EVEN FOR A CITY with a coffee shop on every corner, a new café in Northeast Portland will be a first: patrons of the planned Cannabis Café will be able to light up a joint while they sip their drinks.
"Hi guys! My name is Anna and I smoke weed!" said Anna Diaz, of the Oregon chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), welcoming 50 medical marijuana cardholders to a volunteer training session for the state's first cannabis café. At 4:20 pm on Friday, November 13, NORML hopes to open the doors of the NE Dekum café formerly known as Rumpspankers as a new private club open seven days a week to patients who want to hang out and smoke up.
"It will be a place to medicate out of public view where they can have a community and feel safe and sane," said Diaz, standing amid the glare of all-red Christmas lights in the sofa-lined café during last week's meeting.
Diaz says the café will be a big boon to out-of-town cardholders who travel to Portland to visit doctors at OHSU or the veterans' hospital but have nowhere to legally smoke up after they leave the hospital. Patients will pay a monthly membership fee to use the café.
Though growing and consuming medical marijuana has been legal in Oregon since 1999, selling pot in the state is a felony. NORML says the café will operate on a purely bring-your-own and donation basis, unlike cannabis cafés in California which sell medical marijuana. Cardholders were optimistic about getting donations.
"Technically patients are only supposed to have 24 ounces, but if you're any good at growing you'll have much more than that," explains Bob, a glaucoma patient who plans to volunteer at the café.
The café staff will take care of selling food, coffee, and snacks while volunteer NORML "budtenders" will handle the distribution of pot. As the opening date nears, café organizers are worried about coming under the scrutiny of local police and neighbors.
"This is the first of its kind in Oregon. It will definitely be easier to work in the second one," said Rumpspankers owner and medical marijuana cardholder Eric Solomon. Rumpspankers is already hosting a number of alternative events, like a monthly "Pants Off Dance Off" and bondage night.
"One thing about this café is we'll be out loud and proud," says Solomon.