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Parley On Pot: Aspen May Go 'Up In Smoke'


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Yes, people probably will smoke pot this weekend amid the Aspen legal seminar sponsored by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

But that is not allowed during the seminar - two days of serious talks on criminal defense issues including drugs, alcohol and terrorism.

"People are doing business," NORML founder and legal counsel Keith Stroup said. But he said, "There's probably a significant amount of marijuana smoking going on at social events."

Washington-based NORML has a trademark, annual legal seminar around December in Key West, Fla., but it plans to make Aspen its annual off-season summer seminar site.

This is the second year in a row the group has come to the mountain town, and the seminar features a bit of, ahem, experimentation this time: In addition to 43 attorneys, a record 41 pro-marijuana activists have signed up, Stroup said Friday.

The featured speaker Saturday is Tommy Chong, half of the humorous pot-smoking duo, Cheech and Chong, from the 1978 movie Up in Smoke. Chong was arrested in 2003 as part of a crackdown on drug paraphernalia sold over the Internet. He was sentenced to nine months in prison.

Chong, 69, has titled his Aspen talk "Why pot is still illegal and why Dave is still not here."

In answer to the first question, pharmaceutical companies, the liquor industry, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the prison system all have interests in keeping marijuana illegal, Chong said by phone from Los Angeles Friday.

"Dave" is a reference to a guy in a 1970s Cheech and Chong skit who knocks on the door and begs his confused buddy to let him in because "I got the stuff with me. I think the cops saw me." The buddy says "Dave's not here."

But why is "Dave" still not here, nearly 40 years later?

"Dave is in jail," Chong says.

The send-off for the NORML seminar will be a Sunday cookout at the Woody Creek home of the late writer Hunter S. Thompson, where his widow, Anita Thompson, lives.

Hunter Thompson joined the NORML advisory board in 1973, a role he continued until he killed himself in 2005.

On Friday, Anita Thompson said she wasn't surrounded by bales of marijuana but bags of food including potatoes, onions and strawberries in preparation for the cookout. (OK, two gallons of Tanqueray gin were there, too.)

Thompson himself fought a number of legal battles, and Anita said of the criminal defense attorneys coming to her home, "I think (Hunter) would welcome them and cheer them on for the work they're doing."

Newshawk: CoZmO - 420Magazine.com
Source: Rocky Mountain News (Colorado)
Author: Jeff Kass
Contact: kassd@RockyMountainNews.com
Copyright: 2007 Rocky Mountain News
Website: Rocky Mountain News - Denver
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