The Guardian 8/2/16
The unprecedented number of cannabis measures on the ballot in November, including in two swing states, could complicate turnout in the 2016 presidential election, bringing out more voters, but not reliably for any candidate.
At first glance, the traditional demographic of marijuana voters – white, young, male, Democratic – would presumably increase votes for Clinton. But with the Libertarian candidate (and known pot enthusiast), Gary Johnson, having the best chance since Nader to siphon votes away from a mainstream candidate, and the unpredictable loyalty of party-line voters this year, it’s not guaranteed that Clinton will be able to cash in on the momentum of marijuana.
The Guardian 5/23/16
Bernie, a 130-pound Swiss mountain dog, began having grand mal seizures when he was six months old. About once a week he would violently convulse, foam at the mouth, and urinate on himself for several minutes before recovering an or so hour later. The medication he was given seriously disoriented him, was harmful to his liver and for the most part didn’t work.
At the end of their rope, Bernie’s parents decided to put him on a pet supplement derived from cannabis. Gradually, his seizures became less severe and less frequent, before disappearing altogether.
Despite a large amount of promising anecdotal evidence like Bernie’s story, and a growing industry of cannabis-based pet products, many people have a hard time taking medical marijuana for pets seriously.
The Guardian 5/2/16
Despite the prohibition, running on weed has become an increasingly popular trend among athletes, who use it either as a way to avoid fatigue, boredom or anxiety during long runs, or as a pain-reliever and anti-inflammatory medication during recovery periods. Ultramarathoner, Jenn Shelton, told the Wall Street Journal that she uses cannabis in her training, as does triathlete Clifford Drusinsky. And who could forget Arnold Schwarzenegger ripping a jointin the documentary Pumping Iron.
(Video) Bud+Breakfast: the marijuana inn where wake and bake is a serious business
The Guardian 3/10/16
Joel and Lisa Schneider’s bed and breakfast in Silverthorne, Colorado, has all the trappings of a traditional B&B (stone fireplace, home-cooked meals, an alarmingly cute dog), with one significant addition: a complimentary bar of seven marijuana strains, and more than a dozen different implements to smoke them out of.
Travelers visiting Colorado from all over the world seek out specialized lodging like the Schneiders’ Bud+Breakfast. That’s because when pot was legalized in the state in 2012, lawmakers forbade its use in public – including bars, parks or concert venues. And with most hotels banning smoking of any kind, tourists were finding themselves with plenty of ganja to buy, but nowhere to inhale it.
The Guardian 2/17/16
Facebook has recently launched an aggressive campaign to rid its sites of some cannabis-related material, deleting or suspending dozens of accounts operated by marijuana businesses, most of which had operated for years without so much as a warning about offensive material.
The Guardian 2/1/16
Nine months ago Raymond Schwab tried to move to Colorado to grow medical marijuana for fellow veterans. While he and his wife were there preparing for the move, the state of Kansas took five of their children, ages 5 to 16, into custody on suspicion of child endangerment, ensnaring his family in interstate marijuana politics.
The Cannabist 1/14/16
For a seasoned cannabis user, it might seem a little strange that people are traveling to the emergency room for issues related to marijuana.
Unlike alcohol or pharmaceuticals — which bring hundreds of thousands to the ER each year — no one has ever died from cannabis use alone, a fact the federal government backs up. Overdosing on an edible or hash-dab can be a truly miserable experience, but currently the primary remedy in most cannabis cases is time and relaxation.
So why go to the hospital?
Recent statistics show there has been a significant leap in the number of people showing up to the emergency room for marijuana — particularly in legalized states. Does this mean that the marijuana health epidemic prohibitionists warned us about has finally arrived? Or can all this be chalked up to inexperienced straights trying pot for the first time, freaking out and not knowing what to do other than go straight to the hospital?
When I heard that Savage Love columnist and It Gets Better co-founder Dan Savage was bringing his amateur porn festival, Hump, to Denver’s Oriental Theater, I figured the cordial thing to do was offer him the opportunity to get high with me and talk about bestiality, presidential politics and other dark corners of humanity.
