Text and Photos by Helen Caswell
On January 1, the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program said that 77,620 medical marijuana patients were registered in the state, including 3,934 in Marion County. Last month, the Oregon Health Authority released a report on marijuana use, attitudes and health effects that said that 10% of Oregon adults report they currently use marijuana, including recreationally.
Who are these people? Below are a few.
Julie Brown is a medical patient from Albany who uses medicinal cannabis to help cope with the effects of Graves’ disease, an immune system disorder. “With cannabis I am able to eat and sleep,” she says. She visits Salem for marijuana, she says. “Some dispensaries in Albany don’t even cater to medical patients any more, they cater more to recreational. So I have to travel further for my meds. I find I come to Salem a lot to check out the dispensaries.”
Joe from Kaiser is a recreational customer. “I like that recreational is legal now,” he says. “It’s safer to buy from dispensaries than it was before. For me, I work in restaurants and after a stressful day, this means that I can go home and relax.”
Bri Frizelle is an employee at Herbal Grasslands, a South Salem cannabis dispensary that serves both medical and recreational customers. A recreational customer, Frizelle values the quality of product that is tested by certified Oregon labs. “The quality if totally different,” she says, “now you really know what you’re getting. Now the customers tell me you that when you chose off a menu you can be sure of what you’re getting. I feel much safer getting weed now.”
Wally moved to Oregon from Texas last year. Now a budtender at 7 Leaf Collective in North Salem, Wally uses cannabis for recreational use. A pharmacy technician in Texas, Wally says that on his arrival in Salem, he considered getting a similar job at Salem Hospital. He turned to dispensing cannabis instead. “I was interested in this industry and wanted to add to it,” he says. “This is an industry that should have been tapped into for monetary reasons a long time ago. I’m glad that people are starting to see the potential for cities and states now.”
Jimmy is a recreational user from Minnesota who came to Oregon on October 1, 2015 when he “knew the green rush was on.” A college basketball player in Minnesota, he was kicked off the team in his junior year for smoking a joint. “I guess maybe I came to Oregon to redeem myself,” he says, “because I felt I had a bad name. Here in Oregon where it’s legal, I don’t feel like a criminal.”
(No Photo) Aja and Jason are recreational users visiting Salem from Salt Lake City with Jason. Jason uses cannabis for stress relief and to treat arthritis and other pain. He’s had four surgeries on broken bones in his knee “and the arthritis is definitely setting in.” Jason also believes cannabis enhances creativity in his music, skateboarding and surfing. “I really appreciate that it’s accessible in Oregon,” he says.
“Yes, we were really pleased to see the progress in Oregon in the last few years,” Aja says. “Our prison systems are too overcrowded with minor offenders and I don’t really think our tax dollars should be used to incarcerate them for something like this.”
Julie Warren is a medical patient who was on antidepressants since the age of 15. “I never smoked prior to my brother Mike opening 7 Leaf Collective,” she says. Now employed there, Julie has a medical card and treats with cannabis. “I’m not saying that everyone should do it,” she says, “and I’m not a doctor. But for me, I realized the natural way was better. High CBD and sativa strains are good for clear-headedness, and I have never felt better than I do now.”