U.S. Cities Push to Approve Cannabis Cafes
While marijuana is legal in 33 states, open consumption in the public eye is heavily restricted. Cannabis use is prohibited in vehicles, hotels, buildings and public spaces. Alaska is taking a progressive step forward in this regard, as they become the first state to approve legislation permitting “social consumption” of cannabis at specially licensed businesses. This gives consumers the opportunity to smoke and purchase marijuana at cannabis cafes. The Cafes must possess proper licensing from Alaska.
Under the new public consumption regulations signed by Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer (Alaska), licensed cannabis businesses are not only allowed to sell cannabis, but they’re also be allowed to provide their customers a space to smoke in. The criteria of the bill states that the dispensary must separate the area designated for smoking by either a door, a wall from the retail part of the shop or located outside of the shop. The dispensary must be a freestanding building that prevents cannabis smoke from drifting into adjoining businesses. To operate a café at a dispensary, owners will have to obtain a second license. Alaska will possibly start accepting these applications by summer of 2019.
States and Cities considering or that allow Cannabis Cafes:
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- West Hollywood
Many state and cities have been seriously considering following Alaska’s footsteps. Some cities within the state have already enacted legislation that allows for cannabis cafes. This article will provide an overview of where different cities and states stand in regard to public consumption in a safe business establishment without fear of legal jeopardy.
Colorado was close to being the first state to allow social consumption at cannabis cafes until it was vetoed by Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2018. There are various cities in California that allows businesses to obtain a license that permits consumption at their locations such as San Francisco, West Hollywood and Oakland, but this is only on a city level and not state.
Massachusetts has been seriously considering licensing cannabis cafes. Supporters of this legislation want to ensure that people who live in apartments, shared or public housing can use marijuana without breaking the law. Cannabis cafes solve this problem, because it provides people who aren’t homeowners a location where they can get together with friends and use marijuana legally.
Opponents of this initiative brought up the concern of people driving home under the influence of cannabis after visiting these cafes. One solution was to encourage patrons to utilize transportation services that would eliminate the need for them to be behind the wheel. Another solution was to require that Massachusetts cannabis cafes provide a low- THC cannabis products to prevent over-consumption along with educational information warning of the dangers of over consuming and partaking of cannabis while nursing or pregnant.
Washington state is a perfect example on how cannabis laws unfairly effect people who are part of its low socioeconomic class, which also disproportionally effect Blacks and Latinos. In Seattle, you can purchase weed legally, but finding a place to consume it is a different story.
Seattle has a home median sales price of $645,000 according to Trulia. With prices that high, it’s fair to say that these laws effect the middle class as well. Locations like Seattle, New York and California have some the most expensive housing markets in the United States. It’s easy for a low-income earner to be priced out of the real estate market in these areas. It’s fair to say that these states would be better represented by creating the means & incentives that minorities need to take advantage of the booming industry, including Cannabis Cafés.
San Diego is another city that is considering whether they should allow cannabis cafes. Proponents argue that having a place where people can congregate to consume marijuana will take them away from the black market and into the legal market where the city can receive revenue.
Opponents of this push raised the concern of patrons driving under the influence of cannabis. Federal data supports their argument, there has been a 6% increase in automobile accidents in states where marijuana is legal. The revenue being generated is less than the cost it would take to enforce impaired driving and provide medical treatment according to Scott Chipman, who is a representative of San Diegans for Safe Neighborhoods. Proponents argue that cannabis cafes can have similar regulations and restrictions that bars enforce. Cannabis Café management and owners would be given the authority to use their discretion to prohibit patrons from consuming additional cannabis if they decide they’ve had enough.
You can buy cannabis in Oregon but like many other states it’s illegal to smoke it in hotels, apartment rentals, on the street and in cafes. Sam Chapman is an advocate with the New Revenue Coalition and argues that the state needs to have more legal avenues for residents to consume marijuana.
Senate Bill 639 would legalize cannabis tents at concerts, home deliveries and tastings at cannabis farms. This bill faces a different type of opposition, instead of opponents being upset with driving under the influence, they’re concerned with the clean indoor act. Opponents stated that they worked hard to get the indoor clean act passed and that allowing indoor smoking would be back tracking according to Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D -Gresham. One solution to this objective would be that the bill could be modified to let the public consume tinctures and edible instead, if legislators decide to block SB 639.
There is a lot of interest across the nation in states where cannabis is legal, to provide their residents a safe place for the consumption of marijuana. If these states aim to no longer punish their poorer residents, when it comes to the enforcement of cannabis laws, then they would be wise to enact legislation that would give low income consumers a legal place to consume marijuana whether they own a home or not.