With its harsh politics and seeming intractability of cannabis prohibition, Wisconsin these days is 180 degrees different than the state of Oregon.
In Nov. 2014, Oregon voters legalized adult use of cannabis, 16 years after they legalized medical cannabis in Nov. 1998. On Oct. 1, 2015, adults age 21 and over have been allowed to purchase up to 7 grams of cannabis flowers at a time from licensed medical cannabis dispensaries while the state creates a new regulatory system for recreational sales. So I thought that a little fact finding tour of Portland was in order.
On Friday night, Nov. 13, 2015, I also was a guest on the local Portland television show hosted by longtime Oregon activist Paul Stanford of the THC Foundation and THCF clinics, “Cannabis Common Sense.” Another well-known hemp and cannabis advocate, Casper Leitch, co-hosts. Cannabis Common Sense’s motto is: “The show that tells the truth about marijuana and the politics behind its prohibition.”
Paul and I talked about Wisconsin and its lack of a medical cannabis law and how out of state patients are benefiting from the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP), and cases it had helped. A short movie I made in 2010, Jacki gets legal in Oregon, about Wisconsin patient activist Jacki Rickert getting her first OMMP card in Sept. 2010.
We also discussed the proposed new state rules that take effect Jan. 1, 2016 which, if not reversed, will prohibit out of state patients from registering with the OMMP.
Watch the entire show:
Over the weekend, Cannabadger also visited a small selection of nine of the hundreds of dispensaries around the Portland area and found them busy with new recreational buyers along with their usual medical patient clientele. With more dispensaries than McDonald’s or Starbucks in the state, Portland, with hundreds, is a cannabis consumer’s dream come true.
With Oregon law prohibiting consumption in “public places” of the newly legal weed, there are now options available for legal consumption.
At least three private members-only cannabis social clubs have sprung up. The oldest, the World Famous Cannabis Cafe, (7958 SE Foster Rd., Portland), was the first cafe in the United States for state-authorized medical marijuana cardholders. In June 2015 it reopened at a new location serving both medical and recreational users. I visited the club at its original location in 2010, but was unable to this time.
(Updated 2015-12-02 7:57pm: Unfortunately, it appears these clubs are now facing closure by Oregon regulators, according to Russ Belville, writing in, Marijuana Politics, “Oregon Bans Cannabis Cafés Starting January 1“)
We did however visit the two newest private clubs. On Saturday we stopped by The Other Spot (5431 SE 72nd Ave. Portland). The Other Spot is a cannabis social club providing comfortable, entertaining space, to gather and socialize, for both medical and recreational cannabis consumers. They have already expanded into an adjacent building. In addition to the “Medication Station,” The Other Spot includes lots of comfortable seating, pool and shuffleboard tables, and a tv room among its many attractions. We vaped up at a comfortable table and enjoyed the freedom of being able to enjoy legal cannabis with friends at such a nice establishment. The Other Spot hosts live music and other events including meetings of cannabis friendly organizations such as Parents For Pot. Visitors can buy non-alcoholic beverages and light snacks.
On Sunday we visited the NW Cannabis Club (1195 SE Powell Blvd., Portland). We were welcomed by Adan, who was working the 50-foot Dab Bar. He told us they had been open only a month so far. The NW Cannabis Club is a large open space with tall ceilings that had previously housed restaurants. A large basement will also be utilized to expand the space. We found NW Cannabis Club very welcoming as we sampled products donated by local dispensaries including joints, bongs, and dabs. Non-alcoholic beverages and light snacks are available for purchase. The club recently hosted a comedy night with plans for more.
Private social clubs like the NW Cannabis Club are a big step forward and offer medical and recreational cannabis consumers a safe and legal venue to enjoy socializing with legal pot. Living in Wisconsin, with its bar culture, I’ve long yearned for cannabis cafes. In Portland, I was able to experience two, and there are undoubtedly more in the works as the legal cannabis industry takes root in Oregon.
A long weekend in Portland was a great tonic to recharge the activist batteries a little. Over a few short days I was able to experience what for me was a mind-blowing cornucopia of cannabis dispensaries, social clubs and even a visit to THCF Farm’s indoor garden. But what seemed so exotic to a visitor is simply another day in Portland. Living in Wisconsin, it feels like cannabis legalization is just a dream. A few days in Portland and it is clear it is real and coming to Wisconsin some day, whenever lawmakers finally catch up to their constituents and a growing number of states and nations.