The Vampire Bar

I had time for only a quick Shiner Bock and then the slow, colorful walk up 6th Street to the truck. I didn’t want to leave.

The low light, cheap but delicious burgers (vampires know good meat), and exotically charismatic staff had me glued to my bar stool.

shiner-bock-ya'll-by-gooey-rabinski-#vampirelife

The unofficial beer of Texas: Shiner Bock

A cheerful, energetic patron who was in his early 40s—but gave the impression of a guy in his 30s—plopped down beside me and we began to talk.

At some point in the conversation, as I always do, I had to broach the topic of work. Everyone—including the waify woman at the UPS Store in my neighborhood—has reacted positively to the topic of herb in Austin.

“I can’t believe I make my living writing about weed,” I quipped baitingly.

“I can’t believe I make my living writing about weed,” I quipped baitingly.

As the conversation continued, the tall vampire redhead behind the bar with the alluring tatts politely interrupted.

“I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation and the fact that you write about pot for a living. I’d like to talk to you more about that….”

“I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation and the fact that you write about pot for a living. I’d like to talk to you more about that….”

“Please don’t tell my family. They don’t understand weed or vampires,” I retorted with a smirk as I slipped the concentrate vape pen from my pocket. A few clicks of the button and the battery was fired up as I handed it to one of the few real vampires I’ve met in a long time.

vampire-bar-austin-by-gooey-rabinski-1

My favorite vampire bar in Austin. Ok, the *only* such bar….

As she walked to the back room to avoid violating the smoking and vaping laws she’s obligated to enforce upon her customers, the dude beside me and I continued our dialog.

“Pot?” asked my temporary hops compatriot.

“Yea. Some dirty Austin BHO supposedly from California. It’s called ‘honey oil’ in places like Canada and Oregon. But you can’t trust any of these black market labels. It’s mostly bullshit.” I said.

“This stuff is potent, however. And better than most,” I added. “The concentrate wizards of Portland laugh at it. But it’s the best I’ve found on the Austin market, considering that I haven’t been co-mingling with humans much….”

My impromptu drinking buddy queried, “Do you have a business card?” After toting those slick green laminated bastards with me for weeks in Portland, I suddenly found myself without them. Had frolicking among the humans caused me to forget work for a brief period?

vampire-bar-austin-by-gooey-rabinski-2

Too bad my favorite vampire bar doesn’t sell cannabis.

“Um, this is kind of a no-work day. Although I can’t stop taking photos—but that’s par for the course. Sorry, Presbyterian joke.”

I leaned over and asked, “You have a smartphone, right?”

“Sure,” he replied as he whipped out his iPhone.

“Type ‘Gooey Rabinski’ into the search engine of your choice.” Voila, instant business card. I love the 21st century.

About then my tall vampire friend returned and ever-so-stealthily slid the vape pen across the bar and into my hand—complimented with a mischievous smile that I’ll forever cherish.

Returning the smile, I finished my Shiner and bid my new friends goodbye. But not before promising to return to the bar to discuss the kind herb with the tall redhead vampire sporting the dangerous smile….


Bite into more articles in the Vampire Bar Series:


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2016 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a writer, instructional designer, and cannabis satirist who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as MERRY JANE, Herb.co, CannaBiz JournalHigh Times, The KindSKUNK, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

 

Project Portland: First Impressions

Welcome to the second in the series Project Portland, an exploration of what it’s like for regular cannabis consumers (including patients) to relocate to a state in which adult use of cannabis is legal.


I arrived in Portland shortly after midnight on April 19. I hadn’t considered the fact that this would be Oregon’s first 4/20 in which adult use cannabis was legal. While it might seem overly dramatic, I have to admit that it was an honor to spend 4:20 pm on 4/20 at the top of Mount Tabor in Portland. Both the young punks and the old school Deadheads were authentic in their mellow, passionate embrace and love of the kind herb.

And to all those who helped me with directions as I was looking for the entrance to this volcano mountain park (while running behind schedule and wondering if I would make it before 4:20 pm): Thank you.

portland-oregon

Yes, I will replace this with one of my own.

I recall a particular dreddied dude and his girlfriend with whom I briefly chatted as I was cranking up the mountain on my carbon fiber ballerina. Amongst the thousands of cannabis consumers on the mountain, turns out he and his cute partner were friends with the cultivator smoking the monster joint in the photo below.

Small world, eh? He looked at me and said, “You worked hard to get up the hill. This is your karma…” as I dragged on the large cone handed to me for the third time. Dig the sharing culture.  #warmandfuzzy

I have been staying in the SE section of the city. I quickly learned that this town is basically split into quadrants, each with its own culture, affluence, and art and food scenes.

I do have to admit, the presence of good dispensaries and a very robust cycling culture—in addition to my new favorite coffee shop on Division, Dapper & Wise—has attracted me to the southeast area.

gooey-rabinski-2016-420-mt-tabor-portland-oregon

A 25-year-old legal cultivator at the 2016 4/20 celebration on Mt. Tabor in Portland.

After a few days in this city, I can say that I had had to adjust my understanding of “good” cannabis. Yea, I’ve had good stuff before in places like Humboldt County, Vancouver (Canada), and Toronto. But not via legal dispensaries. For the first time in my life, I was able to walk into a shop and ask “Do you have Durban Poison?”

And when the friendly budtender replied “Yes,” I got shivers down my spine. Holy shit, Batman, this is the way this stuff is supposed to work. This is a culture feeding itself. This is amazingly enticing. For potheads, that is.

I endured blinding snow storms in New Mexico, failed brakes (thanks, Enterprise), and 2,100 miles of driving—instead of the comforts of a flight—to fully understand what it’s like to be a cyclist in Portland. While I have been blown away by legal cannabis, I have been even more impressed (and borderline shocked) by the sheer number of hardcore commuting cyclists in this city.

People here do everything on bikes. Don’t think “let’s go for a bike ride after dinner.” Think: “I go to the coffee shop, the dispensary, work, and the club on my bike.” Yea. And in numbers like you have never imagined. And yes, there are too many Toyota Priuses.

I was basically verklempt for nearly an hour as my attractive co-cycling host led me through streets like Clinton and Division on our way to the famous bridges on the river. It was in the 80s and sunny. I had not yet developed an appreciation for the fact that, at this time of year, these were some very special days involving relatively immaculate weather.

IMG_0885

Wild West Growers in Eugene, Oregon. Look for the feature article in June.

Today it is 59 degrees with scattered showers. But it’s fine. The wealth of artsy sculptures and a mellow environment at my purple “magic” house Airbnb is refreshing. The back yard is mesmerizing (I’ll share pics and video later and begin doing the Periscope thing).

If you love cannabis or are a patient and feel your batteries running low, plan a road trip to Portland or Seattle. Wipe your chalkboard clean. Blow out the carbon.

Regardless of what you call it, simply do it. Don’t wait until tomorrow.

Because sometimes tomorrow is too late. Me? I probably got lucky. But don’t underestimate the power of a blinding snowstorm and second life.

More to come….

P.S.: To Ally, the smart Aussie chick with the masters in English Literature: You’re a better writer than you think. Never give up; never surrender.


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2016 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a writer, instructional designer, and cannabis satirist who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, The KindSKUNK, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Gooey’s Cannabis Queries: Part 1

Welcome to the first in a series of answers to queries directly from readers—all of which come in at exactly 420 words (out of respect to your time).

To set the mood, just listen to Cab Calloway tell you how it is…in 1932 (five years before cannabis became illegal in the United States).


Today’s request comes from Nurse Mary J Hemp Tattoo Aftercare. She sells a groovy hemp-based lotion that ensures that your tattoo stays as perfect tens years from now as the day you got it. She is also a big supporter of cannabis education and learning. Which is how I met her.

nurse-mary-j-ink-tattoo-aftercare

Nurse Mary J Hemp Tattoo Aftercare (Photo credit: Nurse Mary J).

Nurse Mary J is curious about the most common misconceptions of our favorite plant, cannabis. Great question, Nurse Mary J….


The Toke Hold: It might as well be called the “choke hold,” because holding one’s breath when inhaling cannabis smoke or vapor is actually counterproductive. Your lungs nearly instantaneously absorb the THC and other cannabinoids found in cannabis smoke or vapor.

According to Dr. Sunil Aggarwal, human lungs are able to accomplish this feat in part because they feature the surface areas of a tennis court.  In fact, when one holds one’s breath, all they achieve is depriving their brain of oxygen (a decidedly bad thing).

Cultivation Collateral: Some home cannabis cultivators falsely believe that allowing plants to grow as long as possible results in more cannabinoid-bearing resin or more potent resin. Unfortunately, this isn’t necessarily true.

In fact, once the trichomes (nearly microscopic resin glands) on the flowers become cloudy, the harvested cannabis medicine will increasingly be narcotic indica-like. Less cloudy generally results in a more sativa-like, energizing effect.

thoughts-on-suicide-gooey-rabinski-6

A home garden in the American Midwest.

Amotivation Syndrome: Many cannabis critics cite the ability of some strains to produce a lack of energy and motivation (what those in the culture often call “couchlock”). In reality, there are two types of cannabis: Sativa and indica.

Sativas have a reputation for being uplifting, energizing, and promoting creativity and productivity. Indicas, on the contrary, are often better for pain management, sleep, and appetite stimulation (great for patients with Crohn’s, cancer, and those undergoing chemotherapy).


Mango Mania: Let’s close with an urban legend regarding cannabis that’s actually true. Eating a mango can really amplify the effects of smoked or vaporized THC. Why? It’s because the mango contains a terpene called myrcene (pronounced “mur-scene”). Myrcene is known to amplify THC.

Steep Hill Labs in  San Francisco claims that >0.5% myrcene (by volume) in a plant results in an indica, whereas below this level will produce sativa-like effects in patients. 


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, instructional designer, and photographer who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, The Kind, Emerald MagazineSKUNK, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, WoahStorkWeed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, CannaBiz Journal, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

What is a Luddite?

It’s difficult for me to write about a controversial topic like electric vehicles, cord cutting, cannabis medicine, or renewable energy without using the term “Luddite.” Recently, a friend’s cousin commented on one of my articles regarding Blu-ray players: “I am a real Luddite…I have to read directions to play a DVD…so, what is a Blu-ray?”

I explained that she isn’t a Luddite, but merely ignorant of the details of the topic. A neophyte, if you will—although this label implies she’s already embraced the new system.

I realized that, if I’m going to be throwing this largely misunderstood historical term around like a drunk college kid hitting on people at a party, I might want to provide a bit of definition and clarity.

Historical Definition

According to Wikipedia:

“The Luddites were 19th-century English textile artisans who protested against newly developed labour-replacing machinery from 1811 to 1817. The stocking frames, spinning frames and power looms introduced during the Industrial Revolution threatened to replace the artisans with less-skilled, low-wage labourers, leaving them without work.

Although the origin of the name Luddite is uncertain, a popular theory is that the movement was named after Ned Ludd, a youth who allegedly smashed two stocking frames in 1779, and whose name had become emblematic of machine destroyers.”

We’re living in a period in which the introduction of disruptive technology is faster and more pervasive than at any time in the history of the world. We used to call it paradigm shift. Now we love the term “disruption.” Whatever the label du jour, it’s a way of describing the merciless onslaught of myriad digital technologies, social media networks, next-gen transportation models, and brilliant biotech breakthroughs.

And then there’s the old guard. The folks who profit from and control the outdated legacy tech used by millions or billions of people; the corporate status quo and their political allies. They don’t easily release their grasp on our lives—or our wallets.

Plain and simple, Luddites are protectionists. They’re the mob heavy standing on the corner who sneers, “Beat it, kid. This is our block.”

I’m sure the entrenched, wealthy powers that controlled horses and buggies were freaked out by the first automobiles. It’s clearly evident that television intimidated the hell out of film makers and cinema owners in the 1950s (it explains the plethora of experimental aspect ratio introductions to differentiate cinema from TV’s 4:3 format).

I wouldn’t doubt if smart whiskey companies were alarmed by the invention of the hypodermic needle prior to the Civil War—fast-acting morphine being the disruptor.

Luddites are Everywhere

Luddites are everywhere. Ebook authors Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler write about the desperate and short-sighted efforts of those in the legacy publishing industry. Automobile industry Luddites grabbed headlines in 2015 for their successful campaigns to halt test drives and sales of electric cars in Iowa and Michigan. Cable companies like Time Warner and Cox act like Luddites in their attempts to keep you from cutting the cord and using only streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus.

