Portland, Oregon Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly were joined this week by former Trail Blazer Cliff Robinson in the support of legislation seeking to allow social cannabis consumption in the state, The Oregonian reports.
If approved, Senate Bill 307 would provide “regulation by Oregon Liquor Control Commission of consumption and sale of marijuana items at temporary events, including licensure of premises on which temporary events are held.”
In Robinson’s testimony to senators on Monday, he drew attention to grievous racial disparities in the enforcement of cannabis prohibition:
“A study of Seattle police enforcement’s arrest of public cannabis consumption found that African Americans made up 36 percent of those arrests, while only comprising eight percent of the city’s population. Studies have shown that marijuana is used at the same rate across all races, so these arrest statistics are very troubling.”
Robinson said that SB 307 — by giving cannabis consumers a legal, social setting in which to partake — was a “sensible step” to avoid falling into a similar pattern.
Previous language in the bill would have allowed social consumption at special events as well, but lawmakers were pressured into removing that clause. In its current form, the bill would only allow cannabis to be consumed in an “outdoor” area, according to Rick Osborn, Communications Director for the Senate Majority Office.
Meanwhile, Portland officials have claimed the bill would bolster tourism in the area. “The same way Oregon and our city celebrate our craft beer and wine industry,” Mayor Wheeler and Commissioner Eudaly wrote in a letter, “Portland welcomes and wants to provide opportunities for our emerging craft cannabis industry.”