What’s in Your Stash? Sue and Lee, 420 Old Fat Lesbians

State of Maine medical cannabis patients, Sue and Lee, took to Instagram as #420oldfatlesbians, with the sub-heading of “The Likes of Dykes,” just eight months ago. Profiled shortly thereafter in High Times, with 70,000 followers garnered in just one month, nearly a year later, they humbly host more than 100,000 devoted followers, to date.

With hashtags like #gaymarijuana, #thingstodowhenyouarehigh, and #207stoners, denoting their current locale, the two share their outings around town, shopping, eating, and just basically goofing off for the camera above and below the sheets. Their antics prove you don’t have to be young, thin, well-endowed, and straight to have a good time as a social media influencer, while high.

Sue and Lee both grew up in Chicago and traveled in the same circles, frequented the same bars – with both working in the same suburb at one point in time. But they didn’t actually meet until 20 years after they both relocated, individually, to Florida in the mid-80s.

“We met online at Plenty of Fish in 2007, and realized we were 90 miles away from each other in Florida,” they said. “We moved to Maine together because we were tired of the heat after 30 years, and missed the seasons. We’ve been married four-and-a-half years now, and are happy to be together in the third trimester of life.”

With their newfound notoriety, the two enjoy visiting dispensaries and meeting followers in real time. 

“We like to check into dispensaries, visit farms, and showcase products in our Instagram story and feed while destigmatizing weed use for older people, fat people, all walks of life,” they said. “We have a fairly even ratio of all segments of our name following us – 420 peeps, old, fat, and lesbians. Some people envelope two or three parts of our name.”

What’s in Your Stash? Sue and Lee, 420 Old Fat Lesbians
Courtesy of Sue and Lee

An Old, Gay, Phat Stash

Since they are relatively new to New England, making the rounds to dispensaries and farms is also a part of settling in, meeting neighbors and getting to know the cannabis community at large in their tiny state.

After suffering a heart attack in March of this year, Lee’s doctor said to stay clear of burning flower, advising the use of a vaporizer instead, stick with edibles, and to stay away from sativa, as it can raise the heart rate.

Sue had been an end-of-life caregiver in Florida, prior to the state being legal for medicine or recreation. In Maine, Sue began making edibles for both of them, as years of caregiving causes chronic back pain. Yes, caregivers need caring, too.

“The edibles were more effective than the opioids for pain,” Sue explained. “Lee also had neck surgery, where they placed a mesh cage in her neck years ago at C4 through C7. There’s muscle deterioration around it, and several areas of arthritis. Cannabis, used in smaller doses throughout the day has really helped control the pain and muscle spasms.”

They consume every day, low-dosing throughout with 10 milligram doses. They also supplement with CBD candies, and smoke and vape, as needed, for physical ailments and sleep.

Their stash is ever changing, depending on what they’ve picked up around town. Cherry Pie is currently being enjoyed from Southern Maine farmer, Curated Cannabis, met on the same day they were introduced to Calico Cannabis – the flower in the blue bag.

“The State of Maine allows us to legally grow nine plants per person if you are a medical card holder,” they said. “It’s our second year growing and we love it! This year we grew multiple cultivars, such as, Berry Girl, Purple Trainwreck, Pineapple Fields, Tangelope, Juiceman, White Widow Hybrid, and Orange marmalade.”

Within their stash are papers du jour, of Top; not a favorite, just what’s in current use. The vape pen by Ooze Life is special, with them sharing that the battery is super-efficient, and the pen has three temperature settings. 

They also like smoking from glass in a pinch, though no burning flower for Lee. Glass purchased from The Honest Headshop, from Brothers With Glass; all in a hemp backpack by Pure Hemp.

Favorite remedy makers include Linda’s Botanical Baskets, offering CBD-filled gift baskets for the savvy patient; with CBD Sugar-Free Sour Apple candies at five milligrams per drop. 

Colorful suckers and assorted candies from the Ganja Candy Factory, out of Portland, Maine are a go-to; along with a 10 milligram Lemon Pound Cake Bite by TGC Seeds; and assorted medicated candies, concentrates, bubble hash and a little resin. Flower is sometimes sourced from local shop, Hive Medicinal, in Chelsea, Maine.

Taking the Stage for Inclusion

Breaking stigmas is something cannabis patients and partakers strive for, and education is everything. What better way for a pair of older, overweight, lesbians to make a difference with humor – putting themselves out there, taking it for the team, so to speak. 

With humor and intelligence – well, more humor than not, these two are making a huge difference, not only for those who medicate and recreate responsibly with cannabis, but also in the way LGBTQ are accepted into the once homophobic and male-dominated cannabis community.

“The rise in our social media attention took us by surprise,” they shared. “We receive several messages a day from people letting us know we’ve helped them – either through humor or just being who we are and being out there. We are filled with gratitude and humility.”

The two also knew right away that they wanted to interact with their followers in a very personal way, stating, they do not understand the point of having an account if one doesn’t take the time to communicate when someone is kind enough to follow and comment.

“We’re grateful we can contribute in some small way to destigmatize weed use for older people, fat people – all walks of life,” they concluded. “Everyone has been respectful, kind and thankful for our representation. We’ve made many new friends here in Maine in the cannabis community, nationally and internationally, as well. We’ve been accepted with open arms and hearts.”

The post What’s in Your Stash? Sue and Lee, 420 Old Fat Lesbians appeared first on High Times.

First Year of Adult-Use Cannabis Sales in Massachusetts Reached Nearly $400 Million

After a year of legal cannabis, Massachusetts is taking stock. Numbers released by the state’s Department of Revenue and its Cannabis Control Commission summed up the first phase of the regulated cannabis industry, announcing that the state’s 33 dispensaries had raked in a total of nearly $400 million in sales, and employed 6,700 individuals.

Massachusetts has largely dodged issues with illegal dispensaries such as those in California, even as a large share of in-state cannabis sales take place under illegal circumstances. It also faced its fair share of other challenges, among them ensuring social equity for people of color in the cannabis industry. The state has previously stated that a paltry 3.5 percent of the business entities that had filed with the state are owned by people of color.

Sales figures started out of the gate strong. The sole two dispensaries that were initially licensed in Northampton and Leicester rang up $2 million in customer purchases in the first five days they were open, and saw lines so long to get into the retail locations that the neighbors sometimes complained about the influx of car traffic.

The state is now home to 33 dispensaries, which have sold $393.7 million worth of cannabis products, generating $19 million in sales tax, $32.8 million in excise tax, and $9.1 in local option tax.

No Smooth Sailing in the Commonwealth

The cannabis industry was roiled by allegations that Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia II had been accepting bribes from marijuana entrepreneurs in exchange for allowing them to open up their businesses in his city. Legally admissible types of bribery have also been a concern, with many communities asking marijuana companies for payments via “host community agreements.”

The Department of Revenue and the Cannabis Control Commission also identified several other ongoing issues that they hope to address in year two of cannabis sales.

One was the need to open more, geographically well-distributed cannabis stores. “I have no expectation there will be a retail store on every corner, but we have a lot more geographic expansion to do,” said the chairperson of the Cannabis Control Commission Steven Hoffman, explaining that the roll-out prioritized long-term quality over speed. “I was much more concerned about what this industry would look like in 2021 or 2022 than in 2018,” he said.

