Public marijuana smoking, vaping or any other use of cannabis is prohibited in any state that has legalized medical or recreational marijuana but some states like Oregon are trying to change that. There are notable figures in Oregon advocating for public use of cannabis including the Mayor of Portland and basketball great Cliff Robinson.
When Oregon voters in 2014 approved the ballot measure legalizing recreational pot, they specified that pot use in public places would remain unlawful.
But as marijuana growing, processing, retailing and consumption have swelled in Oregon, so has the chorus pushing for the right to toke on pipes or joints or inhale from vaporizers in public — whether at pot lounges or in city parks.
Some Oregon lawmakers tried to push the public-smoking bubble in the legislative session that just ended. Senate Bill 307 would have allowed licensed marijuana lounges, where pot smokers and vapers could publicly partake in pot. It also would have allowed public marijuana use at temporary events.
But the bill died in committee, despite the backing of famous former Trail Blazer basketball player Cliff Robinson, now a pot retailer and advocate, and other notables, such as Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.
Public use of pot remains one of the unresolved features of recreational marijuana legalization in Oregon. People do smoke pot in public, including on streets and in parks. But that’s a violation of state law, a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $3,500 and six months in jail.
Pot supporters say SB 307’s failure hasn’t ended the push for pot use in public.
“We clearly see a demand for people to be able to consume these products safely and in a legal environment,” Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association Executive Director Casey Houlihan said.
Pot shops are proliferating in Eugene, with 53 shops open and another 14 proposed as of the middle of June.
But the stores are only a place for customers to buy marijuana; they can’t legally use pot in the stores.
Oregon law restricts the use to private premises.
Oregon has been a national leader on allowing recreational marijuana use — except when it comes to public use — said Alex Rogers, producer of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference in Eugene.
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