Worlds collided on Friday when the Colorado Symphony Orchestra held the first of three cannabis-friendly fundraisers whose concept collected a lot of attention -- and press. Brass and bongs. Corsages and cannabis. Hemp and Handel. Horns and hashish. By most accounts, the event was a success and raised about $50,000 for the CSO with $100-per-invite donations and more than $30,000 in sponsorships from participating medical marijuana dispensaries. But it also raised this question: Why is a cannabis-friendly campaign still a big deal in cannabis-loving Colorado? As our cannabis critic William Breathes points out on our Backbeat blog, it doesn't have to be that way.
Here's an excerpt from Breathes's original coverage:
On the surface, the idea behind the 'Classically Cannabis' series...was to bring two 'cultures' together. They did accomplish that goal, even though I'm pretty sure marijuana and classical music have been combined plenty in the past. But even if a handful of the 250 cannabis-lovers in attendance truly opened their eyes to classical music, that wasn't the main outcome of the concert. What the event really did was point out how absurdly we've been treating cannabis since limited amounts of pot were legalized for adults 21 and up in 2012.
Take away the media attention and the controversy of the CSO linking up with a few cannabis businesses for a fundraiser, and what you had last night was a fine-art event much like any other. Music was the focal point, of course, but the Space gallery also had some amazing artwork on display, from sculptures to photography to beautiful, wall-sized oil paintings and murals. People mingled and shmoozed. The open bar served drinks, and food trucks served up free meals around the back of the venue. Certainly it was a cool event on its own merits, and likely not a huge departure from events the CSO normally holds.
At the event, Breathes caught up with Mason Tvert, Amendment 64's face and spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, who said he was excited to see people getting together to enjoy cannabis consumption outside of the stereotypical places like rock concerts and Cannabis Cups. Those events go off all the time without the novelty of pot being the focal point; after all, pot is considered normal there. But, Breathes feels it's time to rethink what "normal" is. Another excerpt:
If the CSO had just been serving alcohol, there wouldn't have been anything newsworthy, because we've accepted that as normal. It's time we start treating marijuana the same way. Who cares what legal substances people want to use to enjoy their lives? Let them use it. And let us focus more on the arts and community we've got around us, without these filters and distractions. The CSO cannabis concerts illustrate that point quite literally, and should jump-start the conversation of loosening public consumption laws. Events like last night's shouldn't be an exception to the rule. They should be the norm.
More from our Last Night archive: "Colorado Symphony Orchestra's pot concert begs the question: Why is this still a big deal?"
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.