Opinion: Cities need “safe spaces” to consume cannabis

Marijuana consumption has been a hot topic for years. The controversy that follows has led to Washington’s passing of the law I-502 in 2012, legalizing marijuana usage for adults aged 21 and over. Although this is considered an accomplishment within Washington State, some of the restrictions are too contradicting and unrealistic.

For instance, it is illegal to smoke in the public eye. For some, it is prohibited to smoke in their home or apartment due to leases or contracts with landowners, so it is common for individuals to smoke outside of their home. Why are we allowed to smoke cigarettes — which are more detrimental to our health — in the public eye but not allowed to spark a blunt, even at home?

I came across this question, and as open to the consumption of marijuana as I am, this seemed a little unfair. We are allowed bars and hookah lounges, but why not safe spaces for marijuana usage? We all know (and some of us have experienced) that bars are notorious for social drinking, which leads to drunk nights. Most bars don’t have any affiliation with Uber or Lyft, and some individuals are so ignorant that they decide to drink and drive, thus leading to an accident.

If this is allowed to happen on a daily basis, why can’t we have marijuana bars and lounges, for possibly a less detrimental outcome? If Washington started creating these safe spaces for marijuana users, it could be the start of something new. In following suit with the law, adults over the age of 21 could socially smoke at their leisure, also creating new job opportunities and helping the local economy. The possibility of starting the trend of affiliations with Uber and Lyft would not only benefit these companies, but also provide safe and affordable transportation to and from these safe spaces.

If these spaces were created, marijuana consumers, and the public alike would benefit. No leases or contracts would be broken, there would be no smoking in front of children or nonsmokers in public areas and provisions would be made for safer places to smoke comfortably.

It’s a walking contradiction that with nearly the same law, alcohol has more cultural leniency than marijuana does. A landlord doesn’t tell their tenant that they are not allowed to drink in the house, but that restriction applied to other substances leads to public smoking, driving under the influence and being ticketed for smoking in the view of the public. Although I agree that smokers should not smoke in public due to others’ opinions and preferences, there needs to be a safe space for these people to smoke freely. Weed is legal now, so why not make these marijuana bars and lounges legal too?

My challenge for UW this week is to be safe while consuming marijuana, alcohol or any other mind altering substance. If you are partaking in any of these activities, make sure you have a reliable designated driver, or call an Uber or Lyft. Life is too short for mindless mistakes, and risking yours or an innocent victim’s life isn’t worth it.