Hoffman also spoke about the necessity of getting more doctors and nurses to take on medical cannabis patients. “I think we’re missing an opportunity to substantially improve the lives of patients around the state,” the chairperson said. “We need to figure out how to engage the medical community in this.”

“I feel proud of what we’ve accomplished and I’m pleased with how the rollout has gone to date but we are in the early stages and have a ton more work to do,” said Hoffman.

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California Officials Will Raise Cannabis Cultivation Taxes On New Year’s Day

California regulators announced on Thursday that taxes paid by the state’s licensed cannabis business will increase on New Year’s Day, despite calls to ease the burden on an industry struggling to compete with a thriving illicit market.

In a special notice from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, the state announced that cannabis cultivation taxes would be raised by more than 4%, reflecting an adjustment for inflation as required by state law. The tax on an ounce of dried cannabis flower will rise from $9.25 to $9.65, a jump of 4.3%

The tax levied on dry cannabis leaves will go up from $2.75 to $2.87, which is also a 4.3% increase. The tax on an ounce of fresh cannabis plant material will rise to $1.35 from $1.29, a jump of 4.6%.

The notice also revealed an increase in the state’s cannabis markup rate from 60% to 80%. The mark-up rate — the average difference between the wholesale cost and the retail selling price of cannabis and cannabis products — is used to determine the state excise tax on cannabis products. Regulators are required to recalculate the cannabis mark-up through an analysis of statewide market data every six months.

The increase in taxes comes despite the burden already borne by licensed businesses struggling to compete with a continuing unregulated market, which is estimated by BDS Analytics to be worth $8.7 billion per year in California, more than twice as much as the regulated market.

Industry Already Facing High Taxes

Phil Blurton, the owner of All About Wellness, a cannabis dispensary in Sacramento, said earlier this week that it’s difficult to compete with unlicensed operators.

“Our city license now is $20,000 a year,” Blurton said. “The state license is $96,000. Then we pay 8.75% sales tax to the state.”

Blurton said he also pays an additional 4% cannabis tax to the city, plus the 15% tax to the state, “which is making the cost of our product so expensive the black market is booming now.”

“I would like to see our taxes lowered,” Blurton said. “I would like to see the price of our licenses lowered.

Jay Handal, the co-owner of the Erba Markets dispensary in Los Angeles, said that the current regulatory environment in California is encouraging illicit businesses.

“The reason the black market continues to exist is because taxes are too high,” said Handal, upon learning of the tax increase. “People are looking for the best value and the government, both state and city, are woefully poor at shutting down black market stores. Raising taxes will only exacerbate the situation by continuing to keep black market store prices ridiculously lower than legal dispensaries that carry tested products.”

Back to the Ballot Box?

Cannabis industry consultant Jacqueline McGowan blasted the decision to raise taxes at a time when licensed firms and ancillary businesses are announcing layoffs to deal with fiscal woes.

“California’s taxing authority’s decision to raise taxes during a time when the legal market is contracting is comparable to the Federal Reserve raising interest rates during a recession,” she said in an email to High Times. “It is the opposite of responsible fiscal policy.”

McGowan added that if current legislative attempts to lower the taxes on cannabis businesses fail, the industry may have to resort to a new initiative to correct the drawbacks of Prop 64, the 2016 ballot initiative that legalized the adult use of cannabis in California.

“If legislation is not enacted urgently then the industry may be facing a situation where a new voter initiative is the only path left to pursue in order to enact sufficient tax relief so that the legal cannabis industry has a chance at surviving and competing with a thriving $9 billion dollar unregulated industry,” she said.

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High Times Greats: Aldous Huxley

Author of Brave New World and The Doors of Perception, Aldous Huxley was born on July, 26 1894 and died on November 22, 1963—exactly 56 years ago today. In his memory, we’re republishing Jay Stevens’ article from the January, 1988 issue of High Times, originally titled “Door to Perception: Huxley Drops Mescaline,” which was excerpted from Stevens’ book, Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream.


He was born Aldous Leonard Huxley on July 26, 1894, in the county of Surrey, England, the third son of Dr. Leonard Huxley, educator, editor and minor literary figure, and the grandson of T.H. Huxley, eminent biologist and one of the most famous men in Victorian England. Known as “Darwin’s Bulldog,” T.H. was the man who had demolished Bishop Wilberforce in the famous Oxford debates over Darwin’s theory of evolution. He personified the scientific rationalist, and he eloquently argued its case in newspapers and magazines, and from lecterns throughout the English-speaking world. His collected essays, filling nine volumes, began appearing in the year of his third grandson’s birth, and just a few months before his own death at age seventy.

“Clear, cold logic engines,” were what T.H. demanded from his son and grandsons. As Aldous’s older brother, Julian, once defined it, the Huxley tradition was one of “hard but high thinking, plain but fiery living, wide intellectual interest and constant intellectual achievement.”

Huxley’s mother, Julia, came from equally impressive stock. She was the niece of poet Matthew Arnold and granddaughter of the moralist and educator Dr. Thomas Arnold, one of the eminent Victorians later eviscerated by Lytton Strachey in the book of that name. Julia Huxley was an educator who founded Prior’s Field, a girls’ school just a few meadows away from Hillside School, where young Aldous received his first education.

He was, by all accounts, a brilliant, unathletic, aloof student, whose capacity for detachment unnerved his peers. “Aldous possessed the key to an inviolable inner fortress,” said his cousin Gervas, who also attended Hillside. “Never can I remember his losing his control or giving way to violent emotion as most of us did.” He “possessed some innate superiority and moved on a different level from us other children,” according to his older brother, Julian. He was always thinking, measuring, comparing, assessing. Once his godmother, after observing him staring fixedly out a window, asked what on earth he was thinking about and received the single word skin in reply.

So he was an odd child, even a little scary. Some years later the English science fiction writer Olaf Stapledon published a book called Odd John, which was an attempt to imagine what an intellectual superman, a true Übermensch to use Nietzsche’s much debated term, would really be like. The resulting portrait bears a striking resemblance to the adolescent Aldous Huxley, with the profound qualification that Odd John was never tested by personal tragedy the way Huxley was. Beginning with his entrance to Eton, Huxley’s detachment was shattered by three tragedies. When he was fourteen his mother died. When he was sixteen he contracted a streptococcus infection that destroyed the cornea in his right eye and left the other clouded to the point of blindness. The condition was so serious that Huxley was forced to learn Braille, which he shrugged off with the wry joke that now he could read with impunity after lights out. He was also forced to give up his dream of studying biology, in preparation for a medical career. Adapting a typewriter with Braille keys, he began tapping out poems and stories.

Finally, two years after his blindness lifted and a year after matriculating at Balliol College, Oxford, in the same August that saw the beginning of World War One, Huxley’s middle brother, Trev, committed suicide.

“There is, apart from the sheer grief of the loss, an added pain in the cynicism of the situation,” Aldous wrote to cousin Gervas. “It is just the highest and best in Trev, his ideals, which have driven him to his death, while there are thousands who shelter their weakness from the same fate by a cynical, unidealistic outlook on life. Trev was not strong, but he had the courage to face life with ideals—and his ideals were too much for him.”

