Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Modern Day Reefer Madness: On Halloween, Edibles are Coming for Your Children

Edibles sure put the "trick" in Trick-Or-Treat!

Seems like every October, we in the rational corner of society (an increasingly smaller and smaller space) have to endure the breathless warnings of police departments all over the country about malevolent stoners doling out marijuana edibles to innocent children on Halloween.

Local news stations are the primary mouthpieces for these hysterical warnings. This is not surprising, because local news is a shameless clickbait hole of shootings, stabbings, missing white children, and anything else that induces widespread paranoia. 

Real news outlets staffed by real journalists recognize that the idea of cannabis consumers giving away their stash for free to initiate a prank they will never see A) makes zero sense, and B) reflects an incredibly cynical and sinister stereotype of cannabis users.

America's police departments are apparently not beyond the nineteenth-century concept of the "Dope Fiend" lurking in the shadows, preying on schoolchildren, motivated by nothing except their inherent depravity.

The current state of American law enforcement - to say nothing of American journalism - is more frightening than most Halloween costumes. 

Have a Happy Halloween everyone! And remember, as always, that stoners are vicious people who want to hurt your children by giving them non-lethal treats!

The Hempiricist on Public Radio

Had a great time yesterday morning talking cannabis history with Geoff Riley on southern Oregon's Jefferson Public Radio! We discussed some of the problems inherent in researching cannabis, as well as the biology and botany of the plant and how the fraught terminology surrounding cannabis endures to the present. Listen to the full interview here!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Hempiricist Kicks Off Fall Book Talk Tour

Thanks to everyone who came out to my first book talk at Old Firehouse Books in Fort Collins! Tons of great questions and an enjoyable discussion. More Colorado talks to come:

Credit: Historiann
11/1 - Barnes & Noble, Boulder, 7 pm
11/11 - The Bookman,
Colorado Springs, 5:30 pm
11/12 - Tattered Cover, Denver, 2 pm
12/6 - Explore Booksellers, Aspen, 5:30 pm

Credit: Nancy Gonzalez

Friday, October 20, 2017

To improve the legal weed industry, look to the past (op-ed in Denver Post's The Cannabist)

My first op-ed hit the internet this morning over at the Cannabist, the all-marijuana section of The Denver Post:

As I've mentioned previously on this site, the Cannabist does great work, and I'm honored to be a part of the nation's premier site for all things cannabis!

Monday, October 16, 2017

New essay: "Marijuana on Public Lands: A Short History"

Credit: Gretel Daugherty, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

This morning Colorado State University's Public Lands History Center published my essay, "Marijuana on Public Lands: A Short History," on its blog. The PLHC is a research institution that uses history to help tackle current problems affecting America's public lands.

Read my post, and while you're there, check out what else the center is digging into!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Missouri cops not the first officers to think hemp was MJ

A few weeks ago, a group of Missouri police officers were so proud of the marijuana motherlode they found that they posed for a quick Facebook pic:

"What a great team effort today," a statement from the Jasper Police Department read, "It was hot and humid and not easy getting those plants."


The statement claimed the "marijuana" plants had a street value of $100,000. Only one problem: those plants are most likely hemp. The Jasper police chief later took down the post, but the internet's legions had already inundated it with angry and corrective comments. Apparently, some of the officers even received threats (side note: this is the second time in the past week I've read about cannabis activists issuing threats - aren't they supposed to be chill?).

The chief later said that his officers found the pot as part of an ongoing investigation into a meth operation, and that he personally did not think marijuana use was a problem.

In further fairness to the Jasper Police, they are far from the only American authorities to have mistaken hemp for marijuana. It happened all the time after the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, which excluded hemp in theory but not in practice. Just a year after the law was passed, authorities in Montana burned up a fiber company's whole crop of hemp, forcing the mayor of Red Lodge, Montana to denounce the whole episode as a "big mistake":

Later, police in southern California pulled up hemp plants from people's yards almost daily during the 1950s, and sometimes posed for photos just like the Missouri cops above:

There's so much to love about this photo, taken from the Long Beach Independent in October 1954, from the bewildered expressions on the cops' faces ("GOLLY GEE, WOULD YA LOOK AT THE SIZE'A THAT, LLOYD???") to the article's tinge of mundane suburban drama (my neighbors won't "pooh-hoo" me anymore!). 

Photos and stories like this were extremely common after the Tax Act, as hempseed - a major ingredient in birdseed - was spread across the American landscape by animals and the wind. Though the government required all hempseed to be sterilized - lest it sprout into the evil nemesis marijuana - it's clear that not all of it was.

That, or there was some epic "life-finds-a-way" thing happening. Either way, stories of mistaken marijuana identity are reminders of both nature's role in thwarting prohibition and of the cryptic nature of cannabis, a plant that to this day confounds and surprises us.