As the producer of 420RADIO and host of The Russ Belville Show, I am fortunate to travel this country covering the best marijuana events in America. Here are some of my favorite memories from this past year.
January – Brave Mykayla Fundraiser, Portland. Mykayla Comstock is an 8-year-old girl who has successfully battled leukemia thanks to the use of highly-concentrated cannabis oil augmenting her chemotherapy. We held a fundraising auction on 420RADIO and made over $1,000 for her family in one day.
February – HIGH TIMES Medical Cannabis Cup Los Angeles Glendale San Bernardino. After months of planning, the HIGH TIMES crew was blindsided when the LA City Council wouldn’t allow them a permit for the outdoor event. A temporary replacement was fond in Glendale which was also quickly cancelled. The event found a home at the National Orange Center in San Bernardino – 80 miles east of where most vendors and presenters had booked their hotel rooms. But it was a great event that featured Tommy Chong receiving a lifetime achievement award and solidified “San Burn-a-doobie” as the future home for the Southern California Medical Cannabis Cup.
March – The Southern Cannabis Reform Conference, Atlanta. I spoke at this inaugural event with Diane Goldstein from LEAP, Sharon Ravert from Peachtree NORML, and Adrian Bernal from the Caravan for Peace. Sabrina Fendrick from NORML also participated in the panels, including our first-ever team participation in the 420RADIO Oral Drug Test, which had Sabrina’s team competing against Diane’s team in drug reform trivia.
April – HIGH TIMES US Cannabis Cup Denver. The first Cannabis Cup on US soil that didn’t require a medical marijuana card was a huge success, as the floor and outdoor areas were so packed it was difficult to get through. 420RADIO was featured in a clip about the event on National Geographic’s “Drugs Inc.” series. We concluded our busy April with a trip to Boise, Idaho, for a press conference on the raid of Idaho’s medical marijuana initiative’s chief petitioner, Lindsey Rinehart
May – NORML’s Aspen Legal Seminar. The finest minds in cannabis law gather every year for this seminar at the Gant Resort in Aspen. We learned a lot about cell phone tracing, probable cause, drug dogs, and Supreme Court decisions that affect cannabis consumers. Then, Hunter S. Thompson’s widow, Anita, invited us to Owl Farm, Hunter’s home, for a party at which I was honored to join the band on bass for a jam session.
June – Texas Regional NORML Conference / HIGH TIMES Medical Cannabis Cup Bay Area. I was invited to speak at the Texas NORML Conference in Fort Worth, along with Erik Altieri from NORML and Judge Jim Gray, the former Libertarian presidential candidate. One week later, I was chilling at the Lax Lounge in Tempe, Arizona, awaiting a legalization tour planned for the west coast that never materialized. Two weeks and a quick change of plans later, I was in Richmond, California, for the HIGH TIMES Medical Cannabis Cup.
July – The 710 Cup, Denver / Sir Richard Branson in St. Paul. This event served as the “coming out” party for the marijuana concentrates (“710” is “OIL” rotated 180 degrees). I’ll always remember this gig for the incredible torrential downpour of rain we received on a July afternoon in Denver. Two weeks later I was a guest of Minnesota NORML for a screening of “Breaking the Taboo”, which provided my the opportunity to interview Virgin Enterprises’ billionaire Sir Richard Branson.
August – Florida Tour / Seattle Hempfest. This summer I toured Florida and interviewed Miami Beach mayoral candidate Steve Berke, the Silver Tour’s Robert Platshorn, and LEAP’s Kyle Vogt, but I was most honored to interview Cathy Jordan, Florida’s medical marijuana petitioner who has survived 26 years with ALS thanks to cannabis. Then two weeks later I’m back in the Pacific Northwest for the first Seattle Hempfest where marijuana possession was legal.
September – HIGH TIMES US Cannabis Cup Seattle / Boston Freedom Rally. I appeared on a Social Media panel for the HIGH TIMES Cup in Seattle, the second US event for healthy tokers. The following week I was in Boston for the last Freedom Rally to be graced by the booming voice and enthusiastic presence of Michael “The King of Pot” Malta, who passed away just three weeks later.
October – International Drug Policy Reform Conference, Denver. This event happens every two years and is the most thorough and diverse drug policy conference in the world. Representatives from the governments of Portugal, New Zealand, and Switzerland were given tours of Denver’s legal marijuana industry. Uruguay’s representative informed us of the forthcoming legalization that country would pass at the end of this year.
November – 420RADIO Gets Major Media Coverage. Beginning on December 6, 2012, when 420RADIO got Associated Press coverage for the moment of legalization in Seattle at the Space Needle, the network has grown in exposure dramatically. The Russ Belville Show became one of the top-ranked podcasts in iTunes “Government and Organizations” section and my writing appeared in HIGH TIMES, Alternet, Salon, Huffington Post, Smell the Truth, National Cannabis Coalition, and The Weed Blog.
December – NORML’s Key West Legal Seminar. Once again, NORML’s top legal minds gathered in Key West to educate one another on the latest legal trends. HIGH TIMES also flew their crew down to Key West to celebrate an excellent year. The two groups gathered to party on the beach just 90 miles from Cuba and plan for the future of US legalization.
We should be just as busy in 2014, covering the same events this year plus some new events as we can. You can get all our show archives and podcasts through http://420RADIO.org and my YouTube page at http://youtube.com/radicalruss. Photos from all events are stored at https://plus.google.com/+RussBelville/photos. And of course, listen live with TuneIn, SHOUTcast, or Ustream, available at http://rad-r.us/420tunein, http://rad-r.us/420shout, http://rad-r.us/420ustream.