Licensed cannabis businesses throughout Oregon face numerous challenges—an oversupply has led to continual falling prices, the OLCC has changed packaging requirements yet again, and no one can get a goddamn bank account.
But in Portland, there's about to be some relief, and it's just the first step of an ongoing effort.
Brandon Goldner, the program coordinator for the City of Portland's cannabis program, reached out to share the fact that later today, "Portland City Council will discuss and potentially vote to approve changes to Portland’s cannabis regulations."
"The proposal would lower cannabis fees for all cannabis businesses in Portland, as well as further reduce fees for small cannabis businesses and cannabis businesses whose owners or staff were impacted by cannabis prohibition," Goldner continues. "It would also offer deferred license payments, ease requirements for some license types, and offer credits for early assistance building permitting meetings for qualifying businesses."
The main thing here is the reduction of fees for all license types—which, like rent in Portland, is too damn high. If City Council agrees, these changes could include retailer license fees being lowered (from $4,975 to $3,500); lower fees for micro-tier producers, processors, and retail couriers; and lowered rates for retailers' initial license and renewal fees. There could also be a "social equity program" developed, giving discounts to small businesses that were directly impacted by cannabis prohibition, a six-month deferral of payment for all license types, and more.
I asked Goldner if these potential changes came from the goodness of the City of Portland's heart, or were a reflection of the challenges in place for cannabis businesses.
"In short, these changes align with the long-term vision of the program," Goldner said. "Also, [the] program receives no general fund and no tax dollars. Everything in the program is funded by application and license fees."
"We want to make sure that we’re only taking in as much money as we need to recover the program’s costs, and no more," Goldner added. "There will be more changes in the future. With these code changes, we will be able to collect data about which businesses are 'small' (as defined in this code change) and which businesses choose to share whether their owners or staff have been affected by cannabis prohibition. This information will help to inform future changes, as will an upcoming independent market study of Portland’s cannabis industry, so we can have projections on what Portland’s marketplace may look like in the coming years."
Anytime the city lowers fees, it calls for a celebration. Light one up.