The first thing to square away when preparing to get a OLCC recreational cannabis license is selecting a piece of property that will work for the desired license type.
In Oregon, there are currently 74 cities and 16 counties where no recreational cannabis businesses are allowed. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, or the OLCC, the Oregon agency that licenses recreational cannabis businesses, maintains an up-to-date list of these “dry” cities and counties here. This list should be the first stop – with one small exception, you may not locate your cannabis business in any of these cities or counties. The exception is that in a “dry” county, an incorporated city may choose to allow recreational cannabis businesses. For example, the tiny Eastern Oregon town of Huntington, located in “dry” Baker County, is home to several apparently thriving cannabis businesses.
The next step really depends on what type of license is wanted: production (growing), processing (extracts, concentrates, edibles, and topicals), wholesale, or retail. Cannabis is considered a crop under Oregon law, so for cannabis production, land zoned for farm use is usually zoned correctly for an OLCC production license. Additionally, many counties also allow production in forest or resource zones. For the rest of the license types, however, the allowable zones will be listed in the local government ordinances applicable to the property, and sometimes also in materials published by the local planning department (for example, see Josephine County’s Marijuana Businesses Handout). In order to ensure that the selected property will work, the local government’s ordinances should be studied carefully by an attorney.
Once a property is chosen, you can apply to the local government for a Land Use Compatibility Statement (“LUCS”), which the OLCC will require to prove that the local government has signed off on the proposed use. In order to get a LUCS, you may have to complete a site plan review, which can involve describing your proposed business to the local planning department and submitting a detailed proposed site plan. What not everyone knows is that you do not always need to own or control the property to apply for a LUCS. Our clients often ask for and receive 30 days or more to close on a property, which can give the local planning department enough time to sign off on a LUCS.
The importance of selecting property cannot be overstated. If you are thinking about starting a new cannabis business, we can help make sure your property choice will work for the license type you want.