The city council in Portland, Oregon approved over $631,000 in cannabis grant funding under its local 2019 Cannabis Social Equity Grant Program.
According to KATU, the money will assist citizens who face criminal charges for cannabis before it was legalized in the state. “Many studies have shown that adults across races use cannabis at similar rates,” Jeanette Ward Horton of the New Leaf Project said when addressing Portland’s city council on Oct. 23. “However, we can see in the next two slides, this is arrest rates and the slide after is conviction rates in the state of Oregon, you can see the disproportionate targeting first of African American communities. Second, native American communities.”
While Portland’s cannabis market has already been thriving and bringing in a lot of cannabis revenue and making money from taxes, a recent audit showed that 79 percent of that tax revenue was allocated toward transportation and law enforcement instead of helping rehabilitate people with cannabis charges. Since there weren’t previously any specifications on how the money should be used, many think it is time to make a change. “We just had a series of community talks to find out what Portlanders want us to spend this money on,” said Kimie Ueoka, cannabis program policy coordinator.
According to Brandon Goldner, cannabis program supervisor, cannabis tax money has already proved to be helpful to the community. “You already have hundreds of Portlanders who have been directly benefiting from this tax funding,” he said. “Whether it’s people getting workforce development, help getting education in the construction field, or whether it’s people who are helping, getting help clearing their records and expunging their records.”
Officials in the city of Portland has made it a point to use their cannabis money for good, such as funding a safe driving campaign and expunging prior convictions. Now, they will be doing even more to put previous offenders back on their feet and make good things happen with the money they collect.