By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes
(Editor’s note: Pseudonyms have been used in this story.)
The folks who opened a medical marijuana club in Keizer last week want to establish a few things up front:
Yes, that’s a medical marijuana club opened its doors last week in the former Keizer Eagles building. [Map: 1]
No, there’s no cash or marijuana (or its derivatives) left on site when no one’s there.
And no, you can’t get in unless you have an Oregon Medical Marijuana Program card. Anyone who visits must show their card at a window before being buzzed into a secured area.
“If you’re not a legal card holder … you won’t get past this door,” said Kelly Fabry (not her real name). “We’re a stickler for the laws, and the double entry really helps with that.”
The Keizertimes was the first media organization invited in to peek at what operators have dubbed the PGN Lounge. Several medical marijuana clubs exist in Oregon, but this one is Oregon’s largest, its owners said.
The people who opened up the lounge want the public to understand what they are – and what they are not, they said.
It’s a project of the Patient Grower Network, which has been meeting at The Gathering Place for a couple of years now. The group was founded a couple of years ago to “network growers and patients together,” Fabry said. “A new patient can meet several growers and decide what their needs are … and have realistic expectations between the grower and the patient.”
The average age of a PGN club member is 58, she said. Fabry added they’ve given the Keizer Police Department no trouble, and the department knows they’re there. The club has about 182 members, she said.
The new digs, Fabry said, “is mostly for socialization, a place where people with illnesses … are with people they’ve gotten to know and feel comfortable with. … There won’t be any big pot leaves on the building because that’s not what it’s about.”
Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have some sort of medical marijuana in place;Oregon doesn’t have dispensaries like California and several other states. Instead the program in the Beaver State is largely based on relationships; someone who gets a medical marijuana card via a doctor’s recommendation can grow their own or designate a caregiver to provide them with cannabis, and may take on an expanded role in the patient’s life. There’s also growers, who actually cultivate the marijuana.
“Almost 50 percent of the people who come in here aren’t patients,” said Mike Slater (pseudonym), a grower.
“They don’t medicate. … Caregivers are intended to be the people who help people that aren’t necessarily ambulatory… frequently a child or spouse of the needy.”
Organizers said there’s a system in place to make sure anyone intoxicated gets a sober ride home.
Being a former fraternal organization’s lounge, there’s facilities in place like a full commercial kitchen, a bar (no alcohol is served yet, but a beer and wine consumption license application is in the works), a stage for music, pool table, darts and all kinds of places to sit.
One room is full of card tables, while the bar room has a performance stage. Another room is designated specifically for patients and growers to consult and view product. Yet another room is set up to watch movies or play Nintendo Wii.
Consumption of marijuana is allowed in certain spots on site, but it isn’t just smoking by any means, Fabry said.
Several cooks contribute what are colloquially known as “medibles” – food with marijuana or a derivative cooked in. And there’s other ways to take in cannabinoids – the chemical compounds present in marijuana, said Fabry. Even massage oils can provide pain relief for some people without intoxicating effects, Fabry said.
There are plans in the near future to have a massage area downstairs along with a possible doctor’s office. Fabry said upcoming classes will teach about everything from growing to preparing cannabis.
Asked why PGN picked Keizer to locate, she said “Keizer is all about volunteerism, and we couldn’t have done this without our volunteers.”