In the late summer of 1937, Samuel Caldwell, a 58-year-old unemployed farmhand was arrested his Denver apartment at 17th and Lawrence Streets for possession of three pounds of marijuana. About a month earlier, Congress had effectively criminalized the possession of marijuana with the “Marihuana Tax Act.” Under the act, you couldn’t grow or sell marijuana without a license–but the government never issued such a license. Go figure.

Caldwell was sentenced to four years of hard labor at Leavenworth Penitentiary in Kansas and fined $1000. The federal Judge J. Foster Symes who convicted Caldwell scorned marijuana saying, “I consider marijuana the worst of all narcotics… I have no sympathies with those who sell this weed.” Caldwell went down in history as the first federal conviction for selling marijuana.

Caldwell’s arrest signified the apex of what had been building for years prior. In the early 1900’s in the Southwest, cannabis was associated with migrant workers flooding the region bringing their “herb” with them from Mexico or the Far East. The media began calling this herb, “marijuana” because it exacerbated the hysteria and played off the hostility shown towards the Spanish speaking population of field-workers. For decades to come, cannabis was condemned by mainstream society and activists working to remove cannabis prohibition were only mildly successful.

By the 1960s, the focus of local enforcement of marijuana laws had moved from immigrants to the “hippies,” but public opinion was also shifting. While cannabis was largely seen as part of a counter culture, by the late 1960s, 67 percent of Colorado College students favored the legalization of marijuana and some progressive legislators argued for lowering the penalties on possession and use. In 1970, recreational possession became a misdemeanor and Hunter S. Thompson ran for sheriff of Pitkin County and almost won. (Which would either been amazing or awful, nothing in between).

Legalization

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Colorado’s first medical marijuana bill in 1979 allowed cancer and glaucoma patients to consume cannabis, which was followed by a series of other amendments that permitted medical dispensaries and so the evolution of legalization of medical cannabis in Colorado went.

In 2012, Colorado voters legalized recreational marijuana. In 2015, Colorado saw $996.2 million in legal cannabis sales and and collected more than $135 million in taxes and license fees related to legal cannabis sales last year. About $35 million of the tax revenue stream from cannabis are allocated for school construction projects and youth and substance-abuse programs.

It is incredibly fitting that Colorado is not only where the first federal marijuana arrest occurred, but also the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. Of course, this evolution wouldn’t have happened without a lot of work from activists, huge cash donations, and voters approving medical marijuana laws, and of course cannabis industry pioneers.

Since the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado, the entire Cannabis Industry has become legitimized. This legitimization created monumental opportunities to develop industry standards, build rapport with public and private stakeholders, and change what people know, think, and do about the world of cannabis.

Unlike most other industries, Colorado Cannabis Industry pioneers have faced serious and persistent challenges in uprooting 80 years of prohibition, indoctrination, stereotypes, and stigmas. To overcome these challenges, these innovators have had to work hard to educate the public and provide the experiences and emotional connections that people need to understand and connect to a cause.

World Cannabis Week: Education through Experience

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These experiences that educate the public about cannabis also happen to be unbelievably fun. The growing popularity of Colorado cannabis tourism, cannabis vacations, cooking classes, massages, transportation, accommodations, and sophisticated events have sky rocketed over the past few years.

Cannabis immersive experiences like the 4th annual World Cannabis Week will occur this year on April 15th – April 21st. Known as the “South by Southwest™” of cannabis, World Cannabis Week is designed, produced, and represented by the pioneering Colorado Cannabis Industry. The mission of the Colorado Cannabis Industry is to demonstrate a unified front among all segments of the industry and to educate the public about cannabis through curated experiences like symposiums, concerts, workshops, and tours. World Cannabis Week embodies the movement, momentum, and evolutionary success of the entire modern Cannabis Industry.

This year World Cannabis Week is also offering safe and luxurious 420 friendly transportation throughout the city of Denver, so you can smoke, eat, and drink on your way to all the best 420 events. Also, on April 16th and 17th these shuttles will be free for the first 3,000 people who register.

Over the past 80 years, Colorado went from sentencing some poor farmer to years of manual labor for possession to pioneering a profitable and sophisticated Cannabis Industry. Now, not only can you purchase the world’s best cannabis in a store as if it were milk or bread, but you can go on an all-inclusive cannabis vacation, experience an entire week-long cannabis celebration and ride around in a luxurious 420 friendly shuttle. If only Samuel Caldwell could see how far the Colorado Cannabis Industry has come.

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