PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Another round of relief funds will soon be available for Portland cannabis businesses and their workers as the industry continues to face inflation, theft and decreased sales.

The Portland City Council initially approved a plan to distribute $1.33 million in taxpayer money to local cannabis businesses in 2021, as the industry remains ineligible for federal COVID-19 relief funding. To avoid legal issues, the city council opted to distribute the relief funds through a group of chosen organizations dubbed the Cannabis Emergency Relief Fund.

Cannabis sales are returning to pre-pandemic levels. (Graphic by the City of Portland’s Office of Community & Civic Life)

Starting Jan. 16, Portland-based cannabis businesses and workers can apply for an additional $456,901 in recovery aid, which was set aside for the industry by the Portland City Council in July of 2022.

Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission data shows that at least 108 incidents of theft, looting or shoplifting were reported by Portland-based cannabis businesses between January and November of 2022.

Portland’s reported cannabis-industry thefts between 2020 and 2022. (City of Portland)

Cannabis Policy Oversight Team Chair Travis Maurer said that the funding is a step toward addressing vulnerabilities in Oregon’s cannabis industry.

“Cannabis businesses are required to pay taxes on their total sales, including money that is stolen,” Maurer said. “We all want Oregon to remain a leading cannabis ecosystem, but we have many underlying vulnerabilities that need to be addressed for us to succeed.”

NuProject, one of the organizations that distributes the funding through the Cannabis Emergency Relief Fund, will hold a informational meeting at noon on Jan. 16, where potential applicants can learn more about CERF’s eligibility requirements. Those interested in attending the meeting are advised to register through the NuProject website. Businesses and workers can apply for the funding through the NuProject website. Workers can also exclusively apply for aid through the Cannabis Workers Coalition website.

CERF’s distribution of funding in 2022. (City of Portland)

During the previous round of funding, CERF distributed funds to 53 of Portland’s 389 cannabis businesses. These small businesses received up to $25,000 to keep their doors open and retain employees. Funding was also given to 120 cannabis industry employees, who received up to $5,000 each for paying bills and childcare costs. Grant Applications will be open from January 16 to February 14, 2023.