And, of course, the very Ludditist Koch Brothers and Big Oil will do their best to prevent folks from obtaining new tech like electric cars and power from sustainable sources like solar, wind, and nuclear energy. Despite superior (and affordable) alternatives, fracking continues almost unabated.

Bloggers and writers, both professional and amateur alike, need to focus on how easily their communications are understood, not necessarily impressing readers with big words. But in a time of severe disruption and technological advancement—and the displacement of entrenched old-school corporate and political players—terms like “Luddite” are more necessary than ever.

Stay vigilant, dear readers. Don’t let the Luddites destroy the new digital looms.

_________________________________________________________

All text Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a senior technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Cannabis CultureHeads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Exposing the Lies of Cannabis Prohibition

I’m having another challenging day.

Not drunk-throwing-whiskey-bottles-across-the-room challenging, but I’m sufficiently frustrated that it’s putting a dent in my mood. It’s nice that cannabis has the power to calm one’s mind, mitigate anxiety, and put us on a path to intelligent introspection that may lead to better decisions.

thoughts-on-suicide-gooey-rabinski-7

Era of final-stage pot prohibition.

Once again, I’m pissed off by cannabis prohibition. I was raised to approach life from a science-based perspective and to employ critical thinking and logic when assessing a situation.

You can see why people of this mindset might get a tad frustrated with the situation of cannabis being illegal in the United States. This is a situation that has pervaded for 79 years (as of August of this year).

Everyone has an opinion. I try to respect them all. But the chemistry of the human body is not an opinion. The behavior and nuances of neurons, cell walls, metabolites, endorphins, long-chain proteins, and endocannabinoids cannot be swayed by propaganda or corporate agendas.

Nearly each day, I communicate with very sick patients around North America. Many are so ill they cannot hold a job. Some scream out in pain over social media because they are relegated to prohibition regions where black market bingo is the only game in town. They either have poor medicine, cannot find cannabis, or simply can’t afford it.

As a result, many patients are financially constrained. In New Jersey, Chris Christie’s twisted example of a state medical cannabis program charges such patients $500-550 for an ounce of top-shelf cannabis medicine. Now that’s one for the WTF file….

What’s wrong with this picture? I could toss out dozens of other examples for why the seemingly science-fearing, anti-cannabis mindset (and behavior) of conservative forces in the United States hurts patients on a daily basis.

chris_christie

New Jersey governor Chris Christie. M&Ms aren’t his only problem (not my photo).

I honestly don’t want everyone in the world to think like me. I enjoy being unique, as should you. I’m not trying to convince prohibitionists that I’m right. I’m trying to convince the citizens who voted for them that their elected officials are hypocrites and propagandists.

I don’t see another way to oust the corrupt leaders whose actions prove they have no compassion whatsoever for society’s most frail citizens. We’d be fools to further tolerate their smoke and mirrors.

Could it be time for our smoke?

Unfortunately, dethroned politicians typically just slither back to their law firms and corporate consulting gigs—if they can resist the temptation of lobbying money. But the masses hold the power. General Motors and Toyota are nothing if no one purchases their vehicles. Johnson & Johnson will wither and die if nobody buys its bandages and toothbrushes.

Even a cursory overview of the hard research (as in human trials) reveals a strong efficacy of cannabis for patients. Conditions from cancer to anxiety to multiple sclerosis to dystonia can benefit from pot. As I’ve discussed in the past, this is simply because cannabinoids like THC, CBD, and THC-A are such powerful medicine for symptoms such as inflammation, nausea, and pain.

Cannabis advocates have the moral high ground. They have science.

The situation sometimes makes me think that, if we allow prohibition to continue longer, it’s our bad. I’m not suggesting violence or militant rebellion. But we need—as a culture, movement, and industry—to better communicate to the masses the science of cannabis and how it truly helps patients.

My parents don’t get it. Yours likely don’t. Despite our progress, the majority of the country is mired in ignorance that has spawned decades of suffering and billions of dollars wasted in a fruitless war on drugs begun more than 40 years ago.

gooey-rabinski-interviews-bushy-old-grower-1

Some beautiful homegrown plants from the American Midwest.

But don’t waste your time trying to convince the staunch conservatives and Luddites. It’s not worth it. Focus on the innocent—and often naive—citizens who elected them in the first place.

Make them smart, give them science, and touch their hearts.

Even conservatives and arguably most evangelicals are pissed off by patient suffering (the recent actions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints notwithstanding). Human compassion permeates political allegiances and programmed partisanship. Take advantage of their humanity and simply give them the information and examples that they need.


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2016 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a senior technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

 

The Power of Critical Thinking

Recently, I was feeling beaten. Battered. Tired of the game of cannabis prohibition, I was yearning for more progressive neighbors than I find in Central Texas.

Despite the trendy music and art culture and hipster neckbeards abundantly scattered throughout Austin, the fact that I’m a daily consumer of cannabis—but live in a prohibitionist state—was weighing on me.

And the real kicker: This is the case with the majority of cannabis consumers in America. Despite great progress in states like Oregon, California, and Washington, most patients and adult users are simply playing the same ol’ game of black market bingo, often with stiff penalties if they get caught.

Anger & Intelligence

Anger isn’t an intelligent emotion. It almost never improves a situation or is a recommended strategic interlude during one’s planning sessions. Like tens of millions of other cannabis advocates around the world, I was not happy.

I took my downtrodden, pathetic self and attacked the road on my bike (think carbon fiber, not Harley Davidson). It was a blatant and desperate effort to forge through the mental and emotional fog that was thwarting some of my best attempts to be productive and drop insightful words into articles.


Research is a big part of the jobs of writers. While finished articles, books, and courses are often sexy (stick with me, here), the research that enables their creation typically isn’t. From flakey Wikipedia entries to bad links buried in academic research papers, my days often aren’t worthy of entertaining discussion at the weekend barbeque.

With such a torrent of information passing through my eyes and ears, I’ll admit, standout pieces are rare. I sometimes just shut it all down and go spend time in nature or playing in traffic (cycling) in an effort to escape from the same tired memes and oversaturated article topics streaming through social media.


Then, one evening, after a restless post-ride sleep that, while physically refreshing, left me mentally frustrated and still full of angst, I found a burning bush.

The Burning Bush

I was trying to rationalize my state of mind. “Challenging days are good,” I thought to myself. “Hard days give you empathy for patients, like folks who can’t get out of bed or are relegated to a wheelchair,” I preached to my jaded mind.

I imagined what a traumatized sissy I was, waylaid by a single mildly confrontational day. I was able to physically get out of bed this morning. I was able to work. My fingers functioned on the keyboard. I was able to eat unassisted.

What the hell was I whining about?

I was angered by things like placid bureaucrats and unresponsive senators. Stories of families uprooted from conservative states such as Kentucky, Ohio, and Kansas to move to more enlightened areas, where they or their children can gain safe access to laboratory tested, high-quality cannabis medicine, were a big part of my negative feelings.

Regardless of how much Denis Leary or The Doors I listened to on Spotify in an effort to improve my mood, it just wasn’t working. Even my mad, sativa-pimped cycling adventure missed the mark (losing myself in riding is typically my break-glass-in-case-of-emergency move).

Then I came across a photo on Twitter of a middle aged man in the suburbs urinating in the gas tank of a car (he resembles my deceased grandfather, sans the beer).

Research. Politics. Botany. Psychology. Chemistry. It all became seemingly so absurd in light of a photograph of an adult peeing into the side of a late model Ford Taurus, replete with a can of what appears to be Budweiser precariously perched on the trunk (maybe the Photochop experts in my reader base can discern this detail).

man-peeing-on-Ford-Taurus-Gooey-Rabinski-was-here

And then something magically simple happened: The poster asked for feedback on a video he had put on YouTube.

You know what? It was one of the best damn videos I have watched in a long time. Was it the massive production budget? No. The amazing CGI effects? Um, not quite. The sexy cleavage heaving forth from a young blonde more intent on discussing her contrived opinion of rolling papers than the plight of sick patients?

No again. Thank effing god.

It was critical thinking. It was a young person brave enough to plug in his brain, use it, and speak truth to power—with his face on camera.

In a world enamored by a massive amount of shitty content, the good stuff sometimes seems oh-so-rare. Making it oh-so-fantastic when one finally trips across these golden nuggets of information.

Instead of me describing it further, why don’t you check it out for yourself? Watch it before you go to bed, and think about what you heard as you attempt to drift off. Especially if you’re getting to sleep with the pharmaceutical drug Ambien instead of a good cannabis indica.

How safe are the people who are being addicted to opiates by a medical establishment that places profits over patients?

The power of social media and mobile technology is creating a revolution in how information—and opinions—are expressed and shared. Don’t make my mistake and get so frustrated that you forget the power that resides in your keyboard or webcam.


All text Copyright © 2003-2016 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a senior technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Cannabis CultureHeads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His freelance work appears online at Green Flower Media, The Kind, Whaxy, and others.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

What Now? The Humble Head Shop Turns 50

They go by many names: Roach-O-Rama, Midnight Oasis, Glassy Knoll, Hippie Gypsy, High on the Hill, Puff ‘n’ Stuff, and other sometimes tongue-in-cheek monikers that reflect the whimsical ideals of a generations-old underground culture enamored by the kind herb.

Their musky odors of stale incense and dusty carpeting compliment their outlaw selection of glass pipes, rolling papers, and out-of-date copies of High Times.

Head shops, one of the great American institutions, celebrated 50 years of serving the culture last year (2016.) They epitomize the state of cannabis consumers for the same period: Illegal at the federal level, yet mildly tolerated by state and municipal governments.

A Bastion of Independence

Head shops remain one of the few bastions of true open market independence in the retail business world, with everything from sub shops to drug stores to oil change garages having been gobbled up by international conglomerates and national brands offering nothing more than expensive franchise opportunities and obnoxious national ad campaigns.

head-shop-5

Those who travel in the United States can attest to the sorry state of retail homogeneity that exists throughout the nation. It’s tough to differentiate St. Louis from Phoenix from Denver from Cleveland when it comes to the stores and shops from which we purchase everything from light beer to allergy medicine to home theater gear.

Even a visit to the neighborhood pub or diner may involve a watered-down mega brand like Applebee’s or Denny’s, while Target, McDonald’s, Home Depot, Best Buy, Bank of America, Papa John’s, Starbucks, BP, and Walmart dominate the retail landscape.

Head shops are a welcome retreat from this cookie cutter retail environment in which new malls and gas stations in most cities all seem to look the same—something that has plagued even small town America as independent businesses like hardware stores and pharmacies all but disappear in the wake of made-in-China big box chains.

Genesis in San Francisco

Head shops originally appeared in the 1960s in cities like San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles. Some believe the Psychedelic Shop in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco, opened in 1966, to be the first head shop.

Another notable location that opened in that same year of the trippy psychedelic era was the Birmingham Balloon Company in Denton, Texas, a northern suburb of Dallas and unlikely home to innovative cannabis culture.

In the United Kingdom, the first “counterculture store” appeared in West London in 1972, followed by intense popularity that prompted Vice to write in 2014, “…head shops have become nearly as ubiquitous as Pizza Express” in England.

By the mid to late 1970s, buoyed by the ever-growing popularity of cannabis and a pervasive black market that infiltrated every high school in the nation, head shops had proliferated to nearly all cities and towns, especially those with college campuses.

An outlet not only for major youth-oriented stoner magazines like Cannabis Culture and SKUNK, head shops also provided distribution and exposure for counterculture newspapers and comics, publications that typically lacked access to conventional newsstand distribution.

head-shop-4

In an age before the internet and social media, many writers, activists, musicians, and other bohemian artists spread their message via small independent head shops that smelled more like Bill Maher’s living room than the local Barnes &  Noble.

How Are They Legal?

Head shops, if one approaches the experience from the perspective of enabling or enhancing the consumption of cannabis—their sole function, really—are completely illegal. Because cannabis is prohibited at the federal level, no head shop in the United States can legally sell any item intended to be used with pot. Period.

Head shops exist in a legal grey zone, opposed by the feds, but allowed by most states and communities. According to Wikipedia:

“The sale of certain tobacco paraphernalia is considered legal in all states, but is illegal on a federal level.”

