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Social Consumption

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director March 19, 2019

    Chief Petitioners Madeline Martinez, Leia Flynn, and Angela Bacca filed a ballot measure to be known as “The Legalization Justice Act of 2020” at the Oregon State Capitol on Monday, March 18. All three women are longtime West Coast cannabis advocates.

    Madeline MartinezMadeline Martinez is the executive director of Oregon NORML and the only Latina member of the board of directors of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). She generated international headlines when she opened the World Famous Cannabis Cafe in 2009, the nation’s first public-facing cannabis consumption lounge.

    “This is about equal rights because whenever you pick a certain group and treat them differently that is discrimination. Patients, renters, the poor, people of color and women are still marginalized for their cannabis use, despite legalization,” said Martinez.

    Leia Flynn is a legal assistant at a firm that works with cannabis businesses and the owner of Flight Lounge, a members-only private cafe allowed under the City of Portland’s social consumption guidelines. A former medical cannabis caregiver and member of Oregon Green Free, she has put her voice out into the public in order to create safe spaces for cannabis consumers.

    “We are in a situation where we have legalized it and anyone over the age of 21 can purchase it, but you cannot smoke it anywhere unless you own your home,” Flynn says. “That is discrimination.”

    Angela Bacca is a Portland-based writer and editor who has been covering the national cannabis industry for over 10 years. Having witnessed the early days of medical cannabis caregiving in California as a patient living with Crohn’s Disease, Bacca feels it is imperative to protect patients’ rights to botanical medicine.

    “I would sum up our policy as ‘do the right thing’. Let’s create legal cannabis policy that acknowledges both science and reality,” Bacca says.

    Background

    The Oregon Justice League does not believe the State of Oregon has implemented Measure 91 in the spirit under which the law was passed. The OJL seeks to right these wrongs as well as provide a model for other states to implement a more just version of cannabis legalization.

    Legalization was sold to Oregon citizens as a way to grow, develop and sustain our small business economies, end the discrimination of citizens based on their interactions with the cannabis plant and uphold, protect and ensure the right of medical cannabis patients to safe botanical access.

    Therefore, the Legalization Justice Act of 2020 would make the following changes to Oregon law.

    Summary of language:

    Tax Revenues: Redistribute recreational cannabis taxes in a way that promotes the social justice goals of cannabis legalization. Once passed, the LJA would designate 25 percent of tax revenues to funding community development and micro-lending initiatives that promote small businesses in minority and underserved communities disproportionately affected by the failed War on Drugs. An additional 25 percent would be designated to subsidize medical cannabis purchases for low-income patients with qualifying conditions under the OMMP who have lost their access to direct caregiving from growers. The remaining 50 percent can continue to be used at the state’s discretion.

    Changes to Oregon Medical Marijuana Program: Recognizing that cannabis as a botanical substance is recommended, not prescribed, a patient’s right to choose botanical cannabis in their medical care in consultation with a doctor must not be impeded. Patients with incurable or chronic illnesses must be allowed by the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program to be issued a lifetime card if a qualifying physician recommends their cannabis use. Patients awaiting an organ donation cannot be removed from a transplant waiting list for using cannabis. The JA expands qualifying physicians under the OMMP to naturopaths, physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners.

    Producers of recreational or medical cannabis may enter into caregiving relationships with qualifying patients and provide medicine directly. The value of the product can be deducted from state cannabis excise taxes if the patient qualifies for low-income subsidization.

    Social Consumption Spaces: Legalize and regulate cannabis social consumption cafes in a fashion that removes the discriminatory provision under the Oregon Indoor Clean Air Act so that cannabis users can inhale inside. This section does the following (1) The Oregon Indoor Clean Air Act must be amended to allow smoking and vaporization of cannabis indoors. (2) Directs the OLCC to regulate and oversee the licensing and regulation of cannabis lounges. (3) Allows existing cannabis dispensaries to add a social consumption space. (4) Allows for OLCC licensed farms to host tours and tastings, as regulated by the OLCC. (5) Directs the OLCC to license and regulate cannabis social consumption spaces at public events. Allows delivery of cannabis to temporary residents and residents of municipalities that have banned cannabis dispensing storefronts.

