Oregon’s social cannabis bill isn’t about marijuana

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The new social consumption bill is about civil rights

A new bill in Oregon that is sponsored by Senator Lew Frederick hopes to pave the way for social cannabis consumption in certain venues. However, Senate Bill (SB) 639 is more than just another bill about marijuana; it’s a bill about civil rights.

This is the view of Madeline Martinez. Apart from being the executive director for Oregon NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), Martinez is also the only Hispanic on the NORML board and the owner of her trademark business, The World Famous Cannabis Café. She hopes that the bill will allow her to legally operate the venue, giving Oregonians, as well as visitors, a public location where they can legally consume marijuana.

Martinez states that the lack of locations where marijuana can legally be consumed is an issue of equal rights and discrimination. She explains, “This is about equal rights because whenever you pick a certain group and treat them differently that is discrimination. Medical marijuana patients, renters, the poor, people of color and women are often the least likely to not have a safe legal space to consume legally purchased or possessed cannabis.”

If SB 639 passes, it would require the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to develop policies and procedures for social consumption, as well as regulate the sector. It seeks to create a legalized framework for indoor use and could lead to not only social consumption lounges, but delivery to private and temporary residences, such as hotels.

Martinez adds, “In Oregon, due to the Indoor Clean Air Act, cannabis consumers must find a place outside in the shadows and elements, which is unsafe and has become a social justice issue. Cannabis consumers should be treated with dignity and respect. We are deserving of safe, regulated spaces to consume out of public view. Only S.B. 639 would accomplish this goal.”


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