ANSLINGER MADNESS!

80 years ago, Harry J. Anslinger engineered America’s marijuana prohibition. Noted authors – and a distant relative – weigh-in on his reefer madness legacy.

By Gregory Daurer

 

Eighty years ago this October, the very first convictions under America’s brand-new, federal law against marijuana took place in Denver, Colorado. On October 8, 1937, a week after the law went into effect, Judge J. Foster Symes sentenced two men to federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas: Samuel R. Caldwell, 58, received four years for dealing the drug and Moses Baca, 26, got 18 months for possession. Allegedly, Baca had tried to kill his wife while under the influence.

“I consider marijuana the worst of all narcotics — far worse than the use of morphine or cocaine,” said Judge Symes, as noted within the Denver Post. “Under the influence men become beasts, just as was the case with Baca.”

Sitting in the courtroom that day as a spectator was the very man who had urged Congress to prohibit marijuana, through his testimony accusing marijuana of leading to ghastly crimes: Harry J. Anslinger, who was appointed the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1930.

Anslinger chimed in to the Post, “Marijuana has become [the country’s] greatest problem …We, too, consider marijuana the worst of all narcotics.” Quite a stretch but, after all, this was the same man who had authored the propagandistic article about marijuana entitled “Assassin of Youth.”

Within Anslinger’s reefer madness horror show, marijuana was so scary that if Frankenstein came face to face with it “he would drop dead of fright.” Anslinger was especially fond of telling the story of a young man in Tampa who had killed his family with an axe, while supposedly under the influence of marijuana. And he publicized racist quotes from the likes of newspaper editor Floyd Baskette of Alamosa, Colorado: “I wish I could show you what a small marihuana cigaret [sic] can do to one of our degenerate Spanish-speaking residents … who are low mentally because of social and racial conditions.”

Larry “Ratso” Sloman, whose book “Reefer Madness: The History of Marijuana in America” was first published in 1979, weighs in anew on his onetime research subject: “Ah, old Harry. He was one of the first purveyors of ‘fake news’ when he developed a gore file and publicized inaccurate stories that ‘chronicled’ horrific crimes due to the pernicious influence of reefer. He was a racist and a misanthrope and demonized Mexican and black users of Maryjane. And, ironically, he wasn’t even a true believer — his ‘moral’ diatribes against weed came from a totally cynical position of self-interest. He was a consummate bureaucrat who modified his Bureau of Narcotic’s message about marijuana (and other drugs) when it suited his needs and enhanced his operating budget. In the end he was a wannabe J. Edgar Hoover who made a lot of peoples’ lives miserable.”

(Sloman, for whom Anslinger remains a contemptible figure, knows about larger-than-life characters: The former High Times editor has written about traveling on the road with Bob Dylan, co-authored autobiographies of Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and boxer Mike Tyson, and crafted song lyrics for John Cale and Rick Derringer.)

Whether or not Anslinger was a true believer; whether he campaigned to make marijuana illegal in order to prop up his agency or in order to surreptitiously make hemp illegal on behalf of competing industrial interests (as has been alleged by the late author Jack Herer in his book “The Emperor Wears No Clothes”) — or both; whether he held virulently racist views — all continue to be the subject of discussion.

Anslinger is reviled by many: One YouTube video depicts an individual urinating and defecating on his simple, flat gravestone, located in Pennsylvania.

But he’s still celebrated by the likes of Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, whose contempt citation involving racial targeting was recently pardoned by President Donald Trump. Arpaio, a former agent with the Federal Bureau of Narcotics under Anslinger, told author Johann Hari, “When you go back to Anslinger — you got a good guy here!” (Over the years, Hari and other authors have explored what they consider to be Anslinger’s racist underpinnings, in addition to wrongheaded policies.)

But there’s also one Denver woman who celebrates Anslinger’s spirit, even though she’s ashamed of what he did to institute marijuana prohibition. She cheerily refers to him as her “Uncle Harry.”

 


 

In one of his books, Anslinger describes a formative experience that led to his prohibitionist thinking. When Harry was 12, he was visiting a neighboring farmer. The farmer’s bedridden wife began howling in pain. The farmer urged Harry to drive a team of horses to a drug store to pick up a medicine. When the husband administered the drug to his wife, she immediately stopped her wailing. Anslinger writes, “I never forgot those screams. Nor did I forget that the morphine she required was sold to a twelve-year-old boy, no questions asked.” (Despite being readily available, presumably Anslinger never availed himself of any morphine as a youth. Which makes one question whether prohibition is in fact what keeps young people off of harmful substances, rather than, for instance, education or common sense.)

As a young adult, Anslinger began working as an investigator on the Pennsylvania Railroad, rooting out fraud.

Then, employed by the Treasury Department, Anslinger fought bootleggers during alcohol prohibition. Later, he changed his tune on the wisdom of those policies: “The law must fit the facts. Prohibition will never succeed through the promulgation of a mere law observance program if the American people regard it as obnoxious.” In his senior years, one of his co-authors noted that Anslinger enjoyed a “good martini.”

 

 

Anslinger lasted 32 years in his position of power, working for both Republican and Democratic administrations, and through challenges to his position. Early in his career, he got into hot water by referring, within an official government document, to an informant as a “ginger-colored n—-r.” Despite a US senator from Anslinger’s home state of Pennsylvania screaming for his removal, the commissioner kept his job. Over the years he was supported by a variety of civic groups, as well as pharmaceutical companies to which he granted the sole rights to manufacture narcotics.

One of his most noted — and controversial — achievements was ushering in marijuana prohibition via the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. (Although the act was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1969, cannabis was quickly made illegal again during Nixon’s War on Drugs.)

It’s safe to say that Anslinger prevented research into medical cannabis, and saw that it was removed from the nation’s pharmacopeia, during his 30-plus year career. “It is too unpredictable to be a good servant of medicine,” claimed Anslinger. However, that doesn’t mean that he was against all types of marijuana research: During WWII, Anslinger, closely tied to intelligence agencies, allowed his agents to dose unsuspecting subjects, in order to find out whether a super-potent form of cannabis could be used as a truth serum, something that might possibly loosen the lips of enemy spies.

He authored two books after his retirement, “The Protectors” and “The Murderers”. In the latter, Anslinger wrote, “From the start I have thrown the full efforts of the Bureau not against minor characters trapped in their weakness and despair but against the sources — major violators, the big hoods, the top-drawer importers and wholesalers in the international traffic and on the national syndicated crime scene.”

Yet despite claiming to only be targeting big-time traffickers, his agency spied-on, harassed and incarcerated petty users — among them noted musicians, actors, and athletes. In his book Chasing the Scream, author Johann Hari documents how Anslinger’s agents hounded the great jazz singer and heroin addict Billie Holiday to her death — quite literally, on her death bed. Yet Anslinger let a white socialite, who was addicted to a narcotic, off the hook because she came from, as he wrote, “one of the nation’s most honored families.”

