Oregon welcomed in the New Year by implementing their new clean indoor air provisions, with many fearing that the new rules might affect the World Famous Cannabis Café. For now, the business still opening as usual, but complaints about smoking within the walls of the café have already started to filter in to Multnomah County.
A county code enforcement official will visit the Cannabis Café to inspect the premises and let the owner know what steps need to be taken in order to be in compliance with the new rules. Failure to follow those rules could mean fines that go as high as $500 per violation, per day. Officials had already stopped by the store prior to the Jan 1 date, and made it clear that the use of vaporizer pens and e-cigs would be illegal once the New Year rolled around. These devices were recently added to regulations, so that they would essentially be viewed in the same way as cigarettes and tobacco.
The only businesses that can skate under the indoor clean air law are cigar bars and smoke shops, both of which can legally have their patrons light up or get their vaporizer pens switched on within their walls. There are plans in place to add cannabis clubs to the list of exemptions, but that will not happen until later this year when a proposal us put in front of the Oregon Legislature. Cannabis clubs are a big part of the marijuana scene in Oregon, and the belief is that because a membership is required to be a part of them, their private status should mean that they are among the exempt properties.
The owner of Cannabis Café does not pay employees, and also says that she no longer relies on volunteers to maintain the place, which means it should not be classified as a workplace. The owner claims that this, along with the recent addition of a smoke filter, should be more than enough to keep the Cannabis Café on the right side of the law. The Oregon Health Authority sees things a little differently, and claims that they had received several complaints about the establishment, but were unable to do anything about it until the new laws went into place.
The lines between a workplace and a public space may well become blurred in this fight, but there are already some casualties to report. The Other Spot, a local cannabis club, has already been forced to close its doors since the implementation of the new regulations. The owners there were aware that the fines could quickly start to mount, which was why they chose to close up. The problem here is that many of the people who take their vaporizer pens to these establishments do so in order to take their medical marijuana. These are people who already cannot vape at work or at their apartment buildings because of the laws, so where would they then go of the cannabis clubs were forced to close? Perhaps that is the question that has to be asked before wholesale club closures become the norm.