This was not a mistake Aldous intended to make. At Oxford he buried his idealism under a cloak of aesthetic dandyism, affecting yellow ties and white socks, and instead of the usual classical reproduction above the fireplace, installing a poster of bare-breasted bathing beauties—French of course. He moved a piano into his room and began banging out American jazz. And he started spending weekends at Garsington, a manor house some six miles from Oxford that Phillip and Ottoline Morrell maintained as a country retreat for the Bloomsbury crowd. A typical Garsington houseparty mingled the likes of Maynard Keynes, Lytton Strachey, Bertrand Russell, the Woolfs—Leonard and Virginia—with assorted other aristocrats of the artistic and intellectual beau monde. Young Huxley held his own amid this galaxy of wits, and was considered by them an intellectual comer and promising poet. When he published a chapbook of poems entitled The Defeat of Youth in 1918, tout Garsington joined in his praise.

Garsington was also where Huxley met his future wife, Maria Nys, a waifish Belgian war refugee who was one of Lady Ottoline’s charges. Besides being more than a foot shorter than her future husband, Maria’s temperament—intuitive, magical, sensuous—was the exact opposite of Aldous’s clear cold logic engine. Igor Stravinsky once said of Maria: “knowing nothing, she understands everything.” And one of things she understood was people. Maria had great psychological acuity, something her husband was almost totally without. Aldous called her his “personal relationship interpreter,” and he used to quiz her thoroughly about the people they met at Garsington.

Their partnership—they began living together in 1919 and were married a few months later—produced one child, a boy, Matthew, and at least eight novels. The first of these, Chrome Yellow, was published in 1921, and was followed at two-year intervals by Antic Hay, Those Barren Leaves, and Point, Counterpoint. Opening the boards of that first book, none of Huxley’s friends could have been prepared for what they found inside. The gentle, abstracted poet of lines like

No dip and dart of swallows wakes the blank
Slumber of the canal: —a mirror dead
for lack of loveliness remembered

turned into an assassin when he wrote fiction. (“I have done an admirable short story,” Huxley once wrote to his brother Julian’s future wife. “So heartless and cruel that you would probably scream if you heard it: the concentrated venom is quite delicious.”) Sure the writing sparkled and the plot unfolded with professional ease, but there was something acid and unsettling about the way the stories portrayed the emptiness, the artistic and moral pretences of the very friends who were now reading the book. The only thing that saved Huxley from the anger that later greeted Evelyn Waugh’s similar lampoons was the fact that Huxley dissected his own pretensions with equal ferocity. He never stinted on himself.

Huxley dealt with his angst by moving frequently, living in Belgium, France, Spain, and Tunisia, and Italy, where his wife Maria and he became friends with D.H. Lawrence. As the Twenties drew to a close they semipermanently established themselves at a villa in Sanary, France, among the mix of artists and idle rich lucky enough to live on the Côte in the years immediately preceding the Crash of ’29. From Marseilles to Antibes, the Midi was an expanded version of a Garsington weekend. It was familiar fauna, and one might have expected a continuation of what the London Times described as “the many-toned wit… the learning, the thought, the richness of character.”

But Huxley gave his readers instead the anti-utopian Brave New World. Brave New World was Huxley’s first stab at themes that would occupy him for the rest of his life: the gap between technology and human wisdom; the misapplication of evolution; the failure of education to create a whole man; the increasing centralization of power, with its elevation of ends over means. It was also his most savage book, consigning the human species to the trash heap, albeit a comfortable, pleasureful trash heap. In a world in which science allows you to customize the ultimate in bread and circuses, argued Huxley, the concept of coercion becomes meaningless. One of the brilliant elements of Brave New World, indeed the one that made the whole vision of state-controlled euphoria plausible, was the drug soma. In terms of pharmacological reality, soma was a combination of three different kinds of mind drugs: on one level it was a pleasant and entertaining hallucinogen, on another a tranquilizer like Librium or Valium, on a third a sleeping pill. There was nothing coercive about soma use: diehard individualists had the option of relocating to several offshore islands.

But soma was only a symptom of Huxley’s larger theme, which was the machining of human nature. The genius that had allowed the smart monkey to tame the natural world was beginning to focus on itself. And unless something was done to alter the monkey’s fundamental psyche, the consequence was going to be a scientific hell that called itself paradise.

Huxley’s intellectual companion during these years, and perhaps his mentor, was a London literary boulevardier named Henry Fitz Gerald Heard—Gerald to his friends. In 1937, the two moved to America, eventually settling in Los Angeles, where they became a familiar presence on the local spiritual scene, studying Vedantic Hinduism at an ashram in Hollywood. The ashram was under the supervision of a canny, charismatic teacher, Swami Prabhavananda, who some years earlier had been ordered to Los Angeles by his teacher to fulfill the larger karma of introducing the inner disciplines of the East to the materialistic West. To leave not only his native land, but the contemplative solitude of the ashram, for Hollywood, California—it was not a task Prabhavananda had welcomed. But he had come and prospered, confirming the shrewdness of his teacher’s foresight.

The ashram, in classic Southern California fashion, was shaped like a miniature Taj Mahal, and was surrounded by lemon trees and young girls meditating in saris. Prabhavananda was fond of tea parties, during which he would debate Huxley and later Alan Watts, on various doctrinal points. The swami counseled asceticism in all things, including sex.

“But Aldous, what if we don’t like him? What if he wears a beard?” was Maria’s comment when Huxley announced that he had invited an unknown chap named Humphrey Osmond, a psychiatrist no less, for a visit. The offer of room and board chez Huxley was a rare ticket; even Julian, when he was in town, stayed at a local hotel.

The possibility that Osmond might be a tedious bore hadn’t occurred to Huxley, and after a few moments’ thought he arrived at a simple solution. “We can always be out,” he said.

Osmond, some three thousand miles away, was having similar fears. What if he couldn’t play in Huxley’s intellectual league? What if he came off as a tedious bore? “You can always arrange to stay late at the APA,” his wife said.

He need not have worried. The thing Huxley prized most in a fellow conversationalist was intellectual breadth, and Osmond had plenty of that. Like Heard, he could turn on a conversational dime and launch into a disquisition on, say, scurvy, that was so vivid one would almost swear he had shipped with Da Gama when half of the gentleman’s crew perished. Maria, watching Aldous warm to the younger man, confided to Osmond: “I knew you’d get along. You’re both Englishmen.”

Huxley accompanied Osmond to several APA sessions, which he found deadly dull, and amused himself by genuflecting whenever Freud’s name was mentioned. The subject of mescaline didn’t arise until two days before Osmond was to leave, and then it was Maria who broached the subject, having decided that the famous British reticence was going to prevent the two men from discussing what was certainly uppermost in Aldous’s mind. Osmond admitted that he had brought some mescaline with him; while Huxley conceded that he had borrowed a tape recorder to preserve a record of the experiment.

The next day, May 4, 1953, Osmond dissolved some mescaline crystals in a glass of water and nervously handed it to Huxley. Outside it was one of those perfect LA mornings, blue and warm, with just a trace of smog hanging over the San Bernadino valley. What if the drug worked too well, Osmond thought to himself. Although Smythies and he had begun to appreciate that there was more to the mescaline experience than simple psychosis, that didn’t diminish the possibility that the next six hours might be absolutely hellish. And Osmond didn’t relish the possibility that he might become infamous as the man who drove Aldous Huxley crazy.

