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Great Moments in Weed History

Great Moments in Weed History delves deep into humanity's 10,000+ year relationship with cannabis (a.k.a. marijuana) to explore the humor, heart, and historical importance of the planet's most revered and maligned plant. Hosted by Abdullah Saeed and David Bienenstock.

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Bong Hits for Jesus!

A weed-fueled stoner prank escalated to the highest court in the land after a student in Juneau, Alaska used the opportunity of the olympic torch passing through town to unfurl a banner reading "Bong Hits For Jesus."What makes this a truly great moment in weed history is not just the way Joseph Frederick thumbed his nose at an oppressive high school and its humorless principal, but the years he spent afterward, defending his personal liberty and the free speech rights of all students in the United States.Along the way, he'd face police harassment, multiple arrests, and a series of courtroom battles that led all the way to the Supreme Court. Where the Justices repeatedly had to say and hear the words Bong Hits for Jesus.PATREONPlease support Great Moments in Weed HIstory on Patreon. Supporters get exclusive access to video shows and seshes, plus access to cool rewards like a signed book or signature lighter. And it truly helps us make the best show possible. 

55mins

14 May 2020

Rank #1

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Did Jesus Use Cannabis to Perform Healing Miracles?

Jesus didn’t smoke weed. But is it possible cannabis was the key ingredient in the Holy Anointing Oil used by Christ and his disciples to perform healing miracles? Join Abdullah and Bean for a deep dive into an herbal mystical mystery of Biblical proportions.PATREONPlease support Great Moments in Weed HIstory on Patreon. Supporters get exclusive access to video shows and seshes, plus access to cool rewards like a signed book or signature lighter. And it truly helps us make the best show possible. 

1hr 5mins

27 Mar 2018

Rank #2

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Bob Dylan Gets The Beatles High For The First Time

In 1964, Bob Dylan met The Beatles for the first time, and after a bit of awkward small talk, offered to share some of his marijuana. Based on a misheard lyric, Dylan assumed the Fab Four already blazed, but it turned out this would be their first time "turning on." And so begins our Season 1 finale, in which we explore one of the most iconic smoke sessions of all time.PATREONPlease support Great Moments in Weed HIstory on Patreon. Supporters get exclusive access to video shows and seshes, plus access to cool rewards like a signed book or signature lighter. And it truly helps us make the best show possible. 

44mins

29 May 2018

Rank #3

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Crash Buds!

In the middle of the night on December 9, 1976, a pair of Vietnam vets turned international weed smugglers stood on a makeshift runway in Baja, Mexico, watching as a work crew loaded up their twin-engine airplane with 6,000 pounds of primo sinsemilla bud. The unregistered flight’s illicit cargo was a locally-grown high-grade red-hair strain known as Mota Magic.Unfortunately, the ill-fated smuggling run ended in disaster when the planeload of weed crashed into a remote frozen lake tucked away in Yosemite's rugged backcountry. But from that tragedy arose the greatest "gold rush" in weed history, as some of the world's top rock climbers, the DEA, the forest rangers, and itinerant hippies all raced to pull as many bales of Mota Magic from the frozen lake as possible.This episode was recorded live in Humboldt County, California as part of the Savage Henry Comedy Festival. Special thanks to everyone at Savage Henry, an incredible independent humor magazine and comedy club operating in the heart of America's most famous cannabis cultivation region. Also thanks to a "Great Moments in Weed History" listener known as BGTM for hipping us to this incredible story. Please send suggestions for future episodes to gmiwhpodcast@gmail.com -- don't worry, Abdullah won't see them.And please do us a huge solid and tell all your cool friends about the podcast at your next smoke session!PATREONPlease support Great Moments in Weed HIstory on Patreon. Supporters get exclusive access to video shows and seshes, plus access to cool rewards like a signed book or signature lighter. And it truly helps us make the best show possible. 