Surprisingly, this was not difficult to arrange.
On the surface, Ian James sounds like any other idealistic marijuana advocate: He’s critical of the war on drugs, he touts the economic and tax benefits of legalization and uses the familiar rebuttal against the “think of the children!” argument by pointing out that dealers are currently selling pot to kids and dispensaries will be carding customers. But James, the man behind this Tuesday’s ballot measure to legalize marijuana in Ohio, is motivated by more than his political convictions.
James’ controversial statewide ballot initiative, known as Issue 3, is designed to line the pockets of the investors he gathered to bankroll it—a brazen example of pay-to-play politics according to critics. But James is also unlike anyone in legalization who’s come before him. He’s the CEO of The Strategy Network, a political consultant group specializing in ballot measures. Unlike the marijuana activist color guard typically responsible for passing the country’s prior legalization initiatives, James is a 30-year political operative who cut his teeth working for Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, not exactly an idealistic drug policy reformer.
The Cannabist 8/27/15
The Dude wants to burn one, but the driver doesn’t think it’s a good idea.
The Alamo Drafthouse has rented a car to take Jeff Dowd (inspiration behind the pot-loving protagonist in “The Big Lebowski”) from Denver to Fort Collins, where Odell Brewing Company will present him with a beer crafted in his honor. Crowds of Lebowski superfans (also known as “Achievers”) would be served this special beer at The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema later that night, where Dowd hosted a screening of the movie that turned him into an icon.
“No smoking” signs decorate every surface of this rented vehicle, but Dowd dismisses them, saying “they don’t mean pot” (never mind the Colorado legalities). His massive nest of frizzy gray hair narrowly escapes combustion as he simultaneously lights a joint and turns up the stereo. I feel bad for the designated driver, since I’m the one who gave Dowd the cannabis.
The Cannabist 6/5/15
When buying marijuana flower at a dispensary, it’s not difficult to find something tailor-made for your needs: Sativas for energy and focus, indicas for pain relief and sleep, hybrids for something in between. Try out the same formula for pot-infused edibles, and your options are (for the most part) only distinguished by flavor, with nothing said about how it will treat you. The truth is, cannabis food is still miles behind flower when it comes to predicting what kind of effect it will deliver.
And at a time when edibles are under such heavy scrutiny for causing unexpected freak-outs and alleged connections to suicides and murder, experts say there is now more of a need than ever before for manufacturers, regulators and especially users to educate themselves about this alternative method of ingesting cannabis.
While the iconic pot-brownie has been around since the ’60s, that form of cannabis food was typically created via the D.I.Y. method of cooking pot into butter and then infusing that butter into a snack-cake. Most edibles on the shelves today are made using highly sophisticated instruments that employ CO2 or butane to extract the cannabinoids from the plant material, a process that is still in its infancy and isn’t without its critics. And no matter how it’s made, the resulting substances themselves haven’t enjoyed nearly the same amount of scientific, peer-reviewed studies that smokable marijuana has.
In 2010, a 30-year-old quadriplegic man named Brandon Coats was fired from his gig as a telephone operator with Dish Network in Colorado after failing a random drug test—even though he had a prescription for the drug under the state’s medical pot law. He sued his former employer, and the case went all the way to the Colorado State Supreme Court. But on Monday, the justices ruled unanimously against him.
The wheelchair-bound Coats maintained that he was never impaired at work, and simply used pot to control muscle spasms stemming from a car accident. When Coats initially filed the lawsuit in August 2011, he argued that his marijuana consumption was legal under state law, but a trial court ruled in favor of the company, and that decision was upheld by a Colorado Court of Appeals two years later.
On Friday, Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division released its first annual report on the state’s regulated pot industry, offering comprehensive data on the sale, licensing, taxing and investigations of weed in 2014. While there have been plenty of newspaper polls and think-tank studies on the subject, no organization has previously had access to this much data, which offers a proper glimpse into the nature of the world’s first fully regulated, seed-to-sale pot market.
