Two employees at a cannabis store weigh cannabis before selling to a customer
Even though cannabis businesses generate billions of dollars in tax revenue nationally, federal prohibition means that cannabis businesses and employees are not eligible for the federal economic relief that many others have relied on to see them through these tough times.

Serving Portland's Craft Cannabis Industry

Like most of us, Civic Life’s Cannabis Program team has gone through a lot of change in the last few years. Portland’s cannabis industry has faced many challenges all at once including the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 wildfires, and an increase in theft targeting cannabis businesses. As the City program that supports this industry, the Cannabis Program has had to adapt quickly and skillfully to staff turnover, distanced regulation, and more.
“When we were in the office, we were doing in-person inspections and license pickup. In March 2020, we were told ‘go home now, we’ll see you in two weeks,’ and here we are two years later,” said Licensing, Compliance & Policy Supervisor Christina Coursey. “As one of the revenue-generating programs for the City, it was important for us to continue to prosper through the pandemic. We started doing virtual inspections, accepted applications via email, and shifted some businesses to deferred payment plans, but we were still unable to accept fees online.”
Even though cannabis businesses generate billions of dollars in tax revenue nationally, federal prohibition means that cannabis businesses and employees are not eligible for the federal economic relief that many others have relied on to see them through these tough times. In December 2021, the Cannabis Program presented its Cannabis Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) to City Council, asking for a one-time allocation of $1.33 million in Cannabis tax revenue toward recovery efforts for Portland's cannabis industry. Council's approval allows Civic Life to work through three community partners — NuLeaf Project, The Initiative and the Oregon Cannabis Association — to provide emergency relief grants for cannabis business and individuals. The historic vote made Portland the first government jurisdiction in the country to distribute cannabis tax revenue to support economic recovery for cannabis businesses and employees.
Federal prohibition of cannabis also means that most cannabis businesses still can’t get accounts with banks, forcing them to operate cash-only businesses, which has made them a big target for theft during the pandemic. The Cannabis team has been reaching out to businesses and employees after these events to connect them with trauma-informed recovery resources — like CERF and Civic Life’s Community Safety team — and to their own local community and neighborhood associations for support.
“We’ve really had to listen to what our communities needed from us. We’re here to help them succeed and thrive,” Coursey said. “We’ve connected neighbors to prospective business owners to talk about their concerns and dispel cannabis stigma. With the increased robberies and vandalism, wildfires, pandemic, family commitments, it’s been rough, and it’s a blessing that Council approved CERF. Without this support, it’s possible Oregon’s small local businesses and craft cannabis would diminish and disappear.”
All of this hard work has led to the City’s Cannabis Program becoming a policy- and thought-leading team, recognized nationwide for their efforts to end cannabis stigma, promote scientifically backed health benefits of cannabis products, and provide reparative and restorative funds and services to communities disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs. And they’re not stopping there. Four members of the Cannabis team had their roles reclassified to better fit the work they do, and the program is hiring coordinators for the Cannabis Policy Oversight Team (CPOT) and the Social Equity & Education Development (SEED) Initiatives, as well as other roles. Expanding the Cannabis team will grow the capacity of the program to serve Portland’s cannabis industry and communities and make meaningful, lasting change.
Learn more about Civic Life’s Cannabis Program here and check out these articles featuring Cannabis Program Manager Dasheeda Dawson to learn more about the importance of equity and justice in the cannabis industry:

Supporting Black Employees Through Action

February is Black History Month, dedicated to acknowledging the struggles of Black people worldwide and remembering important people and events in the global fight for racial equity and justice.
As Black History Month approaches, we often see organizations talking about equity without examining how they show up for Black employees and communities. While discussions are important, doing the work to make systemic changes is even more important and impactful. Here are some recommendations on how to value and embrace diversity beyond just awareness by supporting Black employees:
These recommendations were developed by the City African America Network (CAAN), one of the City of Portland’s affinity groups. These groups are places for employees with a shared identity or interest to connect and find support. CAAN creates opportunities for Black employees to play a role in changing systems by hosting events like Always Eat Together and Black Space as safe spaces for Black employees to find support and have their voices heard. Because employees represent the communities they come from, groups like these can give organizations direct insight into the needs of their communities.
“Our leadership team is a group of compassionate, courageous souls. We recognize the power dynamic, and we will use our positions to speak out unapologetically and without fear to make necessary systemic changes that align with the City Core Values, hold leadership accountable, and support Black employees at the City of Portland,” said Tyesha McCool Riley, Civic Life’s Mental Health Program Coordinator and a CAAN Leadership Team member.
CAAN’s 2021 Black Workforce Data report shared the results of their 2021 Black Employee Support Survey. Among other data, the report showed that the number of Black City employees has dropped from 793 in 2019 to 456 in 2021. The survey shows that the concerns of Black employees and the challenges they face are real and often create barriers to new and continued employment.
For this year’s Black History Month, CAAN is developing this year’s official proclamation around the topic of Black health and wellbeing. In addition to the Proclamation ceremony on Feb. 9, CAAN will also:
  • Hold panel discussions around mental, physical, emotion, and spiritual well-being — Tentative dates: Feb. 17, 6-8pm and Feb. 23, 1-3pm
  • Host a virtual event bringing the public together with the City and partner with community organizations to promote community events
City employees can learn more about the City African American Network and how to get involved here.
For more ways to get involved, check out the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Racial Justice Program and their partners like Ninety to Zero.
Photo shows a man wearing a N95 mask and protective glasses giving a COVID vaccine shot to a woman
A City of Portland employee providing a COVID-19 vaccine booster to a member of the community.

