Portland’s Cannabis Program Announces Leadership Change

News Article
And Opens SEED Grant for Communities Impacted by Cannabis Prohibition


Media Contact:
Daniel McArdle-Jaimes
Office of Community & Civic Life
daniel.mcardle-jaimes@PortlandO…; 503-865-6661             

Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022

A large group of people smile at the camera at the City of Portland's first-ever Cannabis Empowerment Day celebration.
An image from the 2022 Cannabis Empowerment Day--Portland's first cannabis community event.

Portland’s Cannabis Program Announces Leadership Change

And Opens SEED Grant for Communities Impacted by Cannabis Prohibition 

PORTLAND, Ore.— Former Cannabis Program Manager Dasheeda Dawson shared that she is taking on a new role in the City of New York’s cannabis program. Dawson’s announcement was first shared by the New York Times today. Dawson's last day with the City of Portland was yesterday, but she plans to remain as a volunteer to support Portland’s Cannabis Policy Oversight Team.

“I have loved working with this amazing team and community committed to growing Portland’s cannabis market and repairing the damage of cannabis prohibition,” said Dawson. “The program is under the Office of Community & Civic Life because it houses important community issues including cannabis reform, immigration, livability and disability justice. The bureau's framework in working with the community to resolve systemic issues is only inspiring other larger markets to follow Portland’s lead.” 

Despite the market’s repetitive theft, increased overhead, and inflation challenges, Portland may have the country’s most innovative, equity-centered, and resilient cannabis ecosystem due to the creative problem-solving and programming created by the community, businesses and the City's program.

The program’s recent accomplishments include: 

  • Becoming the first U.S. government entity to support cannabis industry pandemic recovery through the Cannabis Emergency Relief Fund.  
  • Being the first U.S. government entity to fund community investment with cannabis tax revenue through the Social Equity & Educational Development (SEED) Initiatives.  
  • Hosting the first Cannabis Empowerment Day, also Portland’s first government-led cannabis community event.  
  • Facilitating the Cannabis Policy Oversight Team (CPOT) to advise the City in building Portland’s cannabis ecosystem. 

This month Portland opened its sixth cycle of the SEED Initiatives Grant. SEED supports organizations working to repair the lasting legal, social, economic, and inter-generational consequences of cannabis prohibition on BIPOC communities.  

SEED Initiatives became the national standard for other government-led community reinvestment programs funded by cannabis tax revenue, including the Los Angeles California’s SEED Grant and Rockford Illinois’ REGROW Grant Fund.

Portland is 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.

“Portland’s track record will continue,” said Commissioner-in-charge Jo Ann Hardesty. “And, this is why it is my pleasure to announce that Christina Coursey will serve as the Interim Cannabis Program Manager.”

Coursey has been with City’s Cannabis Program since 2015. Currently, the Cannabis Program’s Licensing, Compliance & Policy Supervisor, she is the architect and lead administrator of the Cannabis Emergency Relief Fund (CERF)

“I am proud of the historic work Portland’s Cannabis Program has accomplished. I am thankful for Dasheeda’s strong voice and leadership and am excited for this opportunity to continue the important work she started,” said Coursey. “Portland has the transformative framework, and I’m looking forward to further advancements as I continue collaborating with Interim Director Michael Montoya and Dasheeda in a new capacity.”