Category Archives: Cannabis + Culture

extended essays about cannabis culture for several magazines and books, ergo: hemp in Japan, snowboarding, longboarding, cannabis travel expeditions and related

Greeks rocking the Hempseed like the Japanese

The unique chunk of knowledge i add to the collective consciousness of all things cannabis is the comprehensive documentation of the practical history of hemp use in Japan.

Much of my research came in field – meaning living with people in the hills (Tottori, Nagano) and learning the oral history from them while harvesting crops (mostly rice) and walking in the hills (mostly in search of matsutake), while other info comes from scouring literature, art and history texts and sometimes it’s just a matter of reflecting new light on a passage from a book or a new interpretation of a cave painting.

In meeting with other hempsters over the years (see HempenRoad photos from Vancouver Commercial Industrial hemp Sympoisum 1998), i’ve found similarities from other cultures in the ways seeds, stalk and leaf were used in traditional ways. This “people’s history” passed along a folklore and custom is often the key to finding out the ways the cultures actually lived rather than the filtered views of the human condition permeated by the propagandists and text book writers. Learn from the Grammas!

Via the quotable Malta-resident, D. Barefoot, I came across a wee reference of the use of hemp seed in ancient Greece in The Histories of Herodotus of Halicarnassus written in 440 BCE.db serves it up his post Herodotus on The Wacky Tabacky with a bit of humour – from which i shall refrain – and instead lay out a couple of translations for the record to set up a bit of juxtaposition between the old-timey Greeks and Japanese.

Here's an old Grandma in the hills of japan

First, the translation Darren offers up (no edition cited):

Now they have a wild hemp in their country like flax, except that the hemp grows taller and stouter by far [goes on to explain how it makes good cloth].

The Scythians, then, take the seed of this hemp, and creeping under the felt covering of the tent they throw the seed on the stones glowing with the heat from the fire, and there it smolders and makes such a steam as no vapour-bath in Greece could surpass, and the steam makes the Scythians howl for joy.

And here is the other translation he references from MIT’s Internet Classics Archive version of The History of Herodotus, this one translated by George Rawlinson [and running a little longer to give some more context]:

Such, then, is the mode in which the kings are buried: as for the people, when any one dies, his nearest of kin lay him upon a waggon and take him round to all his friends in succession: each receives them in turn and entertains them with a banquet, whereat the dead man is served with a portion of all that is set before the others; this is done for forty days, at the end of which time the burial takes place. After the burial, those engaged in it have to purify themselves, which they do in the following way. First they well soap and wash their heads; then, in order to cleanse their bodies, they act as follows: they make a booth by fixing in the ground three sticks inclined towards one another, and stretching around them woollen felts, which they arrange so as to fit as close as possible: inside the booth a dish is placed upon the ground, into which they put a number of red-hot stones, and then add some hemp-seed.

Hemp grows in Scythia: it is very like flax; only that it is a much coarser and taller plant: some grows wild about the country, some is produced by cultivation: the Thracians make garments of it which closely resemble linen; so much so, indeed, that if a person has never seen hemp he is sure to think they are linen, and if he has, unless he is very experienced in such matters, he will not know of which material they are.

The Scythians, as I said, take some of this hemp-seed, and, creeping under the felt coverings, throw it upon the red-hot stones; immediately it smokes, and gives out such a vapour as no Grecian vapour-bath can exceed; the Scyths, delighted, shout for joy, and this vapour serves them instead of a water-bath; for they never by any chance wash their bodies with water. Their women make a mixture of cypress, cedar, and frankincense wood, which they pound into a paste upon a rough piece of stone, adding a little water to it. With this substance, which is of a thick consistency, they plaster their faces all over, and indeed their whole bodies. A sweet odour is thereby imparted to them, and when they take off the plaster on the day following, their skin is clean and glossy.

Going back to Japan, significantly, hemp is used a symbol of purity in various Shinto (the pagan-ish, animistic quasi-religion) rites (i.e. emperor coronations) as well as Buddhist ceremonies (funerals) in Japan – this is not news per se but seems like an eerily similarity of reverence for this plant between the the two cultures – occurring in different areas at different times with no (as far as we know) cultural exchange.

