Oregon Cannabis Institute Portland signs off on marijuana festival featuring free samples


It’s legal to possess, grow and buy marijuana in Oregon, but state clean air laws and local rules have put a damper on public festivals featuring giveaways and consumption.

The Oregon Cannabis Association has found a way to host a summer fair where members of the public — as long as they’re 21 and older — can take home free samples.

The Summer Fair, featuring dozens of Oregon producers and processors, will be held July 24 at the North Warehouse in Portland.

Amy Margolis, a Portland lawyer with the cannabis association, said the event is designed to showcase Oregon’s marijuana industry and give consumers a chance to learn more about products sold in dispensaries.

“It’s a way to meet new people who are interested in this market,” she said.

The association addressed the city’s rules by not charging admission, Margolis said.

Portland officials have made clear they plan to crack down on events that allow consumption or hand out samples at events where people pay to get in. The city views paid admission to a fair where marijuana is handed out as similar to selling pot – something only licensed marijuana businesses can do under the law.

Public cannabis consumption is also prohibited so people who collect free samples at the Summer Fair won’t be allowed to smoke or vape on site.

Victor Salinas, the city’s marijuana policy coordinator, said Thursday that the city has advised organizers to check photo identification of attendees, as well as hire “enough security to monitor the perimeter to make sure no one is entering other than by the established entrance and exit.”

City officials earlier this year said they would ramp up pot-related enforcement efforts with the addition of four compliance officers, whose salaries come out of marijuana licensing fees. Salinas said those officers may visit the fair to ensure compliance with city rules.

Organizers or promoters of the events who violate the rules — and owners of the property where they are held — can face fines of as much as $5,000, according to city officials.

— Noelle Crombie

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