PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland government officials, cannabis entrepreneurs and industry advocates came together to support a report on how cannabis tax revenue can help communities most harmed by cannabis prohibition, among other issues.

On Monday, April 11, the city held a press conference in relation to the Cannabis Policy Oversight Team’s policy report. The report highlights CPOT’s role in advancing policy to aid cannabis businesses dealing with the aftermath of COVID, increased burglaries, vandalism and wildfires.

Below are 4 takeaways from the announcement.

Policy recommendations

The team’s recommendations are based on the CHEM Pillars of Health Equity — human, economic, environment and social. According to a press release by the city, the pillars are used as a guide to create and support equity-centered cannabis policies with a “holistic” view of the industry’s impact.

For environmental equity, the team recommends providing fee reductions for cannabis businesses moving toward environmental sustainability.

The report suggests for the city to pilot and adopt a cannabis competency education module and launch a coding-focused STEM education program to advance human equity.

What about economic advancement?

“Hire a research analyst to the Cannabis Program,” said the team. “Commission an economic viability report for Portland’s cannabis industry.”

In social equity, the group recommends creating a city-led and funded criminal record expungement program along with collecting and studying data to understand cannabis industry equity impacts.

Cannabis equity and justice

“When it comes to expunging past cannabis-related criminal records, this should not solely be the work of the city of Portland,” said Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty in a press conference. “We need the state of Oregon to step-up and expunge previous nonviolent cannabis-related convictions from all peoples’ records.”

She added, “We need the federal government to get with the times and change the federal classification of cannabis so our small businesses can stop struggling with the weight of an extreme tax burden, low- to no-insurance, astronomical bank fees, and ineligibility for federal support even during a global pandemic. It is the modern equivalency of taxation without representation.”

The city shared that 412 active local cannabis licensees exist with an estimated 13% of them being BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) owned.

CPOT says it’s looking for more ways to increase equity, diversity and opportunity within the multi-billion-dollar industry.

COVID and cannabis

Although 2021 was another record sales year for the Oregon cannabis industry, the cannabis industry got a lot thrown their way, said the city.

“The simultaneous crises of COVID, burglaries, and wildfires, while being excluded from federal aid and COVID relief, left the cannabis industry without any emergency support,” added the announcement.

CPOT advised the Portland City Council to administer the $1.33 million Cannabis Emergency Relied Fund, according to the team. The city called the vote “historic” because Portland became 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.

National update

On April 1, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act that legalizes cannabis on the federal level.

The city highlighted U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer’s, D-Ore., effort to pass the bill.

“If passed, this measure would require federal courts to expunge prior cannabis convictions and hold resentencing hearings for those completing their sentences. It also authorizes a 5% sales tax on cannabis and cannabis products that would be used for grant programs focused on job training, substance abuse treatment and loans to help disadvantaged small businesses get into the industry,” explained officials.

The MORE Act is headed to the Senate.

To read CPOT’s full report, click here.