Dasheeda Dawson to Lead Portland's Office of Community & Civic Life’s Cannabis Program

Dawson will oversee regulations, licensing, equity and more.

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(June 11, 2020) - PRESS RELEASE - Portland’s Office of Community & Civic Life (Civic Life) has named Dasheeda Dawson as its new Cannabis Program Supervisor. Dawson has over a decade of business development, strategic management and brand marketing experience. More recently, she has worked as an industry educator, senior executive leader and strategy expert for multiple cannabis businesses, municipalities and media outlets across the country.

In 2016, Portland voters passed a 3% tax on recreational cannabis. Since then, over $6M has gone toward street infrastructure improvements; DUII training; drug rehabilitation; small business support, economic opportunity, and technical assistance for business owners from communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition; record-clearing; and other efforts.

Civic Life is charged with administering the city’s Social Equity Grants, to deliver on the promise made to Portlanders in Measure 26-180 to provide “support for neighborhood small businesses, especially women-owned and minority-owned businesses, including but not limited to business incubator programs, management training, and job training opportunities; and providing economic opportunity and education to communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition.”

“The war on drugs, predominantly waged against Black and Brown men, has long been a tool of racial oppression,” Dawson said in her welcome statement to agency partners. “Marijuana possession and sale, whether perceived or real, has provided an excuse for over-policing, state violence, and law enforcement interactions that far too often end in death for people of color. In fact, cannabis prohibition has led to Black Americans being almost four times as likely to be arrested for possession relative to our white counterparts and remains one of the top reasons for deadly police interactions in our communities. Understanding the role marijuana prohibition has played in my own life has fueled my global cannabis strategy, education and advocacy work for the past four years. I look forward to actively collaborating with all partners and stakeholders to continue building and elevating both the cannabis community and the City of Portland.”

Under her leadership, Dawson affirms that the Cannabis Program will work to uphold the core tenets adopted by the Cannabis Policy Oversight Team (CPOT) and included in its 2019 Annual Cannabis Policy Report:

  • The war on drugs has caused disproportionate harm to Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color. Cannabis should be used as a tool to direct capital resources into these same communities for the purpose of restitution and restoration.
  • The Bureau is committed to adopting policies, regulations and programs that support equitable access to the cannabis industry, so that communities and individuals that have experienced the greatest harm from prohibition can share in the industry’s wealth.
  • The City’s processes around cannabis regulation and policy development will be informed, acknowledging the long history of trauma and race-based inequities, particularly the multi-generational impact of cannabis criminalization.
  • Impacted communities and stakeholders will play a key role in solution-finding, policy and program development, and decision-making.
  • Strategic recommendations and execution will require City investments of time and resources.