Advocate: Bill to legalize pot lounges is dead

Oregonians won’t be smoking joints at legal cannabis lounges anytime soon.

A bill to legalize cannabis lounges is “100% dead,” according to Sam Chapman, legislative director for the New Revenue Coalition, the group behind Senate Bill 639.

The last major legislative action taken on the bill was a public hearing before the Senate Committee on Business and General Government at the end of February. Since then, the deadline to vote the bill out of committee has passed.

Legal pot lounges aren’t unheard of in the U.S. The Las Vegas City Council this month OK’d marijuana consumption lounges, also known as social use venues, under certain conditions.

An initiative petition submitted to the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office in March may allow Oregon residents to vote on legalizing cannabis social consumption cafes in the November 2020 election.

— The Associated Press

A measure that would allow Oregon-grown cannabis to be sold out of state, pending federal approval, was approved by state senators on Wednesday.

The measure, Senate Bill 582, gives the governor the authority to allow licensed recreational marijuana businesses to sell products out of state. It passed the Senate in a 19-9 vote. The measure only takes effect, however, if federal laws allow for interstate cannabis commerce.

Another cannabis measure, Senate Bill 218, which would enable the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to halt issuing licenses in the wake of a glut of marijuana, was delayed until Monday. Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, has supported the measure.

The measure allowing interstate sales of cannabis will go before the House Committee on Economic Development at 1 p.m. Monday. .

“The Senate passage shows that our political leaders understand that the future of the cannabis industry is interstate, and ultimately international, commerce,” said Adam Smith, Craft Cannabis Alliance founder and director. “Oregon’s future is as a global center for world class cannabis products, and an industry that supports hundreds of local farms and businesses in an industry that has been an important economic driver for rural and agricultural communities across the state since long before the days of regulation.”

Proponents of the measure have said that allowing Oregon cannabis to be sold out of state would help with the current oversupply of cannabis. Washington, California, Nevada, Alaska, Colorado, Michigan, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational use of cannabis. Oregon has about a million pounds of marijuana flower in inventory, according to the OLCC. Producers say this glut is causing prices to fall. Oregon law doesn’t cap the number of cannabis producers, retailers or processors. However, in June the OLCC announced it would pause processing of any new license applications until it cleared its backlog.

Federal law forbids the transport of cannabis between states. By removing the barrier, illegal sales and surplus would be reduced, Smith said.

Selling Oregon cannabis out of state has been a topic of discussion since 2015, according to the Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association. A similar measure was introduced in 2017, but didn’t pass, Casey Houlihan, Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association executive director, said in a prepared statement.

“Oregon is already one of the leading exporters of cannabis in the nation, and it has been for decades,” Houilihan said in the statement. “We want those sales to be legal and regulated and taxed. We need a framework for exporting that excess supply into other states and countries as soon as possible.”

— Reporter: 541-633-2117, sroig@bendbulletin.com

— Bulletin reporter Gary Warner contributed to this report

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