A good time was had by all at the inaugural Portland Hempstalk, but with all new things, there is still plenty of things to iron out for next time. My band, WeeDunno, played at the “other” stage, which was in the worst setting. The main stage faced the vendor and food booths down by the waterfront on the south side of the entrance to the Hawthorne Bridge. Informational booths from THCF (The Hemp & Cannabis Foundation), Oregon Green Free (medical marijuana patient advocates), CRRH (Campaign for the Restoration & Regulation of Hemp), and of course, Oregon NORML, lined the walkways. But our stage — the “other” stage — was set up on the north side of the bridge, all by itself with no booths, vendors, or food. Very bad setting.
On top of that, the “other” stage was late in getting set up. It was supposed to go live at 10:00AM; it didn’t start until 10:35AM, and that was with an acoustic guitar performer. Our band, scheduled for 10:00AM, got up at 11:00AM, and then we were only allowed 35 minutes to play because they were so far behind. To add insult to injury, I had set up a video camera at the sound booth to capture our show. Twenty minutes in, it began to rain, so some helpful security person decided to move it to keep it dry. The last half of my video is a wonderful shot of rain falling on a tree.
But after playing, I went to join the ORNORML booth. We were engaged in two campaigns this time around. One is a letter to President Bush that we have people sign on to, asking him to end the war on marijuana. It was very interesting asking people to sign a letter to the president. It was immensely popular — as soon as we’d say, “want to sign a letter to Bush?”, people jumped at the chance. More than one person remarked, “can I write anything else?” with a gleam in their eye.
But there were some interesting reactions. We had to ask for people to give their return address, because the White House won’t accept mail without it (makes sense; they might think you were that anthrax mailer they never caught.) Most people shrugged and said, “well, they’ve probably got my address in some database somewhere anyway.” But more than a few who were eager to sign declined once the address requirement was told to them. Maybe some were on the lam and didn’t want to be caught, but some of them just did not want to tell the president their address. Isn’t that sad when some people are too intimidated to write to their own president?
Then there were the people who said, “I’m not a registered voter” or “I’m not eighteen”, as if just ordinary citizens didn’t have a right to write their elected officials. “Hey,” I told them, “six year old kids from Brazil can write letters to Bush; you don’t have to be a registered voter.”
My favorite encounter was with a fifty-ish well-dressed Oregon Ducks sweatshirt-wearing man who looked the very picture of monied college alumnus. I asked him to sign the letter to Bush. He asked what it was about. I said, “we’re asking him to end the federal war on marijuana.” He replied, “this isn’t some sort of anti-war thing, is it?” I answered, “well, it’s anti drug war.”
I could see where he was going. He was conservative and didn’t want to sign on to some liberal hippie get-out-of-Iraq letter. I went on to explain to him that NORML’s mission is neither conservative nor liberal, we just seek to end marijuana prohibition for adults. In fact, it’s a very conservative issue: live and let live; states’ rights; fiscal conservatism (why waste fed money arresting potheads?) — and we proceeded to have a very good talk about why conservatives should be against the drug war, which he readily agreed with. I think I won over a convert — he signed the letter.
The other action we were involved in was raffling off a Volcano Vaporizer. This is an item highly prized in marijuana circles. First off, it retails at $500, and we were selling raffle tickets at $10 each. It vaporizes THC, which is the preferred method of ingestion for many patients and connoisseurs. Smoking marijuana, through joints, pipes, or bongs, is a poor way to ingest THC. Flame burns off most THC, leaving only 15%-30% of the psychoactive chemical to reach the user. Also, the smoke from burning vegetable matter — whether cannabis, cigarettes, or campfire — is not good for the lungs.
A vaporizer, however, heats the bud up to a hot enough temperature to release the THC vapors, but not so hot as to combust the plant. The result is a smoke-free vapor containing from 75%-95% pure THC. It’s cooler and easier on the lungs, especially for some patients with asthma or allergies. You get none of the carcinogens or tars you get from marijuana (or any) smoke. It’s the perfect reply to the argument, “well, smoking is not a medically recognized method of drug delivery.” Sure, but inhalers are, and that’s what a vaporizer does.
There were other interesting methods of THC delivery making the rounds at Hempstalk as well. Some patients had made up Rice Krispies Treats packed with ganja. Another patient made up some time-honored pot brownies. Still other patients had made some ghee — essentially hash butter.
We made some good money for ORNORML to support our lobbying and letter-writing efforts. We signed up 450 people onto our President Bush letter. We now turn our focus toward the Oregon Medical Cannabis Awards this November, and to our next edition of Cannabis Community Forum this Sunday.