Although the Oregon cannabis market is estimated to be worth $1 billion in 2021, industry growth has been hampered by the mighty triple whammy of the effects of COVID-19, record wildfires, and a rise in burglaries, leaving 20,000 full-time cannabis workers and the companies that hire them without Lifeline. Cannabis businesses in Oregon, especially small, locally owned businesses, were ineligible for federal disaster or emergency relief funding. Bank financing is largely unavailable to cannabis companies due to the federal ban. These issues led the city’s cannabis program to collaborate with several cannabis community 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 secured unanimous support from the city council to allocate $1.33 million to launch the Emergency Cannabis Relief Fund (CERF) Grant. The Central Emergency Response Fund is a one-time allocation of cannabis tax revenue to provide equitable economic relief to an industry that has suffered the same disasters as other industries.
In the past two months, civil life Three community partners supported to open the grant application process to the public on February 1.
How does the CERF work?
Grant applications are available for Portland-licensed cannabis businesses, ancillary businesses, and permitted workers affected by emergencies in 2020 and 2021.
The entire grant process, including grant application review, administration, and disbursement of funds, will be managed by only three CBOs: NuProjectThe Initiative and the Oregon Hemp Association.
“This money is a smart investment, and there is now a need to maintain a strong local cannabis economy populated by diversified owned businesses. The CERF program gets the right “what” – a fair investment – and “how” – giving money to organizations with a specific culture to build capacity in service Portland’s Historically Excluded Communities. In line with this, all individual grants will be awarded via a partnership between the NuProject and the Cannabis Workers Coalition (CWC), an organization whose mission is to protect and promote fair workers’ rights.”
– Janet Ward Horton, CEO of NuProject
The city’s cannabis program funded the creation of the Central Emergency Response Fund to help hundreds of companies and thousands of employees as they continue to face multiple crises. This infographic was created jointly with the Cannabis Workers Alliance to show the diverse group of employees who are part of the cannabis ecosystem.
The Central Emergency Response Fund offers one-time grants of up to $25,000 for eligible cannabis and additional businesses within Portland city limits, and up to $5,000 to cannabis industry workers economically affected by COVID-19, vandalism, theft, wildfire, illness and trauma suffered as a result of these influences. The city’s cannabis program will also provide up to $200,000 in prior year licensing fee waivers for eligible businesses who need support to stay in compliance.
Commissioner Hardesty said during a Portland City Council meeting on December 1 that led to a unanimous vote approving CERF. “I can never talk about the cannabis industry without emphasizing that it is the only business in our state Pays 85% of their dollars in taxes Yet he is not legally able to do business with banks like everyone else in the state.”
CERF Partners in Oregon
Civic Life has provided funding to three partners combined in a unique position to launch and manage the CERF program, including grant applications, management, 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 grant funding from only one of the three partner organizations.