Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Extravaganja 2013 attracted around 6,000 fans to the Amherst Town Common

The largest public venue in the little college town of Amherst -- the quaint town green -- will once again play host to Extravaganja, a celebration of all things pot.  And these days, with the herb now practically legal, there's plenty for them to celebrate.

Interestingly, the loss of that cachet that comes with doing something illegal seems not to have hurt attendance any, as last year they had about the same peak attendance (the entire common being shoulder to shoulder) as at any time over the past 23 years.

UMass Cannabis Reform Coalition Treasurer Delany Ratner tells me the budget for this year's event is around $7,500 (renting stage and sound system, port-a-potties, garbage dumpster, printing t-shirts) so they get a lot of bang for their buck.

One thing they don't spend money on is advertising simply because there's no need.  Word of mouth and social media seem to to the trick.

While Amherst Police will be out in force on Saturday as they always are for an event that attracts such a large crowd, there really is little to no disruptive behavior.  Unlike the Blarney Blowout, which attracts somewhat less of a crowd but requires police dressed in riot gear to bring under control.

Rumor has it the "Hobart Hoedown" 2014 has been scheduled for Saturday as well, probably on purpose to coincide with Extravaganja, figuring the police will be preoccupied in town center so they can raise all sorts of hell in far flung North Amherst.

At the height of the Blarney Blowout last year (nowhere near as bad as this year) nitwits at Townhouse apartments made false 911 emergency calls claiming assaults with weapons were taking place in South Amherst to try to distract police away from their pernicious party.

It didn't work.

A major variable impacting attendance (at either event) is weather, and Saturday is suppose to be somewhat rainy.   So that could put a damper on things. 

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Local Grower said...

Ironic post as so many people have been locked up and had their families and lives ruined over the general public's view on pot...ironically, the hippy generation did not have it together enough to get the right to smoke pot and now a significant portion of their kids are in jail or addicted to other drugs due to this policy.

I thought the common belonged to Amherst college. I thought I saw that on a map somewhere.

Oh and people are still getting arrested for pot in Mass, even folks with medical marijuana notes from doctors. It is not legal or just about legal. Massachusettes designed it's relationship around pot to make it so they can get all the money and still arrest folks. They literally created an corrupt oligarch system and people actually think pot is legal. No one who voted on the law a year or so ago read how bad it was. It hurts the economy and sick people, but not giving good access and stressing keeping many aspects of pot illegal and confusing to both citizens and cops. Massachusetts can have it's cake and eat it to on this one. The cake is the money and eating it is still sending our 20 somethings to prison for nothing.

The Extravaganga only exists because of decades of bad policy....that most certainly have not ended. It will be so big again this year, like so many previous years because we have not actually progressed on this issue very much at all. It is still people being lazy and allowing their govt to scoop up the population and put them in boxes.

The Blarney blowout is a direct measurement of the parenting skills of Massachusetts parents. Getting Blarney kids to smoke more pot (as I am sure they were smoking a bunch) is not the solution to 100,000's of crappy Massachusetts parents.

Larry Kelley said...

The town common belongs to the town (i.e. "the people").

Anonymous said...

To high to read a map

Anonymous said...

Oh no, another party to a gateway drug. Wally was right, you are all evil in Amherst. Next year they will all be on heroin!

Walter Graff said...

They should call it Loser-fest.

Those addicted to pot are no better than those addicted to heroin or alcohol. It's a sad world when we celebrate drug use and glorify it. Those that need to be in a state of mind other than the one they were born with have issues. Drugs make issues feel like they don't exist, but they do, even though you are out of it. I'd rather see folks spend the money on therapy.

80% of addiction is due to environment. So, especially for children, if they are exposed to an environment where people are drinking or smoking pot, they are much more likely to enter a world where they can find drugs like pot, heroin or cocaine. Marijuana is a social gateway drug for those idiots that expose their kids to it.

Might even bring my kids by to show them what drug addicts look like and what idiots to stay away from.

Anonymous said...


Robert2663 said...

As usual pot v beer is a crappy debate

Anonymous said...

Hey Wally,
Do you ever have a drink? Yes? Are you addicted to alcohol? NO? Well, in the same vein, not all people who smoke pot are addicted to it. I smoke it once in a blue moon. Have been for over 45 years. I am in no way, shape or form addicted to pot.

Anonymous said...

Wally if you're an example of sobriety, I'm never coming down.

