How was your Friday, July 3? You get out of town? Barbecue with friends?
I spent mine facilitating growers from around the state in gifting nearly 2,000 people with about 40 pounds of cannabis. It was called Weed the People—an all-day celebration of legalization and education, where participants were given cannabis samples.
How did it go? Great! But like any event attempted for the first time, we learned from the experience.
We set some rules—no alcohol, concentrates, or edibles. Weed the People was to be a celebration of cannabis flower. The space we rented was a huge warehouse with no A/C—which in Portland, isn't uncommon. What was uncommon was the temperature.
Longtime Portlanders know we get patches of great weather in May, then rain well through June. "It only gets warm after July 4," residents always say. Except on Friday, July 3, it was 96 degrees. That's hot for any activity.
The warehouse was chosen after months of searching for venues that would be cool with us giving away cannabis and allowing people to consume onsite—not an easy task, and we got more rejection than we ever did in high school.
On event day, we were caught a bit off guard when people started lining up four hours early. Within our capacity limits, we decided to check people in ASAP and get them out of the sun. There was a large tank of water onsite, and the 1,000 gift bags we distributed contained empty water bottles. Staffers were quickly sent to Fred Meyer to grab more bottles, fill them with ice water, and spritz the participants waiting in line. Sure, we had two misting stations, but on a day like that, we needed more.
While cooler inside, the lines to get into the growers' Gifting Room were also long. Like, really long. I got on the mic to ask attendees to please limit their questions to the growers, quickly collect their samples, and move along as a courtesy to those behind them. I asked the growers the same. "They have a million questions," one grower said haplessly. "How do I ignore that?"
You don't. And maybe that's a lesson for all of us. Attendees didn't want to be rushed, and cared less about grabbing and puffing then they did gaining information about the different varieties. How do you tell someone asking if a strain is good for chemo treatments to move along? What about a 70-something attendee who says they "have been waiting for this moment for 50 years?" You don't.
This event showed us there is a big need for legally acquired cannabis. But there is an even bigger interest in learning about that cannabis: How was it grown? What's the strain? What is it good (or not so good) for in producing particular effects?
Are there things we'll change the next time around? Absolutely, and we appreciate your patience and suggestions for making our events bigger and better. But most importantly, we want to thank you and everyone involved. Thanks to our attendees who braved the elements, as well as our generous growers, sponsors, vendors, and countless volunteers. Making history may not always be easy—but together we did.