We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.
~ George Bernard Shaw
We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.
~ George Bernard Shaw
Deep near the border of Las Vegas lies Nipton, a small town in San Bernardino County. This California desert town sits within 120 acres of land featuring a general store, hotel, and school house. It’s one of those ghost towns within the Mojave Desert area with a small population (even smaller than Ipswich!). Even in this 21st century, we still have ghost towns lying around the wild wild west.
Instead of dribbling on about the picturesque landscape of Nipton, this PR topic is on the golden opportunity that lies within desert towns (pay close attention to the term ‘golden opportunity’ throughout this story!). Since these towns have a very low population rate, tourism is the key strategy for keeping these unique towns going. There are still customers that would enjoy taking a trip to deserted towns to get away for a while. Deserted towns have that nostalgic western feel, taking people back to simpler times.
But with a ghost town like Nipton competing with big-time cities like Los Angeles or San Francisco, tourism competition can be heated around California. And with many more Americans taking less vacations these days, the strategies to attract tourists become much more complex. Businesses are testing out new tricks to attract the new and younger tourists (i.e. unique hotel bars with assorted craft beers, food tours, and even flavored water!). Nipton is revolutionizing their tourism strategy by changing from being a ghost town to being a pot town.
It’s official, folks – this California ghost town is going to pot…LITERALLY! Cannabis-focused technology and growing firm American Green Inc. purchased the town for about $5 million. The new strategy is to transform Nipton into what will be known as, “an energy-independent, cannabis-friendly hospitality destination”.
Other than going to pot (again, LITERALLY!), Nipton will also be producing bottled water infused with cannabis. These cannabis-infused water bottles will come from Nipton’s aquifer. Looks as though the water is springing back up into this desert town!
Think about this for a moment – a small deserted ghost town that found this golden opportunity to flourish their tourism business. Not only that, but there will be a river of cannabis-infused water floating around the desert. ‘Golden opportunity’, water appearing around the desert creating an oasis…history, my friends, is repeating itself!
California was a huge gold town during the 19th century and Nipton was one of the popular destinations. Pioneers traveled thousands of miles to the new lands in search for the gold. It wasn’t so much ‘the’ gold they were looking to collect, but rather the idea concept of gold itself.
Christopher Columbus once said that someone who had gold were in possession of something with such great value of earth. People sought after the amazing value the gold had to offer. This amazing value would help souls reach this paradise they yearn for. Paradise is reflected not within the piece of gold itself, but the value gold would bring to the individual. The mere idea of discovering gold would strike a sense of shock, adventure, excitement and even opportunity (a GOLDEN opportunity would be more like it!).
How does this philosophical concept of gold apply to this PR case? Cannabis itself presents great value on this earth. It is the number one booming cash crop in the country, with people planting their own seeds to grow strains of their own. With cannabis becoming much more popular within the social norms, the demands for cannabis start increasing. The ever-increasing demand presents a myriad of opportunities for the communities. Ghost towns like Nipton, California see cannabis as this ‘green gold’ that would cause tourists to come rushing in (hence the term ‘Green Gold Rush’). In a sense, the ‘ghost’ you’ll be hearing about in this ghost town is the shipment of Ghost Train Haze being sold!
We are presented with an intriguing, yet nostalgic strategy happening in California. Legalizing recreational cannabis means the green gold has finally been unlocked and people are rushing to collect from the treasure chest. This green gold provides many opportunities for the industry itself and the people who help it grow. Some opportunities include increased profits, buzzing publicity, an ever-growing community of cannabis users; but the most important opportunity of all is the discovery of a new way of living. It’s these golden opportunities that make the West so amazing.
With that in mind, we continue to be in the midst of the 21st century green rush happening in the western region. The cannabis community continues to spread and new opportunities arise on the horizon. Pioneers from the 19th century aren’t so different from the pioneers heading out west these days. Both groups set out west in search for gold, a new home, friends, family; but most importantly, these pioneers went forth to search for their new lives.
Happy 4/20 everyone! I hope you’ve been enjoying Weed Week here at MakeSandcastlesNotWar so far. Earlier this week we dived into a tour of the most common terpenes found in cannabis, discussed some Boston-themed strains (Golden Goat weed for the GOAT Tom Brady!), and even talked about the legendary godfather of cannabis legalization Dennis Peron. It’s been quite a long and hazy journey and April 20th is finally here.
For this special holiday, I saved the best topic for last – the history of cannabis prohibition. The complex history of cannabis prohibition is one of my favorite PR nightmares of all time, a nightmare initiated from a web of lies coming from figures in all walks of life. What started out as a drug propaganda initiative has now become a heavily damaged plant that people are reluctant to touch. What we learned in the D.A.R.E. program at grammar school was completely different from what we figured out as adults.
