Please Don’t Smoke Or Steal The Signs In Weed, California

weed californiaI’m not a smoker but I can’t resist unusual town names so when I saw an exit off of Interstate 5 in Northern California for a town called Weed, I pulled over, eager to find out how the town got its name. This being California, I imagined that some hippies moved into the town in the ’60s and voted to change the name to Weed. I expected to see aging Boomers with tie-dye shirts, ponytails and unkempt dogs passing around huge spliffs on the town’s main drag, Cheech and Chong movies playing in perpetuity at the Weed cinema, and the melodies of Bob Marley & The Wailers filling the streets.

But a visit to the Weed Store, a souvenir shop at the entrance to the town, quickly disabused me of that notion. Stacey Green, the shop manager, explained that the town was named after a guy named Abner Weed, a native of Maine who came to the place to open a lumber mill in 1897. It isn’t clear whether Weed smoked ganja himself but Green said that marijuana definitely isn’t legal or even decriminalized in the town.”There are definitely some hippies here,” he said. “But there are conservatives as well.”

The town’s other primary claim to fame is that Weed is the place that George Milton and Lennie Small fled from in Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.”

Like many people who live in small towns, Green is something of a jack-of-all-trades. He manages the Weed Store, which sells weed-related T-shirts, hats, signs and other souvenirs, but is also an ordained minister and was elected to the Weed city council in December. Green grew up in Weed and moved back to town a few years ago to care for his mom. He said that the town’s road signs get stolen all the time because everyone wants a sign that says Weed.

There used to be a sign just outside town directing motorists to turn one way for the College of the Siskiyous and another for downtown Weed. But the allure of stealing a sign with the words “College” and “Weed” with arrows pointing in opposite directions was too strong and so they eventually ditched the sign and replaced it with the one you see above. You can, however, buy a postcard of the old sign at Green’s shop.

There isn’t a lot to see in downtown Weed, and in truth, I’ve seen more prosperous looking places, but the town is dramatically situated right near Mt. Shasta, a 14,000-foot peak in the Cascade Range. Even if Weed isn’t the hippie haven I thought it might be, the town’s merchants seem to have no qualms with capitalizing on the town’s name. I saw “Enjoy Weed” T-shirts with the Coca-Cola logo, “I’m High on Weed” hats and other Weed-related souvenirs for sale all over town, including at one of the town’s motels and at a gas station.

At the town’s little tourist information office, a young man made no bones about the town’s claim to fame.

“Most people come in here to ask me about the name,” he said. “And to ask if pot is legal here.”

He said that not only is marijuana illegal, the town also has a law preventing any medicinal marijuana dispensaries from opening inside the city limits. After I left Weed, I looked up the town’s election results and it turns out that Mitt Romney carried Siskiyou County, where Weed sits, to the tune of 56 percent. I didn’t stick around in Weed long enough to understand the town’s political dynamics but even in a brief little foray off the highway, I learned that Weed is full of surprises.

[Photo credits: Dave Seminara]

Live music and weed sampling at the 2011 Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, Netherlands

cannabis cup in amsterdamThis year, the Cannabis Cup will take place in Amsterdam in the Netherlands from November 20-24, 2011. Pot fans will not only get to enjoy live music and performances, but will also get to sample some of the best products in the cannabis industry. Seminars will also be held to teach attendees the best tips and tricks for weed cultivation.

One of the highlights of Cannabis Cup is the contests to see what the best sativas, indicas, and weed strains are. Think being the judge of that sounds like a fun job? Then you’ll be happy to know that anyone can purchase a judge’s pass for this privilege. While a bit pricey ($269), the pass not only entitles you to the be a judge for the contests, but also admission to all of the events and expos for the entire four days, an event t-shirt and program guide, and bus transfers to and from the events. If you don’t want to buy a pass, you can still buy single-day event tickets at the door for 50 euros.

Video of the Day: Smuggling marijuana from Amersterdam

Mr. Show with Bob and David is, arguably, the greatest sketch comedy show ever. When they took on the nerve-wracking experience of trying to smuggle marijuana back from Amsterdam, it was hilarious. While the TSA has made the airport experience stressful even if you aren’t doing anything illegal, this scene hysterically captures what happens when backpackers try their hand at something that professional drug smugglers struggle to do: act natural.

