“This is my first time ever, smoking while performing,” Etheridge stated, then did just that. Etheridge, a well-known medical marijuana advocate, produced an individual joint case sometimes called a ‘doobe tube,’ complained about opening it (as we all do,) touted the benefits of a good sativa strain, then lit up and blew smoke into the air.
The Cannabis Cup is in Michigan, which has a medical marijuana law and also has a reciprocity law which allows registered patients from other states to legally use medicinal cannabis. Attendance to the Cup event is limited to legally registered medical marijuana patients, who were able to openly join Etheridge in lighting up without any fear of reprisal. Michigan has more than 180,000 card-carrying participants in the Medical Marihuana Program.
Etheridge performed on stage at the Auto City Speedway, where hundreds of vendors and thousands of patients braved heat as high as 96 degrees to enjoy the first day of the annual High Times celebration.
The talented artist took time out before her on-stage performance to perform a Q and A session with festival attendees. She discussed her battled with cancer and how she used medicinal marijuana as a treatment option and as a way to control side effects of other treatments. She took a moment to interview with former NHL star Larry DePalma, who advocates for cannabis and its use in fighting traumatic brain injury like those suffered by pro athletes. The Canadian super-sports network TSN was at the Cup filming DePalma for an upcoming feature.
Etheridge showed off more than her love for the marijuana plant- she also put her musical skills on display. With a bank of ten sparkling guitars behind her and a collection of percussion instruments in front, Etheridge took the stage alone and played all the instruments on each song she performed. The talented artist would lay down a track for background, then use electronics to replay the sound track. In this manner she created a bass line and drum beat for the songs, then used various guitars to launch off on solo riffs or melodic strumming.
She used one guitar, which Etheridge called “Cate Blanchette,” to produce soaring tones reminiscent of Robin Trower’s ‘Bridge of Sighs,’ and using another she jammed on some quick rock picking while making good use of the instrument’s whammy bar.
The cannabis was a good influence: she almost immediately announced to her production staff that she was blowing off the set list and playing “what I feel,” then electrified the audience with versions of songs from her vast musical catalog. Etheridge acknowledged marijuana use without demeaning the patients attending; last year, artist Wyclef Jean was the featured performer for the Cup and his act was energetic and highly-praised.
The Medical Cannabis Cup continues on Sunday, culminating in an awards ceremony which should take place without the rain which has plagued past Cup events. It should also take place in more moderate temperatures, as the high for the day is anticipated to not exceed 76 degrees.