From July 1, Canada Day, through July 4, American Independence Day there once existed a cannabis event called The Toker’s Bowl. Held in Vancouver, BC, those were four very stoney and fun days. I made it to three of the four Bowls. All were hosted by Marc Emery’s Cannabis Culture operation. The last Bowl — # 4 held in 2005 — wrapped up eleven years ago, today.
My favorite memory is from first arriving at each Bowl, passing through the CC store and heading down the wide, steep stairs at the back for the basement. One-third of the way down those stairs there was a blue line hanging in the air and an aroma that sweeps you up in pure joy. It is the scent of fine Canadian grown cannabis being consumed.
The Toker’s Bowl was limited to 200 “judges,” each of whom received at registration a silver bowl filled with 26 grams — 1 gram of each competitor — of some of the finest cannabis I ever experienced. Over the four day event every judge rated every sample. The votes were counted at the final party / dinner and we discovered who had the best bud at that year’s Bowl. Marc Emery called the winners, live, to announce their success. The prizes awarded the winners were magnificent pieces of glass art masquerading as pipes.
Judges at each Bowl were entertained with parties, sightseeing, bowling, we walked in Queen Elizabeth Gardens and we enjoyed boat rides. We ate — lots. All while sample primo pot. See why I kept going back?
The first Bowl I attended — # 2 in 2003 — brought unwanted attention from police. By Bowl # 4, only two years later, the event was heralded in the local press. Even then the tide was turning in our favor. That’s still true today. But I wish the tide was already fully in.
I made 200 new friends each Bowl. Cannabis is a unifier and a bridge to understanding one another. Each year I dedicated one hit to the soul of Harry J. Anslinger, who I am sure is roasting in hell. Lying bastard belongs there. Still, I would have offered to smoke him out if he had showed up.
Another fond memory is sitting with a few others on the back porch outside the basement of the Cannabis Culture HQ just relaxing in the quiet. The magic is that I can generate that same peaceful vibe by going back to that special memory. That makes the best souvenir I could ever have brought home from Vancouver.
A few days after Bowl #4 ended the American DEA swooped down and arrested peacefully-residing-in-Canada Marc Emery, Michelle Rainey and Marijuana Man. That brought an end to the fantasy and wonder of the Toker’s Bowl.
The living, beating heart of the Tokers Bowl was Michelle Rainey, who organized and ran the event. Without her none of it would have happened. I had the honor of attending her wedding which closed out Bowl # 4. She invited 200 friends who all just happened to be in town that day. Michelle got promoted out of this difficult world a few years ago. Billy Joel was right — only the good die young. Miss you, Michelle.
I’m sure cannabis is already re-legalized wherever Michelle is now. And my Independence Day wish is that re-legalization gets to all of us real soon. Till then, enjoy the holiday and smoke one for Michelle. She would do that for you.
[images: cannabisculture.com; youtube.com; alamy.com; hightimes.com; Nancy Prather]
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