The commissioner wasn’t just publicly incensed about people using dope, he received publicity for his agency’s campaign against the doping of racehorses, as well.

Whether traffickers targeted two-legged or four-legged users, Anslinger faced off against them. Anslinger detailed his agency’s battles against the Italian mafia, which the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover refused to acknowledge even existed. But changing political times led to shifting targets: First he stated that the major drug runners were Italians, then during World War II they were agents of Imperial Japan, and then during the Cold War they were the Red Chinese — a charge that many international diplomats found laughable.

Did marijuana users graduate to heroin? Not on your life, he testified in the ’30s. But, within 15 years, Anslinger changed his tune on that, endorsing what’s been called the “gateway” hypothesis.

Whether or not one relatively benign substance actually led to the more dangerous one, Anslinger made sure that marijuana users and dealers received the same mandatory minimum penalties as users and sellers of heroin, through his support of the Boggs Act in 1951.

Anslinger died in 1975. Towards the end of his life he was on drugs himself; due to a weakened heart, he was medicated with morphine (the same drug that had had eased the screams of that farmer’s wife when he was 12, as “Chasing the Scream” author Hari has noted). 

Even after his death, his legacy of prohibitionist drug policies lives on globally.

Have you heard of the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which still remain in place, making it legally difficult for any country to enact sensible drug policies?

For that, you can thank Harry J. Anslinger, who was a major arm-twisting lobbyist on its behalf.

 


 

Like Larry “Ratso” Sloman, author Alexandra Chasin also sees contemporary parallels to Anslinger and his policies.

Chasin says, “I think [US Attorney General] Jeff Sessions is the re-animation of Harry Anslinger, because he has the same kind of Manichean world view that is very black and white, in which everything related to black market drugs is bad and in which, in particular, the black market in drugs is populated by people of color, people coming across borders.”

Chasin — a literary studies professor, self-described on her website as a “language engineer, revisionist writer, and cultural worker” — is the author of the book “Assassin of Youth: A Kaleidoscopic History of Harry J. Anslinger’s War on Drugs”. Within it, she points out how America’s drug war — which Anslinger was largely responsible for — overwhelmingly targets people of color. Chasin writes, “Rather than solving social problems, drug policy and law have, in effect, constructed criminality along identity lines, turning a criminal justice system into an administrative mechanism for racist and classist social control.”

So were Anslinger’s policies driven by racist beliefs he personally held?

Whether consciously or unconsciously, Chasin believes they were: from Anslinger collecting press clippings in his “gore file” documenting crimes supposedly committed by African-Americans and Latinos under the influence of cannabis to his bureau’s harassment of African-American jazz singer Billie Holiday, as but two examples.

In his later writing, Anslinger would say that his bureau had hired more individuals of different racial and ethnic backgrounds than any other federal agency, and that although there were, for instance, Italian or African-American individuals involved in notorious crimes, those ethnic or racial groups included good, honest people. Chasin believes that was Anslinger changing his style to fit the times, couching his animus. “[He was] looking to present a different persona,” says Chasin.

According to Chasin, Anslinger believed that immigrants and people of color were using drugs to destroy the fabric “of what he imagined to be an intact, white, homogenous society” — with marijuana being a particular weapon of choice.

Asked if there’s anything about Harry J. Anslinger that she admires, Chasin takes a long pause to mull that question over.

Ultimately, her answer is no: “I would say that he’s not really a figure that I admire.”

 


 

Mary Carniglia sees something to admire in Harry J. Anslinger:  “I’ve got a feeling that he was a stand-up guy. That he was a man of the people. That he was really somebody to be reckoned with. He could be intimidating, physically and energy-wise, because he knew he was standing up for what was right.”

But that doesn’t mean that Carniglia approves of the federal prohibition against marijuana, which Anslinger championed.

“I’m just a huge weed snob,” she says. “Golden Goat is my favorite.”

Carniglia’s not just a “weed snob,” she’s related to Harry J. Anslinger. Harry’s older brother, Robert Jr., was Carniglia’s great-grandfather; her mother was an Anslinger. Mary was about three years old when Harry died in 1975, and she thinks there might still be a family photo somewhere of him holding her as a baby. She refers to the onetime commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics as “Uncle Harry.”

Carniglia says she was smoking a joint with a cousin when she learned about her late relative’s historical ties to marijuana prohibition.

“You know the reason this is illegal is because of Uncle Harry,” her cousin informed her.

“What are you talking about?!” asked Carniglia. “Uncle Harry?!”

Carniglia admits, “It was pretty crummy to find out that [cannabis] was illegal because of the bullhorn of my uncle. That’s embarrassing.”

She speculates, “I think he really felt like he was doing something that was going to keep people safe, somehow. People always say racism, and I can’t believe that … I didn’t get that growing up from any of my family.”

Unlike authors Sloman, Hari, and Chasin — who in no way suggest that marijuana prohibition was tied to hemp’s competition with synthetics or with timber interests — Carniglia does believe there was a conspiracy involving hemp, just like Jack Herer alleges in his book. She says, “And the only thing I know [Harry J. Anslinger] waffled on was the whole hemp thing, because he didn’t want anything to do with getting rid of hemp. He thought that was a ridiculous idea. They told him, ‘You have to!’”

Who told him that?

“Well, the people with the money. The people that gave him the job. The people that were telling him what his directives were.”

Would that have been the head of the Treasury Department, Andrew Mellon, who it’s said was related by marriage to Anslinger, and one of the reasons Anslinger got his job? (Contrary to what’s been written in several books, Carniglia adamantly disputes there was ever any family connection between Mellon and Anslinger.)

“It may have been,” she replies, before conspiratorially adding, “But I feel like it was Rockefeller.”

One thing Carniglia knows for certain is that the Anslingers never had much money. Harry J. Anslinger spent his last days in a modest house he’d purchased in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania.

From the Great Beyond, Carniglia envisions her uncle letting out a huge sigh over the “global impact of not just cannabis being taken out of medicine but of hemp being taken out of the world … All his work his whole life had been for nothing. I felt his deflated spirit.”

Carniglia, who grew up in California and New Mexico, moved from the East Coast to Colorado in 2014 in order to get a job in the cannabis industry. She presently works at an office which connects patients seeking medical marijuana recommendations with a doctor. Carniglia often fields calls from sick and dying people, their relatives and parents of ill children who inquire about relocating to Colorado. She gives them information, advice and, perhaps, even hope.

Carniglia says she personally uses cannabis to treat PTSD, and she’s personally experienced how the war on drugs adversely affects people: Carniglia says she once found herself in a compromising position with a police officer who agreed to accept the $80 bribe she discreetly offered in place of charging her with possession of a small amount of marijuana, rather than insisting on any sexual favors from her.

As for her Uncle Harry’s legacy — being the man who engineered federal marijuana prohibition 80 years ago — she expresses a desire to help right the policies he brought about.

