Mile High City, Sparks Up a Counterculture Clash
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Mile High City, Sparks Up a Counterculture Clash
Posted by CN Staff on March 18, 2010 at 19:36:25 PT
By Stephanie Simon
Source: Wall Street Journal
Denver, CO -- Attorney Warren Edson would like to throttle the anonymous marijuana breeder who named a potent strain of weed "Green Crack." He's not too fond, either, of those breeders who have given strains names like "Jack the Ripper," "White Widow," "AK-47" and "Trainwreck.""How can I find them and strangle them?" Mr. Edson asks. His beef: Mr. Edson is in the vanguard of an aggressive movement to make pot respectable —but decades of stoner culture keep dragging him down.
Medical marijuana is now legal in 15 states for patients suffering certain conditions, including, in Colorado, chronic pain. More than 60,000 Coloradans have doctor recommendations allowing them to buy marijuana; physicians are approving about 400 new patients a day. Pot shops have popped up all over, including at least 230 here in the Mile High City.Many of the new dispensaries are dingy and cramped, with bars on the windows, psychedelic posters on the walls and a generally furtive feel.But a growing number of potrepreneurs have gone upscale, investing as much as $100,000 to launch "wellness centers" that look like spas—and just happen to sell weed. This new breed of marijuana "pharmacist" is pushing hard to professionalize the industry.That means promoting a voluntary code of conduct at odds with the traditional buck-the-system stoner culture. The new pot professionals look down on neon cannabis-leaf signs, wince at tie-dye Bob Marley posters, and cringe at the in-your-face swagger of the names traditionally used to differentiate varieties of marijuana.The result: a brewing culture clash within the counterculture."Some people don't even want to use words like 'stoner' and 'pothead,' " complains Steve Bloom, co-author of "Pot Culture: The A-Z Guide to Stoner Language and Life." He has no patience for that: "We should embrace those terms. This is who we are."In 2000, Colorado voters amended the state constitution to let patients seek relief from pain, nausea and other symptoms by working with medical marijuana "caregivers." For years, all was discreet. Then, last summer, the Board of Health approved a liberal definition of "caregiver," opening the door to commercial dispensaries. A few months later, President Barack Obama ordered federal narcotics agents to respect state medical-marijuana laws.The green rush was on.Self-styled pot experts like Nick Paul, an out-of-work handyman, found that for an investment of a couple thousand dollars, they could rent a small shop, set out a dozen strains of marijuana in glass jars and reinvent themselves as bud-tenders, ringing up $80,000 a month in sales. An industry took root, complete with security consultants, zoning advisers, even crop insurance. Westword, a Denver weekly newspaper, hired a medical marijuana reviewer.Then came the backlash, as communities statewide moved to restrict dispensaries. The most organized and wealthy of the potrepreneurs formed trade associations to protect their interests; they hired lawyers and lobbyists, pollsters and publicists. They also took a close look at their industry—and, in some cases, recoiled.Wanda James, a recreational smoker, says some dispensaries have such a disreputable feel, "they put me on edge."Determined to show there's a classier way, Ms. James and her husband run the Apothecary of Colorado in a gentrified building with exposed-brick walls, airy views and unimpeachable fellow tenants—architects, software engineers, wind-energy consultants. The bud bar is lined with live cannabis plants, and a gourmet goodie-shop stocks medicinal banana-nut bread and organic-vegan-gluten-free granola.A couple blocks away, Shawna Brown creates a similar mood at Lotus Medical, an elegant space with muted lighting, antique furniture, massage tables and a Zen garden. This, she says, is the true face of medical marijuana: dignified care for patients with AIDS, cancer or other chronic illnesses."People need to wake up and see this in a different light," Ms. Brown says. "It's not about Pink Floyd posters all over the walls."But Ms. Brown says it is hard to convey that sober image and stave off a regulatory crackdown when