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Push To Legalize Marijuana Consumption Spaces In Oregon Kicks Off

Push To Legalize Marijuana Consumption Spaces In Oregon Kicks Off

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.

According to a bill summary provided to Marijuana Moment, the bill would also:

*Legalize tours “similar to those conducted by the state’s microbrewery and winery industry”

*Allow delivery services to bring cannabis to hotels and into cities and counties that prohibit regulated cannabis businesses

*Allow for cannabis consumption spaces at public events

No legislative language exists yet, and the earliest Frederick could introduce a bill is for the 2019 session beginning in January.

Consumption spaces have so far been missing from the state’s legalization puzzle, a compromise made to help soothe fears around introducing recreational marijuana.

Now that the cannabis industry has proved that it is a responsible and profitable pursuit—and one that’s creating a dedicated revenue stream for state tax coffers—advocates like Chapman say it’s time to correct that.

“It’s easy for folks in the industry to get caught in the movement with all the success we’re having,” he told Marijuana Moment. “But that has largely not changed the majority of the stigmatization that is out there. There is still a lot of work and education to be done.”

Unlike in Denver, where consumption cafes had to be legalized locally via the ballot, “We want very much to get this done in the Legislature,” said Chapman, the coalition’s legislative director.

At the same time, the coalition plans to collect signatures for a voter-initiative campaign.

“Whenever we feel we’re not being taken seriously in the Legislature, we will ramp up,” he said.

Probable arguments in opposition will highlight over-serving, potential links between consumption spaces and stoned driving and contentions that marijuana smoke causes damage to lungs and health similar to tobacco.

Training cafe servers not to over-serve—as staff at alcohol-serving bars are trained to do—and pointing to studies that do not show a link between marijuana use and lung issues should be sufficient, Chapman said.

“People are already on the roads smoking in parking lots and parks,” he said. “These are the places where we truly believe cause public health concerns.”

Alaska Could Be The First State To Legalize And License Marijuana Lounges

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Push To Legalize Marijuana Consumption Spaces In Oregon Kicks Off

Alaska Could Be The First State To Legalize And License Marijuana Lounges

Alaska Could Be The First State To Legalize And License Marijuana Lounges

Alaska might become the first place in the U.S. to officially permit recreational marijuana consumers the right to use cannabis in specially state-licensed establishments.

The state’s Marijuana Control Board on Wednesday published proposed changes to regulations allowing cannabis dispensaries to seek approval for onsite consumption.

An earlier proposal for consumption lounges was rejected in February 2017.

If approved, Alaska marijuana retail stores would be able to apply for an on-site consumption “endorsement.” Applications would cost $1,000, with annual renewals running $2,000.

According to the proposal, dispensaries could sell “marijuana bud or flower in quantities not to exceed one gram to any one person per day” and “edible marijuana products in quantities not to exceed 10 mg of THC to any one person per day” to customers to consume on the premises.

Patrons would be able to sample purchases made at the dispensary at either a “fenced-off outdoor area” or a separate indoor ventilated area,” the Fairbanks News Miner previously reported.

Cannabis concentrates and tobacco products would not be allowed in the consumption areas, and the rules don’t allow for people to BYOB (bring your own bud). Dispensary workers couldn’t consume marijuana at work, and there would have to be “a smoke-free area for employees to monitor the marijuana consumption area.”

Permits could be protested by local governments, but unless a local government explicitly bans on-site consumption, the state marijuana board would have the final say whether to grant the license.

If the changes are approved, Alaska would be the first state to allow such dispensary/lounge hybrids (or “sampling rooms”) at the state level.

Currently, a limited number of businesses in Denver that are not dispensaries can seek cannabis consumption lounges, following approval of a local ballot initiative.

The first, a coffee shop and cafe called The Coffee Joint, opened up in the spring. Several San Francisco dispensaries operating under permits from the medical cannabis era have consumption lounges.

But these are exceptions.

Advocates have argued that “consumption lounges” or other legal, permitted businesses where adults can consume marijuana without fear of penalty—for themselves or for the business—is one of the pieces missing from marijuana legalization, even as more states end prohibition or move in that direction.

In the states where marijuana is legal for adults 21 and over to consume, consumption in public is specifically forbidden and is punishable by a citation and fine.

Landlords also have the right to ban smoking in rental housing. This presents a conundrum. Such residents, including residents of subsidized units housing veterans or seniors, risk eviction if they consume marijuana inside. Outside, they risk a citation (or just public opprobrium). And tourists visiting legal marijuana states often have no place to consume their cannabis.

Alaska voters approved marijuana legalization in 2014.

Arguments against allowing consumption lounges similar to what consumers of alcohol take for granted—“bars”—include fears of stoned drivers causing havoc on roadways.

Regulators will accept written public comments on the proposed new rules until November 1, and will hold a public hearing on December 19 at which people can deliver oral feedback.

“After the public comment period ends, the Marijuana Control Board will either adopt the proposed regulation changes or other provisions dealing with the same subject, without further notice, or decide to take no action,” regulators’ notice says.

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Alaska Could Be The First State To Legalize And License Marijuana Lounges

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