High Points & Big Hits: A Year’s Worth of Toke of the Town


Photo: Reality Catcher
The author at Toke of the Town headquarters: Four million hits in one year, man, and I think I’m ’bout ready to take another one.

​One year ago today, on November 23, 2009, Toke of the Town came to the wild wide web.

It’s been a thrilling ride, with lots of highs, an occasional low, and more than a few WTF moments thrown in for good measure.
It took Toke of the Town five months — until April — to pass a million total pageviews. The two millionth hit came just three months later, in July, and the three millionth pageview came two months after that, in September. Toke seems on track to get its four millionth pageview this month.
When I smoked my first marijuana as a 17-year-old back in 1977 (not using a joint or a bong — but out of a beer can! and listening to Kiss! it wasn’t my tape, LOL), I had no idea that what I was starting was a career path.
What I did know was that after reading up on the subject, it seemed the pot prohibitionists were blowing a lot of hot air about the supposed dangers of the weed.
While my subsequent life adventures meandered all over the psychological map, one thing I’ve never regretted — even for an instant — was trying marijuana. As the good Dr. Hunter S. Thompson was fond of saying, it’s been a source of joy and comfort to me for many years.
And I have to say that one of the best of those years, out of my 50, has been the past 12 months I’ve spent at the helm of Toke of the Town.

Not only have I had the chance of a lifetime to tell the truth about marijuana, I have also met some of the best, most giving people imaginable. When it comes to unwavering determination and true grit, those who are fighting for marijuana peace can be favorably compared to any group of activists in the world.
Beyond that, the friendships and connections that I have forged in the past year — the shared smiles, shared triumphs, and shared tragedies — are things that I will never forget.
Here are 10 of the biggest stories (as picked by you, the readers — through pageviews) from the first year of Toke.

Photo: Buzzle.com

I wrote this piece one Sunday morning in September after attending (and totally enjoying) the first day of the Portland Hempstalk festival all day on Saturday, September 11.
Sunday morning — a day I was to have spoken at Hempstalk — turned out quite differently than I had expected, however, when my car was stolen during the night from the parking lot of the Portland hotel where I was staying.
I turned my frustration and disappointment into a call to (intellectual) arms for the cannabis movement — and it hit a chord, becoming one of the most popular stories of the year.
The Brooks County Sheriff’s Department had a big marijuana problem — they had 200,000 pounds of pot, and were complaining that it would be “too expensive” to destroy it. The seized marijuana, dating as far back as 2000, sat in storage trailers awaiting an uncertain fate.
“This is a problem that doesn’t seem to be going away and anything we can get to help us dispose of these cases once they’re done and to get ready for the next one that are coming in would be a great help,” said the syntactically adventurous Deputy Daniel Davila.
“Something tells me Toke of the Town readers could be of great assistance to the deputy,” I wrote. “After all, at a trying time like this, we all have to pitch in, people!”

Photo: nocookie.net

Texas cops nailed down two spots in a row in the countdown by providing everybody with a few laughs.
What was first thought to be one of the largest marijuana seizures in the Corpus Christi Police Department’s history turned into an embarrassing incident for the cops.
The clueless officers spent a busy and exciting evening harvesting hundreds of harmless weeds from a city park.
The revealing incident began when a teenager riding his bike through the park discovered what he thought were pot plants.
The junior would-be narc wasted no time in excitedly reporting his “find,” and police then self-importantly hauled away 300 to 400 plants that they, too, believed were marijuana.
Trouble is, after spending more than an hour laboriously removing and tagging hundreds of plants, and then hauling it all to the police department downtown, testing revealed that none of it was marijuana at all.

“If you’re going to smoke pot, for goodness’ sakes, smoke it every day, man,” this piece began, and lots of you seemed to be listening.
Experienced marijuana consumers show virtually no changes in cognitive performance after using cannabis, according to clinical trial data.
Scientists found that participants’ overall performance accuracy on episodic memory and working memory tasks “was not significantly altered by marijuana.”

Graphic: NORML

The state of Utah had what it thought was a brilliant idea to eradicate marijuana farming on public land:
Ask citizen snitches to report any pot patches they ran across.
The state made it easy with a website with helpful links to assist its deputized citizenry in identifying marijuana and signs of grow operations.
Yeah, it seemed like a good idea.
That is, until NORML posted a story about Utah’s misguided efforts.
Within 24 hours, pot-friendly visitors flooded the site with fake tips.
A 30-year-old Nevada man chose a month in jail instead of probation, which would have meant that he couldn’t use medical marijuana for one year.
Charles Ray Balzer of Gardnerville, Nevada, told the judge he was unwilling to give up pot for a year, and he would do 30 days in jail.
“I think if I sat around smoking dope all day, it would probably help me out, too,” the judge told Balzer.

Graphic: Reality Catcher

Despite medical marijuana being legal in Michigan, WalMart fired a cancer patient and former Employee of the Year who tested positive for pot, which had been recommended by his doctor.
“I was terminated because I failed a drug screening,” said ex-WalMart employee Joseph Casias.
Casias showed WalMart managers his medical marijuana card, but was fired anyway.
“I was told they do not accept or honor my medical marijuana card,” he said.

Up In Smoke

The pot flick has practically become a genre unto itself. Stoner movies, expressly designed for enjoyment under herbally enhanced conditions, should have their own aisle at Blockbuster.
While we’re waiting for that to happen, though, let’s take a moment to bask in the euphoric glow of accomplishment. Cannabis cinema has established a track record of success and marketability much like the herb itself.
Given the passionate loyalty potheads feel towards their very favorite stoner movies, I’d have to be ape-shit crazy to put myself in the line of fire, subjecting myself to the ire, the scorn and the second-guessing of my blunted but opinionated brethren.
So if you think I’m high enough to even try that… OK, OK. Good point. Here are my Top 10. (Note: this piece is now the #1 Google result for “best stoner movies,” speaking of the euphoric glow of accomplishment!)

Photo: The Gonzo Think Tank

This heartfelt quotes-and-photos tribute to the creator of Gonzo journalism, published to the web on what would have been his 73rd birthday, is still a steady hit-getter for Toke.
Thompson was known for his savagely uncompromising writing style; his heroic intake of marijuana, psychedelics, and other drugs; his almost complete contempt for authority and rules; and his anarchist views.
“There he goes. One of God’s own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”

Photo: My Classic Lyrics

Another quotes-and-photos birthday tribute, this one, dedicated to the memory of the great stand-up comedian Mitch Hedberg, was Toke‘s biggest hit of the year.
Hedberg was known for his surreal humor and unconventional comedic delivery.
His routines featured elocutive but often short, sometimes one-line, observational comedy, mixed with absurd and paraprosdokian elements as well as non sequiturs.
“You know, I’m sick of following my dreams, man. I’m just going to ask where they’re going and hook up with ’em later,” Mitch was known to say.
See you on the other side!