I see people smoking pot on sidewalks and outside bars. Can I legally blaze in public yet?
STILL “NOPE”—unless you’re willing to risk a fat fine up to $1,000. Moreover, consuming in many public places can be annoying to people around you, which makes the cannabis community look bad.
Change may be on the horizon: Senate Bill 307 is on deck in the Oregon legislature, and if it’s passed, it could allow consumption at licensed cannabis lounges and temporary events. Licenses would be approved by the hard-working people at the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (potentially renamed the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission under House Bill 2198). If SB 307 passes, the “OLCC” or the renamed “OLCC” would make additional rules about how these licenses work.
As introduced, SB 307 says indoor smoking won’t be allowed unless there’s a decent exhaust system in place. Drinking, tobacco, gambling, and video lottery would not be allowed on the same premises.
Applicants for temporary events would submit a plan, a fee, and an explanation of how they plan to keep kids out (sound familiar?). And, importantly, licensed cannabis retailers could sell at these temporary events. Pop-up events are totally #trending right now.
Permanent lounges would need special OLCC licenses. Sales of cannabis would be prohibited on lounge premises under SB 307’s current drafting. Legislators might consider changing this so people can actually buy stuff on the premises and so retailers don’t overuse “temporary” licenses.
Otherwise, cannabis retailers might want to take a hard look at nearby premises right about now.
It’s not perfect, but SB 307 could realize the dreams of advocates who have worked for years to legalize public, social consumption.
Without SB 307, Oregon’s Indoor Clean Air Act currently restricts smokables and “inhalant delivery systems” (read: vapes) at most businesses. The OLCC currently warns businesses that they jeopardize their liquor licenses if they allow cannabis consumption on-site. It remains generally unlawful to smoke cannabis in a “public place” in Oregon. Depending who’s deciding, “public place” means anywhere the public can access, including sidewalks, streets, highways, “places of amusement,” parks, schools, playgrounds, public transit areas, plus many shared lobbies and hallways. Churches are probably in there but for some reason those aren’t listed in the statute. And, obviously, it is a very stupid idea to toke in your car.
Advocates, patients, caregivers, canna businesses, users, and generally open-minded people have been working hard to win the hearts and minds of anti-pot crusaders and end “canna-bigotry” by normalizing cannabis, encouraging everyone to consume like respectful, law-abiding world citizens. It’s useful to analogize getting stoned in public to getting drunk in public or smoking cigarettes around people who dislike it: Just as it’s frowned upon to drink booze on the sidewalk or blow cigarette smoke at a stranger, it’s not classy to blaze in shared spaces around folks who might be commuting to work, pushing babies in strollers, or touring grandparents from Kyoto.
It wouldn’t hurt to call your legislator about SB 307. Otherwise, keep it classy: Don’t smoke weed in public for now.