Portland, Oregon’s World Famous Cannabis Cafe celebrated the first anniversary at its current location on July 29 and 30. The Cafe officially opened its doors at 322 SE 82nd Avenue in Portland, Oregon, on July 31, 2010.
“When the café opened in November 2009, my dream to create a safe and welcoming place for cardholders to consume their medicine out of public view was realized,” said Madeline Martinez, founder and proprietress of the private club. “Celebrating this anniversary means that we also provide stability for those we serve, and that is important.”
The celebration officially started at 4:20 on Friday afternoon, and the entertainment began around 6:00. Local guitarists and songwriters Ken Johnson, Steamboat Mike, D Vincent Black and Danny Hay Davis opened the evening with a mix of classic rock remakes and original material, with Hawk Marsden, entertainment manager at the Cafe, playing some hand drums and doing a little singing.
As the first performance ended, Hawk thanked the musicians and kicked off that night’s Ustream simulcast. After making sure the crowd gave a big hand to the Cafe’s volunteer staff, he got a huge response when he quipped, “We’ve been open here for a year, and the only time the cops have been here was to come in and get a tour.”
Indeed, throughout the weekend several patients commented on how well people tend to get along at the Cafe, and how easily things can be peacefully resolved when a rare dispute does arise.
A patient named Bette, who describes herself as “an old lady,” said, “Everybody I know who comes here who has ever worked in a bar always comments on how safe it feels here compared to a bar. Since there’s no alcohol, you don’t have to worry so much about fights breaking out.”
Before the music started up again, Martinez herself took the stage to thank everyone, especially the volunteers. She choked up just for a moment as she said, “Thanks for being a part of my dream, helping me to make this community work. We’re self-sustaining, we give plants away. Thank you to all of you volunteers — without you we wouldn’t have been able to make this dream come true!”
Martinez is not exaggerating when she says that the World Famous Cannabis Cafe would not exist without its volunteers, and the good will among its community is an essential part of the Cafe experience. Everyone on the Cafe staff, including Madeline, are volunteers, and all of the medicine available for patients to use during their visit comes in through donations.
Even the musicians and comedians volunteer their time and talent.
Hawk says that performers from all over the country contact him for a chance to perform for free for patients on the small, but well-equipped, stage. Musicians carry all their own gear, and often help set up the show along with Hawk’s small crew. The performances are definitely uplifting to the patients, many of whose conditions made them virtual shut-ins before the Cafe opened.
As Hawk puts it, “The healing power of music and laughter come together with the healing power of cannabis. Something magic happens on that stage that I have never seen in all my years as a musician.”
On Friday night, Seattle reggae and roots band Northwest Sons, with guest bassist Kenny Goldstein, lit the place up with their infectious reggae/roots grooves to start the webcast.
Portland’s own Everybody Gets High followed up with a couple of sets that rocked the house, and the evening concluded with a big jam that lasted until after midnight.
On Saturday, festivities picked up much earlier, and the afternoon’s entertainment really got off the ground when local recording artists J Mack and Big Dub and their whole band opened up with a live 4:20 performance of their song, “Meet Me at the Cafe.” They played a lot of material from their album Heavily Medicated, and pumped up the crowd to an even higher level.
A guitar and drum combo called Tripod Canary kept the musical bar high with an amazing musical conversation before comedy portion of the evening began.
Comic Todd Armstrong served as host and MC for the The High Court of Comedy, the Cafe’s weekly standup comedy show, which goes out live on Ustream every Saturday at 8:00 PM. Armstrong got a huge laugh with the line, “Oregon: it’s like Amsterdam and Texas had a baby.”
The lineup for the evening included Nathan Brannon, Paul Cardosi, Iris Gorman, Christian Manville, Jen Allen, Manuel Hall, Jon Green, Belinda Jiles, Lonnie Bruhn, and Jacob Christopher.
|Photo: Larry “LK” Kirk|
|Budtender Nickie Gates prepares a bag of vapor, Friday, July 29 at the World Famous Cannabis Cafe’s 1st Anniversary Celebration.|
It was a great evening of comedy, and none of the comics were afraid to deal with dangerous subjects. Cafe volunteer Belinda Jiles got a strong reaction from her home crowd, and Portland standup staple Lonnie Bruhn — an extremely funny and unapologetically dirty comic who happens to have cerebral palsy–was frankly hilarious. Hawk called it the funniest performance he’d seen on the stage this year.
Bruhn ended his time with a very moving story about his own experience as a disabled person standing up to bullies, a story that felt very relevant to the continuing struggle against cannabis prohibition.
The weekend concluded with a musical jam that included guitarist Tim Simpson, bassist Wade Weekly and many others. Only a small group including Madeline herself and Anna Diaz, NORML’s 2011 Pauline Sabin Award winner, were present to celebrate the official anniversary at the stroke of midnight, July 31.
About 350 people came through the World Famous Cannabis Cafe over the course of the anniversary celebration weekend. The Ustream simulcast had 4,700 views on Friday and 5,900 Saturday, with a big spike during Lonnie Bruhn’s comedy set.
The Cafe is open to Oregon Medical Marijuana Program registrants Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. and Mondays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It is closed on Sundays.
For more information, please visit www.worldfamouscannabiscafe.com or call 503-208-3395.
You can also find the World Famous Cannabis Cafe on Facebook and Twitter.
Live streaming and archived broadcasts (including those from the anniversary celebration) are available at www.ustream.tv/channel/world-famous-cannabis-cafe.