The Oregon State Legislature reduced the sentence for hundreds of prisoners with marijuana related convictions in 2015 when voters legalized adult-use. Now, Portland cannabis businesses may receive incentives to hire former convicts in the form of reduced licensing and permit fees.
The Commissioner Chloe Eudaly proposed the Social Equity Program to the Portland City Council that could benefit small cannabis businesses across the city. Portland cannabis businesses that will be eligible for the program must be have someone with 25% ownership that has a federal or state conviction for a marijuana related criminal offense committed prior to July 1st, 2015.
Portland cannabis businesses that employ former convicts for at least 20% of the staff hours would also be eligible to enroll in the Social Equity Program. It is important to note, that the cannabis business must have generated less than $750,000 from the preceding year, and possess no more than two marijuana licenses or applications.
The Office of Community and Civic Life oversees Portland's cannabis business licensing and release a memo regarding the initiative, "The City has a strong interest in encouraging entrepreneurship, supporting small businesses, and promoting healing in relation to the harmful legacy of cannabis prohibition. To begin addressing some of these inequities, the Cannabis Program recommends amendments that reduce licensing fees, streamline the licensing process, and provide additional assistance to small businesses and individuals impacted by cannabis prohibition."
The memo also addresses the reductions in licensing fees which can range from 15% to 25% depending on several factors. If the Portland City Council votes to implement the Social Equity Program, it will incentivize licensed cannabis business to employ those who have endured marijuana related drug convictions, that are largely comprised of minorities.
Several states have now introduced or passed legislation that reduces sentences for cannabis related crimes but Portland could be the first to provide them with employment opportunities in a booming industry. Portland marijuana dispensaries that choose to hire these individuals will benefit from the Social Equity Program and give many convicts the second chance they deserve.