1hr 5mins

21 Nov 2019

Rank #4

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Oaksterdam's Weed Mayor

Richard Lee's life changed forever when he slipped on a catwalk while setting up the lights for an Aerosmith concert, suffering a spinal injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down. A Texas native raised by conservative Republican parents, Richard would fight to educate his family, his state, and ultimately the entire country about medical cannabis.Eventually, he transformed an eight-block stretch of his adopted home town so thoroughly that it came to be known, affectionately, as Oaksterdam. Richard’s empire included two cannabis coffeeshops, a medical cannabis dispensary, a gift shop, his political headquarters, and the 30,000 square foot main campus of Oaksterdam University, the country’s first trade school dedicated to training people for careers in the legal cannabis industry.He then put up his own money to run a state-wide marijuana legalization initiative in California. Not long after, the Feds came to shut him down. And the city of Oakland rose up in his defense.PATREONPlease support Great Moments in Weed HIstory on Patreon. Supporters get exclusive access to video shows and seshes, plus access to cool rewards like a signed book or signature lighter. And it truly helps us make the best show possible. 

56mins

7 May 2020

Rank #5

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Hunter Thompson Ran For Sheriff on a Free Weed Platform

In 1970, the author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas ran for Sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado as the anointed candidate of the newly formed Freak Power political party. He promised an immediate end to marijuana arrests and abusive policing. He also promised to rip up the streets of Aspen and sod them. And that his first act as sheriff would be to “install on the courthouse lawn a platform and a set of stocks in order to punish dishonest dope dealers in a proper public fashion.”Thompson even shaved his head bald, so he could refer to incumbent Sheriff Carroll D. Whitmire as “my longhaired opponent” during their much anticipated debate. Hear an excerpt from that debate in this episode, plus archival audio from the Freak Power Party’s campaign headquarters on Election Day.Read the book Freak Power for more on Hunter S. Thompson’s run for sheriff, including his incredible artwork and campaign materials.Watch the documentary Gonzo to celebrate the life and work of one of the 20th Century’s towering figures in journalism, politics and literature.Watch Great Moments in Weed History co-host David Bienenstock (aka “Bean”) visit Hunter S. Thompson’s house for an incredible weed-infused dinner in this viral VICE video.PATREONPlease support Great Moments in Weed HIstory on Patreon. Supporters get exclusive access to video shows and seshes, plus access to cool rewards like a signed book or signature lighter. And it truly helps us make the best show possible. 

54mins

31 Oct 2019

Rank #6

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Louis Armstrong’s Weed Dealer Transformed Jazz

Reefer, muggles, gage — whatever jazz-age slang you prefer, marijuana most definitely played an outsized role in the development of this most unique and influential American art form. From the formation of the first ever jam sessions to the racial integration of the leading jazz bands, cannabis culture and consciousness of the era pushed musicians and audiences alike towards a higher appreciation of authentic, improvised, expansive self expression.As jazz evolved into the world’s most popular musical genre, weed-friendly musicians began to tour, leaving a trail of newly initiated reefer smokers (and freshly planted reefer seeds) in their wakes. A wide range of jazz greats also made approving references to “Mary Warner” in songs like Reefer Man (Cab Calloway), If You’re a Viper (Fats Waller), Texas Tea Party (Benny Goodman), Muggles (Louis Armstrong), Gimme a Reefer (Bessie Smith), When I Get Low, I Get High (Ella Fitzgerald), and I'm Feeling High and Happy (Gene Krupa).We explore this incredible underground history via the unique friendship of two of the scene’s most legendary Vipers (or weed enthusiasts) — Louis Armstrong, the most famous jazz musician of all time, who inhaled two cigar-sized joints on the daily, and clarinetist Milton “Mezz” Mezzrow, a middle class Jew from Chicago who became very, very well loved in jazz circles for having a steady supply of the finest herb available.Read more about this incredible era in weed history with Mezz Mezzrow’s book Really The Blues (1946).PATREONPlease support Great Moments in Weed HIstory on Patreon. Supporters get exclusive access to video shows and seshes, plus access to cool rewards like a signed book or signature lighter. And it truly helps us make the best show possible. 

54mins

24 Oct 2019

Rank #7

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How Amsterdam Became an International Weed Haven

Amsterdam has long been a safe haven for cannabis freedom, but few today remember the subversive, anarchistic, defiantly pro weed Dutch Provo movement (short for provocateurs), which used a mix of radical street theater and outrageous political pranks to expose the authorities as out of touch and incompetent, while bringing coffeeshops, seed banks, and legal cannabis to the Netherlands.PATREONPlease support Great Moments in Weed HIstory on Patreon. Supporters get exclusive access to video shows and seshes, plus access to cool rewards like a signed book or signature lighter. And it truly helps us make the best show possible. 

