Portland rolls out new round of pot dispensary relief

Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 6:24 PM PST
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Relief is on the way for one of Portland’s pot shops, with money coming from cannabis sales tax.

The pot of money, called the Cannabis Emergency Relief Fund, has been in the city since 2021, but these new grant opportunities just went live on Monday.

Last summer, Portland City Council approved almost $500,000 in cannabis sales tax revenue to be given back to small dispensaries in the city to cover financial hardships experienced in 2021 and 2022. Notably, effects from crime and the pandemic, according to the Office of Community and Civic Life which oversees Portland’s cannabis program.

“When people break in that’s exactly what they’re looking for: they’re looking for product, they’re looking for cash, and they do damage when they break in,” said Nicole Kennedy, owner of Green Muse in Northeast Portland. “So we did experience a lot of loss there.”

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Kennedy said she dealt with a break-in and vandalism in 2022. After a rough couple of years, the assistance offered by the city is welcomed.

“We do plan to apply for this next round of grant funding,” she said. “Due to COVID and a lot of other factors going on in the market right now, we’ve seen a downturn.”

The relief fund is being overseen and administered by NuProject, a nonprofit that helps grow cannabis businesses owned by those in historically under-served communities. Grants up to $25,000 could be given to small cannabis businesses in Portland city limits, or grants up to $5,000 individually to cannabis industry workers. Jeannette Ward Horton, NuProject CEO, said these grants help cannabis businesses make up for lost ground compared to other industries.

“These businesses don’t have access to federal funds, and they have very little access to banks and bank funding,” she said. “So the inequities extend beyond some of those relief funds that people received in the pandemic, to just everyday access to loans to grow your business or grants.”

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In order to be eligible, cannabis dispensaries need to not be a large chain, be located in Portland, and make $2 million or less in sales per year. Applications for grants are available right now until Feb. 14.