IT'S BEEN QUITE a year for anyone who enjoys cannabis in Oregon. On July 1, we went from being dirty, black market, pot-weed smokers to law-abiding canna-enthusiasts whose interest in and enjoyment of the herb is the next gold rush-style economic engine for our state. What you used to struggle to hide upon your person when you left the house—perhaps using turkey bags in a manner for which they were never intended?—you are now welcome to carry up to an ounce when you leave your home. It's perfectly legal.
There are still some hurdles—the Oregon Health Authority is making it damn near impossible to publicly consume indoors. This is a major issue, since not everyone wishes to exercise their Salem-given right to consume cannabis while standing outside in a tent during the fall and winter months. Doing so may well lead us to the first reported death related to cannabis, by way of pneumonia or exposure.
Banking and tax credit issues remain a tremendous obstacle as well, but there is no other state with elected officials in DC more committed to reforming this archaic set of laws and regulations.
There is also the matter of cannabis' status as a Schedule I drug, and while we have discussed this in prior columns, let's review: "Schedule I drugs are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules, with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (Ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote." (Feel free to weep after reading that.)
Meanwhile, there were a mind-numbing number of events in 2015—conferences, tasting sessions, weed giveaways, holiday parties—where cannabis was the main draw for attendees. I've been reviewing my schedule for the year, and there is a reason I look like I need a three-week nap—I attended more than 50 such events. My company created and produced two (Weed the People, coproduced by the Mercury, and Green Friday), and I served as a volunteer budtender and cannabis gift bag concierge for a number of others (Oregon Leaf's Tannins and Terpenes and Danksgiving, Women Grow PDX's Summer Social, Dope magazine's Dope Cup, and backstage at MusicfestNW for the seventh year, Pickathon for the fifth, and Project Pabst for the second.)
There were some standouts, a few questionable choices made by others, and another few that were fine, but tested my patience.
In no particular order:
• The Oregon Marijuana Business and Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conferences: I was comped as a member of the press, but if I had to pay the full admission price of $299 and up, I would have been less than ecstatic about what I got in return (i.e., not sure I needed to hear the same speaker twice in two days). But their upcoming event has an admission price of $149, so perhaps the organizers got hip to that.
• The CannaGrow Expo: This had more usable information about growing than any other event I attended this year. The range of speakers was impressive (Kyle Kushman doing a Q&A? Hells yes!), and I walked out with 10 pages of notes each day. Also, they had the dopest catering.
• The Dope Cup: That there were so, so many people was great. That there were so, so few chairs was not as great. First-year events get a generous pass, and that's a minor quibble for an evening that offered so many options to consume cannabis and talk with growers.
• GanjaCon: This was a Eugene event, and was incredibly well put together. The only drawback was the last-minute decision by the fire marshal to prohibit indoor consumption. I asked a security guard where we should consume—was there a tent, perhaps? In the finest moment of old-school "stoner stealth" I experienced all year, he frowned, nodded slowly, and pointed me across the street to a parking lot. "I normally just go behind that warehouse. There's an alley that is pretty private. Give that a shot, man." I did. As soon as I sparked, a Eugene police cruiser rolled up. While the clouds of smoke I was generating could have been seen from space, he simply glanced my way, nodded, and proceeded on his way. Did I finish my joint? With a smile on my face, I certainly did.