Cannabis businesses in Portland, OR, gain access to relief funds

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The city is the latest to step in and give cannabis entrepreneurs assistance when the federal government won’t

Yesterday, a plan was adopted by the Portland, OR City Council to distribute just over $1.30 million in relief funds to all cannabis businesses affected in one way or another by the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfire damage over the past two years, and increased property damage. It is reported that a 3% local retail cannabis tax approved by voters more than five years ago will be responsible for providing this funding.

Christina Coursey, Portland’s Cannabis Licensing and Policy Coordinator, noted during a presentation to the council that The City of Roses had received $114 million in federal CARES Act funds to help various small businesses during the early stages of the pandemic. However, none of the money was destined for the cannabis industry because federal law still makes marijuana illegal.

Coursey points out that cannabis retailers are considered a vital part of the state and were able to maintain their operations even with the impact of the coronavirus. They were still trying to overcome a number of challenges, such as increased crime and vandalism and staffing shortages due to the pandemic. As is well known, many of these businesses are cash-only, making them an ideal target for crime. In addition, last year’s wildfire season was also devastating to the cannabis industry in the Beaver State, especially after some cannabis farms were affected.

Titled the Cannabis Emergency Relief Fund, Coursey estimated that at least 75% of the city’s nearly 350 cannabis license holders would be considered for this program’s assistance.