Head shops are permitted to exist simply because they play the game of pretending to cater to legal tobacco users.

As long as there are people walking around who are addicted to Marlboros and American Spirits, head shops will possess a viable legal loophole that permits them to cozy up beside low-rent hair salons and tattoo shops in liberal downtown neighborhoods and cheap suburban strip malls.

Fortunately, vaporization and vape pens—known in cigarette circles as e-cigs—are also popular among tobacco smokers. Thus, head shop owners, in a Pythonesque nudge-nudge, wink-wink to the federal government, can legally operate and, in reality, cater to the full needs of the cannabis community.

Simply because of the technical loophole and fact that both tobacco and cannabis are typically smoked or vaporized.

Lucky for you, eh? Or you’d be spending even more money on Amazon.com—but enjoying a decidedly inferior retail experience.

head-shop-7

While some counties and municipalities have banned head shops or refuse to grant them business licenses, most areas of the United States tolerate these funky cultural meccas, especially near university campuses and in more progressive communities.

Void Where Prohibited

Often, a state or municipality won’t outlaw head shops per se, but instead may prohibit much of what they typically sell. For example, in Florida, it is illegal to sell any item “designed for use in ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing cannabis, cocaine, hashish, hashish oil, or nitrous oxide into the human body.”

However, even in this case, loopholes exist: Head shops in Florida may sell pipes made of materials like “briar, meerschaum, clay, or corn cob.” A far cry from some heady glass suitable for a serious stoner’s birthday gift, but it still gets the job done for desperate smokers in prohibitionist states.

From smoking staples like screens and rolling papers to music and movie posters, hemp products, and ornate pipes and bongs, head shops are a piece of Americana with an uncertain future.

Many observers believe that legalization in the majority of the country is inevitable. As more states come onboard and abandon cannabis prohibition, what is the fate of the beloved head shop, a cottage industry-cum-institution that is undergoing what would be a midlife crisis if it was a fifty-year-old toker from the suburbs struggling to maintain relevance?

Will They Survive Legalization?

Following legalization in any state is the inevitable onslaught of dispensaries and retail outlets. Many of these companies, in cities like Seattle and Denver, also sell a selection of vape pens, glass bongs, pipes, and even dab rigs intended to serve up the yummy flowers and concentrates (extracts) offered by these same dispensaries.

head-shop-2

Will dispensaries and retail outlets in newly legal states spell the doom of the head shops that shaped the cannabis experience and lifestyle of tens of millions of Americans for half a century?

Will the ironic reason head shops were able to exist—pretending to cater to the tobacco smoking community—actually be their undoing?

As smoking becomes less and less popular, new, highly competitive money is entering the cannabis industry as part of the green rush, infusing a culture of productivity and openness borrowed from silicon valley. How will this emerging subculture of “productive potheads” and renewed focus of entrepreneurialism and profit in the cannabis culture affect traditional head shops and their patrons?

The landscape for all businesses is in constant flux. Companies that once thrived selling TVs and home appliances are now either extinct (ala Sears) or have morphed into fundamentally different organizations serving other markets (like Apple, Hewlett-Packard, and Microsoft).

Similarly, some head shops will inevitably choose to adapt to the new markets for openly cannabis-related products in legal states, driven mostly by dispensary competition. Will millennials and retirees be more interested in a pocketable vape pen—and the stuff that goes in it—than a black light poster or Tibetan prayer flags?

Shall Dispensaries Take the Crown?

Given the sales numbers of many dispensaries in legal states, the relatively sluggish business of a conventional head shop would be relegated to a sideline if it adopted sales of medical or recreational cannabis, edibles, or concentrates.

Will most head shops choose to close shop and go out of business, or will they convert to a typical dispensary model that drops the aging hippie image for a clinical boutique environment that just happens to sell a few glass pieces—but focuses on USB vape pens and infused drinks?

head-shop-8

With many dispensaries selling both disposable and high-end pens capable of vaporizing concentrates or flower, will sales of bongs, pipes, and rolling papers intended for ground flowers falter? Will millennials and seniors, especially those seeking harm reduction because they frequently consume strong cannabis or concentrates, chose vaporization over smoking in large enough numbers to fundamentally shift the role of a community head shop within the next decade?

These are all questions to ponder as you light up that unknown strain of black market mystery herb in papers or a bong that you purchased at your local head shop. What will the typical American head shop look like in 2025, and who will it serve?

In conservative states where cannabis will inevitably remain illegal for years and possibly decades to come, these generations-old shops may survive and even thrive, fueled by an energized cannabis industry nationwide and legalization in other states.

In areas where prohibition has fallen, head shops will inevitably adapt and compete with dispensaries—or die.

In states that legalize and also allow patients or even lifestyle users to grow a few plants of their own, head shops are wise to stock a bit of cultivation equipment, such as hydro buckets, lights, and nutrients. In many respects, thousands of head shops throughout the U.S. must adapt to their rapidly changing legal environments to ensure that they are catering to the desires of their customers while remaining legal and not inviting scrutiny from local or federal law enforcement.

An Aging Relic of Prohibition

While it’s sad to think of a future void of these densely stocked and unique shops full of character, funky aromas, and sometimes sex toys, they are to a large extent a reflection of the rapidly deteriorating era of prohibition and how the federal government pushed a never-say-die cannabis culture underground.

While it’s refreshing to celebrate the resiliency and tenacity of our trampled culture and support one’s local head shop, it’s also nice to join the 21st century and adopt possibly more suitable retail models that involve a clinical and professional approach to helping customers, especially patients, consume cannabis and concentrates.

head-shop-3

As legalization sweeps the nation and cities like Portland, Oakland, and Colorado Springs maintain a culture of open dispensation of all things cannabis, head shops may no longer be necessary. These walk-in wonders may be a facet of prohibition that, after legal cannabis is the norm, no longer have a home within the cannabis culture—or, more important, the monthly budget of the average pot smoker.

Maybe head shops are like the military cold war: A relic of the 20th century struggling to find a niche with a sufficient number of modern tokers to maintain relevance.

And pay their rent.

If they go the way of the brontosaurus, cannabis consumers will miss these always charismatic and sometimes gritty bohemian mom-and-pop retail stores that dotted city and suburban landscapes for five decades.


Will the price of safe access to legal cannabis be the abandonment of culturally relevant institutions like head shops? Leave your thoughts in the comments below….

This article is dedicated to the dozens of groovy head shops I’ve visited throughout Ontario, California, Ohio, British Columbia, Texas, Quebec, and Indiana over the past 20 years—each of which offered a distinct character and authentic experience that made being a cannabis consumer even more enriching.


All text and photos Copyright © 2003-2016 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Heads (RIP), Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His marijuana-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

 

Our Choice of Cultural Language

There’s many pockets of dissenting opinions in the cannabis legalization movement. There are those of libertarian bent who, although they may not themselves be participants in the culture, believe in the right of every citizen to cultivate, possess, and medicate with a natural herb that can be grown in their backyard.

Others are more academic in their approach, citing issues like state’s rights and the hypocrisy and ignorance of the federal government’s prohibitionist stance. Increasingly, investors, market analysts, and entrepreneurs are touting legalization’s benefits for the economy, including employment, government tax revenues, and small business growth.

“Cannabis” or “Marijuana”?

Despite our progress, we still can’t decide how to label the miraculous kind herb. Pot? Marijuana? Cannabis? Weed? Mary Jane? Muggles? Ganja? Some of these labels are obviously the result of decades of prohibition and biased, negative stereotypes.

The term “marijuana” itself is especially loathed and often avoided by some journalists and authors simply because of its history. In the 1930s, Harry Anslinger and William Randolph Hearst were fully immersed in their racially motivated anti-cannabis political campaign to demonize the plant and eventually make it illegal at the federal level (which they succeeded in doing in August of 1937).

Harry Anslinger

Harry Anslinger, the face of early era cannabis prohibition (public domain)

Technically, the Marijuana Stamp Act that passed nearly 80 years ago is no longer in effect, having been replaced in 1970 by the Controlled Substances Act that birthed the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and spawned the Drug War hysteria proliferated by the Nixon Administration, boosted by Reagan, and sustained by every presidential administration since.

It is under this Act that cannabis is defined as a Schedule I drug, meaning that it is, like heroin and bath salts, officially a highly addictive, dangerous substance with zero medical benefit. Schedule II drugs, which are less restricted and considered safer than those on Schedule I, include cocaine and methamphetamines—both of which can legally be prescribed by a physician.

Yet human trials and real world research can’t even be conducted for cannabis in the United States.

University researchers, often beholden to federal grants and other funding that might be at risk if they dare venture into full-blown cannabis testing, are typically hesitant to pursue marijuana research. Conservative laws at the federal level, combined with funding complexities and an aggressive DEA, all serve to squelch concrete research into the efficacy of cannabis in the United States.

The term “marijuana” itself is an either purposeful or accidental bastardization of the Mexican Spanish term marihuana. Because Anslinger and Hearst were attempting to discredit and slander Mexicans and Mexican-Americans (among other things), they purposefully chose a term that gave average, conservative, very Anglo Americans the impression that this herb was somehow uniquely Mexican in nature or origin. If illegal at the federal level, Mexicans could be jailed, fined, or even deported for minor possession of cannabis.

William Randolph Hearst

William Randolph Hearst, an obviously friendly robber baron bigot (public domain)

Thus, it’s no wonder that many activists and advocates shy away from the term “marijuana” in their writing or marketing materials. It also has a decidedly 1970s feel to it. Cannabis is the term of choice in Europe, the U.K, and Australia—and, to a more limited extent, Canada. The term “pot” also works in most parts of North America.

Progressive individuals everywhere, however, recognize the term “cannabis.”

A Tough Issue

Use of “marijuana” by those in the media is a tough issue. We want to use it for recognition factor. A 68-year-old domestic partner and registered Republican in a small town in Wisconsin won’t necessarily understand “cannabis,” but is sure to respond to “pot” or “marijuana.”

Of course, it can easily be argued that this is exactly why the potentially unknown term “cannabis” should be used more frequently; readers need to be exposed and educated.

“Cannabis” has a decidedly 21st century ring to it. Possibly it’s the European flavor (my favorite cars come from there, after all). It’s objective. It’s technical. It’s Latin, for god sake. It’s about as unbiased and neutral a term as can be used to label the kind herb.

DSC_7632

An independent cannabis garden in Humboldt County, California

I typically stick to “cannabis” in most of my writing, but must admit to often embracing “marijuana” for major projects, even my book Understanding Medical Marijuana. Because the target audience of the book was middle class, middle aged, largely undecided voters, I purposefully used this old school term for our favorite plant to best attract this demographic.

No Longer an Alien Topic

The topic of cannabis, however, is gaining enough national attention from major news outlets like CNN, MSNBC, and FOX that it no longer is such an alien topic to tens of millions of conservative Americans. While the average FOX viewer might not be a big fan of the culture or a daily toker, they increasingly recognize previously strange terms like “cannabis” and even “cannabinoids” and “CBD.”

“My personal preference is for the scientifically accurate term cannabis, because it removes emotion and stigma from the debate.”  — Steve DeAngelo, The Cannabis Manifesto

My direction? I’m pretty much going to abandon use of “marijuana” in all of my writing. I’ll toss it in there sometimes just to shake things up and avoid the monotony of using “cannabis” for the 29th time in a single 1,400 word article, but otherwise I don’t respect it.

It was the enemies of the cannabis culture and the architects of prohibition that negatively branded and twisted an honest Mexican Spanish term, using it to spearhead a campaign of lies, greed, racial bigotry, crony capitalism, and overall anti-progressivism.

Snuff Out “Marijuana”

As a culture and a nation, patients and cannabis consumers in America have suffered from the efforts of a handful of privileged and well-networked corporate barons and bureaucrats for the better part of a century. Then, when everything looked like it might get better in the 1960s, President Kennedy was assassinated and the door was opened to primitive Luddites and prohibitionists like Richard Nixon—anti-progressive dorks who spoiled everyone’s fun and set back the country by 50 years.

Two for the road, Northern Cali style

California’s Eddy Lepp rolls fatties for a 2006 road trip

I’ll admit, however, I will probably begin using the term “pot” even more. I feel as if my generation, which grew up in the 1970s to 1990s, owns it. Not Nixon. Not Anslinger or Hearst. Not John Walters or some other “drug czar.” None of those bastards.

