This bud is for you…if you’re sick

When someone hears “Marijuana Caf����,” quite a few notions and stereotypes often pop into their heads—perhaps a thought of stoners sitting around smoking or munching on their strain of choice.

When someone hears “Marijuana Caf����,” quite a few notions and stereotypes often pop into their heads—perhaps a thought of stoners sitting around smoking or munching on their strain of choice.

Living in Portland with a number of such cafes, it is not uncommon to hear sentiments that clientele of these clubs are taking advantage of the legal system—that somehow these clubs are just a loophole providing ample excuse for potheads to get high as a kite.

Not so much.

It’s no secret that getting your hands on a medical marijuana card isn’t rocket science. If you can fake having insomnia, migraines, back pain or other similar, difficult-to-prove ailments, you can land yourself a card in a matter of days. It’s just that simple, if you’re willing to be put down as a registered card carrier.

It is this misuse of obtaining a medical marijuana cards that can rub people the wrong way, and unfortunately this notion carries over when it comes to the cafes. It’s doubtful that the public would have half as much of an issue if all the visitors were people medicating only serious ailments.

While some user’s reasons may seem less legitimate than others, all card carriers seem to receive the same amount of scrutiny. Authorities are quick to place heavy-handed judgment when it comes to the legality of such marijuana cafes and clubs. There is a huge question of necessity for such facilities when legal smokers can partake in the privacy of their own homes.

Perhaps a closer look at such facilities would put their minds more at ease. These clubs have been set in place so that individuals suffering from various ailments can have a place to go, free of judgment, to share a supportive atmosphere.

Portland professional comedian Tristian Spillman has performed at such clubs.

“It’s not a pot party. It’s people who are on medical marijuana,” Spillman said. “If you want to go to a pot party here in Portland, I bet if you try really hard I’m sure you can find one. But this is something else.”

Most attendees are people dealing with or trying to overcome serious medical afflictions. From chemotherapy patients to people diagnosed with AIDS, patients seek refuge in these clubs where they can enjoy the social environment while medicating among others who share their experience. It’s unfair to label such settings as solely hippie pothead hangouts when they provide such a comfortable setting for people who can really benefit from it.

With most prescriptions, patients can take it, and move on with their day. This is not the case with medical marijuana. It is difficult to find other medications that suffer from such scrutiny, caution or the necessity to create communities in order to feel secure to merely take a dose.

“Everyone there feels a sense of proprietorship. It’s someplace they can go to feel real safe,” Spillman said. “From my experience, I saw a lot of comedians come in there and want to tell Cheech and Chong jokes and basically be stoners, but [the audience] didn’t appreciate that. They just wanted regular jokes.”

Many of these clubs have the full support of their community, as contributors from Portland donate plants, buds and baked goods from local establishments.

All in all there really isn’t a massive difference between these clubs and conventional bars, except that bars serving alcohol are already socially accepted. If bars are allowed to serve anyone over 21, no matter what their personal reasons to imbibe are, marijuana bars should be able to serve their customers who have a medically legitimate reason to smoke. If anything, the latter have even more reasons to remain in operation.

“These aren’t stoners. These are cancer patients with medical needs. People with fused spines. They want to have a place where they can feel safe, use their medication and hang out someplace where people won’t judge them.” Spillman said.

Marijuana cafes have experienced an ease in legal concerns ever since President Barack Obama decided to soften the federal stance on medical marijuana in 2009. They create a sanctuary for people who would otherwise be confined to medicating in the rooms of their own house. It’s likely as time goes on Portland will see more medical marijuana joints popping up all around town—no pun intended, of course. ?