At a secret location on the Oregon coast, Justice and Cory and their wedding party walked down the aisle to the Camo Cowboy’s “Family Felony.” The piano ballad is an anthem for the culture born of the generations-deep world of illegal marijuana farms that have carved the land between Northern California and Oregon and provided the national black market’s supply of cannabis since the 1960s and '70s. As more states legalize cannabis, this hidden-in-plain-site culture is emerging into the mainstream for the first time. For the Schafers, the time was right to tie the knot and profess their love for each other and for the cannabis plant.
I had never been to a dry wedding. Both my family and friends and my friends’ families and friends love to drink, and they all chalk that up to their heritage, whatever it is. Boozy weddings are gifts that keep on giving. After the party comes the rumors and new favorite stories about hookups, fights, puking and other forms of alcohol-induced public humiliation. The Schafer wedding was the first I have attended where everyone was just, for lack of a better word, “chill.” Guests ate, talked and listened to good music, and everyone went home and woke up the next morning without a hangover.
While most weddings are drowning in booze because it’s legal and weddings are the most socially acceptable venues for intoxication, this wedding replaced all the booze with cannabis.
“We feel like ganja is a way better choice than alcohol. It brings people together, nobody fights and everyone has a good time,” Justice said.
“Besides the fact that people weren’t dancing, it was nice because nobody caused trouble," Justice added. "That was one of my big things—I did not want to have alcohol. I am personally not a drinker and I don’t drink ever. I don’t really like the effects alcohol has on people. Most people don’t remember things or are almost incoherent. They aren’t themselves, they change when they drink alcohol. People that smoke weed, we are just more calm about things.”
Nothing about the 420 wedding was typical, down to the vows. The Schafers' officiant, a close friend, reminded the guests that cannabis is still not federally legal, and in the Schafers' commitment to “share and grow together” they would continue their commitment to normalizing cannabis.
“I am very proud of them for standing up for what they believe in,” said Shannon LaPrade, Justice’s mother.
“When we decided to do this cannabis-themed wedding, it was actually our officiant’s idea to incorporate [activism] into our vows because it is a part of our story and our story is really important to us,” Justice said.
Justice’s family, the LaPrades, are from Eagle, Idaho. Justice is a third-generation grower and many of her family members have grown cannabis. After Justice’s father died of liver cancer, her mother moved to Northern California to grow legally. Justice followed soon after, where she met Cory (whom she calls “Dirt”), who was buying weed from her mom at the time. He asked her out on a date the day they met and they have been together ever since.
Cory had moved to Northern California from Florida about a year earlier. After run-ins with the law and a year and a half in federal prison—all for using or selling cannabis—he chose to live somewhere he could participate in a legal market.
“[Cory] is a felon for weed. There are so many things he can’t do even though he has never been convicted of a violent crime. He has never hurt anyone, he has only sold weed. It affects the rest of his life, it affects the jobs he is able to get and how people look at him,” Justice said.
Although the Schafers live in Oregon, where adult use cannabis is legal, they cannot grow for the legal market because of Cory’s felony. Under most state-legalization laws, felons are prevented from working in the legal industry, even if their only felony is related to buying, selling or growing cannabis.
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