While “pot” is certainly dripping in slang and not exactly the term-of-choice for an academic research study, I’ll take it over “marijuana” every day.

But enough of the history lesson. The next time you’re engaging in social media, writing a blog post, or simply talking with a  friend, think about the language that you employ to get your idea across.

Are you simply helping perpetuate terms that originated in hate and an absolute defiance of science, sustained by ignorance and corporate special interests?


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright © 2003-2016 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Cannabis CultureHeads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle, and a contributing writer at Green Flower Media.

His marijuana-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

 

America Votes on Cannabis

As America goes to vote today, several states, counties, and municipalities are considering cannabis-related issues. Below is a short list rundown of some of the major efforts in three states: Oregon, Ohio, and Colorado.

Oregon Counties: Banning Sales?

In Oregon, many counties and cities are voting on whether to ban recreational sales of the plant. In counties that received at least 55% of the vote for legalization a couple of years back, a ballot issue must be presented to voters in the county to again decide if they want to ban sales within their own borders (counties can’t negate the legality of cannabis possession and consumption—that would defy state law).

oregon flag

Those counties in Oregon that received under 55% of the vote during the state election can simply decide that they want to ban sales by a legal mechanism like a city council resolution involving no popular vote. Thus, a county in which 54% of the voters said yes to legal recreational cannabis for the state of Oregon may find itself facing a ban on rec sales after a conservative city council goes against the obvious will of the voters.

This sad and divisive state of affairs exemplifies the fact that the anti-cannabis culture war is alive and well. The Drug War may be gearing down, but cultural resistance to cannabis and those who use or even celebrate it is alive and well.

Evangelicals, conservatives, and those who pine for the nonexistent “good ol’ days” are organizing on social media and combining their forces to prevent national, federal legalization of medical or lifestyle cannabis. People of this mindset consider medical to simply be a ruse intended to allow full legalization to take over the nation (and for some activists, it probably is). Forget helping patients, fear mongering is the rule of the day among conservatives hellbent on preventing a dispensary, retail outlet, or cannabis social lounge from appearing in their community.

Ohio: Fully Legalizing?

In Ohio, of course, there’s the controversial and very schizophrenic ResponsibleOhio-backed Issue 3 to fully legalize cannabis possession and consumption. More on this after the election. Personally, I’m hoping it passes and that Issue 2, the Legislature-sponsored anti-monopoly bill, fails. Why? Because a failure of Issue 3 would be bad for the national momentum of the cannabis legalization movement.

Yes, I hate oligopolies and the often-greedy two percenters. But the big picture goal is full national legalization and the right for all tax-paying citizens to cultivate. Until that goal is achieved, intelligent strategy must prevail and some setbacks will inevitably be endured. It’s called politics because getting some of what we want doesn’t always involve getting everything we want, regardless of whether we’re “right.”

Ohio_flag

Issue 3 is bad in many respects. Many pundits are ardently opposed to many parts of it. However, the majority of those same experts are advocating for passage of Issue 3. If it fails—and Issue 2 succeeds—it will spell a long and difficult road for the Buckeye State to join the ranks of those states that have chosen the very progressive route of fully regulated and taxed legalization for adults 21 and over.

Even worse, it will be cited by conservative voices as an example of how moderate and conservative voters in America’s heartland don’t want legal pot, be it medical or recreational. If passed, even if it was negated by passage of Issue 2, Issue 3 will send a signal that more traditional states from untraditional parts of the country are also onboard with the full legalization of cannabis, including its many economic bennies.

Colorado: Show Me The Money?

And in Colorado, citizens will vote to determine if the state must return about $66 million in tax revenues collected from recreational pot sales. Personally, while I’m not currently residing in Colorado, I say let the state keep it. It makes even more impressive the state’s metrics when it comes to tax revenues and assistance to a struggling educational infrastructure and deteriorating roads. And these numbers are simply getting bigger and bigger each month.


Those of you in legal states, enjoy your newfound freedom. Those still struggling to gain safe, regulated access to reasonably priced, high-quality open-market cannabis and cannabis products in most parts of the country must continue to be patient—or move to a legal state.

With four states and D.C. now on our side, there are at least options. Seattle, Denver, and Portland are all excellent cities with vibrant economies, even moreso now that they have legalized and are collecting taxes.


Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, Skunk, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana (2015 Edition), available on Amazon Kindle, and a contributing writer at Whaxy.com.

His marijuana-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

 

Twenty-First Century Toking

Not long ago, the consumption avenues available to the average cannabis consumer were pretty limited: Bongs, bowls, and joints. Then blunts came along to shake things up a bit and further diversify the cannabis culture.

Enter Vaping

A relatively radical shift in pot consumption occurred between 10 and 15 years ago: Cannabis consumers began vaporizing their herb. This has come to be known as vaping and, until recently, was accomplished using desktop devices like the infamous (and expensive, at $500-600) German Storz & Bickel Volcano and domestic efforts like the Vapolution Vaporizer (a family of $100-250 glass-on-glass devices from Chico, California).

Vapolution 3.0 glass-on-glass vaporizer

Then vape pens came along. Available in a wide range of price points and in many different quality levels, these portable and pocketable vaporization devices allow one to discretely—and typically without the tell-tale odor—consume their cannabis flowers or concentrate when on the go.

Or on the sofa. The flexibility of these devices is quite amazing and truly a game changer. Mark my word, vape pens and mobile vape devices are no fad. Just look around a recreationally legal state and anecdotally note the adoption rate. It’s through the roof. And it’s more than bohemian hipsters wanting to surf the latest trend.

In fact, the vape pen will play a significant role in competing with the slim aluminum gen three Apple TV remote and pocket coins for most likely to get lost in the cushions of the living room sofa. (“Dude, don’t harsh my mellow. Seriously, where the hell is my vape pen?!”)

Sure, a joint is one of the ultimate forms of portability and convenience for pot consumers. But the smell and the smoke reveal one’s activity—or simply piss off those around one, like a vape pen never will. Let’s face it: While adoption might be highest in legal states, vape pens arguably offer the greatest utility to those in prohibitionist areas who must hide their medicine or lifestyle.

When combined with state-of-the-art concentrates, such as those that can be produced only by industrial laboratories run by real and regulated companies, vape pens can deliver amazing, relatively predictable efficacy for patients and uber-efficient euphoria and psychoactive effects for recreational users. Many vape pen manufacturers employ a cartridge design that allows their customers to purchase a base pen and then feed it what are basically THC cartridges, made with either BHO, CO2 oil, or another extraction concentrate.

vape pen

Bloom Farms in San Francisco is a great example of a company that produces affordable vape pens that charge via USB (one of the slickest new features being offered by companies like Bloom Farms and O.penVAPE) and can be refilled via 400 mg cartridges available in either indica or sativa.

Vape Pen Advantages

Vape pens offer several advantages over their old school joint and bowl cousins. First, there’s the health benefits of vaporizing cannabis herb or oil instead of combusting it. Second, most areas of the country have robust anti-smoking laws designed to curb and discourage the smoking of tobacco cigarettes. By vaping—regardless of what is being vaped—tokers take advantage of a technical loophole that allows them freedom of consumption where traditional smokers of cannabis or tobacco are left empty handed (and possibly facing hefty fines if they turn rogue and get tagged).

Vape pens also offer tremendous advantages for severely ill patients. Those suffering from intense pain or nausea (like people undergoing chemotherapy) can very quickly give themselves a supersized toke of relief that begins to hit them in only minutes. High-quality concentrates and reputable vape pen devices can deliver, in one vape hit, roughly the same amount of THC and other cannabinoids that would be obtained from an entire joint of mid-grade cannabis flower. All without the harmful tars and carcinogens.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention portable vape devices, commonly known as mobile vapes or pocket units. While not as small or discreet as a vape pen, mobile vapes typically offer better performance, accuracy, and reliability. They are simply more like a mini version of  a desktop vaporizer. In fact, it might be easiest to consider a mobile vaporizer to be the love child of a desktop unit and a vape pen. Imagine that a Neos USB pen slept with a Volcano and had a Vapir Prima as a child.

Of course, mobile vaporizers are also considerably more expensive, ranging from about $200 to $400 for reputable models actually worth having. The Vapir Prima, pictured below, is a standout based on its high quality, ease-of-use, and five-year warranty.

vapir prima v2

In legal states, CBD-based concentrates are becoming available, many of which contain very little psychoactive THC. For child patients and those who don’t desire to get high (or who simply can’t because of their job, especially if it involves unannounced and regular drug tests), CBD concentrates and vape pens are a small medical miracle.


One example of a company catering to this concentrate-via-vape-pen market is Denver-based Neos. The company pre-decarboxylates its proprietary “EVO” oil cartridges to allow for vaporization at lower temperatures, delivering what it claims is a better terpene profile from these molecules that are notoriously volatile and prone to breaking down under heat.

Neos may be the only vape pen company to explicitly embrace the entourage effect in its marketing materials and how it preserves the cannabinoid profile. While many concentrate companies promote the pure potency of their products, Neos seems concerned with quality and user safety—achieved via the use of “state-of-the-art technology previously unavailable to the industry.”

Neos is one of the more progressive, enlightened vape pen companies on the market. Some companies take a more medical approach to their product development and advertising, while others full-on target the recreational market and boast of nothing but THC and potency. But beware: There are some totally shit products available at nearly all price ranges.  Before making a purchase decision, read product reviews from trusted sources and speak with experienced colleagues and budtenders.


Vaping of any variety, be it the desktop type or via a miraculous pocketable model, is inherently cleaner and less offensive than smoking, regardless of whether one is a recreational or medical user. While tokers will always enjoy smoking, does modern technology afford the average cannabis consumer a better avenue? I know many hardcore cannabis users who are mostly vaping concentrates with vape pens.

Is this not only the new wave, but also a healthy, superior route of consumption that offers tons of convenience and doesn’t threaten to burn a hole in one’s jeans or catch the bedroom drapes on fire?

Technology is great for presenting consumers with options, and options are good. While automotive consumers once could choose from only internal combustion engine vehicles, they now also can opt for a battery electric car. Many of those who were relegated to getting their power from a local coal-burning power plant can now lease or purchase solar panels to gain energy independence.

Herer demonstrating his pipe at a trade show in San Francisco

Likewise, new technology is changing the way cannabis is cultivated, regulated, distributed, packaged, and consumed. While most of us will never fully give up on smoking marijuana and few would shy away when offered a joint of top-shelf Jack Herer or Durban Poison, the best route for one’s daily driver may not involve a Bic lighter and rolling papers or spoon-shaped glass.

The Reality

Those who live in states where cannabis is legal at the recreational level obviously can much more easily be purveyors of pot, especially if they want to indulge in concentrates. By simply driving to their nearest dispensary or retail outlet—there are more in Denver than there are Starbucks and McDonald’s combined—lucky fans of the culture in these states can easily obtain the advice, equipment, and flower or concentrate with which to fill a sexy, efficient, and affordable vape pen. Intelligent, well-trained budtenders rock; those lucky enough to have access to them should leverage the opportunity to increase their knowledge while purchasing the most appropriate cannabis products.

Those residing in prohibitionist states are increasingly choosing to travel to a legal rec destination like Seattle, Portland, or Denver to get the advice and hardware necessary to discretely vape, in private or public, back in their home state.

Of course, those who must deal with black market bingo may remain somewhat frustrated because they experience shady dealers, high prices, and uncertain strains and quality. Not to mention that high-quality examples of concentrates are often simply not widely available in black markets and are often priced outside what the average patient or rec consumer can afford.

DSC_7632

Those who have the option of traveling to a more progressive area of the country when it comes to cannabis—or who already live there—should seriously consider the best that technology has to offer and how it can both protect consumers in states where pot remains illegal and also deliver quick, potent relief to patients in need (many of whom, like us, also have jobs and families and daily commutes).

So get yourself a vape pen and pump it full of some flower, CO2 oil, or live resin. Your lungs—and your arrest record—may thank you.


All content Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle, and a contributing writer at Whaxy.com.

His marijuana-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Preaching to the Converted

I recall an episode from about 10 years ago, when I was in Toronto covering a legalization rally at the beginning of my cannabis-themed freelance writing and photography career. Canada had, only a few years prior (in 2001), implemented a federal-level medical cannabis program designed to help its sick citizens gain safe access to marijuana medicine.

