The country’s oldest marijuana policy reform group has started a Portland chapter to lobby for the interest of cannabis consumers as Oregon begins the process of crafting rules for the new industry.
The Washington, D.C.-based National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws has formed a Portland chapter — Portland NORML. The group, headed by Portland-based radio host and cannabis activists Russ Belville, will push for rules and regulations that ensure marijuana consumers are “provided the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities as adult alcohol and tobacco consumers, whenever practical.”
“Like booze, marijuana alters perceptions and mood; like cigarettes, marijuana produces smoke that can intrude on non-smokers’ right to fresh air,” said Belville in a statement announcing the group’s formation. “But marijuana brings with it far less damage and danger to the individual consumer and the non-consuming public, so there is no logical reason why adult marijuana consumers should be treated with any less respect, restricted more severely, and denied the same privileges we extend to responsible adult drinkers and smokers.”
He said the group’s lobbying efforts will focus on a range of areas: maintaining the medical marijuana program; merging commercial medical and recreationa production and sales into one system so recreational consumers won’t have to shop separately from medical cannabis patients; establishing vapor lounges or other venues where people can consume marijuana; allowing only the state to tax marijuana; preventing employers from discriminating against marijuana consumers who use the drug away from work “so long as they do not come to work in an impaired condition;” ensuring marijuana consumers aren’t discriminated against in areas like child custody, foster parenting, adoption, bearing arms, organ transplants and other medical treatments; releasing non-violent marijuana prisoners whose crimes fall under the new law; establishing protocol for expunging the criminal records of those whose convictions fall under the new law; and expanding personal cultivation limits to allow households to grow six plants instead of the four allowed under Oregon’s marijuana law.
Portland NORML is the latest group to join cannabis-related lobbying efforts already underway as the state begins the process of crafting rules for marijuana production, processing and sales. Marijuana growers, processors and dispensary owners have all hired lobbyists to push for their interests.
— Noelle Crombie