PAC Auction / OLCC Presentation / Lodging Tax Accountability
One Big Night in Less than 2 Months
ORLA's largest fundraiser of the year will be here in less than 2 months. One Big Night will be held at the Portland Doubletree Hotel, Tuesday, June 7.
Presentation to OLCC Commission
ORLA representatives had an opportunity to present an industry update to the seven-member OLCC (Oregon Liquor and Cannabis) Commission last week. The presentation focused on the importance of OLCC staff extending liquor service footprints outdoors through a user friendly online process during Covid, their approach to license fee flexibility, and the emergence of to-go cocktails as another sales opportunity permanently available to the industry in Oregon to increase sales. We also flagged both ongoing inflation concerns and the importance of Economic Injury Disaster Loan extensions in helping our industry just barely keep our heads above water. ORLA remains focused on explaining the nature of invisible piles of debt on the shoulders of our operators while we all start seeing restaurants busy and even bustling. Today's sales numbers hopefully serve as a constant reminder that ongoing relief is necessary and warranted.
Industry Coverage in The Hill
The Hill published an op-ed from Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs for the National Restaurant Association. Sean hit the mark in covering what the industry needs to get back on track. It was a timely article right before industry operators head to DC this week.
Accountability for Local Governments on Local Lodging Taxes
ORLA remains committed to doing what we need to do in getting local governments to commit to transparency in how they spend industry tax dollars. We are currently in the middle of a disagreement with staff from one city in the Willamette Valley on how much of their lodging tax money is restricted for tourism promotion and facilities. A multitude of other local governments are also on our list in our pursuit of additional transparency.
Have questions? Give us a call at 503.682.4422 or email us if you have any questions. | ORLA
The tally of restaurant closures grows every month as restrictions continue
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 12, 2021
Greg Astley, Director of Government Affairs, ORLA
503.851.1330 | astley@OregonRLA.org
Wilsonville, OR– According to CHD Expert, Oregon has lost an additional 190 foodservice locations during March as over a year of lockdowns and restrictions continue to wreak havoc on the state’s hospitality industry.
“We have seen over 200 additional restaurant closures in 2021 on top of the closures experienced in 2020,” said Greg Astley, Director of Government Affairs for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. “An analysis of data compiled from sources including CHD Expert and active alcohol licenses from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) shows us that we have now experienced a net loss of approximately 600 to 800 permanent closures of restaurants across Oregon.”
CHD Expert data for 2020 shows 1,185 closures of restaurants with 770 openings during the year for a net difference totaling 415 locations. Food service operations serving alcohol have experienced a decrease of 442 locations compared to pre-covid location totals, according to the OLCC.
“Our state leaders in Oregon’s Legislature continue to look for ways to provide assistance to the hard-hit restaurant and lodging sectors,” said Astley. “We would like to recognize State Senators Betsy Johnson and Elizabeth Steiner Hayward for looking at relief options including the creation of a credit to help cover the costs of alcohol licenses for calendar year 2021.”
Read more in a recent OLCC memo to Senators Johnson and Steiner Hayward outlining the costs associated with licensee credits.
“The volatility due to government restrictions in Oregon is clobbering the ability of restaurant owners and managers to provide some scheduling stability for our industry employees,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. “We have a perfect storm brewing – growing checking accounts from stimulus funding, increased unemployment benefits for Oregonians, pent up demand for hospitality services from consumers, and frontline workers still pushing through the process of vaccinations. For our consumers out there, please be patient with your favorite local restaurants and lodging establishments. They will continue to do whatever they can within their control to meet your expectations.”
For more information on the efforts of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association please visit OregonRLA.org.
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association is the leading business association for the foodservice and lodging industry in Oregon, which before COVID-19 provided over 180,000 paychecks to working Oregonians.
What’s Legal When It Comes to CBD in Edibles and Alcohol
As new trends and topics in the alcohol industry emerge, the OLCC strives to keep current on these issues. Recently, there has been significant interest throughout the industry in the use and sale of cannabidiol (CBD) items on liquor-licensed premises. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (also referred to as the 2018 Farm Bill) was partially responsible for generating this interest because a part of the bill removed “hemp” and its derivatives from the definition of “marihuana” in the Controlled Substances Act. Although the 2018 Farm Bill established some regulatory authority for hemp under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this piece of legislation did little to explain or clarify the legal status of CBD and CBD products. Due to this uncertainty, the next few paragraphs will attempt to explain the complexities of this issue and help to answer a few questions about CBD products and OLCC liquor licensees.
What is CBD?
First, it is important to understand what CBD is and where it comes from. CBD is a non-intoxicating chemical compound (called a cannabinoid) that can be derived from cannabis plants. Because both hemp and marijuana come from the same plant (cannabis) they are both interchangeably referred to as cannabis, but there is an important legal distinction. Whether a cannabis plant is considered hemp or marijuana depends upon the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the plant contains. THC is, of course, the cannabinoid responsible for the psychological effects associated with marijuana consumption. For a cannabis plant to be considered hemp, it must contain less than 0.3 percent THC, otherwise the plant is considered marijuana. Because marijuana is still considered to be a Schedule I controlled substance by the federal government, the source of the CBD is important. Even if a finished CBD product contains 0 percent THC, if the CBD was derived from a plant that contained more than 0.3 percent THC and is therefore marijuana, the CBD is considered a marijuana derivative. In Oregon, marijuana and all marijuana derivatives may only be sold by a licensed recreational marijuana retail store or medical marijuana registrant. For OLCC liquor licensees, the source of the CBD is also important because permitting the use or sale of a marijuana item on a liquor-licensed premises is a violation that could result in a license suspension or civil penalty.
Although the CBD must be derived from hemp, not all hemp products contain CBD. Hemp stalks and seeds contain only trace amounts of CBD and have been legally used in food and beverages prior to the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. The CBD used in many popular products is commonly extracted from the flowers and leaves of the hemp plant. The remainder of this article refers to CBD derived from hemp.
What Conduct is Prohibited?
Despite the current lack of legal clarity, federal agencies have provided guidance on two types of conduct that are prohibited. First, the FDA, which regulates food products and food safety, has determined that selling or offering to sell a food or beverage item containing CBD in interstate commerce is illegal. For OLCC liquor licensees to comply with federal law, they should not purchase CBD products that were produced in another state.
Second, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which regulates the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages, has determined it will not approve any alcoholic beverage formulas that contain CBD. Because obtaining formula approval is required to produce an alcoholic beverage with a non-traditional ingredient (such as hemp), all alcoholic beverages manufactured with CBD are prohibited. This means that all OLCC licensees that manufacture alcoholic beverages are prohibited from adding CBD during the production of the beverage or prior to bottling. To help clarify the agency’s position, the OLCC has proposed a rule change that would make it a violation for any OLCC liquor licensee to manufacture, store, or sell any alcoholic beverage that contains cannabinoids or any substance derived from cannabis, including cannabis terpenes. If adopted at the December Commission Meeting, the rule would apply to all license types and be effective January 1, 2020.
What about Non-Alcoholic CBD Products?
The two other common questions received by the OLCC on this issue involve non-alcoholic CBD products. Licensees are particularly interested in mixing non-alcoholic CBD beverages with alcohol in a mixed drink for on-premises consumption and are also interested in selling non-alcoholic CBD products on liquor-licensed premises.
In Oregon, hemp production is regulated by the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA). The ODA has adopted rules that govern products made with hemp, including items intended for human consumption. Under ODA rules, those food and beverage items made with hemp are required to be tested in the same manner that marijuana food items are tested in Oregon. This means that an OLCC licensed laboratory or equivalent lab must receive samples from each process lot of the hemp items and the lab must test those products to ensure they meet certain standards regarding pesticides, solvents, and potency. Because people are going to be consuming these products, it is extremely important to make sure that these items have been tested.
Because the effect of mixing CBD and alcohol is currently unknown, the OLCC recommends that licensees do not mix CBD and alcohol together into mixed drinks for on-premises consumption. If a licensee chooses to do so, it is done at the licensee’s own risk. If a licensee would like to sell a non-alcoholic CBD item on a liquor-licensed premises, the licensee must obtain a copy of the lab report showing that the product was properly tested according to the ODA’s rules. If any licensee is currently selling any CBD products that have not been properly tested, the licensee should have removed all non-compliant products from their inventory by December 31, 2019.
The OLCC is publishing guidance documents on the OLCC website to help explain what types of activities may occur on a liquor-licensed premises. The guidance is split into five categories: alcohol manufacturing, wholesale and distribution, liquor store sales, sale of alcohol at retail, and testing requirements. The guidance is meant to help provide clarity for a very complex issue. These documents are scheduled to be available by the end of December and will be updated if rules or policies change. If you have questions, please visit the OLCC website at Oregon.gov/OLCC or contact the OLCC. | Jamie Dickinson, Oregon Liquor Control Commission
This article originally published in the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association Magazine - Winter 2020
On June 30, the Oregon Legislature officially came to a close. The 2019 session was marked by hyper-partisanship, two walkouts by Senate Republicans and dozens of new laws affecting the hospitality industry. Several key bills will affect how restaurants and lodging properties conduct business in the near future. Watch for ORLA's full recap of the session coming soon to the Advocacy page.
Here are a few quick updates:
HB 2005 – Paid Family and Medical Leave
SB 90 – Plastic Straws on request
Plastic straws in restaurants are now only available “on request” unless a customer is using the drive through and then employees may ask the customer if they would like a straw. Effective as of June 13, 2019.
HB 2509 – Plastic Bag Ban
Single use disposable plastic bags are banned from restaurants and grocery stores. Retailers may charge for paper bags. Effective date is January 1, 2020. Read HB 2509 Enrolled.
HB 3137 – Collection of local lodging taxes by Oregon Department of Revenue
Provides that transient lodging tax becomes due when occupancy of transient lodging with respect to which tax is imposed ends. This bill will help eliminate the issue of properties collecting and remitting the lodging tax to the state and then if a customer cancels, having to go back and recover the lodging tax paid in order to refund the customer the tax. Effective date January 1, 2020.
SB 248 – Increase in certain fees charged by OLCC
Fees for OLCC licenses will double effective July 1, 2019. Negotiated separately from this bill is the option to renew an OLCC alcohol license every two years instead of annually.
Discussions on Cannabis Tourism and Licensing Fee Increase
On a quarterly basis, ORLA has the opportunity to participate in meetings with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) to address issues impacting our industry. As members often have questions relating to licensing and other liquor or marijuana issues, ORLA appreciates the open lines of communications with the agency and the Commissioners.
At a recent OLCC Commissioners meeting, ORLA presented on cannabis tourism and the challenges our industry faces with OLCC licensees not being able to host cannabis events on site without giving up their OLCC license. Executive Director Steve Marks clarified that OLCC licensees are not able to hold cannabis-related events as the agency has defined a licensee’s entire property as being part of the license.
ORLA asked for consideration and discussion around the issue as cannabis-related tourism is a growing segment of the industry. Commissioner Matt Maletis reinforced the opportunities available to cannabis-related tourism and expressed his appreciation for ORLA addressing the issue.
At the request of Governor Kate Brown for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), SB 248 was introduced which would increase all licensing fees including those for breweries, wineries, distilleries and retailers. The increase is needed to upgrade technology and software for the agency to help increase efficiency and productivity. ORLA has been in discussions with the OLCC about the increase and received assurances from the agency that as part of the increased fees, OLCC would make a change in administrative rules to allow for two-year licenses.
The two-year license is something ORLA has heard members are interested in to help them save time and money by only having to apply for renewals every two years instead of annually.
There would be exceptions to the two-year license offering which may include first-time applicants and applicants who have had a violation in the last 12 months. Details are still being worked on at this time and ORLA will share updates with members as they come.
If you have questions relating to OLCC licensing or other issues, feel free to reach out to me at Astley@OregonRLA.org. | Greg Astley
Restaurants Who Sell Elouan Wine Should Consider Risks
The OLCC has determined wine producer Copper Cane of California to be misrepresenting Oregon wine geographic designations on its Elouan packaging and sales material, recommending revocation of their Certificate to ship wine into Oregon for resale. Widespread news reports now give restaurateurs knowledge of these misrepresentations and thus liability under the Unlawful Trade Practices Act. The wines are made in California and are not legally eligible to state or infer Oregon American Viticultural Areas on their labels, packaging or advertising material. You may want to consider this risk in selling this product in your restaurants.
Oregon Legislature to consider laws protecting wine industry (1.14.19 - Capital Press)
Copper Cane Controversy (11.1.18 - Oregon Wine Press)