High Country: Lettuce comes to town with HeadCount’s Cannabis Voter Project
If you go ...
What: An Evening With LettuceWhere: Belly Up Aspen, 450 S. Galena St. When: Sunday, February 24 & Monday, February 25, 9 p.m. Tickets: $36 general admission; $56 reserved, 970-785-8500, bellyupaspen.com
After the midterm elections in 2018, cannabis is now recreationally legal in 10 states (and Washington, D.C.) while 33 have legalized medical use.
Cannabis policy is progressing rapidly, but the future fight to reform marijuana laws in the remaining prohibitionist states (Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming) lies heavily in the hands of voters.
HeadCount, the New York City-based nonprofit organization dedicated to voter action through music, has registered nearly 500,000 voters through its work online and during activations at concerts and music festivals since its start in 2004. Last year, founder and executive director Andy Bernstein launched the Cannabis Voter Project, a dedicated off-shoot to provide an easy-to-navigate resource for pro-pot constituents.
Following a successful summer of stumping at the likes of Lockn’ Music Festival with proud “I smoke pot & I vote” social media posts on the pages of official partner musicians from Lukas Nelson and Margo Price to Bob Weir and Mickey Hart, the Cannabis Voter Project has teamed up with the funk band Lettuce for their winter Vibe Up Tour.
“HeadCount works with hundreds of artists, but Lettuce is a special relationship in that they are friends as well as supporters. The guys in the band are also very passionate about this issue and wear it on their sleeves. So it was natural for us to link up on this new project. We feel like we are speaking with one voice,” Bernstein says.
As the band — comprised of Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff, Nigel Hall, Adam Deitch, Erick “Jesus” Coomes, Ryan Zoidis and Eric “Benny” Bloom — travels across the country, a Cannabis Voter Project information table will be set up at each venue, where concertgoers can peruse its website (cannabisvoter.info) and ask questions.
A dropdown menu or clickable map enables visitors to select where they reside to find out in layman’s terms the legal status of their state along with a robust rundown of where each elected official stands and their cannabis-related voting record. Direct links to NORML’s congressional scorecards and HeadCount’s online voter registration portal are also included.
Shmeeans, who personally medicates with cannabis for rheumatoid arthritis, says, “It has helped me get through many hard times whether it be pain physically or mentally. We care about this issue and hope to give people better access to knowledge on who they are voting for and what their personal stances are with cannabis. And all cannabis laws are not good laws, but all educated voters are good voters.”
“Cannabis is an issue that goes across party lines … you can’t just guess where your congressman stands based on their party affiliation. It really pays to be informed, because you might be voting for someone that has a diametrically different view. More and more elected officials now have a clear stance on this issue and if they are not going to evolve to the times, there’s a chance they are going to lose votes,” Bernstein explains.
Lettuce, born in 1992 at the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston, returns for a two-night run at Belly Up Aspen this weekend. Fans who sign up for the Cannabis Voter Project’s email database at the venue will receive a custom “Lettuce Vote” stress ball shaped like a head of lettuce. The sextet’s latest album, Witches Stew, is a contemporary jazz fusion tribute to Miles Davis, one of the band’s biggest influences and was recorded live at the 2016 Catskill Chill.
Shmeeans adds, “Playing at the Belly Up is always a great experience. It’s one of the best small clubs in the entire country. They treat musicians incredibly and Aspen is beautiful … we love feeling so connected to nature when we are here.”
Katie Shapiro can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @kshapiromedia.