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A Place to Hang Out and Consume 

Cannabis Clubs, it's a thing—in Portland.

You too, can be uber hip like this crowd. Except the NW Cannabis Club doesn't allow booze... so those are water martinis. With olives. It's a thing. We swear.
  • You too, can be uber hip like this crowd. Except the NW Cannabis Club doesn't allow booze... so those are water martinis. With olives. It's a thing. We swear.

I've written about the frustrating hypocrisy of living in a state with a ravenous appetite for the tax and licensing revenue brought in by the production and sale of cannabis, but with repressive and absurd rules about where people are allowed to consume once they have made their purchase, and paid a hefty 20+ percent tax.

I've made the comparison to the craft beer industry, and how well it would have fared in its nascent days if you could buy a microbrew, but not be allowed to drink it anywhere except inside a private home, or in a tent shielded from public view. These are unfair, senseless laws that both impact the growth that cannabis provides as an economic engine, but can also devastate those living in Section 8 housing, for example, where consuming in your home can lead to eviction. Thank goodness we have such a robust system to help the homeless—oh wait, right.

I'm embarrassed it's taken me so long to check out the NW Cannabis Club, but I recently made amends with three visits. I had a good time, and as far as I know, my vaping inside a structure other than my home did not result in an uptick in crime in the surrounding neighborhood, fist fights or any of the other dire concerns that keep other such businesses from opening.

Located on southeast Portland's Foster Road., it defines the term, "non-descript." You might mistake it for a bar, or, based upon the lack of windows, a strip club. Nope. It's a members-only club where the hardest thing you can order is a cup of Keurig brewed coffee.

On my first visit in October, I paid my one-time membership fee of $20, garnering me a nifty membership card and an explanation of some basic rules:

  • No cannabis is sold, so don't ask.
  • No alcohol is allowed, though an array of N/A beverages and snacks are available for purchase.
  • The staff explained that for future visits, I would pay an entry fee of between $5 and $10, based on whatever was happening on that day or evening.

Once checked in, I entered into a very large room with a long bar and a small stage, with numerous chairs, tables and couches spread throughout. A flight of stairs takes you down to a basement lounge that looks like every well-appointed rec room I got high in during high school— except, of course, I didn't try cannabis until I was 21, so strike that last part. There are e-nails, vaporizers and volcanoes spread throughout, along with alcohol wipes aplenty. There's a spacious outside deck for warmer weather, and pool and foosball tables. TVs are on but not paid much mind.

I've been to two events in the evenings: a product demo night and another for Grow magazine. Although bustling, it wasn't so packed as to be unmanageable. I checked in on a recent Sunday am and found fewer than 10 members filling the seats.

I spoke with Michael Keysor, owner of NWCC, which he opened in October. 2015 after having his NW Cannabis Market in Seattle shut down. "It housed MMJ patient providers for nearly five years," he shared, "providing safe access for over 2.5 million patient visits, and a safe space for over 600 providers."

NWCC has 9,600 members, and expects to hit 10K before the end of the year. The club produces 10 events per month, and their 40 Business Members bring another five or six.

I asked Keysor how they are allowed to do this. Was it a grandfathered permit? He simply replied, "No comment." Fair enough. Much like magnets, I don't always need to know how things work to enjoy them. I'm just glad the place exists, and I wish more did.

Oregon embraces the alcohol industry in a fierce bear hug, with more beer/wine/cider/bathtub gin fests than I can count. There is no shortage of venues where I can walk in and have an adult beverage, or six. But regulatory agencies don't want me smoking on the street? So fix the damn laws, or stop taxing and then discriminating against those who paid them.

NW Cannabis Club

nwcannabismarket.com


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