It was an energizing event. Total strangers shared their herb, often samples that fans of the culture had grown themselves. I recall young, smart gardeners from throughout Ontario approaching me with beautiful cannabis buds that they had grown from top-shelf strains like White Widow and Northern Lights #5, seeking my opinion after they learned that I was a writer for magazines like Cannabis Health Journal and High Times.

Among this excitement and energy, with the euphoria of the kind herb permeating the consciousness of all participants and the sweet, dank smell of high-grade cannabis filling the air, a moment of sober reality hit. I was speaking with Alan Young, a prominent law professor at the Osgoode Hall Law School who was somewhat of an elder statesman within the Canadian cannabis movement.

Marijuana reo3 05/23 /02 Law professor Alan Young shown addressing a press conference on the medical use of Marijuana. (Photo by Rick Eglinton/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

I had always liked and respected the charismatic, hyper-intelligent, and always insightful Young, and was happy for the opportunity to spend some time speaking with him about the rally and the entire Canadian cannabis movement. Being from the States, the Canadians enjoyed getting my spin on things. They were very proud that they had, in some respects, eclipsed the United States in beginning to destigmatize cannabis and making it legally available to their sick citizens.

I commented on what a great rally it was. Buoyed by superlative herb and the company of thousands of likeminded cannabis gardeners, consumers, and patients, there was a certain level of elation that permeated the crowd.

Then Young dropped the bomb. He responded that the rally was great, but there was one major problem: Everyone was preaching to the converted. Suddenly time froze.

Shit. He was right.

I looked around the crowd. My professorial conversation partner was dead on. I couldn’t identify anyone at the event who wasn’t a part of the culture or who might have been “undecided” prior to attending this rally. These folks were serious participants in the trampled, typically underground culture of cannabis.

Preaching to the converted is a problem for all social movements, including LGBTQ+ rights, atheists, alternative energy advocates, and the cannabis crowd.

Preaching to the converted is a problem for all social movements, including LGBTQ+ activists, atheists, alternative energy advocates, and the cannabis crowd. The challenge, obviously, becomes one of convincing those middle class, middle-of-the-road citizens that they should vote yes on a cannabis-related ballot issue or support a friend or relative in their quest to medicate with cannabis.

cannabis rally in canada

If you’re reading this, chances are you, too, are a fan of the cannabis culture. We all must ask ourselves: How effectively are we educating and influencing those around us who don’t embrace the kind herb? Campaigns like #ComingOutGreen and countless others strive to lead by example, defying stereotypes and decades of stigma created by the 1930s Reefer Madness and drug war hysteria that has pervaded our nature-loving culture for nearly a century.

How do we reconcile Young’s observation of preaching to the converted and get our message of education, understanding, and compassion to those who don’t consume cannabis on a daily basis or maybe never have?

Let’s face it: Despite the progress that has been achieved in only a few short years in terms of legalization at the state level, nearly half the country still believes the propaganda and misinformation that has been—and continues to be—broadcast and published by conservative, ignorant, and nefarious forces.

The next time you see someone practicing a bit of civil disobedience and toking in public or wearing a pro-pot T-shirt, think about all of those who aren’t hip to the reality of the medical efficacy and superiority—even recreationally—of cannabis to drugs like alcohol, tobacco, and opiates.

As I wrote in “The Dark Side of Cannabis Legalization” for Whaxy in April 2015, there is a backlash from those forces in the United States that, for whatever reason, oppose the culture of cannabis and even the medical treatment of severely ill patients with the herb. Possibly they are evangelicals. Possibly the Republican party told them to oppose legal weed. Maybe they are simply paramountly ignorant of the benefits and real science of pot.

chris_christie

Sorry to harsh your mellow with the image of New Jersey governor Chris Christie above. But I’ll be honest, I want it to sear itself on your retinas. Don’t forget the very real, extremely well-funded, and vehemently angry opposition that exists to the kind herb and those who cultivate, sell, partake of, or medicate with it.

These forces are real. The more success that is gained by the cannabis movement, the more this ignorant and anti-progressive cultural mindset will bring out its big guns in an effort to stop our culture from achieving its goals. Make no assumptions about the future of this movement. This is a culture war; the enemy is amply financed, intelligent, and—to say the least—extremely spiteful.

So what are we going to do? What are you going to do? Coming out green is part of the equation. But how do we, as a movement, educate nearly half the country that believes herb is not a medicine, is bad for society, and is just a bunch of lazy, dirty hippies wanting to share weed and defy “the man”?

The next time you smile at some pro-pot news in the media, think about the challenges we face. Think about the states that have passed CBD-only laws in a political effort to appease the movement and appear as if they’re helping the sick. Think about cannabis being taxed at rates higher than alcohol in legal states.

Think about the kids and adults rotting in jail who were arrested for minor possession of something they may have been using to deal with anxiety, depression, alcoholism and other hard drugs, or PTSD.

Then ask yourself: Do you ever talk to those outside your circle of cannabis-consuming friends about the efficacy of marijuana and hemp?

Photo credit: Toronto Star, Toronto Sun


Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle, and a contributing writer at Whaxy.com.

His marijuana-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

 

Top Cannabis Video Series

There’s no shortage of corny or even marginally engaging YouTube videos regarding the topic of your choice. Dog grooming? There’s gotta be 40,000 videos about it. Cannabis and its culture are no exception. But with so many strain reviews and “let’s toke up, bra!” videos by hoodied teens and hardcore collegiate stoners, where can one turn for a refreshingly intelligent change of pace?

There are some great video series that, together, can go a long way to keeping you current with the political, legal, medicinal, and recreational news about the kind herb—as well as its amazing history of providing medicine, food, and euphoria for humans.

MJ Straight Talk for blog and twitter

While you might consider yourself a fan of cannabis and immune to the Reefer Madness and D.A.R.E. misinformation that has pervaded American culture for more than 80 years, chances are there’s some firmly held belief or perception of cannabis—or the people who smoke it or the black market that makes it available—that you hold that’s not quite accurate. And possibly even dead wrong.

Lest I pontificate further at the expense of your viewing pleasure, I encourage you to check out the series below. You’ll gain not only hours of stimulating entertainment, but also can break through the stigma, stereotypes, and urban legends of cannabis to become a more informed voter and savvy consumer.


Marijuana Straight Talk

Marijuana Straight Talk is a rare and wonderfully educational effort from NPR veteran and rational stoner Becca Williams. Williams, sometimes accompanied by her dog and MacBook, always exudes a positive sense of humor and easy going, intelligent mellowness best characterized by the herb itself.

Williams is executive producer of Marijuana Straight Talk, a series of relatively short videos (three to five minutes each) aimed at entertaining while also defying decades-old social stereotypes and stigma regarding cannabis and those who use it.

becca williams 2 for blog and twitter

Marijuana Straight Talk recently scored a big success in terms of viewer reach: It is now available in a 30-minute format on Free Speech Television Network, which is distributed via DISH Network, DirecTV, and Roku and available to more than 37 million Americans. The show is one of the most highly rated among Free Speech’s stable of progressive shows, which includes Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman.

In a recent Culture magazine interview, Williams explained how her shows are designed to serve as whimsical infotainment while delivering a serious message of cultural tolerance and education.

“We are a very wounded culture around this plant. It’s been misrepresented to us; there’s been a misinformation campaign. So, we need to educate ourselves around it. Our intent with Marijuana Straight Talk is to move the conversation into a place where we are imagining the best scenarios for how cultural acceptance for cannabis looks in this country.”   — Becca Williams, executive producer


The Pot Scientist Reports

The freshman effort of a Denver talking (pot)head who has dubbed himself the Pot Scientist is one of the better ways I’ve spent two or three minutes of my life. Like Marijuana Straight Talk, TPS Reports (also known as Ask the Pot Scientist) respects the time of viewers, never taking more than a meager slice of one’s spare time to keep up with the series.

The Pot Scientist has tackled topics ranging from the recent decision by the Colorado Board of Health to continue to exclude PTSD from its list of qualifying conditions to cannabis testing to the role of women in the cannabis cultivation industry.

pot scientist for blog and twitter

In early August 2015, the Pot Scientist declared his 20-episode “proof of concept” a success while jokingly thanking his 16 YouTube subscribers.

“I’ve proven to myself that I can write, record, edit, and release weekly video content about the marijuana industry. With this proof in hand, I plan to transform TPS…into a profitable media enterprise.”   — The Pot Scientist

Whether we’ll ever see the young and energetic Pot Scientist again lurking among the petabytes of spirited activist videos on YouTube is anyone’s guess. But hopefully he’ll be back. He’s a smart and engaging host who offers a critical and well-spoken view of current events, especially those in the Boulder or Denver area and within recreationally legalized states. Until his return, there’s 20 short, informative videos available for those who want to educate themselves.

[October 31, 2015 update]

Our wishes have come true, the Pot Scientist is back. He’s cranking out informative cannabis videos on YouTube, active on Twitter, and broadcasting on Periscope on a regular basis.


The Cannabist Show

The Cannabist Show is produced by the Denver Post’s The Cannabist, an online magazine comprised of a video series and daily news articles, including strain reviews and humorous commentary. The show is headquartered at ground zero for the marijuana movement, Denver. Chief editor Ricardo Baca welcomes weekly guests from the cannabis industry, as well as intelligent advocates, activists, and cannabusiness leaders.

The Cannabist Show for blog and twitter

Often, The Cannabist Show will cover issues based in Denver or Colorado, or investigate topics central to states that have legalized recreational cannabis. Shows include interviews with leaders within the Denver and national cannabis legalization scene.


Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle, and a freelance writer for various cannabis media outlets.

His marijuana-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Glass Wizard Brent Thackery Blows

The ability to blow top-shelf glass—the rare examples that make even experienced blowers stop and take notice—isn’t extremely common. The capability to make a living at it is even more rare. But that’s exactly what one entrepreneurial 29-year-old from Indiana, under the moniker of the Midwest Funk Connection, has accomplished.

Brent Thackery has been blowing glass for only eight years, a relatively short period of time to master an art as delicate and sophisticated as his. During that time, his art has been purchased by several A List fans of the culture, including actor Woody Harrelson, funkmaster George Clinton, and others from the music industry.

Humble Origins

Thackery’s adoption of his craft reads like a bohemian-style great American success story. “I borrowed two hundred bucks from my cousin and went to a welding supply store and bought a blow torch,” he told me during an interview from his studio. “A local company makes bottles for pharmaceutical companies. I dressed like a ninja and jacked a bunch of stuff from their dumpster and began working with it,” he said, laughing.

Close up of a pendant

“It was a slow start at first,” he explained. “I took a scientific class and made test tubes and water jackets and all that stuff. The rest of it was sitting in my garage, screwing up pieces,” he told me. “I was making my living as a tattoo artist at the time. Whenever I was waiting for clients, I’d mess with the glass. I have kids, so there was also the pressure to make money,” he said. At first, Thackery’s family mocked him, not believing that he could make a living blowing glass. “But here we are, eight years later, tearin’ it up,” he said. 

Accolades

“He’s pretty amazing,” said Willy Crosby, a blower with the Galactic Empire studio in Columbus, Ohio, who specializes in decorative pieces for tobacco connoisseurs. Crosby said he believes that it’s Thackery’s attention to detail that helps set him apart. “Brent puts just as much time into the decorations and extremities of his pieces as the main piece,” said Crosby.

“At one point, I think half of my staff had commissioned custom pieces from him, and these are kids who—like me—see thousands and thousands of different pieces per year,” said Steven Arthur, owner of the Magic Bus, a popular headshop in Indianapolis. “His stuff is dynamite, that’s for sure.”

The secret of Thackery’s success lies in his unique combination of talents. His technical precision and honeycomb treatments are among the best in the business. But accuracy alone produces nothing more than a machine-tooled glass bong. Thackery’s mesmerizing pieces are hybrids of his technical prowess and an inherent sense for the organic. His work reflects an intimate and almost primordial sense for “lopsided balance.” Sometimes resembling alien toadstools, other times portraying trippy sea creatures or elaborate and fantastical structures, Thackery’s art is exactly that: Art.

Take me to your leader

His creations are almost hauntingly sophisticated and deep. Many of Thackery’s pieces seem to magically provide a glimpse into the wide infinity of space. One of his trademarks is decorating pieces with one or more swirling or flower-like worm holes, twisting time and space into a few square inches of Pyrex.