After pouring over “37 million recorded events,” the MED report says that “109,578 pounds of medical marijuana flower were sold,” and “38,660 pounds of retail flower sold,” meaning a grand total of nearly 75 tons of cannabis was purchased. While flower (buds) were more popular with medical marijuana patients, edibles were a bigger hit with recreational buyers, who purchased 2.8 million edible products, compared to 1.9 million for those with prescriptions. (It’s worth noting that medical edibles can be significantly stronger than recreational ones.)
Going Legit A Challenge For Black Market Growers
The Cannabist 2/11/15
When legal marijuana becomes so mainstream that being a black market grower is as antiquated as bootlegging moonshine, what will become of those who have devoted their lives to the underground trade? In the wake of last year’s policy changes on the vertical integration of marijuana shops in Colorado, wholesale growers are expanding their operations, creating loads of new industry jobs.
Is it worth it for black market growers to click off their lamps and go work for the man? Profits may have sunk on illegal weed, yet growers in the shadows are still earning more than entry-level jobs in the white market are paying. Even if they tried to go mainstream, are employers in the legal industry motivated to hire them?
In the lead-up to the inevitable announcement that he is running for president, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has followed in the footsteps of our last three presidents and admitted that he used to smoke pot as a kid. In a Boston Globe profile of Bush’s teenage years at the prestigious Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., the second son of the Bush dynasty was painted as a nihilistic bully, a long-haired jock who cared nothing for politics, the Vietnam war, or getting good grades. According to recollections from his classmates, Jeb Bush just wanted to hit the hash pipe and rock out to Steppenwolf.
I rode two and a half hours through a snowstorm on December 29 to Pueblo, Colorado, to see the Westboro Baptist Church picket at two marijuana dispensaries. The hate group was in town to protest Pueblo County becoming one of the first in the state to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, inspiring 400 counter-protesters to come out in opposition.
The general sentiment among the pro-weed people was that if Westboro has become anti-pot, then full legalization must be around the corner. “They’re making disapproval of cannabis look silly, just like they did with being anti-gay,” said Kayvan Khalatbari, owner of Denver Relief Dispensary and Consulting, who was dressed as a chicken at the Marisol dispensary.
The bus shakes and bounces along a Denver street, carrying 45 souls in its belly, almost all of whom are smoking joints, drinking Tequila Zombies, eating chocolate-covered bananas and keeping an eye on the bearded man at the back of the bus, filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson. The Association’s “Never My Love” is playing on the stereo, which, along with the drinks and sweets, is a reference to Anderson’s latest film, Inherent Vice, which we will be treated to the Denver premier of later tonight. First, though, we are here to soak up the hospitality of our hosts, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, and gush over one of the greatest directors of our generation.
Following our state’s legalization of marijuana, Denver has become a destination point for Hollywood stars looking to host promotional parties for their films. Last December, cannabis-loving comedian Seth Rogen attempted to host a smoke-filled screening of his film The Interview in a Denver theater (this was before the Sony hack), but city officials intervened and no marijuana was consumed at the event. The Alamo Drafthouse would run into the same dilemma if they tried to allow cannabis consumption in their theaters, and that’s why we’re on a party bus.
“We found out this week that weed is still kinda illegal here,” Seth Rogen tells me, while pouring a straight-from-the-bottle shot of tequila into my mouth. Rogen is feeding booze to a small crowd of fans—who stand before him like baby birds waiting for their mama’s puked-up worm entrails—in the balcony of a Denver theater, essentially apologizing that he didn’t come through on his promise to get high with the crowd during an advance screening of his new film, The Interview, which is opening this Christmas.
The Cannabist 11/26/14
At a time when western society is becoming increasingly sensitive to appropriation of American Indian cultures in sports (Washington Redskins) and pop music (Flaming Lips), and eagerly cries foul at any white person costumed as a foreign minority, we are still living in a minstrel-show culture when it comes to the “No problem, mon” depiction of Rastafarians. Ironically, this gap in the PC protocol is an extension of the most successful tool white colonists have used to subjugate black people in both the U.S. and Jamaica’s post-slavery societies: Anti-marijuana propaganda.