1hr 3mins

15 May 2018

Rank #8

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Carl Sagan and His Best Bud Get Blazed and Save the Universe

In 1967, Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Lester Grinspoon set out to research marijuana sufficiently to convince his best friend—famed astronomer Carl Sagan—to stop smoking weed all the time. But after making a fateful trip to the library, Grinspoon returned convinced the case against Mary Jane was all lies and propaganda. So Lester and Carl began enthusiastically exploring the cannabis "Cosmos" together, igniting the medical cannabis movement and sparking many stoned epiphanies along the way.PATREONPlease support Great Moments in Weed HIstory on Patreon. Supporters get exclusive access to video shows and seshes, plus access to cool rewards like a signed book or signature lighter. And it truly helps us make the best show possible. 

1hr

10 Apr 2018

Rank #9

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High Times Founder Tom Forcade Pt. 1

Weed smuggler/political revolutionary Tom Forcade once described his life goal as going “all the way, whatever that may bring." In 1974, at just 29 years old, he used profits from flying planeloads of Colombian bud into the country to found High Times magazine.At the time, Forcade already had a long history of subversive acts under his belt, including throwing a pie in the face of Otto Larsen, head of the U.S. Commission on Obscenity and Pornography during a congressional hearing, getting indicted for a supposed plot to firebomb the 1972 Republican National Convention, forming the Zippies as a more confrontational alternative to Abbie Hoffman's Yippies, and helping to lead the then ascendent underground press movement in the United States.But while everyone today knows High Times, few remember the brilliant, radical, mercurial swashbuckler who started it all. So buckle up for one of the wildest, weediest rides in the history of this weed history podcast.Also in this episode: As a ten year High Times veteran, Bean shares his thoughts on that experience, and speculates on what Tom Forcade might think of today’s cannabis industry—including the investors who’ve taken control of his creation.Check out the book Smoking Typewriters to learn more about the underground press movement of the 1960s and 70s, which was frequently targeted for marijuana arrests as part of a general campaign of government repression.PATREONPlease support Great Moments in Weed HIstory on Patreon. Supporters get exclusive access to video shows and seshes, plus access to cool rewards like a signed book or signature lighter. And it truly helps us make the best show possible. 

54mins

7 Nov 2019

Rank #10

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4/20 Started w/ a Treasure Map to a Weed Garden

Every year on April 20th (4/20), cannabis lovers celebrate their favorite plant with festivals, protests, marches, and smoke-outs great and small. So what are the grassroots origins of this high holiday? And how did it spread around the world?PATREONPlease support Great Moments in Weed HIstory on Patreon. Supporters get exclusive access to video shows and seshes, plus access to cool rewards like a signed book or signature lighter. And it truly helps us make the best show possible. 

59mins

17 Apr 2018

Rank #11

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Psychedelic Surfers Invented Dabs

Smuggling hashish out of Afghanistan in the 1970s presented the Brotherhood of Eternal Love with a unique supply side problem, which they solved in a way that forever changed the game for cannabis concentrates and culture.Best known today for their international LSD operation, this legendary group of surfers, smugglers, and psychedelic evangelists also worked together with the Black Panthers and the Weather Underground to break their spiritual leader Timothy Leary out of prison.In this episode, Abdullah and Bean focus in on the Brotherhood's incredible marijuana smuggling ring, which got them dubbed "the hippie mafia" and involved some of the most fascinating characters in the long and fascinating history of cannabis true crime. Including the largely unknown story of Ronald Hadley Stark, who has been pegged by various people at various times as an undercover CIA asset sent to subvert the counterculture, a rogue KGB operative sent to foment a new American revolution, a ruthless career criminal disguised as a peace-and-love flower child, and a cunning snitch who transformed the Brotherhood of Eternal Love from idealistic hippies into international drug smugglers.For more on the BOEL, check out these books (The Brotherhood of Eternal Love, 1984 and Orange Sunshine, 2010) and documentaries (Orange Sunshine, 2016 and The Sunshine Makers, 2017).PATREONPlease support Great Moments in Weed HIstory on Patreon. Supporters get exclusive access to video shows and seshes, plus access to cool rewards like a signed book or signature lighter. And it truly helps us make the best show possible. 

