Executive director says marijuana references meant to inform about
medical marijuana, not for recreational use
Despite a number of marijuana references on its Web site and
statements on other Web sites, The High Country Music Festival
Executive Director and owner Saam Golgoon said Alma-based The High
Country (THC) Music Festival will not be a festival that will promote
Golgoon said there would be a medical marijuana educational aspect of
the festival, which will be in downtown Alma on Aug. 20-22, but it
wouldn't dominate the music festival.
And, he said, marijuana use won't be condoned at the festival.
"This is not a free-for-all pot fest," Golgoon said. "We're not
promoting or supporting any illegal activity whatsoever."
But the THC Music Festival is being associated heavily with marijuana
in the minds of some people, in part due to some references on the
THC Music Festival Web site.
Those references include the use of the term "THC" which is the
abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in
marijuana, and the emphasis by the use of a bigger font for the "420"
in Alma's zip code of 80420.
Park County sheriff's Detective Lieutenant Sven Bonnelycke said "420"
can refer to heavy marijuana usage on April 20.
"[April 20] is doper holiday," Bonnelycke said.
Golgoon said that imagery was chosen to draw attention to marijuana
to a certain extent. He said the festival would promote the idea of
medical marijuana as a safe alternative medicine. He also said some
of the medical marijuana businesses in Alma are sponsoring the music festival.
At least one musical guest who will perform at the music festival
seems to be connected to marijuana use.
Reggae artist Pato Banton is pictured on the music festival Web site
wearing a bandana featuring marijuana leaves.
The Internet references weren't limited to the THC Music Festival Web site.
There were also two references made on the High Country Caregiver Web
site authored by Thomas Elliott, owner of the Web site. The first,
posted on June 8 said, "For those looking for more cannabis friendly
towns, consider Alma, Colorado zip code 80420, which will host the
THC Music Festival this August 20 - 22, featuring marijuana and music
from all over the country. The music festival will have a large tent
where medical marijuana patients can medicate on site of the music festival."
The second, more lengthy post was written on June 13, which said,
"Alma, CO, America's highest incorporated town will host the THC
Festival August 20 - 22, 2010. Alma, Colorado is already on the map
as zip code 80420 in Colorado, and hosts 3 Colorado famous medical
marijuana dispensaries. No matter where you are at the three day
event you will be walking distance to one of the 3 marijuana
dispensaries that Alma prides itself on. Don't have your card, don't
worry there should be plenty of green for all. Alma medical marijuana
is known for being of the purest quality as the fresh air and pure
water combined with soil growing cannabis techniques produce only the
finest herb. The THC festival is very kid friendly, right in town in
Alma, the camping and food are convenient and 2010 will be awesome
with reggae legend Pato Banton scheduled to perform. Bring your
swimsuit to cool off in the river between sets. Bring your rolling
papers and clean your pipe, this ... will be one heady ... event."
In separate e-mails to Flume representatives, Elliott confirmed that
he was the sole author of the Web site. He said that the June 13
comment was set to expire after 30 days and would be removed from the
Web site after that date.
Elliott also said in an e-mail to The Flume that Banton was a
well-known marijuana advocate, who "at the Copper Mountain Spring
Concert announced to the crowd to come see his band in Alma at the
THC Festival where it would be a very, very marijuana-friendly [event]."
In a follow up e-mail, Elliott said he learned a little bit more
about the THC Music Festival and has since changed his belief on the
nature of the music festival.
"I found out today that THC stands for 'The High Country', but this
is slightly misleading as THC is the active ingredient in marijuana
so I thought that a THC Festival funded by marijuana dispensaries was
about marijuana," he said in an e-mail.
Elliott also said a mention of the event was made in the magazine
High Times, a magazine for marijuana enthusiasts.
He said he believed something was written in the April issue of High
Times about the THC Music Festival.
Nothing could be found about the Alma event on HighTimes.com or the
April issue of High Times, and an e-mail sent to an editor at High
Times wasn't returned by press time.
The statements on the HighCountryCaregiver.com Web site have made at
least one Alma resident and former town board member a little nervous
about the image the The High Country Music Festival is generating.
Earl McGrew said it's not just the issue of the music festival
appearing to support marijuana use; there have been been a large
number of medical marijuana dispensary business applications filed in the town.
"I don't want to see this town get this kind of reputation," he said.
He wants the issue of whether to allow more medical marijuana centers
in the town limits to be decided by the town's voters.
But at least to Elliott, Alma already has such a reputation.
"Alma is a marijuana free-for-all with or without the THC Music
Festival," he said in an e-mail.
Elliott also said in an e-mail he believed a tent would be available
for festival attendees to medicate with marijuana during the festival.
He said he understood that the High Country Healing medical marijuana
dispensary, owned by Mark January, was telling its patients about the
medical marijuana tent, something January denied.
January said High Country Healing would be participating in the
medical marijuana informational events during the music festival to
help educate the public about potential health benefits.
January said that he believes marijuana consumption is less harmful
than alcohol consumption, yet alcohol consumption is legal and
prevalent in many town events.
He also said medical marijuana is a benefit to the tax base of the
town, and although some people don't like it, marijuana is in Colorado to stay.
Golgoon said that although some Alma residents are worried about the
image of the town, more are worried about the number of people that
might attend and how that would impact the town for the three-day
He said the impacts would be kept to a minimum. Volunteers will be on
hand to ensure that attendees aren't parking in wrong areas or
blocking private residences.
"The concern has been the town not getting taken over," he said. "Our
goal is to keep this a peaceful, happy festival where everybody's
having fun, everybody's being safe, and none of the town residents
are being bothered about what's going on in town."