Many members of the local cannabis law reform community put their faith in Ted Wheeler’s Portland, Oregon, mayoral campaign. It looked like our trust in Ted was going to pay off when he announced that the Rose City needed to roll back the excessive fees and regulations that have been stifling the local cannabis industry (“Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler Wisely Wants to Reduce Cannabis Regulations“).
Mayor Wheeler proved that he was more than just talk when he announced bureau assignments, replacing Commissioner Amanda Fritz with incoming Commissioner Chloe Eudaly as head of the Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI), the regulatory body overseeing Portland’s local cannabis regulations. The Willamette Week reports:
Commissioner Amanda Fritz will no longer oversee the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, as she has for the last eighteen months (and in a previous stint in charge from 2009 to 2013). Instead, the beleaguered office will go to first-time Commissioner Chloe Eudaly.
That’s significant because Wheeler called the Office of Neighborhood Involvement the bureau the most in need of reform (tied with the police bureau) in an interview with WW last month.
He and three of his four fellow commissioners favor rolling back the city’s marijuana program, which ONI oversees. The bureau has also come under fire for allegedly targeting black-owned nightclubs with code crackdowns.
My friend and colleague, Sam Chapman, of New Economy Consulting, shared the frustration that many industry participants have had with Commissioner Fritz’s leadership with the Portland Business Journal, ”As a member of the Marijuana Policy Oversight Team, which has been tasked with examining these issues and proposing solutions, I can tell you that there are many outstanding problems that were identified months ago that ONI staff and Commissioner Fritz seem to be refusing to address directly.”
With state regulations already in place that address age verification, security, seed-to-sale tracking, advertising, packaging, labeling and a whole host of issues, Portland’s regulations and fees need to be as minimal as possible. With Commissioner Eudaly’s progressive policies and experience as a small business owner, I expect her to be much more responsive to the needs of Portland’s cannabis community. Only time will tell, but on first glance, it appears that Mayor Wheeler has made a great first step in helping the Portland cannabis industry, mainly comprised of small mom-and-pop enterprises, survive and thrive in one of the world’s most cannabis-friendly cities.