Carniglia says, “I feel a moral obligation to unscrew-up what he screwed-up.” ♦

The Legend of 420: Denver’s Hollyweed Premiere Event

photos and article by Ben Owens

Times are changing, especially in areas with legal cannabis. The world premiere of the documentary, “The Legend of 420” came to Colorado — affectionately referred to as #Hollyweed — on the last day of September, 2017. Produced and directed by Peter Spirer, the movie features stories from prominent cannabis activists and celebrities. Spirer, who was nominated for an Academy Award for the documentary “Blood Ties,” showcases the changing views on cannabis through interviews with Tommy Chong, Melissa Etheridge, Michael Des Barres, “Bong Appetite” host Abdullah Saeed, activist Amy Dawn-Hilterbran, and many more. Millennium Grown hosted the premiere to an RSVP-only crowd at Denver’s Cultivated Synergy.

Attendees gathered outside begging around 4:20 p.m. and were greeted, ID’d and given wristbands that provided access to an on-site consumption bus, an empanada food truck, as well as the main event. The screening began a couple of hours later, giving guests a chance to meet and greet with many of the featured interviewees. Hosts Sean Savoy and Stevie Kaye dressed to impress, in cannabis attire fit for the formal “green carpet” event. The event was a definitive nod to the film industry and high class premieres with a Colorado cannabis twist. “It was such an incredible world premiere event. Truly, Denver is Hollyweed now,” Hilterbran remarked.

Event host Amy Dawn-Hilterbran speaking with chef Jarod Farina, photo by Ben Owens @cannabenoid

Following the screening at Cultivated Synergy, select guests were invited to a private afterparty at Herban Space, above the Herban Underground. There, they enjoyed conversation, a green room, and infused food and drink offerings. High Times cannabis chef Jarod Farina offered infused appetizers and small plates throughout the evening, including bruschetta with infused balsamic vinaigrette on toast, infused sweet and sour pineapple chicken bites, and infused teriyaki tri tip with pureed mashed potatoes served on crackers. Additionally, Andrew Mieure of Top Shelf Budtending crafted cannabis-infused mocktails such as the “canna caramel apple” drink, which is made by mixing organic apple cider, cinnamon, and caramel with Stillwater’s water-soluble Ripple THC, and features a  rim coated in a caramel, brown sugar mixture and lightly accented by Moonshine Haze terpenes from 14er Boulder. 

Thanks to the likes of Johnny Magar, professional joint roller, many in attendance were privileged to smoke a stack of $100 bills — or at least a lookalike stack of bills. Magar brought multiple creative rollings, including a gold-coated necktie blunt that he wore all evening. Hilterbran was very proud of everyone involved, including the people who attended the premiere. “Working with such amazing people … it was absolutely a dream for me. But it was the 420 people watching that world premiere, surrounded by glitz, glam and the freedom to consume — cheering, sometimes crying … I knew right then, we had accomplished something substantial. I couldn’t be more proud, and certainly couldn’t have done it without my team.”

Abdullah Saeed and Jake Brown, photo by Ben Owens @cannabenoid

Another notable attendee, Bobby West, commonly known as Uncle Stoner from his videos and USA Squash Off competitions, was very impressed with the event and movie. “A legendary evening filled with cannabis education and friends … I’m looking forward to part two,” West fondly summarized.

After a night of many laughs, ashtrays full of artistic blunts and joints, and plenty of dabs, the evening was a big success both for those involved as well as the cannabis community at large. Events like these showcase the professionalism and perseverance that are so prevalent in Colorado’s cannabis industry and the national cannabis industry at large. The documentary is a must-see and is available on iTunes and Amazon Video. Fire up your favorite cannabis device, and enjoy “The Legend of 420” with a few buds. ♦

 

Fluff, Fluff, Pass: Review of ‘Disjointed’

by Amanda Pampuro

 

Don’t get me wrong, pizza rolls will always have a special place in my heart right next to the TV show “Recess” and tie-dyed 8-ball Pogs. If you’re a Denverite,you know what I’m talking about — the giant pizza rolls were screened on the commuter rail and RTD buses with slogans like “better when baked” and “it’s high time for pizza rolls.” I’m sure dozens of other “hip” frozen food companies are re-evaluating marketing strategies in other legal states as I write this, because those dumb stoned kids sure are suckers, right?

Ask anyone in the industry and they’ll tell you one of the greatest challenges is fighting drug war era stereotypes that paint the cannabis consumer as a patchouli-scented couch potato incapable of feeding himself. In this vein, the first season of Netflix’s 2017 stoner comedy show “Disjointed” blows smoke and ogles the animals in the zoo.

Following the passage of Prop 64, “Disjointed” imagines what recreational cannabis will look like in California as lifelong activist Ruth Whitefeather Feldman (Kathy Bates) opens her own strip mall dispensary. The store is managed by Ruth’s son Travis (Aaron Moten) fresh from an MBA program and is populated by LA misfits. Playing the role of Mr. N.I.M.B.Y. is black-belt Tae-Kwon-Doug (Michael Trucco), and Tara Sands makes an appearance as an overtly desperate housewife.

In between strange encounters over the counter and awkwardly placed vlogs, the show addresses questions everyone in the industry is asking — what does it mean to sell out? How do you bridge generational gaps? How much is too much? How do you “come out” to a family member? Is there a middle ground for prohibitionists and stoners?

Instead of being the subject of contemplation however, these questions are mainly set ups for flat punch lines. When one considers the legacy of the show’s creator, sitcom king pin Chuck Lorre, it isn’t all that shocking that Disjointed is offensive in all the same ways as “The Big Bang Theory”.

The show isn’t an entire flop — just the live actions parts. Each episode features a psychedelic representation of a PTSD episode animated  through the eyes of Carter (Tone Bell), a veteran suffering the condition. According to Stash Media, Dave Hughes, creator of Adult Swim’s “Off the Air,” gathered a dozen different animators to create ten pieces of visual mastery. In one scene, Carter has a flashback as he opens the fridge and ends up imagining stop motion bacon and eggs battle over a chocolate cake. In another episode, Carter’s psychologist asks him how he’s been doing, and the screen dissolves into visions of all the things he is unable to put into words.

The generation of legal weed needs its own manifesto to stand by, but “Disjointed” is not it. It is far away from the freedom of “On the Road” (1957) and too campy to be “Fear and Loathing” (1971). It lacks the simplicity of “Dude Where’s My Car” (2000), and the coming of age honesty of “Dazed and Confused” (1993). Even “Wilfred” (2014) managed to incorporate cannabis as a central component without letting it overpower the plot.

