There’s no shortage of places to enjoy beer, wine or spirits in Portland — but what about when you want to puff, puff, pass? Cannabis consumption in Portland is banned in public spaces, but luckily, there’s another way. Local cannabis-positive events, like crafting collective Make & Mary, infused-dinner series Arcane Revelry and women’s space Tokeativity are creating new venues for getting high with a little help from your friends.
Editor’s note: The events listed here are legal to the best of our knowledge; however, there’s a legal gray area around cannabis consumption and visitors should proceed with caution.
Make & Mary
On a Friday night at North Portland’s Tillamook Station, Fleetwood Mac plays in the background as a group of crafters weave macrame plant holders. The airy loft space is slightly less airy than usual, with curls of cannabis smoke swirling up towards the party lights.
This is Make & Mary, a workshop series that translates the trendy “drink-and-draw” concept to Portland’s legal cannabis space. “At the root of it is self-care as a creative — body, mind and soul,” explains founder Yvonne Perez Emerson, also of design collective WeMake PDX. “If we’re not creating, we don’t feel good. It’s important to be constantly feeding our souls, and getting together and doing something with your hands is a beautiful thing.”
To that end, she gathers cannabis lovers and the cannabis-curious for heritage craft workshops (enhanced with “nature’s inspiration”). Offerings include Stitching Stoned embroidery, a woodburning class called “Burn One Down” and Lifted Yoga. “These puns are killing me,” she admits, “but I just can’t get rid of them!”
Another popular place for cannabis exploration is Arcane Revelry, a pop-up cannabis dinner series started by local event planner and artist Crystal Feldman. “I wanted to create a safe space for people to enjoy cannabis the way that I enjoy it in my life,” she says, “which is with good friends, good food, fun conversation and art.”
These events can be as humble as her annual Passover seder (where she serves kosher weed instead of wine) or as elaborate as a recent benefit for the ACLU, where guests sipped cannabis-spiked mocktails, dipped into an infused chocolate fountain and puffed from an ice sculpture bong while listening to a violinist improvising with a DJ suspended from a catwalk.
More than just a fun night out, all of Arcane Revelry’s parties seek to make an impact, raising funds and awareness for groups like Oregon DACA, the Oregon Innocence Project and the Cannabis Education Council. That’s because Feldman experienced the effects that the war on drugs has had on families firsthand; when she was a baby, her father was sentenced to 30 years in prison for cannabis possession.
“That shame runs really deep,” she explains. For her, Arcane Revelry is driven by one thing: redemption. “We’re not straight out of a Cheech & Chong movie; we’re functioning, responsible adults that have had to hide this. I’m just trying to help heal society, starting in the Pacific Northwest.”
Normalizing cannabis and supporting safe exploration is a goal shared by Samantha Montanaro and Lisa Snyder, co-founders of Tokeativity. Their online and IRL (“in real life”) cannabis community is specifically for women, and aims to nurture connection, education and creativity. “If women are still in their bedrooms smoking by themselves, that doesn’t facilitate the forward growth of the cannabis movement,” says Snyder.
At Tokeativity meet-ups, first-time tokers and longtime activists alike discuss everything, from sexuality to spirituality. The pair also runs Canna Mamas, a monthly panel on motherhood, and a career empowerment workshop they call “Get That F*cking Job.”
“I’ve been witness to the power of women’s spaces for a long time,” says Snyder. “And cannabis helps people open up even more,” adds Montanaro. “The energy that comes with it is so exciting, especially for the older women who’ve been fighting for women’s rights and cannabis rights since the ‘60s.”
Montanaro is moved by the friendships and business relationships that have come out of Tokeativity — but not surprised, because “cannabis is such a connector.” So much so that women have traveled from as far as Kentucky and Arkansas to participate.
For that, Snyder credits “the creative energy that this city emanates. Alternative lifestyles are supported here — you can do anything weird, and you’ll have somebody who’s like, ‘That’s amazing.’”
With groups like Make & Mary, Arcane Revelry and Tokeativity creating stigma-shifting communities, the city is setting a new standard for legal cannabis consumption.
“Portland has been beating its own drum for a long time,” says Perez Emerson. “It’s a place for dreamers who do.”