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New Legislation Would Allow Indoor Cannabis Smoking Lounges in Oregon

Will Portland turn into the West Coast's Amsterdam?

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A new bill making its way through Oregon’s state house would create a system that allows for marijuana consumption at licensed events and locations.

If passed, Senate Bill 307 would “Provide for regulation by Oregon Liquor Control Commission of consumption and sale of marijuana items at temporary events, including licensure of premises on which temporary events are held and provide for regulation by commission of consumption of marijuana items at cannabis lounges, including licensure of premises where cannabis lounges are located.”

The regulations would go into effect at the beginning of next year and that means that concert venues, convention centers and other businesses would be able to apply for indoor consumption licenses. All of the licenses would be regulated by the state’s liquor control commission, and be regulated similarly to Oregon bars.

For some though, the idea of indoor cannabis lounges open to the public still doesn’t sit well, for many of the same reasons American cities outlawed smoking cigarettes at bars and restaurants.

"It weakens the Clean Air Act," Benjamin Hoffman, an Oregon pediatrician told KTVZ news. "Which is a really essential component in reducing exposure to secondhand smoke."

And he might be right, SB307 actually has a specific provision that exempts these would-be-licensed lounges and event spaces from the Clean Air Act and other public use regulations. However, cannabis is not tobacco, and regulations on these lounges would restrict the use of tobacco and alcohol on their premises.

Oregon isn’t the first state to try and create clubs catering to their cannabis community, and Colorado is currently in the process of starting a pilot program for pot clubs, but Oregon’s bill would create a broader system from the get-go.

As with most state’s marijuana laws, individual municipalities would have their say in whether or not to allow cannabis lounges, and regulations of the clubs would include required ventilation and strict ID checks.

SB307 is currently going through the Oregon Joint Committee on Marijuana Regulation. If it passes, indoor consumption licenses would just add to Oregon’s status as one of America’s most progressive states when it comes to cannabis regulation.