So how did this PR nightmare start? What notable figures caused prohibition to happen and what was their initial purpose? Why was cannabis/hemp made illegal in the first place? And what does the future hold for cannabis prohibition now that recreational cannabis use is legal in 1/10 of the country?
Well folks, it’s time to start the lesson that will be known as Cannabis History 101. Sharpen those pencils and crack open the notebooks, because it’s time to dive in what will be the most confusing and shocking PR nightmare of all time. It’s complex, shocking, and will leave you scratching your heads for quite a while. Get your pencils ready, because the history lesson is about to begin!
Cannabis History 101
Our history lesson takes us back to the 1930s – the Great Depression was hitting hard around America. World War I ended a decade ago, but the rising debt was too much for America to handle. More than half of the nation’s citizens became unemployed, with many people committing suicide during these hard times. Many men lost their job, prompting to become desperate for any position they could take. Most families barely ate enough, to the point where they almost died of starvation.
One successful man, William Randolph Hearst, was reaping in profits through his newspaper business. His newspaper was the first to introduce the term ‘Marihuana’ (spelled with ‘h’ rather than a ‘j’) into the English language. Marihuana was used as a Mexican slang term to confuse the general public that this ‘devil weed’ was very different from industrial hemp. Hearst sold lots of newspapers containing stories that depicted African-Americans manipulating white women through marijuana. These ‘dangerous’ marijuana users carried knives and would run rampant at any provocation. Racism ran high during the 1930s, which explained why people took the bait and followed along with these manipulating stories.
For the record, William Randolph Hearst KNEW that marijuana/hemp wasn’t harmful at all! Hearst knew that hemp could substitute for paper, thus the paper mills could be replaced with hemp mills. Replacing paper with hemp would have ran him out of business, so running these racist stories was crucial for keeping business alive. This strategy was what initiated the PR nightmare surrounding cannabis and hemp.
While Hearst damaged the reputation of cannabis and hemp through his newspaper stories, another anti-pot figure was making waves as well. On 1931, former prohibition commissioner Harry J. Anslinger was appointed as head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. He was reluctant at first to extend his powers over marijuana, even though he thought it was evil and thought it was impossible to enforce prohibition of a plant that would grow wild ‘like dandelions’. Instead, Anslinger encouraged for State laws and anti-drug propaganda.
By 1935, Harry Anslinger promoted a federal law that the Federal Bureau of Narcotics could enforce. All positive evidence of cannabis was suppressed during the Congressional hearings. Organizations like the Oil Seed Institute and American Medical Association opposed the law, but were ignored. Anslinger would quote press cuttings as proof that cannabis would be ‘the most violence-creating drug on the planet’. The Marijuana Tax Act was initiated on October 1st 1937, which made it illegal to grow or transfer any forms of cannabis without a tax-paid stamp (which were NEVER made available for any private citizen!).
With the new Marijuana Tax Act put into place, Harry Anslinger utilized this opportunity to expand his bureau. His new target was jazz musicians through an ugly campaign against this ‘demon dope’. Through posters and films, Anslinger associated demon dope with jazz music, inter-racial sex, madness, and even death. A film titled Reefer Madness released in the late 1930s, which showcased average Americans consuming cannabis and running rampant. His theory was that jazz musicians were smoking the devil’s lettuce and manipulating white women into a life of madness.
African-American jazz musicians were smoking cannabis during the 20s/30s. It was called ‘jazz’ because the music would prompt shrieking women (known as jazz babes) to dance to the music. Jazz was known as ‘voodoo music’ because its tunes had this voodoo magic that would cause women to be swept off their feet. This PR tactic would be later used for rock N roll music where teenagers would be warned that rock music causes teen pregnancy and drug use.
Up until the 1960s, Harry Anslinger’s propaganda reigned the nation. Cannabis was an important plant during the counterculture movement and wouldn’t receive any more negative backlash until the 1970s when President Nixon came into play. President Nixon entered the oval office, shutting down the pot party and initiating what is known as ‘The War on Drugs’ (which has been a COMPLETE failure from the start). Nixon called for a war against public enemy one, a.k.a. marijuana. The proceed was to go after other drugs (cocaine, LSD, heroin, etc), but the main focus was to eradicate all cannabis plants in America.
Even after Nixon’s term was up, the ‘War on Drugs’ mindset reigned on in the 80s and so forth. Nancy Reagan continued the fight with her ‘Just Say NO’ campaign, especially after crack-cocaine was introduced to the public. From that point on, cannabis’s stigma was still heavily damaged and approval for cannabis legalization was low.
