Longform

The life and tragic death of cannabis advocate Jenny Kush

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When Kush first approached Georgia Edson in late 2011 with the idea of a show that would discuss both pot and sex, "I thought she meant would the station be open to doing a show about sex," Georgia remembers. "So I said, 'Yeah, tell me more about what you're thinking.' For all intents and purposes, Jenny and I are pretty different. Jenny is very open and honest, and I'm far more conservative. The fact that Jenny wanted to [do the radio program] with me was fantastic. But part of the reason she wanted to do it with me is because she thought it would be really, really funny to see me squirm."

But within a few episodes, Jenny Kush had become the real star of the show. "SexPot really encompassed Jenny's view on life," Georgia explains. "You shouldn't be nervous or embarrassed to talk about being a human being. In fact, there are ways to be a human being that make you happier and more satisfied in all aspects of your life. Sex happens to be one of them. It makes for great radio to talk about crazy things, but Jenny did it in a way that also educated people. It wasn't just a show about sex. It wasn't a show to shock people. It was a show to entertain and educate.

"Yes, she had this outward personality of having fun hair colors and those kinds of things, but Jenny was an open book, and people knew what she liked," Georgia continues. "And people cared, and she cared to tell them. It became crystal clear that she was such an authentic person that people — whether they knew her from the radio or knew her personally or whether they knew her from Facebook — they knew her."

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Rebecca Maez shouldn't have been on the road on September 1: Her license had been revoked for a drunk-driving-related arrest in Edgewater less than four years earlier. In December 2009, Edgewater cops pulled over Maez for doing 65 mph in a 35 mph zone on Sheridan Boulevard. There were three empty vodka bottles scattered around the 1993 Suburban she was driving, and she had booze on her breath.

According to police records, Maez practically fell out of her vehicle when officers asked her to perform a sobriety test, passed out in the back of the cruiser on the way to the Edgewater police station, then began screaming that she had done nothing wrong while she thrashed around in the holding cell; she was eventually shackled to a bench in the cell. Maez was charged with driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol or both, and operating a motor vehicle with a revoked driver's license because of an unpaid ticket. She was convicted of drunk driving, failed to complete her probation — and a warrant was issued for her arrest.

In 2010, Maez was arrested again after she was stopped in Denver for driving without a license and gave the police a false name, Stephanie Ortiz. She failed to appear at her arraignment that September, and another warrant for her arrest was issued. In April 2012, Maez was jailed in Denver on her failure-to-appear charge; she was still technically a fugitive in Jefferson County.

None of that deterred Maez from driving once she got out of jail. She was behind the wheel of a borrowed Chrysler sedan on Labor Day weekend.

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Even Jeremy DePinto can't pinpoint the first time he met Kush, but he's sure it was love at first sight for both of them — though they were too shy to do anything about it right away. He tried to avoid her, DePinto says, but failed. The two started hanging out more and more, bonding over their mutual interest in art, tattooing and cannabis.

One day in September 2010 — neither of them could remember precisely which day, and it didn't really matter — DePinto left Kush after visiting her apartment, then found himself chain-smoking cigarettes in his parked car while he debated whether to go back up the steps and climb into a relationship. "I sat in my car for a good long while, and I remember thinking, 'That's it.' And I went back up and knocked on the door, and she ripped the door open and jumped on me. And that was it."

Aside from the obvious physical attraction between the two, DePinto says he fell in love with many of the things about Kush that drew others to her. She wasn't afraid to speak her mind about major issues, whether it was cannabis rights, Occupy Wall Street or sexual freedom, and he appreciated that. They worked together on the same causes.

"We considered ourselves to be teammates," DePinto says. "Neither was more important, but that allowed us to both be more important. It sounds strange, like turning right to go left. But once you get it, it makes perfect sense."

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William Breathes
Contact: William Breathes