On the other hand, what if nothing happened? It was beginning to dawn on Humphrey that Huxley had some rather idiosyncratic notions about what he hoped to achieve in the mescaline state. Nowhere was this more explicit than in the letter Osmond had received confirming his invitation to stay with the Huxleys while at the APA. After the usual pleasantries, Aldous had launched into a critique of what he called the Sears & Roebuck culture:

“Under the current dispensation the vast majority of individuals lose, in the course of education, all the openness to inspiration, all the capacity to be aware of other things than those enumerated in the Sears-Roebuck catalogue; is it too much to hope that a system of education may someday be devised which shall give results, in terms of human development, commensurate with the time, money, energy and action expended? In such a system of education it may be that mescaline or some other chemical substance may play a part by making it possible for young people to “taste and see” what they have learned at second hand, or directly but at a lower level of intensity, in the writings of the religious, or the works of poets, painters and musicians.”

Osmond was using mescaline as a mimicker of madness; Huxley wanted to incorporate it into the curriculum.

The minutes passed slowly—too slowly for Huxley, who told Osmond he expected to enter what he called the Blakeian world of heroic perception. What actually happened was much more mundane. The lights danced. The inside of his eyelids dissolved into a complex of gray squares that occasionally gave birth to a blue sphere.

Then, ninety minutes into the experience, Huxley felt himself pass through a screen, at least that’s what it seemed like, and suddenly he was seeing “what Adam had seen on the morning of creation.” It was as though, born myopic, he had just put on his first pair of glasses. The colors, the shapes, the sensuous mysteriousness of his flannel trousers. Later Aldous would pun that he had seen “eternity in a flower, infinity in four chair legs, and the Absolute in the folds of a pair of flannel trousers.”

He kept murmuring, “This is how one ought to see.”

Mescaline, Huxley decided, intensified the visual at the expense of the temporal and spatial. There was a pronounced loss of will, which gradually expanded into a loss of ego. And as the ego relinquished its grip, all sorts of useless data, biologically speaking, began to seep into the mind.

From the house, with its suddenly cubist furniture, they wandered into the garden. For the first time Huxley felt the presence of paranoia, and beyond that, madness. “If you started the wrong way,” he told Osmond, “everything that happened would be proof of the conspiracy against you. It would all be self-validating. You couldn’t draw a breath without knowing it was part of the plot.”

“So you think you know where madness lies?” Osmond asked.

“Yes.”

“And you couldn’t control it?”

“No, I couldn’t control it,” Huxley said. “If one began with fear and hate as the major premise, one would have to go on to the conclusion.”

But then the shadow passed. From the garden they moved to the street, where a large blue automobile touched off gales of laughter. Fat and self-satisfied, it seemed to Huxley that the car was a self-portrait of twentieth-century man; for the rest of the day he giggled whenever he saw one. Aldous was having a wonderful time. After years of theorizing that each of us carries a reserve of untapped vision and inspiration, he had suddenly stumbled across it at the advanced age of fifty-eight.

It was a little like that classic moment in children’s literature when the hero walks outside one morning and discovers a door, where yesterday there was only blank wall. And beyond that door, a garden of infinite dimension, infinite adventure.

Huxley was jubilant.

Mescaline was “the most extraordinary and significant experience available to human beings this side of the Beatific Vision,” he cabled his New York editor, Harold Raymond, adding that he was working on a long essay that would raise “all manner of questions in the fields of aesthetics, religion, theory of knowledge.” He planned to call this essay The Doors of Perception, after Blake’s observation that “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything will appear to man as it is, infinite.”

Destined to become the most famous volume on the psychedelic bookshelf, Doors took Huxley a month to write, and when he was done he had a blow-by-blow account of that afternoon with Osmond—events like the Dharma body of the Buddha manifesting itself in the garden hedge—tempered by liberal speculation as to what it all might possibly mean in terms of human psychology.

What it all meant, Huxley thought, was that Bergson and the English philosopher C.D. Broad had been correct when they suggested that the brain operated as a vast reducing valve, “shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only that very small and special selection which is likely to be practically useful.” Like the Freudian ego, this reducing valve was constantly beset by the raging tides of Mind at Large, which was what Huxley called Jung’s archetypal unconscious plus Freud’s pathological unconscious plus Myer’s treasure house plus all the other unconsciousnesses yet to be named. And like Freud’s ego, this reducing valve was not watertight: its seal was susceptible to pressure.

“As Mind at Large seeps past the no longer watertight valve,” he wrote, “all kinds of biologically useless things start to happen. In some cases there may be extra-sensory perceptions. Other persons discover a world of visionary beauty. To others again is revealed the glory, the infinite value and meaningfulness of naked existence…. In the final stage of egolessness there is an ‘obscure knowledge’ that All is in all—that All is actually each.” Which was why bookjackets gleamed with godliness and an innocuous canvas chair in the garden “looked like the Last Judgement.”

There was nothing unique about Mind at Large: the smart money had been vacationing there for millennia—the number of hit or miss techniques could’ve filled a small booklet. But suddenly, with mescaline, mankind had lucked upon a technology. For the first time a science of the Other World was possible. Perhaps.

The Doors of Perception was published in the spring of 1954 to generally perplexed reviews. Had anyone else written a book recommending mescaline as “an experience of estimable value to everyone and especially to the intellectual,” declared The Reporter’s Marvin Barrett, it would have been dismissed “as the woolgathering of a misguided crackpot. But coming…from one of the current masters of English prose, a man of immense erudition and intellect who usually demonstrates a high moral seriousness, they deserve more careful scrutiny.” Barrett called around until he found some Lab Madness researchers who were using mescaline as a psychotomimetic. They were “less enthusiastic than Dr. Huxley and the Indians,” he reported. “In controlled experiments they have found that mescaline more often than not produces symptoms unpleasantly similar to those of schizophrenia.”

The critical response to Doors was almost an echo of the British Medical Journal’s condemnation of Havelock Ellis for his enthusiastic endorsement of peyote. In effect, Huxley’s knuckles were rapped, and another black mark was added to the “whatever happened to Aldous” column. “How odd it is that writers like Belloc and Chesterton may sing the praises of alcohol (which is responsible for about two-thirds of the car accidents and three-quarters of the crimes of violence) and be regarded as good Christians and noble fellows,” Huxley complained, “whereas anyone who ventures to suggest that there may be other and less harmful short cuts to self transcendence is treated as a dangerous drug fiend and wicked perverter of weak-minded humanity.”

But Doors sold, slowly but steadily. Someone was reading it.

Maria died in February 1955. During her last hours, “with tears streaming down his face and his quiet voice not breaking,” Aldous read to her from the Bardo Thodol, interweaving the ancient Tibetan text with lyrical descriptions of their shared past. With Lawrence in Italy. Summers at Sanary. The weekends at Garsington when they had first met while the rest of the world was falling apart on the Somme. Their trips to the California desert. The white snowcapped mountains of the Sierras. “Go toward the light,” Aldous kept murmuring. “Those last three hours were the most anguishing and moving of my life,” Matthew Huxley later wrote to his wife; while for Gerald they were proof that Aldous had indeed come back through the Door a changed man; that he was able to cope with Maria’s death so calmly was wholly attributable, Gerald felt, to the wisdom he had gained from mescaline.

