There are those who hold a medical marijuana card that do not like to be seen using the plant. Whether they think that their job will look down on it or they think their families won't like it, there are many reasons to keep cannabis smoking a private thing. But for some people in Bangor, Maine, that's easier said than done. Especially for the doctors, architects, and lawyers who end up smoking uncomfortably in their cars in order to avoid prying eyes. But for those that are around Bangor, the VIP smoking lounge 13 Owls Club will provide an outlet for discreet marijuana smoking.
The club is the idea of Christopher Ruhlin, the owner of Herbal Tea & Tobacco Shop which has recently expanded to include this new VIP club. Renting the space on an hourly rate, Ruhlin hopes to create a space that people will be able to medicate without fear of being thought of as a criminal. "These people depend on a discreet, professional environment," Ruhlin said. He declined to say how many members have joined so far.
Maine voters passed the medical marijuana law in 1999. When the plant appeared again on the ballot in 2009, the voters wanted to expand the law to include more permitted medical conditions and to allow patients to legally buy from eight nonprofit, government sanctioned clinics and cultivation centers. In 2011, the law was amended again to eliminate patients being required to register with the state. 2013 brought another review of the bill, changing again to allow PTSD, inflammatory bowl disorder, and multiple other disorders that previously hadn't been considered medical marijuana worthy.
"There are no laws or rules prohibiting qualified patients from gathering in one location to consume medical marijuana other than on a school bus, on the grounds of a school. or in a correctional facility." Sarah Grant, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a web interview. "Further, smoking marijuana may not occur on public transportation or in a public place. That said, the Department cannot speak to municipal zoning ordinances or other local regulation that may prohibit this activity." The assistant city solicitor in Bangor, Paul Nicklas, said that the city has local ordinances in places that cover medical marijuana dispensaries and grow operations and they follow the state's rules on use. "The plant's use in a private setting is generally allowed," he said.