Oregon state senators Lew Frederick (D-Portland) and Floyd Prozanski (D-South Lane and North Douglas Counties) are sponsoring Senate Bill 639 currently awaiting assignment into a Senate committee. If passed, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission would regulate social consumption businesses and event spaces. It would become legal to sell cannabis in designated clubs, allow for ticketed tasting tours on farms — much like wine tasting in vineyards — and would expand legal cannabis delivery into private and temporary residences such as hotels.
One supporter is Oregon NORML (ornorml.org) executive director Madeline Martinez who also serves on the board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Martinez is organizing other advocates to reach legislators in Salem, Oregon to pass the bill.
Martinez has said in a statement that SB 639 will correct an issue of cannabis discrimination and ensure equal rights for adults living or visiting Oregon that purchase cannabis.
“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 not to have a safe, legal space to consume legally purchased or possessed cannabis,” said Martinez.
Martinez further states that opening a private social consumption space before public consumption spaces become legal should be discussed. According to Martinez, as a Latina, questioning unjust laws is something that is much easier for white men, but holds consequences for a woman of color. Martinez, a former corrections officer, says she knows how the law works, respects law enforcement, and is working to include marginalized groups.
“You have to be bold, I never asked anyone for permission,” Martinez said. “When you don’t like the laws, you change them. All the gains in movements of social justice are made by people breaking bad laws. I have been called the ‘Rosa Parks of Cannabis,’” she adds.
Martinez also opened and operated The World Famous Cannabis Cafe in Portland, Oregon from 2009 to 2016. It was the first cafe in the United States for state-authorized medical marijuana cardholders. After the Oregon Indoor Clean Air Act was expanded to include marijuana smoking and vaping in 2016, her cafe was forced to close. Similar cafes such as The Bluebird Coffee Shop in Las Vegas opened and closed during this period. Each state government is observing what new laws are being enacted in regards to legalized cannabis purchase and consumption.
A similar bill has been introduced in the Oregon House of Representatives, H.B. 2233 by representatives Representative Ken Helm (D-Washington County), Rob Nosse (D-Portland) and Julie Fahey (D-West Eugene and Junction City). HB 2233 provides for regulation by Oregon Liquor Control Commission of consumption and sale of marijuana items at events and venues where events are held. The bill would allow cities and counties to regulate the use of cannabis in social lounges, including licensure of premises at which cannabis lounges are located. The Oregon Health Authority would oversee and enforce sanitation certificates.
According to Martinez, she believes there is a difference between the two pieces of legislation. SB 639 addresses a legalized framework for indoor smoking and vaping, and HB 2233 does not address this issue. She states that this approach further marginalizes the poor, who are disproportionately punished for public consumption.