High Times Magazine hosts Doobie Awards in Austin, promote marijuana awareness


Charlie Pearce

Comedian and pot advocate, Doug Bensen, presents the “Pot Song of the Year” award at the High Times Doobie Awards on Sunday.

Alberto Long

It was St. Patrick’s Day, but the crowd at the High Times Doobie Awards wore green to celebrate a more illicit occasion. 

The annual Doobie Awards were held inside the aptly named Red Eyed Fly as part of the tail end of the South By Southwest music festival. The party, hosted by High Times magazine, honored the year’s “highest music,” presenting bongs as trophies to artists who have marijuana-related themes in their music and appeal to the culture or advocate for legalization.

At the party, jazz-tinged reggae music permeated thick clouds of smoke that rose from the stage area. Many in attendance sported dark glasses and smoked marijuana openly. The smell of cannabis was easily detected from outside the venue. There was minimum security in or outside the event. 

Bobby Black, who organized and hosted the awards ceremony and is senior editor and columnist for High Times, said the use of cannabis inside the venue was akin to civil disobedience and indicative of changing attitudes regarding its legality. 

“We’ve never had any problems with police, or any of the venues that we’ve had the party in,” Black said, noting that High Times has hosted the Doobie Awards annually for 10 years. “This is an act of civil disobedience, if you will. But it’s a very mellow act of civil disobedience. There’s no anger involved. We respect the law and law enforcement, but respectfully disagree with certain things regarding weed.” 

Representatives from the San Antonio, Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth chapters of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws were in attendance. 

Veronica Navarro, a volunteer with the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of NORML, expressed her frustrations with current drug policies, and said the Doobie Awards help her organization raise awareness. 

“The drug policies in this state are ridiculous,” Navarro said. “DFW NORML was banned from the Dallas St. Patrick’s Parade and Festival yesterday. Meanwhile you have all these alcohol sponsors, and the NORML are the most laid back people you’ll ever meet. Texas is a tough state. But if you look around, you can see the consensus. A lot of people are ready for [marijuana to be legalized]. It’s just a matter of raising awareness.”

Topher Belsher, social outreach director for Texas NORML, said the Doobie Awards help raise awareness but also noted a paradigm shift throughout the state that has led to increased exposure for marijuana advocates in Texas. 

“In the last three to four months alone since Colorado and Washington legalized, we’ve gotten more requests for TV interviews, newspaper interviews and radio interviews than we’ve gotten in the two years prior to that,” Belsher said. “People are realizing that these drug policies are modern-day Jim Crow laws. They are aimed at minorities and people of lower class stature. They’re racist policies.”

Published on Marc 18, 2013 as "Doobie Awards recognizes weed-related music".