Posts Tagged ‘pot shops’

5 Tips For Choosing A Medical Marijuana Dispensary

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Photo: Steve Elliott ~alapoet~
The “medicine wheel” at Ben Reagan’s dispensary, The C.P.C., is used to demonstrate for patients the continuum between saliva and indica varieties of medicinal cannabis.

Co-Founder, The C.P.C.

Choosing alternative medicine such as medical cannabis is a big decision, and one you probably took a long time to make.  Now that you’re here, and whether or not you were previously a cannabis user, there are a few things you should know about dispensaries (also known as collectives) to ensure that you get the quality of life improvement and medical benefits you’re looking for.
Here are five tips to help get you started on your new journey.

1.  Store nearest you. 
Some cities like Seattle are one of the most progressive, medical cannabis-friendly cities in the Unites States, having recently gone from 10 to approximately 51 known, licensed dispensaries in a very short time.
If you live in one of the other medical-cannabis friendly cities such as Denver, chances are there is a collective within 10 minutes of you, and a large majority of them have delivery services. Or if you’re really lucky, in California in cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, dispensaries are practically more common than Starbucks.
Of course, continuing legislative flux can have an impact in your state, such as Arizona, where confusing laws have slowed down the approval process for new dispensaries, and unfortunately the attorney general is jockeying to close them down.
Either way, do some research, you have lots of choices ─ some of our favorite resources include WeedmapsPotlocatorTHC List, and CannabisNW.
2. The Experience.
For all of us it’s the “experience” that counts, and with dispensaries this is even more so.
For starters, think about the type of experience you’re seeking. Some collectives taking form in Washington are prone to the California model with heavy security doors, bullet-proof glass and large display jars.
Other dispensaries have lounge areas that, while they remain smoke free, offer a comfortable setting to review medicines, new products, and treatment plans.
Some focus on a groundwork/community model like the Farmers Markets in Seattle and Tacoma, where you can experience a large number of vendors offering more of a “home grown” experience in a market setting.
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Photo: Steve Elliott ~alapoet~
Jeremy Kaufman, left, and Ben Reagan at The C.P.C. dispensary in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood
​Some, like The CPC, the Seattle dispensary I co-founded with my partner Jeremy Kaufman, have opted for a more personal, one-on-one experience that works on educating the customer so as a team, patient and dispensary can customize the medicine and treatment plan for specific conditions.
The CPC caters to folks that have serious pain management issues, sports injuries, back and neck pain, etc., so we’ve set it up more like a doctor’s office with first time consults lasting anywhere from 20-30 minutes at a time.
Folks should also consider the feel of the place, pricing, and even the level of community help. Do they give back?  Are they involved in the policy and regulation fight in their own city or state?
Finally, when you walk into your collective remember you are the one paying for the surroundings. You’re the one deciding what model you like with your collective buying power!
Bottom line, when you walk into a dispensary it should not look and feel like a place where “stoners” hang out.
For a great resource to see what other folks are experiencing and chatting about check out the forum at LegalMarijuanaDispensary.com.
3. Knowledge. 
Do you leave your collective feeling like you do when you leave your doctor’s office?
Are the folks running it more informed than you, and equipped with the knowledge that will enable you to deal with the ailments and illnesses that are impacting your quality of life? Does the dispensary encourage you to ask questions?
When you leave your chosen place do you feel enriched by what you got from there?
You can tell how much interest they have in sharing knowledge by the environment they created for you.
Getting educated about the benefits for your particular condition will make a big difference in the impact this medicine has for you.  For example, when some people start to use medical cannabis, the unwanted experiences (paranoia, feeling uncomfortable, impaired) can easily be averted with a little consultation, knowledge and empathy for the patient.
The good news is that customized medicine can be created, for example in the case of a car accident the patient may suffer from back pain which is muscle-related, and whiplash which is nerve-related.  Blends are created to provide patient with “functionality” during the day and for pain management and sleep at night.
Find a dispensary with knowledgeable folks running the place, and your treatment plan, experience and quality of life will reflect that.
4. Quality of Medicine. 
There are myriads of things that take place during growing of the plant that have a big impact on the quality of medicine.  For example, the potency level (of THC-CBD-THCA); proper flushing (getting all the excess fertilizers out), and finally, curing and manicuring (the look and quality of the medicine).
Many collectives spend a good amount of time with their providers, learning and understanding his methods for growing effective medicine. Many here in the Seattle area have a natural approach and prefer organically grown medicine.
You can always ask about where it comes from and how it was grown.
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Photo: Steve Elliott ~alapoet~
Medicated caramels and a choice bud of “UW Med” strain medical cannabis from The C.P.C. in Seattle
​Moving on from the plant, most new patients don’t realize that edible cannabis medicine, also called medibles, are now a high-quality, highly effective alternative, and can be engineered to fight specific and highly targeted ailments and symptoms
Some medibles (candy, caramels, peanut butter cups, cookies, chocolates) can have a longer duration then combusting. Low tolerance folks will find they only need half a gram or less of cannabis to have an effect
Also, anything that melts in your mouth such as chocolate or caramels will have a sublingual effect allowing you to control how much of an immediate effect you receive.  Naturally, taking smaller bites will have the edible in your mouth longer and will give you a bigger initial brain effect.
For chronic pain management indica strains are used to produce a relaxed, heavy body effect.  And for nerve-related issues such as fibromyalgia, whiplash, sciatica, sativa strains are used to produce a body-based, clear-headed effect.
Additionally, sublinguals such as tinctures and candies are used when fast-acting relief is required, for example onset of a migraine headache. Topicals, such as creamswaxes and ointments reduce inflammation, pain, and ache, and do not produce a body or head “effect.”
Of course, inhalants remain the fastest way to get medicine into the system, and if you’re not familiar, many folks are opting for vaporizing which eliminates the need to combust.
Make sure to always ask if your dispensary offers products that are guaranteed for consistency, equitable strength, efficacy, etc.?
Net-net, pass on dispensaries that do not guarantee their products, or may simply stock their shelves so you have something to buy – beware the fake chocolate almond bar!
5. Commitment to the Community.
 
