First U.S. Marijuana Cafe Opens in Portland

Rumpspankers: Now Portland's Cannabis Cafe (Photo by Sarah Mirk)Rumpspankers: Now Portland’s Cannabis Cafe (Photo by Sarah Mirk)The United States’ first marijuana cafe opened on Friday, posing an early test of the Obama administration’s move to relax policing of medical use of the drug.

The Cannabis Cafe in Portland, Oregon, is the first to give certified medical marijuana users a place to get hold of the drug and smoke it — as long as they are out of public view — despite a federal ban.

“This club represents personal freedom, finally, for our members,” said Madeline Martinez, Oregon’s executive director of NORML, a group pushing for marijuana legalization.

“Our plans go beyond serving food and marijuana,” said Martinez. “We hope to have classes, seminars, even a Cannabis Community College, based here to help people learn about growing and other uses for cannabis.”

The cafe — in a two-story building which formerly housed a speak-easy and adult erotic club Rumpspankers — is technically a private club, but is open to any Oregon residents who are NORML members and hold an official medical marijuana card.

Members pay $25 per month to use the 100-person capacity cafe. They don’t buy marijuana, but get it free over the counter from “budtenders”. Open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., it serves food but has no liquor license.

There are about 21,000 patients registered to use marijuana for medical purposes in Oregon. Doctors have prescribed marijuana for a host of illnesses, including Alzheimer’s, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and Tourette’s syndrome.

On opening day, reporters invited to the cafe could smell, but were not allowed to see, people smoking marijuana.

“I still run a coffee shop and events venue, just like I did before we converted it to the Cannabis Cafe, but now it will be cannabis-themed,” said Eric Solomon, the owner of the cafe, who is looking forward to holding marijuana-themed weddings, film festivals and dances in the second-floor ballroom.


The creation of the cafe comes almost a month after the Obama administration told federal attorneys not to prosecute patients who use marijuana for medical reasons or dispensaries in states which have legalized them.

About a dozen states, including Oregon, followed California’s 1996 move to adopt medical marijuana laws, allowing the drug to be cultivated and sold for medical use. A similar number have pending legislation or ballot measures planned.

Pot cafes, known as “coffee shops”, are popular in the Dutch city of Amsterdam, where possession of small amounts of marijuana is legal. Portland’s Cannabis Cafe is the first of its kind to open in the United States, according to NORML.

Growing, possessing, distributing and smoking marijuana are still illegal under U.S. federal law, which makes no distinction between medical and recreational use.

Federal and local law enforcement agencies did not return phone calls from Reuters on Friday seeking comment on the Portland cafe’s operations.

“To have a place that is this open about its activities, where people can come together and smoke — I say that’s pretty amazing.” said Tim Pate, a longtime NORML member, at the cafe.

Some locals are hoping it might even be good for business.

“I know some neighbors are pretty negative about this place opening up,” said David Bell, who works at a boutique that shares space with the cafe. “But I’m withholding judgment. There’s no precedent for it. We don’t know what to expect. But it would great if it brought some customers into our store.”

– Article from Reuters on November 14, 2009.

Cannabis Cafe opens for medical marijuana patients in Northeast Portland



  1. Anonymous on

    I have to agree. It always shows up in articles that “the Obama administration told federal attorneys not to prosecute patients who use marijuana for medical reasons or dispensaries in states which have legalized them” but Obama doesn’t seem to have any power over the DEA whatsoever. He can say whatever he wants, the DEA seem to be under their own control.
    Best of luck to them though, If they do manage to stay open it will encourage other shops to open up and if enough pop-up without any negative neighborhood complaints, things could shift a lot faster in favor of legalization.

  2. Jay Dell on

    The sensi ship has finaly harboured in the portland palacel

  3. David on

    We in Mass won’t be able to legalize before you guys in California. Our state legislators will let that bill die, and MassCann did not get a ballot initiative done in time for the 2010 election. So I think if you guys legalize in 2010 it will be before us in Mass.

  4. ronnie red on

    go portland

  5. David on

    I don’t see the feds just letting this place open up shop, and not doing anything to try to shut it down. Especially since there’s a federal ban against doing this. The DEA seems to ignore President Obama’s request to leave these states alone, and does their own thing. I see it getting raided before the end of 2010.

  6. david_kunne on

    In Russia similar theme – unrealizable dream. Our prisons are full cannabis consumers. Acts all become more rigid.
    Love, peace, marijuana for all good people in the free world! With the best wishes from Moscou…

  7. Worm on

    What else can I say.

    Peace & Pot

  8. Anonymous on

    If we can keep assholes like most of the canadains on this forum most of all the cop thatleads you now? it might have a change to stay open. The people doing this thing! Dont ned any help or bringing att/to the shop, but you think you know everything/ just let us do our thing Britain and we will do ours ? yea like you have a cafe open you changed your laws so great there, How many of you are in jail now? please dont ever tell us , the ones making it work what or how to do the medical buss were doing here. Were you all failed they will make it, and dont take any criedt forit you live in another country that we threw out along time ago. we know California will be first but itmight be MASS before us, anyways who ever is first state leagel, hawwaii will be a third, So why should any of us risk our thing when you had over thirty years and have failed(C-15?)Why should any of us YANKS listen to you failers at all? really what have you done for us,or yourself latly,execpt get your leaders in jail? Your system your group, no matter how many well wishers it has failed? Our system is working slowly but alot faster than your ever, So if it,s not broken why fixit? we dont have coat tails britain??