While possessing a keen sense of the need to market and sell his work in order to survive in the modern world, Thackery considers his pieces more than a mere product. Comfortingly, his spirituality toward his work is exceeded only by his humility. When describing how his glass first began attracting attention, Thackery said, “People just began gravitating toward it.” It may be that much of his success is due to his focus on his trade and the pieces he produces, not himself or his ego. “Glass blowing itself is more than sitting down and making a pipe. The glass is actually the teacher,” he said.

Organically Inspired Beauty

When one peers into the seemingly impossibly deep spaces on some of Thackery’s highly organic pieces, a natural response is to wonder how someone could develop the skill to create such beautiful art. When queried, he responded, “I just sat in front of the torch and put in the time. I was passionate about it. Obsessed with it, you know? That’s really the key, I think. If you’re obsessed with anything, you’re going to get good at it,” he philosophized.

The quality of a showcase piece created by Thackery doesn’t come cheap: His bubblers sell for between $350 and $3,000. For those on a more meager budget, he produces less elaborate—yet equally gorgeous—pipes, vases, oil lamps, and necklace beads. “I’ve probably had more than 20 of his bubblers through my store in the past year, and I don’t think I’ve had two that were the same,” said the Magic Bus’ Arthur. “Brent’s probably the only artist that I can say that about,” he said. “And I see tens of thousands of pipes per year.”

Tripped out psychedelic colors snap

Thackery pointed out that some high-end glass techniques are the simple result of a blower’s ability to take the heat. “The hotter that you work with the glass, the more fluid it becomes. You have to be able to think faster and more fluidly in order to move your hands to accommodate the quickness of the flow. Just being able to move with the glass at the rate it wants to fall makes you a better blower,” he said.

This Indiana artist’s passion translates into a spiritual respect for his craft. “The individual pieces are a point in time,” he told me. “Sometimes, when you’re blowing glass, it’s like a Zen state, and you forget that you’re even blowing glass. You’re kind of on a little day trip and you come back and the piece is done,” he said with his charismatic laugh.

One could easily regard this artist’s pieces as pure art, not wanting to coat them with resin while consuming his or her favorite herb. Thackery, however, is quick to correct any such misunderstandings. “Actually, it’s sacrilegious to not smoke with them,” he said. When asked his goals, the young blower’s hippy spirituality shined through. “I don’t really have any goals,” he said. “What happens happens, you know?” After a reflective pause, however, he admitted, “I’d like to make a pipe that the whole world could hit at the same time.”

Big Country Weighs In

Big Country, from Big Country Glass in West Virginia, has been blowing his own pieces and reselling heady glass from other artists since 1991. “Out of all the glass blowers I know, Brent definitely has his own thing going,” Big Country told me during an interview at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park in Ohio.

  • On Implosions: “He does a lot of implosions using gold and silver fuming and he’s pretty much mastered how to work the two. Using a mixture of gold and silver, you can alter the heat of the flame and get just about any color in the rainbow. If you’ve seen some of Brent’s implosions, he definitely has that on the lock.”
  • On Shaping: “His shaping is his own thing, for sure. They’re not standard shapes. He doesn’t blow a traditional bubbler; he doesn’t blow a traditional hammer. He blows these big goopy massive evil-lookin’ things.”
  • On Style: “I’ve seen his shit for quite a few years now. I would never walk into a shop and not be able to pick out his stuff. If you see 50 pieces, his will jump out to you immediately.”

Interview Session One

Gooey Rabinski: During the past eight years, how have your glass blowing skills evolved?

Brent Thackery: It was a slow start. At that time, it seemed few people were doing it. You didn’t really hear about anybody doing it. So there was no way to really learn or find a mentor. So I took a scientific glass blowing class. That kind of laid the foundation. The rest of it was just sittin’ in my garage, screwing up pieces [laughs].

GR: What were your first income sources from glass blowing?

BT: I hooked up with some people who began selling some of my stuff. And I did a lot of production work. It required persistence and helped me get my technique down.

GR: Tell me more about the production work.

BT: It really helped a lot in that I’d have an idea and have to follow it through. I learned to not allow the glass to control me. I had to control the glass to create product that we had to have.

GR: Your work is among the best I’ve seen. Surely you didn’t develop this skill set with a single scientific class and some production work….

Try a 3D fluid filled orb on for size

BT: It was really just giving up my life and sitting in the garage for ten or fifteen hours a day for two or three years and not having a life at all. Just sitting in front of the torch and puttin’ in the time and being really passionate about it. That’s really the key, I think.

GR: What are your outlets for selling?

BT: Basically, it’s young people, they’re pretty much the mainstay. I do have a guy who sells stuff for me. He’s a businessman and he’s a major player in the industry. He had never seen a pipe that was worth more than a couple hundred dollars and I sent him a sample…one of the first bigger pieces I had done. He took it to a show in Las Vegas. He called me from the show and ordered like 30 of them. I was blown away. It might take a week or so to make one, and he wanted 30 overnighted to him! [laughs]

GR: What’s the average price range of the pieces you’re crafting?

BT: For the elaborate pieces, anywhere from $800 and up. If somebody came to me with $100,000, I could create a piece worth that much. That’s really my philosophy, to go over the top. Whatever I can do to expand the art of everything. I’ll admit, I want people to be amazed when they look at something.

GR: Do you like to focus on the bigger pieces?

BT: Absolutely. Not just ‘bigger,’ but technical things. Like when people say, ‘You can’t do that. The glass isn’t capable of doing that.’ And then I’ll make a mistake and it will contradict everything that I thought was possible. That avenue takes me to new places.

GR: So, on the creative side, you have to get an idea that you can see in your mind but somehow, on the physics side of it, you have to make the glass and the flame realize your vision?

BT: Yea. It’s a matter of opening myself to the channels of energy that are just kind of flowing through me. I’m using myself as a medium and these other energies are creating the glass for me. That’s kind of the way I like to look at it.

Interview Session Two

GR: Is it sacrilege to place a world-class heady piece on the shelf and never puff on it?

Thackery specializes in flowers and orbs

BT: [Laughing] Absolutely…absolutely.

GR: What type of pieces have you been working on? Have you been focusing on any particular style?

BT: I’ve been doing a lot of big stuff. A lot of fuming stuff, just trying to keep it real simple. I’m really trying to do new stuff and get away from what everybody else is doing and what’s expected, you know?

GR: Sounds like you’re developing some of your own techniques.

BT: Yea, trying to do a lot of experimental stuff. Just trying to come at it from different angles and different perspectives. Instead of just knocking out a straightforward production piece that everybody’s looking for, trying to do something totally weird, just to make it a novelty.

GR: So you’re creating those pieces where gawkers say, “You can really smoke out of that?” [Laughing]

BT: [Laughing] Yea, that’s what I’m trying to get. That mindset that you can have a piece sitting there and it’s not necessarily something that you need to hide. It’s sitting around and you think, “Wow, I just want to look at this for a while before I use it.”

GR: Would you say glass blowing—as a profession and way of earning one’s living—is a form of freedom from the establishment?

BT: Absolutely. Freedom from whatever is oppressing people. [This proves] that there’s an avenue to live the life you want to live. The life that you dream about. With my own work, I just want to get a message out of peace and harmony into the world.

brentsstuff_0032

GR: What’s your favorite piece to date?

BT: I made a piece for a big card player. It was just a gigantic black piece. I did a lot of gold fuming on it. That’s one of my favorites, for sure. I just pulled off a new piece a couple of weeks ago with some new colors. When I put them all together, it was just about every color in the neighborhood, but they all flowed seamlessly. ‘Cause there’s silver and gold in the colors, which changes the tint of things.

GR: Is glass blowing a natural extension of your creativity and spirituality?

BT: Absolutely. It’s become a part of who I am. If you’re searching for new things and your brain kicks up on glass, there’s no limit. I haven’t run into a wall yet. In some things in life, you’ll reach a plateau in your learning where you can’t go any further on your own, but this has held my interest. I was a tattoo artist for ten years and I couldn’t learn anymore. I was trying to learn from other people and I wasn’t getting anywhere. Then I began doing glass on the side and, ever since, I just can’t stop.

[This interview was conducted in 2007.]


HBK11RenderGooey Rabinski is a technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed dozens of feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis Health Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself and media outlets such as Whaxy and Green Flower Media. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His marijuana-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

You Don’t Know Jack (Herer)

[The following article was first published in August 2007. Jack Herer passed away on April 15, 2010 in Eugene, Oregon, at the age of 70. His pivotal book, The Emperor Wears No Clothes, has sold more than 700,000 copies worldwide.]


Many people, when they think Jack Herer, aptly think hemp—both the kind you smoke and the type you wear. His pinnacle book, The Emperor Wears No Clothes, has sold more than 700,000 copies, launching this Buffalo-raised Californian to fame both within and outside of the marijuana movement. The 2005 documentary Emperor of Hemp has brought Herer’s message to an even wider and more mainstream audience.

Jack the strain. Coveted by millions

Although Herer has worked tirelessly more than half his life to bring awareness to his belief that hemp can save the planet, there’s more to this 68-year-old cannabis crusader than meets the eye. More active than many in their 30s, Herer continues to throw his weight behind several West Coast projects—all related to cannabis and hemp, of course.

But do you really know Jack? For some, Herer is “some guy they named a type of pot after.” More seasoned fans of the culture cite his book (now in its 11th edition). But most people don’t know the story behind the strain (yes, it was officially blessed by the Hemperor) or the story of the sexy pocketable wooden pipe that produces dozens of cool hits from a single bowl. If you’d like to exclude yourself from the ignorant, read on.

Jack Herer’s Double Barrel Pipe

In 1998, when Herer was visiting Jacksonville, Florida, he met a marijuana activist who showed him a unique pipe made from aluminum. “Each hit was the perfect hit. But there was a problem; it got hotter and hotter and hotter and hotter,” Herer told me in an interview from his Northern California home in 2006. Herer and one of his sons have sold more than 30,000 units in the past nine years. The unique paraphernalia is marketed as a “double barrel, double venturi, ricocheting vortex” effect pipe.

Designed for Cool Hits

It just so happened that, at the time he discovered the aluminum pipe in Jacksonville, Herer owned a small company that manufactured pipes. He and his employees experimented with a variety of designs, all driven by the central goal of avoiding the heat buildup of the aluminum model.

After six months of obsessive experimentation—involving more than 700 test units—Herer and his compatriots finally held in their hands a pocketable wooden pipe capable of delivering the Holy Grail of toking: Cool hits—every hit. The air dynamics of this “double-barrel” (double-hole) smoking implement deliver air that’s 1/3 the temperature of a standard, one-hole pipe.

Jack Herer's Double Barrel Pipe

All this in a pipe that never requires cleaning (the design inherently retards resin buildup) and consumes only 1-1.5 percent of a gram of herb per hit (each bowl delivers 30-40 hits). Herer explained how conventional, single-hole pipes burn 15-30 percent of a gram in only one or two hits. “We got it cooler than a water bong. And it never gets dirty! After nine years, they’re still not dirty,” Herer told me.

Another fact that, on the surface, seems too good to be true: Not only does the pipe deliver up to a few dozen hits off a single—albeit elaborately packed—bowl, but each hit is fresh. In other words, the pipe’s air flow dynamics mean you’re never smoking ash. “Each hit is the first hit. 90 percent of each hit is green,” said Herer. Perfect for parties and group settings where you don’t want to be rude to your guests.

Slow Packing Only Dry Pot

With all of the amazing qualities of stretching your herb supply and requiring no cleaning for literally a decade, all in a pocketable form factor that delivers hits cooler than a water bong. What’s the catch? Not price ($60 US). “You have to use dry, cured pot. Which is what you should smoke anyway,” Herer said.

Herer demonstrating his pipe at a trade show in San Francisco

Jack Herer using his famous pipe. Photo Copyright © 2007-2016 Gooey Rabinski.

These unique pipes must also be carefully and diligently packed, layer after layer, using a regimented technique involving a special wooden packing tool. Be warned: This pipe isn’t a quick toke before the concert when you’re running late. Impatient potheads won’t be thrilled with the time required to pack the bowl, an exercise somewhat symbolic of Herer’s personal spirituality toward the herb.

How To Use a Jack Herer Pipe

To enjoy the benefits of one of Herer’s greatest non-literary contributions to the culture, one must properly pack the bowl. As Herer told me, “You don’t know Jack if you don’t know how to pack the pipe.”

