Oregon: Marijuana Dispensary Pays Thousands As Health Authority Levies First Fines
By Steve Elliott
The Oregon Health Authority has levied its first fines against medical marijuana dispensaries for violating the rules.
Portland Compassionate Caregivers this week paid $6,500 in fines for 13 "serious" violations, including poor record keeping and evidence of cannabis consumption on the premises, reports Anna Staver at the Statesman Journal. The state subsequently ordered the dispensary to close, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.
"This penalty sends a message in no uncertain terms -- you must comply with Oregon law or you will pay the price," said Tom Burns, director of Pharmacy Programs for the Oregon Health Authority.
The shop was cited for violations during an unannounced, mandatory annual on-site inspection. OHA's regulations to enforce the state's 2013 medical marijuana dispensary law require an on-site inspection of each facility within six months of receiving a license, and annually thereafter.
William Lupton, the operator of Portland Compassionate Caregivers, paid the fines on August 26. According to the state's agreement with Lupton, the dispensary, at 4020 SE Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard, may reopen, but must first be inspected again.
For six months, the dispensary will be required to submit detailed records each week on the transfer of marijuana into the shop, as well as records related to cannabis lab testing.
Shops with serious violations can be required to submit to additional inspections and to provide weekly reports to the OHA.
"We said from day one we were going to protect the public and the patient and make sure these dispensaries operate in a legal manner," Burns said. "There is a price for not following the rules."
Since on-site inspections began this summer, OHA inspectors have completed reports on 70 dispensaries, three of which resulted in license suspensions or revocations. OHA said it had also been working with the U.S. Department of Justice to locate unregistered shops.
So far, nine dispensaries were sent orders to close or face civil penalties of $500 a day for continued operation. "Unlicensed dispensaries put our communities and patients at risk," Burns claimed. "When we find them, we will close them down."
A second shop, Marijuana Dispensaries at 4612 NE Sandy Boulevard, has been served with a proposed license revocation and civil penalties adding up to $29,500.
Inspectors visited that dispensary on August 7 and found violations including a failure to store cannabis in a secure location and "inadequate packaging" of marijuana. Authorities noted that the marijuana was not in child-resistant containers, instead being placed in plastic zip-lock bags.
Photo: Noelle Crombie, The Oregonian