Here’s are a couple of snippet from my research on Hemp Culture in Japan:

In another old tradition, rooms of worship were purified by burning hemp leaves by the entrance. This would invite the spirits of the departed, purify the room and encourage people to dance. An account of this event states: “On the first evening fires of hemp leaves are lighted before the entrance of the house, and incense strewed on the coals, as an invitation to the spirits. At the end of the three days the food that has been set out for the spirits is wrapped up in mats and thrown into a river. Dances of a peculiar kind are a conspicuous feature of the celebration, which is evidently an old Japanese custom.” (Moore).

The Japanese wound paths around their country as they travelled long distances for salt, enlightenment and pilgrimages. In olden times, these wandering pilgrims and traveling believers were obliged to leave an offering of rice and hemp leaves to the path-side phallic-fertility statues of the Sahe no Kami (protective deities) before embarking on a journey.

“These deities were represented by phalli, often of gigantic size, which were set up along highways and especially at cross roads to bar the passage against malignant beings who sought to pass . . . Standing as they did on the roadside and at cross-roads, these gods became the protectors of the wayfarers; travellers prayed to them before setting out on a journey and made a little offering of hemp leaves and rice to each one they passed.” (Moore)

{note: Moore. Religions of Japan by George Foot Moore. 1913. quoted after: http://www.calyx.net/~schaffer/hemp/hemprefs.html}

Japanese Graves

Seems to me the people in times past were no doubt more tuned into the power of plants and indeed went to great lengths to find out what the strengths and sources of the plants were and how they could use these characteristics to enhance their lives (medicine, mediation, clothing, sustenance). Somehow though, these customs grew taboo and this historical plant is singled out as a scourge and much human potential has been squandered on the enforcement against the cultivation and use of recreational, religious and industrial use. Remember, this illicitness is a modern phenomenon.

Did the Greeks know something about tolerance and joy that is lost on the modern world? Were the Japanese onto some ability of the hemp plant that modern world has forgotten? I, wonder. Do you?

Longboard Hockey Article in Heads Magazine

New article on Coast LongboardingsLongboard hockey league action in Heads magazine by me (Dave Thorvald Olson) and photos by Kris Krug (kriskrug.comstaticphotography.comflick.com/photos/kk/) – available as subscribe-able, ecological-responsible .pdf from Headsmagazine.com. Podcast coming soon on the Choogleon feed.

Longbord Hockey Article in Heads Magazine

Longbord Hockey Article in Heads Magazine
Originally uploaded by Uncleweed.

See also:
Uncle Weed’s Tokes on the Porch blog entry
Longboard Hockey in Vancouver

for new heads magazine blog

and Tyee’s Longboarding Hockey article

Heads magazine‘s Skate/Surf issue included my “Headtrip” article “The First Rule of Longboard Hockey is …” about the renegade crew of longboard hockey players playing hardcore style in Vancouver. Heads is now available as .pdf (save the trees eh) loaded with rich media including my embedded video clips along with KK’s tasty snaps.
More Longboard hockey:
Tokes on the Porch blog at Heads
Choogle on podcast “Longboard Hockey for Four Twenty” (iTunes)
Feasthouse blog post “Longboard Hockey for Heads Magazine
CoastLongboardingLongboard Hockey League
Attack of Danger Bay fest
Longbord Hockey Article in Heads Magazine

 


Ed comes over for Tokes on the Porch

Posted a new entry over at my Heads Magazine blog “Tokes on the Porch” about my amigo Ed in Pe Ell.  Thought i’d reprint it here to entice you to go visit Heads site sometime …

Hemp Ed Chronicling the Good Fight

I recently rolled down for a visit to Pe Ell, Washington to see my old amigo Hemp Ed.  Pe Ell is dang near the smallest town you’ve seen  – a former logging boom town and now a fading enclave of approx 619 folks, a bar, a cafe, a store, a gas station, a post office, a school, one part-time cop.

I’ve been working with Ed on hemp activism and advocacy projects since the mid 90’s when public policy seemed to be trended towards decriminalization of recreational cannabis and legalization of industrial hemp as Hemp Lobby.  This venerable website is a bit stale but is now enhanced with Ed’s blogging efforts on Hemp Lobby Chronicles where Ed is blogging up a storm with his candid and thoughtful discourse on public policy, agriculture, energy and the ill-fated “war on drugs.”


