The High Times Medical Cannabis Cup came into town on April 2 and 3, and left many attendees in what seemed like a permanent high. Westword pot critic William Breathes gushed that it was "one of the most amazing cannabis events in Colorado short of passing Amendment 20 nearly twelve years ago."
But not all attendees agreed.
"It didn't fit an industry that wants to be taken seriously," says Christopher Meyer, a longtime employee of the medical marijuana center Denver Relief. "This was supposed to be about medicine, and as a movement, it could have been a lot better."
Meyer staffed Denver Relief's booth in part of the convention area restricted to marijuana patients where folks were free to light up as they pleased. From Breathes's perspective, the scene was incredible: "Inside was exactly what a cannabis convention should look like. Thick air, hazy eyes and bong load after bong load of smoke being blown around the huge room."
But Meyer saw it differently -- as a free-for-all in which all of the 25 marijuana centers in attendance, save Denver Relief and a few others, were happily giving out no-charge medicine by the handful to folks who didn't seem to know when or how to stop. Meyer says he spotted one young man who appeared to be falling asleep standing up. In other words, it resembled the revelry of the Great American Beer Festival, but with one difference: Beer isn't technically a medicine that's regulated every which way.
After all, points out Meyer, the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code forbids any marijuana distribution outside retail space. And while that code is currently under legal review, Meyer doesn't think now is the best time for MMCs to be pushing the legal envelope regarding such matters, considering that none of the businesses have yet to receive the new, official state license to operate.
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But for Meyer, the real problem with the giant hot box that was the Cannabis Cup was the image it presented of Colorado's medical marijuana scene. He believes the many film crews in attendance that day -- from G4 to National Geographic -- captured a scene that felt more like a frat party than a medical convention. And that's the last thing he thinks the industry should be doing as it struggles for legitimacy.
"If we continue to fall into old stereotypes, marijuana will never be taken seriously," he says.
Case in point? During the festivities, a bunch of daring thieves made off with a $50,000 custom-made "GrowBot" grow-facility trailer parked outside. If folks are trying to move beyond the stoner image of Dude, Where's My Car?, that's not the way to do it.
More from our Marijuana archives: "Carol Boigon's new TV ad says marijuana dispensaries "not a jobs plan" (VIDEO)."