Last week, the IRS' two year audit of Harborside Health Center ended poorly for the medical marijuana industry. The federal government agency decided that the dispensary (Oakland's largest, as the Bay Citizen reported in its coverage of the craziness -- check out our story in today's paper about the additional threats that have been made) couldn't deduct standard business expenses, a move that left Harborside in the hole for $2 million and the rest of its industry in need of a joint.
Such was the setting for the West Coast Cannabis and Music Festival this weekend (Fri/7-Sun/9). Things got a little weird. Which is not to say that things weren't also good. The 215 legal smoking area was ample proof that medical cannabis is alive and thriving, especially in the here and now. How else to explain the booths hawking aphrodisiac cannabis drinks and medicated vanilla chai truffles? Outside, the fresh-faced and strongly-quadricepped carried forth at the Rock the Bike music stage, its live and DJ offerings projected into the Cow Palace parking lot by a woefully shallow pool of volunteers. The muscle mass we pay for music...
Even the charming gentlemen at the Harborside booth were all kinds of upbeat, eager to talk about their new Discovery Channel reality TV show. They were handing out copies of their dispensary's newsletter, the Harborside Illuminator. In it, general manager Andrew DeAngelo's column, which contained a transcript of a conversation he had with the show's producer, Chuck Braverman:
DeAngelo: Chuck, I really liked the name Cannabis Confidential -- why did they go with Weed Wars?
Braverman: Bigger tent
DeAngelo: What do you mean bigger tent?
Braverman: The title Weed Wars will get more people into the tent to watch the show.
DeAngelo: But we don't call it 'weed' and there is no war.
Of course, some would say there is a war on now. It certainly felt like I was being drafted by Sunday afternoon, when California state senator John Vasconsellos' time to occupy the speaker's stage was approaching. A barker alternatively sang and cajoled into the microphone, eventually resorting to bribes. "Anyone who sits down over here will receive a free joint. People, you need to hear this!" Ever obliging, we sat and listened to the woman who introduced the senator. She informed us she was filming the talk, although the final destination of the video was unclear to those of us who had just made her acquaintance.
"Senator," she trilled. "Look at all these people here who love you!" You and free marijuana, doll.
Which is a really snarky thing to say, because we had little to say against the senator's speech, which was 45 minutes of a call to arms to save patients' right to access their medicine. And truly, we had to agree with the woman who had repurposed an electric green sleep sack as a dress, but not before cutting out the tits, donning a black mesh garment underneath, affixing a fake weed plant to the crotch area, and boldly Sharpie-ing across the front of it all "Obama can you replace our tax revenue?"
She giggled and posed in front of a strangely perfect WCCMF logo-ed wall when asked by (more than one) photographer if they could digi-capture her. Probably because she knew we all agreed with her, which come to think of it is a big part of these festivals: meeting other stoners that share your concerns.
Like, does that aphrodisiac stuff really work or what?