Nov 21 2009

Portland’s Cannabis Cafe is not the first medical marijuana coffee shop in America

Posted by J. Craig Canada in business, distribution, Examiner.com, organizations
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Inside the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club circa 1995

On Friday the 13th NORML announced the opening, in Portland, of the first medical marijuana coffee shop in America.  Since then this unforgivable error has been picked up by CBS 3, examiner.com, Canada Free Press, Daily Finance, Money Times, Visit Bulgaria, The New York Times, Passport Magazine, Reuters, The Huffington Post, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Times Online,  and The AtlanticWire, to name just a few.

The Portland Cannabis Cafe is most definitely not the first medical marijuana coffee shop in America.

The mother ship was the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club which opened in 1995 at 1444 Market Street in San Francisco.  But even that was not the first.  Its predecessor was a smaller operation, also ran by Dennis Peron, at Church and Market in San Francisco.  About 1995 Fred Seike and Scott Imler opened a medical marijuana club in Santa Cruz and in 1997 Steve McWilliams and Barbara McKenzie opened Shelter From The Storm in San Diego that was in operation at least 4 years.

The Marin Alliance is probably the oldest medical marijuana club in the country that is still operating, begun by Lynette Shaw after the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club was raided in 1996.

As of this writing the New York Times has changed the title of their article and added the following note:

This post was corrected after its initial publication to make clear that the statement in other reports, that this cafe was the nation’s first to allow marijuana use, was incorrect.

Unlike NORML’s club, The San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club did not charge a membership fee or a use fee or require anyone to be a member of anything, except (of course) the club.  Membership was free to anyone with a valid recommendation from a doctor, and cards were issued to members.  You had to have a card to get in.

Patients purchased cannabis on two floors at a counter.  One floor was for sativa, the other for indica.  Both floors had lounge areas of various types, and there was entertainment space as well.  Medicating on the premises was not just allowed but encouraged.  There were 5 floors in all, with intake and the offices of Proposition 215 on the ground floor, the backroom and club office on the 2nd floor, indica on the 3rd floor, and sativa on the 4th floor.

It should be noted that on November 3rd, KDRV TV in Oregon reported the Portland Cannabis Cafe was the second medical marijuana club in that city – that another club had opened a month previous.

Updated 5:20 PM Pacific Time to add information about Lynette Shaw and The Marin Alliance, and to add the name of the San Diego medical marijuana club.

For more info:
The San Francisco Cannabis Cultivators Club – examiner.com | 11 Jul 09

First marijuana coffee shop opens in U.S. – The Telegraph | 20 Nov 09
Soaking up the atmosphere at America’s first "cannabis cafe" – The Times Online | 20 Nov 09
Naming America’s First Marijuana Cafe – The Huffington Post | 20 Nov 09
Los Angeles gets tough on medical marijuana shops – Reuters | 20 Nov 09
Students taught how to grow marijuana in Detroit’s cannabis college – The Guardian | 20 Nov 09
America’s first cannabis cafe open – The New York Times | 16 Nov 09
First U.S. marijuana cafe opens in Portland – Reuters | 14 Nov 09
Nations 1st Cannabis Cafe Opens in Portland – CBS 3 | 14 Nov 09
America’s first cannabis cafe opens – examiner.com | 13 Nov 09
NORML marks grand opening of Oregon’s first ever cannabis cafe – Opposing Views | 13 Nov 09
Second Ore. medical marijuana lounge to open – KDRV.com – 4 Nov 09


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