Despite legalizing cannabis in 2014, Oregon still has a lot of work left to do regarding marijuana, from doing better to ensure that low-income patients have safe access to automatically expunging old convictions (without making people pay extra money and jumping through unnecessary bureaucratic hoops). Additionally, cannabis cafes and other consumption sites are needed. I’m proud to be working on an effort to legalize cannabis consumption spaces along with my activist friend and colleague Sam Chapman. We founded the New Revenue Coalition PAC to lobby the Oregon Legislature to legalize consumption spaces and to take the proposal directly to voters at the ballot box if necessary.

You can learn the latest at the International Cannabis Business Conference in Portland, this September 27th-28th (GET YOUR TICKETS HERE), as I will be moderating a “The Future of the Oregon Cannabis Industry” panel that includes Sam, Casey Houlihan of the Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association, Adam Smith of the Craft Cannabis Alliance and Oregon State Senator Floyd Prozanski. The Willamette Week recently covered our efforts to bring Amsterdam-style cannabis cafes and other job-creating-and-revenue-generating businesses to Oregon:

WW: What are the campaign’s major and minor objectives?

Anthony Johnson: The main objective is to bring more fairness and equality for adults that utilize cannabis, especially low-income patients. Too many people don’t have a safe place to legally consume cannabis out of public view due to their rental and housing agreements, which disproportionately impacts people of color and folks suffering through poverty. The bonus objectives are to create more jobs and revenue by allowing for consumption within cannabis businesses.

Who benefits from laws allowing social consumption?

Legalizing and regulating consumption spaces, which will be in private establishments out of public view, will greatly benefit low-income patients and others that utilize cannabis without a safe place to consume. It will also benefit entrepreneurs and taxpayers by boosting our local economy. Oregonians that don’t consume cannabis, or don’t even want to be around it, will benefit not just from the overall economic benefits to the state, but also from fewer people smoking cannabis in public.

Why is this effort significant for tourism and the state’s economy?

We’ve already witnessed economic benefits from legalizing cannabis that have far exceeded initial projections, boosted by tourism dollars. We will lose tourism dollars to California, Canada, Nevada and other locations that allow cannabis cafes, spas, bud and breakfasts, and further business development. Licensed farms should be allowed to permit sales and consumption onsite, emulating a model similar to winery tours today.

Please head on over to the Willamette Week to read the entire article. And get your tickets to the ICBC in Portland to hear from some of the top lobbyists, advocates, investors, and entrepreneurs that are moving the industry forward.

The economic benefits of the cannabis industry are exceeding expectations, but we can still do better. Providing consumption spaces where adults can safely and responsibly utilize cannabis will help bring the industry into an equal footing with the beer and wine industries, and will eventually bring us closer to ending unnecessary discrimination that the cannabis community still faces. Creating jobs and generating revenue will just be icing on the cake.