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Cannabis Emergency Relief Fund

Information
Two employees at a cannabis shop in Portland stand behind their shop counter and take out cannabis from a jar and weigh it on a scale
The Cannabis Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) is designed to support businesses and employees who were directly impacted by COVID-19, increased vandalism, and crime, and the 2020 wildfires.
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Due to the volume of applications received thus far, CERF acceptance and processing of new applications will be paused after February 24, 2022 until further notification. Please check back for updates and/or sign-up for CERF partner communication via their respective websites.

Background

On Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, Portland City Council passed the Cannabis Emergency Relief Fund (CERF). City Council's approval allocates $1.33 million in Cannabis tax revenue toward recovery efforts for Portland's cannabis industry. See the entire presentation to City Council here.

The vote is historic as Portland becomes the first government jurisdiction in the country to allocate cannabis tax revenue to help cannabis businesses and workers as they continue to endure the impacts of robberies, COVID-19, and wildfires.

Council's approval allows Civic Life to provide non-competitive, umbrella grants to three community partners— NuLeaf ProjectThe Initiative and the Oregon Cannabis Association—to support and stimulate emergency relief grants for cannabis business and individuals. Applications are anticipated to open on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022.

The Fund is designed to support businesses and employees who were directly impacted by COVID-19, increased vandalism, and crime, and the 2020 wildfires.  Businesses may also use the grant to help pay for prior year deferred City of Portland licensing fees in order to remain in compliance and avoid further economic hardship.

The Cannabis Emergency Relief Fund will provide one-time grants of up to $25,000 for small sized licensed Cannabis businesses within Portland city limits, and up to $5,000 to cannabis industry workers economically impacted from COVID-19, vandalism, robberies, wildfire, and the residual effects of illness, trauma, and grief suffered from such impacts.

Please note that funding is only available for the 2021-22 fiscal year.

View the news release announcing City Council's approval here.

Applications

Due to the volume of applications received thus far, CERF acceptance and processing of new applications will be paused after February 24, 2022 until further notification. Please check back for updates and/or sign-up for CERF partner communication via their respective websites.

CERF applications are now open and can be accessed on the following community partner websites listed below. Please do not submit applications to the City of Portland, Office of Community & Civic Life or the Cannabis Program. They will not be reviewed nor processed. CERF applications will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis until all funds are disbursed or until the end of FY2021-2022 (ending on June 30, 2022), whichever is first. 

Applications for Businesses

NuLeaf Project

The Initiative

Oregon Cannabis Association

Applications for Individuals

NuLeaf Project

Cannabis Workers Coalition (in partnership with NuLeaf Project)

Eligibility

Owners of an establishment may apply as either the business or as an individual but not both. 

If you are applying as a business you must be a licensed, cannabis business in good standing with the City of Portland Cannabis Program AND:  

  • Business business is operated by 51% or greater historically disadvantaged ownership (minority, women, veteran, small business and/or low income) OR  
  • Hold three (3) or less pending or active Marijuana Regulatory Licenses by Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) AND 
  • Had annual receipts of less than $2.0 million in annual revenue for calendar year 2020 if business began operating on or after January 1, 2020
  • Had annual receipts of less than $2.0 million in annual revenue for calendar year 2021 If business began operating on or after January 1, 2021 

Other required eligibility:

  • Business headquarters must be in Oregon and/or business must be doing business in Portland, Oregon. 
  • Business has at least one full time employee. Please note: If business have sole proprietorship/owners, this may also count as an employee. 
  • Applicants’ employees must be on their payroll and have payroll taxes withheld. Please note: Independent contractors do not count toward employee numbers.
  • Be registered, current, and in good standing with the Oregon Secretary of State Office 
  • Be current and in good standing with local, state, and applicable federal taxing and licensing authorities. 
  • Applicable licenses be compliant and in good standing with local and state licensing agencies. 
  • Meet program technical requirements including ability to provide financial records. 
  • Certify intent to remain in operation for at least six months. 
  • One-time eligibility within the fiscal year. 
  • Funds must be applied only to licensed business and/or its employees within Portland. 
  • Not eligible for expenses covered by other grants and/or insurance. 

If you are applying as an individual you must be working on behalf of an OLCC licensed producer, processor, wholesaler, or retailer, including the licensees working in a licensed business or managing information in CTS, AND 

  • Have an approved and active OLCC Marijuana Worker Permit, AND 
  • Be part of a historically disadvantaged population, OR 
  • Annual Income does not exceed 70% of median income for City of Portland metro area 

OR

Must have previously worked on behalf of an OLCC licensed producer, processor, wholesaler, or retailer and laid off and/or terminated after March 2020, AND 

  • Have proof of an OLCC Marijuana Worker Permit expired after March 2020 
  • Be part of a historically disadvantaged population, OR 
  • Annual Income does not exceed 70% of median income for City of Portland metro area 

Other required eligibility:

  • Working in the City of Portland 

CERF Community Partners

Due to the emergency nature of the funds, non-competitive grants will be provided to three (3) community-based organizations that have demonstrated proven historical experience with, knowledge of and direct access to licensed cannabis businesses and individuals. Each CERF Community Partner provides unique insight and understanding of the current cannabis landscape ensuring that CERF funds are disbursed to those with the greatest level of need.  Please read below to learn more about each CERF Community Partner.  All eligible applicants must apply directly to the CERF Community Partner of their choice for emergency relief funds. 

NuLeaf Project ($680,000) NuLeaf Project’s (NLP) mission is to build intergenerational wealth via the legal cannabis industry for the communities disproportionately harmed by cannabis criminalization – Black, Indigenous, and Latina/o/x communities. NLP’s programs are designed to increase success outcomes for people of color in the cannabis industry either as business owners or professionals. NuLeaf's COVID-19 Relief Program is the precedent for the development of a city-wide Cannabis Emergency Relief Fund. In 2020, they provided $170,000 of emergency relief funding received by 19 cannabis businesses. To date, they have disbursed over $500,000 in grant support to cannabis businesses.

NuLeaf Project’s work is specifically designed to address three most common equity hurdles for all marginalized groups when starting a business or a professional career: capital, education/exposure, and connection. NLP provides funding for cannabis businesses, skill-building and mentoring for entrepreneurs and professionals, national and state equity policy development and advocacy. 

Cannabis Workers Coalition: Under the incubation of NuLeaf Project and a dedicated $150,000, CWC will help extend support specifically to individuals working in the cannabis industry. 

The Cannabis Workers Coalition (CWC) is a non-profit community- based work center that organizes and provides support to low wage workers who are not already members of a collective bargaining organization or have been legally excluded from coverage by U.S. labor laws. CWC continuously strives to reduce barriers to access by educating employers and industry leaders on how to implement fair and equitable workplace conditions and shift toward more inclusive systemic practices. 

The Initiative ($350,000) The Initiative is an accelerator program, business boot camp, and funding source for female founded cannabis businesses. The Initiative works to ensure that female founded and female run companies have the greatest chance to be innovators, creators, and success stories. Through in-class accelerator models, networking events, retreats, and access to funding, The Initiative ensures the cannabis industry remains the most progressive and gender balanced emerging industry possible.  

Oregon Cannabis Association ($300,000) The Oregon Cannabis Association is a diverse group of cultivators, processors, retailers, entrepreneurs, and allied businesses. OCA’s mission is to help one another thrive through networking events, educational workshops, and political representation. In Fall 2020, OCA joined the Cannabis Policy Oversight Team to testify before City Council about the dire need for emergency relief funding for cannabis businesses.

Frequently Asked Questions

How will funds be distributed? 

The City of Portland’s Cannabis Program will provide non-competitive, umbrella grants to CERF Community Partners to administer the emergency relief funds directly to eligible businesses and individuals.  

  • Emergency relief funds will be available early 2022 and must be fully disbursed by June 2022.  
  • Eligible applicants must apply directly to the CERF Community Partner of their choice for emergency relief funds. 
  • CERF Community Partners are approved to allocate up to 20% of grant budget for administrative overhead costs associated with executing the CERF approved plan.

How long is funding available?

  • CERF applications will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis until all funds are disbursed or until the end of FY2021-2022 (ending on June 30, 2022), whichever is first. 
  • CERF applications will be assessed on level of need and relief request. CERF Community Partners have a discretion to award less than requested based on assessment.  
  • Funds are prioritized for historically disadvantaged populations (minority, women, veteran, small and/or low-income) and will be disbursed based on level of need 
    • Individuals are eligible for up to $5,000 in emergency relief 
    • Businesses are eligible for up to $25,000 in emergency relief 
    • Individuals and entities may only qualify for and receive funds ONE TIME in the fiscal year applied for 
  • If selected, verification for how funds are applied must be provided. By accepting a grant fund, you are agreeing to be subject to an audit. 
  • Grant awards are subject to state and federal tax laws. Community Partners will issue IRS Form 1099 to each grant recipient  

Funds do not need to be repaid unless it is determined the information contained within the application was false, fraudulent, or misleading or if payment is otherwise prohibited by CERF program rules.

Need more details?

For additional questions regarding CERF, please email Christina.Coursey@portlandoregon.gov.