The answer (for the moment) is nowhere! Seriously, don’t do it. Possession of recreational marijuana is legal in Oregon only after July 1, 2015. And now is as good a time as any to mention that marijuana remains illegal under Federal law. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
But here’s the rub: after July 1 it doesn’t get much easier. Marijuana tourism has the potential to be a major driver of the green economy in Oregon, but Measure 91 and current state law don’t leave a lot of options for out-of-staters who want to use recreational marijuana. In this post, I’ll address what the law currently allows, and discuss some potential solutions. With apologies to Dr. Seuss:
You cannot smoke it in a bar…
Don’t expect to light up at a local watering hole. First, Oregon’s Smokefree Workplace Law bans the use of “smoking equipment” in any enclosed public space and any place of employment. The law doesn’t currently cover e-cigarettes or other vaporizing hardware, but the Oregon Health Authority is openly encouraging local authorities to regulate their use, and the Oregon Legislature is working on a bill to expand state law. Second, Measure 91 bans the use of “marijuana items” any place that’s open to the general public.
You cannot smoke it in a car…
Use in vehicles is also out. Needless to say, it’s a very bad idea to use in a car that you’re driving yourself. For-hire transportation is regulated locally, so let’s look at Portland’s City Code. The Code bans smoking by drivers and passengers of for-hire transport (interestingly, there is an exception for pedi-cabs – this is too Portland not to be the topic of its own post), which rules out cabs and limos (party buses or other charters are a grey area, and will also be addressed in another post).
You cannot smoke it on the street…
No surprises here. Though you can smoke tobacco in public in Oregon, Measure 91 specifically bans the use of marijuana in public places.
You cannot smoke it in 75% of hotel rooms
And I ran out of rhymes. Oregon smoking laws allow hotel owners to designate up to 25% of their rooms as smoking rooms, where tourists could presumably partake of legal cannabis purchased in Oregon. But where’s the fun in that? For visitors who want a more social experience, there are a few possibilities once the rules are written.
Private clubs could permit smoking marijuana
Oregon state law prohibits smoking in places of employment that are open to the public. Colorado and Washington entrepreneurs have attempted to work around similar laws by opening members-only clubs that are staffed by volunteers, with mixed success. Major stumbling blocks are making the club sufficiently exclusive, and avoiding having volunteers classified as employees. Oregon smoking laws fall somewhere between Colorado (laxer) and Washington (the country’s strictest), but it appears that Oregon may be more open to exceptions than Washington is. I am hopeful that there will be room to operate once the dust settles.
Smoke Shop laws could be expanded to include marijuana
Oregon law allows smoking on the premises of OHA-certified smoke shops. This exception to smoking laws is unique among states that have legalized recreational marijuana. A willing legislature could adapt existing law to include marijuana.
Something new entirely
Seattle authorities have recognized the difficulty posed to tourists, renters, and homeless people who want to use legal marijuana. The City Attorney is working with the City Council to legalize "marijuana use lounges," where edibles and vaporizers could be used (though smoking would still be illegal).