Businesses With Liquor Licenses Should Be Allowed To Permit Marijuana Use

liquor license marijuana cannabis

Marijuana is legal in more places than ever, but there are still a lot of circumstances that marijuana use is prohibited, even in legal states. Voters in eight states, and Washington D.C., have voted to regulate marijuana like alcohol. However, marijuana consumers are still discriminated against in many settings. Marijuana is not equal to alcohol, even though that’s what voters have approved in many parts of America. I can go into a bar in Oregon, purchase a bottle of beer, and drink it on site. I can also do it at a restaurant.

However I can’t consume marijuana in any public place in Oregon, especially on a premises that has a liquor license from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. That’s why the High Times Cannabis Cup has never come to Oregon. Any venue that is big enough to accommodate a Cup has a license from the OLCC to sell alcohol, and there’s no way they would risk getting that license revoked. Per the OLCC website in regards to marijuana consumption at places that have an OLCC licence to sell alcohol:

As of July 1, 2015, recreational marijuana became legal in Oregon. There are limits to the law; marijuana is not allowed to be consumed in a public place.

Measure 91 defines a public place as a general place where the public has access. This includes all special events with OLCC licenses.

Please be aware that as a licensee, you could be subject to administrative sanctions for allowing public consumption of marijuana at your licensed premises.

There are additional issues for public consumption in Oregon, such as Oregon’s Clean Air Law which prohibits smoking anything in places that are open to the public. But there are ways around that if bars and restaurants with liquor licenses also have an designated area out of public view that is outside for patrons to smoke/vape. There’s no way around the liquor license though. The situations in which public consumption is permitted in Oregon is very limited because of the rules. The Oregon Summer Fair I attended with Jorge Cervantes is the only event I’ve been to recently that was truly permitted (City of Portland signed off ahead of time was my understanding).

The battle to reform marijuana laws don’t end when states vote to legalize on Election Day. The liquor license kibosh is a prime example of that. Even in Denver, where a social use initiative (Denver Initiative 300) passed on Election Day there is still a ban in place for businesses that own a liquor license. Per the Denver Post:

State licensing officials delivered a blow Friday to Denver’s voter-passed Initiative 300 by announcing a new rule that will keep bars and many restaurants from applying for new social marijuana use permits.

The new regulation starting Jan. 1 will make clear that liquor licensees cannot allow the consumption of marijuana on their premises. It greatly expands the types of businesses that likely will be disqualified from applying for the new permits for on-site marijuana consumption areas when the city makes applications available in late January, as required by Initiative 300.

Already, licensed marijuana businesses, including dispensaries, can’t allow consumption on site under state law. Now add to that all bars and other businesses that serve alcohol, potentially including event venues.

To be fair, there are still settings that allow public consumption, but those options are incredibly limited when bars and restaurants and special events that sell alcohol are cut from the list. We fought for legalization in states like Oregon and Colorado. Now it’s time that we fight for normalization. I personally want to be able to go into a place and legally play pinball while I consume a pre-roll or hit a vape pen. I also want to be able to go to bars with my friends and rather than smoke cigarettes in the designated area, be able to consume my cannabis without worrying about putting myself or the establishment in jeopardy.

People can travel to Alaska, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado and make a legal marijuana purchase, yet they are not allowed to consume it in most hotels, can’t consume it at the place that they purchased it, and can’t purchase it anywhere that alcohol is sold. Voters approved treating marijuana like alcohol. Banning marijuana anywhere that alcohol is sold is the opposite of that. It’s time for activists to roll up our sleeves and push for a once-and-for-all solution.

image via ABC News

Johnny Green
About Johnny Green 842 Articles
Johnny Green is a cannabis activist from Oregon. Johnny has a bachelor's degree in public policy, and believes that the message should always be more important than the messenger. #LegalizeIt #FreeThePlant