Retired NBA All-Star Cliff Robinson (Portland Trailblazers) says cannabis social clubs are a social justice issue concerning the rights and freedoms of poor people as well as racial minorities in legal states. These clubs have become a hot topic in Oregon, Alaska, Colorado and Washington state, which legalized recreational marijuana but prohibited venues from allowing onsite consumption - much like bars allow patrons to drink.
The fight for social clubs now has an influential ally in Robinson, who is also a cannabis entrepreneur. Last year, Robinson announced the launch of Uncle Spliffy - a line of 'Sports Cannabis' products branded after his nickname, Uncle Cliffy.
Robinson took on the issue of social clubs yesterday by submitting his written testimony in support of Oregon Senate Bill 307, which would allow the state to license temporary permits for onsite consumption at venues for special events. A small step toward allowing permanent social clubs.
Robinson noted that the current rules on the books unfairly prevent poor people from enjoying the benefits of legalization because landlords can prohibit cannabis use in their rental units. And marijuana is banned in all public housing projects because they are overseen by the federal government, which still prohibits cannabis.
"[A]dults in Oregon should have the ability to utilize cannabis responsibly, but landlord-tenant agreements, particularly Section 8 housing, limits the ability of many Oregonians to use cannabis in the privacy of their own homes," Robinson wrote. "[T]hese rental restrictions disproportionately impact communities of color and Oregonians battling poverty, without the financial means to purchase their own home."
That means people are resorting to having a puff outside, where they are liable to be busted by the police for breaking the ban on public consumption, which is on the books in Oregon as well as the other 7 legal states.
"Low-income neighborhoods are likely to have more police patrols, leading to more marijuana charges for public smoking levied against people of color and those who can afford arrests and costly tickets the least," Robinson added. "Senate Bill 307 is a sensible step forward to help avoid falling into the same pattern of African Americans disproportionately arrested and cited for marijuana, even in states that have legalized cannabis."
Robinson backed up that claim with stats suggesting that racial discrimination continues to be a major problem in the American justice system.
"[P]eople of color are still disproportionately arrested and cited for marijuana offenses in legal states. A study of Seattle police enforcement’s arrest of public cannabis consumption has found that African Americans made up 36% of those arrested, while only comprising 8% of the city’s population. Racial disparities also have remained in Colorado as African Americans make up just 4.2% of the state’s population, but over 12% of the state’s marijuana arrests. Studies have shown that marijuana is used at the same rate across all races, so these arrest statistics are very troubling."
California, Massachusetts and Maine took pre-emptive steps to address this problem before legalizing recreational use in 2016. The ballot initiatives passed in those states included regulations to permit onsite consumption. So the states that have legalized cannabis first now have to catch up with the progressive regs of the newbies.