  1. Collect 1/3 to 1/2 of a gram of dry cannabis.
  2. Crush/grind the herb and separate it into six equal piles. These will be used to pack the bowl, layer-by-layer.
  3. Place the first of the piles into the bowl. Smash it down with your finger to create an even layer across the screen.
  4. Using the narrow end of the wooden packing tool, apply pressure to the edges of the bowl. Herer recommends considering the bowl as the face of a clock and compressing it at eight different spots (corresponding to a cycle of 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00 followed by a round of 1:30, 4:20, 7:30, and 10:30).
  5. Repeat this process until the bowl is full.
  6. When lighting the pipe, hit only a corner; don’t torch the entire bowl. The self-carbureting action of the pipe means it typically stays lit long enough to casually pass down the line without everyone scrambling for a Bic.

The Jack Herer Strain

If you’re lucky, you’ve had a sample of some well-grown and properly dried and cured Jack Herer, a strain bred and introduced by Sensi Seeds in Amsterdam. In 1994, Ben Dronkers, owner of Sensi Seeds, approached Herer about lending his name to a new choice strain from the company. “It was Northern Lights #5 x Haze and two or three other strains, bred together. [Ben] said, ‘Don’t tell anybody,’ so I said okay,” Herer told me.

Four inch version with signature - photo by Amy Devenport

“We talked about royalties, and I said, ‘Oh, that’s okay, when I come to Amsterdam, take care of me.’” Dronkers asked Herer if he was sure he didn’t want royalties instead, but Herer refused, not thinking much of it.

To the detriment of Herer’s wallet but the solidity of his legacy, the Jack Herer strain has been one of Sensi Seeds’ best sellers, generating more than $10 million in revenues. In the thirteen years since its introduction, it always fetched a price deserving of its energetic sativa-dom high type, smooth onset, and solid potency. “If I had taken a royalty instead of the red carpet when I’m in Amsterdam, I’d be about a millionaire now,” Herer said with a self-deprecating but humorous laugh.

The Curmudgeonly Cannabis Crusader Continues

For millions of people around the world, when they think Jack Herer, they think hemp. More importantly—and due in large part to the popularity of his groundbreaking book—millions of people who may never know who Herer is will still get his message. Herer told me the one thing he most wishes readers would remember, and it isn’t his unique and economical pipe–or the fact that he wishes he could turn back time on his licensing deal with Sensi Seeds (money has never been a strong motivator for him). Rather, Herer wishes that hemp can prevent the destruction of the rain forest and completely replace petroleum as society’s fuel of choice.

“I’m going to get pot legal all over the globe,” Herer told me with conviction. “The thing that can save the Earth—if it’s savable—will be 100% legalization of everything hemp,” he emphasized, adding, “Who has died from it?! Only those who were shot by cops!”


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2016 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a writer, instructional designer, and cannabis satirist who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, The KindSKUNK, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Gooey Interviews: David Gans

Endarkened forces are bearing down
On us unconforming souls
Waving flags and bashing fags
And burning truth like coal.

             Lyrics from It’s Gonna Get Better by David Gans


You may or may not have heard of David Gans. If you’re of a progressive mindset, don’t trust your government, believe in enlightened approaches to social justice, think romance is often a comical game, and are just generally fed up with the bullshit from Corporate America, you probably already like Gans—you just don’t know it.

A California native and lifelong resident, Deadhead documentarian Gans has enjoyed a multi-faceted career in both journalism and music that has spanned nearly four decades and includes books, albums, and the Grateful Dead Hour, a nationally syndicated radio show and his day job for the past 22 years. His songs are an eclectic collection of intelligent, socially conscious, and political rabble rousing tunes often doused in biting irony.

GOTV07_millmanDuring his career, Gans has interviewed some of the biggest names in popular rock music. Artists such as Neil Young, Rod Stewart, Fleetwood Mac, the Talking Heads (the topic of one of his books), Jerry Garcia (the topic of several of Gans’ album and book projects), and the Doobie Brothers gave their stories to Gans for magazines such as Rolling Stone and Musician.

In the fall of 2007, David Gans and I spent some time backstage at the Fall Hookahville music festival where he was performing. We discussed the Grateful Dead (the topic of most of Gans’ work), his latest album, and national politics—while exploring the libertarian values espoused in his music.

Gooey Rabinski: What was it about Jerry Garcia and this god-like magnetism?

David Gans: He was a ridiculously charismatic guy. His musicianship was superlative. And his song writing and the character of his performance were just incredibly attractive to people. A lot of people who like to get really really high—in a positive way, not stupid fucking drunk people—but people who took acid as a tool of self-discovery and to widen the doors of perception and all that…it’s not that they took it seriously, but it was, in a way, a spiritual pursuit.

Going to see that band and hearing that guy play, he could take you on trips and just amazing places—if you got that. The people who didn’t understand Grateful Dead music and just thought it some stupid stoned hippy music, they never got it. But the people who did get it really got it. It could really take you someplace.

When Jerry was paying attention, when he engaged with the music, it really was deep shit. So I totally understand people who would follow him to the ends of the earth. There reached a point somewhere along the line when the legend started to eclipse the man. I think Jerry got kind of tired of being Jerry Garcia pretty early in the game.

GR: Do you think that coincided with the band’s commercial success?

DG: Yes and no. That was really a whole other thing. I think Jerry sort of withdrew from that reluctant guru role much earlier than that. He had that thing like Bob Dylan had of being somebody where everything he said was taken so seriously that an offhand comment would become a moral lesson in the world. I think he began to realize that, when he spoke from the stage, people were listening a little too intently.

GR: It’s almost like a Jesus Christ syndrome in how people regarded Garcia….

DG: Yea, Jerry was dealing with that as well. Because he had all these people who got really really high and really into what he was doing—and took it more seriously than he took it. And more seriously than I think he thought it was meant to be taken. The power of that alarmed him some. He didn’t want to be responsible for telling people what to do and he didn’t want people interpreting what he said as being powerful instructions.

I have this feeling that’s one of the reasons why he and Bob Dylan connected so well. They were two guys who had had way too much attention. That, you know, Dylan was famous in the early ’60 and late ‘60s for having that guy Alan J. Weberman going through his garbage and divining stuff. Dylan also changed the world and he kept sayin’ stuff that mattered to the world and he kept making observations.

GR: But just because he drinks a pint of milk every day doesn’t mean that cows are god….

DG: Well, right. People were taking his stuff way too seriously. Just as a practical matter of how to live in the world, not being able to go down to the corner and have a beer I think could get to you after a while. But Jerry was an unbelievingly engaging guy. When he had the charm turned on—which was most of the time I ever saw him—he could talk about anything and not just be bullshitting, you know? He was interested in stuff…he was well-read…he watched movies…he watched TV. He knew what was going on in the world and he cared about what was going on in the world. He could talk intelligently and inspiringly about it.

I think the Grateful Dead and the whole San Francisco hippy movement thing really did, for a while, think they could change the world. And then reality closed in and they realized that, not only could they not change the world, but they couldn’t even live the way they started out to live.

When the Grateful Dead started being a touring band—in like 1968—I think the whole nature of their family existence changed. ‘Cause they started out as a neighborhood band living communally in this big social experiment with all these other people and they ended up…. Being on tour is like being in a space capsule, but it’s launched on earth. You’re not really in the world. You’re carrying this complete environment of your own around with you. And part of their mission in those days was to bring that thing to various places. They were going to turn New York onto it.

Twisted Love Songs album coverWhatever notions they had about a social experiment fell by the wayside. And this is just my opinion from years of observation. I wasn’t there at the time, but I had seen how it went down and what became of it. I just think the practical matter of being a touring band and keeping your music fresh and dealing with that audience and stuff became their reason for being. All that early stuff that they thought was going to be so cool ended up being less important than keeping the show on the road.

GR: I’ve heard your latest album, Twisted Love Songs. In It’s Gonna Get Better, you label politicians as “pious thieves.”

DG: People have been beating god to death to get what they want from the world. An example is this guy [Senator] Larry Craig from Idaho who pleads guilty to this crime of soliciting sex in a public bathroom—and this is a guy who has spent years advocating loudly and passionately legislation to punish guys like himself.

What does that tell you about that party and those people? The ugly, violent, moralistic nature of that party provides this incredible cover for economic crimes. You know, they get everybody all hung up about sayin’ “fuck” on the radio….

GR: Or a breast at half time….

DG: Yea. You know, there’s all these things regarding public morality—which they’re so hypocritical about–but they’re just ways of distracting people from real crimes. They’ll police our behavior in private and with each other, but they won’t police people’s terrible economic abuse of one another in the marketplace. They keep trying to forget the role of the state in regulating toxic emissions into the environment and abuses of financial instruments to enrich people at the expense of others, and then they want to creep into everyone’s bedroom and find out who’s fuckin’ who up the ass.

It’s just so completely wrong. That they’ve managed to acquire this much power with that as the lever of it is just absurd and criminal to me. So that’s what that song’s about: They’re pious thieves.

GR: But can we really get rid of them? Everyone says, “back in the good ol’ days,” but I believe that there was no “good ol’ days.” There’s been corrupt, evil motherfuckers forever. Egypt…Greece…Rome…England…we’ve always had an evil ruling class. As we do now.

DG: America was supposed to be this experiment in social equality. And the Constitution is a beautiful, absolutely brilliant and humane document that has been neglected, forgotten, abused, and raped by these people. Particularly the Bush Administration, which is the worst thing that’s happened to the planet in I don’t know how long.

GR: But what do we do about it? I hear all of these simple solutions, such as “go vote,” and none of them sound quite right.

DG: Well, voting is a part of the solution. Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” That means embody those values that you think matter. You can’t live a completely pure existence. One of the great pitfalls of trying to do that is to demand ideological purity of everybody. You just can’t be 100% ideologically pure in this universe.

GR: So what do you like to do most? Write music? Play music? Write? Or is it less about the medium and more about the topic?

DG: Well, getting to be a Grateful Dead expert wasn’t really what I intended. I was a general interest journalist for ten years—’76 to ’86—but then, toward the end of that time, I accidentally got a book deal and wrote Playing in the Band.

GR: Your music encompasses the way many Americans and Canadians feel since Bush came into office.

DG: I grew up in a time when we thought music was going to change the world.

GR: The late sixties?

DG: Yea, pretty much. The Beatles got everybody’s attention and then started doing something constructive with it, which was great. Everybody wanted to hear what they were doing and, as they grew up, they started writing music that meant something more than just mating rituals. Which is what all the early stuff was.

GR: Like Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis?

DG: Well, you know, music was about raw energy and it was about sex and shit, but people came along. The folk singers tried to change the world and Bob Dylan tried to change the world and the Beatles were pop stars who had a much bigger audience than the folk singers and they started doing socially responsible stuff. That’s when I came of age.

Solo Acoustic album coverGR: At the beginning of your first set [at Hookahville], you mentioned democracy. Has America ever really had a democracy? It certainly seems like we might not have one now.

DG: Well, they’ve done their best to get rid of it, but I think it might survive. I don’t know…history is all about survival of the fittest and the brutality of people in defense of their own property and in reaction to their own fears going back to the beginning of history. America was founded on these principles—and operated in spite of these principles—since day one.

A lot of people have been screwed over and a lot of people have gotten rich off the backs of other people in the name of American values. But I think, on a whole, it’s been a pretty successful experiment and, if we’re careful and if we’re positive and if we’re proactive, we can save it from the degradations of the kleptocrats. The Bush people are just the worst in terms of not giving a rat’s ass about who’s lives are made more miserable by their profiteering.

GR: You said earlier that you think Bush has been….

DG: Way worse than Nixon.

GR: Worse than Nixon?

DG: Well, we hated Nixon with a passion in ’74.

GR: But he created the DEA….

DG: Nixon also created the Environmental Protection Agency. Nixon went to China. Nixon did stuff that….

GR: So you’re saying he gave a damn?

DG: Well, Nixon was pathological, too. Believe me, man, Nixon was a sick motherfucker. But he was politically expedient. In those days, you could do more things. With the rise of the religious right, the fundamentalists and the profiteers have formed this incredible unholy alliance. The fundamentalists provide this great distraction, this cover.

