Between COVID-19 and the wildfires it has been quite a year for Oregon cannabis. One the one hand, sales were up significantly through mid-summer, on the other hand, many growers, especially in southern Oregon and Lane County were significantly adversely affected by the wildfires that consumed much of the State. As we wrote about in September here, one in five licensed businesses were in evacuation protocols. Marijuana businesses affected by the fires were ineligible for federal disaster relief and dispensaries in Portland were targets of break-ins at least 47 times over the summer. Perhaps one bright spot, if you can call it that, has been the eviction moratorium.
Regular readers may recall that on April 1, Governor Brown signed Executive Order 20-13, which imposed a temporary moratorium on evictions in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Order 20-13 was set to expire on July 1, 2020, and so the Oregon Legislature took up House Bill 4213 (“HB 4213”) in order to extend the moratorium on residential and commercial evictions for nonpayment of rent. Governor Brown signed HB 4213 into law at the end of June. The Governor issued another order, Executive Order 20-56 in late September, extending the moratorium until the end of the year – but only for residential properties.
On November 22, Oregon lawmakers took up a proposal to extend the state’s residential eviction moratorium and create an assistance fund to assist landlords. (Hat tip to Jamie Goldberg of the Oregonian). This new proposal would extend the moratorium until June 30, 2021 and require tenants to pay all back rent on July 1. What does not appear in the Rent Housing Stabilization Proposal that I reviewed is any protection for commercial renters. Maybe this is a good thing, maybe not.
We would like to see lawmakers consider special protections and programs for Oregon cannabis businesses affected by the wildfires who are ineligible for federal assistance. (Though Senators Wyden and Merkeley have sponsored a bill change to that at the federal level.) Finally, it is a time to be thankful and I would like to thank the Oregon cannabis businesses that launched a relief fund in Jackson County to help people who lost their homes. You can find out more at the Jackson County Fire Relief Fund by United Way webpage– and donate – here.