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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Two Rallies, One Cup - by Citizen Jay

     You’d think it’d be the sights and sounds that draw the faithful to the annual High Times Cannabis Cup.  But it’s really the anticipation…

     For those who’ve never attended one, the buildup and hype associated with the annual smoking event is enough to generously stoke the fires of curiosity.  For decades, the High Times Cannabis Cup could only be attended by those with the means to get themselves to Amsterdam.  That’s a far cry for most Americans…and I’m not just talking about the distance.  So now that the Cup has come to the U.S., it is more accessible to everyone.  In fact, there are now several High Times Cannabis Cups that take place annually around the USA with more fated to appear as more States continue to turn pro.

      As always, the 4/20 holidayz brought the crews from High Times to Denver.  This was my third year attending the event, so I kinda knew what to expect.  But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have my own fair share of heated expectancy.  It’s the people I get excited to see.

      There are numerous reasons that one might want to go to the Cup.  Hell, there are usually several reasons stacked high atop one-another simultaneously…but for me it’s the crowds.  This year did not disappoint.  Have you ever walked down a New York City sidewalk during rush hour?  Yeah, it’s like that.  Only instead of suits and coordinates, the throngs were clad in tie-dies, hemp blends, and flat brims…flat brims with hat pins. 

      Denver was descended upon by a legion of wooks.  [Wookie from Urban Dictionary- “A lifeless idiot whose whole existence consists of following around jam bands (or in this case-the Cup) and not showering or shaving. When they’re not panhandling or trying to rip people off, they’re selling veggie burritos or grilled cheese to fund their useless existence. They stand for nothing and care about nobody else.”] They’re a fascinating group to observe as long as you don’t get too close. Mysteriously, if you clean them up just a little bit they look surprisingly like “hipsters.”

    With the newfound popularity of cannabis, however, the people in attendance were not relegated merely to the rank of wook.  It seems that all demographics are now fairly well represented in the crowds.  For example, at one point, I found myself walking behind what I can only describe as an elderly couple.  They were both grey-haired, wider than most, and soft, which made them shuffle a bit slower than the rest of the horde--in that nice older person way.  I approached the two from behind and asked them if they were from Denver.  No, they were not.  The two had recently applied for credentials to open a cannabis grow in Washington State and came to Denver looking for ideas and potential markets.  At first taken aback, I realized that the two of them had probably waited an inordinate amount of time to pursue their dream.  I smiled at that.
      To the first-timer, the Cup is filled with glorious deals on glass and sundry smoking accessories, free samples of products from dabs to delectables, demonstrations of the latest technologies, t-shirt launchings, and celebrity sightings.  It’s literally a sensory overload of everything cannabis.  It’s wonderful, if not a little overwhelming. 

     Walking down the lanes created by the erected tents of vendors, the sounds of the masses wash over you.  There’s the constant thumping of the dub-step beat wafting from subwoofers as it penetrates the body enticing one to dance… the shouts of the barkers blaring from booths asking you to come check out their wares…the constant conversations surrounding every step… and the bump and grind of the crowd.  And everyone is cheerful!

     For those of us who’ve been before, the crowds are just as exciting—even more so because they are filled with folks you might actually know!  One of the greatest benefits of a gathering like the Cup is the community of people that gets built.  At first, everyone comes together to see the show; but as attendance builds so does the comradery.  People from all over the world coming together for a common cause—to celebrate cannabis.  There’s something magical about it…mystical…transcendent…numinous…fascinating…intoxicating (gee, I wonder…).  

     But this year in Denver something was a little different.  Some of the usual big players were noticeably absent—especially the edibles companies.  Apparently, the Marijuana Enforcement Division and the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment sent letters to every cannabis business owner in Colorado just days prior to the Cup informing them that they’d be putting their licenses and livelihoods in jeopardy should they attend the Cup to distribute their goods.  Though similar letters sent out last year before the cup were met with courage, this year several companies opted to simply stay away.  No chocolate flowing fountains with dippable marshmallows…no mountains of gummies…no dispensary buds to go around.   They were sorely missed.

     A few intrepid Denver dispensaries did exhibit the courage to show.  They offered coupons and good times.  But the out-of-towners didn’t have to play by the same rules.  They brought samples, dabs, and buds aplenty to go around.  People were lined up for dabs all over the place.  Without a local license to lose, companies from California, Michigan, Oregon, and Washington came prepared to distribute what they could to the gaping mouths and grasping hands of the hungry mob.  I’m fairly certain the “Cannabis Police” didn’t anticipate that. 

     And that’s just it.  They can’t anticipate that, nor can they control it.  We know the “War on Drugs” is soon lost.  It could never be won, simply because it is a war on people.  And we won’t stand for it anymore.  The 4/20 holidayz are not just about expressing the freedom to enjoy cannabis.  They are principally about the celebration of liberty and a call to free those who’ve been incarcerated unjustly for nothing more than loving a plant. 

     The 4/20 Rally in Denver has been going on for close to 30 years.  It was started not as a way to throw cannabis use in the face of authority.  It was started to demand the justice that in our hearts we to so dearly cling.  For our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers still rot away in jail cells funded by tax-hungry profit mongers.  Those who would benefit from the suffering of humanity—the prison industrial complex that holds sway over so much of our economy.

       On the steps of the Capital we’ve gathered all these years to make our remonstration heard (and smelt)! “Let our people go!”  But in recent years, the Rally has transformed into something more of a festival.  Since the passage of Amendment 64, the Rally has moved from the Capital steps across the street to Civic Center Park.  It’s been hemmed in by fences, commercialized, and advertised.  This year, the City of Denver refused a permit to those who would carry on the tradition of blazing on the steps at 4/20 in protest of unjust incarceration. 

    But as the party raged on in Civic Center Park, at 4:20 a crowd started to gather proudly on the Capital steps.  You see, the gathering on the steps of the Capital is not a “rally.”  It is a PROTEST—by definition an act of civil disobedience.  They can try to mollify the people with bread and circuses, but the awakened will still congregate to throw blood on the togas of tyrants.  Sure, we’re pleased as punch that the City allowed us to party in a fenced-in pen.  Now let our fucking people go.

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