Oregon Begins Official Recreational Sales, Adjusts Testing and Packaging Rules

Oregon Begins Official Recreational Sales, Adjusts Testing and Packaging Rules

New testing and packaging requirements barring strain names passed just before starting recreational sales Oct. 1.

October 3, 2016

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission approved 26 licenses for 26 recreational marijuana retailers Sept. 30, as well as modified rules regarding state licensee testing requirements and labeling and packaging restrictions.

Approved retailers were able to open for business selling recreational marijuana Oct. 1, the goal date promised by the OLCC to Oregonians, according to a press release. The OLCC enacted temporary changes to lab testing rules to lessen the strain on labs able to test recreational cannabis products. Out of the 26 licensed retailers, 12 were able to open Saturday, according to Steve Marks, executive director of the OLCC, in a conference call with reporters Sept. 30.

Under the new rules, an amount (still to be determined by Oct. 3) of randomly chosen samples from batches of usable cannabis will be tested. If any part of those samples fails pesticide testing, every 10-pound lot is required to be tested, according to an Oregon Live article.

Originally, every batch would have to be tested by an accredited lab. The stringent testing strained the few approved labs in the state, and Gary Ward, the administrator for Oregon’s Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ORELAP) wrote in an email Aug. 26 that the program was “on the precipice of collapse,” as Cannabis Business Times reported last month.

Currently, the state is caught up with testing, and four of the 10 licensed laboratories are able to manage the required pesticide testing under the new rules, and more labs will be accredited, according to Marks.

In order to remain on store shelves, existing products must be clearly labeled as tested under the previous rules, and be in childproof containers before leaving the store, according to a Fox News article. All products made after the Oct. 1 deadline must be tested under the new, temporary rules. The modified rules will revert back to the original requirements as of Mar. 1, 2017.

Medical marijuana dispensaries have been able to sell recreational marijuana under a different set of rules since October 2015 (which CBT covered here). Those dispensaries will be unable to sell recreational marijuana after Dec. 31.

Rules regarding packaging and labeling of recreational marijuana products were left unchanged in the special session Sept. 30, according to the OLCC press release. If packages and labels have not been pre-approved, licensees should use generic packaging according to guidelines set by the OLCC, found here.

The OLCC also passed a temporary rule regarding marijuana strain and product names in connection to “product wording commonly associated with products marketed by or for children,” according to the bulletin, found here. The list includes at least 14 strain names determined to be suspect that cannot be used on compliant packaging or labeling in Oregon dispensaries.

The strains currently listed include:
-Girl Scout Cookies
-Grape Ape
-Charlotte’s Web
-Dr. Who
-Bruce Banner
-Death Star
-Jedi Kush

Current products in the system with those names will not be subject to immediate enforcement, but the OLCC will begin to inform companies with guidance to label over strain names and screen out future non-compliant packaging, according to Marks in the Oregon Live article.

The strains themselves may continue to be sold, but licensees can voluntarily rename the strain, or use its initials on the packaging, according to the bulletin.