Canadian Investors Sue Portland Marijuana Dispensary

After state lawmakers overturned a residency requirement for marijuana investors, speculation has raged about when Big Marijuana would arrive in Oregon. But a lawsuit filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court on April 11 shows that money is already here. The lawsuit—filed by Harvard Properties U.S. Inc. against Cannacea LLC, a Gateway-area marijuana dispensary—is in one sense a garden-variety rent dispute. Harvard alleges Cannacea owes $86,000 in back rent. But the lawsuit's more interesting information is that Harvard is the U.S. property arm of an enormous Canadian real estate, insurance and energy conglomerate called the Hill Companies. Harvard planned a joint venture with Cannacea, which would contribute six dispensary licenses, know-how and personnel. Harvard would put up $1.5 million to buy the Northeast Halsey Street building where Cannacea operates, $1.6 million for a "grow site," and $750,000 for improvements at that site. Cannacea CEO Tisha Siler blames Harvard for the dispute. "Predatory investors are willing to fleece uninformed or inexperienced industry professionals for the prospect of huge returns," she said in a statement.

Fritz Seeks Big Fees for Construction Noise

Portland Commissioner Amanda Fritz wants to raise another fee on developers. This time it's the noise variance fee on big construction projects. Under current rules, developers pay a maximum of $850 a year for noise permits. But under a proposal from Fritz's Office of Neighborhood Involvement, that fee would be between $9,500 and $20,000 annually, depending whether the construction project generated any complaints. The goal of the hike is to increase the funding for Portland's noise complaint office without using money from the city's general fund. Fritz sparked anger last year when she sought higher systems development charges on developers to fund parks. "We need to be able to monitor the conditions we approve," says Theresa Marchetti, who oversees noise compliance for ONI. "With our current [funding] levels, we can't."

Poda Foods Wins PitchFestNW

The winner of the first PitchFestNW contest is Poda Foods, a Portland startup making protein powder from crickets. Poda was among the 50 tech startups from the Pacific Northwest and Canada selected to pitch their nascent companies to a panel of veteran investors at PitchFestNW, an event presented by WW. That field was narrowed April 26 to five finalists: StandTall Desks, a company founded by three high-school students who want to bring standing desks to the classroom; TripGrid, a platform for greater efficiency and organization in trip planning; Cartogram, advertised as "Google Maps on steroids;" Chroma, a new fund model for people to make small-scale, local investments; and Poda Foods, which raises "healthy, happy, GMO-free crickets" on a farm in Molalla.