other dispensaries glory in jaunty names ("Dr. Reefer"), goofy slogans ("If you got the pain, I got the strain!") and cut-rate deals ("Free med grab bag for the first 100 patients")."A doctor wouldn't offer, 'Buy one Vicodin, get one free,'" she says. "It turns my stomach."To which her low-rent rivals respond: Mellow out."That's very fancy-pantsy," says Angel Macauley, who runs the Little Green Pharmacy, a tiny pot shop with Christmas lights strung through the window grate and an enormous cannabis-leaf sign."This is a simple business. Get them in and out, like a gas station," Ms. Macauley says, nibbling on Doritos. "I just want to make my money."Across town at the Denver Marijuana Medical Center, a bare-bones shop with a three-foot-high plastic alien in the window, owner Julian Sanchez is equally dismissive of attempts to pretty up the industry."They're not doctors. They're people selling marijuana," he says. "It's all a money game."A customer in a hooded sweatshirt—who calls himself Patrick and says he needs meds like Purple Urkle and Sour Diesel for chronic pain—chimes in. "You want us to sugarcoat it?" he asks. "Why?"Economics may be behind the culture clash, with upscale joints trying to muscle out the competition, but there's also a real philosophical debate.Rob Corry, a lawyer and longtime marijuana activist, sympathizes with those who want a neon pot leaf on every corner. "Part of normalizing this is putting it in peoples' faces and saying, 'You'll get used to it,'" he explains.Yet Mr. Corry thinks the best way to win acceptance is to be discreet. He'd like to do away with the more violent names for marijuana strains. "Maybe we could come up with holistic names that reflect the wellness idea? Like Harmony," he says. "I can tell you, 'Trainwreck' isn't a great name for a medicine."Mr. Corry considers a moment. "Or maybe it is," he says. "I've heard 75-year-old grandmas say, 'I need more Trainwreck.' "Source: Wall Street Journal (US)Author: Stephanie SimonPublished: March 19, 2010Copyright: 2010 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.Contact: wsj.ltrs wsj.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on March 19, 2010 at 15:28:48 PT
Glad you liked it. I sure did.
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Comment #14 posted by rchandar on March 19, 2010 at 15:27:07 PT:
Yeah, good post. I like that--lots of older people are say cavalier and that's good for the medicine. We get to a point in life when it's not as important to be "cool" or "accepted." Enjoy life. PS of course, the cop should've sat down with them and had a few drags, no? That's not universal, though it seems as hell like it...--rchandar
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on March 19, 2010 at 14:39:21 PT
I remember reading an article that I will not forget a few years ago. Someone called the police that was visiting a person at a nursing home because they smelled pot smoke. A cop came to the nursing home and a couple of seniors were smoking marijuana at a table. The cop leaned down and said you know that is marijuana don't you and they said yes. The cop said I assume it's medical marijuana. The one person said no it isn't medical marijuana we just like smoking it! I laughed over that one. That is the future of the Woodstock Generation.
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Comment #12 posted by rchandar on March 19, 2010 at 14:28:47 PT:
Ms. Brown
We can't change what MJ comes out of--illegality--until enough ground exists for us to say that it is truly and knowably a good plant. We also can't expect the people to run these businesses to be born-again Christians who file their nails three times a day, cuz, dope be illegal, yo. When you fight for a justice issue like pot legalization, it isn't right to dismiss what a "crook" has learned, nor is it fair to assume that these elderly dro muhf  ers are goin' tuh' ER cuz da namz be def. Redrawing cultural lines from an ecstatic spirit-builder into a medical reg is an interesting and noble idea, but all us dawgz' won' giv up de projecks so easy, fo sho'...To make MJ something that doesn't involve freedom, spiritedness, joy, laughter is against the pharmacology--medicine is sympathetic, and good thoughts and ego-boosters make for good physiology. And most of the "patients" aren't so gone as to say, we should......rchandar...