Anonymous said...

The Cannabis Reform Coalition (the sponsor and organizers of this event) is a university entity. The university should host this smoke-fest and it should not be a permitted event on public land. Openly smoking dope, selling dope and most likely additional substances with the tacit approval of the town .gov is a very very bad idea. In this litigous society all it will take is one tragic event caused by a patron/guest of this event for a suit to reach into the pocket of the town. Not an indictment of those who choose to smoke but more a chastisement of town officals for their endorsement, intentional or not.

Captain said...

This is a great and important event for Amherst. The day of Extravaganja was my Captain Candy’s (as well as Barts, Subway and countless other businesses) busiest day of the year ever year. 5,000 to 8,000 people on the common and in town, behaving, spending money and enjoying Amherst, can be nothing but good for this town. Our major customer base (the students) will be leaving town in about a month from now not to return till September and this influx of income is very important to the business community. This event is one of the most Stealth events I have ever seen. It’s never in the paper or post anywhere in town but thousands of people come from all around New England.

My candy store sponsored this event for a few years and we had a booth selling candy on the common for those years. My experience being on the common for the whole day are that people attending this event are kind, respectful and totally under control (and very stoned). The police create a ring around the common and nobody is hassled as long as they stay on the common. The police are very respectful and always handle the day’s events professionally and with the perfect amount of restraint.

While I totally support the Amherst police’s actions during the resent Barney Blowout, I do believe that Extravaganja should be looked at as an example of how a large number of people can have a party and stay under control. If we could move the Barney Blowout to a contained location and control the parameter, where first aid, bathrooms and police are available but not confrontational, this might make the Barney Blowout much more user friendly for Amherst and for the students.

Anonymous said...

This is a sad, sad event of people tuned out on drugs. Would the town allow 1000s of drunk people on the common or people on downers? As the high school tries to keep drugs from kids and help kids showing up high or drunk, here the select board lets this happen. And the justification is that businesses can money on it. Sad. Anyone who has known someone addicted to pot will have trouble understanding this or why anyone thinks this drug is safe. Where are the town leaders?

Anonymous said...

Smoke your marijuana. Have a good time.

But please, please, don't claim that your freedom to do so is some huge advance for mankind. It's yet another drug that some will be able to handle and others won't, thereby resulting in the need somewhere down the line for a very expensive, publicly financed media campaign like we currently have with cigarettes.

I would love to see marijuana legalized so I don't have to listen to all the self-righteous crap about how wonderful it is. Then we can go about the business, over several future generations, of getting our heads screwed on straight about this drug we've been fascinated about for the past 50 years or more.

Anonymous said...

The motto with marijuana is the same with so many other so called "causes": FOLLOW THE MONEY

Don't ask me to be inspired by that.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see there are others that are not blinded by the smoke and mirrors.

Among hundreds of documented physical and physiological changes in humans, marijuana smoke is mutagenic, produces behavioral toxicity, creates sterility in men and women, is fetotoxic, causes abnormal cell division which leads to severe hereditary defects, creates airway obstructions, rapid destruction of lung fibers and lesions, as well as causing cancer in the airway, throat, jaw, mouth and lungs in 19-30 year olds, long-term impairment of memory in adolescents, prolonged impairment of psychomotor performance, interferes with the normal communication between neurons and between brain circuits, Apathy, drowsiness, lack of motivation, Personality and mood changes, causes a sixfold increase in the incidence of schizophrenia, creates depression, contains 50% to 70% more cancer-causing substances than tobacco smoke, causes leukemia in children of marijuana-smoking mothers, etc etc.

You can selectively pick all the supposed "good" that marijuana does. Talk about how our founding fathers loved it, how our country could not have existed if it wasn't for it, how it makes great clothes and has 1001 uses and all the other bullshit that drug addicts need to do to justify their high, but bottom line is it's a drug, addictive, causes everything from cancer to stupidity, and having a public display and rally is just plain ignorant.

We don't need to publicly celebrate drugs. Doing so only confuses our children who are told that drugs are bad and yet they see a bunch of tie-dye idiots telling them it's okay.

Clearly the pot is making some people very stupid. The way Amherst is run it's clear those in charge must smoke a lot of it.

Anonymous said...

Pot is not addictive. Anyone who is "addicted to pot" is very likely prone to addiction to just about any substance, sugar included. Seems to me the town of Amherst would be far better served to let the Extravaganja just be and have the cops head over to the Hoedown where they are really needed. Mellowed out pot smokers vs crazily hyped up alcohol drinkers? No contest.

