You can use marijuana at home in Oregon — except if you’re a renter and your landlord doesn’t allow it. You can use it in other private settings, as well. Anywhere else, and you’re breaking the law. That may change, however.
It will, that is, if the New Revenue Coalition, a political action committee created to push for “sensible cannabis law reform,” has its way. The group includes marijuana growers and others in the industry and is pushing to change Oregon law to make so-called cannabis cafes legal in the state.
It may be an uphill battle, but it’s a worthy one.
Opponents are likely to bring up a couple of reasons to continue to outlaw legal use of weed outside the home. Some will contend that since recreational marijuana became available in 2016, its use by teenagers and young adults has gone up. And it has, nationally. In Oregon, according to the Oregon Health Authority, use among 11th- and eighth-graders declined a bit in 2017, and use by both groups is down from what it was in 2012.
The other likely argument is that smoking marijuana, like smoking cigarettes, is bad for your heart and lungs. It raises your heart rate, and any smoke is harmful for lungs. That was true before recreational marijuana was legalized, and still voters approved it by about a 180,000 vote margin. People who don’t want to inhale marijuana smoke can avoid the cafes.
As the NRC points out, current law, if it’s followed, makes it difficult for some otherwise legal users to actually smoke pot. Some 40 percent of landlords, it says, bar smoking on their property. Legal cafes would give them a place to go.
Lawmakers must remember that recreational pot is legal in Oregon, just as alcohol is legal. The state allows the sale of alcohol to adults in bars and taverns, and legal recreational marijuana shouldn’t be held to a higher standard. It’s time to change the law.