We mentioned earlier the need to evaluate your dispensary on its commitment to community. This industry is filled with passionate people, many who spend a good amount of time working hard to support the community.
For example, consider this Denver dispensary and its food drive to support the homeless, or this California dispensary that supported a local beach clean-up.
Part of having a Commitment to the Community is providing a positive face to what we do.
Does the place you go to follow common sense simple things, like signage that says “no medicating on site”, discretion in the signage, or is it located where children may be walking by on their way back and forth to school?
Ask the dispensary questions about their commitment to their community.
And be sure to mention what you think they can do better. As we all know, community works better with feedback!
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Photo courtesy Ben Reagan
Ben Reagan, co-founder, The C.P.C.
About the Author

Ben Reagan, co founder of The C.P.C, was inspired to join the industry after seeing the benefits of medical cannabis first-hand with a very close family member.
Ben brings a deep intelligence, vision, and dedication to his craft, and has an insatiable desire to seek out what’s new in the industry.
The C.P.C was co-founded as a means to assist those in our community who are seeking out alternative medicines and treatments under Chapter 69.51A RCW in the state of Washington.

Government Forced NCI To Censor Medical Cannabis Facts

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Graphic: NORML Stash Blog
Fuck censorship.

​​

In March, the National Cancer Agency (NCI), a component agency of the National Institutes of Health, acknowledged the medicinal benefits of marijuana in its online treatment database. But the information only stayed up a few days, before it was scrubbed from the site.