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Comment #11 posted by rchandar on March 19, 2010 at 14:22:44 PT:
...MJ smokers are enormously diverse--the vast array of cultural types is really head-spinning, if one bothered to think about it. This woman has a point; still, it's a half-truth because lots of MMJ patients are going to be senior citizens who tried it when they were young--so, say the 1960s and 70s......we don't always agree that much. One person's passion is another's arsenic, or so it seems. Doesn't bother me much that an oldie bird craves dro namin', I cum' from de projects...--rchandar
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Comment #10 posted by josephlacerenza on March 19, 2010 at 07:05:02 PT
Cannabis Legitimacy 
Legitimacy comes when people get to understand what their medicine does for them. is now offering potency tested cannabis and certified clones to patients and caregivers here in Montana! Their cannabis has been tested and certified by Montana Biotech.This is how Greene Acres Caregiver intends to help bring legitimacy to the medical cannabis industry. Knowledge is power!
Montana Biotech
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Comment #9 posted by goneposthole on March 19, 2010 at 04:30:35 PT
Colorado Cabbage
The forgot that strain. It's great, possibly the best one offered.
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Comment #8 posted by Sinsemilla Jones on March 19, 2010 at 03:12:07 PT
JT#2 - I thought the Beatles were Mockers.
But would the British tabloids have as much fun writing about the new, super potent mouffette?
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Comment #7 posted by Had Enough on March 18, 2010 at 23:47:17 PT
Wanda James...Profiled
‘On edge’ recreational smoker Wanda, better watch out...while leaving a safe dispensary after making a purchase and putting it in her pocket...she might very well fit the description of one of the Viagra Bandits in the other thread...she will really be ‘on edge’ when the Keystone Cops find her.
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Comment #6 posted by runruff on March 18, 2010 at 23:12:16 PT
I Wanda who she is?
How would you like to Wanda through life with that name?
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Comment #5 posted by Had Enough on March 18, 2010 at 23:01:21 PT
Wanda 'James'...
Wanda...I’m thinkin’...Wanda might just be about as smart as a box of rocks...But then again...Did the author of this fine piece of work...put their creative journalist/writing skills to work and create a fictitious character named Wanda???Did this author put this in there just to make it appear as though ‘on edge Wanda James’ is not a legitimate patient to help give ammunition to the prohibitionists???Could she be related to Jessie???Could her real name be Wanda Smith...if she is a real person...or maybe Wanda Rogers, Wanda Williams???Things that make you go...Hhmmm...
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Comment #4 posted by Totalrod2 on March 18, 2010 at 22:40:38 PT:
As much as I like the whole Grateful Dead and lava lamps vibe, don't these people realize we're only hurting our own cause by giving the middle finger to the establishment in this manner? I hate having to be diplomatic, but sometimes it's the only way to win. Shawna Brown has the right idea. Of course, don't expect ME to be listening to Yanni anytime soon! ;)
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Comment #3 posted by Had Enough on March 18, 2010 at 22:30:33 PT
Today’s Word of the Day – ‘potrepreneurs’
“”But a growing number of ’potrepreneurs’ have gone upscale’potrepreneurs...I’m still holding my sides and wiping my keyboard off on that one...a new word every day...Ya gotta love it.***“”Wanda James, a recreational smoker, says some dispensaries have such a disreputable feel, "they put me on edge."””Perhaps Wanda would feel more at comfort by purchasing her pot from some dude named ‘Bubba’ selling multiple products, meeting him somewhere in an ally behind a cathouse???
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Comment #2 posted by John Tyler on March 18, 2010 at 21:49:07 PT
a bud by any other name...
This reminds me of the cultural differences between the Mods and the Rockers in the English youth culture of the early 1960’s. The culture shifted slightly and the Mods won out eventually. The Beatles were Mods and with their love they changed the world. The upscalers do have a point in that some of the strains have names that might sound harsh to the uncultured ear. I bet if the name were translated into French or Latin they would sound more appealing. I checked it out. Latin doesn’t sound that good. French is great. For example White Widow would be Veuve Blanche. Train Wreck would be épave de train. Sour Diesel would be Diesel Aigre. Purple Haze would be Brume Pourpre. And last but not least Northern Lights would be Lumières Nordiques. 
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Comment #1 posted by runruff on March 18, 2010 at 21:31:55 PT
Purple Urkle!
One of my favs.Also, Universe God Bud, great strain.
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