Left to right: Bryant Woods, Matthew Able (of the Detroit law firm Cannabis Counsel, and host of the party), and some guy who’s name I failed to catch

On watching Michigan’s prohibition end

In a sea of smiles and smoke

I had the privilege of running live coverage at the Marijuana Election Watch/Media Party at the offices of Detroit’s Cannabis Counsel on Tuesday, where just about every marijuana advocate, attorney, entrepreneur, and enthusiast in the state had gathered to celebrate the end of Michigan’s prohibition.

We had a pretty good indicator it was going to pass — it was polling 17% ahead, and young people had been at the polls in droves.

But it wasn’t the political part I found most fascinating.

It was the people at the party — and the party itself. Like it had a life of its own. An unquenchably happy life, in which strangers and friends are synonymous. And where every person’s story is more intriguing than the next.

You’ll have to pardon me for being a little starry-eyed. I didn’t grow up in the 60’s, and I worked and studied in high school and college, so I never went to any stoner parties. Maybe that party vibe is part and parcel to the whole peace and love thing. I wouldn’t know.

All I know is that it was the party to end all parties.

I met a guitar player named Razor Ray Reyes who told me cannabis had healed his brain annurism, after he’d died and been brought back from the dead — then he proceeded to tell me about some of his out of body experiences and adventures in astral projection.

I met a criminal defense attorney from Texas named Jeff who told me about his very first marijuana case he took during his third year of law school, in which a young hispanic man had been arrested for what turned out to be a pound of literal grass — not marijuana, but actual grass clippings. Jeff had his client released within the hour, and went back to happily playing the local piano bar for the rest of the afternoon. It was a good first case.

I met a Gulf War vet who had been discharged from duty for using marijuana to manage the symptoms of his war injuries. He’s a facilities maintenance man now, and he keeps his CNC machines gleaming.

I smoked with moguls — actual moguls, both the kind who smell like hash and wear trucker hats and the kind who smell like Georgio Armani and wear silk ties.

I came face to face with a freckled young man with ginger dreds in a doorway; we both paused, and when our eyes met, he inquiringly offered me the joint in his hand. I took it, took a beat to enjoy it, then passed it back to him with a grateful nod. We both smiled.

And that happened so many times I lost count. That was pretty much the cadence of the evening.

After the results were officially announced, and the crowd had thinned just a bit and began to lull, a happy glow fell over the place. A perfectly timed delivery of large quantities of pizza and salad appeared, and the remaining partygoers settled into happy munching and chatting as they rolled another.

It struck me quite strongly: this is not at all how alcoholic parties wind down. It was so dramatically different that I couldn’t help but wonder why the hell people ever get drunk at parties at all.

There was no shouting; no vomiting; no fighting; there were no partygoers stumbling down hallways or falling down stairs. There were no men who got a little too free with their hands and words. There were no spills, or broken bottles. No women crying in the corner.

Just talking, and laughing, and celebrating.

I crawled off, at the end of the evening, to the janky little downtown Detroit AirBnB I was sharing with a friend, and curled up in bed and dreamed sweetly of a world in which we smile and laugh and heal together with the help of a plant that grows in good, sweet earth.

Then I woke up — and the dream was real.