Everybody’s arguing about a titty being seen at the Superbowl, but the debate about toxic waste and economic justice is relegated to the middle of the newspaper and not even covered in the evening news because all these other circuses are crowding it out.

I’ll rave about this shit ‘til the cows come home, but when I get up on stage, I try to make a little subtle reference to it here and there and just tell my story and let people get some value out of it—and maybe some inspiration.

GR: ‘Cause certainly if we look at the 2000 [U.S. presidential] election with Florida and then the 2004 election with Ohio….

convcoverNeighboring camper/pot salesman: How are you guys doin? I don’t mean to interrupt, but I have a bag of [Crutchster’s] Dumpster…a bunch of little bottoms. A quarter is $60. Perfect for rollin’ joints! I just got a huge pile of it.

GR: I might want to swap you for some hash.

Salesman: What kind of hash?

GR: Afghani.

DG: [Laughing] I’m not in the market ‘cause I’m flying home Saturday morning.

[We talk briefly with the guy selling pot and then return to the interview.]

GR: Is it fair to say that, within a reality of not being 100% ideologically pure, that one votes with one’s dollars?

DG: Yea.

[Gans, an old school master of journalism in almost any medium, has also produced or co-produced eight other albums, including Grateful Dead: So Many Roads, a five-CD collection spanning Dead shows between 1965 and 1995.]

GR: It’s nice to know that yuppies can also get stoned and trip and listen to good music….[laughing].

DG: It’s not about yuppies. Everybody in the world should hear that music, you know? The fact that they’re putting a record together that’s sold in a place where lots of good music is being sold these days. And because the regular retail record business is completely falling apart.

You just have to try to make things better in any way that you can and try not to make things worse and—you know what I’m sayin’? You can’t say Starbucks sucks and the Grateful Dead shouldn’t do business with them, because they’re trying to sell their music and get new people to like it, which is something we were always trying to do, too. When we were young Deadheads, we wanted to evangelize this to the world.

Okay, now they’ve found a way to get [this music] in the hands of people who would never run into the Grateful Dead in their ordinary travels, but they see that at Starbucks and they check it out.

Like this thing came up recently where the Grateful Dead put out a CD that’s being sold at Starbucks. It’s a double CD and it’s kind of an introduction to Grateful Dead music. It’s kinda neat. It’s not a record that I need because I’ve been listening to the Grateful Dead for 35 years.

But a lot of people are totally up in arms. They’re asking how can they get in bed with Starbucks, these corporate criminals. I know there’s some truth to that, that there are things that Starbucks has done in terms of being predatory in locating their stores and stuff, but I also hear from some people—and I’ve not done any direct research on this—that they’re very good employers. That [Starbucks] treats their workers well and their workers are stakeholders in some way and have good health plans and such.

GR: You articulate those values well.

DG: Well, thank you. Mission accomplished [laughing].

Anybody who expects me to take their faith as the truth is going to have a problem. If you believe god did this and god made that and god wants you to do that…then fine, you do that. But you don’t get to tell me how to behave because your god believes that shit, because I don’t believe that shit.

All of Western religion is based on stories that were told and written down years after the events took place and it’s all people telling other people what to do and you have to ask, what’s in it for them? The patriarchical god doesn’t do me the slightest bit of good because I don’t know him. And I’m not taking anybody else’s word for his. I think it’s a criminal thing to go around trying to run the world and telling people to deny their own nature on the basis of some shit that’s been told for 2000 years and passed along by people with a vested interest in continuing to be in power.

That doesn’t mean that I hate religion, it means that I hate religious fanatics who want to run the world in their image. That’s one of the things that my songs get a little gnarly about. I’d like to inspire and persuade people, but you don’t do that by telling them what to think. You do that by showing them how you think and setting an example. That Ghandi thing again: Be the change you want to see in the world. So I try to live a life that’s not lethal to anybody else.

The Works of David Gans

Books

  • Conversations with the Dead (The Grateful Dead Interview Book)
  • Playing in the Band (An Oral and Visual Portrait of the Grateful Dead)
  • Not Fade Away (The Online World Remembers Jerry Garcia)
  • Talking Heads (The Band and Their Music)

Albums

  • Twisted Love Songs
  • Solo Electric
  • Solo Acoustic
  • Home by Morning
  • Live at the Powerhouse
  • Grateful Fest 6 (Live at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park)

HBK11RenderGooey Rabinski is a technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed dozens of feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis Health Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana (2015 Edition), available on Amazon Kindle, and is a contributing writer at Whaxy.com.

His marijuana-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

2006 Wonders of Cannabis Festival

[This article was originally written in January 2007]


The 2006 Wonders of Cannabis festival held in late October, the second annual since Ed Rosenthal founded the San Francisco-based event in 2005, was a blazing success for attendees, vendors, and performers alike. This pot trade show cum smoke out party brought out California’s finest as vendors, growers, breeders, bands, and the fans of the culture that support them celebrated the kind herb.

The Best of the Best

To say the herb was top-shelf at this event would be an understatement. Cali’s finest came out to share choice strains, including OG Kush, Trainwreck, and Sour Bubble—many of which were mouth watering examples of outdoor organic. Even after a full day of toking, Bushy Old Grower’s (BOG’s) Sour Bubble cut right through the fog, proving itself as one of the unofficial top strains of the event. It’s unique high type and knockout potency had even veteran tokers appreciating it and those suffering chronic pain feeling blessed relief.

The boys from Vapolution showed off their vaporizer

Scott and Patrick from Vapolution

Other superlative medical strains came from the D&M Compassion Center out of Lake County, about three hours north of San Francisco. D&M specializes in outdoor grown true living organics and has been cultivating their medicine in the same pristine outdoor growing spots—sans synthetic fertilizers of any kind—for more than 12 years.

Other Northern California compassion clubs made a strong showing at the event, including downtown San Francisco’s Hope Net and The Sanctuary, both of which brought samples of their superlative medicine. The Sanctuary’s sugary C-4 and AffGoo had some of the best bag appeal seen at the event.

Backstage in the VIP Lounge, Steve and Kevin from Hope Net exhibited some of the finest hashes, oils, and kiefs seen all weekend, administering hits old school style on a ceramic hot plate with a glass straw. Hope Net also makes a modern version of Bhang in the form of infused chocolate milk that will either kill your pain or get you stoned as hell, but you won’t go away unsatisfied.

Rolling Contest

A highlight of the Wonders of Cannabis festival was the rolling contest, attracting dozens of rollers and hundreds of spectators. The veteran growers and breeders showed the young punks from L.A. and San Fran what they’re made of.

“Ghandi of Ganja” Northern Cali pot farmer Eddy Lepp picked up the fattie award as he rolled a burrito for the judges in record time. Breeder and grow author BOG likewise showed the kids what it’s all about by winning the fastest one-handed rolling competition while giving away copies of his new book Bonanza of Green with the other.

Jack Herer takes a toke break at his booth

Jack Herer with his trademark pipe

Despite the fact that a few participants complained about the fake herb used in the rolling contest, some concessions to the man had to be made. Besides, there was enough of the good stuff floating around that no one complained very long. The overall mood was relaxed and unintimidating. BOG and I shared a joint of his incredible indica-dom Sour Bubble while having a pleasant conversation with two on-duty California park rangers. Relaxed toking within six feet of a badge…no, Toto, this isn’t Kansas anymore.

Jack Herer & Los Marijuanos

The Kottonmouth Kings and Los Marijuanos (which, translated literally, means “The Potheads”) entertained the crowd with toker-friendly tunes and a message of legalization and medical compassion. Los Angeles comedians Howard Dover and Ngaio Bealum (who also performed MC duties) kept attendees laughing and the entertainment running smoothly.

Jack Herer proved his reputation for tireless activism as the Hemperor schmoozed with those passing by his booth, selling copies of his books Grass and The Emperor Wears No Clothes and demonstrating his beautiful wooden double barrel vortex pipe.

Herer’s amazing organically-inspired smoking implement delivers a smooth, cool hit every time. I watched him tirelessly demonstrate to every customer who purchased one how to pack it, explaining the trippy double venturi ricocheting vortex effect that occurs inside. Don’t worry. After you smoke a bowl out of it, you still won’t understand how it works—but you’ll be really glad it does.

Top-Shelf Vendors & Celebs

If energized hip-hop-influenced musical acts such as the Kottonmouth Kings, Los Marijuanos, and Rocker-T weren’t enough, attendees had an opportunity to visit dozens of top-shelf vendors. From Stinky Clean pipe cleaner to the Marijuana Policy Project (and its legalization effort) to Hemp Hoodlamb’s ecologically friendly, pimpin’-in-style hemp winter wear, the Wonders of Cannabis allowed attendees to get up close and personal—and maybe even share a toke—with their favorite ganja-friendly companies.

S&M Industries showed up with their best-of-show kiefing boards, designed and built in Northern California with standout quality and a commitment to customer satisfaction (such good kit, I picked one up myself). The crew from Vaporstore.com were also on hand, showing off a wide variety of vaporizers.

Eddy Lepp displays the fattie winner at the rolling contest

Eddie Lepp and his rolling contest winning joint

Celebrities in attendance included Los Angeles dispensary owner Craig X from the hit Showtime series Weeds, who was up from Hollywood checking out the scene. Also on hand was Libertarian presidential hopeful and med pot user Steve Kubby, who was a guest speaker.

Americans for Safe Access had an impressive booth, informing the cannabis world of its ground-breaking research and activism. SKUNK Magazine’s favorite vaporizer, the Vapolution, was in full effect as proprietors Scott and Patrick allowed booth visitors to sample personal herb samples in their impressive and economical vaping device. Toking was believing, with swift sales of the unit proving its value and effectiveness for stretching one’s medicine supply and reducing harmful tars.

Performance artist the Snake Lady, although not on the official entertainment roster, gave a few private performances—one of which included belly dancing with her pet 300-pound snake—and showed off some of her impressive tatts.

Special thanks also go out to Raquel from New Mexico, whose booth was adorned with tons of groovy silk and velvet clothing, as well as infused organic chocolate-covered fruit and other edibles. If not for her wonderful infused-espresso chocolate, I might not have made my flight out of San Francisco back home.

Standout Speakers

Standout speakers included Lepp and Herer, both of whom spoke from the heart with unprepared speeches. Lepp told the audience of his plight to legally (under California’s Compassionate Use Act) grow medicine for the sick and dying while the DEA removed more than 32,000 plants from his farm in Lake County in 2004—leaving thousands of patients without medicine.

Historian Michael Aldridge and L.A. attorney Bruce Margolin

Historian Michael Aldridge, L.A. attorney Bruce Margolin

Some members of the audience were brought to tears as Herer described how, in the early 1980s, his mother visited him in California while suffering from severe Alzheimer’s. She was suffering so badly, said Herer, that she no longer recognized many family members. After smoking cannabis with Herer for six weeks, she displayed zero Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Upon returning home, however, her husband forbade her from smoking (thanks for nothing, patriarchy), even if it did help her, based simply on the fact that it’s illegal. “Two years later, she got so bad she was put into a hospital,” Herer told the audience. “One year later, she didn’t recognize me or my children whatsoever. She died in 1990. For the last four years of her life, she didn’t recognize me when I came to visit.”

Spirituality & The Most High

For those not from California, the spirituality of many vendors and attendees might have been surprising. Lake County’s Reverend Tom Brown was selling his Holy Anointing Oil, a multi-thousand-year-old recipe dating back to the Old Testament. Lepp and members of his multi-denominational Ministry of Cannabis and Rastafari made the rounds, spreading love, smiles, good ganja, and words of optimism.

Craig X, of Temple 420, a Jewish/Christian ministry based in Hollywood that also functions as a compassion club, believes strongly in the religious and spiritual right to consume cannabis. “We feel that God created all plants on earth with His Word according to the Bible in the Book of Genesis,” reads Temple 420’s Web site. “This includes the cannabis plant, with its many uses.”

Not Your Average Trade Show

The 2006 Wonders of Cannabis wasn’t your average trade show with a little entertainment on the side. Professional facilities, open toking, standout edibles, compassion clubs that understand the meaning of compassion, world-class entertainment, some of the most outstanding outdoor organic herb, and more cool pot-centric vendors than you can shake a cola at made for a memorable weekend.

Even though a few attendees probably don’t remember much of it….


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2016 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a photographer, writer, instructional designer, and cannabis satirist who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, The KindSKUNK, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabin