Removing Buffer Zones: Can’t find a location for your OLCC marijuana retailer license? Don’t give up just yet.

Finding a location that is eligible for an Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission cannabis retailer license can be daunting. In addition to statewide restrictions found in OAR 845-025-1115 and OAR 845-025-1230 that prohibit licensed retail premises from being near establishments such as schools, the state of Oregon also allows counties and municipalities to further restrict precisely where a cannabis company can operate through their land use and zoning codes.

However, too often entrepreneurs rely solely on the maps maintained by OLCC or their local governments indicating the relevant buffer zones inside which cannabis companies are prohibited from operating. The problem with relying solely on the these government sanctioned maps is that there is no guarantee the data the maps are based on is up to date. For instance, some schools automatically report their status to OLCC each year when others do not. It’s quite possible that the buffer zone encapsulating the perfect retail spot you have stumbled upon is based on a kindergarten school that no longer operates out of that location or perhaps an alternative school that previously offered high school education credits but now only provides GED prep courses. Digging a bit deeper into the actual statuses of the establishments in proximity to your planned business locations may reveal more options than you anticipated. This is especially true in denser urban areas where any licensable premises appear few and far between, at least according to the official map.

In the past we at Gleam Law have aided our clients in working with OLCC to have buffer zones removed and cleared the way for licensure. In addition, we can provide insight into what requirements your local government mandates so that you can be confident you avoid investing in locations that ultimately will not be eligible for cannabis operations.

If you need aid in navigating the possibilities of licensing a particular location, give us a call.

Matthew Coombs can be reached at