Weed the People
Promotional poster for the event
|Date||July 3, 2015|
|Venue||Metal Craft Fabrication
723 North Tillamook Street
|Location||Portland, Oregon, U.S.|
“Weed the People“, officially “Weed the People: A Cannabis Legalization Celebration“, was an event held in Portland on July 3, 2015, two days after recreational marijuana became legal in the U.S. state of Oregon. Sponsored by The Portland Mercury and two cannabis companies, the event was attended by an estimated 1,500–2,000 people, who were provided up to seven grams of marijuana for immediate consumption or to take home. Organizers complied with restrictions on recreational sales by distributing free cannabis and required attendees to pay an entry fee. More than 1,300 tickets were sold, but the building’s 500-person capacity meant long wait times to enter. Media outlets reported on the historic nature of the event, which was described as a “stoner’s paradise” and celebration of freedom.
Background and planning
“Weed the People: A Cannabis Legalization Celebration”, or simply “Weed the People”, was held two days after recreational marijuana became legal in Oregon. Preceding the event was the Burnside Burn, which was organized by Portland NORML and held on the Burnside Bridge starting at midnight on July 1, 2015. “Weed the People” was sponsored by the local alternative weekly newspaper The Portland Mercury and two cannabis businesses: The C02 Company and Oregon’s Cannabis Concierge. It was produced by Connie Wohn, who said enthusiasm and demand were high. The event sold out quickly (by June 24–26), and there was a waiting list with 750 additional interested participants. The Mercury's cannabis correspondent Josh Taylor, who organized “Weed the People”, said the event “celebrates the throwing off of oppression and the freedom of legalization”. Referring to the observance of Independence Day on July 4, he said: “And now, people can watch the fireworks tomorrow while high. They were probably going to do that anyway, but we’re just helping them along.”
According to Wohn, event organizers were prepared and met with “any agency that could’ve had any sort of recourse or legal ramification on this event”. The Portland Police Bureau “gave it their blessing” and did not have a large presence. Security guards were hired to perform bag searches and enforce a ban on outside alcohol and cannabis consumption. The promotional poster for “Weed the People” had patriotic imagery depicting an eagle carrying a branch of marijuana leaves in one talon, and several joints in the other.
The alcohol-free celebration, believed to be the “first formal event with free cannabis giveaways”, took place from 2:00–9:00pm at Metal Craft Fabrication (or MCF Craft Brewing Systems), a former craft brewery and industrial building in the North Portland section of Eliot. Between 1,500 and 2,000 participants were supplied with up to seven grams of marijuana, which they could consume openly at the event or take home. Organizers complied with a temporary limit on recreational sales by distributing free cannabis and had attendees pay a $40 entry fee. Most attendees were from the Portland metropolitan area, but residence in Oregon was not required; some were from as far away as Idaho and Michigan. Inside were cannabis plants, a lounge (or “chill out area”) with seating and music, smoking devices, cannabis and food vendors, and a “Grow Garden” where attendees picked up their free samples; out back was a fenced-in yard with an on-site taco truck. Guests also had the opportunity to meet farmers and producers from local businesses and dispensaries.
“Weed the People” had a few complications: organizers sold 1,336 tickets and were prepared to supply enough product for all attendees, but the building’s capacity was 500, resulting in long entry lines. Hot temperatures both inside the building and outside resulted in at least two people fainting and a visit from the local fire department for medical treatment. However, people were reportedly patient as they waited in lines, there were no personal disputes during the event, and there were enough cannabis products for all attendees.
Jamie Hales of The Oregonian called the event “historic” and “a veritable stoner’s paradise”, writing:
In a city where recreational marijuana events have struggled just to get off the ground, Weed the People represented an effort that, while it had its issues, was unprecedented … In cities around the country, carrying around seven grams of cannabis can mean serious jail time. In Portland on Friday, it was a cause for celebration … It meant freedom to consume a drug people many had already been consuming, it meant freedom from fear of arrest for doing so, it meant the opportunity to smoke, to eat and to vaporize freely—a freedom many in Oregon will be exercising enthusiastically.
