A bill that aimed to allow cannabis consumption lounges has been declined in the state of Oregon, after it failed to meet a committee deadline. Senate Bill 639 would have put the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) in charge of regulating cannabis consumption lounges. The OLCC would have been responsible for issuing licenses for lounges, and the bill would have set a buffer zone of 1,000 feet around public schools and secondary schools, areas in which consumption lounges could not be located.
Sam Chapman, legislative director of the New Revenue Coalition, the organization behind the bill, told Statesman Journal that SB-639 is “100 percent dead,” but he declined to further comment on the matter.
At the end of February, there was a public hearing held on the bill with the Senate Committee on Business and General Government. The deadline for the committee to vote on the bill and potentially move it forward to the next legislative step has since passed.
Those who were in support of the bill saw an economic opportunity from allowing cannabis consumption lounges in Oregon. More tax revenue could have benefitted addiction services, education and law enforcement operations in the state. In his testimony to state lawmakers back in February, Chapman further explained these economic opportunities.
“We know that every day in Oregon, individuals are using cannabis on the sidewalk, in cars, in parks and other public or non-legal spaces,” Chapman wrote. “While creating legal consumption spaces may not completely prevent this practice, individuals that choose to use in those public places cannot use the excuse that they have no other option.”
“We know that every day in Oregon, individuals are using cannabis on the sidewalk, in cars, in parks, and other public or non-legal spaces.”
New Revenue Coalition is dedicated to creating legal and responsible spaces for cannabis consumption in the state, even beyond licensed lounges. According to the organization’s website, “In addition to allowing licensed and regulated cannabis consumption cafe and lounge establishments for adults, this proposal will also legalize tours similar to those conducted by our state’s microbrewery and winery industry and allow licensed retail businesses to deliver to adults staying in hotels and into cities and counties that prohibit regulated cannabis businesses. “It’s disappointing that SB-639 did not go further in committee. Oregonians continue to be confronted without safe and legal places to consume cannabis in peace.
In March, there was a petition submitted to the Oregon Secretary of State office. The petition would allow Oregon residents the opportunity to vote during the November 2020 election on a bill to potentially allow cannabis consumption lounges. When the petition was submitted, Chapman said this ballot initiative was “the obvious next and best step for pushing reasonable cannabis reform forward.”
Sadly, legal cannabis consumption lounges are not yet a reality in the state. Hopeful proponents will continue to fight to make these spaces a reality, with future efforts underway.