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November 18th, 2009 Sasha Ingber | News Stories
 

Chronic Debate

Where there’s smoke, there’s a dispute.

     
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CAFE SOCIETY: Madeline Martinez with a vaporizer at last week’s opening of the Cannabis Cafe.
IMAGE: Darryl James

Oregon’s new cannabis cafe resembles most any other coffee shop in Portland.

A glimpse at the cafe when it opened Nov. 13 at 700 NE Dekum St. inside Rumpspankers (which voluntarily surrendered its liquor license to avoid conflict with the OLCC) reveals hanging white paper lanterns and scattered secondhand furniture amid red walls. Glass jars brim with green herb, ripe fruit, fluffy scones and large cookies. The jars perch behind vaporizers on a countertop. Only the drawn beige curtains would suggest something private is taking place inside.

But the premise of the cafe run by the Oregon chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws—charging a $25 monthly fee—troubles some in the state’s medical marijuana community.

“I don’t see how people running it will make sure everything stays above board,” says Jerry Wade, secretary of the pro-medical marijuana Stormy Ray Foundation.

“I think it is dead wrong, endangering medicine for very sick, very needy people for a few people who want to make a buck,” Wade says. “We’re providing an incredible market for the black market.”

Executive director Madeline Martinez of Oregon NORML rejects such concerns. Martinez notes that cafe patrons—all cardholders of Oregon NORML and the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program—are “a community” that will get help with marijuana vaporization, and receive seminars and classes.

“We’re not lepers,” Martinez says.

 
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