The Portland, Oregon City Council gave the go-ahead to distribute $1.33 million to local cannabis companies impacted over the past two years by the pandemic, property crime, and wildfires, according to KGW8. Funded by a 3% tax on cannabis sales passed by voters in 2016, the money is meant to help cannabis shops not eligible for federal COVID relief.
During the council session, Portland’s Cannabis Licensing and Policy Coordinator Christina Coursey reminded the body that small businesses received $114 million in CARES Act funds at the beginning of the pandemic. However, due to cannabis’s federal designation as a Schedule I narcotic, most of the “essential” cannabis businesses felt virtually none of the relief.
Compounding the issues, were robberies that affected the cash-only businesses especially hard and the devastating 2020 wildfires, Coursey said.
She estimates the Cannabis Emergency Relief Fund will help 75% of Portland’s cannabis licensees. Businesses must be located in the city, or be based in Oregon but operate in Portland, to be eligible for the program. Social equity licensees will be prioritized. Individuals may receive up to $5,000 and businesses may receive up to $25,000, according to the report.
Businesses who receive money from the city will be able to spend the funds on personal protection equipment, paying rent, or mortgage, insurance, or pay-roll expenses. The city is leaning on three external groups, NuLeaf, The Initiative, and the Oregon Cannabis Association, to distribute the funds to speed up the process and cut down on administrative costs.
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