An Oregon lawmaker is preparing a renewed push to legalize marijuana consumption lounges—and, if going through the state legislature doesn’t work, a coalition of cannabis businesses and advocates says they are prepared to go to the ballot.
As in most other states that have ended marijuana prohibition for adults, efforts to allow “cannabis cafes” or other licensed businesses where adults can consume the drug together socially have thus far been stymied.
Across the country, the only cities that permit spaces for marijuana consumption are San Francisco, where some dispensaries dating from the medical-marijuana era have consumption lounges, and Denver, where a recent ballot measure allows businesses that do not sell cannabis to apply for such a permit.
Alaska regulators released draft rules this week that, if enacted, would make the state the first in the nation to specifically allow and license social cannabis consumption areas.
In other legalized states and jurisdictions, tourists and people who live in subsidized housing often have no place to use marijuana without breaking the rules.
Failing to accommodate marijuana consumers “is an equity issue,” said Sam Chapman, an Oregon-based political consultant. “It’s an issue of public accommodation.”
“If you look up the definition of public accommodation [under laws like the Americans With Disabilities Act], I cannot think of a better example that cannabis would fall under,” he said. “Patients do not have places to legally consume their medicine. The state is housing veterans and seniors who need to be able to consume cannabis legally—and the state is not providing a place for that.”
A new political action committee, comprised of “cannabis industry businesses and allies,” called the New Revenue Coalition believes that 2019 will be the year to provide those accommodations in Oregon.
Portland-area state Sen. Lew Frederick (D) plans to introduce a bill that would allow for stand-alone cannabis “consumption cafes” as well as “tasting rooms” at dispensaries and cultivation sites.
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