The fall of 1960 was an equivocal time for Aldous Huxley. His lectures on visionary experience were jammed. And not just by students. The public ones at night caused traffic problems more appropriate for the Harvard-Yale game. Huston Smith, who taught religion at MIT, considered it the crowning moment of Huxley’s career as a public philosopher. Huxley was less sanguine. For twenty-five years, ever since he had joined Gerald Heard in support of Dick Shepperton’s Peace Union, he had been chipping away at his loathing for the public soapbox; in the last twenty years he had addressed everyone from rotarians to nuclear scientists; so by the time he reached MIT he was in top oratorical form. But he found he had little to say. “It’s a bit embarrassing,” he confided to Huston Smith, “to have been concerned with the human problem all one’s life and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than ‘Try to be a little kind.’”

It was the sort of gentle resignation one might expect from a man who had recently been diagnosed as having cancer of the throat.

Health problems, which he blamed on his stringbean lack of robustness, had always been a complication in Huxley’s life; his letters are peppered with self-mocking references to his hypochondria, his blindness, his lack of stamina. But cancer was Maria’s disease, there was a finality to it, which may be why Aldous told no one except Humphrey Osmond, whom he swore to secrecy.

With death on his mind, Huxley redoubled his efforts on his recalcitrant utopian novel, which now bore the working title Island. Every morning he wrestled with the literary problem of how to portray a psychedelic utopia without boring the reader. “It may be that the job is one which cannot be accomplished with complete success,” he confessed to his son. “In point of fact, it hadn’t been accomplished in the past. For most Utopian books have been exceedingly didactic and expository. I am trying to lighten up the exposition by putting it into dialogue form, which I make as lively as possible. But meanwhile I am always haunted by the feeling that, if only I had enough talent, I could somehow poeticize and dramatize all this intellectual material.”

It was a losing battle. Despite his best efforts, Island was becoming a thinly fictionalized anthology of final thoughts on topics that had occupied Huxley for forty years: on education, psychology, metaphysics; on the place of art and creativity in life, and the role of psychedelics in exploring the mind’s potential. To dramatize this last theme, he had invented a new mind drug, which he called moksha, “the reality revealer, the truth and beauty pill.”

The crab, in remission since 1960, had come creeping back, and by autumn it was touch and go. Huxley checked into a Los Anbgeles hospital and tried to ignore the disease that was ravaging his throat. He was unable to write because of the pain but he did have a dictaphone and in lucid moments he worked on an essay on Shakespeare. Although his condition was obviously grave, he refused to acknowledge the possibility of death. Did he know he was dying? It was a question his second wife, Laura, couldn’t answer:

“We read the entire manual of Dr. Leary based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. He could have, even jokingly, said: “Don’t forget to remind me when the time comes.” His comment instead was directed only to the problem of “reentry” after a psychedelic session. It is true he sometimes said things like, ‘If I get out of this,’ in connection with his new ideas of writing, and wondered when and if he would have the strength to work. He was mentally very active and it seemed that some new levels of his mind were stirring.”

But on the morning of November twenty-second, 1963, a Friday, it became clear the gap between living and dying was closing. Realizing that Aldous might not survive the day, Laura sent a telegram to his son, Matthew, urging him to come at once. At ten in the morning, an almost inaudible Aldous asked for paper and scribbled “If I go,” and then some directions about his will. It was his first admission that he might die. Soon after he murmured, “Who is eating out of my bowl?” When Laura asked what he meant he dismissed it as a private joke. “At this point there is so little to share,” he told her, a statement that she interpreted as meaning no questions. Around noon he asked for the pad of paper and scribbled

“LSD—try it
intermuscular
100mm”

In a letter circulated among Aldous’s friends, Laura Huxley described what followed: “You know very well the uneasiness in the medical mind about this drug. But no ‘authority,’ not even an army of authorities, could have stopped me then. I went into Aldous’s room with the vial of LSD and prepared a syringe. The doctor asked me if I wanted him to give the shot—maybe because he saw that my hands were trembling. His asking me that made me conscious of my hands, and I said, ‘No, I must do this.’”

An hour later she gave Huxley a second 100mm. Then she began to talk, bending close to his ear, whispering, “light and free you let go, darling; forward and up. You are going forward and up; you are going toward the light. Willingly and consciously you are going, willing and consciously, and you are doing this beautifully; you are doing this so beautifully—you are going toward the light—you are going toward the light—you are going toward a greater love…. You are going toward Maria’s love with my love. You are going toward the best, the greatest love, and it is easy, it is so easy, and you are doing it so beautifully.”

All struggle ceased. The breathing became slower and slower and slower, until, “like a piece of music just finishing so gently in sempre piu piano, dolcamente at twenty past five in the afternoon, Aldous Huxley died.

And it was only then that Laura Huxley really had the time to fathom the other great tragedy of the day, the assassination of the President in Dallas.

The post High Times Greats: Aldous Huxley appeared first on High Times.

How to Protect Your Business from the Emerging Vaping Crisis

The year 2020 may become a pivotal year for cannabis operators and service providers, including increased access to financial services, and increased exposure to product liability lawsuits. On a positive note, if enacted, the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019 (SAFE Banking Act) promises to enable cannabis businesses to gain access to financial services previously unavailable to them, including banking and insurance services. The House of Representatives passed the SAFE Banking Act of 2019 on September 25th, 2019. Skopos Labs, an automated predictive intelligence service, predicts there is a 52% chance of the SAFE Banking Act of 2019 becoming law. A recent discovery that vitamin E acetate is likely the culprit in the vaping-related illness epidemic may increase the exposure to costly litigation that cannabis businesses face.

An uptick in litigation like that currently affecting the vaping industry may soon affect cannabis businesses. More litigation affecting the vaping industry is due in large part to the growing number of lung injuries and deaths linked to vaping. As of November 13th, 2019, the CDC reported 2,172 cases of lung injury, and 42 deaths linked to vaping. The cases of lung injury and death have predictably resulted in an increase in litigation facing the vaping industry. Most of the plaintiffs in these cases allege they became addicted to vaping but at least two lawsuits go further. In one, a Connecticut man alleges that he suffered a massive, debilitating stroke as a result of vaping, while in another the parents of a teenage girl allege in a proposed class action suit that their daughter has suffered seizures linked to vaping. On November 14th, 2019, the CDC identified vitamin E acetate as a chemical of concern among people with vaping use associated lung injury. Vitamin E acetate is an additive commonly used as a cutting agent in vape cartridges. About 86% of individuals who have either vaping-related lung injuries, or died due to vaping had used a product containing THC.

The increase in perceived exposure cannabis businesses face has increased their interest in obtaining insurance, but unfortunately insurers are not always interested in insuring them. There are at least two reasons that getting insurance can be difficult for cannabis businesses: (1) insurance industry appetite for cannabis risk is very low due to its status under federal law and (2) express coverage exclusions or limitations of cannabis exposures from standard-form coverage are becoming more common. However, even if cannabis businesses are able to obtain insurance, their insurance may cover them for far less than they believe.

The product liability coverage (which is increasingly crucial for both growers and manufacturers given the mounting litigation facing the vaping industry) may cover far less than it at first appears. The interplay of exclusions and limited coverages in many cannabis-specific policies may leave a cannabis business uninsured.

It is vital now more than ever to ensure you are properly protected against loss.Crucial for cannabis businesses to appreciate is the distinction between “occurrence” and “claims-made” coverage triggers as it relates to both the premises on which cannabis businesses operate their business, and the products they sell.

