Last month, I went to the world’s first Pop-Up Weed Garden in Philadelphia.
It all started when I got a twitter notification from one of this website’s regular readers. The subtle tweet just read, “CC: @DrShibby.” Then, much to my surprise, I saw that there was going to be the world’s first Pop-Up Weed Garden hosted in part by NORML to commemorate the 2nd anniversary of decriminalization in Philadelphia.
As soon as I saw it I knew I had to cover this. After getting a green-light from the editors, I had all the motivation I needed. I mean, when else would I ever get the chance to attend another historic moment, in a year full of major milestones for marijuana policy reform, and the opportunity to cut loose like it was the Woodstock of 69′?
So once I solidified my schedule and rolled a few joints, I was all set to throw down for a night of debauchery in a city with a sinfully underrated food scene. Because at some point I’d definitely need something in order to help me fight off the undoubted munchies that would ensue from getting stoned off my ass amongst a crowd of hundreds of other cannabis connoisseurs, or as I’ve dubbed them, cannasseurs.
After a night of waiting like a kid on Christmas Eve, the big day had arrived. I had no idea what this whole experience would bring me and my mind stayed preoccupied with questions.
What kind of people was I going to see there?
Should I attempt to interview someone there? I’m technically with the media right?
How much would’ve VICE paid me to write this?
What if this is some big weed sting? Like those cops who will gladly inspect any meth for Zika.
As the questions whirled through my head, I got in the car with the MVP of the night, my DD/girlfriend, and knew I’d have all of my questions answered quickly enough.
When I arrived, I heard horns honking in the distance. I saw various people, and a giant pot leaf, holding signs advertising to come in and toke up or to honk for free weed.
Then as I got closer to the barrage of honks, a flavorful, albeit familiar, aroma began to waft over the air.
As I crossed the street, a man in a tie-dye shirt, boat shoes, and vintage rope hat nearly ran out in traffic in his zeal to make his way over the park. As he shot back to the curb, he erupted out to me, “Yeah, man!!! You’re going too! This shit is so dope!” before taking his next chance to sprint over and enthusiastically light up his joint for his five second snippet on Fox News.
As I surveyed the area and sparked my first joint, I took in the eclectic crowd. Sixty-year-old grannies, various suits wearing sunglasses as if the ray bans masked their degenerate alter egos, old dudes in Hawaiians, girls in sundresses taking selfies for the gram, and what I assume were Hot Topic employees. All there for one common denominator: to get stoned and have a good time.
I finished my first joint and began to wander around picking up a plate of free nachos courtesy of the NORML chapter funding the event and worked my way around this crowd. I eventually found myself in a circle passing around my second joint, a blunt, and two other joints in a perpetual circle of constantly puffing and passing. At some point in this circle, a marked police vehicle drove by and honked causing the whole crowd to burst out into a unanimous cheer. Eventually I talked to a young bearded bro named Jordan. As we talked about our affinity for pot, and as I began to ask him some questions, my phone began to buzz and I had to cut our interview short. But not before giving him a solid fake name and finding out he was a fan of this site. Jordan you said you read this site avidly, so go ahead and share this column.
As I continued wandering around smoking joints talking to various people, I couldn’t help feel just a sense of normalcy of everything there. When I started this story, and probably when you clicked it, we were all hoping for a wild narrative about how I attended a drug fueled festival. But in reality, this wasn’t much different from any neighborhood beer garden. Just people cutting loose from their daily grind, including the aforementioned tie-dye pedestrian who when I later asked how high he was, he grinned and happily stated, “37”, before walking off into the distance with a plate full of nachos.
On the ride home, after I got my fill of a delicious Bea Arthur from the noted retailer Big Gay Ice Cream, and even now as I type this, I couldn’t help but think about how tomorrow the U.S will have an unprecedented number of states voting on whether to legalize marijuana. The choice to whether or not jail people for the equivalent of having a few beers, or to collect potentially millions of tax dollars for something most people have regarded as a cultural norm in modern society.
What will you vote for? It’s important to start a dialogue..