Hemp Lobby blog

Back in the day … We set up an office and library in Olympia Washington and outreached to state legislators, community groups, media and the like with quality materials and polite dialouge.

Notably, in an effort to educate policy-makers, researchers and agriculturalists, Hemplobby created a booklet called “Practical Guide to Cannabis.”  Within are excerpts from many research studies, legislative bills, growing guides and various discourse on hemp policy. We distributed this tome physically and electronically around the world.

Ed’s experience working as a logger for a clearcut operator speaks loudly. He is a wild-eyed libertarian and  grows and raises much of his own food, watches CSPAN compulsively and loves to talk about wild times in Alaska.  I enjoy his rambles even more than his handmade cedar sauna out back.

When I first met Ed, he was touring the country attending events and concerts in the Hemp Education van, a beastly panel van loaded up with hemp samples, sellables and info to share.  He also marketed a woven hemp necklace/pendant thing called an Enviro-eye and sources raw hemp materials for all sorts of industries.

Hemp Ed van

Ed was a founding member of the Hemp Industries Association, the industry’s largest trade group, and was involved in many groups supporting industrial hemp but not medicinal or recreational use. But, like me, he is annoyed at the organizations who are looking down their noses at the uncouthness of recreational herbal enthusiasts.

While I, acutely aware of the societal, agricultural and commercial differences are between cannabis’ varied genus, I am also aware of the prejudice and obstruction techniques “the man” uses to bring the momentum to a crawl.  E.g. … Finally, the DEA vs HIA lawsuit was resolved (effectivley re-allowing imported hemp food products into the US more readily), but then the comes the $3000 application process to begin the process of inquiring if you can grow hemp.  The Vote Hemp folks are seeking to test the effectiveness of the newest red-tape brigade by applying and challenging any negative result. But I can’t see a result for some time indeed.  Makes you wanna holler!

While testing the rule of law in laborious court battles (coupled with the drama and diligence required to fundraise to cover expenses) is a noble fight for some, it is not my calling.

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Hemp Lobby launches Chronicles blog

Hemp Lobby launches Chronicles blog – My amigo and co-conspiritor in advocacy and educational organization Hemp Lobby Ed Saukkooja AKA Hemp Ed is blogging up a storm with his candid and thoughtful discourse on public policy, agriculture, energy and the ill-fated “war on drugs” – see also the olden but still tasty “Practical Guide to Cannabis” (.pdf)

From: Open letter to Willie, January 29th, 2007

Here in Washington State, our legislator has paved the way for the construction of a bio-fuels reactor in the economically depressed area of Grays Harbor on our States central coast. The talk is, import of cheaply produced seed oils form South East Asia and other Pacific Nations will fuel the reactor. This is unacceptable. How does that help “stabilize the bottom rung” of the economic ladder you speak? The real answers will come with improved technology involving “cellulistic conversion”, where you grow crops for the cellulose content, not the seed, i.e. Industrial Hemp.

historical hemp photo

Cellulistic ethanol and bio-fuel can power our transportation systems, only if the crops with the “Highest” cellulose content will be permitted to grow. My research tells me, Industrial Hemp has twice the cellulose content of corn. Hemp is the answer for our short and long term energy needs, and you are the man of the hour to help us spread this message.

Tokes on the Porch live at Heads marijuana lifestyle magazine

Regular readers know that i write stories and articles, sometimes ending up in magazines and usually having something to do with hemp cannabis and related lifestyle.

Heads and cannabis nugs

Most recently, i’ve fostered a relationship with Heads magazine (based in Quebec) who produce comfortably polished and enjoyable tome which i am pleased to be a wee part of (recent articles are “Zen Rambling in Japan” and “Rebagliati Positive for 2010.”

Continuing on my recent post about Longboard Hockey, i’ve hoisted a few article outtakes and some teaser samples of KK‘s tasty pics up to my shiny new Head’s blog “Uncle Weed’s Toke on the Porch.”  Bread the Producer made a sweet header from a snapshot from Palau on one of the finest days i’ve ever lived.  Fat doobs and palm trees in one of the remotest corners of the world (really, try to find Pelilui on a map).

