Social Consumption and Cannabis- Part I, Cannabis Clubs

What needs to change for social consumption of cannabis is Oregon?

It’s nice to socialize. To be with other people, get to know them, share part of yourself. And, with cannabis, often people need a safe place to consume because their housing prohibits it or they are a tourist and have nowhere else to go. Cannabis is, after all, legal in Oregon yet we are so restricted as to where we can use it and share it. 

Why are cannabis clubs not allowed? Why are events so seriously scrutinized? And, why do you need a lawyer to figure out how to throw a cannabis dinner? What needs to be fixed in this state to allow much-needed social consumption?

There are a number of issues we are working on for the next legislative cycle and here is why things are complicated.

There are really two types of social consumption- consumption at a cannabis social club or other venue and paid events that allow people to gather, just like they can for beer festivals, to share product and partake.

The first issue is the most challenging and the focus of this blog. In Oregon we have the Indoor Clean Air Act. The ICAA prohibits smoking in the workplace and indoors, as well as a number of enclosed public spaces. And, in Oregon, not just smoking but also vaping (“an inhalant delivery system”) is disallowed.  Plus, the ICAA specifically says cannabis is included in all prohibitions.

There are, of course, some exceptions like cigar bars, smoke shops and a certain percentage of hotel rooms.

The solution to this seems simple, right? Just carve out an exception, like for cigars, and everyone wins. However, the Indoor Clean Air Act is supported by organizations like American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association and public health departments. As you might imagine, organizations like this are not thrilled with the idea of chipping away at this protection even though all of us know that consuming or combusting cannabis is totally different than smoking cigarettes.  These organizations are also well-funded, well-respected and serious institutions to be reckoned with. In order to move anything through the Legislature regarding the ICAA we are going to need to be engaging with these organizations and find supportive legislators outside of the Joint Committee.

As an additional challenge, the Oregon liquor laws prohibit possession, consumption and distribution of cannabis at a location where someone holds a liquor license. This means NO outdoor consumption area at a bar or tavern. (This might be an easier fix by going in and reconciling the liquor laws with current cannabis regulation).

Over the next legislative cycle, Margolis Legal is proud to be working with the Oregon Cannabis Association to try and make meaningful progress on allowing this type of social consumption. Please share your stories with us about why this is important to you as we move forward.

(part II will be about events)