    Employment Protection: Create employment protections under the law to protect off-the-job cannabis use and prevent conceptually flawed drug testing from being used to discriminate against cannabis consumers.

    Protect Oregon’s Craft Cannabis Community: Direct the state to directly advocate to the federal government for its craft cannabis community, specifically export of product out of Oregon’s borders.

    For more information, follow Oregon NORML on Twitter.

  • by NORML March 13, 2019

    Lawmakers and regulators have signed off on new regulations explicitly permitting adults to consume cannabis at specially licensed retailers.

    Under the new rules, which take effect April 11, licensed cannabis retailers may apply with state regulators for an additional “on-site consumption endorsement.” Local governments may challenge the applications in certain instances, or initiate a municipal vote to limit on site activities.

    It is anticipated that the initial on-site consumption areas may be approved by this summer.

    While some local municipalities — such as Denver, Colorado and West Hollywood, California — already regulate on-site consumption sites, Alaska is the first adult use jurisdiction to establish such regulations statewide.

    “When these rules go into effect, Alaska will be the first state to finalize and approve statewide rules for on-site consumption. We expect more to follow suit in the not too distant future,” stated NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “Allowing social consumption is sensible from a business perspective, particularly for states with large amounts of tourists who otherwise have no place to legally consume, but it also has an important social justice component.”

    “By preventing retail outlets and other venues from being licensed and regulated for social consumption, many patients will have to chose between effective cannabis treatment for their ailments or being thrown out of public housing,” Altieri continued, “This causes the civil liberties that come with marijuana legalization to still being kept at arms length from low-income individuals and members of other marginalized communities.”

  • by Tyler McFadden, NORML NE Political Associate March 12, 2019

    After months of negotiation, Governor Murphy and NJ state legislators have reached a deal on what will be included in upcoming legislation to legalize the adult-use and retail sale of marijuana in the state of New Jersey. Some highlights include expedited expungement for past misdemeanor marijuana convictions, a three-percent tax to be collected by or paid to municipalities wherever retail stores exist, and provisions to incentivize socio-economic, racial, and gender equity in the state’s cannabis industry.

    Though this is a monumental step towards expanding personal freedoms for New Jerseyans, the fight is not over. The bill, yet to be released, still needs to garner enough support in the New Jersey state legislature in order to get to Governor Murphy’s desk. We need urgent action from New Jersey residents to make adult-use cannabis legalization a reality in the Garden State.

    Click here to send an urgent letter to your state legislators in support of adult-use cannabis legalization in New Jersey.

    New Jersey ranks second in the nation in per capita annual marijuana arrests. This policy disproportionately impacts young people of color — who are arrested in New Jersey for violating marijuana possession laws at approximately three times the rate of whites — financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, and engenders disrespect for the law.

    It’s time for New Jersey to prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of its residents by joining the 10 states (and Washington DC) that have passed sensible marijuana reform.

    Click here to send an urgent letter to your state legislators in support of adult-use cannabis legalization in New Jersey.

  • by NORML January 31, 2019

    Nearly 10 years after opening the first cannabis cafe in the United States, Oregon NORML (ornorml.org) executive director Madeline Martinez is appealing directly to legislators in Salem to pass a bill sponsored by Senator Lew Frederick (D-Portland) that would finally legalize her trademark business, The World Famous Cannabis Cafe. Martinez played a crucial role in organizing local cannabis advocates to bring about Frederick’s legislation, Senate Bill 639.

    Martinez says this isn’t just an issue of dysfunctional laws that allow adults living or visiting Oregon to purchase cannabis but not legally consume it, it is an issue of discrimination and equal rights.

    “This is about equal rights because whenever you pick a certain group and treat them differently that is discrimination. Medical marijuana patients, renters, the poor, people of color and women are often the least likely to not have a safe legal space to consume legally purchased or possessed cannabis,” said Martinez.

    Martinez points out that taking direct actions like opening a private social consumption space before public consumption spaces are legal to push the issue into the mainstream discussion and bring into question unjust laws is something that is much easier for white men, but dangerous territory to cross into for a woman of color. As a former corrections officer, Martinez says she knows how the law works, is friendly to law enforcement and firm that actions like hers are what propel the change of bad laws and make the cannabis space more welcoming to marginalized groups.

    “You have to be bold, I never asked anyone for permission,” says Martinez. “When you don’t like the laws, you change them. All the gains in movements of social justice are made by people breaking bad laws. I have been called the ‘Rosa Parks of Cannabis’.”

    S.B. 639 is currently awaiting assignment into a Senate committee. If passed it would require the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to regulate social consumption businesses and event spaces, allow for the sale of cannabis in these clubs, tasting tours on farms (similar to wine) and expanded legal cannabis delivery into private and temporary residences (like hotels).

    A similar bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives, H.B. 2233. The fundamental difference between the two pieces of legislation is that while S.B. 639 creates a legalized framework for indoor smoking and vaping, H.B. 2233 does not. Martinez says this approach further marginalizes the poor, who are disproportionately punished for public consumption.

    “In Oregon, due to the Indoor Clean Air Act, cannabis consumers must find a place outside in the shadows and elements, which is unsafe and has become a social justice issue. Cannabis consumers should be treated with dignity and respect. We are deserving of safe, regulated spaces to consume out of public view. Only S.B. 639 would accomplish this goal,” Martinez concludes.

    About Oregon NORML & Women’s Alliance
    The mission of the Oregon chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is to further the social justice goals of the marijuana legalization movement post-legalization. Cannabis is legal but still not “normal” in our society; Oregon patients and recreational consumers still risk housing and employment discrimination and loss of custody of their children for choosing to use cannabis legally and there are not safe legal public spaces for social consumption. Oregon NORML believes that although it is legal statewide, conflicts with federal law still threaten the liberties of Oregonian cannabis users. For more information visit:  http://ornorml.org/.

  • by Mary Kruger, Executive Director, Roc NORML December 17, 2018

    Roc NORML was in the news earlier this week talking about what consumers and activists want to see included in the legislation currently being drafted to frame New York’s adult-use cannabis market. The legislation is being drafted by a work group, put together by Governor Cuomo, and we’re anticipating a first draft of the legislation will be introduced during the state of the state in January with the executive budget.

    So, what does this mean exactly? This means we are also anticipating the legislation will be on the trajectory to pass with the 2019 Budget Bill in April, with Article VII from the NYS constitution. It is not a matter of if, or even when, but a matter of what this legislation is going to look like and who it is going to benefit most.

    The article says: “The lawmakers working on writing the legislation that will be used as a framework for the program tell News10NBC they’d like to just “copy and paste” what the state of Nevada has done.

    “Nevada has definitely benefited from the implementation in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and California,” says Senator Diane Savino.  

    Here’s what copying Nevada’s laws would mean for New York:

    • Legal recreational use for anyone over the age of 21.
    • Sales of one ounce per day.
    • No public consumption or usage while driving or in a vehicle.
    • Employers can still drug test and landlords can still prohibit usage while inside their dwellings.  

    When it comes to the business side of things, Senator Savino says she likes that Nevada started by offering recreational licenses to those who already have medical dispensaries.” Based on that statement, it would stand to reason that a holder of a medical marijuana license in New York has a vested interest in seeing a bill that gives all adult use license to medical marijuana license holders come to fruition.

    California based MedMen, Inc., one of the ten medical marijuana license holders in New York, was one of Senator Savino’s largest campaign contributors in 2018, donating $10,300 to her reelection campaign and has donated $20,600 to Senator Savino in total. It should also be noted that MedMen, Inc. has recently been sued in California for failing to “pay employees minimum wages for off-the-clock work, pay employees for the full amount of hours worked, including overtime, provide all mandatory meal and rest breaks, and keep accurate records of employee hours worked.”

