Since recreational marijuana use has been legalized, the City of Portland has accepted 736 applications and issued 273 licenses. While the pace of license applications has slowed, this last year has brought successes and challenges of the processes to light.
Right now, we are making efforts to streamline the permitting process for producers, processors, retailers, and retail couriers. The current process works, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be better. Alongside the Office of Neighborhood Involvement’s Cannabis Program and the Bureau of Development Services, we are taking measures to improve the process for everyone involved in the budding industry.
Among these measures are better communication and collaboration between bureaus, including a new position dedicated to cannabis permitting; implementing a system for online document submittal and payment; providing assistance to small cannabis businesses with a focus on sustainable cannabis; and lowering cannabis application and licensing fees to ensure we're good stewards of our relationship with this new business community.
Our goal is to take real action on such endeavors. That means working quickly and efficiently to ensure that the tangible successes of the industry are on an upward trend.
As of now, the Bureau of Developmental Services is creating an A-to-Z guide for cannabis businesses about how to navigate the processes business owners need to follow – from local requirements permitting, to where to get more information on State requirements. As a City, we need to make our processes clear, consistent, and easy-to-follow as so business owners can get up and running while providing the highest level of safety and efficiency. We want the industry to keep growing – as safely as possible. To do so, we need to provide entrepreneurs with support and keep families and communities safe as well as successful.
Drawn from our experience, the City of Portland also provides testimony and insight to the Oregon legislature on cannabis topics. For example, the Mayor’s Office, Portland Office of Government Relations, and the City’s Cannabis Program testified in support of Senate Bill 307 in 2017, which would have created a regulatory framework for the social consumption of cannabis. As the cannabis landscape in Portland continues to change, we will continue to learn and share our thoughts and experiences with Oregon’s elected leaders, agencies, and staff.
With more legal, well-regulated cannabis, we recognize that the marketplace is feeling more and more crowded. As such, Portland is considering lowering the fees associated with permits and licensing, this being contingent on not only how much revenue is being generated but also what reasonable for businesses of all sizes. This potential fee decrease is a priority for the offices involved as we want to continue to support cannabis businesses who are already an integral part of this city’s economy.
We need a regulatory approach that is specific to Portland’s needs, and it's not the one-size-fits-all approach of the Federal government. The local regulation of cannabis helps ensure the local success of the cannabis industry. More importantly, it helps ensure the safety of our local community. The data from last year show that Portland is on the right track. Portland has a firm footing in safe and efficient processes, and we are going to build on that in ways that offer better support for our communities.
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