Waiting to Inhale

We ask Oregon's new pot overlords: What's your experience with marijuana?

Voters have approved Measure 91, legalizing recreational marijuana, and in doing so handed the details of regulating weed to the OLCC, the agency that oversees the regulation and distribution of booze in the state.

The OLCC—with its five-member board—now has until January 2016 to write rules in Oregon. Among the questions: Who can sell pot? What tests must the marijuana undergo? Do retailers have to tell you how much THC is in that brownie? 

The five OLCC commissioners are volunteers appointed by the governor and rarely get much attention.

That's about to change as they write the state's rules on legal weed. So we asked them: What, exactly, are your experiences with marijuana?

One commissioner, Marvin Révoal, a former police officer who owns a Eugene benefits and insurance firm, declined to answer.

But the other four lit up our question.

Bob Rice, 68

Portland, owner of the Virginia Cafe

"When I was—oh gosh—early 20s, I had two chocolate-chip cookies that contained marijuana. They made me very thirsty and wanting to go have a cheeseburger. I was uninspired. What I'm told is, from a consumer perspective, the product of today, there's absolutely no comparison to 40 years ago. It's a far more intense and potent product today, I'm told. I've never been in the business, or anything of the kind. My experience is what I read in the papers."

Michael Harper, 56

Portland, State Farm Insurance agent, former pro basketball player

"I grew up on the South Side of Chicago, and the monster at the time was, everybody wanted to buy a nickel bag for $5. I grew up poor, so I didn't have money to buy a nickel bag. Even in college, I was one of those guys who didn't get involved with drugs. I just wanted to be successful playing basketball. I didn't smoke. I don't smoke. I started out here in 1980 playing for the Portland Trail Blazers, and I got involved with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, telling kids to say yes to life and no to drugs. I'm going to do my best to keep it off college campuses—similar to alcohol. It's going to be there, but it's gotta be enforced."

Pamela Weatherspoon, 33

Portland, community relations director for Randall Children's Hospital at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center

Weatherspoon declined to say whether she'd ever used marijuana. "Honestly, I don't think my personal experience has anything to do with policy. I grew up in Southern Oregon, so I wasn't in a large city where I would see that kind of stuff. I grew up on a ranch. I am one of the younger commissioners. I'm in a generation where it's more socially acceptable. I think it's really important that we regulate it in a way that protects our cities. The older people who've talked to me are concerned about that. The younger people that have come to me aren't as concerned."

Rob Patridge, 46

Medford, Klamath County district attorney, OLCC chairman

Patridge says he's never tried marijuana. "Nor have I tried other illegal drugs," he writes in an email, "but have been directly involved in policy-making and budgets related to their precursor chemicals, manufacturing and laws related to their use." Patridge lists the following as his experience with pot: "Prosecution of marijuana crimes as a deputy district attorney and as the Klamath County district attorney. As a state representative chairing the Public Safety Subcommittee of Ways and Means as well as a member of budget committees with agencies dealing with marijuana policy and its fiscal impacts to the state of Oregon in public health and the criminal justice system.”