approved, as words such as candy and candies isn’t permitted. You also cannot use a non-marijuana product name and twist it to be catchy, such as Snickers, Kit Kat or other commonly recognized items.


4. Must Comply with State Receipting Process on All Sales

In Oregon, all receipts have to clearly display what the product is, how much it costs and how much tax each customer pays on the sale. If your retail marijuana store’s point-of-sale system does not have categories broken down for receipting purposes, it should be updated to make sure you don’t end up in jeopardy of losing your retail license.

Other receipt requirements:

  • Store name and address
  • Category of taxable products or product category name/product name
  • Something that identifies the products taxed
  • Sale subtotal before tax
  • Amount of state tax
  • Amount of local tax – each city can opt-in to charge an additional 3-percent sales tax
  • Total sale amount
  • Identifying receipt number – each receipt number must be unique
  • Disclaimer stating that receipts are required for customer tax disputes

You can view an example of receipts that comply with Oregon’s rules on the Oregon.gov website.


5. Tax Compliance

Compared to other recreational states, Oregon’s regulations are actually much easier to understand. One of the most important things to remember is that you must pay your state taxes monthly, and only file a return quarterly.

When the recreational marijuana program was being created, a temporary tax percentage was put in place until December 31, 2016: a flat 25-percent tax on all retail marijuana sales, including retail marijuana sales made at medical marijuana dispensaries.

Oregon will have a permanent marijuana tax structure where customers pay a 17-percent flat state tax for all retail marijuana purchases. Individual cities/towns may elect to impose an additional 3-percent tax. Medical marijuana is not taxed.

Retail marijuana store owners are responsible for filing and paying their own taxes. Updates regarding the beginning of the permanent tax rate on recreational marijuana sales will be available on the Oregon.gov website.

Additionally, after November 15, 2016, you can pay your taxes, file quarterly returns, set up a payment plan, add power of attorney, check account balances, and much more with a Revenue Online account. You’ll receive a letter with steps to signing up for a Revenue Online account once you’re licensed with the OLCC and register with the Department of Revenue.


A Few Closing Tips for Retail Marijuana Store Owners in Oregon

Maintaining cannabis compliance in Oregon can be challenging if you don’t stay up-to-date on regulation changes. One of the benefits of Oregon’s program is that they have clearly explained every regulation and its sub-parts in plain English instead of difficult-to-understand law terminology. To ensure that you’re maintaining your compliance regulations, it is ideal to have an industry attorney available to you along with a point-of-sale system that automates compliance and reporting. It is also best practice to keep good records and make sure that your computer-stored files are backed up and on a secure server. When your records get messy, you might run into trouble when documents/records are requested.


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