MEDFORD, Ore. -- The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has a nine month backlog of recreational marijuana license applications. After Friday, June 15, the OLCC will temporarily pause processing new applications so it can catch up.
The OLCC says occasional surges in the applications have turned into a steady stream they can't keep up with. As of this morning, there are 1,290 applications waiting to be processed.
The OLCC says there are three main reasons for the backlog, and it's because it's projections for the new market were too low.
"We've received more applications than we ever expected, and given the tightness in the market we actually expected people not to be inclined to submit an application," says Mark Pettinger, the Marijuana Program Spokesperson for the OLCC.
Initially the OLCC thought around 1,200 applications would be submitted, and it would issue around 800 licenses. In reality, it got more than 3,600 applications, and have issues almost 2,000.
Since the projections were smaller than expected, so was the number of staff to process them. The OLCC only gets funding from the Oregon legislature every two years, so the department couldn't hire more people to pick up the slack.
"We're learning just as much as the industry is," says Pettinger.
The OLCC also says it didn't anticipate renewing licenses to take as long as it does.
"There wasn't a lot of forethought that was given towards what's the license renewal process going to look like cause we were just trying to get it up off the ground," says Pettinger.
When asked if pausing application processing for a backlog will create another backlog, Pettinger said that it depends on how many people continue to apply and the resources they get from the legislature next year.
Any applications submitted after June 15, 2018 will be set aside until the OLCC can process their backlog.