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Dear Pot Lawyer,

Can I have both a marijuana worker permit AND a concealed handgun license?

Last week we fielded a question about Oregon’s medical marijuana program and whether its cardholders can own firearms. Considering everything that’s been in the news lately, it seems right to continue the focus on firearms—this time in relation to the state’s recreational cannabis program and the state permits that its workers, from budtenders to processors, must obtain. Right now there’s nothing in Oregon law that prohibits a permit holder from also holding a concealed handgun license.

Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) administrative rules provide a list of denial criteria for marijuana worker permit applications, and merely holding a concealed handgun license doesn’t make the cut. (You can find the full list of denial criteria in OAR 845-025-5540.) Similarly, your local county sheriff also has a set list of denial criteria for a concealed handgun license, and that statute makes no reference to marijuana worker permits or employment in the recreational cannabis industry. (The full list of reasons a concealed handgun license can be denied are available in ORS 166.291.)

But even though cannabis workers can hold concealed handgun licenses, the state remains deeply concerned about the intersection between firearms and the weed industry. This concern flows from one of the federal enforcement priorities listed in the infamous Cole Memorandum: “Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana.” This is one of the eight federal enforcement priorities that form the foundation of all state-level adult-use/recreational cannabis regimes, including in Oregon. If you ever find yourself wondering why a certain OLCC regulation exists, the answer is almost always, “to promote one of the eight Cole Memorandum enforcement priorities.” State-level cannabis programs want to avoid federal interference, so they satisfy these priorities.

The OLCC also escalates the severity of a licensee violation if deadly weapons are involved. Regulations bar any OLCC licensee or worker permit holder from allowing someone to harass, threaten, or physically harm another on the licensed property. While any allowance of such “disorderly activity” constitutes a Class III violation, the violation jumps to Class I or II if a deadly weapon is involved, potentially resulting in the revocation of an OLCC license after only one such violation. In short, if a licensee or permittee allows someone to be injured by a firearm on a licensed property, the OLCC license will be subject to revocation. Even shorter: Don’t bring guns onto licensed premises. While OLCC regulations and the cannabis statutes do not explicitly contain the word “firearm” or “gun,” using firearms to harass, threaten, or harm someone will put the OLCC license at risk.

You can apply for a marijuana worker permit while holding a concealed handgun license and you can apply for a concealed handgun license while holding a marijuana worker permit. Just don’t bring your gun to work!


Got a question? Email us at potlawyer@portlandmercury.com. And remember that if you have a legal problem, contact a lawyer! Our educational musings cannot be relied upon as specific legal advice.