Walter Graff said...

It IS addictive, just not to the degree as some other drugs but to say it's not addictive means you must be smoking some good shit.

Anonymous said...

Are people prosecuted for buying/selling marijuana at this event? Seems to me that there's a lot of grey area there (though not a lot of grey matter).

Anonymous said...

What do you mean "supposed good"?

theres plenty of benefits, ask a chemo patient. it's just plain ignorant to think otherwise, idiot.

every drug has a laundry list of negative side affects. including the over the counter advil you buy when my knee is sore. Do you call yourself a drug addict when you pop a couple ibuprofen?

You have to take the good with the bad. Disregarding positive side affects of a drug because there are negative side affects is just plain ignorant and idiotic.

if we made every drug that had negative affects illegal (or drugs that are abused in general), we wouldn't ever have medicines, dummy.

I'd like to know why you feel you need to take away medicines from sick people. sounds like you need to open your mind. the world is getting smarter and advancing in medical technologies/drugs. act accordingly

Anonymous said...

The police will definitely be needed for the drug addicts at this event no different than any other event where people can't control themselves because of drug use and the problems illicit drug celebrations cause.

Last year traffic and parking in the downtown business district was so bad people couldn't move.
The Amherst Police Department responded to this event for calls that included medical assistance, unruly attendees, parking and traffic complaints and narcotics violations. A total of 12 people were issued citations for Possession of Marijuana < Ounce during this event. An Amherst Police Officer was assaulted when he responded to the report of an unruly person. The officer received minor injuries.

Drug events like this bring out the real losers and wackos. Last year a couple examples of the quality people that attend:

Dylan D. Dresser, Age 24
93 High Street, #4
Greenfield, MA
Charges: Malicious Destruction of Property < $250 (Police Bicycle)
Disorderly Conduct
Resisting Arrest
Assault & Battery on a Police Officer

Rafael Perez, Age 24
72 Essex Street #8
Holyoke, MA
Charges: Arrest Warrant (Holyoke District Court, Receiving Stolen Motor
Possession with Intent to Distribute Class D (marijuana)

Events like this spill into the rest of town too. Last year police made 10 additional arrests outside of the event as the high and drunk individuals started to wander, drive impaired and make fools of themselves.

Drugs make people stupid.

Anonymous said...

Well over 4000 people attended the event and 2 were arrested. Wow 2 were arrested! Is that all you got? Complaints of traffic and 2 arrests? Sounds like a successful and non threatening event to me.

Anonymous said...

Make sure that you have gotten your heart attacks and other personal emergencies out of the way before tomorrow, folks, because no one will be available to come for you during the day.

Anonymous said...

Walter Graff:

We all know that what holds "true" one day, year, decade, or whatever, is turned around 180 degrees the next. That's true in just about any field you can think of - health, nutrition, surgery, drugs. There are as many opinions out there as people. Just because you read an article in Psychology Today doesn't make it the gospel truth. Regardless, I beg to differ and stand my ground - pot is not addictive. And no, Mr. Graff, I may have partaken from time to time in my youth, but no, I don't smoke shit, good or otherwise.

Walter Graff said...

Low self esteem will do that to you. The published science shows that teens who start drugs have very low self esteem.

And say what you want, the published science shows that cannabis is as addictive as any other drug and the addiction is physiological so you can ignore the science but it's a fact.

FACT: Marijuana is as addictive as alcohol. FACT: It's one of the hardest drugs to quit. The more you smoke the harder it is.

Sad to see the town support it. Really shows how fucked up Amherst is to allow a celebration of a narcotic in a public venue. I hope families who pass by point out what losers drug users are to their kids.

Oh and for the other pot head, take a look at the published science that shows in studies of cancer patients, pot does no more to relieve pain than codeine yet has a much worse side effect, it causes depression. Not good to have cancer and then get even more depressed. An approved medication that uses an ingredient in pot was found in two small studies to have some effect on nauseousness related to chemotherapy. The rest is pot-head propaganda to make it sound like it's some sort of gift form God.

The drug addicts will say anything to defend their drug which is the only thing that gives them a sense of any worth and self esteem.

Get some therapy, it has longer lasting effects and doesn't mask your issues like drugs do.

Anonymous said...