The same campaigns that have convinced society that potheads can’t be taken seriously have also led the world to believe that Rastafari is not a real religion, and therefore undeserving of the same reverence and respect we give to other beliefs and traditions.
The Cannabist 11/13/14
With the holiday season upon us, many of us red-eyed connoisseurs of cannabis will be flying home to families that perhaps don’t share the same views on pot that we do. In years past you may have snuck a few joints into your checked-bag (or paid double from a high school buddy still slinging dime-bags in your hometown) and secretly toked in your childhood bedroom, using the core of a toilet paper roll stuffed with dryer sheets to mask the smell.
But isn’t this getting a bit old? After all, you’re an adult now, and this is 2014: Getting high is no longer anything to be ashamed of.
Isn’t it about time you came out to your parents as a pot smoker?
With some variation, this has been the introductory line or segue of almost every touring comedian I’ve seen in Denver over the last year. Sometimes this leads them into a hilarious bit filled with wisdom and color and authentic misdirection — but most of the time it’s just an I-was-so-stoned-when-I-shouldn’t-have-been yarn involving junk-food and a cop. Maybe this is just the case in Colorado, but it feels to me like marijuana jokes are slowly becoming the airplane-food humor of today’s comedy: We’ve heard a lot of these jokes, so this one better be good.
I’m not sure if the fact that I smoke a lot of pot makes me more or less likely to be annoyed with cannabis comedy. When it’s good, there’s nothing better. Whether it’s Bill Hicks theorizing that “to make marijuana against the law is to believe God made a mistake,” or Bill Cosby walking us through coughing/laughing/paranoia misery of being high, the subject is a fertile landscape of punchlines and characters. But with those two examples, the comics took very well-tread subjects (legalization; mocking stoned behavior) and moved them somewhere fresh. Unfortunately, this is rare in today’s comedy.
“Would you like a bowl or a one-hitter?” a very nice lady asks me at 7 am, as I check in at the press table of the swanky Westin Denver Downtown Hotel. I select the bowl, and the woman places a frosted marijuana pipe into a tote bag reading “First Annual Weedstock Conference.”
Despite the title and the promotional paraphernalia, no marijuana is being smoked at this conference. I bet that exceptionally few attendees even smoke cannabis. We are gathered here to celebrate the wonders of a different green substance: money.
In his new memoir, Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life, novelist Tom Robbins writes, “Not one word of my oeuvre, not one, has been written while in an artificially altered state. Unlike many authors, I don’t even drink coffee when I write. No coffee, no cola, no cigarettes.”
Despite being hailed as the man who introduced hippies to literature—this ginger-journalist who refers to his first LSD trip as “the most important day of my life,” the correspondent of the kaleidoscopic who gives his books such vivid titles as Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas and Wild Ducks Flying Backward—it came as no surprise to me that Tom Robbins has been as sober as baby Jesus while writing his stories.
Comedians like Doug Benson and Stephen Colbert have been getting a lot of joke-mileage out of Colorado’s legalization of marijuana last January. Though after Maureen Dowd wrote about being “curled up in a hallucinatory state for eight hours” in a Denver hotel room after carelessly ingesting too much edible cannabis, Bill Maher editorialized that Colorado “must realize that they are the Jackie Robinson of marijuana legislation,” and that residents “have to get this right, or else you’ll ruin it for everybody.”
The definition of what “getting this right” means is being played out in the Denver comedy scene, where marijuana has become more than just a cultural glue between comics and comedy fans, but an economic steroid that has propelled the burgeoning standup community to new levels of ambition and national attention.
Colorado Public Radio 2/24/14
Marijuana has long had a close relationship to art. From William Burroughs to Bob Dylan to Steve Jobs, pot’s sticky fingerprints can be found throughout the history of creative landmarks. And now that pot is legal in the state of Colorado, it only makes sense that we’re beginning to see entrepreneurs capitalizing on the cannabis-creativity connection.
