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Oregon regulators fail to monitor cannabis trade in state, says audit

A new audit by the Oregon Secretary of State has questioned the efficiency of marijuana regulators in the state. According to the audit released on Feb. 7, 2018, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s (OLCC’s) monitoring and enforcement system is not potent enough to keep a vigil on the $480 million marijuana trade in the state. Furthermore, the report highlighted various problems, including lack of inspectors.

The audit comes almost a week after U.S. Attorney Billy Williams convened a summit to address the problem of surplus marijuana finding its way into the black market in other states. Speaking at the summit, Oregon Governor Kate Brown had committed to implement “extensive safety and tracking measures” to curb illegal trading of marijuana in the state.

Pinpointing the problematic areas in the OLCC’s tracking methods, auditors suggested 17 recommendations to bring much-needed improvements in the otherwise faltering system. “We identified several weaknesses associated with OLCC’s new IT systems used for marijuana licensing and tracking. They include data integrity and maturity issues, and insufficient processes for managing marijuana computer programs and vendors,” auditors noted.

The audit also reported flaws in implementation of adequate security management program for OLCC’s all IT systems. The commission lacked effective policies, procedures, and plans to safeguard computer resources against physical threat and other known vulnerabilities.

Furthermore, the auditors objected to the agency’s practice of entering self-reported data by marijuana businesses in the cannabis tracking system (CTS), which could increase the risk of inaccurate information. Oregon administrative rules mandate all licensed marijuana businesses engaged in growing, processing, or selling usable marijuana to report daily figures of sales and inventory data using the CTS.

Audit recommendations

The audit suggested guidelines to address the risk associated with violation of recreational marijuana compliance. It warranted the need of developing and implementing protocols and standards for on-site inspections and investigations. The auditors stressed upon evaluating the need and provision for deputing adequate number of trained OLCC inspectors to prevent illegal marijuana diversion. They also called for conduction of risk-based on-site supervision and inspections to ensure proper maintenance of CTS by licensees.

To streamline marijuana vendor and application management, the auditors demanded development and implementation of policies and procedures to ensure businesses adhere to security and hosting requirements. The report also instructed licensees to develop and implement a potent system to bridge gaps in risk assessments and audits.

Meanwhile, OLCC’s executive director Steve Marks said the agency will follow up on “all aspects” of the audit. “It’s our highest value to stop black market diversion, to create a good consumer market…Those are fundamental to our mission. We have been building out staff and systems to do that,” Mark said in a letter to the state’s audits division.

Fighting marijuana addiction

Currently, nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational purposes and many others are likely to join the bandwagon sooner or later. Marijuana has become a big industry in the U.S. According to New Frontier Data, legal cannabis market might elevate to more than $24 billion by 2025. As marijuana sales are set to hit new high, there is a burgeoning need to address the potential hazards associated with its use.

According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH),about 4 million people aged 12 or older in 2016 had a marijuana use disorder in the past year. People grappling with addiction to marijuana or other drugs should seek immediate medical assistance. The 24/7 Recovery Helpline offers valuable information about addiction treatment through drug help live chat. Call at our helpline number (855) 441-4405 or visit our website for more information on drug addiction treatment and online chat with one of our representatives.

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