The end of adult marijuana prohibition came at the stroke of midnight, July 1, and a crowd that spanned the entire length of the Burnside Bridge gathered to celebrate the beginning of marijuana legalization in Oregon. A huge puff of marijuana smoke rose to the sky beneath the shining neon Portland Oregon sign that welcomes travelers into Old Town Portland.
“The end of prohibition has been a long time coming,” remarked Portland NORML Executive Director Russ Belville, “and we wouldn’t be celebrating this day in Oregon without the hard work of long time Oregon activists like Paul Stanford, John Sajo, Doug McVay, Madeline Martinez, and so many more, including those we’ve recently lost like Jim Klahr, Jim Grieg, Melodie Silverwolf, and Larry Kirk.”
Portland NORML Board Members Scott Gordon, Jennifer Alexander, and Kaliko Castille were on hand to help distribute educational fliers explaining Oregon adults’ new legal rights to possess marijuana and cultivate cannabis plants. Even as the line of people waiting to celebrate stretched across the bridge on both sides, filling the sidewalks and spilling into the bike lanes, Portland Police Bureau kept their distance.
“We are thankful that the Portland Police Bureau recognized this gathering as a peaceful celebration and allowed the large crowd to express their First Amendment rights free from interference,” said Portland NORML Deputy Director Scott Gordon. “Tonight’s gathering proved that people have nothing to fear from marijuana legalization and the people who enjoy marijuana.”
Portland NORML is the local chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and represents the interests of marijuana consumers. While legalization is a welcomed first step, it is only the beginning of reforms called for by the organization. Prisoners who remain behind bars for marijuana crimes must be freed. Marijuana consumers must be protected from discrimination in the workplace, as well as protection for parental rights, medical treatment rights, and Second Amendments rights that are still threatened despite marijuana’s new legality.
“We’ve achieved legalization,” Belville explained, “now we seek equalization. We will not stop until we have the same rights as beer drinkers and cigar smokers.