Ask just about anyone in the Portland, Oregon, cannabis industry and they will have their fair share of (legitimate) complaints about trying to do business in one of the most progressive, cannabis-friendly cities in the world. The Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI), overseen by Commissioner Amanda Fritz, regulates the city’s cannabis businesses, and most (if not all) industry participants don’t feel like the governmental office has been responsive to the needs of the cannabis business community.
The Portland Business Journal reported:
“We’ve heard the ‘we know and we’re working on it’ response from Commissioner Fritz’s office over the past year with little to no real results,” said Sam Chapman of New Economy Consulting, which consults with entrepreneurs and investors, and advises state and local governments on cannabis issues.
“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,” Chapman added.
Chapman said the solution was to get the Office of Neighborhood Involvement out of the business of regulating marijuana.
In a city with supermajority support for legalization, the cannabis industry should feel welcomed in the Rose City, but they have been stifled by duplicative, burdensome regulations and bureaucratic raid tape. Thankfully, relief may be on the way with Ted Wheeler taking over the Mayor’s office on January 1st. Portland Mayor-elect Wheeler told the Willamette Week that he (wisely) wants to reduce cannabis regulations:
On marijuana, the city should roll back:
(a) the fees for business, (b) the regulations, (c) neither, (d) both.
Yes or no: Should marijuana be under the purview of the Office of Neighborhood Involvement?
True or false: ONI is the city bureau most in need of reform.
It’s tied for first place.
Back in August, we at New Approach Oregon launched a campaign that urged citizens to contact the Portland City Council as the cannabis industry was suffering needlessly under an avalanche of unnecessary regulations and burdensome fees. New Approach endorsed Ted Wheeler in Portland’s mayoral race partly because he understood the importance a thriving cannabis industry and the need to implement more sensible regulations. It is great to see that Mr. Wheeler seems poised to honor the cannabis community’s faith in his candidacy.
As someone who consults those in the cannabis industry, it has pained me to advise entrepreneurs and investors that they may want to take their business outside of Portland to avoid the extra regulatory hurdles and fees that the city currently imposes. Portland should be one of the best places for the cannabis industry and community in the world. If Ted Wheeler can convince a majority of the city council to follow his sensible proposal to roll back cannabis busienss regulation and fees, Portland will be well on its way as cementing itself as one of the top, if not the top, destination for the cannabis community and industry.