In the 20-year history of the Freedom Fighter of the Month award, only a dozen activists have been named twice. One of them is Madeline Martinez, who takes our high honor this month for opening a first-of-its-kind Cannabis Café in Portland, OR, that’s garnered worldwide media attention, including the New York Times, the Times of London, Al Jazeera and the front page of USA Today.
Martinez, the executive director of Oregon NORML, won her first Freedom
Fighter award in March 2003 for organizing the largest NORML chapter in the country and producing three public cannabis events in Portland: the Global Cannabis March, the Portland Hempstalk festival and the Oregon Medical Cannabis Awards. Her chapter also holds twice-monthly patient-only meetings, distributing cuttings and medicine to the needy, and she frequently lobbies in the state capitol to protect Oregon’s medical-marijuana laws from business, construction and law-enforcement lobbyists.
While some dispensaries and headshops in the medical-marijuana states offer areas for people to medicate, Oregon NORML’s Cannabis Café is the first to offer free medicine to patients in a purely social atmosphere. "This café primarily serves patients’ social needs, not their medicine or paraphernalia needs," Martinez explains. "This is a café where people can use cannabis, but it is never bought or sold; it is all given away freely."
Martinez runs the café with volunteers and stocks it with excess cannabis donated by registered medicalmarijuana growers. Oregon permits growers to store a maximum of 24 ounces, but they can grow up to six mature plants, often leaving them out of compliance at harvest time. Since state law allows cardholders to exchange medicine and use it "out of public view,” the private club is perfectly legal as long as the medicine is given away freely and "for no consideration."—Russ Belville