The Oregon cannabis industry has a problem.
People from all over Oregon and Washington went to the Portland Oregon Dope Cup 2016. As the first Dope Cup that is open to people without a medical card (yay for recreational legalization!), this was a first for most of the people attending. The event was so well sold that the organizers had to cap the RSVP list at 3000 for fire safety reasons, according to Dope.
This was a free event unless you opted for the $50 VIP package. I showed up early to get preregistered and arm banded. Only took me 30 minutes in line so I decided to go grab some grub before doors open. I get about 15 minutes before the doors open and there are three lines of people. One line is the VIP, the next for re-entry and the last for general admin.
The VIP and Re-Entry lines were both about the same length when I arrived the second time.
Over the next 15 minutes, I watched all three lines grow around the block. Thousands of people were in line and I was in sight of the door. As 6 rolled around, the lines compacted and the general admission line began to move.
I stood in the re-entry line next to the VIP people and watched for an additional 40 minutes as general admission/VIP steadily funneled into the event while the re-entry line stood virtually still. It seemed that re-entry was actively designed to punish people who arrived to check in early.
The even staff didn’t seem to really care about the process either as time after time I watched people or groups of people walk to the head of the line. The people would push past protests and objections to be funneled into the event. Beyond the excruciatingly slow check-in process, there seemed to be a constant stream of Dope employees cutting their friends in front of people and gumming up the works even more.
I was the last of my group through the door once we reached it.
After 40 minutes watching other people get let in the doors, I was finally next. Right then, a dope employee walked past the line still reaching around the block and right in front of me. She seemed offended at my very presence as a group of 5 lined up behind her. The employee then proceeded to inform the woman checking ID that she was a sponsor for the event so her group needed to be let in at that moment. As the scene played out, the employee took an extra 5 minutes fighting with the door attendant.
In the end, the Dope employee got her general admission group through the door before I (as a re-entering attendee) could get checked in. The entire process was unprofessional and infuriated me. None of the staff or vendors were on the same page which made navigating the restrictions of the event maddening.
Emily Wolfe commented on Facebook about her experience which reflects my own. She said “This event was a shit show, I’m sorry, and it goes way beyond the olcc being stupid. It’s cool that it was free, but there are plenty of free things I don’t go to because I have the information to make an informed decision. I was going under the assumption that since entry was free, there would be samples (like at the Summer Fair)- especially considering some of the posts I saw some vendors make about what kind of goodies they had to give away. I understand that rules change frequently, but it’s reeeally easy to send out an email. ANY sort of heads-up about a change in rules would have been appreciated, because then I could have made an informed decision on how I wanted to spend my night. I’ve put on events before, and communication and managing expectation is key to people having a good time. Didn’t help that most vendors seemed to actively be avoiding talking to people who didn’t have their med cards out. Made it feel like we showed up at a party we weren’t invited to. Very disappointing, and a waste of my time. Not to mention, security was a disaster- we had to wait in the reentry line for 45 minutes (after going by for a wristband earlier) while the GA line went twice as fast. And when we were ready to leave, which didn’t take long, we had to ask 3 security people where the exit was and not one of them could tell us. Very unprofessional and very unprepared.”
It wasn’t all frustration and disappointment.
I had some great interactions throughout the night. I got to meet contestants, entrants and attendees from every walk of life and every demographic. There was no violence that I saw and the police presence was unobtrusive. Vendors had cool shwag and plenty of wheels to spin. Not to mention the Halloween costumes.
I couldn’t decide if the event felt like a Halloween themed trade show or a gluttonous night of debauchery. Dabs were going, pre-rolls were blazing and bongs were bubbling everywhere. Some were clearly enjoying it with outpourings of love and many shared hugs throughout the night. Others seemed to be physically pained every time a lighter would flick or a bong would bubble. Most of the time, the big difference maker for the night was medical card ownership.
If you had an OMMP card, almost every booth outside had a dab, some sample cartridges, or a pre-roll waiting for you. Inside there were less booths but more samples and prizes, pixies handing out Squibs, geriatrics tossing candy and roaming performers known as the Wanderlust Sideshow.
If you didn’t have an OMMP card, every booth responded the same way, “OMMP Card? No? Sorry, you can’t use our rig and can’t have any weed. I don’t want to get shut down by the OLCC.” By the end of the night, it felt like a catchphrase. That doesn’t minimize the very real threat of a business getting shut down.
Dope chose not to share anything about the OMMP card requirement.
As the licensed (medical) and unlicensed (recreational) markets get merged, medical patients cry foul at limits being put in place. When the OLCC put new limits on medical sales at the beginning of October, it hurt a lot of people and cost businesses a combined total reaching into the millions of dollars. Medical patients were rightly pissed that they could ‘only’ buy 4000 milligrams of THC.
Mention that ‘rec’ people can only buy 1000 milligrams and many in the industry make ridiculous claims and generalizations about non-licensed users. Claims like “Recreational people just want to get high.” or ” Medical patients need that more.” are not only based on flawed logic, they hurt the very people they claim to defend. Just because I do not have a card does not mean that I am not hurt. Nor does it mean that I deserve less care and respect than a person with a medical card.
Yet not everyone was perturbed or even seemed to notice the discrepancies and many attendees had a blast. Oscar E. James III posted “Thank you for a awesome drama free consumption night! This was the best DOPECUP yet. I loved the diverse music and a great job on Halloween theme, and the best vendors in the biz!!!!!!!”
It would have been nice for all attendees to have as good of a time as Oscar did.
The worst part of the event for me wasn’t the ridiculous lines, the rude staff or that only OMMP card holders were allowed samples. The thing that sent me into a joint long tirade was standing in line for 10 minutes to take a dab (of concentrate I brought with me) at the first outdoor smoking booth I saw, only to be told I was told I wasn’t allowed to use the dab rig!
Not only could I not get any samples, I wasn’t allowed to smoke the weed I brought myself! I went to a Dope Cup, stood in line for over an total hour to get in, get told I can’t have any of the weed there and then get told I can’t even smoke what I brought! All because I don’t have an OMMP card.
Now the Dope Cup is very quick to point out that the OLCC made the rules concerning samples and that people were free to smoke in designated areas. I can’t argue with the fact that the OLCC did make a decision concerning samples or that there was a place where everyone had the freedom to consume. That doesn’t change the fact that the Dope Cup actively chose not to share any information about needing a OMMP card.