Anyhow, here’s a snippet to get ya excited …

On the stuffed elevator ride to the 6th floor, before I can pull the fattie of Chocolate Jack Herer from behind my ear, a smiling chick in blond pigtails and a Team Canada jersey sparks a beauty doobie.

Turns out she’s The Bloods’ goalie Natasha getting in another run before playing her former team, the North Shore Slashers after they finish off the Shitmix.  She doesn’t seem insane yet she eagerly faces wildmen firing beer cans at her head, “It’s nuts out there, there are no rules, everyone should try it.”

BTW, The story of my Micronesian trips is underway (advance from a publisher is welcome) and i’ll likely fire up a podcast on those exploits soon too.  In the meantime, subscribe to Heads for the glossy nuggy pics and engaging reading for your head.

King Bill of the Chilliwack Meath-heads

King Bill is the defending scoring champion – and current leading scorer – of the Longboard Hockey League playing for the dominant 9-0 Chilliwack Meathheads.

Longboard Hockey by kk+

Cannabis Publishing Roundup ~ Heads, High Times, Cannabis Culture and more

Heads – the marijuana lifestyle magazine (think High Times without the sensationalized cheese), published out of Quebec (don’t worry franco-phobes, Heads is an english language magazine), relaunched their web site working in a few groovy features, trial downloads and yup, a blog… – they’ve tacked on a typepad blog onto their site to get some two-way communication rolling.

They kick it off thusly:

Welcome to the brand-new HEADS ON-LINE

Amanda_copy_1It’s finally here! Our new website is packed with awesome stuff for you to check out. Stop by the HEADShop to pick up some awesome HEADS gear, or take a peek at our Gallery for some stoney pics. We’ll be updating this site continually, so make sure to bookmark it as your homepage!

As a enthusiast of Heads magazine, publishing two HeadFirst articles this year (“Zen Rambling in Japan” & “Rebagliati Positive for 2010”) was a high point of 2006 to be sure.
Zen Rambling article in Heads magazine

Looking back, over 10+ years, I’ve published in High Times, Cannabis Culture (Hempen Culture in Japan issue #13 and Best of … #2), Journal of Internationl Hemp Association and was an article subject in the (now-defunct) Hemp World plus the infamous Evergreen College top counter culture college issue of High Times.

Evergreen in High Time cover

Besides the magazines and journals, my research and writingsappear in books including Hemp Horizons, Hanp, What the World Needs Now, Hemp for Victory (no, not the film) plus the booklet Practical Guide to Cannabis made for HempLobby.

Then there is the HempenRoad film, my bit in Go With the Flow, numerous radio & TV appearences and all non-weed projects (both creative and expository writing) on tech culture, hockey, winter Olympics, workplace drug testing, rehabilitative and restorative justice in the drug court model …
HempenRoad poster
All of this is groovy, but i would be stoked to have a regular “home” for my writing projects – though i don’t always fit into editorial schedules and topics – i’m no Hunter Thompson (I don’t care for Quaaludes and rarely trash hotel rooms anymore), but i’d really like a homebase like Rolling Stone was for him … complete with instructions like, “submit something compelling about political world affairs by this date and send us your expenses …”

Alright, alright, … but i can dream can’t i? What i wanna do is go places and write, paint, record, film or otherwise documents the research and hi-jinks along the trips and not have to sweat the filthy money part too much.

These days, I am keen to write more about military service evaders seeking refugee status in Canada (which i wrote about in 2004 and the situation is waaaay bigger now) and document the community that has aided them in the transitional phase (many Quakers and Vietnam era dodgers).

Also, Vancouver skater and artist Lee Matasi who was shot and killed last year when trying to bring some peace to a sidewalk argument in Gastown. The skater community has rallied to complete a skatepark and speak out against violence as so may easy going folk collectively said “that could’ve been me.”

