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Art will always be a source of controversy. Nudity, violence, pagan ceremonies… and that is just the classics in art museums. Every artist has his fair share of critics. Even in the city of Portland, known for its artistic culture and proud of its artists, it seems Freedom of Expression is all in the eye of the beholder. A few locals are going ape over a mural on the side of a dispensary. For the owner, it’s not just monkey business. 

An Act Of Caring

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Don Van Wormer, owner of Alternative Solutions marijuana dispensary at SE 136th Avenue and Powell, wanted to brighten up the drab walls of his building. He commissioned artist Pablo Gonzalez to paint a mural on the outside of the building, one he calls educational and fun. He says it is a creative way to let people know that marijuana is legal.

“It was for the neighborhood, to clean it up, give it some color, some fresh air,” Van Wormer said. “Kinda like Alberta Street when it was bad back in the day, and now you go down there and look at some of the murals and stuff on the walls. Look what that neighborhood done.”

Everyone Is A Critic

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Not everyone appreciates the inherent controversy of art apparently. An official complaint filed with the city boos the artistic endeavor because it shows marijuana use. City officials state that there was also no permit taken out to put up the mural. Oregon Health Authority says that although the ad doesn’t violate advertising rules currently in place, those rules are set to change next month. The new rules will include a ban on showing marijuana use or using cartoon characters that might appeal to children.

Contingency Plan

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Van Wormer has a plan if the city decides to ake him get rid of the mural.

“We’ll put a peace sign up there, and that’s what we’ll do!” – Van Wormer

Investigation by the city into the best course of action will take about a week.

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With all the weird murals in the world, do you think this one is really worth the controversy? Should it be left alone, or covered up with something else? Share your thoughts with us on our social media page or in the comments section below.

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