Summer is here! The great outdoors, longer days, vacations and engaging in social situations with others, which for many will result in frequent cannabis consumption sessions.
In other words, y'all are gonna get hiiiiiighh with your friends every damn where, all the damn time, for the whole damn "Hot Stoned Summer." Smoking circles are back and passing the Dutchie 'pon the left hand side.
But be it a beach, forest, park, camp site, sidewalk or parking lot, smoking a joint or hitting the vape pen in public is still an illegal activity. Granted, the likelihood of being cited or arrested for burning one down remains extremely low, but it's against the law.
And as "cannabis consumption" is still used as a cause for searches by law enforcement, especially in Black and BIPOC communities, which has led to very bad things such as fatal shootings, it's a real concern.
Consumption is only legal within a private residence (that you own, or with the owner's permission), and in a yard/porch/outdoor space fenced off and set up so those passing by can't see the consumption.
Oregon sold over a billion dollars' worth of cannabis last year, and took in nearly $178 million in cannabis taxes, not to mention revenue generated from the 70,000 cannabis industry jobs. But the limits placed on where and how the cannabis purchased and taxed here can be legally consumed is costing Oregon millions in revenue, taxes and jobs.
Cannabis tourism is now a $17 billion business. Residents and visitors LOVE to get high here, especially in beautiful outdoor settings. Ever seen a sunset on the Oregon Coast? Ever seen one...on weed? OK, then.
But while Oregon wants its cannabis to be purchased through the regulated and taxed system, it isn't as eager to see regulated and licensed spaces allowing consumption of what was just purchased. In some spaces—bar, restaurant, hotel room—tobacco isn't allowed either, and the Clean Air Act rules are meant to keep the byproducts of traditional cannabis consumption, secondhand smoke, from those who don't wish to be around it.
Which is fair, but the options for consumption diminish even further with excluded outdoor restaurants, breweries, rooftop spaces, and other spaces with the required obstructed view barriers. Their Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission's alcohol serving license doesn't permit it, as you can't have adults double fisting with a pint and a joint. Mayhem would ensure, hence why you never see anyone consuming the two together anywhere, ever.
This is where the issue gets contentious to some cannabis consumers—the differences between what's allowed for alcohol versus cannabis events and consumption, with both heavily regulated and "Sin" taxed adult product industries.
The staggering number of beers, ciders, wines, spirits and meads offered at dozens of festivals and competitions across the state nearly every weekend are marketed and enjoyed as educational and experiential opportunities. They provide "producer to consumer" experiences, enrich the knowledge base of intoxicating plant-based beverage consumers, and of course, consumption. Lots of drinking of alcohol. The goal is a more educated, empowered, and experienced alcohol buyer.
Package label dose directions are great, but to fully engage a consumer on the benefits, limits and potential pitfalls of any product involves consumption. That's why a beer fest with without any beers is the 2nd circle of Hell.
But those alcohol festivals are also allowed to sell tickets to their events. Admission to cannabis events that have managed to overcome the regulatory hurdles must be free if cannabis is to be given away or otherwise provided. And those small, organic, craft cannabis growers that are the farmer's market equivalent of producers with fervent and free spending fan bases? They aren't allowed to share or sell directly to the public either.
Cannabis consumers deserve access to opportunities on par with what the alcohol industry is allowed. People learn their tolerance and limits and safer ingestion through both discussion and consumption. That results in a consumer making better choices.
Other states are regulating and licensing indoor consumption lounges, which could serve as a revenue, tax and job creating sector in Oregon as well. Providing regulated consumption opportunities results in safer cannabis consumers, to themselves and others.