DON’T SMOKE THE MESSENGER: The Oregon Health Authority may need to do some more hiring
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I wanted to gift my mom, who was visiting from out of state, a specific CBD edible product. The calming caramel from Epic Edibles seemed like the perfect match as an alternative to the anti-anxiety pharmaceutical that she had been prescribed, but I couldn’t find them anywhere.
When I called the company to find out how I could purchase some, I was shocked to hear they had pretty much been forced to stop production. Owners, Michel Monarch and Peter Gross were eager to explain how rule that changed on October 1 have completely halted a new and quickly growing business, along with many others, in this quickly growing industry.
“Pretty much, the Oregon Health Authority is at fault here.” Gross explains. “For months, they (OHA) had been telling us there were going to be new testing requirements starting October 1, and products that did not meet those requirements would not be able to be sold, but they didn’t tell us what those requirements were going to be.” But orders kept coming in, so production needed to continue.
It turns out, the new requirements laid out by the OHA are much more rigorous, and of course, more expensive.
“For example” Monarch joins the conversation “prior to October 1, we used to be able to send our sample in for a whole batch of caramels, about 2,000-3,000 pieces, and be able to adjust the levels of THC to the correct amount of milligrams of THC per gram of product. Now instead of testing from a batch, individual caramels have to be tested.” If that caramel is not 5mg or less per piece, it is too late for the whole batch, as the production has already been completed, and there is no way to adjust that batch.
On top of that, the rates for testing have more than doubled, $160 to $280 a test, or a company can do a round testing validation process that is $7000 each test, 3 times a year. Plus a $75 test per piece here, another test there, more costly, more prohibitive,
“It completely stopped us in our tracks,” said Monarch.
Epic Edibles has recently laid off eight people, and they know of another company in the Rogue Valley that has had to lay off 20. Newly hired employees, earning a living wage, have all lost their jobs. Infrastructure expansion and new leases had to be canceled, new investment had to be put on hold.
“The OHA seems to have this horrible pattern of make extremely strict rule changes, and then backing off when they get backlash from patients and dispensaries. Now that tax revenue must be down, since sales at dispensaries are down 30 percent, it looks like there will be another set of rule changes in January” says Monarch, who know sales are down because the shelves of their Dispensary, Green Valley Wellness, are starting to look bare.
Monarch finishes “It’s the patients that loose the most. There are literally little old ladies who used to buy a caramel for all day pain relief, who don’t want to smoke something, who now have no options”. The irony that the authority charged with Oregonians health is causing more pain is not lost on Monarch and Gross. They have been sharing their feedback with the OHA, and are hopeful that more reasonable rules will be set in January, and production can begin anew.