What it Takes to Work in Cannabis in Oregon
Recreational Cannabis Workers must now obtain a “Marijuana Worker Permit”
Currently, Oregon has two legal cannabis markets; recreational and medical. While the recreational market is quickly becoming vastly larger there, working in a recreationally licensed business requires a “Marijuana Worker Permit” issued by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC). To obtain a permit, workers must study, take an exam, pass a background check and once passed, pay a $100.00 fee. Working at a medical business, those regulated by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), existing under Oregon’s nearly 20 year old medical marijuana program (OMMP) doesn’t require a permit, but some employers may complete a background check, and some may insist on hiring permit-holding workers only. In Oregon, state law prohibits employers from checking an applicant’s credit history.
To apply for an OLCC marijuana worker permit, applicants must be 21 years of age or older and head to the Marijuana Worker Permit page on the OLCC’s website to register, verify identity, study for the exam, take the online exam, pass the application process, hear from the OLCC, then pay, print the permit, and look for work. An OLCC marijuana worker permit is valid for five years before it needs to be renewed. Applicants may be disqualified for any number of reasons. These are listed under the “Marijuana Worker Permit Denial Criteria” section (page 62) among the 89 pages of rules outlined in the OLCC’s General Requirements Applicable To All Marijuana Licensees. Various prior felony convictions are typically cause for denial, although some marijuana offences are accepted. Other prerequisites and intricacies are listed in the rules.
Employees of marijuana producers (growers, etc.), processors (extract makers, edible makers, etc.), wholesalers (distributors), or retailers (dispensaries, etc.) must obtain a permit to work. This includes the coveted position of budtender among Oregon’s growing number of recreational dispensaries. Lab employees and research certificate employees are exempt from the permit process.
Employees may lose their permits for misconduct. The online exam and study guide trains permit holders on the various rules regarding work conduct, like recognizing visibly intoxicated customers and denying them service, not being intoxicated on the job, learning to correctly use the state’s Cannabis Tracking System (CTS), and more. Conduct infractions could cause penalties and fines for both the employer and employee, including revocation of their worker permit. More information on this can be found in the study guide.
In Oregon, the OLCC also oversees regulated alcohol sales and a similar permitting process applies to workers serving alcohol in bars, restaurants and event venues with liquor licenses. Currently, under Oregon law, licensed businesses can not sell or serve alcohol and cannabis under the same business license. While recreational cannabis is open to consumers 21 or older, public consumption of cannabis remains illegal in Oregon.
People age 21 or older looking to obtain a Marijuana Worker Permit in Oregon may head to the OLCC website to register and apply.