Photos courtesy #JeffSesh.
As Americans gear up to select their next president on November 3, the cannabis movement frequently collides with political issues, as reform weighs in the balance. The leaders who we select this November will be the deciding factor on federal cannabis reform in the future. Trolling papers could be one of the best ways to make a bold statement on current political stances, considering the history behind them.
The #JeffSesh campaign launched in 2018—with the goal of targeting the “cannaphobic” then-US Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The company donated a portion of those sales to the Drug Policy Alliance. From then on, the trolling campaign expanded to target other individuals, including Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Pete Sessions, and of course, President Donald Trump.
#JeffSesh sells not only the company’s own designs, but vintage 1970s-era rolling papers, which are available in limited numbers on the company’s website. DOPE chatted with an official representative of #JeffSesh to get a glimpse of the concept behind political trolling papers and the history behind them.
Tell us about the vision behind the new line of Smoke-A-Dope king size cone packs.
When we first released General Jeff’s Session Papers, we had some complaints that Jeff Sessions’ face wasn’t printed on the papers. Apparently an article covering it had said something like “you can now smoke the Attorney General…” and some people took it quite literally, raising their expectations. The packaging wasn’t enough, they wanted to burn General Jeff himself.
So it’s been in the back of our minds ever since that people would love it if we actually printed on the papers. That would be the ultimate in Trolling Papers.
Since we’ve only been releasing one or two packs a year, we put a lot of thought and energy into development. And the question this year was: if we could only make one more pack, one final pièce de résistance, what would it be? And the answer was clear: printed papers. Specifically, Donald Trump effigy papers.
Especially given what we’ve learned about the history of political trolling papers since launching. Printed was the way to go.
What have been your best-selling items through the years?
By far General Jeff’s Old Rebel Session Papers (#JeffSesh) Black Label, the pack that started it all. Followed by #JeffSesh White Label, and then Mother Pence’s Holy Rollers.
The Patriotic Rolling Papers vintage rolling papers you sell feature some pretty unique designs such as a 1971 Vietnam draft paper with bloody fingerprints of the 1973 Watergate Scandal rolling papers. Are there any cool stories behind these?
Yes. Patriotic Rolling Papers were created by a guy named Paul Ropp. His company was called Whitehouse Industries, and in the early 70s he built something of an empire with anti-establishment rolling papers. He released at least three packs under the Patriotic brand: the Red draft card pack, which you can find in our store, and two others—one which was an American flag and the other a $100 bill.
On the inside flap of the Red draft card pack is a letter to parents of a fallen soldier. The papers themselves are made to resemble a draft card, except instead of “Selective Service System” they say “Selective Execution System.”
“If we could only make one more pack, one final pièce de résistance, what would it be? And the answer was clear: printed papers.”
What about the other vintage rolling paper packs?
Another one of Mr. Ropp’s packs, “Camalflage,” which we have in our shop, is printed with what looks like the Camel-brand filter tip. He was sued by R.J. Reynolds over this, but we’re not sure what ever happened in the case.
Between this and apparent harassment by the feds, Ropp chose to move on from rolling papers and pursue business overseas. He now owns a successful clothing line based in Southeast Asia. Try and get a hold of him if you want—we’ve been unsuccessful.
The Watergate papers were created by an artist named Laurence Cherniak. Like Ropp, he created several packs of printed rolling papers in the ’70s, though not all political. Cherniak was also known for The Great Books of Hashish, a multi-volume collection, and one of the first of its kind. He’s a truly interesting guy, and apparently he was High Times’ first ever “International Correspondent.” He’s still very active, and we’ve been in contact about potentially collaborating on a pack in the future.
2020 is the year we’ll see the MORE Act taking us the furthest we’ve gone in federal cannabis reform, despite challenges in the US Senate. Do you think the political messages on your trolling papers represent a long tradition of the intersection of cannabis and politics?
Absolutely. Rolling papers are a vehicle for political dissent and rolling your own is itself an act of resistance. JeffSesh is just part of that tradition.
We’ll be watching the MORE Act vote closely. Congress members who vote against it might find themselves on a pack of Trolling Papers in the future. Just putting that out there, FWIW.