    A New York resident might wonder why a California based company that does not operate a single licensed facility within the district of Senator Savino (who is also vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee) would be her second largest donor (Senator Savino’s largest donor is her own Diane J. Savino Campaign Committee). Moreover, why is Senator Savino listening to a company, accused of committing multiple wage and hour law violations, over the repeated statements of her own constituents and the Governor’s and Assembly’s statewide listening sessions who seek to ensure big businesses, especially those who are owned from outside of New York, do not create an oligopolistic market that shuts out locally owned small and medium sized businesses.

    Also quoted in the article, Mary Kruger, Executive Director of Roc NORML, said “We’re spending a lot of money on the black market right now and none of it is going back into the community,” regarding developing a Community Reinvestment Grant with tax money generated from an adult-use market in NY. And while some money from the illicit market is staying in communities, a majority of it is not, and the legislation must invest tax dollars into communities that have been directly targeted and harmed by the War on Drugs.

    While Nevada certainly has aspects that we can model after, Roc NORML, other activists organizations around the state, and allies in both the Senate and Assembly are in no way, shape, or form advocating to “copy and paste the Nevada model.”

    Assembly Members Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Senator Liz Krueger sponsored the MRTA (Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act), companion legislation in the Assembly and Senate, introduced in 2017 to legalize and regulate cannabis for adult-use in NY. These Assembly members held listening sessions around NYS on this topic earlier this year, one of which Roc NORML was invited to speak at, are not in support of allowing the current medical license holders first dibs at the licenses. Nevada is currently in the middle of a costly lawsuit because of the way their licenses were distributed, has extremely restrictive home cultivation laws, which exclude almost all residents from being eligible for home cultivation, and doesn’t allow for on-site or public consumption; these are jusst some of the most important reasons why we urge NYS not to follow the Nevada model.

    As a consumer advocacy organization, alongside with other advocacy organizations around the state and allies in the Senate and Assembly, we firmly believe this legislation set to pass in April must include the following, non-negotiable points:

    • Restorative and reparative justice, which includes: proactively seal and expunge all low-level marijuana related offenses, at no cost to the victim; strategically promote diversity and equity within the industry, focused on the small business model and only allowing vertical integration licenses within micro-businesses; develop a Community Reinvestment Grants fund as a revenue source for new community based programs for communities that have been directly targeted and most harmed during the War on Drugs, created using 50% of the tax money generated from the adult-use market
    • Home Cultivation with Collective Gardening: allow home cultivation for 6 plants in flower, per individual, with provisions that allow collective gardening centers, promoting “incubators” or hubs where folks can go if they aren’t able to cultivate in their own home
    • On-Site Consumption: allow for businesses to obtain on-site consumption licenses, similar to how liquor licenses are distributed, giving the public a safe, legal, and social place to consume; excluding this from the law is unjust to consumers and medical patients who aren’t able to legally consume in their home

    All of these points, and more, were discussed in depth at the Marijuana Justice, Equity, Reinvestment conference earlier this week in Albany, hosted by the Drug Policy Alliance, which both Roc NORML Board of Directors and Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes were in attendance. These points were echoed by advocates, activists, and industry professionals from around the country during the conference, calling for the urgency to keep Justice, Equity, and Reinvestment at the forefront of this legislation.

    Feedback has been gathered from New Yorkers around the state through the Assembly hearings, as well as 17 listening sessions facilitated by the Governor. The feedback from New Yorkers across the state has not echoed the call to “copy and paste the Nevada model”, as Senator Savino has suggested we do. Instead, the call to action from New Yorkers has been to develop a model that is justice based and consumer focused, neither of which the Nevada model offers.

    Governor Cuomo has stated more than once that New York has waited to legalize cannabis for adult-use so we can learn from other states, and set the standard for other states around the country. This is our chance to do so and we need to learn from where other states have fallen short and make it better, not just “copy and paste” a flawed model.

    Take action now by going to rocnorml.org and:

    1. Take the survey on our homepage, conducted by NYS on cannabis consumption, to inform the legislation currently being written
    2. Under the Events section, RSVP for our statewide lobby day on March 27th, in partnership with Drug Policy Alliance and other organizations from around the state, to advocate for cannabis consumer rights in Albany
    3. Join our mailing list to stay updated on local cannabis news, events, hearings, and become a member of Roc NORML
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