56mins

2 Apr 2020

Rank #12

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Barack Obama's Weed Years

Ever wonder what President Barack Obama was like as a pot-smoking teenager in Hawaii? We did, so we dug deep into Barry's time with his high school weed crew, the Choom Gang.“In Hawaii, chooming means indulging in pakalolo,” fellow Choom Gang member Tom Topolinski explains to Frontline. And yes, pakalolo is yet another slang term for cannabis, as heard in Hawaiian musician Don Ho’s classic song, “Who Is the Lolo Who Stole My Pakalolo?”You might remember seeing this young version of Obama portrayed by Jordan Peele in a classic Key and Peele sketch. The former president famously admitted that he used cannabis as a youth and that he surely inhaled as “that was the point.” Though he opposed cannabis legalization as a senator, his public stance evolved over the course of his tenure, and his direction to federal authorities to lay off state-level efforts to legalize cannabis makes him the most progressive president on the cannabis issue to date. Some say it’s just good policy, but we say it calls for a special shout-out to the Choom Gang.PATREONPlease support Great Moments in Weed HIstory on Patreon. Supporters get exclusive access to video shows and seshes, plus access to cool rewards like a signed book or signature lighter. And it truly helps us make the best show possible. 

55mins

5 Sep 2019

Rank #13

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A Lesbian Power Couple Invented Weed Brownies

Alice B. Toklas was born in 1877 in San Francisco, but she relocated to Paris after the earthquake of 1906 destroyed 80% of her hometown. And on the very day she arrived in the City of Lights, Alice met and fell in love with Gertrude Stein—also an American expatriate, and a collector of important work by not yet renown masters like Cezanne, Gaugiun, Renoir, Matisse and Picasso.These very painters would bring friends and rivals to the apartment shared by Gertrude and Alice at all hours to show off their latest masterpieces, and so, one of the art world’s most celebrated salons was born, which would draw in the leading lights of Paris in the 1920s, including Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Charlie Chaplin, and Salvador Dali.So what’s this all got to do with the invention of the modern weed brownie?That’s an incredible intercontinental and cross-cultural tale of culinary adventure that involves Moroccan hashish makers, an avant-garde artist, a literary scandal, an elaborate weed prank and a high-larious Peter Sellers movie.Check out the original Alice B. Toklas Cookbook!Watch the movie I Love You Alice B. Toklas.Learn more about this incredible couple with the book Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice. Check out clips from Laverne and Shirley, Taxi, Frazier, That 70s Show, Desperate Housewives, Mr. Show and other very special TV episodes that celebrate the weed brownie.PATREONPlease support Great Moments in Weed HIstory on Patreon. Supporters get exclusive access to video shows and seshes, plus access to cool rewards like a signed book or signature lighter. And it truly helps us make the best show possible. 

54mins

17 Oct 2019

Rank #14

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Cheech and Chong Go Up in Smoke

Everybody knows Cheech and Chong as the world’s ultimate stoner icons, buthow did they rise from obscure road comics to writing, directing and starring in one of themost influential movies of all time?In 1967 in Vancouver, Canada, a draft resister from East LA named Richard Marin met a musician named Thomas Chong - whose family owned a local burlesque house. Fusing their comedic super powers in a crucible fueled by love for weed and improv, Cheech and Chong grew from performing in between burlesque acts, to Grammy-nominated comedians, leaving one world left to conquer: Hollywood.Up in Smoke may not be the first ever stoner comedy, but it’s the one thatchanged popular entertainment forever. And if you’re asking yourself “How Did This GetMade?,” rest assured that it happened in the most Cheech and Chong way possible.And Abdullah and Bean try to piece together the many ways that Up in Smoke predicted the future, despite having a plot that barely makes sense.LISTENING NOTE: Roll up a comically oversized joint for this episode!PATREONPlease support Great Moments in Weed HIstory on Patreon. Supporters get exclusive access to video shows and seshes, plus access to cool rewards like a signed book or signature lighter. And it truly helps us make the best show possible. 

55mins

19 Sep 2019

Rank #15