Or travelouges about Palau … heading to the secret island of sweet pakalolo, diving with sharks and turtles, or Yap with loincloths and bare-chested women and stone money where i dove with manta rays and toked with locals in an ancient hut while drinking coconut wine, … or Belize scoring grass from rastas, drinking panty-rippers (coconut rum and pineapple juice) and eating crockpot chicken, beans and rice served from a fold up table roadside where the only traffic is golf carts.

backpack joints

Sigh… but the day job does get in the way of many of the big projects i’d like to do including releasing HempenRoad film as DVD for 10th(!) anniversary with the massive stash of bonus features i have despite no longer having the original footage (eiji where are you?).

Plus I’ve long wanted to go back to Japan to explore the Jomon-era cave-art near Shimonoseki more before JIHA’s Rob Clarke finds everything else out ;-). This could turn in to a book, a film a podcast or all three (think of Ewan Macgregor and Charley Boorman’s multi-media trip-o-louge “Long Way Round”). Ahhh, i forgot i gotta find a way to finance all of these hi-jinks.

Anyhow, Heads encouraged me write the articles the way i wanted – without much fuss and just enough feedback to keep it on track for their audience and word count (which i exceeded greatly each time). Rockin’ good stuff.

Heads also maintain a myspace page but this new site, while not ideal, is much more in tune with the high quality of the magazine. Consider subscribing to Heads magazine eh, you’ll get it in a plain envelope.

“Rebagliati Positive about 2010” in Heads, the marijuana lifestyle magazine

Ross article - Heads magazine coverMy article “Rebagliati Postivie About 2010” was published in “Heads – the Marijuana Lifestyle magazine” Vol. 6 Issue 10 “The Stoned Cold Issue.” Like “Zen Rambling in Japan” the Ross article is the “Head First” lead article and over 3000 words and I also managed one photo in there (the one with the big nug). A great layout and Kris Krug‘s fine shots of a candid Ross frame the article nicley indeed.

Keep an eye out or subscribe to Choogle on with Uncle Weed podcast to score a signed copy.

The article discusses 1998 Nagano Olympic snowboard gold medalist and Canadian sporting legend, Ross Rebagliati’s quest for 2010 Olympics in Whistler/Vancouver plus his training routine, fundraising efforts, quest to make the team role on tour and recreational interests.

Importantly, he breaks down the events and emotions of the big shakedown in Nagano. Hear more about the fallout from his positive marijuana test from an interview I did in Vancouver during the 2006 Turin games.

Ross article, Heads magazineRoss article, Heads magazine, pg. 2
See full size images on Flickr in the Magazines of Note set

Choose between this (not really updated) Heads magazine or this Heads magazine on myspace but better off just scorcing a copy for yourself.

See also: Ross’ site, Ross on Flickr, Dave Ross tag on Flickr

HIgh Times Accolades for Evergreen College – Roundup

Evergreen in High Time coverThe somewhat infamous Evergreen State College, where i earned my hard-fought degree, is often awarded magazine accolades to balance out the complaints and punchlines which appear in equal amounts -especially in Washington State.

Despite the positivity of the article, the Greener PR folks never did leverage the High Times award of Top Counter Culture College award though there *was* some public and legislative backlash and whining).  I contend that the HT article did more to increase applications from wide-open thinkers that make Evergreen unique than the vanilla US News or Seventeen magazine pablum which attracts lemmings (lemmings do not actually commit mass suicide BTW, the running off cliff thing is an urban legend propagated by none other than the Disney cartel).

Anyhow, here’s some self-aggrandizing and safe coverage as skimmed/copied from Business Examiner (a newspaper covering south Puget Sound commerce etc.) obviously almost verbatim from the college’s official press release. Feel good everyone, feel good and pay up while Evergreen waters down.

Evergreen: top college for learning, participation

The Evergreen State College in Olympia is one of the nation’s most academically challenging school, and a top college for the level of active and collaborative learning for students, according to a national study released yesterday.

The study, founded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, said Evergreen students develop top abilities in analyzing theories and ideas and spend more time preparing for classes and reading textbooks. Evergreen students also spend more time making class presentations and working with other students on projects than most of the nation’s college students. Evergreen freshman and seniors cite the quality of interaction with faculty members and other students and the campus physical environment as keys to their success.