Many cannabis businesses have an occurrence-based general liability insurance that might actually exclude: (1) product-liability risks; (2) any tobacco-related risks; and (3) any risk associated with governmental investigation or enforcement. These exclusions oftentimes concern cannabis businesses because there is a high likelihood one of these risks could manifest itself as an uninsured loss. Still, the costs of eliminating these exclusions in an occurrence-based general liability insurance policy is often large, assuming an insurer is willing to eliminate the exclusions on an occurrence basis at all. Therefore, cannabis businesses often pair their general liability insurance policy with a “claims-made” coverage trigger for products liability. Navigating the waters of managing the differences between “occurrence” and “claims-made” forms are best left to a qualified and experienced insurance professional.

Consult a local insurance professional that understands how to help your business become properly protected in what would be considered a tumultuous market for this burgeoning industry.

It is vital now more than ever to ensure you are properly protected against loss. As a first step, you must determine what your current insurance policy does and does not cover. After a loss, it is too late to change policies. Rely upon someone that knows the market of insuring this industry and has deep experience in managing both occurrence and claims-made policies.

The post How to Protect Your Business from the Emerging Vaping Crisis appeared first on Cannabis Industry Journal.

Flashback Friday: Magic Stones

Writer Stephen Peele takes a look at a naturally occurring psychedelic in the December, 1989 issue of High Times magazine.


Most of us are now aware that certain mushrooms, when eaten, produce psychoactive effects. The most notorious mushrooms in this group are those which produce psilocybin and psilocin. But have you ever heard of sclerotia? Sometimes called magic stones, other names for it are “comote,” “comotillos,” “rock of ages,” and “philosopher’s stone.” Dr. Steven H. Pollock wrote, “It’s hard to imagine a psychedelic treat more desirable than psilocybin mushrooms, but comotillos are tastier, smoother in producing their effects, and yet more powerful at higher doses….When fresh, comotillos have a walnut-like consistency, but they are easily dried to an even more durable form—the rock of ages. These magic stones nevertheless remain chewable and potent indefinitely. Comotillos clearly transport the fortunate consumer to states of spiritual transcendence and jubilation far beyond the realm of ordinary psychedelics.”

Not all mushrooms have the power to produce sclerotia. In fact, only a few species do. However, two very powerful psychoactive mushrooms fall into this elite group, Psilocybe mexicana and Psilocybe tampanesis.

Chromatograph scans of Psilocybe cubensis from Alabama and Florida indicate psiiocybin readings of .17 to .23%. Scans pulled on sclerotia reveal higher percentages. Sclerotia from Psilocybe mexicana produce a whopping .20 to .40% psilocybin content. However, sclerotia from Psilocybe tampanensis produces the highest psilocybin level, an unbelievable .24 to .52%.

The Zapotec and Mazatec tribes in Mexico have used Psilocybe mexicana as a sacred mushroom for thousands of years. They also have used the magic stones produced by this species. If anything, the sacred secret of the stones was more heavily guarded than the mushrooms ever were. When magic stones were found, the finders surely thought they were being looked upon favorably by the Gods. They were very careful about who they passed this secret on to.

To find these stones, you first have to find the sacred mushroom, Psilocybe mexicana. Cow pastures and meadows make good hunting places. Although cow manure can be part of the mushroom’s growing substrate, the mushroom is very rarely ever found growing directly from the pies themselves. It grows from the earth or from mulch. Unlike most other mushrooms, it grows solitary. The Mazatecs call it “di-shi-tho-di-nize,” or the little bird sacred mushroom.

The cap is yellow-brown, smooth and viscid. The mushroom is small, ranging from 5 to 35mm across. The stem is brown and hollow. It will darken when bruised, but will not always blue. Gills are adnate (attached directly to the stalk) to adnexed (notched just at the stalk), close, brownish with white edges. The spores are dark purple-brown in color.

The mushroom marks the spot. After picking the mushroom, take a knife, or small trowel, and dig up all around the area. A two-foot circle, 6” to 8″ deep should do it. If you see any off-white colored thread-like strands growing (mycelium), concentrate the search in this area. The average stone size will be about one inch long. Smaller stones also occur, so search carefully. Stones are chocolate brown in color, and covered with a soft white fuzz. They look somewhat like nuts, but have no hard shell. When broken into, their inside flesh is a lighter brown and will shortly change color to blue. Stones are slightly bitter tasting, similar to the taste and texture of chestnuts.

Because of the special role stones perform in nature, they are actually much easier to grow than mushrooms. Most people have first-time success. The reason they are so easy to grow becomes clear once the mechanics and purpose of sclerotia are understood.

Just as mushrooms are produced from mycelium (the normal physical growing state of mushrooms), so are sclerotia. Sclerotia are actually an alternative expression of the mycelium, to insure the continuation of the species. This special modification is helpful to the survival of the mushroom during environmental extremes. When growing conditions are bad (conditions that might kill any other mushroom), the mycelium builds the sclerotia and dives into a type of “life suspension,” waiting for the day when proper growing conditions again resume.

High temperatures, desiccation or nutrient deprivation cause the mushroom to form this resistant structure. When you replicate the above conditions, and place the mushroom in the dark, the mycelium will create sclerotia. It builds a thick outer layer to protect the inside against the extremes of the current environment. The sclerotia contains stored nutrients and can survive under unfavorable conditions—probably for more than twenty years.

Because these magic stones have this strange power of survival, they can be used years later to grow more sclerotia and mushrooms. Dried stones can be placed in water and they will come back to life. Then they can be placed into a growing medium for an entire new crop. So once you have the magic stones, you will always be able to grow mushrooms and sclerotia.

The first sterile cultivation of psychoactive sclerotia was probably achieved in late 1957. Albert Hofmann needed more samples of Psilocybe mexicana to isolate the unknown compounds responsible for this magic. Two of his colleagues, Dr. A. Brack and Dr. H. Kobel, were able to produce a large quantity of sclerotia from this species. The yield was very impressive. It was this procedure which actually produced the extracted material which not only gave away the chemical structures of psilocybin and psilocin, but also broke the ground for synthesizing them. It was the sclerotia, not the actual Psilocybe mexicana mushroom, which revealed the riddle of the sacred mushrooms.

Although these magic stones pose no real lethal threat, they can produce psychological disturbances in individuals who are not mentally stable or mentally prepared for large doses (5 grams or more). First time users would do best to take only a half gram of fresh sclerotia.

Although many phases of this research are now under very tight restrictions, much has been learned about magic stones. Psilocybin has similar effects on the central nervous system as LSD and mescaline. Psilocybin, however, is the least toxic of all known hallucinogens, and this includes THC. Here’s how their lethal dosage levels compare (LD50—the dose that kills 50% of rats tested):

  • LSD 0.3mg/kg
  • Muscimol 4.5mg/kg
  • THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) 42.0mg/kg
  • Mescaline 370.0mg/kg
  • Psilocybin 420.0mg/kg

Psilocybin can cause hallucinations in 15 to 20 minutes, though sometimes it can take up to two hours. It has similar effects to LSD. Both work by triggering serotonin receptor sites and pathways in the human body, most likely by inhibiting or stimulating the serotonin neurochemical system which control the functions of the mind and brain. What one experiences when using these compounds is unlike anything arising from normal consciousness.

Now that the nature and purpose of sclerotia are understood, they have proved to be one of the easiest plant structures to grow. If your mushroom-growing attempts in the past have failed, if your house plants always die from high temperatures, no sunlight, or lack of moisture and proper nutrients, try growing sclerotia.

The post Flashback Friday: Magic Stones appeared first on High Times.