If “Disjointed” ran on cable TV, the laugh track and cut scenes would be status quo, but because it came with that red and white stamp, I had pretty high expectations. Between “Orange is the New Black” (2013-present) and “Making a Murderer” (2015), Netflix has proven it can produce content that is equal parts entertaining and critical of the institutions it examines. Unfortunately, “Disjointed” is an exception to the rule. Instead of satisfying my hunger for honest content portraying the highs and lows of a budding industry, the series burnt my palate like a plate of pizza rolls eaten too soon out of the microwave. ♦

Freshly Squeezed: The Story of Lyons Glass

by Samuel Farley @THC_Samuel

 

Lyons Orange Juicer, photo by Scott Southern, @Boro.Vision

Sam Lyons, better known as Lyons Glass, grew up in a relaxed Vermont household surrounded by a cannabis friendly circle. He was introduced to cannabis by his older sister at the age of 15, around the same time he was introduced to glass blowing. Their father had rented out space on their property to a young couple who happened to be glass artists and he would sometimes watch them work. Almost immediately, he decided that he wanted to be a pipe maker. Sam’s mother was an artist and encouraged his artistic exploration despite his lack of knowledge about the glass world beforehand, and she paid for his first glass blowing class at Snow Farm, an art school in northern Massachusetts. As a naïve 10th grader guided solely by the desire to make pipes, he didn’t yet understand the difference between lamp working (the process of making pipes over a torch) and glassblowing (hot shop, soft glass manipulation in a kiln that includes large-scale, non-functional work like vases, plates and more old-school Italian style glass art.)

At 16, he took a class led by artist Peter Muller, who is now well known in the glass circuit for his VooDoo Doll work. The class was a traditional art class and was not geared specifically toward learning how to craft pipes. “I was bummed because I wanted to make pipes and Peter got that, he must have thought, ‘This young little stoner must have signed up for the wrong class.’ It was a four-day course, it was a place where we could spend the week and take the full class. I actually still have some of the work I made at that first class. Peter had this cool assistant and on the final day without anyone else knowing Peter and his assistant said that when the other students had left that they would teach me how to make something that rhymes with wrong, and I busted out with a giant smile because he was going to teach me how to make a pipe,” recalls Lyons with a smile. At the end of that session, they had made a basic tube that Lyons smoked out of with Muller’s assistant.

During that period, he also met artist Joe Peters who was making pendants at the time.

Shortly after completing the class, his mom helped him sign up for an art grant program and he was able to purchase his first torch, which he set up in his mom’s pottery studio. He had a basic top-loading kiln that only had three settings and he would bounce back and forth between two to dial in the correct temperature. “I mostly ended up just breaking things,” says Lyons. Eventually, he found a pair of local artists who were into bead making. They taught him how to make spoon bowls and some other basic skills, allowing him to start making actual functional pieces. “There was no understanding at all, I still remember those days,” Lyons reflects. “I would just pour glass and fill a tube and try to make a bong bigger than I could hold and I would look down and just have it cobweb thing you couldn’t even smoke out of.”

Lyons Glass x Darby Holms Collab, photo by Scott Southern, @Boro.Vision

As a high school student, Lyons wasn’t as focused on producing functional work, just dabbling in the basic skills with his home torch. “I was just messing around and I had the joy of learning. I wasn’t selling any pieces or anything, but sometimes I would try to make a pipe for a friend or something like that. I used to sell weed and at one point decided to really shift my focus from selling weed to blowing glass,” Lyons explains. He would take classes and watch live demos when he could, including one particular demonstration led by  Muller and  Peters, who were making a non-functional sculpture. To this day, Lyons recalls this demonstration fondly as a moment he recognizes as foundational in his passion for glass art.

After high school, he decided to invest in improving his prospects as a glass artist by signing up for college classes. Through a series of lucky events, he ended up being the last person, student number 23, to be allowed into a scientific glassblowing school program at Salem Community College in New Jersey, a school that specializes in scientific glassblowing. It was the first time he had glassblowing friends and people to bounce ideas off of. He flourished in the friendly environment.

“I really had the chance to learn any techniques I wanted from my teachers and had the chance to learn about the pipe scene from the other students, so it was the best of both worlds,” Lyons explains.

But that optimism turned sour during his last semester when his apartment was raided, and he was arrested on cannabis-related charges. The ordeal prompted him to drop out of the program. Although he didn’t graduate, he felt he had all of the knowledge necessary to pursue a career in glass blowing. He decided to move back to Vermont, where he built a studio in the same barn on his parents’ property where he first had been introduced to glass blowing as a teenager.

“I got really lucky with some of the people and the timing of when I met some people that really helped my career. While I was still in college my teacher took us to an unofficial field trip to a trade show and it was filled with work by Elbo, Slinger, Laceface and other incredible artists,” he says. A good friend of his was working as an assistant to Elbo at the time, and he propositioned the artist to hire Lyons when he was ready to move on.

At that trade show, Lyons witnessed the premier of “Degenerate Art,” the first film about the glass pipe industry put together by glass legend Slinger. “To see everyone’s reaction to the film and to see Slinger’s reaction to the film, it was palpable, I could feel how real it was and I had a good vantage point of my skill level at the time, (around 2011) and where I wanted to go. And it really motivated me in huge ways and I told myself I could make it in the pipe industry. I told myself I could get better and develop my art and really make a living making pipes,” says Lyons.

Lyons Glass x Darby Holms Collab, photo by Scott Southern, @Boro.Vision

But technical skill and passion isn’t enough to make a mark in the world of functional glass, and Lyons found himself listless in his early forays into the world of professional glass blowing.

“Before I discovered my citrus theme I had a hard time making things. I didn’t know what to make, I didn’t have any style yet, I had some skill but no style. I soaked up everything that happened and all of the experiences at school like a sponge and tried to learn as much as I could from my friends and teachers and stored it and got ready to apply it later,” he recalls of his early days.

During that time around 2012, Elbo moved back to Massachusetts, and Lyons made good on his earlier connection, becoming Elbo’s assistant. Lyons worked with Elbo for about a year making pickle pipes and other preparation work, providing him the opportunity to learn about the process of sculpting, themes and business. “Elbo taught me a lot about glass and a lot about the game, and would basically try to tell me to always keep going and keep hustling,” says Lyons.

After the yearlong apprenticeship, Elbo moved to Philadelphia, and Lyons was reintroduced to Peters. Peters and Lyons hit it off well and Lyons started working for him, a jump Lyons still recognizes as very lucky. “I was absolutely pumped and I was very fortunate to have things happen the way they did. I definitely consider myself blessed, I was more of a craftsman before the process of being able to work with other artists and through that process I found myself as an artist,” he explains.

During the summer of 2013, Peters taught Lyons everything he knew about working with color, and in 2015, Lyons followed him to Colorado, where Peters founded Dreamlab Glass. “The first year of working for Joe was slow and really revolved around my strengths. And as time went on, I began to help out with millies and that’s when I really started to learn how to make millies, and had the chance to go through the wins and mistakes and see his process. I got my juice concept from watching Joe work on his honeycombs. I actually offered the idea to Joe first when I first thought of the idea and Joe told me to go for it and pursue the idea as my own and I began developing the citrus theme and style,” says Lyons. “Citrus became my thing, and it lines up with the colors I love and the weed I like to smoke and a huge tip of the hat to Joe Peters for teaching me the things he did.”

