Olympia Bar Relying on Loopholes In Clean Indoor Air Act That May Allow Tobacco Smoking In Private “Member’s Only” Areas

420 Friendly Olympia Bar Loses Liquor License Live on Radio – Franky Schnarrs, the owner of Frankie’s Sports Bar & Grill, was live on the KIRO Radio when Liquor and Cannabis Board enforcement officers showed up. The officers can be overheard telling Schnarrs that his liquor license is suspended for 40 days because he violated the terms of a previous suspension. For many businesses this would be devastating, Schnarrs wasn’t the least bit concerned.

The initial suspension ordered him to stop serving alcohol for five days because he violated the law by allowing patrons to smoke cannabis in a “members only” back room. Schnarrs seems to be relying on loopholes in the Clean Indoor Air Act that may allow tobacco smoking in private “member’s only” areas.

After the passage of I-502, many cannabis entrepreneurs hoped to open cannabis smoking lounges similar to those found in Amsterdam and Vancouver. Legislators in Olympia had other plans. As we described in a previous blog post, SB 2136 made it a class C felony to allow cannabis consumption in any publically accessible commercial space. In addition to other possible administrative penalties associated with his liquor license, Schnarrs could face criminal liability of up to 5 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.  We hope it doesn’t come to that.

Reports indicate that Schnarrs and his attorneys are pursuing litigation against the state to enjoin their enforcement of the smoking ban. Without more detailed information we don’t whether they have a strong case or not, but from a public policy viewpoint, we are 100% behind Schnarrs’ civil disobedience.

Gleam Law agrees with those influential officials that advocate for allowing cannabis cafes to open in Washington State. This type of controlled permitting of public cannabis consumption, modeled after our laws for allowing alcohol consumption in licensed bars and restaurants,  would be good for tourists, local businesses, and the many renters who are unable to smoke in their homes due to smoking restrictions in their lease agreements. If you are thinking about following Schnarrs’ example we highly suggest discussing the plan with an attorney first. Civil disobedience can sometimes be very effective to force change, but it often comes with a hefty price tag too.