Oregon Marijuana Lounges: The Day Stoner Bingo Died

No more stoner bingo?
No more stoner bingo?

The short legislative session has been eventful for cannabis in Oregon. Four pot bills are now enrolled and await Governor Brown’s signature, and all of them make important changes to Oregon’s medical and recreational programs. Even the hemp bill passed.

In the coming weeks, we will discuss each new law and examine how it affects Oregon’s cannabis industry. Yesterday, however, an article in the Oregonian highlighted one of the issues the legislature did not address. That issue is cannabis cafes.

We wrote about cannabis cafes here and here, and we observed in December that Oregon marijuana lounges were probably on the way out, despite the fact that a few had been operating. In short, this is because the Oregon Indoor Clean Air Act (OICAA) generally precludes smoking in public area work places. That is true even when the express purpose of the venue is for smoking marijuana, the venue is private, and all staff are volunteers.

There was some hope Oregon’s legislature would create an OICAA carve-out to allow marijuana clubs and cafes, like the one for cigar bars. At one point an amendment was raised, but it failed to get traction. As the session winds down, a few legislators are on record stating they are open to revisiting the ban on pot lounges in a future session, but we are not holding our breath.

As we mentioned before, the lack of cannabis cafes creates roadblocks for low-income marijuana users, like those who live in smoke-free public housing, as well as high-income people who live in smoke-free apartments or condos, and for tourists who visit Oregon and cannot smoke in their hotel rooms. In banning cannabis cafes, Oregon passed on an opportunity to distinguish itself from Washington, Alaska and Colorado, which also ban marijuana bars.

Stoner bingo . . . . Rest in peace.