And there you have it – cannabis prohibition got its start through ingenious public relations tactics. Fear and ignorance fueled the PR nightmare that damaged cannabis’s reputation in society. These so-called ‘facts’ about things like cannabis destroying your brain cells were just simple pseudo-science that people believed in. Notable people like William Randolph Hearst and Harry Anslinger were pioneers in fueling the ‘reefer madness’ propaganda that is lingering on today. Even as cannabis legalization becomes a reality for most of this country, its reputation still needs to be salvaged before business starts booming.
It’s been decades since Nixon’s War on Drugs and so far drugs have been winning (FUN FACT: an aide of Nixon released a statement last year that the drug war purposely targeted hippies and African-Americans). This ‘War on Drugs’ has brought in more crimes, more violence, a shocking increase in prison construction, a huge rise in prison populations (with California’s prisons being dangerously overcrowded!), and more drug use. In this 21st century, the dominoes continue to fall and cannabis is continually becoming accepted in American society.
That my friend, is the PR nightmare that is cannabis prohibition here in America. I hope you have a glorious 4/20 celebration. It’s 4/20 somewhere!
Medical cannabis is one of the most popular alternative health treatments used in the United States. With medical cannabis being legal in more than half of the country, many people are straying from institutionalized prescription pills to the nostalgic haze of cannabis. Hundreds of thousands of people are medical patients and more people are signing up for a medical card after discovering the amazing benefits of cannabis. People consume medical cannabis to treat pain, nausea, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, anxiety, arthritis, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and many other life-threatening illnesses.
The path towards recreational cannabis is becoming clearer, what with the hazy smoke of cannabis clearing away. Before recreational cannabis was making headlines within Colorado and Washington State, the medical cannabis community was booming ever since Prop 215 passed in California. Prop 215 passed more than 20 years ago, with more than half of the country turning their eyes towards California and their unique business.
So how exactly did we get there? Where did the first medical marijuana start? How is it that something like ‘medical marijuana’ became such a common alternative practice recommended by doctors? What was the reason behind selling cannabis for medicinal use?
All of these questions lead us to one man in particular: Dennis Peron. Dennis Peron is a prominent figure in the LGBTQ and cannabis community. He described himself as a “gay kid from Long Island who joined the Air Force to get away from home during the Vietnam War” in his book Memoirs of Dennis Peron that released in 2012. Peron is known as a pinnacle counterculture figure on the West Coast, with his humility and compassion for the ill being frequently recognized by Ed Rosenthal and Jack Herer.
After returning to San Francisco from Vietnam in 1969, Dennis Peron dealt cannabis around his hometown where he learned about cannabis’s efficacy for treating severe illnesses. Within the 1970s, Peron ran the Big Top marijuana supermarket right out of his home at the Castro Castle (which is still open to this day within the Castro District). Even with the counterculture movement spreading within California, Peron was busted multiple times for dealing cannabis.
A few years after his first bust, the HIV/AIDS crisis was spreading like wildfire. Dennis Peron lost many friends, including his lover Jonathan West, during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. It was then that the country discovered (half of the reason was by accident!) that cannabis could be used as medicine. AIDS was a mysterious illness at the time, confusing many doctors and nurses looking to treat patients. The only thing that really helped AIDS patients was consuming cannabis.
Jonathan West lived long enough to testify at his trial, confessing that the confiscated cannabis from the raid was for treating his illness. After losing his lover to AIDS, Peron shifted gears and opened up the first cannabis buyers club (which was a blueprint for what would be a functional medical marijuana dispensary). His first version was launched on a flat within Sanchez Street in October 1991. He had three quarters of a pound, which he would provide for those who needed it for medical reasons and sold it for free to those that couldn’t afford it. By the summer of ’94, the cannabis buyers club attracted 2,000 members in San Francisco.
Not only did the club attract sick people that used it as a dispensary and floating support group, but it also became a center for people considering themselves as activists in a political reform movement. Some notable members of the political pot movement were Mike and Valerie Corral, Dale Gieringer, Jack Herer (author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes!), Tod Mikuriya, Pebbles Trippet, and many other notable figures. From ’94-’95, these activists helped to draft and lobby bills that would make medical marijuana legal through a doctor’s approval to treat patients suffering from cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and glaucoma.
This bill would later become what is known as Proposition 215, a significant victory for medical cannabis that passed in California on November 5th, 1996. Dennis was one of many members that wrote the first draft of Prop 215. After Prop 215 passed, cannabis clubs sprung up around San Francisco and Oakland. Other than the short list, the ballot measure applied to a wide range of illnesses that could be treated with cannabis. It took a long while since the first draft, but Prop 215 finally broke waves in California a few years later. To this day, Dennis Peron is seen as the Godfather of cannabis legalization here in America.
