Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Your visit to Portland: Controlled substances

We know that many of you will want to see more of Portland than just a conference center and the inside of a hotel room. You will walk downtown and visit Powell’s. You will hike mountains and canyons. You will find a cozy bed & breakfast in the Oregon wine country. You will visit the Pacific coast and watch the gray whales swim past on their way back north to Alaska from their breeding grounds off the Baja peninsula.

And some of you are looking forward to the marijuana.

Following the 2014 legalization of recreational marijuana in Oregon, and of direct sales from dispensaries in 2015, Portland has become a popular destination for those who wish to partake. So let’s be specific about what this means for the conference:
  • You can’t consume at PyCon. 
  • Don’t show up at PyCon high, just like you wouldn’t show up drunk. 
Simple enough.

You might expect me, at this point, to quote the Code of Conduct. Or to talk about my own deep pride in the fact that we run a conference where parents feel safe bringing their children, and where employees feel safe inviting their bosses along.

But the issue, really, is out of our hands. The two rules that I listed above are not ours — they are Oregon’s! Check out the site that Oregon has built to explain the new laws:



Wow — I had no idea that a state government could produce such a beautiful web site! Welcome to Oregon, I guess. I am going to be using this site in the future as an example of how sharp web design and careful writing can communicate law to the public. Down in the lower-left-hand box, it says “Public use is illegal.” The Travel Portland site is specific about what that means:
You cannot smoke marijuana or consume marijuana edibles in a public place. This includes the Oregon Convention Center, restaurants, bars, parks, sidewalks. — (What visitors should know)
That part where they say “the Oregon Convention Center”? Yep. That’s PyCon.

It’s not that the convention center is anti-marijuana — they actually hosted the International Cannabis Business Conference in 2014. It’s that Oregon believes that partaking should be a personal experience, undertaken in private where everyone is present by consent and totally comfortable with the fact that you will be high.

We will be protecting your own standing before Oregon law, protecting the Python Software Foundation, and protecting our contract with the venue when we insist that you partake elsewhere than at the conference. Oregon is unusual, among US states, for offering laws within which you can imbibe legally. You’ll best celebrate those laws by consuming within the carefully crafted legal space they have opened up for you!

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