Portland Criticized For Cannabis Program Management

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The Cannabis Program will continue to struggle to meet its regulatory obligations if it does not ensure that management basics are in place.

The Office of Community & Civic Life does not have fundamentals in place to successfully manage the Cannabis Program. Program strategy has not been completed, and budget and licensing fees are not based on strategy and workload. The regulatory program doesn’t have a system to ensure data on the licensing and enforcement process is valid and complete and has not formalized a plan to do so.

The State of Oregon legalized the sale of recreational cannabis in 2014, and in early 2016 the City of Portland began regulating businesses that grow, produce, or sell cannabis. City Council directed the Office of Community and Civic Life to develop and manage the regulatory process and to be responsive to the developing industry, while balancing business and public health needs. As the industry, public consumption, and city and national policy evolves, the City’s regulatory purpose and priorities may need to be revisited, but this requires information on program performance, industry needs, and public impact.

The audit recommends the Office of Community & Civic Life develop a program strategy, implement a data management system to consistently track program performance and results, and develop communication tools to inform Council and the public about cannabis regulation.

“While I appreciate the challenge of implementing a regulatory system for an emerging industry, fundamental management tools must be prioritized and in place to ensure the success of any program,” Hull Caballero said. “Our recommendations are well within the reach of the Office of Community and Civic Life, and I am pleased to see management has agreed to implement them.”

A response to the audit from the Office of Community & Civic Life is included in the report.

Source: Portland Auditor

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