Mountain High

This month’s theme is High Summer, as you’ve noticed. Ergo, we look at marijuana and the Reefer Madness pandemic.

1) On the World-Wide Web
Colorado has a state law that prohibits local governments from disclosing the location of medical marijuana cultivation centers, which is a very good idea. With people desiring large quantities of bud and the money it nets, it ain’t prudent to let everyone know Where The Marijuana Grows. That said, in January, the City of Boulder accidentally published on its Web site a previously secret map disclosing the locations of 60 cultivation centers and 12 product manufacturing sites, along with a list of the city’s various dispensaries, the latter merely being free advertising. The SNAFU was cleaned up quickly, but left some folks scratching their heads. “The incompetence epidemic is so virulent and widespread nowadays that you never know whether to attribute an episode like this to political hostility or viral incompetence,” wrote Fred Gardner in CounterPunch (which contains some good reads, incidentally).

2) Big, giant piece-of-crap life
A Missoula man was sentenced in May to two years in the slammer for sharing a bowl of his medical marijuana. Matthew Otto gets to hang out at the Montana State Prison for passing the pipe to two passengers in his car, and because an off-duty cop saw the exchange. (He also should receive some form of recognition for having the worst timing of anyone on the planet.) Now, the actual sentence for distribution of dangerous drugs is 20 years, but the court is making him serve just two in the Big House with the remaining 18 under DOC supervision. While it sounds a tad harsh, the deputy DA reminded the court that Otto was a “persistent felony offender” who had racked up 30 convictions as a juvenile. Otto told the court that he was seriously rethinking his “big giant piece-of-crap life” when all this went down, and that he may require, um, medication and another chance to get things right. The judge told Otto he’d be spending a real 20 years in prison if their paths crossed again.

3) Should be interesting
More than 2,300 Arizona residents now have permission to cultivate up to 12 medical pot plants each in their homes, due to the passage of Proposition 203. The idea is to allow people to grow what they need until medical dispensaries get approved in August. Then, if you live within 25 miles of a dispensary, you need to pull the plug on your grow lights or face criminal charges. The thing is, local law-enforcement agencies don’t have the budgets or necessarily the inclination to check up on small-time growers, and cops are anticipating a lot of gray area while medical marijuana settles in. Meanwhile, marijuana looks to be good business. The Green Horizons University, one of several for-profit information outlets, has set up shop in Scottsdale, offering cultivation classes, as well as legal and auditing advice to dispensaries. Arizona is the 15th state to legalize medical pot, although U.S. attorney Dennis Burke has warned Arizonans that they are still violating federal laws by partaking in the state’s program.

4) Destruction
According to 2009 DEA data, more than 7.5 million marijuana plants were destroyed by law enforcement in California. That compares to 0 in North Dakota.

5) Pot Capitals
This year, The Daily Beast designated the country’s newest Pot Capitals on 4/20, putting Portland at No. 3 and at the top of the American West. The Beast gave the city a 9 out of 10 ranking for pot culture and reported that 10.93 percent of city residents are users. Boulder came in at No. 4; Bozeman, 9; Eureka-Arcata Calif., 10; San Francisco, 13; Laramie, 14; Santa Fe, 17; and Oxnard, Calif., 20. Tallahassee took the top honors this year. Evidently the Florida Supreme Court ruled that police must get a search warrant before using a drug-sniffing dog outside a residence, and hence the hard-won victory at The Daily Beast.

6) Shocker! Celebrities and reefer madness!
A deep and saddening investigation reveals that celebs such as Natalie Portman, Lady Gaga, Bill Maher, Babs Streisand, Prince Harry, Morgan Freeman, Whoopi Goldberg and maybe even Marilyn Monroe have smoked marijuana. We were beside ourselves to also learn that Goldberg was under the influence during her 1991 Oscar acceptance speech for “Ghost.” Her mom later scolded her for her “glistening” eyes, but Goldberg was nervous and said she just had to relax, okay?

7) Billion-dollar baby
In July 2009, law enforcement folks around Fresno rounded up more than 330,000 pot plants from fields hereabouts, making it one of the biggest marijuana busts in history and valued at $1 billion. Arrested were 82 suspects with links to Mexican drug cartels.

8) Bear mauling, weed and workers comp
The Montana Supreme Court ruled in March that a worker at a privately run nature park would be entitled to workers compensation from a 2007 bear mauling — even though he was stoned when the incident occurred. Brock Hopkins admitted that he smoked a joint before feeding the bruins at Great Bear Adventures. A grizzly named Red attacked Hopkins and messed him up pretty badly, and initially his workers comp claim was denied (the owner of the park said Hopkins didn’t truly work there and that he gave Hopkins money just to help him out). The Supreme Court had a different opinion and said that Hopkins was indeed working and deserving of compensation. The stonedness was not of consequence, the court said, because grizzlies are “equal opportunity maulers.”

9) You’d think they’d be higher
We figured California would be at the top of the marijuana-use stack, followed perhaps by Colorado. But according to (we’d never heard of them, either), Alaska leads the country in pot users over the past year with a stout 15.83 percent. Elsewhere in the West, Colorado comes in 7th place at 13.32 percent; New Mexico in 8th place at 13.25 percent; and with Oregon and Montana coming in at 9th and 10th, respectively. California comes in at a scant 18, with Mississippi at the end, where 7.83 percent are pot users. On average, 10.9 percent of us, er, you partake.

Tara Flanagan splits her time between Breckenridge and Boulder, where she works as an equine massage therapist.