Steven Marks Comments on Minor Decoy Operations
We’re here with Steven Marks. He’s the Director of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which handles the regulation and oversight of the cannabis industry here in the State of Oregon. Welcome to our show.
During your presentation, it was brought up, the fact that we just recently did Minor Decoy Operations, and in the decoy operations, the six conducted, the marijuana retailers were coming up with an 81 percent compliance rate – about one out of five kids who tried could get in.
I did some number crunching and found that for 2017 and 2016, the alcohol compliance rate was 79 percent, and in the past two years, OLCC has done almost a little more than half as many checks on alcohol as they did the prior two years.
So, my question is, has the commission’s need to regulate marijuana detracted from its mission to stop minors from getting alcohol as well? Is regulating marijuana and alcohol together causing a problem for regulating alcohol?
Well, it did initially, because we used liquor inspectors to help us get licensing done early on as fast as we did it, so we did detract from the resources out of enforcement and licensing for liquor to work on getting this industry up and running.
You know, and people do make the comparison to minor decoy statistics to alcohol. Well, I have 500 [marijuana] retailers. All you’ve got to do is look at the box on the ID. We have information on what it is, the simplest of things to comply with in our system. And, you know, with experience we expect to see a rate much more like the high rate for Colorado and Washington. They’re closer in the high-90s.
But, you know, people were — and I was disappointed, because I thought our industry was ahead of this game. I thought we had done enough and rolled out enough to get there. Portland Metropolitan Area is particularly bad and we’ve got to get a correction to this.
So, you’re going to see some enforcement. You’re going to see us taking tough actions on this. It’s important right now. But we do expect it to come into compliance.
Well, with the characterization of it being “bad,” though, when we’re outperforming alcohol, is alcohol equally as bad? And what is the commission doing do fix that?
It’s a specious comparison in my mind. I know you make it, Russ, and a lot of people have, and it’s legitimate to do that.
But, in alcohol, there’s sales and service and there’s thousands and thousands of locations. This, we’re talking about, you know, five hundred that are like just looking for one simple thing on the ID. So, we should have a higher compliance rate here.
And, you know, I have — while we’ve created this industry in the imagery of the alcohol system, I think the marijuana industry ought to aspire to be better than that system in a lot of ways.
If you look at interstate regulation of alcohol, it is terrible. I’m not sure that’s what the industry for marijuana wants. As marijuana legalization moves across the country, I think you’ve got to have a more standardized system than that. And I think it should be standardized more than alcohol is.
Just as a philosophy, I think, we can’t lean too heavily on the comparison to alcohol.
Well, they are difficult to compare, since one of them could actually kill a child and the other one couldn’t. I appreciate your time.