I generally do not like posting articles about people getting busted for cannabis. However, I am making an exception in this case because the situation below is likely to become the poster child of Oregon’s cannabis industry for cannabis opponents nationwide. If you own a licensed, regulated cannabis company, please do not take cannabis across the country. It gives a black eye to the entire industry. I get that people want to make money, but do so within the legal framework that activists fought so hard to make a reality. Greedy moves like the one described below make it harder to legalize in new states, and create headaches for people that are trying to do things the right way. Below is a press release from the OLCC:
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has suspended the Recreational Marijuana processor license of Rich Extracts, LLC on November 15, 2017. Rich Wilkinson, managing member at Rich Extracts was arrested November 8, 2017 by law enforcement in the state of Nebraska on criminal charges for possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.
The OLCC issued the Order of Immediate License Suspension to Rich Extracts because continued operation of Rich Extracts represents a serious danger to public health and safety.
Prior to Wilkinson’s arrest the OLCC had been investigating the Rich Extracts processing operation for potential license violations. As part of its initial investigation the OLCC contacted law enforcement to investigate possible criminal activity beyond the OLCC’s enforcement authority, and the licensed premise and all marijuana products located there were secured on site at that time. The OLCC continues to coordinate with law enforcement on this matter.
“We want to make it clear to our licensees that if you operate ‘out of bounds’ we are going to act with certainty,” said Steve Marks, executive director of the OLCC. ”The vast majority of our licensees support our efforts to root out shady operators, and certainly it’s what Oregonians expect of us.”
Wilkinson is prohibited from allowing the sale, delivery to or from, or receipt of marijuana items at Rich Extracts licensed premises until further order by the OLCC. The suspension is based upon three alleged Category One violations, which the OLCC will act upon separately. A Category One violation is the most serious type of violation, one that if proven, would lead to a license revocation.
“Our agency is committed to using our own resources and working with all levels of law enforcement to pursue all illegal market activity,” said Marks.
The OLCC is working with law enforcement to seamlessly handoff suspected criminal activity to law enforcement for further investigation. In September, 2017 the OLCC and the Oregon State Police announced the co‐location of its offices in southern Oregon to improve engagement with law enforcement to combat illegal marijuana activity. Also, the OLCC is in the process of hiring additional licensing and enforcement staff.
Since OLCC enforcement powers extend only to license activity on the licensed premises and in transport of marijuana between licensees, coordination with law enforcement is essential. Generally the OLCC oversees administrative violations of its rules and criminal conduct is pursued by law enforcement and criminal prosecutors.
Administrative hearings differ from criminal proceedings. The State of Oregon provides an OLCC liquor or marijuana licensee the right to a hearing under Oregon’s Administrative Hearings Procedures Act. A licensee may request a hearing within 90 days of the date of the order. If a hearing is requested it takes place in a closed hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
Rich Extracts has until February 12, 2018 to request a hearing. The OLCC investigation is continuing.