Oregon’s Cannabis Industry Endures Sales Drop, More Crime, and Braces for More Challenges
The City of Portland’s Cannabis Program and local advocates presented to Portland City Council on Thursday, sharing sobering statistics that underscore how repetitive theft, increased overhead, and inflation are negatively impacting the economy. What is more, Portland retailers are currently selling product at extremely discounted rates and cannabis industry experts caution that Oregon’s cannabis ecosystem is vulnerable.
“We’re noting cannabis consumers shifting their dollars toward other summer fundamentals such as groceries, childcare, vacations, and gas,” said Cannabis Policy Oversight Team (CPOT) Chair Travis Maurer. “I’m hopeful that the City, CPOT and our three subcommittees will continue to find creative, workable, and long-term solutions to re-invest in it, while growing the industry.”
Portland’s Shaken Cannabis Industry
In December 2021, Portland City Council approved the Cannabis Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) — the first-of-its-kind in the country. This allowed Civic Life’s Cannabis Program to allocate $1.33M in umbrella grants to three community partners — NuProject, The Initiative and the Oregon Cannabis Association — to support and stimulate emergency relief grants for cannabis business and individuals. Applications opened and closed in 24 days because the need was overwhelming.
“The cannabis industry continues to endure a series of hardships no one likes talking about,” said Licensing, Compliance & Policy Supervisor Christina Coursey. “They are without a lifeline, and our office received dozens of calls seeking resources. Portland is the first government entity to respond by creating and launching a program like CERF.”
At Thursday’s City Council session, CERF community partners joined the Cannabis team to summarize how they distributed the relief grants for small, Portland-licensed businesses and cannabis industry workers economically impacted by COVID-19, vandalism, theft, wildfire, and the residual effects of illness, trauma, and grief suffered from those impacts.
The City of Portland Offers Hopeful Recovery
For some of Portland’s 389 cannabis businesses, CERF afforded them the opportunity to keep their doors open and bring back employees. For individuals, it meant paying their bills and childcare. Those in the industry were ineligible for federal or state-administered COVID-19 relief due to federal prohibition. Hear from CERF partners, employees and business owners in this video…
“Since July 2020, Oregon’s cannabis industry shows a 14% drop in average monthly sales,” reported Cannabis Program Manager Dasheeda Dawson. “Our office continues to work with City Council and CPOT to offset these unprecedented burdens by using cannabis tax revenue to implement programs like CERF.”
On Thursday, City Council unanimously approved an additional $456,901 for CERF to help support even more cannabis businesses and employees. Applications for the additional funds will open in late 2022.
Portland’s Social Equity & Educational Development (SEED) Initiatives
Despite current challenges, the City’s Cannabis team reminded City Council how a portion of the 3% of recreational cannabis tax revenue is going back into the community to support people most impacted by past cannabis prohibition.
On Thursday, Council also approved $1 million in funding for ten SEED Grant recipients. The SEED Grant prioritize BIPOC- and women-led small business initiatives that support economic and educational development of BIPOC communities. The recipients implement innovative and progressive workforce development, entrepreneurship, social justice or expungement programs with proven results.
Since 2017, the SEED Grant Fund has awarded more than $4.3 million to more than 40 grant recipients.
SEED Grant Recipient Elevate Oregon serves hundreds of students in the Parkrose School District, Oregon’s third most diverse school district, to develop character qualities and life skills that form a good foundation for the rest of their lives.
The Cannabis Program is housed within the Office of Community & Civic Life (Civic Life). Civic Life connects the people of Portland with their City government to promote the common good. Our programs create a culture of collaboration, expanding possibilities for all Portlanders to contribute their knowledge, experience, and creativity to solve local problems and make life better in the city we all share.
Please support the City of Portland’s first ever Cannabis Empowerment Day!