Now, newly obtained documents reveal not only how NCI database contributors arrived at their March 17 summary of marijuana’s medical uses, but also the furious politicking that went into quickly scrubbing that summary of information regarding the potential tumor-fighting effects of cannabis, reports Kyle Daly at the Washington Independent.
Phil Mocek, a civil liberties activist with the Seattle-based Cannabis Defense Coalition, obtained the documents as a result of a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request he filed in March after reading coverage of the NCI’s action. Mocek has made some of the hundreds of pages of at-times heated email exchanges and summary alterations available on MuckRock, a website devoted to FOIA requests and government documents.
The treatment database on NCI’s website is called the Physician Data Query (PDQ). The PDQ entry on cannabis and cannabinoids is maintained by the Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Editorial Board. The lead reviewer on the marijuana summary statement is CAM board member Donald Abrams, director of integrative oncology at the University of California-San Francisco cancer center.
Abrams advocates the use of cannabis in cancer treatment, and his wish to accurately portray its medical applications becomes clear early in the documents.
On March 24, just a week after the finished summary had gone online, Susan Weiss — chief of the Office of Science Policy and Communications within the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — sent NCI officials an email saying her agency had just become aware of the summary. Weiss told them the NIDA wanted the summary changed to acknowledge that the FDA hasn’t approved marijuana; to take away any implication that it was recommending prescribing marijuana; to highlight the supposed “addiction potential” of marijuana; and to link to the NIDA’s own page on the supposed “adverse effects of marijuana.”
The NCI balked at the last two requests: “I am unaware of any convincing evidence indicating that marijuana is addictive,” communications officer Rick Manrow of the the NCI reasonably said.
But the agency agreed the first two requests were fair. The CAM board grappled for days with how to cooperate with the NIDA without compromising its independence or editorial integrity. Meanwhile, yet more federal agencies offered their two cents’ worth.
“[A press officer with the FDA] contacted me this morning because he has been getting calls from FDA staff, as well as at least one high-profile reporter, asking about NCI’s ‘endorsement of medical marijuana.’ I provided him with the background I had,” wrote Brooke Hardison, NCI media relations analyst. “He needs to provide information for staff at the FDA, and they are trying to figure out how to respond to this issue. I suggested that it might be good for him to have a conversation with those more closely involved in this issue.”
Meanwhile, national attention to the story continued to grow, and NIDA, notoriously anti-pot, was worried about this whole “marijuana treats cancer” thing.
On learning that Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance had tweeted about the summary, the NIDA’s Weiss wrote to NCI, “We will be contacting our colleagues at ONDCP [Office of National Drug Control Policy] just to give them a heads up about it.”
Weiss also wrote to her NIDA colleagues, saying “We think that ONDCP needs to be informed.”
The ONDCP, of course, is the office of the Drug Czar. Current czar Gil Kerlikowske, as with all drug czars, is bound by law to oppose marijuana legalization for any purpose, even to save cancer patients.
In any event, the NCI caved to the NIDA’s demands by removing any implied support for prescribing marijuana — noting that the FDA hasn’t approved cannabis as as prescription drug — and, much to the consternation of lead reviewer Abrams, removing a reference to marijuana’s anti-tumor properties.
“You know, the epidemiological data from Kaiser and Tashkin do possibly support an anti-tumor effect in humans,” Abrams wrote. “After reflecting for a few hours, I am not happy that NIDA has been able to impose their agenda on us. The text was vetted by the whole Board. I would ask that we [involve] the whole Editorial Board in the discussion before being bulldogged.
“I am considering resigning from the Board if we allow politics to trump science!” Abrams wrote.
All the relevant CAM board members eventually agreed to the version that went up on March 29 and 30. That last day was when Phil Mocek submitted his FOIA request and is thus the last day that appears in the records given to him.
It is interesting to note that, toward the end of the correspondence record, NCI and NIDA officials were discussing the latter agency providing further information on the supposed “adverse effects of marijuana” so that the CAM Board could “take it into consideration” during its May 6 meeting. Several NCI and CAM members said any “convincing evidence” could result in larger changes to the entry.
NIDA prepared a list of anti-marijuana talking points, including the claim that nine percent of cannabis users “become addicted to the drug” and a completely undocumented claim that marijuana use leads to permanent cognitive impairment, in the hopes of causing just such changes in the NCI’s entry.
But, the Independent reports, May 6 came and went without any additional changes being made to the database.
One can only imagine the kinds of behind-the-scenes wrangling that continues as we speak.
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Graphic: NORML Stash Blog
“NCI apparently got a talking to from someone” ~ Radical Russ Belville, NORML. Turns out Radical Russ was right, and NIDA was doing the talking.