Soon, Lyons had found his signature. “When I figured out the juicer it became my tube shape that developed after stopping my work with Joe and Dreamlab around the summer of 2016. I really branched out on my own and continued to develop the juicer and I wanted to make something that was technical, functional and beautiful, so the juicer was something I really wanted to be my solo signature piece,” explains Lyons. “I think it combines all of my different backgrounds with everything I have learned from everyone while also developing new things on my own as I’ve gotten better as an artist.”

Currently, Lyons calls the Denver studio known as The Portal home, and he continues to be known for his citrus theme as well as for his juicer pieces. “In my career I’m excited to say that I’m finally feeling some stability within my business and work and trying to expand with new themes and new things within my work. And that is exciting to me; branching out and getting back to seeing what new ideas I can come up with,” says Lyons. “In terms of the industry, I am just excited to see it grow and see more studios pop up, see more cool glass community gatherings and everything happening in the industry. There’s some real weight and camaraderie within the movement and it’s cool — it’s global, it’s one big family.”

Work by Lyons Glass is available for viewing on his social media page and in person at Purple Haze in Denver and other galleries across Colorado. ♦

photo by Samuel Farley, @THC_Samuel

Absinthe, Cannabis and Prohibition: Is it the green thing?

by John Garvey

It’s enchanting—watching the green liquor cloud as ice melt drips into the glass. The spirit has a highly distinct, botanical flavor profile that a beer drinker may struggle to describe, but not to appreciate. Absinthe is, in a word, peculiar.

Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe the color green triggers some puritanical impulse, or the drink’s association with artists and oddballs claiming it’s a creative stimulant makes people in high places feel threatened. Whatever the case, the stigma against absinthe has outlasted its prohibition and the arguments behind it. The same can be said of another green substance that has often inspired art.

Some episodes in history read like pure satire. People with liberal views on cannabis take a curious delight in recounting prohibitionists’ more bizarre claims: “pot can make you gay,” the Gateway Theory, the looming stoned bunnies pandemic (remember that one?)—even the racist undertones (and overtones) of the war on drugs.

Absinthe and cannabis are comrades who long ago ran afoul of powerful interests and, to a lesser extent, the public. The historical parallels between the vilification of absinthe and that of cannabis are too many to count.

It’s almost too ludicrous to make you mad.

 

The Green Fairy descends upon hapless mortals

“Absinthe, like most botanical liqueurs , began as medicine,” notes Stephen Gould, proprietor of Golden Moon Distillery in Golden, CO.

The botanical trio that makes absinthe what it is — grand wormwood, sweet fennel and green anise — was first documented in an ancient Egyptian medical text called Eber’s Papyrus in 1550 B.C. The combination of herbs was believed to have medicinal qualities and was used for millennia. Absinthe as it is  known today, however, was first sold commercially in France and Switzerland around 1800.

In the 1840s, absinthe was marketed as an antimalarial for French troops campaigning in northern Africa. It quickly became popular back home. “People wanted to drink the drink of the troops,” explains Gould.

Gould is one of the world’s preeminent absinthe distillers and has an encyclopedic knowledge of the drink’s history. He’s taught absinthe production at the London Craft Distilling Expo, developed around a dozen absinthe formulas being used commercially, and won international recognition for his own product, REDUX.

“People regularly ask if all the bad things that they’ve heard about it are true,” he states. “And of course the answer is no. Most of them are propaganda. What is potentially unhealthy about absinthe is that it contains alcohol.”

As the spirit’s popularity grew, it became known colloquially as la fée verte (“the green fairy”). It would never overtake France’s wine culture, although by the turn of the 19th century it would be popular enough to be seen as a threat by the wine industry.

One thing that falls by the wayside in nearly every absinthe-related discussion is how palatable and versatile quality absinthe is. Gould points out that Harry Craddock’s esteemed Savoy Cocktail Book had 106 recipes with absinthe listed as an ingredient. It continued to be requested in highbrow lounges for decades after being banned in the U.S., and bartenders valued it for its flexibility.

As testimony to absinthe’s cultural relevance, the French happy hour in the late 19th and early 20th Century was dubbed l’heure verte—“the green hour.” Why was it absent from American and European bars for so long? What brought about its re-emergence?

 

A bartender in a Czech bar Absintherie in central Prague showing
absinthe drink preparation, photo by Roman Yanushevsky

 

Reefer Absinthe Madness: Absinthism

In France, absinthe had become a household name by the 1880s. Its cultural profile was growing, and with that, a backlash that seems unsurprising in hindsight.

“Absinthe makes one crazy and criminal, provokes epilepsy and tuberculosis, and has killed thousands of French people. It makes a ferocious beast of man, a martyr of woman, and a degenerate of the infant, it disorganizes and ruins the family and menaces the future of the country.” – Petition by the French Legue National Contre L’Alcoolisme, which gathered 400,000 signatures in 1907.

Grand wormwood, absinthe’s best known ingredient, contains the terpene thujone, which may trigger seizures. Thujone’s presence in the finished product was the main scientific and legal basis for banning absinthe. Only in the early 2000s was it proven that, legally speaking, absinthe contains less than 10 parts per million of it.

Dr. Valentin Magnan (“a pivotal figure in the historical classification of mental diseases”) conducted a series of animal experiments with alcohol, absinthe and wormwood. The methods wouldn’t have cleared the bar of modern scientific inquiry, but he concluded that absinthe caused problems distinct from those stemming from alcohol abuse. These included epileptic seizures, auditory and visual hallucinations and fits of violence. The disease absinthism, which may have been concocted by the French wine industry, now had apparent validation.

Magnan was an earnest researcher, but his biases are clear. In one critic’s words, “his effectiveness was limited by his preoccupation with the so-called ‘degeneration’ of the French race and by his unbending conviction that alcohol was the prime cause of most mental disorders.” Magnan deserves more respect than the crackpots that came up with the gateway theory of cannabis, but his conclusions about absinthe were alarmist and misplaced. Nonetheless, they offered convincing testimony against la fée verte.

At this point, however, absinthe was generating 50 million francs a year in tax revenue. Much for this reason, the French anti-absinthe movement floundered for several more years. Even after absinthe bans were passed in Belgium in 1905, Switzerland in 1910, the U.S. in 1912 and most other countries, it endured in France.

By 1914 the French authorities were getting skittish. Germany’s military might was building and the German birth rate was much higher than France’s, which had fallen in previous decades. France legitimately had an epidemic of alcoholism, but absinthe was singled out as uniquely dangerous. More than wine, more than beer, more even than other spirits, absinthe was believed to imperil France’s national defense. In the run up to WWI, generals used their enhanced wartime powers to ban absinthe in individual provinces like Nice. Finally, the minister of the interior, Louis Malvy, single-handedly forbade the sale of absinthe nationwide.