Willamette Week's Martin Cizmar said the event was described as a “shitshow” on social media, and believed “Weed the People” was a financial success. KATU‘s Reed Andrews described the event as the “first of its kind” and said it “is testing the limits for what’s legal when it comes to marijuana in Oregon”. Sam Catherman of The State Column described the event as “a gathering that connected entrepreneurs and enthusiasts who were excited about the burgeoning industry in their state”. The Stranger's Christopher Frizzelle ended his reporting on the event with, “Happy freedom day, everyone. What a country.” Keegan Hamilton of Vice News described the event as a “veritable weed Disneyland” and “a celebration of newfound freedom”. Furthermore, he wrote, “More than just giving Oregon residents and visitors the opportunity to exercise their new legal right to get high, ‘Weed the People’ illustrated how vast the market is for marijuana and related products, and how strange it is that the drug is now technically legal to possess but illegal to procure for people who haven’t received authorization from a doctor.”
- Humphrey, Wm. Steven (June 8, 2015). “Celebrate Your Cannabis Independence with… Weed the People!”. The Portland Mercury. Portland, Oregon: Index Publishing. Retrieved July 5, 2015.
- Greenberg, Will (July 1, 2015). “Oregon celebrates with free weed as recreational marijuana becomes legal”. The Washington Post. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
- Tuttle, Brad (June 28, 2015). “Oregon Is Celebrating Marijuana Legalization with Free Weed”. CNN Business. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
- Ross, Philip (June 29, 2015). “Marijuana Legalization In Oregon 2015: How To Get Free Weed On July 1”. International Business Times. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
- Hamilton, Keegan (July 4, 2015). “In Photos: Celebrating America and Legal Marijuana at Portland’s ‘Weed the People’ Party”. Vice News. Retrieved July 5, 2015.
- Steele, Tim (July 3, 2015). “Weed the People draws thousands in Portland”. Portland, Oregon: KOIN. Retrieved July 5, 2015.
- Cizmar, Martin (July 7, 2015). “Green and Goal: What we can learn from the Weed the People “shitshow.““. Willamette Week. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
- “Inbox: Letters to the Editor”. Willamette Week. July 14, 2015. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
- Andrews, Reed (July 3, 2015). “‘Weed the People’ event testing the limits of legal pot”. KATU. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
- Stableford, Dylan (July 1, 2015). “Potlandia! Oregon legalizes recreational marijuana — free weed included”. Yahoo! News. Verizon Media. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
- Labrecque, Jackie (July 1, 2015). “Pot sharing, midnight giveaway celebration on Burnside Bridge”. KATU. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
- Hale, Jamie (June 22, 2015). “Marijuana giveaway and smokeout event will celebrate legalization in Portland”. The Oregonian. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
- Sherwood, Courtney (July 3, 2015). “Oregon marijuana fans look to cash in on new law”. Reuters. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
- Perry, Alyssa Jeong (July 4, 2015). “Free marijuana for all: Oregonians exercise the right to Weed the People”. The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. ISSN 0261-3077. OCLC 60623878. Retrieved July 5, 2015.
- Hale, Jamie (July 3, 2015). “Marijuana giveaway draws huge crowds at historic Weed the People event in Portland”. The Oregonian. Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications. Retrieved July 5, 2015.
- “Marijuana giveaway draws huge crowds at historic Weed the People event in Portland”. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. July 4, 2015. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
- Peck, Jamie (June 30, 2015). “They’re giving away free weed in Portland”. Death and Taxes. Eldridge Industries. Archived from the original on July 3, 2015. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
- Catherman, Sam (July 4, 2015). “‘Weed the People’ – Oregonian potheads gather to celebrate new law”. The State Column. Archived from the original on July 6, 2015. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
- Frizzelle, Christopher (July 4, 2015). “Meanwhile in Portland, Where Weed Is Now Legal, “Weed the People” Attendees Got Seven Free Grams Each”. The Stranger. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
- Weed the People: A Cannabis Legalization Celebration! at Bold Type Tickets
- Weed the People Portland—A Cannabis Legalization Celebration! at Facebook
- Hurry! Get Your Tickets Quick for Weed the People! (June 21, 2015), The Portland Mercury