How Much Should I Be Paying for My Weed?

I don’t have a medical card nor do I grow illegally so I have to go out and find marijuana on the “black market.” One question that comes up often when talking to weed smokers all over is “how much should weed cost?” It’s an interesting question that depends on a lot of different factors. Here are a few:

  1. How good is the weed? Obviously, the dankest of the dank will run you more than a bag of swag. How to tell if your weed is good is a whole separate topic, but if you have been smoking for a while, you will know what you like.
  2. What part of the world do you live in? I have lived in many different parts of the U.S. And prices very wildly. I have paid as much as $70 for an eighth of an ounce and less then half of that in other parts.
  3. How good is your “connection?” This is a big factor. If you are buying weed from a cool person who you are friends with, you are less likely to get shorted or taxed (for those of you who don’t know, this is the extra $5 to $10 someone could charge on top of the actual cost). That’s the risk you run when you buy from strangers.
  4. Is it harvest time locally? This is only important if you live in a place that marijuana grows well outdoors. When harvest time comes around, everyone is working to get rid of their crop at the same time, which brings the prices way down. Yes, the concept of supply and demand even applies to the weed market.

All these factors combine to create a fair market price for your area. In Oregon, I consider $40-$50 for an eighth of an ounce (3.5 grams) or $250 – $300 for an ounce (28 grams) to be an average price for some good weed (no seeds, no unnecessary stems, well manicured, good smell, ect). But that’s Oregon where some of the best marijuana is grown (and a lot of it too!) so maybe I’m spoiled.

I invite you to post what the average price for weed in your area is. If you have a medical exception and your state has marijuana dispensaries, your input is also welcome. I don’t want this to become a “meet-a-dealer” advertising board but I think this is constructive debate that would be helpful for folks who want to know if they are getting ripped off or not.

P.S. No names or anything incriminating please! “Big brother” could be watching!

http://www.theweedblog.com/how-much-should-i-be-paying-for-my-weed/

*This is an article taken from “the weed blog,” we are a dispensary so our donation prices are different & we are in California, but I figured I’d post this for people that aren’t in our area, just so they could have a little heads up 🙂 Happy Memorial Weekend!

What Weed Title Do You Use?

Lately, I have received some messages, comments, and e-mails asking that I no longer refer to myself as an ‘educated stoner.’ Some people feel that it only perpetuates the stereotype of a mindless loser, sitting in their parent’s basement, sucking down bammer bong hits. I think that the term ‘stoner’ fits this description, but an ‘educated stoner’ is someone that lives in their own home, pays their own bills, and knows that there is more to the marijuana movement than consuming it.

I will probably always refer to myself as an ‘educated stoner.’ I think it is the most accurate title for me, a person that consumes marijuana regularly, yet doesn’t meet the stereotypes perpetuated by conservative members of society. ‘Educated stoners’ are under the influence, yet above the ignorance, and fighting for legalization on the front lines. Also, I think it is the title that strikes the greatest fear amongst law enforcement. Law enforcement takes for granted the fact that most people consuming marijuana don’t know their rights, and don’t know how interrogation tactics work.

I am a medical marijuana patient, I have a Bachelor’s degree in public policy (summa cum laude), and I have been consuming marijuana everyday for the last 16 years straight. Here are other titles people want me to use, and why I don’t feel that they are as accurate as ‘educated stoner’ (for me, not for EVERYONE, feel free to use whatever label you want for yourself):

1. Medical patient – This is not narrow enough. People waiting for foot surgery, people with chicken pox, people with heightened fingernail sensitivity, etc. are all medical patients.

2. Medical marijuana patient – I don’t like this title because when I say it to people, I always get the stink eye. Apparently, there are a lot of people that I come into contact with that feel I should be in a wheelchair, or walk with a cane, or have some obvious, ‘noticeable-by-the-human eye,’ debilitating ailment. I have a medical marijuana card for severe tendinitis, which cannot be seen. Also, I don’t feel that this title accurately captures the fact that I strive to stay educated on marijuana laws, policies, etc. It only states that I use marijuana for medical purposes.