Get some therapy, it has longer lasting effects and doesn't mask your issues like drugs do.


I have seen more people screwed up by therapists than by drugs -- in fact, I think that a lot of folk into drugs wouldn't be but for the therapy...

Walter, the therapists are themselves nuts -- I've yet to meet one that I consider "sane."

Anonymous said...

Looks like Walter is on one of his many soap boxes. Apparently there is no debate here. Walter knows the Truth. Whatever, Walter, whatever.

Dr. Ed said...

I argue that the only difference between the Barney Blowout and the Extravaganja is how the police responded.

Both involve something illegal -- public drinking and smoking pot. Both were/are disruptive to those not engaged in that activity -- neither is a place one would want small children anywhere near.

Back in the '90s, the "Hoedown" was nothing more than a bunch of drunken kids playing in the mud. Yes, some of them got hurt, as some will get hurt tomorrow at the Extravaganja -- the APD & AFD will do their best to patch them up and/or cart them across the river.

And Larry, admit it, there was a lot of underaged drinking both on campus and throughout town in the '80s. We both know that.

The big difference between beer & pot is that the police started using force (arrests, etc) to shut down the beer events. They (wisely) decided to leave the potheads alone and at Extravaganja they only make the arrests that are actually necessary, and otherwise "don't see anything."

I argue that if the APD showed up tomorrow in full riot gear and started arresting everyone for anything they possibly could, if they unleashed volleys of pepperballs and the rest, they'd have a riot. Maybe not the first time they did this, but if they kept doing this 10-20-30 times, if Enku sent out threatening emails like she does for beer events, it would quickly get to the point where the cops would be attacked as soon as they showed up.

Just like the events involving beer.

Larry, when we were young, we used to drink our beer -- not throw it at the cops! Jack Luippold's UMPD didn't even have gas masks (which surprised me, but they didn't). The UMPD/APD didn't have the problems they do now back when they only made the arrests they "had to" and ignored everything else, the way they still do with Extravaganja.

It's like the 1968 Chicago convention -- police can create disorder as well as prevent it...

And why isn't smoking pot in public illegal the way that drinking beer in public is??? Larry, while both beer & pot may now be "legal", the Town of Amherst doesn't have to tolerate either being consumed in public -- and why hasn't the "open container" law been amended to include the "lit joint"?

And why isn't the "stoned" driver considered every bit as dangerous as the "drunk" one? If your vision, motor control and judgment is affected -- and it is -- then you ought not be driving...

Anonymous said...

Codeine doesn't cause depression? Wow. That's a retarded statement. Codeines a way worse drug. But again, not saying pot is good for you but you are taking the good with the bad and each drug works differently for each person. If codeine doesn't make you depressed and pot does, take that. If pot doesn't make you depressed and codeine does, take that. Who are you to refuse the right of what drugs work for you than don't. All drugs have side affects don't be ignorant and don't deny medicine to people.

And how many ambulances are involved with extravanga? Do they really tie up the force? Just a curiosity statement not saying one way or the other

Dr. Ed said...

The thing that scares me is how ignorant most folks are about drugs -- legal and illegal, prescribed and recreational.

Codine, Morphine, Heroin & Methadone are all Opiates. The first three come from the Opium Poppy while Methadone is "synthetic" -- they're all going to do the same sorts of things to you -- as will Opium itself.

AND if you are actually in pain, you won't get "high" from them. It's the same thing with Adderall (mixed amphetamine salts) -- if you legitimately need Adderall, it will (amazingly) act as a sedative.

People taking a THERAPEUTIC-level dose of these drugs DO NOT GET HIGH ON THEM!!! They will if they take a hell of a lot more -- Heroin is deadly because the dose necessary for euphoria inexorably approaches the lethal dose level -- but for some reason a person's need for the drugs precludes their euphoric effects.

And then there is Vioxx -- which is NOT an opiate, is NOT addictive and which you CAN'T get high on -- but which the FDA took off the market because of a statistically irrelevant increase in mortality of those who weren't taking it for pain in the first place. (And there is no financial incentive for Merck to challenge this because it would go generic soon anyway...)

Fight Heroin -- Bring Back Vioxx!!!

Information is power -- maybe if we teach people what the various drugs are and why it is so incredibly dangerous to use them recreationally (and in some of the jaw-droppingly scary combinations people do) -- maybe they'll be bright enough not to do it!

And for those who aren't, well there is the "Darwin Award."