Cannabis Shop Owners Sue Portland City Hall

Entrepreneurs trying to open a Portland recreational cannabis shop are suing the city over decisions made by the agency responsible for licensing weed stores. The lawsuit, filed Jan. 31 in Multnomah County Circuit Court, accuses the city's Office of Neighborhood Involvement of giving "biased and impermissibly favorable treatment" to a competing cannabis shop called Shango-Waterfront. That business's officers, listed in the state registry, include at least two of the same men who ran Stars Cabaret Beaverton, the strip club that is currently being sued for $8 million over allegations it hired a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old as dancers. According to the legal papers, ONI repeatedly extended deadlines for Shango-Waterfront, to the disadvantage of Front Ave., which is seeking to become a competing weed shop within 1,000 feet. City rules prohibit more than one pot shop within a 1,000 feet of each other. "It's an example of how Portland needlessly created complexity, expense and uncertainty in the marijuana industry," says Bear Wilner-Nugent, attorney for Front Ave. Amy Margolis, a lawyer for Shango-Waterfront, declined to comment. The city declined to comment.

New Mental Health Center Opens This Week

The most focused, best financed effort to fix the city's fractured response to people experiencing psychiatric crises will open to new patients Feb. 2. The Unity Center for Behavioral Health, a 102-bed, $40 million facility located at 1225 NE 2nd Ave., is a joint venture of Oregon Health & Science University, Legacy Health, Adventist Health, and Kaiser Permanente. Those hospitals began transferring patients to Unity on Jan. 31. Unity's goal is to consolidate psychiatric services for a more effective and humane response than the frequent practice of warehousing patients in hospital emergency rooms, where there are few psychiatric resources ("All Stacked Up and No Place to Go," WW, July 15, 2014). "A lot of people have worked hard and a long time to be able to deliver services that will really help the community," says Legacy spokesman Brian Terrett.

Street Preachers Sow Discord Across Portland

A large crowd of mostly peaceful demonstrators rallied against President Donald Trump's travel ban at Portland International Airport this past weekend. They were joined Jan. 29 by Mayor Ted Wheeler, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.). They were also trailed by a group of slur-yelling street preachers called the "Bible Believers." That morning, the same men screamed invective at parishioners of a Spanish-language mass at St. Peter Catholic Church in Southeast Portland. Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson says responding officers "determined there was no crime—all verbal, nothing physical." At the airport, one of the Bible Believers, Grant Chisholm, was assaulted and knocked unconscious. He was released from Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, where he was treated for a head injury, Chisholm said. "It kind of jiggled some brain cells," he said Jan. 31.