At 8:30 a.m. today, Oregon entrepreneurs were finally able to apply online with the Oregon Health Authority for a license to run a dispensary or grow facility under House Bill 3460. Similar to other strict marijuana regimes, marijuana businesses in Oregon will now face footage requirements from sensitive uses and from each other, business registration requirements with the State, residency requirements, and other regulatory mandates relating to security and traceability. Specifically, applicants will need to submit a security plan and an inventory control system plan to the Health Authority to be eligible for a license. Having worked with hundreds of cannabis businesses in states outside of Oregon on such plans, we can tell you that they can be very complicated.

Right now Oregon is estimated to have around two hundred dispensaries operating the states old marijuana regime and it is expected that most of these dispensaries will be registering with the state under its new regime.  Oregon’s Health Authority has two employees assigned to process applications, which will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no firm deadline on how long it will take the state to process these applications. Two state inspectors have been assigned to visit each of the dispensaries within the first six months after they are registered.

Despite Oregon’s efforts to clean up its marijuana program, just like in Washington (and elsewhere), entrepreneurs are sure to face at least two major hurdles during the licensing process: 1. locating themselves in state-compliant areas (away from schools, etc.) and 2. wading through local law regulations.

It is up to applicants to ensure that they are not located near a school. Having done this drill in Washington with many of our clients, we suggest that you retain a qualified surveyor to ensure that your proposed location is not next to any schools. Oregon has its own school tracker map, but it has made clear that not every school is on it. The state has also made clear that if a school opens up within 1,000 feet of a dispensary after that dispensary has already started operating, the dispensary is the one that has to move.

Even if you do find that sweet spot not near any schools, some cities and counties in Oregon still are refusing to allow marijuana in their jurisdictions and are doing all they can to keep their bans in place. This is why you should also be sure to check in with your city or county council to ensure that your proposed dispensary will be in a location where you can actually open your doors once you get the dispensary license. Oregon state law also limits marijuana facilities to areas zoned commercial, industrial, mixed use or agricultural, so do not even try to locate your dispensary in a residential or a commercial zone unless you want to waste time and money.

Based on our licensing experience in other states, we also feel compelled to warn you to expect multiple rule changes from both Health Authority and your local cities and counties as medical cannabis licensing in Oregon progresses.