2017: A Year in Cannabis Culture

2017 was quite a year for cannabis. The controversy of previous years as the first states began to legalize marijuana for medicinal and recreational use has generally subsided, despite rumblings of disapproval from the President and certain higher-ups at the Department of Justice (and almost nobody else). The majority of Americans not only believe in nationwide legalization but culturally, as a nation, we appear to have settled into a new normal where cannabis is just more of a part of everyday life. These days a joint is almost as likely to be passed around at a suburban holiday party as it is at a college kegger. However, this new normal has also allowed cannabis connoisseurs across the country to express themselves in new and interesting ways.

The International Church of Cannabis

In the past, ganja churches existed on the fringes of society, as some of the most extreme examples of new age spiritual living perhaps gone a bit too far, including one that notoriously served as a front to a massive drug smuggling ring in 1970s Miami Beach. But this year the founding of the International Church of Cannabis, in Denver, appeared practically quaint. The New York Times covered its opening day (on April 20th, the unofficial though internationally-recognized marijuana holiday, naturally) writing about the growing congregation and the freshly painted sanctuary like it was just any other place of worship that might have opened down the street. The only exception being that the New York Times probably wouldn't otherwise cover the opening of just any other neighborhood church more than half of the way across the country. A perfectly legal 'cannabis church' that considers marijuana to be a sacrament and has a vaulted ceiling painted in psychedelic colors by the artists Kenny Scharf and Okuda San Miguel is still a novelty after all.

In light of that, the news that activists held a pot burning ceremony inside the nation's largest Roman Catholic basilica, in Washington D.C., during the solar eclipse earlier this year, sounds just a little bewildering. Worship the sacramental weed as much as you like, but let's hope they didn't miss that incredible celestial event by staying inside for the whole thing.


What is high in the middle and round on the ends? As medical marijuana comes to Ohio that old riddle has adopted a new meaning. A town in Ohio got the state's first licensed medical marijuana farm this year, built by the cannabis company Cresco Labs, and boy were the citizens of Yellow Springs thrilled. The civic leaders couldn't stop gushing accolades at the groundbreaking. Cincinnati news station WLWT5 reported:

Yellow Springs Council President Karen Wintrow said she and her neighbors are happy that Cresco Labs will create jobs and pump tax money into the local economy.

"It's a great fit for Yellow Springs," Wintrow said. "This community has embraced the opportunity."

In fact, the marijuana and cannabis economy has been pumping money into small towns across the country. In California, which in just a few days will see legalized recreational marijuana statewide, American Green purchased the entire town of Nipton in San Bernardino County, which they intend to transform into a haven for recreational using. Unfortunately, the state-level legalization does come with complications on the county and city levels, where each municipality must create its own regulations before sales are allowed (L.A. itself won't even begin to allow sales on the technical legalization date of January 1st) and for the time being the only cannabis sales within Nipton itself will be of the CBD variety. BYOP!

The High Culturati Comes to High Culture

In 2017, you finally could get stoned without sacrificing your aesthetic principles. Gone are the days when the higher the high had to mean the more obnoxiously ugly was the smoking apparatus. Many design-savvy patrons of high culture are bringing their patronage to 'high culture,' with haute pot boutiques, and new lines of smoking paraphernalia that approach high art. Pot packaging has reached new 'highs' this year as well.

Oh, and there's a new haute stoner magazine called Broccoli. Sorry, Hight Times. Apparently, that's the leafy green vegetable that really gets people baked.

Photo via the International Church of Cannabis Facebook Page.

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