Cannabis News

Portland Begins Recovery Path for a Sustainable Cannabis Industry


Although the Oregon cannabis market is valued at $1 billion in 2021, industry growth has been hampered by the triple punch of the impacts of COVID-19, record wildfires and an increase burglaries, leaving 20,000 full-time cannabis workers and the companies that employ them with no lifeline. Cannabis businesses in Oregon, mostly small local businesses, were ineligible to access federal disaster or emergency relief funding. Bank financing is also largely unavailable to cannabis businesses due to federal prohibition. These issues have led the city’s cannabis program to collaborate with several community cannabis organizations to creatively ensure the future economic success of the industry.

In December, the City of Portland became the first government entity in the United States to support cannabis recovery using cannabis tax revenue when the Office of Community and Civic Life won unanimous support from the City Council to allocate 1 $.33 million at the launch of the Cannabis Emergency Relief Fund (STAG) subsidies. CERF is a one-time allocation of cannabis tax revenue to provide equitable economic relief to an industry that has suffered the same disasters that other industries are experiencing.

Over the past two months, Civic life supported three community partners to open the grant application process to the public on February 1.

How does the Cannabis Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) work?

Grant applications are available for Portland licensed cannabis businesses, ancillary businesses, and licensed workers who were impacted by emergencies in 2020 and 2021.

The entire grant process, including grant application review, administration and disbursement of funds, will be handled solely by three community-based organizations: NuProjectThe Initiative and the Oregon Cannabis Association.

“These funds are a smart investment, needed now to maintain a strong local cannabis economy populated by diversely owned businesses. The CERF program gets the right “what” – an equitable investment – ​​and the “how” – by awarding funds to culturally specific organizations to build capacity to serve Portland’s historically excluded communities. In accordance with this, all individual grants will be managed through a partnership between NuProject and Cannabis Workers Coalition (CWC), an organization whose mission is to protect and advance fair worker rights.

– Jeannette Ward Horton, CEO of NuProject

The city’s cannabis program funded the creation of CERF to help hundreds of businesses and thousands of employees as they continue to deal with multiple crises. This infographic was co-created with the Cannabis Workers Coalition to show the variety of employees who are part of the cannabis ecosystem.

CERF is offering one-time grants of up to $25,000 to eligible cannabis and ancillary businesses within Portland city limits, and up to $5,000 to cannabis industry workers economically impacted by COVID-19. 19, vandalism, theft, forest fires, and illness and injury suffered as a result of these impacts. The city’s cannabis program will also provide up to $200,000 in waivers for the previous year’s licensing fees to eligible businesses that need help staying in compliance.

“I want to thank the Office of Community and Civic Life for once again being innovative and visionary about how to support the survival of these small businesses,” Commissioner Hardesty said at the City Council meeting in December 1 in Portland which led to a unanimous vote to endorse CERF. “I can never talk about the cannabis industry without pointing out that it is the only company in our state that pays 85% of their dollars in taxes but is legally unable to bank like everyone else in the state.

CERF Partners in Oregon

Civic Life provided funding to three uniquely positioned community partners to initiate and manage the CERF program, including grant applications, administration and disbursement of funds. All eligible applicants must apply directly to the CERF Community Partner of their choice for emergency relief funds. Applicants will receive a grant from only one of the three partner organizations.

You can find more information on how to apply for the Cannabis Emergency Relief Fund here.





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