Legalizing marijuana -- medical or otherwise -- has become the toke of the town

Rob and Jessica Corry aren't normal Republicans, but the Corrys did spend time last weekend as NORML Republicans at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws's 38th annual conference in San Francisco. Rob, a Denver attorney who specializes in marijuana cases, and Jessica, a public-policy analyst with the right-wing Independence Institute, were there to encourage other Republicans to end the laws that make marijuana illegal and to discuss pot, parenting and morals in general. The couple (who have also been blogging on the subject for the Denver incarnation of the liberal Huffington Post website) say there's nothing more immoral than bankrupting their children's future by spending billions of dollars on the war on drugs, and Jessica, who's never shied away from a controversial topic, notes that she's received more response to her pro-marijuana mom stance than any other.

NORML advocates believe the current recession and changing attitudes toward marijuana — medical or otherwise — have created a political climate that may allow politicians on either side of the aisle to get behind pot reform laws. After all, retired Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo, Texas congressman Ron Paul and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson all are on record as endorsing the legalization of pot. And Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett has also been edging in that direction. As the Democrat told Westword last week, "Legalizing marijuana entirely would be the simplest way to resolve the tension between the Constitution and the criminal statutes and I expect that, eventually, most states will decide to do so." (See the Latest Word blog for more of that interview.)

Here in Colorado, the medical-marijuana industry has been growing like crazy, and while some dispensaries resemble swanky bars or sterile dentist offices, others feel like a dope dealer's college dorm room. To help keep them straight, Westword has been reviewing a dispensary a week in "Mile Highs and Lows." Here's an excerpt from our online review of Patients Choice of Colorado: "An über-professional tour guide covers the Patients Choice's considerable rules, such as no smoking (of any substance) on the premises, limiting patients to at most six ounces of pot a month and requiring a state-issued medical marijuana ID to get in the door, not just a doctor's recommendation for the ID, like many dispensaries will accept. (The place sticks by its rules: A manager was overheard reaming out an employee for letting in a customer whose state ID had expired five days earlier.) The dispensary also asks patients to inform them of any food allergies, so that one of the owners, a culinary school graduate, can take these issues into account in his edible marijuana concoctions."

But we're not bogarting that joint. In fact, we're looking for a new dispensary reviewer. To find out if you qualify, go to the Latest Word.

Scene and herd: This year's Park Hill Alley Art Contest didn't get nearly as many entries as last year (just four, compared to more than a dozen in 2008), but that hasn't dampened the enthusiasm of its founders, Jack and Pam Farrar, who handed out awards just the same. Still, one of this year's winners, J.R. Ewing (no relation), was a repeat; Pam says Ewing added a stone Kokopelli climbing a fence to the installation he'd built last year in the alley behind the 2200 block of Hudson Street.

To drum up submissions for 2010, Jack is thinking about opening up the contest (which runs concurrently with the Park Hill Home Tour) to other neighborhoods. "We want to get the word out to the whole city," he says.

For pictures of the alley art, go to the Latest Word blog.

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