Unlike many other college ranking systems, the annual study focuses on putting more emphasis into successful student learning and high quality research. In September, a federal Higher Education Commission directed that colleges and universities should be measured by such student learning outcomes. Some 260,000 college students at 523 U.S. universities participated in the survey.

Founded in 1967 as an alternative to traditional education, Evergreen is a top example of interdisciplinary education in America. Academic studies are organized into interdisciplinary learning communities focused on specific themes with real-world relevance. Evergreen was recently featured as one of only two public colleges in the book “Colleges That Changes Lives.,” and named as a “College that is doing good for the nation” by the Washington Monthly political magazine.

High Times Names Evergreen Top 10 Cannabis College 2002 – featuring Dave O

TOP TEN COUNTERCULTURE COLLEGES | High TimesOriginally published as High Times Top Ten Cannabis Colleges in September 2002 featuring skateboarded Jen Grant on the cover. Archived version is more accurate to original and is republished – and attached as a .pdf – below for the record.

Story by Chris Simunek and Preston Peet
Photos by Comso G. Spacely

Evergreen in High Time cover

These are not party schools for stupid stoners, but places where intelligent users of cannabis can receive a quality education. What’s the difference? Smart stoners use the herb when appropriate, either as a tool to enhance creativity, or as a medicine to relieve stress, while stupid stoners abuse it through inappropriate use.

#1 EVERGREEN STATE COLLEGE
Olympia, Washington

The Geoducks

Founded in 1967

4,100 students

$12,264 non-resident tuition

Fiske rates it the #4 public liberal-arts college; student-to-faculty ratio: 22 to 1

evergreen.edu

Mother Nature reigns supreme in the Pacific Northwest. Sure, the lumber companies have been trying for years to turn its beauty into napkins and newspapers, and there are the unnatural acts committed by the odd serial murderer–Ted Bundy and the Green River Killer were both particularly fond of the Cascade Mountains–but after mankind is done carving his mark on this particular part of the Earth, the forest is sure to swallow him up body and soul. This sense of permanence is perhaps one reason Washington is called “the Evergreen State.”

Walking through the rainforest that separates the Evergreen State campus from the sea, you get the feeling that you’ve found the halfway point between Darwin and Eden. The forest is primordially damp, insects swarm your head and the terra firma beneath your feet is exploding with life. Sitka spruce and western hemlock trees arch towards the sun, dripping with vines and moss. At the same time, the rainforest is reclaiming the borrowed molecules of the dead, slowly folding them back into the soil from whence they came.

Occasionally a hairy figure can be seen darting between the flora and fauna, causing my heart to leap at the thought that I’d finally fulfilled my lifelong dream to observe a Sasquatch in its natural habitat. Upon further inspection, I’d see that the beast was actually wrapped in colorful, loose-fitting clothing and that its long hair was matted into dreadlocks–the de rigueur look of the Evergreen student. Maybe next time, I think, then continue walking.

high times dave
picture by Cosmo G. Spacely from High Times article about Evergreen State College

The leader of this rainforest expedition is Dave Olson. I first contacted Dave after a Google search of “Evergreen State” and “cannabis” spit his name across my Macintosh screen back in New York. Though his hair is kind of wild these days and a thick beard covers most of his face, you can’t pigeonhole Dave as a hippie.

He’s kind of a Renaissance guy who can speak at length on anything from ecology to music to pro hockey. A Vancouver, B.C. native, Dave is a member of what’s known as “the extended Evergreen family,” which comprises grads, non-grads, part-time students and people thinking of attending part-time. As part of his curriculum at Evergreen, he wrote, produced, directed and narrated a video documentary, The Hempen Road. The movie explores hemp from all angles, including the activist community, hemp products, food and history.

“Where’d you get the idea for your film?” I ask.

“I lived in the Pacific for three-four years, mostly Japan. I was doing hemp stuff the whole time, doing research. When I got back to America, I realized there weren’t any contemporary films that showed the products and the people and the culture. So I met this Japanese film student and we started talking about this project. He wasn’t really familiar with hemp, and was a little apprehensive about getting involved with it because of the negative connotations. I wrote up a proposal and shopped it around to different faculty.”