3. Marijuana activist – This would be my second favorite title to go by. I AM a marijuana activist. 7 days a week, 365 days a year, I am researching what states are doing; what new policies, ordinances, and laws are coming out. However, I don’t feel that it captures my love for consuming marijuana. To me, it sounds like I am a protestor standing outside of capital buildings, neglecting my favorite past time of inhaling repeatedly and eating anything containing cannabutter.

4. Pothead – isn’t this basically the same thing as ‘stoner?’ I don’t want to get lumped into the same category as loadies that smoke their crappy weed out of a modified pop can.

5. Cannabis consumer – I don’t simply consume marijuana, I LIVE FOR IT. I fight for it, I defend, I want to be the official marijuana spokesperson on ‘The Daily Show,’ etc. To simply say that I am a consumer would be inaccurate.

I want a title that captures my love for consuming marijuana, my love for marijuana education, my love for marijuana activism, and my love for showing law enforcement that if they try to fuck with me, they will realize really fast that I am their worst nightmare. So I pose the question to the readers, ‘What title do you like for yourself, and why?’ Who knows, maybe I will have to switch up my title if I see something that I like!!!

http://www.theweedblog.com/what-weed-title-do-you-use/

Dispensary Video: Vale Tudo Cafe

Cafe Vale Tudo
24601 Raymond Way, Suite 9B
Lake Forest, CA 92630

Stoner Jesus Reacts to the “Coming Rapture”

Many of you have heard about the supposed “end of the world” happening tomorrow. “Preacher” and radio host Harold Camping predicts the coming of the rapture on May 21, 2011.

We decided to get a reaction to this from an authority on religious issues just as credible as Mr. Camping; podcast host Stoner Jesus.

stonerjesusnet 259x300 Stoner Jesus Reacts To The Coming Rapture

“Since the dawn of mankind, people have been predicting the end of the world,” SJ told us from his studio in Northern Kentucky. “Some say prostitution is the world’s oldest profession, but it’s actually con artistry.

“I’m sure Mr. Camping makes a good living from his ‘predictions,’ and far be it from me to begrudge anyone a living,” Stoner Jesus continued, “but no one can predict the future…if we could, I wouldn’t have dumped all that money into the Charlie Sheen tour.

“But if The Rapture does come tomorrow, I’m pretty sure iTunes is available in Heaven, so you’ll still be able to hear my show.”

Good news for Stoner Jesus fans indeed. And for fans of The 420 Times, your Sunday “United State of Weed” will come as scheduled…for those of you left to read it.