Attorney General of Virginia Mark Herring Invites Lawmakers to Cannabis Summit

Now that Democrats have won control of both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly, cannabis is back in the conversation. Democrat lawmakers have already formed the Virginia Cannabis Caucus and some have already announced plans to file legalization proposals in the legislative session that begins in January. But Democrats face an uphill battle as they work to turn those bills into laws. And it’s Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring who’s stepping up to take a leading role in shifting Virginia politics toward meaningful marijuana reform.

On December 11, Attorney General Herring will host the 2019 Virginia Cannabis Summit. The summit will feature panel presentations and discussions with researchers who study cannabis and policy experts from states with legalized or decriminalized marijuana. Herring wants Virginia lawmakers to attend, in hopes the summit can elevate the upcoming debates on cannabis reform bills. Herring wants Virginia to move toward fully legal adult use, and the summit is about ensuring policymakers have real knowledge and experience shaping their decisions.

What’s on the Agenda for Herring’s Cannabis Summit?

Attorney General Herring’s invitation to the 2019 Virginia Cannabis Summit says the event will consist of four panels of experts from around the country. The panels will focus more on policy than the health science behind cannabis, and topics ranging from decriminalization and social equity to regulating CBD and hemp will be on the agenda. These are topics that highlight what Virginia lawmakers’ near-term goals are in terms of cannabis legislation: decriminalization and expungement, and bringing state law up-to-date with federal policy on hemp and CBD products. Each is an important reform lawmakers could pursue as early as January 2020.

The Cannabis Summit will also show lawmakers various strategies for legalizing cannabis through the legislative process. The more pro-legalization lawmakers can be informed about strategies that worked in other states, the better chance they have at developing effective policy proposals. Democrats who want to move Virginia toward a future with legal weed will need those perspectives if they want to win the support of fellow lawmakers and Gov. Ralph Northam. So far, Northam has said he’ll only support decriminalization and expungement measures.

Is Virginia Really Moving Toward Legal Adult Use?

Virginia is lagging behind much of the country on reforming cannabis laws. The state only has limited medical marijuana legalization. And long-held Republican control of the Assembly has meant any legislative attempt to decriminalize possession or legalize adult use has died in committee.

Now, however, Democrats have a real chance at passing measures like decriminalization and criminal record expungement. And Attorney General Herring is seizing the opportunity to increase his advocacy around cannabis policy. “The social and human costs are tremendous,” Herring wrote in an op-ed published in The Virginia-Pilot on Sunday. “There are smarter, better ways we can handle cannabis.”

NORML’s Virginia chapter is already applauding Herring’s initiative. In fact, NORML recognized Herring’s cannabis reform advocacy back in September with its Vanguard Award. Indeed, Herring’s Cannabis Summit could be the momentum shift Virginia needs to bounce back from a brutal year for efforts to address the immense human and social costs of criminalizing marijuana. However, the state did manage to pass a trio of medical cannabis bills in early July, expanding access to a program many patients, caregivers and lawmakers have criticized as overly restrictive.

The post Attorney General of Virginia Mark Herring Invites Lawmakers to Cannabis Summit appeared first on High Times.

Massachusetts Lawmakers Ban Flavored Tobacco and Vaping Products

After months of grappling with how best to address the health costs of vaping, Massachusetts lawmakers have opted to ban the sweet (and minty) stuff. On Thursday, members of the state’s House of Representatives voted to prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco and vape products. The vote was handed down shortly before the members of Congress broke for the holidays. 

And that’s not all. The vaping products that remain legal will be subject to a whopping 75 excise tax. 

The vote marks the first time such a statewide prohibition has been enacted in the United States, although San Francisco lawmakers banned the sale of all vaping products earlier this year. Other states have enacted temporary bans on certain products, as in the case of Oregon, where a prohibition was overturned by the courts that would have blocked the sale of flavored cannabis vaping products.

The legislation will now go to the desk of Governor Charlie Baker, who has already established himself as an advocate for limiting access to vaping. In October, he enacted an emergency four-month ban on all vaping products in a move that was deemed outside his authority by a judge. The decision was handed over to Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission, which opted to quarantine all cannabis vaping products, save for those that use flower. Later, a judge lifted the ban for medical marijuana patients.

The flurry of prohibition was largely catalyzed by a rash of vaping-related lung injuries that has so far claimed 47 lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Vaping companies have also been the subject of recent lawsuits, including lawsuits filed by California and North Carolina state officials against leading vape company Juul. New York Attorney Letitia James announced that the state was suing the company, citing what she calls a coordinated marketing campaign targeting teens. 

A National Youth Tobacco survey found that 4.1 million students nationwide vape, including one-third of high school students in New York State. The nationwide vaper figure stands at 1.2 million among middle school students. 

Perhaps in response to such allegations of the targeting of young people, Juul announced earlier this month that it would no longer be selling its popular mint-flavored products. The decision was made after a government survey.

If signed, the Massachusetts bill will go into effect immediately for flavored products and on June 1 for menthol cigarettes. It also mandates that health insurance companies fund tobacco cessation counseling. 

“This legislation is a critical step to help end the worsening youth e-cigarette epidemic and stop tobacco companies from using appealing flavors to lure kids into a lifetime of addiction,” said president of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids Matthew Myers in a written statement. “It would make Massachusetts the first state in the nation to prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products.”

Not everyone was pleased, however. “We are disappointed the legislature supports bills that disproportionately impact communities of color and have disastrous implications for public health, public safety, state tax revenue and jobs in the Commonwealth,” said Jonathan Shaer, president of the New England Convenience Store Owners and Energy Marketers Association, in a statement.

The post Massachusetts Lawmakers Ban Flavored Tobacco and Vaping Products appeared first on High Times.

Robert Crumb’s Stoner Art Worth up to a Quarter Million Dollars Goes to Auction

Robert Crumb’s original “Stoned Agin!” artwork is going up for bid for the first time ever in Heritage Auctions’ Comics & Comic Art Auction Nov. 21-24 in Dallas, Texas. Crumb’s groundbreaking release of the first issue of Zap Comix in 1967, predating the premiere issue of High Times, included illustrated instructions informing readers how to hold in a hit and general tips about smoking pot more efficiently. From then on, Crumb more or less led the hippie comic book movement, defying all previously-held standards of censorship in mainstream comic books.

Crumb’s psychedelic legacy introduced the world to foul-mouthed cartoon characters such as Mr. Natural, the Keep On Truckin’ men, Mr. Snoid, Flakey Foont, and Fritz the Cat—which was released as an R-rated animated film and sequel. Crumb published Zap Comix, Head Comix, Your Hytone Comix, Weirdo Magazine, Mystic Funnies and dozens of other quirky titles over the years, almost always with a psychedelic theme. He also drew Big Brother and the Holding Company’s cover of Cheap Thrills for Janis Joplin and countless other contributions.

Robert Crumb’s Original Artwork

Crumb’s artwork “Stoned Agin!” [sic] depicts the various stages of the effects of cannabis—from being a little bit high to inner nirvana. The artwork original was the inside cover of Your Hytone Comix, published by Apex Novelties in 1971, but the image ended up being printed on incense and rolling paper packs for generations. As of mid-November, the current bid was at $105,000, with the Buyer’s Premium set at $126,000. But its estimated value is set at $250,000. It’s a small price to pay for such a huge part of stoner history.