Though Dave found his faculty sponsor to be less enthusiastic than he would have liked, he was motivated enough on his own to see the project through to completion. He printed 2,000 copies, did a little publicity and sold them himself at hemp events.

“Before I came here I thought it was going to be an arts and literature and humanities focus, but that’s not really the case,” Dave explains. “The science stuff seems pretty heavy. There’s a lot of marine biology. A lot of people come here wanting to do stuff about forests and conservation and that kind of ‘ecosystem, organic farm and herbology’ kind of stuff. The strength is the multidisciplinary approach. It weans you into learning something that you didn’t really plan on learning, by bringing it in with something that you really want to learn.”

 “Multidisciplinary” is the buzzword at Evergreen. It basically means you choose a subject you want to study, then the school encourages you to tackle it from several different angles. You find a professor at the school who you can work with on an independent-study-type basis, then go off on your own. There’s no tests to cram for, just a final project at the end, which can be anything from a paper to a performance to a piece of art.

We finally make it through the woods to the beach, which is empty on this day because most students are busy studying for their finals. The beach is clothing-optional, Dave informs me, and on a hot day you can often find undergrads smoking herb and working on their tans.

“I spent my college years in New York City,” I inform Dave. “For entertainment we used to watch the rats outside our dorm-room window teaming through the McDonald’s trash piles.”

“Evergreen provides a country-club atmosphere at a state-school budget,” he cracks. Tuition goes for $1,008 per quarter for Washington residents, $3,588 per quarter for out-of-staters, relatively cheap when compared with other schools.

I asked a few kids I’d met to estimate what percentage of Evergreen students smoked pot, and most answered somewhere in the 80% range. Given the surroundings, it just makes sense. There are no frats and little sports, so the bonehead scene is thankfully kept to a minimum.

My head is still buzzing from the William’s Wonder we sampled before arriving on campus when I ask Dave if Evergreen is a serious school or a refuge for burnouts.

“People work hard and play hard here,” he responds. “You see them at the bars until late, and then you see them on campus working late the next day.”

From the beach, we wander back to Evergreen’s own organic farm, kind of like a living textbook for their sustainable-agriculture program. According to the Evergreen bulletin, sustainable agriculture provides instruction in “soils, plant propagation, greenhouse management, composting, green manure, the use of animal manure, equipment operation, small-farm economics, pest control, livestock management, weed-control strategies, irrigation-system design and management, basic horticulture, machinery maintenance, vegetable and small-fruit culture, marketing and orchard systems.”

I can see where that might appeal to certain HIGH TIMES readers.

We tiptoe past the chickens, through the fields and greenhouses filled with lettuce, beets, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, and tomatoes, until we find easygoing, bespectacled Pat Moore, professor and director of the farm. I ask him about how Evergreen differs academically from other schools. He explains that self-discipline is the key to success here.

“We get students who don’t fit in highly structured programs, and because of that, we’re going to get very bright and innovative students and we’re also going to get the exact opposite. If a student is motivated and interested in what they’re studying, they’re going to get an excellent education. If they’re trying to slide by, they’re going to find a way to do it.”

“As a faculty member, what was your reaction when you heard Evergreen had been voted counterculture college of the year by HIGH TIMES magazine?” I ask.

“Was it really? Gosh, it’s a little disconcerting actually. You probably won’t put this in your magazine, but I watch students as they arrive and what happens to them. A lot of them work for me three-four years, and it seems like they start getting a lot looser in terms of their ability to be reliable workers.”

“‘Cuz they smoke a lot of weed?”

“They don’t confide in me that way, but I wasn’t born yesterday. I’d prefer to see that than binge drinking. I mean, Washington U. had this big riot in the streets because of binge drinking, and a couple of kids died. Smoking a little pot, that’s not going to happen.”

That’s not to say Evergreen students don’t drink, and after we’re finished with the good professor, we head back to town and agree to reconvene at the Eastside later that evening to sample a few of the local microbrews.