“Everyone is here to meet other people, smoke a little weed and paint,” Heidi Keyes, the creator of Puff, Pass & Paint, a pot-friendly version of the popular canvas-and-cocktails classes, says. “You can feel you’re amongst friends even if you’ve never met anyone here before.”
Mason Tvert, featured in the following wide-ranging Q&A, has played a key role in Colorado’s legalization of marijuana since 2005. Beginning with pro-pot campaigns at Colorado State University and the University of Colorado, Tvert and his SAFER organization advocated for statewide recreational marijuana legalization for eight years, working step by step on MMJ initiatives and then decriminalization on city and state levels until Amendment 64 passed in November 2012.
Now communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, Tvert has begun work on vaporizing marijuana laws outside of Colorado. Before states like Alaska and California steal him away from us, we sat down with Tvert to get his take on the black market, contact highs, smoking in public, and why he feels it’s too early to tell what the legal weed world is going to look like.
Due to its notorious status, marijuana has often been left behind as science moves forward with the study of botany. But much of that has changed with the passage of Amendment 64. “Despite the fact that cannabis is one of the most valuable and historically important crop species, we know comparatively little about the plant,” says Nolan Kane, a member of the University of Colorado Boulder’s department of ecology and evolutionary biology, who is heading up the Cannabis Genome Research Initiative.
With this project, Kane intends to map the marijuana genome, creating a more sophisticated knowledge of its DNA makeup and history — a treatment that other plants like corn and soybeans have enjoyed for a few years.
In late December, right before marijuana made its loud and proud entrance into the Colorado retail economy, I walked down to Civic Center Park to see if you could still buy a nickel bag off a stranger, as I did when I first moved to town a decade ago. I was not surprised to find that you could — and was equally unshocked last week when I returned to the park and found the black market just as busy…if not more so. There were a few key differences between my pot purchase in Civic Center in late December and my post-legalization trip there last week, though.
Despite the snow, the holiday and the long lines, 3D Cannabis Center was abuzz with excitement yesterday morning with the start of recreational marijuana sales. Attempting to navigate both the media’s hungry demand for more information on this historic event and the public’s hungry demand for their first purchase of state government-approved marijuana, 3D hosted a press conference at 7:30 a.m. with those behind the A-64 campaign, followed by a strobe-light frenzy of camera flashes for what was presented as “the first sale in Colorado.”
When I first moved to Denver in 2004, I had a very difficult time locating pot. I spent a lot of time at galleries, concert venues and taverns like Gabors and Bar Bar, asking everyone I met where I could find “some grass” (as an ignorant farm boy, I still spoke like a hippie from Dragnet), and getting a baffled shrug from just about everyone I encountered. Either it wasn’t as popular then…or no one trusted me. Then one night at the DIY space Monkey Mania, I was told I could just go down to Civic Center Park and someone would happily sell me what I needed. This was a disturbing prospect for an ignorant, ex-evangelical kid who thought Denver was just as dangerous as South Central L.A. But I did it, and continued to buy there until I got a dealer — like a civilized human being.
And now — one decade and several pieces of legislation later — I am returning to Civic Center Park, looking to see if you can still pick up a dime of schwag, all the while craning your neck to look out for the po-po while a thug with bad cornrows sprinkles his musty dust into your outstretched palm.
Second only to “Mile High City,” the title of John Denver’s folksy classic “Rocky Mountain High” is the pun we’re seeing the most lately in reporting about our state’s legal weed. For the most part, Colorado has always been particularly proud of the anthem that celebrates our most treasured feature, so much so that we made it our second state song in 2007. And while legalized marijuana is slowly becoming a tourist attraction to rival our beloved Rocky Mountains, when John Denver wrote the lyrics “friends around the campfire and everybody’s high,” was he celebrating the plant that would give our state a new identity thirty years later?
Sorry to disappoint, but the answer is no, at least according to the songwriter himself. Just as the “Rocky Mountain High” lyric “fire in the sky” is not about an alien abduction, and “Why they try to tear the mountains down . . . more scars upon the land,” was not about fracking, the double entendre about being high had nothing to do with cannabis, but about the organic elation that can be found in camping outdoors.