Recently I had the opportunity to attend the first day of the Cannabis Collaborative Conference at the Portland Expo. I covered the event for The Weed Blog, which you can read here.
There were a bunch of vendors, all serving the cannabis industry and sessions throughout the day that ranged from how to differentiate yourself in the marketplace (with stand out branding and marketing) to sales trends and consumer insights in Oregon and beyond, to scent control and cannabis production.
Having only lived in this legal state for a year, it’s pretty mindblowing to walk around and see how the cannabis industry is evolving – who shows up, who speaks, who shares, and yes, who isn’t there.
One of my highlights was meeting and talking with Brandon Goldner, the program coordinator for the city’s cannabis program. First off, I didn’t know the city had a cannabis program. But they do – and it makes sense. That’s where people apply for licenses, where you can see a map of cannabis retailers and dispensaries, and learn more about the city’s cannabis rules. Goldner told me that operators need to have a license in both the city and state if you’re in Portland and that they are busy regulating businesses that are not legal and not regulated because the state doesn’t have authority to do so.
Portland apparently has $3 million to spend from the three percent local cannabis tax for FY 2017-18. It’s broken down as such (Goldner showed me an email explaining this):
- $1,590,000 ($1464,958 ongoing and 125,042 one-time) for Vision Zero projects. Project Zero is a program “committed to ending traffic violence in our communities and eliminating deaths and serious injuries on our streets by 2025.”
- $500,00 ongoing for DUII training and enforcement
- $410,000 ongoing to support the Service Coordination Team, which offers treatment, housing, and wraparound services to the most frequent drug and property crime offenders.
- $500,000 one-time to be allocated for small business support through an inclusive, community-driven process. (How this is spent has not been decided upon but is supposedly going to support restorative justice. Ultimately, it is up to Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, with input from the Minority Cannabis Business Association, I am told.
This is the most interesting to me (and apparently for Goldner, too). Goldner said that 500K will be spent through a social justice lens – which could include record expulsions, grants and internships, and support for business owners of color. I look forward to seeing how that pans out.