The air alone is reason enough to move to Olympia–crisp Pacific winds that smell like fresh-cut cedar. On a clear day Mt. Rainier dominates the horizon from 100 miles away. It’s the capital of Washington, but still manages to keep a small-town atmosphere. It’s got a pretty happening nightlife scene–Fourth Avenue is plastered with flyers for reggae jams, karaoke, gay parties and retro nights. When we walk into the Eastside, it’s packed with undergrads playing pool and drinking beer. Kurt Cobain used to live here in the early days of Nirvana, and the grunge look is still alive, with flannel shirts covering parts of the crowd.

Kenny the bartender pours us a pitcher of Rasputin, a dark brew that’s as insidious as its mystic namesake. When word gets around that HIGH TIMES is in the house, I’m descended upon by so many students I can hardly remember anyone’s name. Without exception, everyone wants to tell me how cool their school is.

“I’m really glad that there’s a school like this in the world,” says Emily, a senior. “I wasn’t going to go to college. I was just out of high school. I’d spent my entire life since I was five years old in school. I wasn’t about to go back. Then I came out here, visited this school, walked around the campus, met some kids, talked to them, looked at their classes… I was like ‘dude, this place is awesome!’ It’s chill, you make your own classes up, you don’t get grades, people are mellow, it’s in a really beautiful place, there’s good herb, you know what I mean?”

Emily started out studying comparative religions, then switched to art and hopes to become an art therapist someday. When I ask her for a few tips on places to go off campus she suggests the Staircase (an outdoor nature refuge), Elwa hot springs, Mt. Rainier, and the Olympic peninsula.

I ask another senior, Sarah, what sort of an education she thought she was getting. She told me Evergreen taught her “the things that high school left out. Such as how fucked up this world is. I’m kind of a glutton for the depressing stuff, so I mainly concentrated on things like, you know, saving the world. Really simple stuff.”

I ask her the names of a few classes she took and one stands out and cracks up everyone at the table–“Whiteness, Maleness and the Immorality of Wealth.” “The big myth is that kids at Evergreen major in underwater basket-weaving or hacky sack,” she explains. “But it’s true that my roommates spent a semester building eight-foot-tall sock monkeys.”

I start the next day with a tour of the Evergreen dorms. The kids are genuinely shocked when I knock on a few doors and announce HIGH TIMEs’ arrival. It takes me literally five minutes to find the herb–in this case some B.C. commercial bud. We speak a bit about the local strains, William’s Wonder and the Gangsta being favorites.

Talk turns to the campus police, who carry guns and who’ve been encouraged to step up their profile. The campus cops even print their own trading cards, and the kids actually show me a few with cops posing next to their favorite drug dogs.

“I heard the DEA was here,” one student informs me.

“I have a hard time believing the Feds are snooping around dorm rooms,” I tell him, but he insists it’s true.

“The cops are pretty cool, though,” he continues. “A fire alarm went off and the cops came in and found some dope on a kid. His punishment was to write an article about how to hide your shit in your house!”

I have a feeling I’m being treated to a few herban myths, but it’s true that the school is not too pleased about its cannabis-friendly reputation. In fact, after I left, the traditional graduation 4:20 on Super Saturday was shut down when rumors abounded that HIGH TIMES would be there to record the event for posterity. We were 3,000 miles away at the time, but the cops chased the kids into the woods. Sorry about that.

After the dorm tour I return to Red Square, the center of campus. There I meet Conner Kenny, a political economy major from Austin, Texas, currently in his first year at Evergreen. Conner is cranking a Bob Marley tape as he tries to get students to sign a petition to close mercury loopholes in the state’s clean-water laws. There’s a strong activist community on campus. In fact, the college caught a lot of flack a few years back when they invited Mumia Abu-Jamal to give a commencement speech via satellite from his prison cell. In the last year of his life, Ken Kesey also was the keynote speaker at graduation. Declaring Evergreen “the college for all hippies,” he gave a rambling speech that ended abruptly when he realized he’d lost the last two pages.

I’m running a little late for a planned photo shoot of the favorite local cannabis strains, but before I leave campus I ask Conner what role he thinks marijuana plays in the Evergreen education.

“It’s just part of the culture. People get together who feel the same way about things. Here, people would rather spend their time doing something other than spending money, making money and worrying about making money. It’s a rejection of the norms of consumer-driven society.”