The Chamber of Deputies, in March 1915, voted overwhelmingly to ban the production, shipment and sale of absinthe. The law went into effect almost immediately. Absinthe wasn’t mourned long. More than 1.3 million Frenchmen, 1.8 million Germans and countless others died on battlefields in The War to End All Wars.

 

Absinthe and Cannabis

Racial and cultural biases played an important role in anti-absinthe sentiment. For instance, absinthe’s association with bohemian culture contributed to its vilification, much as the association between cannabis and jazz, Chicano, and subsequently hippie culture was used to frighten Americans regarding cannabis. Racism wasn’t front-and-center in the anti-absinthe movement as it was in anti-cannabis circles. (Harry Anslinger, the first head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, argued that “the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”) Still, anti-semitism played a role, according to the delightful book “Absinthe: History in a Bottle,” by Conrad Barnaby III.

Edouard Drumont, “the premier anti-Semitic intellectual of the day,” derided absinthe as a clandestine “tool of the Jews” in his newspaper La Libre Parole. Arthur and Edmond Veil-Picard, who were half-Jewish, had in 1906 purchased a controlling interest in the Pernod Fils Company. (Pernod Fils was the most popular brand of absinthe at the time and the benchmark others were judged by.)

Barnaby writes that “In 1898, absinthe and anti-Semitism met in a bizarre fashion — over an absinthe bottle. A lesser known manufacturer at Mondbeliard (in the Doubs Valley) labeled his bottles ‘Absinthe Anti-Juive’ (Anti-Jewish) with the sub-legend ‘France aux Francais’ (France for the French). Its success is undocumented, but the story indicates the factionalism and insecurity France suffered at the time.”

For better or worse, the pseudo-science outlasted those specific racial biases. Enduring perceptions that absinthe is a hallucinogen, an epileptic or otherwise scary continue to annoy bartenders and connoisseurs. “It just amazes me that hundred-plus-year-old propaganda is still being used to vilify a product that is actually really an amazing product,” says Gould.

It is puzzling how hell-bent people were on distinguishing absinthe from other alcoholic drinks in terms of its potential for harm. Many who didn’t necessarily identify with the temperance movement were virulently opposed to the green fairy. The lack of scientific validity, logic or intellectual honesty in their arguments can only be compared to the war on cannabis. Anti-absinthe and anti-“marihuana” propaganda posters even bear dated, stylistic similarities.

 

Debriefing (ooh la la!)

“The first stage is like ordinary drinking, the second when you begin to see monstrous and cruel things, but if you can persevere you will enter in upon the third stage where you see things that you want to see, wonderful curious things.” – Oscar Wilde, describing the effects of absinthe

Remarks like Wilde’s make it impossible to completely discount all of absinthe’s unusual properties, but were these the musings of artists in love with a trendy spirit or did they have substance? Did absinthe influence Van Gogh’s perception of color, play a role in catalyzing impressionism, inspire Paul Verlaine and Alfred de Musset to write poetry dripping with excellence?

Going by current evidence, absinthe’s effects are no more distinct from other spirits than beer’s effects are to wine or tequila. Perhaps the drink’s herbal backbone makes it a creative stimulant. But does tequila really make people belligerent or is that a self-fulfilling prophecy based on anecdotes and stereotypes?

At any rate, absinthe doesn’t make people hallucinate or have seizures. The best scientific and medical evidence used to vilify absinthe wouldn’t measure up to modern scientific methods.

Absinthe was legalized throughout the E.U. and U.S. in 2005 and 2007, respectively. Yet it still bears both a stigma and an allure stemming from a century-old propaganda campaign.

Much like Colorado’s finest. ♦

 

I am the Green Fairy

My robe is the color of despair

I have nothing in common with the fairies of the past

What I need is blood, red and hot, the palpitating flesh of my victims

Alone, I will kill France, the Present is dead, Vive the Future…

But me, I kill the future and in the family I destroy the love of country, courage, honor,

I am the purveyor of hell, penitentiaries, hospitals

Who am I finally? I am the instigator of crime

I am ruin and sorrow

I am shame

I am dishonor

I am death

I am absinthe

  • Poem taught to, and recited by, French schoolchildren, circa 1900.

Sesh in the Colors of Fall

by Maggie Jay

Watching summer leave and autumn arrive is such a great sight. Enjoying the foliage while smoking some foliage of your own is an incredible experience. There are places all over the U.S. that boast stunning fall colors, making for the perfect smoke sesh scene.

I’ll admit, I spark up anytime I feel inspired in nature, but I must point out that it is still illegal to consume cannabis on public land and even more illegal to do so on federal land. Maybe edibles are best for these places.

Here are some of the most beautiful places to enjoy fall in a few of the adult-use states here in the U.S.

 

View from Sheep Hill to Mt. Greylock Williamstown Massachusetts Photo by Len Radin

Sheep Hill. Williamstown, Massachusetts

Dairy farm, sheep farm, private ski area. Sheep Hill has been an array of things. Today, Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation runs and maintains Sheep Hill. The foundation has opened Sheep Hill, and many of its buildings, to the public. It sits on 50 acres of land and is open year-round. From atop the hill, you get an awe-inspiring view of the Greylock Range. Enjoy the variety of color Massachusetts has to offer in the fall. And, since this is not federally owned land, seshing here should be pretty safe. The land is open daily from dawn until dusk, and is available for hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, bird watching and more. On your way out, be sure to visit the nearby town of North Adams, named number one most stoned town in Massachusetts by roadsnacks.net. (Address: 671 Cold Spring Road Williamstown, MA 01267)

 

Table Rock at Grafton Notch State Park, Maine

Grafton Notch State Park. Bethel, Maine

Maine is famous for its fall foliage. There’s even an official website dedicated to the yearly wonder. This northeastern state legalized recreational marijuana last year, so this will be the first autumn of legal weed. Celebrate it at Grafton Notch State Park, listed on Travel and Leisure as one of the top places to see fall foliage in Maine. Frolic through over 3,000 acres of public land while taking in the array of color. Hiking trails are abundant and vary in difficulty. There are even some backcountry trails on the land. Being a state park means that the most you’ll be facing if caught smoking here would be a fine. Since there is so much space at this park, there are plenty of places to be alone. Just be aware of your surroundings when firing up. Look for cannabis friendly lodging and great restaurants up the road in Bethel.

 

Trees on South Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

The Showcase Trail at Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

The West Coast doesn’t fall short on the jaw-dropping colors. Just inland of the Oregon coast, much of the state is deciduous forest. The Showcase Trail, inside Silver Falls State Park, is a great intermediate hike. You may even be able to sneak in an autumn sesh on this over eight-mile trail. Throughout the hike you will view 10 waterfalls, some over 100 feet tall. Enjoy the changing leaves of the vine maple and red alder as you puff on some dank during this challenging hike.

