If your New Year’s resolution involves quitting your current job, you can now consider an array of jobs within Oregon’s budding recreational marijuana industry. But before you can land that career you’ve only ever dreamed about surrounded by the skunky scent of weed, you must pass a multiple choice test, a background check and then fork over $100 in order to secure a Marijuana Worker Permit from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC).
For an industry currently stifled by regulations, this $100 fee could prove prohibitive. Data provided by the OLCC seem to support that assertion, as there are an almost equal number of permits issued (4,303) as permits that have been approved but not paid for, which stands at 4,288.
However, the number of approved but unpaid permits could also be attributed in part to a workaround for those employed at a marijuana business licensed by the OLCC.
Currently, if you work at an OLCC licensed weed shop you only need to "take the test and apply for a permit as soon as possible," according to the Marijuana Worker Permit FAQ on the OLCC website. So while there’s no guarantee that an OLCC-licensed business will hire you without your Marijuana Worker Permit, not paying the fee may not hinder you at first either.
Hwy. 99 Cannabis Co.’s manager Tim Byars likens the process to that of bartenders getting their OLCC server permit. He says that the process has been “working fine” for him and for the shop’s other four employees.
Byars notes that four out of the five currently have their permit, but says that “as long as you are in the process of getting it, you can work.”
Tippi Pollet, manager of Green Health Associates, says that the Marijuana Worker Permit program is “working fine” and that the process is “super easy.” Pollet also says that the company paid for all of its employees’ permits, and that the $100 fee “is a hindrance if you have to come up with it, and if you don’t have a job.”
While coming up with the $100 fee may not be easy, the 30-question test is.
This reporter needed less than an hour to read the manual — available as a PDF on the OLCC’s website — and pass the open-book test with a perfect score. Most of the multiple-choice questions are easy, some with amusing answers that are obviously incorrect.
Once those hurdles are cleared, the only thing left to do is download the certificate of completion emailed by the OLCC, snap a quick picture of the applicant’s photo ID and attach both to the electronic permit application before submitting it.
Less than 24 hours later, this reporter was informed via email that the last obstacle to complete to get the permit was doling out $100 to the OLCC, at which point the option to download and then print the license becomes available.
The OLCC does not mail the license.
Mark Pettinger, the OLCC’s public affairs contact for recreational marijuana, confirmed that employees may continue to work as long as they are in the process of getting the permit.
Pettinger did not respond before press time to a request as just how long a time that grace period lasts before a weed worker must pay the $100.
This story has been updated.