http://www.the420times.com

Free weed, free tunes: Oregon Pot Bar Hosts Karaoke

  • In this photo taken May 5, 2011, Cher Nuttall, 65, laugh during karaoke night at the Cannabis Café, in Portland, Ore. The café has farmer’s markets of donated weed-laden goodies, a weekly comedy show and even an employees’ night. On Thursdays, it’s karaoke. Karaoke night has become a popular gathering spot among pot smokers, many of whom need marijuana to fight severe pain for various ailments. Photo: Rick Bowmer / AP
    In this photo taken May 5, 2011, Cher Nuttall, 65, laugh during karaoke night at the Cannabis Café, in Portland, Ore. The café has farmer’s markets of donated weed-laden goodies, a weekly comedy show and even an employees’ night. On Thursdays, it’s karaoke. Karaoke night has become a popular gathering spot among pot smokers, many of whom need marijuana to fight severe pain for various ailments. Photo: Rick Bowmer / AP
    In this photo taken May 5, 2011, Cher Nuttall, 65, laugh during…
  • In this photo taken May 5, 2011, shows a unidentified man smoking medical marijuana during karaoke night at the Cannabis Café, in Portland, Ore.  The Cannabis Café is a combination of the bar from Cheers and a street-side pot palace in Amsterdam. It is perfectly legal in this smoky room for medical marijuana patients to burn, eat, rub, filter and roll marijuana. Karaoke night has become a popular gathering spot among pot smokers, many of whom need marijuana to fight severe pain for various ailments. Photo: Rick Bowmer / AP
    In this photo taken May 5, 2011, shows a unidentified man smoking medical marijuana during karaoke night at the Cannabis Café, in Portland, Ore. The Cannabis Café is a combination of the bar from Cheers and a street-side pot palace in Amsterdam. It is perfectly legal in this smoky room for medical marijuana patients to burn, eat, rub, filter and roll marijuana. Karaoke night has become a popular gathering spot among pot smokers, many of whom need marijuana to fight severe pain for various ailments. Photo: Rick Bowmer / AP
    In this photo taken May 5, 2011, shows a unidentified man smoking…
  • In this photo taken May 5, 2011, Teresa Sheffer, 48, sings during karaoke night at the Cannabis Café, in Portland, Ore. Sheffer was hit by a train while driving in Alto, Mich. It broke every major bone on her right side and left her with damage to her spine. Photo: Rick Bowmer / AP
    In this photo taken May 5, 2011, Teresa Sheffer, 48, sings during karaoke night at the Cannabis Café, in Portland, Ore. Sheffer was hit by a train while driving in Alto, Mich. It broke every major bone on her right side and left her with damage to her spine. Photo: Rick Bowmer / AP
    In this photo taken May 5, 2011, Teresa Sheffer, 48, sings during…
  • In this photo taken May 5, 2011, Madeline Martinez holds a vaporizer bag during karaoke night at the Cannabis Café, in Portland, Ore.  The café has farmer’s markets of donated weed-laden goodies, a weekly comedy show and even an employees’ night. On Thursdays, it’s karaoke. Karaoke night has become a popular gathering spot among pot smokers, many of whom need marijuana to fight severe pain for various ailments. Photo: Rick Bowmer / AP
    In this photo taken May 5, 2011, Madeline Martinez holds a vaporizer bag during karaoke night at the Cannabis Café, in Portland, Ore. The café has farmer’s markets of donated weed-laden goodies, a weekly comedy show and even an employees’ night. On Thursdays, it’s karaoke. Karaoke night has become a popular gathering spot among pot smokers, many of whom need marijuana to fight severe pain for various ailments. Photo: Rick Bowmer / AP
    In this photo taken May 5, 2011, Madeline Martinez holds a…
  • In this photo taken May 5, 2011, an unidentified man smokes medical marijuana during karaoke night at the Cannabis Café, in Portland, Ore.  The café has farmer’s markets of donated weed-laden goodies, a weekly comedy show and even an employees’ night. On Thursdays, it’s karaoke. Karaoke night has become a popular gathering spot among pot smokers, many of whom need marijuana to fight severe pain for various ailments. Photo: Rick Bowmer / AP
