Higher Ground: In 2016, a friendlier climate for 420 

We're in the midst of the cannabis holiday season. The Ann Arbor Hash Bash and Monroe Street Fair were a few weeks ago, and the Global Marijuana March is May 7 (Grand Circus Park in Detroit). Smack dab in the middle was 4/20.

The first place I hit was the B.D.T. Smoke Shops in Hazel Park, which proudly notes that it has been there since 1973. The folks there held a pig roast in the parking lot, and visitors played on fowling lanes from the Fowling Warehouse — throwing a football at bowling pins — and were medicating with cannabis as they munched their pork sandwiches. 89X FM had a booth, and retired Red Wing Darren McCarty was there hanging out and signing autographs.

McCarty tells me B.D.T. has been integral to the community and that's why he showed up. People with medical issues should get educated about cannabis, McCarty says: "There are alternatives and people who can help you."

I looked across the street and noticed the MMM Garden Center, which sells used growing equipment, and a certification center next to it. Could this be the most happening cannabis corner in Oakland County? In 2015, Hazel Park Mayor Jan Parisi gave Tommy Chong the key to the city, which he immediately pretended to smoke. So maybe Hazel Park is a little more cannabis friendly than other parts of the county.

Also, I picked up a card announcing that the History of Cannabis Museum is coming soon to Hazel Park. The museum is seeking objects for display. Contact contact@historyofcannabismuseum.org if you'd like to donate.

The stretch of John R where B.D.T. is located shows how a business can help shape the surrounding community and business climate over time.

I left B.D.T. right as the 4:20 p.m. raffle was taking place and headed to Bert's Warehouse in Eastern Market. That's where the Cannabis Cup was held a few years ago, and where the THC Expo will be held this coming weekend. Sadly, the promoter canceled the 420 event that was planned there.

Then I headed to Club Reign a few blocks away, where the Buds, Corks, and Forks Detroit 420 party was on. It started at 11 a.m. with a brunch of omelets, chicken and waffles, and mimosas. There was infused butter available for those who wanted it. There were many infused things there for those who wanted it. Vendors offered cake, pops, suckers, buttered popcorn, brownies, syrups, and even Kool-Aid with that extra ingredient. There were also edibles without cannabis available.

Buds, Corks, and Forks organizes "events for professionals — people who enjoy marijuana but are in the closet," says Mitzi, one of the event's promoters. I guess those folks probably paid the $50 for a VIP ticket that got them upstairs into a less public area. At the budscorksforks.com site, it's put this way: "Shrinking the cannabis taboo 1 event at a time!"

Later on 4/20, I visited the MI Legalize fundraiser at the Russell Industrial Center. I thought this event was to go into the night, but when I got there at 10 p.m. it was all over. They'd ended very promptly as scheduled at 9 p.m., as I had failed to notice. So I headed back over to Club Reign, where the One Love reggae band had started a slammin' set.

I cruised around taking a closer look at the buds and waxes and whatnot. I got my quote of the day from a guy at the Dream Dispensary table who opined, "It's a cookie craze now," regarding the popularity of various strains such as Cookie Dough, Girl Scout Cookies, Purple Oatmeal Cookie, and other cookie-moniker strains these days. These "cookie" strains are a sativa-indica hybrid with a THC level ranging from the high teens to the mid-20s.

Pretty much the most interesting product I saw was something called a Moon Rock. It was a marble-size ball of wax rolled in kief with a dab of wax on the outside. The vendor was also selling kief, a product I haven't seen in a while, but I haven't been looking for it.

My big experience with kief was in the 1980s in Morocco, where the old men were known to mix kief with tobacco in their pipes. Kief is made from shaking the resin glands from a bud through a screen. The powdery substance is the kief. When kief is pressed into bricks, the product is called hash.

Just as I was ready to go, I ran into a few friends coming in, so I hung out a little longer. We ended up discussing the Extreme Cannaquest & Expo that's taking place this weekend (April 29-May 1) in Lansing. In addition to the speakers, vendors, and an awards program, there will be auditions for The Marijuana Show, something of a Shark Tank for marijuana businesses. One of my friends, a cannabis cook named Oak who was formerly at the 420 United Fusion Café, is pitching what he calls an "educational cannabis café" where booths will feature video clips with information about medical cannabis. Go for it, Oak!

Nobody is quite sure how the 420 holiday really got started. The prevailing legend is that some guys in Seattle used to get together after school to fire one up at 4:20 p.m. Somehow, 420 became a codeword for them, and it caught on and grew so that now it's observed around the word. Except maybe in England, where they still drink their tea in the afternoon.

Happy 420! See ya next year.

That's my stuff

The line of celebrity stoners whose names are attached to cannabis products just got longer. The family of Peter Tosh has entered into a venture to bring Peter Tosh 420 (that number again) to the marketplace. Tosh wrote and performed "Legalize It," one of the most enduring marijuana anthems, during his post-Wailers career. The song's lyric, "and I will advertise it" will no doubt prove prophetic as these products are marketed in the post-prohibition world.

This development was announced just as Marley Natural products, from the Bob Marley estate, hit the San Francisco market. Other celebrities with cannabis products lined up include Whoopi Goldberg, Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, Melissa Etheridge, Tommy Chong, Ghostface Killah, and Wiz Kalifah.

Purple Rain

Here's a quick note to mark the death of Prince. He wasn't a stoner, but there is a strain named after his hit song "Purple Rain." My wife and I went to see him play at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor on the Purple Rain tour early in our relationship. We parked illegally and I left a bag of marijuana on the dashboard. The car got towed. I was ready to poop my pants when we went to the police station to pay the fine, but it wasn't brought up. When we picked up the car from the tow yard, my bag was still there on the dashboard where I had left it. Sometimes you get lucky.

More by Larry Gabriel

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