Pubdate: Wed, 01 Jun 2011
Source: Willamette Week (Portland, OR)
Copyright: 2011 Willamette Week Newspaper
Author: James Pitkin
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Popular)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


An Amsterdam-Style Pot Bar Is the Latest Controversy in Oregon's 
Marijuana World.

For Mario Mamone, the dream of opening a marijuana cafe started 10 
years ago on his first trip to Amsterdam, where he visited famous 
hash bars like Green House and Dampkring.

Now the 62-year-old retired wildlife biologist is close to bringing 
his vision to Gladstone. Next month he plans to open the Maritime 
Cafe in a Southeast McLoughlin Boulevard strip mall, between a Curves 
Fitness Center and a headshop called the Stash. The cafe will be open 
only to medical-marijuana patients over 18. Plans by Mamone and his 
partner, Tim Welsh, include intimate booths, potleaf murals and 
killer buds for $10 a gram.

"We're looking for a place where people can come and hang and listen 
to music," Mamone says. "A romantic atmosphere."

Maritime will be the latest addition to a growing industry in Oregon. 
Voters last year defeated a ballot measure that would have set up 
rules for a statewide system of dispensaries to sell pot to patients. 
The measure's failure didn't stop people from opening 
dispensary-style businesses (see "Weed, the People," Jan. 12, 2011). 
The shops remain unregulated, and some establishments push the 
boundaries between clinic and social club.

That's made them a bigger target for law enforcement and opened rifts 
inside the medical-marijuana movement.

"These places are set up like a party," says Donald Morse, who helps 
run the Human Collective clinic in Tigard. "You don't see people on 
dialysis having a party."

Oregon's medical-marijuana law, approved by voters in 1998, makes no 
mention of dispensaries. But it allows patients to designate a 
grower, and it lets those growers charge patients for expenses like 
fertilizer, lights and power.

Advocates say Oregon's program is flawed for patients who lack a 
grower. Club operators like Mamone say they're working within the law 
to fill that need.

Law enforcement stands ready to harsh their mellow. "I am confident 
the residents of Gladstone do not want a marijuana coffeehouse in 
their community," says Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote. 
"If he wants to dance around the edge of the law, he runs the risk of 
getting arrested."

Attorney General Eric Holder said in 2009 the Justice Department 
would end the Bush administration's raids on statesanctioned

medical-marijuana facilities. Pot remains illegal under federal law. 
But this spring saw an apparent change in policy, as federal 
prosecutors wrote letters to governors in Washington, Arizona, 
Colorado, Montana, Vermont and Rhode Island threatening a crackdown 
on dispensaries.

U.S. Attorney Mike Ormsby in Spokane vowed "quick and direct action" 
in an April 6 letter to Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, who promptly 
vetoed a bill to license growers and dispensaries. Spokane-area pot 
shops saw a string of closures.

No such letter has gone out in Oregon, and interim U.S. Attorney 
Dwight Holton wouldn't say

whether he's planning similar action. But it's clear Holton is no 
friend to folks like Mamone.

"I'm struck by the brazenness of recent dispensaries who seem to 
think they are above the law," Holton says. "It's drug trafficking. 
Period. End of story."

Dispensaries aren't legal in Oregon, so operators call them "clubs" 
or "co-ops." They claim to work on a consignment model: Growers give 
weed to the club, which sells it to patients and reimburses the 
growers. The clubs charge membership fees.

Portland cops aren't concerned, says Lt. Robert King, a spokesman for 
the police bureau. Clubs in Southeast include Foster Healing Center 
and Highway 420.

"It's more or less a regulated and lawful establishment," King says. 
"We assist if they need any assistance, but by and large they don't."

Not so in the suburbs. After WW featured the Aloha club Wake n Bake 
in our Jan. 12 cover story, co-owner Kat Cambron says Washington 
County sheriff's deputies have pulled over about a dozen members as they leave.

Cambron says the members are searched, given roadside sobriety tests 
and questioned about the club. No one has been arrested, but Cambron 
worries they face harassment due to their medical needs.

"If you see somebody pulling out of a place where you know people are 
smoking marijuana, you're going to watch how they're driving," says 
Sgt. Dave Thompson, spokesman for the sheriff 's office. "They're 
aware it's there.

Nobody's targeting it."

Elsewhere in Washington County, Morse's nonprofit Human Collective 
looks and feels like a doctor's office. Patients purchase weed in 
child-proof medicine bottles for $5 to $8 a gram.

"Maybe we're deluding ourselves, but we like to think places like 
Wake n Bake should be busted before this place," Morse says. "We 
would be honored to be the test pilot for how it should be done."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom