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City Officials, Industry Professionals, and Activists work together on Social Cannabis Consumption in Oregon

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Cannabis consumption has been happening in social settings ever since humans began to interact with the plant. However, with so many states coming online with recreational/adult-use cannabis laws, it brings the discussion about social cannabis consumption to a whole new level.  You may recall what a close vote the city of Denver had this year regarding their social consumption policy, which did end up passing in the end.

Denver is one city pioneering this sector of the cannabis industry and market, and Portland, Oregon is another. Several companies in the state of Oregon have been working hard to pioneer this sector of the industry in Oregon, including the World Famous Cannabis Cafe, Prism House PDX, the Northwest Cannabis Club, Tokeatvity, and the Oregon Cannabis Industry MeetUp group.

The World Famous Cannabis Cafe (WFCC) was founded in 2009 by one of my all-time canna-heros Madeline Martinez.  This establishment moved about a year after it first opened to a new location in 2010.  Then, the Cafe was closed just over a year ago on March 7, 2016 after Martinez received a notice from the Multnomah County Health Department stating they would be enforcing the Oregon Indoor Clean Air Act.  It was a sad day for many!

Madeline Martinez is a long time cannabis law reform activist aside from being the founder and sole proprietress of the WFCC.  She has truly been a leader and shaker in the cannabis reform movement since it began, and I could write a whole article about her amazingness and the gratitude I have for her.  However, for obvious reasons, Martinez has particularly strong feelings about the sector of social cannabis consumption policy.  When I asked her why she felt there was such a need for this, she replied , “Public safety concerns are at the core of this issue, and we also need to protect the rights of Cannabis consumers. We should be treated with dignity and respect as law abiding, taxpaying Oregonians.”

See more from Madeline in this note (or read the text at the bottom of this post) about how to be involved with reform in this area.  

Chloe Eudaly is one of the City of Portland’s newly elected commissioners/council members.  We hosted Chloe while she was campaigning at one of our Women Grow Portland chapter events and I began talking with her about the topic of social cannabis consumption policy at that time.  After she won her seat, I circled back and asked her about this topic again.  It was both refreshing and inspiring to hear her respond with, “I’m looking forward to working with the cannabis industry, activists, regulators and other government officials on social cannabis consumption policy. I believe that cannabis and social cannabis consumption could help attract visitors to Portland as we are making the city more livable and prosperous for people who live here.”

This is KEY for creating sound and responsible policy.  We must work together on this topic.  

Prism House PDX has been organizing cannabis inclusive events since the implementation of Measure 91 began in Oregon, and has been truly paving the way for social consumption events, particularly in the City of Portland.  

Samantha Montanaro, owner/operator of Prism House PDX. Aside from running this company, she is involved in several areas of the cannabis industry as well as her local neighborhood of Parkrose. Samantha serves as a board member for a local non-profit aimed at supporting local economic growth and she is the newly elected representative for Parkrose on the board of Venture Portland. Montanaro said, “If people cannot legally gather and consume cannabis outside of their homes without being afraid of being caught, then has it truly been legalized? Cannabis consumers have been labeled as anti-social not because of how cannabis makes them feel, but because of the illegality and social taboos. Cannabis, like alcohol, is meant for consuming with others in a celebratory and ceremonial manor. Portland could pave the way, alongside Denver, for smart and progressive social consumption regulations that make its canna-loving residents feel welcome and safe as well as draw tourists from all over the world, boosting the local economy.”

One of the ongoing cannabis centric events that Montanaro has been helping organize is the Cannabis Industry MeetUp group.  The group began meeting at the WFCC. When the Cafe was forced to close it’s doors, not only were many responsible cannabis consumers left without a place to enjoy the company of others, but the MeetUp group was left without a home.  Jason Beaver, the group’s organizer and moderator, was thrilled when Montanaro agreed to host the MeetUp events with him.

Beaver explained, “There is a Jim Crow aspect to cannabis and nowhere is it more apparent than in the regulations against social consumption of cannabis.  We are coming into an existing industry and playing catch-up.  There is lots of misinformation in public opinion and government surrounding this topic and it is important to facilitate open and honest conversations, which is a lot of what we try to do with our group.  With alcohol and tobacco use we can have it, and for cannabis to experience a higher degree or stigma is a social injustice.”
As social consumption regulations continue to roll out here in Oregon, as well as in other states, TWB will be keeping a close eye on what is working and what is not, and what is for the best interest of both the public and the cannabis movement.  

This map shows all all the places where patrons at the WFCC visited from.

From Madeline Martinez and the WFCC:

ATTENTION
World Famous Cannabis Cafe friends and family from around the world, and fellow cannabis advocates:
WE NEED YOUR HELP! Many of you have asked when we are going to be opening our doors again, or what you can do to help. This is your opportunity to let your voice be heard and speak up for the World Famous Cannabis Cafe and for our right to personal privacy.
Recreational cannabis consumption was legalized for adults in Oregon in 2014. There are restrictions on consumption in certain locations and circumstances, of course. The addition of cannabinoids to the language of the Indoor Clean Air Act after it passed in 2015 led to the closing of many private cannabis clubs and lounges, leaving otherwise law-abiding consumers in a legal grey zone, both figuratively and physically.
Oregon Senate Bills 307 and 308 address social cannabis consumption laws and regulation. Senator Ted Ferrioli (R- OR) is putting together a workgroup to discuss this important issue, and he would like to hear about your needs and experiences!
So, how have clubs and lounges (or the lack thereof) affected your life? Did you get the chance to visit the World Famous Cannabis Cafe or any of the other similar establishments before the doors were closed? Did you have a chance to play Stoner Bingo, or come enjoy the band with us? What was your favorite part? What do you miss? How has the closure of private cannabis clubs impacted you?
NOW IS YOUR CHANCE TO SPEAK UP!
Let our legislators know what you need! What does socially responsible cannabis consumption look like to you? Do you have a safe place to smoke or vaporize? Do you have to get creative to keep it away from your children or grandchildren? How does recreational cannabis fit into your life without private spaces? How would having safe, legal places to consume help you to follow the law and to protect consumers and non-consumers alike?
It doesn’t take long to write a few short paragraphs and shoot them out by email, or to make a quick phone call. Please share your thoughts with the Joint Committee on Marijuana Regulation. (Links can be found at: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/…/2017…/Committees/JMR/Overview ) or see below for Legislators’ contact information!
Thank you for all of your love and support! I can’t wait until we can once again say, “Welcome Home!”
Changing How We Live,
Madeline Martinez
NORML/NWA
World Famous Cannabis Cafe
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Co-Chair: Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick
Phone: 503-986-1700
http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/burdick
Co-Chair: Representative Ann Lininger
Phone: 503-986-1438
http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/lininger
Co-Vice Chair: Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1950 District Phone: 541-490-6528
http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/ferrioli
Co-Vice Chair: Senator Floyd Prozanski
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1704 District Phone: 541-342-2447
http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/prozanski
Co-Vice Chair: Representative Julie Fahey
Phone: 503-986-1414
https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/fahey
Co-Vice Chair: Representative Carl Wilson
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1403 District Phone: 541-476-7896
http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/wilson
Member: Senator Lee Beyer
Phone: 503-986-1706
http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/beyer/
Member: Senator Jeff Kruse
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1701 District Phone: 541-580-3276
http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/kruse
Member: Representative Ken Helm
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1434
http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/helm.
Member: Representative Andy Olson
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1415 District Phone: 541-967-6576
http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/olson

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About Author

Leah Maurer

Leah Maurer is the happily married mom of 3 young boys in Portland, Oregon. She is a co-owner of The Weed Blog and contributes regularly to the site. Leah also serves as the Branding and Outreach Manager for Yerba Buena Farms, the first recreational licensed cannabis cultivation farm in Oregon. A cannabis legalization activist, she hopes to see the prohibition of cannabis end on a federal level, and to see the cannabis conversation normalized across America.

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