In case you didn’t know, there are more medical marijuana dispensaries in Denver than there are Starbucks. But culturally, marijuana has been part of the Colorado mainstream for much longer than the 12 years since Colorado voted to legalize medical marijuana (during the same year the state handed its electoral votes to George W. Bush by three points). This could explain why John Denver sang about the elation of a Rocky Mountain High instead of the agonies of the Idiot Wind.
Medical marijuana was the topic of a CBS spot about the “green rush” that the marijuana business has given Colorado, guiding it through a recession. Upfront and center in the 60 Minutes special on Sunday was Ean Seeb, whose dispensary Denver Relief, was featured in the segment. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Seeb last year around this time when Denver was hosting the JFNA General Assembly, an extremely large gathering of representatives of Jewish federations from across the country.
Seeb has the unique position of being someone who can both own a marijuana dispensary and be an active leader in the local Anti-Defamation League. We spoke about a bit about how Colorado views his work.
Seeb’s longstanding affinity for marijuana certainly hasn’t stigmatized him in Denver’s community of about 80,000 Jews. He’s on the board of directors of the Anti-Defamation League and has held various leadership positions in the Federation. Nowhere was the community’s embrace of Seeb more discernible than at the General Assembly. Throughout the conference, he could be seen coordinating with the leadership, talking with local participants, and engaging passersby to promote the nightlife events. He was a frequent fixture at a booth where a few of his friends who had made aliyah were raising funds for Israeli lone soldiers.
“I don’t feel threatened by the community at all,” Seeb said of his seeming embrace by Denver’s Jews. “If they are making fun of me, it’s certainly not to my face. I feel that I could walk up to some of the top businesspeople or leaders in the Jewish community, and I can consider them my contemporaries; I sit with them in board meetings once a month. Now, I’m not going to say that everything is beautiful and lovey-dovey. But I really don’t feel like they’ve ever said, ‘We can’t use him ‘cause he’s that pot guy.’ ”
Check out the 60 Minutes story here.
Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.