April 24, 2008
In the rural areas of Northern California, in the shadow of beautiful Mt. Shasta, lies a sleepy small town. In that town, however, lurks a menace. The town itself elicits laughs from degenerate drug users all over the nation. In fact, the town itself is a literal advertisement for drug use.
At least that’s what the BATF would have you believe:
The federal government has said no to Weed.
Or at least to the bottle caps of beer brewed at a popular local brewery in this small Siskiyou County town, which has a name that no doubt would have kept 1970s pot-smoking duo Cheech and Chong giggling.
Weed brewer Vaune Dillmann faces possible sanctions or fines from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau if he continues to brew and sell beer with bottle caps printed with the label “Try Legal Weed.”
You see, in the world of the government, there is no room for humor. After all, in a country of 300 million people, a few of those people are going to get the wrong idea. Might they believe that a beer company is suggesting that they stop drinking beer and start smoking pot? Maybe so.
And the BATF (actually, the TTB) believes it’s their place to save those people from their own idiocy, and at the same time ruin it for the rest of us.
Now, it’s clear to me that this is nothing more than a clever marketing tactic. As a homebrewer and beer connoisseur, I often see store shelves lined with a dizzying array of six-packs, and outside of word of mouth and places like beeradvocate.com, I have very little way to tell one brewery from another. What might convince me to try something new? Perhaps if it catches my eye for some reason, I might buy it.
The use of the town’s name may elicit a chuckle from a few potheads, but it’s hardly an advertisement by a brewery for a competing (and illegal) product. It’s made even more ridiculous by the fact that a competing (and well-known) brewery has a similar double-entendre in their name and advertising, but is allowed to proceed with their own labeling and advertising.
Dillmann, who says his bottle caps both promote his beers and the community in which he brews them, has appealed the decision.
After all, he said, the labels on his beers have a picture of the Weed arch and the city’s founding father, Abner Weed, on the label. Dillmann’s bottle caps also say a “A Friend in Weed is a Friend Indeed.”
“We’re dealing with a surname that’s been used for hundreds of years,” Dillmann said Monday.
The owner of the Mount Shasta Brewing Co. said he’s also outraged that his beer is being singled out for using a possible pot play on words when Anheuser-Busch has used “Bud” — another name for marijuana — to promote their Budweiser line of beers.
“What’s the difference here?” Dillmann said. “They sell Bud — we sell Weed.”
There is no difference, Mr. Dillman. Some bureaucrat has a stick up his butt and the power of the federal government behind him. You’re bearing the brunt of it. This is the way government works.
In a letter to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s administrator, Siskiyou County Supervisor Michael Kobseff said California tourism officials have identified Weed as the single most recognized name along I-5.
“Surely, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is not in the business of suppressing the ingenuity of a small business owner, (and) the community of Weed . . .,” Kobseff wrote.
Of course that’s not what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to find some way to apply their one-size-fits-all rules, which don’t allow any room for variation or common-sense, to a situation that requires variation and common sense. It’s not that they’ve got a problem with the town of Weed. It’s much simpler than that. Rules are rules, and you’re not following them.
This is government, folks. Petty, with no sense of humor and a complete inability to understand why we find them ridiculous. You either conform or you get pounded down, in a high-stakes game of bureaucratic whack-a-mole. As Washington called them “a fearful servant and a terrible master”, they’ve been spending a lot more time being the latter.
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