Free COVID-19 Testing and Resources

With COIVD-19 cases on the rise due to the quickly spreading Omicron variant, it has become increasingly difficult to get a test in Portland. A shortage of tests means that fewer sites have the ability to provide this service, and those that do have all of their appointments booked up or long lines.
Multnomah County and the City of Portland have some resources that can help our communities get the tests and vaccines they need:
  • 211info offers free, confidential information about local health, community, and social services. Calls can be answered in 150 languages and interpretation is available all day, every day. The COIVD-19 line is available 6am-7pm, every day. For assistance and resources, call 2-1-1, email, or visit
  • and the United States Postal Service are providing FREE at-home tests for residential households. Visit the USPS website for more information and to order your free tests.
  • Multnomah County’s COVID-19 Testing website has resources to help determine who should get tested, where you can find testing sites, and more. Find out more here.
  • The City of Portland has multilingual public health resources and information about COVID-19. Find out more here.
  • Oregon Health & Sciences University and the Oregon Health Authority are expanding to two new test sites and shifting the management of the Portland Expo Center testing site to OHA. Find more information on testing from the OHA and OHSU websites, and find more information about vaccines and boosters through OHSU.
Dancers perform during the 2020 Slavic and Easter European Heritage Week Celebration

Slavic and Eastern European Heritage Week Proclamation

The third week in January is Slavic and Eastern European Heritage Week! At the official proclamation ceremony, two members of this community shared their stories and talked about the important roles they play in our Portland communities.
“We are here to give a voice and recognition to this unique and beautiful culture that makes our city more diverse and empowered,” said Svetlana Hedin, a member of the City’s Slavic Empowerment Team.

You can watch a video of the proceedings here.
The City of Portland now has three Citywide social media channels to provide important citywide information. Pictured is a performer at the City of Portland's sponsored Welcoming Week Opening Ceremony.

New City of Portland Social Media Channels

The City of Portland has launched three Citywide social media channels to provide vetted COVID-19-related public health and economic recovery information and important citywide information from across our 26 bureaus and offices. You can follow them at: 
Twitter - 
Facebook - 
Instagram - 
Photo courtesy of Angela Holm and Free Geek

Community Grant Opportunities

Metro is offering the Investment and Innovation grants to support efforts to reduce waste the reusing, repairing, recycling, composting, and preventing food waste. These grants will help fund creative ideas to prevent and reduce waste in the garbage and recycling system of greater Portland. The main goal of the program is to strengthen local efforts to reduce waste, make better use of the waste that is produced, and help foster economic opportunities for people who have been left out of the benefits of the garbage and recycling system, particularly communities of color.
Pre-proposal applications are due by 5 p.m. on Feb. 15, 2022. Read more about the grants and how to apply here.
Partnerships & Equity Manager
Do you enjoy collaboratively creating solutions to complex social problems? Are you an experienced leader ready to join a dynamic team? Looking for a job where equity drives the mission? 

If this is you, the Office of Community & Civic Life has the job you have been waiting for. We are currently recruiting for our Partnerships & Equity Manager position. This is a rare opportunity to make a lasting difference. 
Civic Life connects Portlanders with City government to build inclusive, safe, and livable communities. This position directly manages the Adapt to Impact, Neighborhood Services, Diversity and Civic Leadership, Youth, and Immigrant and Refugee programs and is also responsible for partnership management and equity initiatives with civic engagement networks and government jurisdictions for the bureau.
The deadline to apply is Feb. 7, 2022. Read more about the position and how to apply here.
Noise Inspector
Are you invested in the health and harmony of our Portland communities? Civic Life is looking for a new Noise Inspector to join our Noise Program. The Noise Inspector will perform research, respond to complaints, conduct investigations, gather evidence of noise code violations, and recommend next steps to address violations.

The Noise Inspector will meet with a variety of interested parties to explain and educate community members about how noise impacts livability within Portland. This position requires independent and compassionate judgement to develop solutions and recommendations for corrective action in difficult or complex environmental situations.
The deadline to apply is Feb. 7, 2022. Read more about the position and how to apply here.

Join an Advisory Body!

Joining an advisory body is a way for Portlanders to lend their expertise and personal or professional experience to the City of Portland. As an advisory body member, you will work closely with community members and City of Portland liaisons to impact policies and programs.

Central City in Motion Working Group- Jan. 30, 2022
The Central City in Motion Working Group represents a broad set of community and business perspectives to help ensure the successful implementation of projects in Central City in Motion and the Rose Lane Project and advises the director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation and project managers on project design, user experience, public communications and engagement, and monitoring performance. Learn more about member responsibilities and apply here!
Office of Community & Civic Life
1221 SW 4th Avenue, Suite 110
Portland, Oregon 97204
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