Former Portland Trail Blazer Cliff Robinson supports legal, social consumption of cannabis in Oregon. So does Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.
Both men submitted statements to the Oregon Legislature Joint Committee on Marijuana Regulation, which on Tuesday convened a public hearing in Salem on an amended version of Senate Bill 307. The bill, if passed, would allow retailers to create licensed areas where patrons could vape or smoke marijuana. Public consumption of marijuana, or at the retail shops that sell it, is illegal.
The amended version of SB 307 does away with a provision to create a license for temporary events, akin to tastings at a winery or brewery, for cannabis businesses. It also does away with a provision to allow indoor cannabis cafes, an exception to the state Indoor Clean Air Act.
Instead, the amended version would create one license that allows cannabis retailers to have outdoor smoking venues, either separate or as part of the retail shop, such as smoking patios at bars, in public view and under certain restrictions. Licensees would have to petition local governments to allow social consumption.
Wheeler and Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, in a written statement to the committee, stated that social consumption of cannabis, as well as events where its use is prevalent, will continue with or without a law that allows either.
“SB 307 represents a common-sense approach to providing Oregonians legal, regulated and safe places to consume cannabis outside the home,” their statement reads. “SB 307 would provide the regulatory framework for tourists to enjoy the products from Oregon’s growing craft cannabis industry legally and safely, outside of the home and outside of public view.”
Robinson, an 18-year NBA veteran and medical-marijuana advocate, stated the bill would address racial disparities that turn up in records of arrests for public cannabis consumption in states where were marijuana use is legal. In Seattle, he wrote, blacks made up 36 percent of those arrested for public consumption but make up only 8 percent of the city’s population.
Rental restrictions, particularly in subsidized housing, limit residents’ use of cannabis in their homes, Robinson wrote.
Those restrictions “disproportionately impact communities of color and Oregonians battling poverty,” he wrote.
“Senate Bill 307 is a sensible step forward to help avoid falling into the same pattern of African Americans disproportionately arrested and cited for marijuana, even in states that have legalized cannabis,” Robinson’s statement reads.
Health care professionals, including Dr. Katrina Hedberg the Oregon Health Authority health officer and state epidemiologist, and Catie Theisen, spokeswoman for the Oregon Nurses Association, submitted statements that oppose SB 307 and cite the health hazards of smoking marijuana, firsthand and secondhand.
While the amended version of SB 307 does not create an exemption to the Clean Air Act, Hedberg wrote, it raises concerns for public health.
“The Oregon Retail Marijuana Scientific Advisory Committee reviewed the existing literature on marijuana smoke and determined there is no safe exposure to any type of secondhand smoke, including marijuana smoke,” she wrote.
Also, by allowing the social consumption of cannabis, “Oregon risks the rollback of years of progress related to social norms around smoking,” Hedberg stated.
Theisen’s statement took a similar position: “As direct care providers for many Oregonians who suffer from chronic illness as a result of smoking and secondhand smoke, ONA urges you to oppose public smoking of any kind as outlined in SB 307.”
The public hearing record on SB 307 remains open until Friday, according to a committee staff member.
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