Public consumption of pot continues to be illegal, but a new bill would let Seattle and other cities opt out of the ban and open up pot cafes.
Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes backs the effort.
“The idea is to offer a place where people can consume marijuana out of public view,” which is a requirement of I-502, the law that legalized marijuana in Washington state.
“There are many people who would like to consume cannabis who do not have the luxury of a private home, or are tourists visiting Seattle, for instance,” Holmes told KUOW’s Bill Radke.
To be clear, marijuana would be consumed, not sold at these pot cafes. “You would have to basically BYOB: bring your own bud,” Holmes said.
Another hurdle for pot cafes would be the smoking ban.
“We realized in discussions with the Downtown Hotel Association that hotels have an automatic exemption from the Clean Air Act. Twenty-five percent of hotel rooms can be designated as smoking rooms. So they already had an opportunity to do this.”
Holmes suggests that one of the things hotels could do is open cafes that only permit vaporized or edible marijuana consumption.
“Vaping would be the logical way because there's been no scientific evidence yet that shows a secondhand impact from the use of vaporizing,” he said.
With downtown hotels potentially catering to tourists sampling marijuana, Radke asked, do we want Seattle to become the Amsterdam of America?
“I think that we're trying to avoid having that moniker. I think that there are a lot of negatives associated with the Amsterdam cafes,” Holmes explained. “For one, the delivery of marijuana remains illegal. It's the sale that they tolerate in small increments.”
“We're trying to make sure to not engage in the hypocrisy that really is behind Amsterdam cafes. We want a legally sanctioned framework.”
Holmes also supports another proposal in the Legislature to allow legal marijuana delivery services.