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Oregon lawmakers are contemplating cannabis cafes

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Oregon lawmakers are contemplating cannabis cafes

Rex Wholster - Fotolia

Rex Wholster - Fotolia

Rex Wholster - Fotolia

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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Cannabis consumers in Oregon could soon be seeing cannabis cafes, as a group of cannabis advocates are trying to make social lounge smoking legal.

The team of pro-pot enthusiasts wants the plant to be consumed socially in the same way that craft beer is enjoyed, such as at events and on-farm tours. Suggestions of cannabis cafes were brought to the attention of state lawmakers when Senate Bill 639 was introduced in Salem last month.

A measure with similar suggestions for social consumption has previously been put before the House. Although these kinds of measures have been widely unsuccessful in the past, Portland lobbyist and legislative director at New Revenue Coalition, Sam Chapman, believes that Senate Bill 639 has a good chance of passing.

Currently, cannabis can be consumed in privately owned residences in Oregon, so long as the individual consuming cannabis is doing so out of public view. Consumers are not entitled to smoke weed inside a rental car in Oregon, nor can they consume it inside a rental home, on a sidewalk or in a public park. According to Chapman, cannabis delivery services to Oregon hotels or rental units are also prohibited.

It’s an issue of social justice and equality,” said Chapman, whose group backed the legislation in front of Oregon lawmakers. “When it was legalized in 2014, the law didn’t include any public accommodation. There’s no legal place to consume cannabis for those who don’t own their own home,” he said. “This bill normalizes cannabis for folks.”

If the Senate bill passes, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission would monitor everything pertaining to cannabis sale and consumption inside cannabis lounges, as well as at spontaneous events. Senate Bill 639 would permit cannabis delivery to consumers staying at hotels and vacation rentals. In addition to this, it contains the framework for tours of licensed premises.

Municipalities would have the chance to opt in for the proposal, of which the requirements and standards would be established by the OLCC.

“I have a significant industry in my district that deal with retail and they wanted to be able to have events and have customers sample before they buy,” said Sen. Lew Frederick, D-Portland. “Folks came to me and asked if we could do this.”

According to Frederick, testimony both in favor of and against the cannabis measure was put before lawmakers on Thursday, February 28. Supporters of the Oregon Indoor Clean Air Act have objected against the measure, as have certain law enforcement agencies, who would impose DUI laws.

In the event that the measure is approved and passed, cannabis lounges in Oregon would require OLCC licensing and adequate ventilation. They would not be positioned within 1,000 feet of a school and local governments must opt in to permit them.

“I don’t know where it will go from here,” Frederick said. ”We need to find some way to provide a space for people.”

A session will be organized by the committee in the near future to discuss the measure and make amendments where necessary.

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Oregon lawmakers are contemplating cannabis cafes