“We get 60- and 70-year-old dudes walking in with their tie-dye. I love that,” Holly Roeder owner of the Luna Lounge told the Chicago Tribune.
It’s one thing to see Colorado and California move forward with legalized and regulated cannabis lounges as they were the first states to pass adult-use and medical laws, respectfully. With its libertarian culture on a variety of fronts, it makes sense that Nevada would be a pioneer on lounges and other tourist attractions as well. But allowing Illinois, the Land of Lincoln, in America’s Heartland, to pass Oregon as a pioneer in anything cannabis-related is just blasphemy.
While Oregon’s cannabis industry has exceeded initial projections in both job creation and revenue generation, helping fund schools, drug treatment providers, harm reduction services, and recovery programs, we can still do better. Small businesses, the backbone of our great nation, need assistance, and that’s more true within the cannabis industry than in most other business sectors, as entrepreneurs often face burdensome regulations, unnecessary banking fees, and an effective federal tax rate over 60%. As the Chicago Tribune reported, some of the first cannabis lounges are off to a successful start:
“When Holly Roeder opened the Luna Lounge in rural Sesser in July, she expected to get some young stoner customers. As she discovered, the clientele turned out to be older — typically over 40, up to 90, most of them medical marijuana patients.
“More than a month after opening, the Luna Lounge is thriving, sometimes drawing capacity crowds around 70 people to hear bands on weekend nights. It isn’t licensed to sell cannabis or alcohol, but customers can bring in their own weed and rent or buy pipes or bongs to smoke. Officials say there have been no problems there.
“At another college town, DeKalb, Aroma’s Hookah Bar serves tobacco and also allows customers to bring in their own marijuana. Since opening in June, the store has offered promotions such as a $12 fee for unlimited time smoking cannabis in its lounge, or $5 on Wednesday, with free arcade games. They serve snacks and nonalcoholic drinks, and customers can play board games.”
Just like a lot of people don’t like the smell of tobacco smoke, plenty of people don’t want to smell cannabis smoke on the streets. A very simple solution is to give the cannabis community safe, regulated locales to utilize their cannabis away from the general public. Tourism dollars are extremely important to a lot of Oregon communities and cannabis cafes, lounges, tasting rooms, and other consumption-friendly businesses would generate more jobs and revenue for the state. There are obvious safety and health concerns to adopt as Oregon looks to follow in the footsteps of other states, but there shouldn’t be anything holding back the Beaver State from fully embracing the cannabis industry like it has with its wine and microbrewery industries.
In the near future, Kind Leaf would love to open the best cannabis cafe in Pendleton, but in the meantime, we are happy to operate the premier craft cannabis boutique with the best selection in the Great Northwest. Please visit us, or check out our menu, deals, and discounts via Leafly.
Featured photo courtesy of Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance.