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

Alarmed By Large Marijuana Purchases, Oregon Imposes Strict Temporary Limits

Alarmed By Large Marijuana Purchases, Oregon Imposes Strict Temporary Limits

Oregon state regulators have reduced the amount of medical marijuana that can be legally purchased at dispensaries by nearly 96 percent.

Officials took the significant and unprecedented action following a series of large-scale cannabis purchases they feared could be linked to diversion of legal marijuana to the illegal market.

The new limits went into effect on Friday and are set to expire on December 27, though they may be modified or revoked following an investigation into the large purchases.

“Today’s action on OMMP purchase limits is designed to prevent potential diversion of usable marijuana into the secondary illegal market,” the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) said in a statement released Thursday, referring to the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program. “The OLCC will continue to investigate the suspicious activity and will work with the Oregon Health Authority, which has authority over the OMMP, and if necessary forward investigative findings to law enforcement.”

Oregon voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2014. The year before, the state legislature moved to legalize and regulate medical cannabis sales at licensed dispensaries.

Qualified OMPP cardholders were allowed to purchase up to 24 ounces per day.

But following some repeated, high-volume purchases—which occurred amid warnings from federal law enforcement about legal marijuana diverted to the illegal market—state regulators are moving to temporarily reduce purchase limits to one ounce, the OLCC said.

Exact details about the suspicious activity that triggered the unprecedented reduction in purchase limits were not available. But according to an agency spokesman, an OLCC data analyst noticed a pattern of repeat high-volume purchases this week.

Patrons were repeatedly visiting dispensaries to make 24-ounce purchases over a period of days, acquiring in a week’s time caches of six pounds or more of cannabis, spokesman Mark Pettinger told Marijuana Moment.

Since 95 percent of marijuana purchases in Oregon are in the amount of two ounces or less, the high-volume purchases raised red flags.“If we detect something that looks illegal or suspicious, we need to take action,” Pettinger said.

As The Portland Mercury observed, OLCC made the move in the context of bellicose rhetoric from Trump administration officials.

Earlier in the year, Oregon had in its marijuana inventory almost 1 million pounds of cannabis flower. The overproduction has caused prices on the legal market to crash, and has also drawn attention from authorities like Billy Williams, the state’s U.S. attorney.

Oregon’s own Health Authority has also cited “insufficient and inaccurate reporting and tracking” within the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program.

In this context, OLCC’s purchase-limit reduction could be seen as a preemptive move to ward off potential federal action.

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Alarmed By Large Marijuana Purchases, Oregon Imposes Strict Temporary Limits

Oregon Marijuana Stores Score 100% In Youth Sales Sting Operation

Oregon Marijuana Stores Score 100% In Youth Sales Sting Operation

The following is a press release from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

OLCC Launches Marijuana Retailer Minor Decoy Checks

Bend Licensees Pass OLCC Check for Sales to Minors

Portland, OR – The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has conducted the first of its statewide minor decoy operations to determine if marijuana license retailers are complying with state laws and OLCC regulations ensuring minors aren’t able to enter the business to purchase marijuana products.

On December 19, 2017 OLCC marijuana inspectors visited 20 marijuana retailers in central Oregon, and all of the 20 businesses visited in Bend and La Pine passed a check for prohibiting sales to a minor volunteer.

“That our licensed retailers in central Oregon scored 100 percent on refusal to sell marijuana to a minor is a sign that this segment of our regulated industry understands the importance of compliance,” said Steve Marks, Executive Director of the OLCC. “As we continue these checks I hope that these results will be reflected across the state.”

Sale of marijuana products to anyone under the age of 21 is a violation that for a first offense could result in a 10 to 30 day license suspension, or a fine of $1650, depending on whether or not the sale is intentional. Failure by a marijuana licensee, or its employee, to check a customer’s identification before the attempted purchase of a marijuana product is a violation that could result in a seven (7) day license suspension or a fine more than $1100.

