Bloggers were eager to pass around the news that the nation's first medical-marijuana providing cafe and smoking area opened in Portland, Oregon on Friday (at the stoner-significant time of 4:20 pm, no less). The "Cannabis Cafe" differs from the dispensaries tolerated under California law because it operates on membership fees and allows smoking on the premises, so long as users are registered with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law (NORML) and smoke out of the public view. The cafe's opening is the latest good news for pro-legalization advocates, who celebrated the Justice department's decision to defer to state laws regarding marijuana, and got a boost from the American Medical Association. Reactions to the news were predictably jokey, dashed with a bit of social commentary on America's changing  marijuana mores.

  • Local Hot Box  "Cancel your flight to Amsterdam," suggests Tom Johansmeyer at Daily Finance. He's kidding of course, noting that the café won't become a tourist destination because it is restricted to the state's registered medical marijuana patients. "The potential market for the Cannabis Cafe is small, but likely committed. Approximately 21,000 patients are registered to use medical marijuana in Oregon, with doctors prescribing the drug for a wide range of illnesses, among them Alzheimer's, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and Tourette's syndrome."
  • Scourge of the Neighborhood At Portland metro-area blog Neighborhood Notes, reporter Jennifer Coughlin goes beyond the snarky blog talk to provide a first-hand account of the debate that engulfed Woodlawn, the neighborhood in Northeast Portland that is home to the Cannabis Cafe and some 4000 other residents: "Though some residents expressed concern over parking, ventilation, and whether or not second hand marijuana smoke would affect people who lived nearby, the conversation had much more to do with a general mistrust of the owners of Rumpspankers [the cafe's previous name] than with whether or not they wanted a Cannabis Café to open in their small business district."
  • Cannabis Complicity  NewsBuster Tim Graham thinks the mainstream media is complicit in the pro-marijuana movement because reporters have failed to characterize the new, relaxed federal stance on state marijuana policy as "socially liberal," or "secular progressive." He also holds the president accountable for the opening of the Cafe Cannabis, at least in jest: "Perhaps the new nickname for the president should be Barack Budtender Obama."
  • Lighten Up  BlackBook writer Rohin Guha mocks those who think the Cannabis Cafe sets a disturbing precedent: "No, it's not a cafe where you eat your meals by scooping food out of large pots with your hands. It's a proper marijuana cafe. The horror! The horror!" He says that even on opening night, would-be users were dissuaded from entering by the upfront costs: "A $60 cover scared away potential patrons—the cost of a yearlong membership in NORML, first month’s membership at the cafe, plus an entry fee."
  • Sam Malone Would Approve  At Tonic, Jac Chebatoris thinks that even those who don't agree with medical marijuana can get behind the spirit of the cafe, so long as they appreciated the bar-themed sitcom "Cheers." He continues: "How nice it must be to really have a watering hole like that, and if not a watering hole, then a pot pub, or ganja bar, or whatever you would prefer to call it. I mean, if you needed that kind of thing. And by need, I mean, in a medically-licensed kind of way.