    In this photo taken May 5, 2011, an unidentified man smokes medical marijuana during karaoke night at the Cannabis Café, in Portland, Ore. The café has farmer’s markets of donated weed-laden goodies, a weekly comedy show and even an employees’ night. On Thursdays, it’s karaoke. Karaoke night has become a popular gathering spot among pot smokers, many of whom need marijuana to fight severe pain for various ailments. Photo: Rick Bowmer / AP
    In this photo taken May 5, 2011, an unidentified man smokes medical…
  • In this photo taken May 5, 2011, shows the outside of the Cannabis Café, in Portland, Ore.  The café has farmer’s markets of donated weed-laden goodies, a weekly comedy show and even an employees’ night. On Thursdays, it’s karaoke. Karaoke night has become a popular gathering spot among pot smokers, many of whom need marijuana to fight severe pain for various ailments. Photo: Rick Bowmer / AP
    In this photo taken May 5, 2011, shows the outside of the Cannabis Café, in Portland, Ore. The café has farmer’s markets of donated weed-laden goodies, a weekly comedy show and even an employees’ night. On Thursdays, it’s karaoke. Karaoke night has become a popular gathering spot among pot smokers, many of whom need marijuana to fight severe pain for various ailments. Photo: Rick Bowmer / AP
    In this photo taken May 5, 2011, shows the outside of the Cannabis…
  • In this photo taken May 5, 2011, shows a man who would only be identified as “Redeye” singing a rendition of Sublime’s “Two Joints” during karaoke night at the Cannabis Café, in Portland, Ore.  The café has farmer’s markets of donated weed-laden goodies, a weekly comedy show and even an employees’ night. On Thursdays, it’s karaoke. An ill-lit stage catches an occasional cloud of puffy white smoke blown from a pipe or a bong or a vaporizer. Photo: Rick Bowmer / AP
    In this photo taken May 5, 2011, shows a man who would only be identified as “Redeye” singing a rendition of Sublime’s “Two Joints” during karaoke night at the Cannabis Café, in Portland, Ore. The café has farmer’s markets of donated weed-laden goodies, a weekly comedy show and even an employees’ night. On Thursdays, it’s karaoke. An ill-lit stage catches an occasional cloud of puffy white smoke blown from a pipe or a bong or a vaporizer. Photo: Rick Bowmer / AP
    In this photo taken May 5, 2011, shows a man who would only be…
  • In this photo taken May 5, 2011, shows a unidentified man smoking medical marijuana during karaoke night at the Cannabis Café, in Portland, Ore.  The Cannabis Café is a combination of the bar from Cheers and a street-side pot palace in Amsterdam. It is perfectly legal in this smoky room for medical marijuana patients to burn, eat, rub, filter and roll marijuana. Photo: Rick Bowmer / AP
    In this photo taken May 5, 2011, shows a unidentified man smoking medical marijuana during karaoke night at the Cannabis Café, in Portland, Ore. The Cannabis Café is a combination of the bar from Cheers and a street-side pot palace in Amsterdam. It is perfectly legal in this smoky room for medical marijuana patients to burn, eat, rub, filter and roll marijuana. Photo: Rick Bowmer / AP
    In this photo taken May 5, 2011, shows a unidentified man smoking…
  • In this photo taken May 5, 2011, Phoebe Sanford, 63, sings at karaoke night at the Cannabis Café, in Portland, Ore.  The café has farmer’s markets of donated weed-laden goodies, a weekly comedy show and even an employees’ night. On Thursdays, it’s karaoke. Karaoke night has become a popular gathering spot among pot smokers, many of whom need marijuana to fight severe pain for various ailments. Photo: Rick Bowmer / AP
    In this photo taken May 5, 2011, Phoebe Sanford, 63, sings at karaoke night at the Cannabis Café, in Portland, Ore. The café has farmer’s markets of donated weed-laden goodies, a weekly comedy show and even an employees’ night. On Thursdays, it’s karaoke. Karaoke night has become a popular gathering spot among pot smokers, many of whom need marijuana to fight severe pain for various ailments.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Lights dim. A white-haired man of perhaps 50 approaches the stage. He’s wearing a blue suit jacket, open-neck shirt, black leather loafers and sunglasses, indoors, at night. He’s got the Sinatra panache down.