Of course, we at Gadling neither condone nor recommend drug smuggling. Furthermore, there is certainly more to do in Amsterdam than just smoking pot (not to mention that, pretty soon, tourists might not even have access to weed in Holland). However, this clip had us laughing as hard as we did when it first aired years ago. Travel safely and always be sure to remember where you packed your shampoo!

If you have a great travel video that you think we might enjoy, share the link in a comment below. We could feature it as our next Video of the Day!

Historic L.A. hotel remodeled as pot-friendly lodging

A California entrepreneur is reopening a historic 1920’s L.A. hotel as America’s first pot-friendly accommodation. Dennis Peron, a long-time marijuana dispensary owner and medicinal marijuana advocate, is currently remodeling Los Angeles’ Hotel Normandie with plans to turn its 106 rooms into a haven for smokers around the world.

Though the property is far from complete, Peron is planning a grand opening for the new residence today, April 20th, or “4/20” in smoker slang. Once complete, Peron’s vision is a hotel with a “hippie rustic” theme and a rooftop deck where users could light up, framed by the hotel’s vintage neon sign.

Unfortunately the dreams for America’s first marijuana hotel are threatening to go up in flames. As it currently stands, Peron and friend Richard Eastman are running short on funding for the ambitious project. A few rooms have been remodeled but the majority are not. The proposed renovation is likely to cost upwards of $500,000 and the real estate investor who purchased the property for Peron is $200,000 behind on payments.

Will this pot-friendly hotel ever see the light of day? The answer, it appears, is hidden by a cloud of smoke.

Amsterdam coffee shops – the inside scoop

Inside The Bushdocter Coffee Shop
Amsterdam is an exciting cultural center, full of houseboats and bicycles, trains, museums, a legendary red light district with legal drugs and the one thing which seems to come to many minds first: coffee shops where you can buy and smoke pot.

Cannabis is decriminalized and cheap in Amsterdam, and you can buy seeds at shops like the Sensi Seed Bank all over town. You can also buy a lot of other things (see the gallery for goods like magic mushrooms, herbal opium and liquid coke). That doesn’t mean there are no rules; for one thing, you can’t smoke marijuana in the street — though that’s even less well-enforced that it is in NYC; not very well — and you can’t smoke it in bars, either. There is no alcohol permitted in coffee shops, and no pot where you can buy alcohol. In other words, in Amsterdam, you have to pick your poison.
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You also have to be 18 or older to purchase cannabis (prices are in the gallery), and coffee shops are only permitted to sell 5 grams to a person at a time. There is a tobacco ban in Amsterdam, so if you want to smoke regular cigarettes or marijuana blended with tobacco, you must find a shop with a sealed area designated for tobacco smoking.Like in American coffee shops, when you enter a coffee shop in Amsterdam like The Bushdocter Coffeeshop, above, you walk up to the counter to place your order, then take your selections to your seat. You’ll find there is a menu of coffee and tea, but the first thing you’ll be presented with at the counter is their list of marijuana wares. Choices range from bags for take-away to brownies and cakes with strange names and daring ingredients and, of course, pre-rolled joints for smoking at your table, including the infamously strong Ice-o-lator hash.

The coffee shops are smoky. Even if you just sat down for a cup of tea, you’d probably get a little second-hand high. Most shops are brightly, psychedelically colored, if you will, with eclectic art and other features which seem to exist solely for the purpose of starting conversations, trains of thought, and for something to stare at for like half an hour without realizing it. At Bushdocter, there was also a vending machine with chips and candy bars for your munching pleasure.

One thing that’s rare to see is someone sitting alone — the coffee shop is definitely a social place in Amsterdam. If one were going to smoke on his or her own, they’d buy a joint or bag and return home. This is not for tourists, though; most hotels have a strict policy about smoking in the rooms. Be sure and ask before smoking (anything) in your hotel or you could be saddled with a hefty fine.

If you’re heading to Amsterdam and would like to visit a coffee shop, check out this interactive map and reviews and more information here.

This trip was paid for by the Netherlands Board of Tourism, but the ideas and opinions expressed in the article above are 100% my own. Also, at no point did the NTB escort me into a coffee shop.