Oregon’s Cannabis Cafe Closes; Plans To Reopen

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Photo: Torsten Kjellstrand/The Oregonian
The Cannabis Cafe had a six-month run in a space in North Portland’s Woodlawn neighborhood. It has since closed but could open in the city’s North Mississippi area as early as next month.

​Only six months after opening with worldwide publicity as a gathering place for users of medical marijuana — one of the first of its kind in Oregon, and maybe in the United States — Portland’s Cannabis Cafe has closed its doors.

Oregon NORML, the marijuana legalization group that ran the cafe, said the closure is only temporary and that it will reopen elsewhere, perhaps as early as next month, reports Matthew Preusch of The Oregonian.
​”It’s going to be business as usual,” said Madeline Martinez, executive director of the Oregon chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Oregon NORML).


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Photo: The Portland Mercury
Oregon NORML director Madeline Martinez at Portland’s Cannabis Cafe in happier times

The cafe became a media sensation when it opened in November 2009 as the second establishment in Oregon where medical marijuana patients could gather to relax.
The very first venue, Highway 420, opened in the back of a head shop in October, and plans to expand into a neighboring space next month, according to owner Steve Geiger.
Cannabis Cafe has gotten the lion’s share of attention, though, with nationwide headlines.
The closure, on May 5, was prompted by a dispute between Oregon NORML and Eric Solomon, who leases most of the red two-story building at 700 N.E. Dekum Street and provided space for the cafe.
Cannabis Cafe customers were required to be Oregon NORML members as well as card-carrying Oregon medical marijuana patients, caregivers or growers. Customers could buy coffee and snacks, and sample marijuana provided by NORML. No cannabis was sold at the cafe.

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Photo: The Portland Mercury
First Rumpspankers, then the Cannabis Cafe, now Rumpspankers Vapor Lounge

​A partnership was formed in which Solomon would operate the cafe in the space he formerly ran as a risque restaurant called Rumpspankers.
“They were supposed to take care of providing food and all of that, and we were supposed to provide the cannabis,” Martinez said Monday.
But soon, there was trouble in paradise. Solomon came up with a plan to rename the cafe Rumpspankers Vapor Bar and open a chain of similar outlets elsewhere.
Solomon showed Martinez t-shirts he had already printed up with the new name and logo, Martinez said. The name and logo now adorn the door of the cafe space.
“In my opinion, it breached our contract, and my lawyer agreed with me,” Martinez said. That, along with sanitation concerns, led Martinez to confront Solomon on May 5, she said.
Solomon wasted no time in asserting his ownership of the space.
“Madeline Martinez was never more than a guest here,” Solomon said. “Rumpspankers has been here for three years. I can name my business anything I want.”
Solomon said his Rumpspankers Vapor Bar opened as soon as the Cannabis Cafe closed, and it offers the same services except NORML membership is no longer required. According to Solomon, only a $5 daily membership fee is now charged.
“There are customers here right now,” he said Monday.
The building’s co-owner, Ryan Flegal, did not seem OK with Solomon’s decision. He said Solomon would no longer lease space in his building as of next month.
“We really want to see a solution in that building that is a good fit for the area and that the neighbors embrace,” Flegal said.
Solomon said his Rumpspankers Vapor Bar will move.
Oregon NORML’s Martinez said plans for seminars and classes, along with a Cannabis Community College, “are still at work.”
Martinez said she is finalizing negotiations for a 10,000-square-foot space in the North Mississippi Avenue area of Portland, and could reopen the Cannabis Cafe as early as June 22.
Nearly 33,000 patients and 17,000 caregivers were enrolled in Oregon’s Medical Marijuana Program as of April.
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