Then, the voice, a rich baritone, sweeps over the audience of a couple dozen glazed and grinning pot smokers.

“Day and night, night and daaaaay,” he croons the Sinatra standard into a mic in his right hand. “Only you beneath the moon or under the sun, whether near to me or far, it’s no matter darling where you are.

“Dum dum, dum dum de-doo-dee-dum.”

The audience yelps and coos in appreciation.

This is karaoke night at Portland’s Cannabis Cafe, a combination of the bar from Cheers and a street-side pot palace in Amsterdam. It is perfectly legal in this smoky room for medical marijuana patients to burn, eat, rub, filter and roll marijuana.

There are cancer patients, AIDS patients and sufferers of smashed vertebrae and pinched nerves. There are also those who find refuge under Oregon’s “severe pain” allowance — tell a marijuana-friendly doctor you’ve got pain, and you’ve pretty much got weed.

Since the medical marijuana law’s passage in 1998, nearly 40,000 patients have gotten access.

The pot in the cafe is brought in by patients or donated by growers. Money doesn’t change hands unless it’s to buy a sandwich or coffee. The price of admission: a $20 monthly charge and a $5 door fee.

The cafe has farmer’s markets of donated weed-laden goodies, a weekly comedy show and even an employees’ night. On Thursdays, it’s karaoke. An ill-lit stage catches an occasional cloud of puffy white smoke blown from a pipe or a bong or a vaporizer.

The Sinatra crooner, unlike many tonight, has got the goods.

The rest of the evening will be spent alternatively cringing and clapping at the cluster of medical marijuana users who make it their business to be at the cafe when karaoke kicks off at 7 p.m.

From table to table, the stories pour out of them. Most declined to give their names to The Associated Press.

Teresa Sheffer was hit by a train while driving in Alto, Mich. It broke every major bone on her right side and left her with damage to her spine. Now her pain sometimes gets so severe it forces her to huddle in her house, alone.

But sitting six paces from the stage with a pipe in front of her and a thick pinch of locally grown pot packed into her friend’s bong, she’s relaxed. If there is a point to the Cannabis Cafe, it is to give people who smoke pot a place to do it together.

“It’s a family here,” Sheffer said. “You see other people with the same problems, but it’s not a hospital. It’s a reason to get out of the house so you’re not just a hermit in the dark with pain pills.”

To Sheffer, smoking marijuana softens the dull aches and sharp pangs of pain she still experiences. Others enduring chemotherapy say it alleviates their nausea. Marijuana at the Cannabis Cafe is a sleep aid, an appetite stimulator and a headache reliever.

Toward the back of the cafe on a couch dug into a little nook under a billiard lamp, Joe Winn, 30, leans into a bong, takes a giant drag, holds it and exhales. He comes here regularly, is in fact a volunteer for the place, and likes the crush of activity when people stream in.

Three feet away, a man who would only be identified as “Redeye” hauls out a 6-foot plastic bong he nicknamed “The Staleblazer,” a play on Portland’s NBA team and the stale smoke that accumulates from the water chamber to mouthpiece.

A few minutes later, he’s up on stage, doing a muddled rendition of Sublime’s “Two Joints.” His thick, red dreadlocks bounce off his back, giving the impression of a Rastafarian leprechaun doll being shaken by a child.

But he, like everyone who performs, gets the crowd’s “wooo!” of approval.

The cafe doesn’t need any special license to operate. The impetus for starting the cafe was President Barack Obama‘s 2009 pledge to soften the federal stance on medical marijuana.

A year ago, owner Madeline Martinez brought in a pair of local police officers to tour the cafe as a sign that the place was more than a marijuana speakeasy. She said they were polite.

The place isn’t turning a profit yet. Martinez thinks that within a few years, Oregon will legalize a drug that already enjoys near-legal status and that’s when the real money will roll in.

Think of it, she says: Movie theaters, bars, hotels and, maybe, a taxi service, all catering to marijuana smokers.

But for now, it’s all donated weed and free music and a prominent budget deficit for the state of Oregon — $3.5 billion in all — that Martinez insists could be ameliorated by the sale and taxation of cannabis.

The mindset at the cafe is a blend of avid horticulture, sharing-is-caring communalism and good old-fashioned West Coast anti-authoritarianism.

It is also, however, just a karaoke club in the Pacific Northwest. Replace the bongs and pipes with martini stems and Tom Collins glasses and it would be nearly indistinguishable from any other bar.

“Coming up on stage, we’ve got our own Supremes. Come on up here ladies,” an emcee laughs into the microphone. A minute later, he is replaced on stage by three women their 50s, each in a feather boa, singing, with moderate difficulty but not much concern, 1964’s “Baby Love.”

Melody Reid, one of the few in the cafe who chose not to sing, says she would frequent bars in her younger days before thyroid cancer and a gastric pacemaker, and that she grew tired of the constant pick-up attempts by stumbling drunks.

“I’ve been to bars, had them just crawling all over you,” she says with a laugh, between pulls off a petite green pipe. “This is much more relaxed.

“And stoners,” she says, “are way better karaoke singers than drinkers anyway.”

http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/Free-weed-free-tunes-Ore-pot-bar-hosts-karaoke-1382605.php

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