On November 13, a clot of journalists stands in a hailstorm outside a Portland, Oregon, business called Rumpspankers Beyond Broth. We’re awaiting a press conference rechristening the business the Cannabis Café, the first restaurant where patients licensed by the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) can publicly use marijuana.
“Welcome to freedom!” says Madeline Martinez, all good cheer as she finally presents the café, a cavernous room of dinged-up furniture and paper lanterns. As the executive director of Oregon NORML, Martinez previously hosted bimonthly socials for marijuana patients in the ballroom above Rumpspankers, but a seven-day-a-week place to congregate and medicate? That is her dream come true.
It sounds like a wonderful idea. I would imagine some folks who require marijuana for their conditions also suffer from loneliness. Their caregivers could deliver them here once in a while.
But those who show up on Cannabis Café’s inaugural day seem relatively hale. A 20-year-old says he uses pot “because I tore a muscle in my hamstring.” A 48-year-old woman with fibromyalgia is here as much for the social aspect as for pain relief. “It’s really nice to know you’re not alone,” she says, smiling at a 39-year-old man with a pacemaker, who smiles back.What's your opinion? Is this burgeoning movement going to be ruined by fakers like the guys on line for the first day's action? Should that ruin it? Would it be a bad thing if we allowed marijuana cafés like they do in Amsterdam?
The only person not smiling is the one who appears the sickest. Outside, the hail has changed to rain, and at a table at the end of the stairwell sits a man, visibly ravaged by illness, thin and out of breath and leaning on a cane. He is looking at the line of people waiting to get in, nearly all of them young men, joking and laughing. Asked whether he wants some help up the stairs, he shakes his head, too weak to answer.
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