 

Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Arnold, California

Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Arnold, California

Delight in the pinks, yellows and oranges floating against the backdrop of the blue sky while strolling through the cool autumn air in Northern California. Boasting trees over 33 feet in diameter, this is a must-see if you are visiting the NorCal area. For one of the best scenic hikes, take the Lava Bluffs Trail. Sesh to a stunning view of the North Fork of the river. Before heading to the car, be sure to visit the Pioneer Cabin tree. It’s big enough for you and a few friends to walk through together. What a trip!


There’s fall color in every state. Take a day and explore yours! Maybe you’ll find your new favorite sesh spot.

I Survived ARISE Music Festival

by Evan Hundhausen

 

The Arise Music Festival is in its fifth year. Held at the Sunrise Ranch conference and retreat center at the base of foothills in Loveland, Arise is an independent three-day music, yoga and co-creative camping festival featuring activism, musical artists, provocative films, dynamic speakers, art installations, yoga classes, workshops, performance art, and even an art gallery.

 

Solutions Village Tee-Pees set up near camping area.

Camping

I arrived on a Friday in an attempt to avoid the Thursday night (The Early Camping Upgrade) downpour. I played around with the poles on my $34.99 Walmart dome tent before realizing this might just be a two-man job. Since I showed up by myself,  meeting a friend later, I asked a neighbor if he could help me. He was nice enough to give me a hand and we got my tent upright when the worst rainstorm all weekend started.

“You’ll need to weigh it down,” said Rick, the nice man who helped me set up my tent, so I instinctively laid down inside of it with my arms and legs spread like “The Vitruvian Man” as the storm raged outside. A tent behind mine was flung into a ditch as the wind whipped. 

After that experience, I was ready to check out what Arise was all about.  It was my first time and I was way f-ing curious!

 

 

The NoCo Hemp Village

This year you could visit the NoCo Hemp Village sponsored by the NoCo Hemp Expo.

The village included hemp companies like, Colorado Hemp Company, Tree Free Hemp, EnerHealth, Pure Hemp Botanicals, H.O.P.E. Manufacturing, Nature’s Root, Straight Hemp, The Anti-Soap, Left Hand Hemp, and Freida Farms.

Zane Kunau from Freida Farms was there selling gear, like a grinder made from hemp and his CBD salves, oils, and isolates. 

I asked Zane how he handled the rainstorm on Friday, which dampened the festival just a bit.

“The rain storm came in like a thunder of stallions,” he said.  “Almost took our tents away.  We had to step on all our tents.  Then the lightning started. They told us we had to go to our cars. We had to pack up and go. It was havoc and as quick as it came, it went.  Thirty minutes later we were back out. Looked like a tornado hit our stuff though, for real!  Our stuff was just all over.”

 

Willow tree art installation

Art

The art of Android Jones and Phil Lewis were highlighted at the festival’s official entrance. Two intimidating, colorful towers covered in their art stood outside the main camping and parking area. Android Jones had some of his digital art videos playing.

Inside the festival there were tents with crafts, art prints and fashionable clothing to check out. Some featured $100 tapestries of original art, which was one of the hipper items I saw for sale.

Vincent Gordon and his tent caught my eye. A local “Pop” artist, his work is reminiscent of famous television cartoons with grotesque imagery, similar to that of artist R. Crumb.

There were a few great exhibits that can only be seen to be believed, such as a giant tree with stringy fabric falling from the top creating a sort of maze for attendees to walk through.

Many artists were out on the grass painting murals and on canvases with their easels.  They painted through the night, inspired by the musical acts. This was a really interesting part of the festival and way fun to observe.

There was also a large “art gallery” with prints and paintings for sale, creating a fun museum to walk through.

 

Music

Beats Antique, Lettuce, Atmosphere and Ani DiFranco were just some of the highlights of this year’s musical acts. Performances started around noon and ended at 2 a.m. so you could get some rest for the next day.

Brasstracks was a personal highlight — a funky act made up of Ivan Jackson and Conor Rayne. Ivan mixed electronic music on a laptop and played trumpet while Conor played live on a drum set.

Dirtwire was another performance I enjoyed. Described as a “rebirth of Americana music,” the band uses traditional instruments, world percussion and electronic beats, as well as more eclectic instruments like the thumb piano, mouth harp, and the saz.

Tipper played on the Main Stage Saturday night, accompanied by the digital videos of Android Jones. Otherwise, you could be dazzled by fire dancers.

Radio DJ Buddha Bomb, who you can hear regularly on KGNU 88.5 FM, played at all five Arise Music Festivals over the years, and about this year’s Arise he said, “It was the most scintillating and the most grounded Arise festival yet.”

 

The StarWater Stage

The StarWater Stage and tent was one of the best places to go during the deluge. It was an extravagant setup with a cozy cafe/coffee shop offering coffee, mate tea and other drinks, as well as a large music stage with constant musical acts and performances next door. During the first night I got some broth in a packet with hot water and drank it in a paper coffee cup. It was a great thing to have on the cold and rainy first night. 

 

For the kids

The Rainbow Lightning Children’s Village entertained kids all day long with music and kid friendly entertainment. 

Taylor Martin had a vision and saw a need for a children’s village at festivals like Arise.

Rob Treaphort, Taylor’s boyfriend and partner, does the technical side at Rainbow Lightning, setting up big speakers and a stage where all kinds of musical acts perform strictly to entertain the kids. Rob is also a conscious DJ and producer, and played at the StarWater Stage Tent during the weekend.

“Parents were getting all fucked up and losing their kids and there was no place for any of the kids to go,” Rob explained to me. “We’re here as a place for parents to interact with their kids in a festival type setting.”

In the future, the Rainbow Lightening Children’s Village will also be at the Shamanic Boom in Wyoming, the Jumpsuit Family Gathering and Unify Fest in New Mexico.

 

Hemptealicious set up in the NoCo Hemp Village

Yoga Sanctuary

The biggest and most popular tent by far was the Yoga Sanctuary. Every day you could see the crowd that formed up on the hill from the farthest reaches of the Arise camps. 

Hundreds of people crowded the tent, all performing yoga poses led by world-renowned yoga instructors. 

One of the most interesting exercises was a laughing exercise in which participants lay down resting their head on someone else’s belly. When you feel the other person laughing, their twitching stomach muscles — let’s just say it was contagious!

 

Talks

Throughout the festival, world thought leaders, artists and activists discussed a wide range of topics in the Big Sunrise Dome, which is Sunrise Ranch’s spacious, air-conditioned, dome theater. The dome also featured music, storytelling sessions and film

 

Good eats

The food trucks at Arise were extra special, providing all sorts of dishes from vegan dishes to Greek gyros to fried raviolis. There was nothing better than getting a New York style pizza slice with pepperoni at 2 a.m. I bought a homemade organic lemon, lavender and ginger popsicle. Try to imagine a refreshing ice cold dessert like that in your mouth on a hot day at Arise.

 

Mural by Artist @mpek36

Finding your friends

On Saturday I caught up with friend and artist Sofia Bogdanovich. She camped near the RV site and we met her nice neighbors from Omaha who let us sit under their awning as it started to rain. 