Fortunately for everyone else, Crumb values rare blues records enough to trade them for his own original artwork. “The consignor received the artwork directly from Robert Crumb,” Heritage Auctions Senior Vice President Todd Hignite said in a news release. “After moving to Northern California in 1970 and getting to know Crumb through friendships with other underground cartoonists, a trade was arranged with the artist, swapping some rare old blues 78 records for the artwork. The original has remained in our consignor’s personal collection ever since, buried away and securely stored for more than four decades, which has only added to the appeal and demand among collectors. This art is not only the great ‘lost’ Crumb, but an incredibly key image for 1960s and 1970s counter-cultural history. Such powerful images that have been seared into the imaginations of so many very infrequently come up at auction.”

The ink Bristol board drawing measures on paper measuring 13-7/8 by 10-7/8 inches with an image measuring 12 by 8 inches, according to Heritage Auctions. The seller threw in a cardboard portfolio with a handwritten to-do list, perhaps written by then-Hytone Comix publisher Don Donahue. The artwork has been graded as in “Very Good condition.”

Robert Crumb’s Stoner Art Worth up to a Quarter Million Dollars Goes to Auction
Courtesy of Heritage Auctions

The History

High Times’ rare and unlikely 1977 interview with Crumb delved into some of the artist’s darkest, most deprived inclinations, which the artist usually expressed through sketches and comic book drawings. Crumb even created an exclusive comic strip to commemorate the occasion. Terry Zwigoff’s award-winning bombshell documentary, Crumb, uncovers the deep dysfunction of the artist and his family, leading film critic Gene Siskel to call Crumb “the best film of 1995.” Crumb’s disturbed brother Charles may have committed suicide in reaction to the film.

Robert Crumb is arguably the father of underground comics, who began peddling adult comic books on the street, which he called “comix” in San Francisco, California during peak of the 1960s hippie movement. Crumb’s comic books were admittedly influenced by LSD,  cannabis and other psychedelic substances. Robert Crumb—and later other visionaries like Gilbert Shelton, “Spain” Rodriguez, Rick Griffin, Robert Williams and S. Clay Wilson—wrote and drew for Zap Comix and other subsequent comic book series, much to the dismay of parents everywhere. Zap Comix showed the world, picture by picture, the underside of America, complete with drugs, sex and profanity. Williams would go on to paint the original but banned cover of Guns N Roses’ Appetite for Destruction, while Griffin would become a psychedelic rock poster wonder. A lot of the psychedelic rock poster era art was derived from Zap Comix artists.  The others would eventually grow to become legends in the comic book community, particularly Shelton with The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.

Before then, the Comics Code Authority, founded 1954, determined what was considered acceptable for young readers of comic books—including removing anything that remotely resembled homosexual activity. Dr. Frederic Wertham, author of Seduction of the Innocent, spearheaded the movement to cleanse comics in America. Until Crumb came along, comic books were thoroughly vetted and only images and text suitable for children were approved. Zap Comix #4 precipitated a case that escalated to the U.S. Supreme Court, concluding with a verdict in 1973. Released in Aug. 1969, Zap #4 pushed all boundaries of censorship, as its stories included highly controversial themes. The case People of New York v. Kirkpatrick represented obscenity charges brought up against booksellers Peter Kirkpatrick and others who sold Zap Comix. Ultimately, the charges were dropped and the hippie comic book artists prevailed.

Is It Worth It?

Robert Crumb’s comic books, like Larry Flynt,  challenged censorship when no one else would by pushing boundaries of what defines “obscenity” and flooding decent homes with information about drugs. Owning a piece of the underground comics that Crumb helped to popularize is something you can’t put a price on. Heritage Auctions calls the piece the “Holy Grail” of Crumb and psychedelic art collections.

The post Robert Crumb’s Stoner Art Worth up to a Quarter Million Dollars Goes to Auction appeared first on High Times.

The First Class of Winners of the Clio Cannabis Awards

Last night was a historic moment. In its 60th year of existence, the Clio Awards recognized a new category: cannabis.

The Clios were established in 1959 as a way to honor and celebrate the creative and artistic prowess of the advertising and marketing industries. Since its first year, the Clio Awards have considered submissions from a variety of industries, including fashion, sports, beauty, music, and health. This was the first year that the institution accepted submissions from agencies and businesses in the cannabis space.

In order to uphold the legacy for greatness that the Clios had maintained for 60 years, they partnered with High Times, a long-established voice in the scene, to present the inaugural Clio Cannabis Awards. To those intimately acquainted with either (or both) the cannabis space or advertising industry, this seemed like the perfect match. The Clios and High Times are two brands with the reputation of being at the forefront of their respective fields; it stands to reason that the two should merge for the joint venture of honoring innovation and creativity in advertising and marketing within the nascent legal cannabis space.

The Clio Cannabis Awards were held the evening of November 20th at NeueHouse Hollywood, in Los Angeles, California. The event started with a discussion panel featuring cannabis business owners (and celebrities in their fields) Macy Grey, Ricky Williams, and B. Real, and moderated by High Times’ president and CEO, Kraig Fox. The program was then hosted by NBA legend John Salley, who presented the winners of the gold Clio trophies.

If you were unable to attend the event this year, here are the winners of the Clio Cannabis Awards:

The Gold Winners of the Clio Cannabis Awards

Advocacy
  • For21 by Keystone Canna Remedies
  • The New Normal by MedMen
Brand Design
  • An Elevated Brand of Cannabis by Houseplant
  • Elevating the Dispensary Shop-in-Shop by Dosist
Product Design
  • Puffco Peak by Puffco
  • Cannabutter by Sweet Grass
Film/ Video
  • The New Normal by MedMen
  • Weed Week Interstitials by VICELAND
  • Drive High by Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec
Social Good
  • Drive High by Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec

The Silver Winners of the Clio Cannabis Awards

Brand Design
  • Your Loyal Cannabis Companion by Dogwalkers
  • Pass The Bill by Leaf Forward
  • Latitude by 48North Cannabis Corp
Social Good
  • Last Prisoner Project by Last Prisoner Project

The Bronze Winners of the Clio Cannabis Awards

Advocacy
  • PDX Cannabis Needs Economic Justice Now! by NuLeaf Project
  • Weedmaps Museum of Weed by Weedmaps
Film/ Video
  • Sunday Scaries by Sunday Scaries (CBD Edible Dummies Brand)
  • Tokyo Smoke Terpene Worlds by Tokyo Smoke
Brand Design
  • Superette Cannabis Retail by Superette
  • Puffco
  • Real People. Real Props. Surreal Packaging by Dreamland Chocolates
  • Sustainability and Good Weed by 48North Cannabis Corp
Partnerships & Collaborations
  • Katz + Dogg by Katz + Dogg
Social Good
  • Weedmaps Museum of Weed by Weedmaps
Product Design
  • Dialing in the Edibles Marketplace by Dosist

The Shortlist

Social Good
  • Recycling Program by NAMASTE
  • Barely High is Still Too High To Drive by the Government of Ontario
Print & Out of Home
  • CÁÑAMO: La Revista de la Cultura del Cannabis by CÁÑAMO
  • Saving Grace Financial by Up Cannabis
Digital/ Mobile
  • Saving Grace Financial by Up Cannabis
  • Capsule Collection by Tokyo Smoke
Brand Design
  • Pantry Food Co. Brand Development by Pantry Food Co.
  • Noetic Experience by 710 Labs

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