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Tripping Through The Pot Culture Haze

 

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Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Author: Tom Murray, Freelance 
Published: Saturday, November 08, 2003
Copyright: 2003 The Edmonton Journal
Contact: [email protected]
Website: http://www.canada.com/edmonton/edmontonjournal/ 

Walk into the Jupiter Cannabis Culture Shop on Whyte Avenue, and the first thing you notice is how bright it is. 

Clean. Professional. Once known as the Jupiter Glass Galleria, the family-run enterprise is now devoted to selling all things cannabis related. 

"Thing is, it's so mainstream," shrugs owner Tom Doran Sr. "It's people in their 50s and 60s, young kids, professionals, blue collar, white collar. It's not a segment of society; it's all society." 

Doran, 60, a respected Edmonton drummer, says his son, Tom Jr., was the impetus behind the change in direction. 

"The demographic on the avenue is different, with the amount of bars and nightclubs," interjects Tom Jr. 

With decriminalization in the air, cannabis shops have been springing up all over. What makes Jupiter different is the sheen of respectability the owners bring to the shop. They're looking beyond the counterculture, de-emphasizing marijuana's underground appeal, going for the mainstream. 

"They're just regular people who like to go home after a stressful day at work, have a couple of tokes, and relax," says Doran about his clientele. 

"Or maybe they have health problems and maybe they need something to handle the pain. They don't want to take heavy prescription drugs, or maybe the drugs don't work anymore, so they smoke a little pot or hash so that they can go to sleep at night." 

It's a family thing; Doran and his wife Denyse, 53, are dyed in the wool hippies. They still hew closely to the ideals of their youth. Even though Doran himself doesn't smoke pot anymore, he doesn't see why it should be illegal. Denyse once managed the Hippogriff, one of the first head shops in Edmonton, located on 101st Street near Victoria High School. 

"What was different in the '60s and '70s is that our generation really felt that it was going to make a huge difference in the world," she insists. 

"It was a consciousness thing; it really was about peace and love. We believed it. And we still do, but we thought we were going to change the world."

Kathy Kirby, a local writer/promoter and sound tech, also has strong beliefs about the nature of the times, particularly regarding the use of drugs. 

"However hokey it may sound, drug use is truly more recreational today then it was back in the '70s," she insists. "We were trying to 'open the doors of perception' and embrace change." 

In 1967, bus tours were organized in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district, showing off the hippies to the gawking squares.

Perhaps because the underground culture was smaller, Edmonton's Aquarius kids were largely ignored. The hair was longer, the clothes funkier, but the authorities left the hippies to their own devices.

"We were very cool about it," Doran remembers. "I mean, we never smoked it in the street, it was always in the back alley, or the car. Somebody's place. Never in public."

Kirby remembers the early '70s, when getting caught meant getting busted. "For paraphernalia, you could get six months in Belmont. It wasn't hardcore prison time, but it was jail."

The juggernaut that was the "Me Generation" '70s chewed up what remained of hippie culture. Hard drugs replaced soft, and the world turned a little meaner. 

"You were seriously harassed," admits Kirby. "A lot of the hippie culture came together because we were so recognizable."

Those that survived morphed into greedy bastards, or retreated into navel-gazing and buttressing their beliefs against the mocking next generation. 

But the hippies were tougher than they were given credit for, and the effects of the Summer of Love are still filtering down to us. 

Society has changed dramatically, but the revolution is not complete. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has a vested interest in demonizing marijuana, and continues to dictate society's stand on the topic. 

"Exactly," agrees Denyse. "In fact, a family member of ours today is in the legal justice system. ... I asked what he thought about marijuana, decriminalization, etc., and (he) told me that his family came from the Ukraine in the 1920s to Alberta, and they brought marijuana with them.

"And every night after supper they would have a good cigarette. So there was actually more tolerance then than there is now."

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