Under the awning we pulled out her canvases and started collaborating on a painting. When the rain finally cleared up there was a double rainbow across the cliffs of Sunrise Ranch.

 

The smell of patchouli and porta-potties

It seemed like every time I had to “go,” a truck drove up and started cleaning the portable bathrooms. They did a thorough job sanitizing them and getting rid of any foul smells. 

There was also a shower area where you could pay for a shower like you were at a bathhouse. For VIPs, there was a private shower, which was next to a small sauna, hot tub and a freezing swimming pool that was perfect for cooling off during the hot days or between rainstorms.

 

If you go next year

It’s easy to get sore walking around Arise, so make sure you’re prepared for some meandering. Make sure you’re prepared for temperamental Colorado weather, and be prepared to share the festival with revelers of all ages.

There are a lot of couples getting romantic, no doubt, but there are lots of single people, and you should not shy away from the festival  because you don’t have a date.  People are friendly when you talk to them and you can have plenty of fun there. 

Thievery Corporation has been announced as next year’s headliners, so remember to buy your tickets early, plus early birds will get them on the cheap. 


To learn all about the Arise Music Festival, check out arisefestival.com. 

 

Hazy 420 Future: Denver’s 4/20 Rally Faces Uncertainty

by Matthew Van Deventer, photo by Samuel Farley

The organizer for the Annual Denver 4/20 Rally largely blames big business and big government for prohibiting him from getting a permit for the event for three years, for which he had priority status, and fining him nearly $12,000.

“They want an organization that’s going to be about big business and big government at the same time. And so we’re not prepared or willing to rub arms with the mayor, the governor, or president or anybody unless they’re willing to have a civil engagement about equality,” says Miguel Lopez. Lopez has organized the 4/20 rally for the past nine years, since before there was a permit for the event. The cannabis industry was built on grassroots efforts, he says, which has opened the door to big business that can still serve as a source of racial disparities.

The day after the Denver 4/20 Rally in 2017, clean-up crews found Civic Center Park, where the rally is held every year, completely trashed. Media outlets were showing pictures of garbage strewn across the park, like someone had come through and ripped open the bags, scattering the contents everywhere, which is what Lopez, claimed had happened overnight.

Lopez told us that the company supplying the trash cans had dropped them off late so a lot of garbage went on the ground, which made the detail clean-up the following day after it rained overnight much more challenging. However, that was just one of the reasons the city shut him down.

Rally crews do an initial clean the day of the event and then they go back starting the following morning. The organizer claims to have spent over $2.2 million on clean-up efforts over the past eight years. They’ve been cleaning up the park by utilizing contractors, volunteers and even some of the homeless people who frequent the park.

“It’s not the event being penalized it’s the permit holder. There’s the misunderstanding that everyone thinks there’s not going to be another 4/20 event, but that’s not the case.”

“It not only lifts their morale, but it also gives them a sense of responsibility of taking care of their park, because for some it’s home,” explains Lopez who also says they leave the park cleaner
than other events.

About a month after the rally, Mayor Michael Hancock decreed that there would be a full-scale review of the procedures and policies of park permits to make sure they were compliant with the city’s Public Event Policy and Park Rules and Regulations.

Denver’s Department of Parks and Recreation, which issues park permits for events in Civic Center Park, stripped Lopez of his status. DPR in a statement said Lopez violated many policies attached to the permit like properly cleaning the park after the rally, noise ordinances, as well as safety and security protocols.

“We value our parks, especially Civic Center— it’s in the heart the of the city … there’s a lot of big events that are multi-day events that adhere to the policies set forth on the [permit]. So it’s not the event, it’s the permit holder, because we can’t discriminate against content of the event,” explains Cynthia Karvaski, a spokesperson for Denver Parks and Recreation. At least one local news outlets questioned DPR’s decisions; 9News asked them if they could get a permit for an orgy in the park.

Karvaski explains that they wouldn’t be able to issue a permit for an orgy, because that would be illegal. They could, however, issue a permit for something like a sex and orgy education event.

And then maybe they could get what they wanted, if laws weren’t enforced. Similarly, it is illegal to smoke weed in public and parks. It’s pretty well known that at the 4/20 rally a few people smoke cannabis. But there’s not enough resources to clamp down on it. So it happens.

Lopez has since filed for an appeal of the ruling. If it’s reversed, Lopez will be able to apply again in November.

Fear not, though, because if the ruling sticks, Karvaski says the event could still go on: “It’s not the event being penalized, it’s the permit holder. There’s the misunderstanding that everyone thinks there’s not going to be another 4/20 event, but that’s not the case.” ♦

The 2017 Cho-Case

photos and article by Samuel Farley

Calmbo x Alex Ubatuba Collab, photo by Samuel Farley

Light by JD Maplesden, photo by Samuel Farley

On July 18 in Denver, high-end food, glass art and music combined into one experience at Cho 77, a Southeast Asian restaurant in Denver. Put on by Purple Haze, the Cho-Case featured the culinary art of Chef Ryan Gorby alongside glass artists JD Maplesden, Alex Ubatuba and Calvin “Calmbo” Mickle, with music provided by Funkstatik. Featured artwork ranged from high-end pipes to light fixtures to a custom fumed glass sake set by JD Maplesden. A limited number of tickets were sold and the event remained small and lively, giving attendees a new way to experience music, food and glass artwork in the same setting. Emmanuel Doshi, the general manager of Purple Haze, relayed the motivation behind creating The Cho-case. “This event is really cool because we are collaborating with Cho 77 and creating something new,” said Doshi. “These artists are amazing. Not only can they create pipes, but they can also create other artwork that people would love to hang in their homes and treasure forever.” ♦

The 3rd Annual Ziggy’s Classic

photos and article by Samuel Farley

Carlos Ali of Ziggy’s Smoke Shop, photo by Samuel Farley

July Fourth is not only a celebration of American independence, but has also become time to celebrate some of the world’s best glass artists. This year marked the 3rd Annual Ziggy’s Classic, where 18 glass artists gathered at Classic 33 Studio in Huntington Beach, Calif. to create a collaboration epic in both size and detail. Brought together by Carlos Ali of Ziggy’s Smoke Shop, one of the best glass galleries in Southern California, and led by glass artist Adam Whobrey, better known as Hoobs Glass, the 18 artists collaborated in constructing a pirate ship that incorporated aspects of each of their individual styles. Construction began a week prior, with Hoobs and Hops Glass leading the efforts to construct the base frame of the giant pirate ship. The days following included a full studio with artists such as JOP, Rocko Glass, JD Maplesden, Nathan Miers and more, all adding different sections and characters to the mix. The final efforts were assembled in time for each artist to take a few dabs out of the epic collaboration prior to the crazy firework display by the beach at the day’s end. More artists will be involved next year as the collaboration and event continues to grow. ♦

Finished Ziggys Collab Ship, photo by Samuel Farley

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