During the sales checks, a minor volunteer attempts to enter a licensed marijuana retailer and/or purchase marijuana products from a licensed business to see if staff are checking ID’s correctly and refusing entry to anyone under 21. Commission inspectors supervise the minor volunteers. The volunteers carry their own legal ID that identifies them as under 21 and do not disguise their age or lie to encourage the sale of marijuana.

The Oregon Driver license for a minor carries a red border around the picture with the words “Minor Until” followed by the date of his/her 21st birthday.

The OLCC tests licensed marijuana businesses throughout the year, with each licensed retailer receiving a minimum of one visit per year. The OLCC offers a free training course on how to check ID’s and identify false identification.

“This is part of our stepped up compliance and enforcement activity,” said Marks. “We’re working to make sure that all segments of our regulated market are living up to the requirements of their license, and the expectations Oregonians have that they will act responsibly and follow the law.”

###

To see a list of marijuana retailers that were included in the sting operation, go here.

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Oregon Marijuana Stores Score 100% In Youth Sales Sting Operation

Zero Marijuana Shops Sold To Minors In Oregon Sting Operation

Zero Marijuana Shops Sold To Minors In Oregon Sting Operation

Oregon marijuana stores scored a 100 percent compliance rate in not selling to underage individuals in a round of undercover sting operations across the state this month and in February.

“The OLCC performs marijuana sales checks in an effort to reduce access to marijuana by minors,” regulators with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission wrote in a press release announcing the results. “During the sales checks, a minor volunteer attempts to purchase marijuana from a licensed business to see if staff are checking ID’s correctly and refusing to sell marijuana to anyone under 21.”

“Commission inspectors supervise the minor volunteers,” the state officials wrote. “The volunteers carry their own legal ID that identifies them as under 21 and do not disguise their age or lie to encourage the sale of marijuana. The Oregon Driver license for a minor carries a red border around the around the picture with the words ‘Minor Until’ followed by the date of his/her 21.”

The results are a big improvement from January, when more than a dozen marijuana dispensaries failed compliance checks.

But before that, in December, retailers in another sting operation scored another 100 percent compliance rate.

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Zero Marijuana Shops Sold To Minors In Oregon Sting Operation

Oregon Adults Claim Highest Cannabis Consumption Rate

Oregon Adults Claim Highest Cannabis Consumption Rate

The use of cannabis among adults in Oregon continues to outpace the rest of the nation, according to the state’s Marijuana Report, with one in ten consuming regularly.

The study, conducted by the Public Health Division of the Oregon Health Authority, sampled not only the frequency of use among adults, but their thoughts and opinions about cannabis as well, and the use and attitudes among the young adult population.

Data from the study includes:

  • Almost half of all Oregonians have tried cannabis at some point.
  • The majority of users are between the ages of 18 and 24.
  • Almost two-thirds of adults are unsure of how long to wait to drive after consuming.
  • While 62 percent of 11th graders say cannabis is easy to obtain, the rate of use was in line with national figures.
  • The majority of users smoke cannabis as opposed to any other method of consumption (vaporizing, edibles, etc.).
  • Medical use is is greater in adults over 25.
  • The majority of adults 18 to 24 use cannabis recreationally.

The officials conducting the study were not surprised by most of the statistics as they confirmed their current knowledge of marijuana use. However, the lack of knowledge surrounding the influence of cannabis, especially while driving, indicates that educating the public should be a priority.

“People aren’t quite as aware of how long they need to wait and that probably varies as to whether you have smoked it or eaten it,”

said Dr. Katrina Hedberg, the State Epidemiologist who oversaw the study. “Certainly, marijuana in some people helps reduce anxiety, but it’s clear that in some people at high doses it can cause anxiety and paranoia and adverse health affects people might not expect.”

Data was also provided by the Oregon Poison Center, which has seen an increase in calls relating to the side effects of cannabis, including fluctuations in blood pressure and paranoia.

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