Green politics have always been about greenbacks. Marijuana and its non-psychoactive sibling hemp both grew like weeds until influential forces conspired to stamp them out. Newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst saw hemp paper as a threat to his logging interests. The Du Pont family had just recently patented both nylon and petroleum-based plastic, and could do without competition from hemp alternatives. Conveniently, Andrew Mellon–banker to both–had recently installed future nephew-in-law Harry Anslinger as the country’s first drug czar. Hearst utilized his media capital to brainwash the American public into believing that marijuana–a Mexican slang term for cannabis–was somehow a menace to society (long before drug cartels were involved). Sensationalistic stories of people murdering their entire families under its influence weren’t beneath him. Propaganda films such as Tell Your Children (later renamed Reefer Madness by an exploitation distributor) and Marijuana: Assassin of Youth merely fueled the simmering plot. Although a doctor from the American Medical Association testified on behalf of its medicinal and industrial benefits at the eleventh hour, cannabis was effectively canned by The Marijuana Tax Stamp Act of 1937.
Although I’ve witnessed more than one 4/20 rally since, the first time I’d ever seen anyone openly and defiantly smoke pot in public was at Lollapalooza. Members of Cypress Hill were the perpetrators of the particular civil disobedience in question. Fiddler’s Green security guards looked the other way, probably because greenbacks put their bosses in the black. Simple as that. Mile High Music Festival staff will likely follow similar protocol (“potocol”?) this weekend when the hip hop outfit blazes into Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Then again, tolerance might be at an all-time high in Colorado, considering the canna-business boom currently underway (see our feature in this month’s Gentlemen Issue). Cypress Hill are certainly no strangers to medical marijuana. Pot-ograph hounds lined up in droves to score their John Hancocks at a Denver cannabis convention in April.
Medical marijuana’s definitely something we’ve been supporting for years. To see it come this far, it’s incredible. We started in the mid 90s doing a bunch of stuff with NORML, getting the word out about it. It’s been a little slow, but I just think the facts had to come out. And the facts just started to outweigh everything,” says Cypress Hill percussionist Eric “Bobo” Correa.
Cypress Hill’s “highlarious” (roach) clip for “Dr. Greenthumb”: