I caught the last day and a half of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws conference in the city of St. Francis this weekend. Lessons learned include:
1. Peter Bagge moves (free) units: On Friday I came upon a forlorn stack of about 40 or 50 copies of Reason, unloved and unread on a lonely display table. (This was a very San Francisco crowd, and one organizer told me she'd heard some unkind cracks about our rightwing pennyboyism, or whatever imaginary hobgoblin it is that that would make a NORML crowd dislike the only major political magazine that is unequivocally in favor of drug legalization.) Since the fine May issue deserves a bigger readership, I opened a bunch of issues to Peter Bagge's excellent cartoon feature on the War on Drugs, "The Beast That Will Not Die," and arranged them in a more attractive display. This worked like a charm, and by the end of the show only a handful of Reasons remained. (And since this is a tale of people who won't even pick up free issues of the mag, what better time to point out that if you were a subscriber you'd already be a proud owner of Bagge's feature, along with excellent pieces on oil production, global gambling, and the great fellatio scare!)
2. I Already Know the Perfect Theme For Next Year's Conference: "Stop acting like patients and start acting like human beings!" If only I had a dime bag for every conference attendee who identified him/herself as a "patient" or used phrases like "When I began to think of myself as a patient." I had not thought hypochondria had undone so many! I also hadn't realized the degree to which California's pot economy has been medicalized since the passage of Prop 215. There's something depressing in seeing all these able-bodied Californians griping about their slipped discs, slightly-aged hippies walking around with canes, red-blooded Americans who have been pantomiming ill-health so long that it's become part of their personalities. Isn't pot supposed to make you feel good? I revert to my earlier statement that, in legalization terms, medical pot has long passed the point of diminishing returns. For all the value there is in having a dependable source of high-quality weed at competitive prices, becoming a lifelong malingerer is just too demeaning.
3. California has the best weed in the country! I'd like another dime bag for every time some schmo from D.C. or New York marveled at how incredible the pot is out here, in comparison to the skunk weed back home. Now I know what all those drug warriors are talking about when they use the old chestnut, "Hey I'm no square, but the stuff that's around now is not your father's Chronic!"
4. Where have you gone, Rae Dawn? I didn't get to see keynoter Tommy Chong, but in one crowd of about six or seven people, and later in a group of three, I brought up the name of his briefly notable daughter, and drew unamimous conversational blanks. I'd like to chalk it up to weed-induced memory loss, but I think I was just showing my age. (But Rae Dawn Chong is still working!) On the plus side, I was assured that Cheech Marin remains supportive of the paraphernalia offender.
5. NORML needs a promotional budget: Maybe I should stay more up to date on drug war issues, but I didn't even know they were holding their conference blocks from my home until I saw it on KRON 4 News.
6. I'm a big square: An exchange between NORML outreach director Karen Malovrh and me, about where next year's event should be.
TC: You should stay in the west but skip San Francisco. L.A.'s a lot cooler, or you should really have the next one in the Big V.
KM: Yeah, we've been thinking about doing it in Vancouver.
TC: Vancouver? The Big V is Vegas!