2021 Cannabis Policy Report

Photo of the the famous White Stag Portland, Oregon sign

The Cannabis Policy Oversight Team (CPOT) is pleased to share the 2021 Annual Cannabis Policy Report with the Office of Community & Civic Life and the communities served by the City of Portland. Our 2022 goals and recommendations are centered on key findings related to the lack of cannabis knowledge and competency among various stakeholders, the lack of data transparency and key performance indicators within the cannabis ecosystem, the impacts this industry has on our surrounding environment, and the continuing need for expanded programs to better serve those impacted by cannabis prohibition, including expungement and economic development. CPOT wanted to further build on what was recommended in the 2020 report, but we strived to be more laser-focused and assertive in our recommendations for this year’s report.

Although 2021 was another record sales year for the Oregon cannabis industry and another banner year for the State and City’s tax coffers, the cascading impacts related to the ongoing pandemic, the sharp increase in burglaries and robberies, and the devastating wildfires continue to create vulnerabilities within the cannabis industry ecosystem in Oregon. Our recommendations from the 2020 report, supporting public testimony and letter writing campaign from last year helped pave the way for many of the changes seen in 2021. One of the most notable, on Dec. 1, 2021, Portland City Council unanimously voted to support cannabis industry recovery through cannabis tax allocation and the recently approved $1.33 million Cannabis Emergency Relief Fund (CERF), the first of its kind in the country.

A number of other exciting developments in 2021 helped prioritize total equity in our communities and assisted the cannabis industry in remaining a viable business opportunity. The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC) resumed processing new licensing applications in November after a three-year pause that severely impacted those businesses and individuals with limited resources. For example, informed by CPOT’s 2019 Cannabis Policy Report regarding cannabis tax revenue investment, Portland’s City Council unanimously approved the Office of Community & Civic Life’s Social Equity and Educational Development (SEED) Initiatives in May and awarded 17 local nonprofit organizations and businesses a total of $1.8 million dollars. As the first program in the country to integrate equity programming within a cannabis regulatory program, SEED Initiatives will continue to benefit and support projects within and outside of the cannabis industry. A total of $1 million dollars in ongoing grant funding will be available for the 2022 SEED Grant Fund. CPOT realized early in 2021 that we needed to take immediate and bold action to secure the future success and sustainability of this vulnerable cannabis ecosystem.

At the start of 2021, we convened several working subcommittees for the first time in CPOT’s history. These subcommittees were focused on Competency, Small Business, and Community Impact, and were each led by two CPOT members with several industry and community stakeholders as subcommittee members. This allowed CPOT to expand the range of thoughts, feedback, and outcomes, which helped shape our findings for this report. CPOT is looking to convene additional sub-committees in 2022. In addition, CPOT seated several new members from diverse backgrounds and experiences in 2021. This gave CPOT the full roster of voting members allowed under the by-laws for the first time in several years and introduced fresh new perspectives to the team.

As we close out 2021 and look forward to 2022, CPOT will continue to demonstrate that it is on a mission to support equitable access and outcomes for the cannabis industry, cannabis consumers, and all Portlanders. CPOT is invested in showing the local community and the rest of the country what a sustainable and equitable cannabis ecosystem should look like and what it takes to ensure its continued success, now and for generations to come.