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Audit released Thursday says the city's Office of Community & Civic Life does not have fundamentals in place to successfully regulate the emerging industry

PMG FILE PHOTO - City audit criticizes regulation of cannabis industry.The Portland program to regular the emerging cannabis industry is not up to the task, according to an audit released by the City Auditor's Office on Thursday, Jan. 30.

"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 auditor's office said.

As the audit says, "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," said City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero.

The audit made the following recommendation to improve the program:

1. Using the program's vision and goals, develop and communicate a strategy for the Cannabis Program, including coordination with other City Bureaus to streamline the licensing and enforcement process and focus work of the Cannabis Program.

2. Implement a data management system to consistently and accurately track data on licensing, complaints and enforcement processes. Use the data to manage program resources, adjust licensing fees, and report program performance.

3. To inform Council and the public about cannabis regulation, develop an monitoring report or other communication tools that include information on program performance and the cannabis industry. Use this information to revise and update the program strategy as needed.

In its letter of response, the office largely agreed with the recommendations, but said the audit needed context about some of the issues.

You can read the audit www.portlandoregon.gov/auditservices/article/752527.


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