Madeline Martinez is the sole proprietress of the World Famous Cannabis Cafe, the first cannabis consumption lounge in the United States. Martinez is a board member at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) the chairwoman of the board of the NORML Women’s Alliance as well as the executive director of Oregon NORML. Martinez is the first Latina and first Native American to sit on the board of NORML.
Prior to working towards social justice reform and cannabis legalization, Martinez was a career employee of the California Department of Corrections at a women’s facility. There, Martinez saw firsthand the devastating effects of marijuana prohibition on women and families. As a Latina mother and grandmother, she has always been all too aware of the disproportionate victimization of minorities via the nation’s longest war; The War on Drugs. Now retired, she is also a member of Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP, formerly Law Enforcement Against Prohibition).
She first became involved in cannabis activism shortly after retiring when, in 1998, she helped collect signatures for Measure 67, which successfully established a medical marijuana law in the state of Oregon.
Martinez’s involvement in the fight for marijuana rights began in 1998 collecting signatures for Measure 67. The measure passed, creating the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP). She was one of the first Kaiser Permanente patients to receive a doctor’s authorization letter to allow for the use of medical cannabis, and was featured the following year in a local news article focusing on her experiences as patient #500.
Martinez organized the first local celebration of the Million Marijuana March in 2000. She was appointed Assistant Director of PDX NORML, working in outreach and education, and created “Access to Excess”, distributing medicine and cuttings to cardholders. The following year she was elected Executive Director of PDX NORML, filed articles of Incorporation, and changed the organization’s name to “Oregon NORML” to reflect their statewide mission.
Her fight against marijuana prohibition has included working as a patient advocate and consultant on a number of committees, including the Oregon Department of Human Services Advocate Advisory Committee, The Multnomah Disability Services Advisory Committee, and the Advisory Committee on Medical Marijuana, an oversight body for the OMMP.
She was the lead organizer and co-creator of the first annual Oregon Medical Cannabis Awards in 2002. The OMCA was the first medical marijuana strain evaluation competition in the United States, and the only competition to track the medical conditions of the judges and medical effectiveness of the strains relative to specific conditions. The OMCA was hosted annually by the World Famous Cannabis Cafe until December of 2013.
In 2007 Madeline was named the recipient of NORML’s Pauline Sabin Award in honor of women’s leadership in ending marijuana prohibition. She has worked extensively with other advocates, law enforcement and legislative council to end Marijuana Prohibition. In 2003 she successfully lobbied to stop Oregon HB 2939, which would have made changes to the OMMP that caused many patients to lose their caregivers. Her work on Oregon SB 1085, from collaborating on the consensus draft in the Interim Legislative Advisory Committee through testifying in numerous hearings, paid off when the bill passed and became law in 2006.
Her most recent success has been working with New Approach Oregon on Oregon’s Measure 91. The measure to license, regulate and tax the production, processing and sales of cannabis was lauded by Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, as “the Gold Standard” of marijuana reform initiatives. Included in the language were provisions to allow the growth of industrial hemp, and to use a portion of the revenue from taxes and licensing for schools and substance education programs as well as for state and city resources. Measure 91 was passed by the voters in November 2014 and social cannabis use for adults over the age of 21 became legal in the state of Oregon on July 1st of this year.
Madeline has seen her dream of ending cannabis prohibition come true for Oregon, but she’s not finished dreaming. As co-founder of the NORML Women’s Alliance she is now working for reform on a national level and fighting to protect the rights of women and families stuck in the grey areas created by legislative changes across the country. After a one year hiatus, the World Famous Cannabis Cafe reopened in its new location at 7958 SE Foster Road in Portland, Oregon. The Grand Reopening party on July 31 st packed the house with news crews, cannabis advocates and wide-eyed newcomers. Finally able to open her doors to all adults (over 21), the fun is only just beginning.
The World Famous Cannabis Cafe is now open six days a week, with Sundays available for special occasions and private parties. The return of Thursday night’s Green Room Jam with local musician Eric Rabe has been a huge success, and guests enjoy live music every weekend. Stoner Bingo is back in full effect, opening the Cafe a couple of hours early on Wednesdays to accommodate the laughter and camaraderie of the guests. This Saturday will be the first Todd Armstrong Comedy Hour at 7pm, which will be a monthly special. Madeline’s good friend, esteemed author and cannabis activist Jorge Cervantes will be signing copies of his newly released Cannabis Encyclopedia on Friday night, from 6-8pm. Madeline has made the World Famous Cannabis Cafe a place like no other, and yet when you walk in the doors, you feel so much like family there’s no wondering why she always says, “Welcome Home!”