House Bill 3112, Oregon’s Equity Investment Act, was introduced in February of this year. The bill focuses on equity opportunities for those that have been negatively impacted by cannabis prohibition. Although Oregon has allowed both recreational and medicinal use of cannabis products since July of 2016, there is still a disproportionate number of individuals in “Black, Latina/o/x communities [that have been] most harmed by cannabis criminalization.”
Project NuLeaf is the organization behind the action. Project NuLeaf is a nonprofit organization; founded in 2018, with a mission to assist communities of color in overcoming the many obstacles associated with cannabis criminalization, the nonprofit provides loans and grants to POC-owned cannabis businesses.
They created the Oregon Equity Investment Act in an effort to better utilize the funds generated from Oregon cannabis taxes. Project NuLeaf states that these funds are currently being funneled to “policing in the state as well as cities and counties.” In 2020, the organization and a number of partners hosted a workgroup consisting of several cannabis industry professionals, formerly incarcerated individuals, and cannabis industry experts to devise a proposed state policy for equity opportunities.
Months of continuous work
The bill was introduced in February where it was referred to Judiciary with a subsequent referral to Oregon’s Ways and Means committee. The first hearing for HB3112 was scheduled for March 11th; it was rescheduled to, and occurred on March 23rd. The bill was then to be sent to work sessions on April 8th and 13th for amendments to the document. Another hearing was held following these sessions on April 16th. The bill did not receive recommendation to pass and was then referred to the Rules committee, and then the Ways and Means committee once again. On April 19th another public hearing was held, the outcome being more work sessions for additional amendments to the text.
Another hearing occurred on May 11th, with another work session scheduled for May 18th. On May 24th the Bill received the recommendation to pass with the amendments. It was then to be sent to the Ways and Means committee by prior reference.
As the bill was still in review at the time of the legislative session closure, it failed to pass.
What is HB3112?
Oregon House Bill 3112 advocates for equity opportunities to be made available to those that have been most negatively impacted by cannabis criminalization. In Oregon, this demographic mostly includes previously incarcerated Black, Latina/o/x, and Indigenous individuals.
The document calls for the approval of licensing applications for previously incarcerated individuals with cannabis offenses a well as venue licensing for on-site cannabis consumption. The bill also requests the creation of a marijuana account separate from the general fund. Another provision of the text is the implementation of an Equity Investments and Accountability board within the office of the Governor, which would provide equity oversight for the cannabis industry.
What’s next for equity opportunities in Oregon?
Oregon’s 2021 legislative session dissolved on June 27th. Typically, bills that do not pass before the session closure are automatically vetoed in what is considered a “pocket veto.” This does not mean that the effort toward equity opportunities for individuals that were previously incarcerated for cannabis crimes will end. The Oregon legislative session for 2022 is set to commence in February of next year. At this time, Project NuLeaf will be able to introduce a new investment act for equity opportunities.