The Burnside Burn, an infamous night on Burnside Bridge in Portland Oregon. This night was the eve of the end of Cannabis prohibition in Oregon. This night there was to be a free weed and seed giveaway, this night there was to be a smoke out on Burnside bridge, this night was to make history.
With the passage of Oregon’s Measure 91 last November by voters, recreational marijuana growth, possession, sales and consumption were legalized in the state. On July 1st, 2015 the law went into effect at midnight. Across the state veteran smokers and curious first-timers alike sparked up bowls and joints of high-quality Oregon grown cannabis to herald the new freedom. Portland though, Portland Oregon naturally kept it weird and created beautiful chaos that captured the attention of the entire nation.
The Uber Positive Pork Chop of Portland~
A man named Pork Chop, a very dedicated, obstreperous and irresponsibly loud activist decided that he would take it upon himself to shut down the Burnside bridge. In the months preceding Oregon’s official implementation of measure 91 he rallied people around his idea, even calling me during the Rose festival, until he caught the attention of larger area activists like Russ Belville president of Oregon’s chapter of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) who aided in publicizing and organizing the event.
Pork Chop became a celebrity overnight for gathering a line of thousands behind him, like the pied piper, with the promise to give away 420 pounds of cannabis flower to bystanders 21 and over. He captured the hearts and minds with the of the crowd with the promise of the large amount of free weed and with chants like “Fuck the DEA” and “Free The Weed”, he gave out a handful of joints and free seeds to people, myself included.
Making Weed NORML
Russ Belville, founder of www.420radio.org and president of NORML Portland, brought plenty of attention to the event on his various platforms, inviting people to join in the fun atop the Burnside bridge at 11:30 on the eve of legalization in Oregon in anticipation of a public smoke-out that was to take place at midnight. He brought the maximum allowable according to the new state law, and smoked with friends and those close by at midnight along with 90% of those on the bridge. The group from NORML were able to gather the bulk of the revelers near the iconic Portland Stag sign, making photo history happen.
When the crowd announced that it was midnight there was a collective cheer and thousands of BIC lighters clicking in unison as people excitedly celebrated their newly legal status, within minutes a giant cloud of smoke began emanating from the Burnside bridge. Sporadic coughing and loud shouts brought full realization to the nely relaxed marijuana laws in the state of Oregon. This giant smoke session signaled the death of Cannabis prohibition in Oregon, one of five US states to do so.
There were easily over 2500 people gathered on the infamous Burnside bridge in Portland spanning over the Willamette River. Some eagerly awaited free cannabis, others were content with just being a part of the highly energetic and populated albeit random event that took place in standard peaceful protest fashion, permitless. This gathering of spirits revealed the diverse peoples and cultures who were brought together in this one moment to celebrate a common ground. I heard a number of foreign languages spoken in excited tones no doubt talking about the change in law. People traveled from across the country, even as far as Tennessee and New York; some were from as far away as Canada.
The city of Portland, Oregon got very stoned this night as giant clouds of marijuana smoke rolled past their bedroom windows that were left open to enjoy a nice willamette valley summer breeze. They awoke the next morning feeling rejuventated and revitalized and had a lot of interesting local news to read about.