Two Years Tokin’: Toke of the Town Born On This Day In 2009


Toke of the Town editor Steve Elliott: You’ve come to the right place if you wanna talk about marijuana.

​Two years ago today — actually two years ago tonight, at 7:08 p.m. — fingers trembling with excitement, I hit the “Post” button for the first-ever story on Toke of the Town.

“The good thing about a free marketplace of ideas is,” I wrote, in the first sentence ever to appear on this site, “despite the best efforts of prohibitionists and their fear-mongering propaganda, the truth eventually prevails.”

Thousands of stories, joints, medibles, and bongloads later, I’m still loving this gig, and judging by pageviews, so are more than half a million of you every month.
Toke didn’t just happen. If it hadn’t been for Village Voice Media’s then-social media talent scout, John Boitnott, spotting my personal blog Reality Catcher making the front page of social news-sharing site Digg, I wouldn’t have had the chance, starting early in 2009, to write “Chronic City.” That was a twice-weekly cannabis column for S.F. Weekly‘s online blog, “The Snitch.”
And if it hadn’t been for Boitnoitt and Bill Jensen, then in charge of VVM’s web presence worldwide, that well-received column would not have opened the door for Toke of the Town about six months later.

I still clearly remember the three-way call between Boitnott, Jensen and myself that resulted in this website coming to life. John admirably presented to Bill the case for my being editor of the thing, and Jensen agreed to give me the chance.
“Just get me pageviews,” Jensen said. Well, that definitely happened, and here we still are.
I didn’t mention it to readers at the time, back when Toke fired up in 2009, but I was facing some significant health challenges. In fact, I’d just undergone the second of three intestinal surgeries when the site started, and was wearing an ileostomy bag (which, thankfully, I was able to get rid of, after a few months).
High Points and Big Hits From Our Second Year

One doesn’t work another year in the cannabis journalism business without happening across lots of memorable stories, so memorable, in fact, that they even overcome that short-term memory challenge with which we’re supposed to be faced. Wait, what was I talking about?

One of the biggest hits of December 2010, the first month of Toke‘s second year online, was a story from Germany, “German Police Seize Marijuana Christmas Tree.” It seems a six-foot marijuana plant decorated as a Christmas tree was confiscated from the home of “an old hippie” who faced drug possession charges after narcotics detectives stumbled upon the unusual Xmas decoration in an unrelated search.

Kenichi Nalita
Kenichi Nalita: “This is my only chance to live a normal life”

​In January, “Japanese Medical Marijuana Patient Desperate To Stay In U.S.,” the inspiring story of Kenichi Nalita, touched lots of readers and raised public awareness about Ken’s desperate plight (medical marijuana is not allowed in his homeland, and he needs it to battle Crohn’s disease).
Among February’s most popular stories was “Family Feud Marijuana Moment Goes Viral,” featuring a video in which the popular game show’s host Steve Harvey was either very surprised, or wanted us to believe he was, when a contestant’s guess is “a joint” for the clue “Name something that is passed around.”
In March, Toke readers learned that “Feds Remove Anti-Tumor Cannabis Info After Just Days Online.” Just 11 days after adding a section on medical marijuana to its treatment database, the National Cancer Institute altered the new page, removing any mention of the evidence that marijuana can diminish and even reverse tumor growth.
April’s most popular story was Toke‘s great Northern California columnist Jack Rikess’s “Top 10 Things I Miss About Stay-At-Home Pot Dealers,” which detailed Jack’s nostalgia for the pre-dispensary way of getting weed. “As much as I love having a card and going to the Pot Shop, or having it delivered, I miss the interaction of the old daze,” the always-entertaining Rikess told us.

Steve Elliott ~alapoet~
I haven’t had this much fun since Mom brought home a Variety Pack of cereal when I was a kid. Both times, I was packin’ bowls like there’s no tomorrow.

​In May, our “Stoner Photo of the Day: Sativa Sampler Pack” from Seattle collective Dockside Cooperative made a big splash with our readers. The photo featured eight sativa strains I got in a sampler from Dockside while attending to my delectable duties as “Toke Signals” marijuana/dispensary critic for the Seattle Weekly, a nice little side gig I’d managed to pick up in February.
June’s “Legislation To End U.S. Marijuana Prohibition Coming Thursday” proved enormously popular — regrettably, much more popular with the public than with the spineless members of Congress who are supposed to represent them. The story details the introduction of a historic, bipartisan bill introduced by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) which would effectively limit the federal government’s role in marijuana enforcement to cross-border or interstate smuggling, allowing people to legally grow, use or sell marijuana in states where it is legal.

MBS is about 60 percent indica and 40 percent sativa, according to breeder Moonunit, although it expresses in a more indica fashion.

​”MBS: Australia’s Terrific New Marijuana Strain,” featuring plenty of eye-candy weed from Oz, was the most popular story in July. Although the eye-catching photos from renowned breeder Moonunit were a big draw, the text, detailing the Aussie strain MBS (Mind, Body and Soul) got a lot of good info out there on the sure-to-be-a-hit-worldwide marijuana variety.
Toke‘s fabulous “Worth Repeating” columni
st, former NYPD cop/NYC health teacher/registered nurse Ron Marczyk, proved very popular with readers in August with his piece “Worth Repeating: 7 Cannabis Studies That Will Change Everything.” Ron compiled medical papers focusing on the promising applications of cannabis medicine in treating cancer and colon cancer prevention; inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, and Crohn’s disease; vomiting from chemotherapy; osteoporosis; traumatic brain injury; and heart disease/heart attacks.
Among September’s most popular stories was “Marijuana Could Prevent PTSD Symptoms: Medical Study,” which gave details of a scientific study, published in Neuropsychopharmacology, showing the great promise of cannabis in treating post-traumatic stress disorder. It remains to be seen if the U.S. government will put its money where its mouth is as far as “supporting veterans” by funding more research (normally, the federal government only funds anti-pot studies, not ones looking for benefits).

World News
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos: “The world needs to discuss new approaches”

​Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, was probably the most popular politician on Toke of the Town in October, as the story “Colombia’s President: Marijuana Should Be Legalized Globally” reached lots of eyeballs. Santos said that marijuana legalization would allow the War On Drugs to move forward by shifting focus to harder drugs. (Santos got some serious competition from Bolivia’s President Evo Morales, who said in October that American DEA agents were “not welcome back” in his country.)
And that brings us to this month, and the story “Alcohol Is More Than Twice As Harmful As Marijuana: Study,” which, after less than three weeks online, has already gotten in excess of 200,000 page views. According to a new study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, researchers at the Imperial College of London looked at “the relative physical, psychological, and social harms of cannabis and alcohol.” The scientists determined that a direct comparison of the two substances showed alcohol is more than twice as harmful as cannabis to users, and five times more harmful to others (society).
For a summary of Toke of the Town‘s very first year, click here: “High Points & Big Hits: A Year’s Worth of Toke of the Town” 
If you dug Toke of the Town in 2011, stay tuned in the coming months for lots of heady surprises — you’re gonna love it!