And there you have it: Dennis Peron’s residence at the Castro Castle in San Francisco was where the first medical cannabis community flourished. It was open for all cannabis consumers, but quickly shifted gears towards medical use after the HIV/AIDS crisis hit America. After losing his partner to AIDS, Dennis was motivated to kick-start the medical cannabis community in California. The rest of it was history – Prop 215 passing, medical cannabis communities spreading around the country, recreational cannabis made legal in Colorado and Washington State, and so on. None of this would have happened without the help of Dennis Peron, the Godfather of cannabis legalization. It was a long and frustrating road, but he overcame every obstacle to help patients in need.
Whenever you’re about to load your bowl with some medical cannabis to treat your illness, just remember to thank Dennis Peron for spreading the medical cannabis community. Thanks Dennis!
For one of my birthday celebrations, I invited my friends from Doyon school to go see My Dog Skip at Chunky’s. My Dog Skip was about a 9-year-old kid named Willie Morris (played by Frankie Muniz) who was given a Jack Russell terrier for his birthday. The story showcases how the dog fundamentally changes various aspects of Willie’s life. It released on March 3rd, 2000 and featured Diane Lane, Kevin Bacon, Luke Wilson, Clint Howard, and other notable actors.
It was an incredible family drama that starred one of the coolest dogs as a cast. When watching the film, I enjoyed watching Skip as the main character. My Dog Skip was one of many heartfelt films featuring an animal as the main star. There are a wide range of films where animals become the stars rather than the actual actors/actresses. Most of these films broke major bank at the box office because human beings are compassionate towards animals. One upcoming film has everyone in uproars after a disturbing video was released.
Last week TMZ released a video showing a frightened German shepherd being forced into the turbulent waters during the set of A Dog’s Purpose. The video shows an animal handler grabbing the dog by the collar and forcing him into the water while the dog tries to scurry off from the set. It goes on for about 40 seconds before cutting to a clip of a scene being filmed. This video spread like wildfire, sparking outrage among the social media community.
Millions of people rallied to boycott the film and employees are scrambling to fix the PR nightmare that was created from the clip. Just days before the film is released, several employees involved in the film are offering more details on what happened in the video. Many of them are divided over condemning the actions and some insist that the treatment wasn’t as bad as it looked. Whatever the case may be, this PR nightmare spread like wildfire and it isn’t ceasing anytime soon.
Dennis Quaid, who is one of the stars of the film, appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to discuss his thoughts on the controversial video. He stated that, “the video does not tell the entire story,” and that the animals “were treated with the greatest respect and care and compassion.” On that note, he also added that he wasn’t present when the scene was shot in October 2015. Even though he wasn’t present for that video, it was interesting that he defended the video that sparked so much outrage.
Whatever the case may be about the provocative clip, it certainly sparked nationwide outrage with its audience. The film is still set to release on January 27th even after all the backlash. This is an interesting PR nightmare where social media provided a horrific glimpse of how films are really made when they involve animals. But if social media wasn’t around, would there still have been backlash? There’s been many films where live animals were used on the set, yet they never suffered the same PR nightmare that is going on today.
This is an interesting case where various factors were involved in this PR nightmare. Social media started booming around 2010 and people stayed in tune with what’s really happening in the world. But on another note, America’s social culture gradually evolved over the past 20-30 years. So, the questions we have to ask ourselves is: did social media gradually shift our social culture over the years? Or have people seen enough animal cruelty over time that we really started getting serious about this? And if so, did social media play a part in enhancing people’s awareness of animal cruelty in society?
In this 21st century, we have to ask ourselves some hard questions about what is socially acceptable in our country. What was once socially acceptable 20-30 years ago doesn’t sit well with the majority of Americans. We have seen gay marriage become legal in all 50 states, recreational cannabis use legal in 1/5 of the country, and woman have become more proactive in standing up for their human rights. Social media opened up a window of opportunities for us to explore, thus gradually shifting the social culture here in America. It’s reasons like this why A Dog’s Purpose received so much backlash over the controversial video that was released a week ago.
This was an interesting PR nightmare to explore! I am definitely against animal cruelty or abuse of any kind. It really is an issue that we need to deplete in order to provide a safe and nurturing environment for all animals. I love my cat Beavis and wouldn’t even think to abuse her ever!
While I stand against animal abuse, it was interesting to write about this controversial video that was released last week. Animal abuse has no place here in America and animals deserve the same love that we give to our friends/family. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of numbers show up on the box office for A Dog’s Purpose when it releases tomorrow. Who knows, maybe the video could still hurt the film’s publicity in the long run. For now, let’s take a moment to show some love to our amazing pets that we have in our lives.
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