As the push for legally available medical marijuana has become the headline-grabbing, hot-button debate of the day, conservative attorneys Rob and Jessica Corry—no strangers to controversy themselves—have become the issue's biggest boosters. But are they the right people for the job?
It's a mid-December evening and, high above downtown Denver, Rob Corry looks out the window of his corner office, watching the city lights twinkle toward the purple mountain backdrop.
The crisp white shirt and navy power tie,
the modern wooden desk, and the chair with the Stanford University nameplate all nod to conservative, corporate America. But Corry's hipster eyeglasses and straw-colored hair, flipped smoothly over his forehead, give him the look of a preppie surfer, and his dimpled chin and boyish smirk make it seem like mischief is just a moment away.
The memorabilia that papers his office walls tips off Corry's latest middle-finger crusade: There are clips from notable medical marijuana cases he's won, awards and pictures of him with clients, and a brightly colored poster with the familiar snapshot of a youthful, fedora-wearing Barack Obama smoking something that might be a joint, surrounded by a colorfully psychedelic spin on the president's campaign slogan: Yes We Cannabis.
I'm here in Corry's 28th-floor office to discuss, among other things, his current case, in which his clients are suing the city of Centennial for shutting down a medical marijuana dispensary on the grounds that it violates federal law. Corry confesses that, even though he believes the facts are on his clients' side, their chances of winning aren't promising. Even so, win or lose, Corry will continue to get paid, because the verdict will likely trigger similar cases.
Corry's going over the next day's agenda when his wife enters. Jessica Peck Corry is a newly minted attorney whose office with the firm Hoban & Feola is a few floors down. Because the Centennial case may turn on questions of land use, a specialty of her colleague, Bob Hoban, Rob and Jessica will be cocounsel in her first hearing since passing the bar.
The Corrys seem to love nothing more than politics and policy, and, over the course of our time together, they readily riff on the medical marijuana talking points: how it's markedly less harmful than alcohol or pharmaceuticals, why it may be the key to reviving our moribund economy, and how media reports of the movement's security issues and supposed threat to children are canards that obscure municipal restrictions that may well be unconstitutional.
They also seem to love nothing more than spirited conversation. Because my interview with Rob has run long this evening, he's late to meet Jessica. "We could have gone and gotten a drink at the Brown Palace," she says, intimating that we could finish our conversation at the bar.
"Next time," I say, although both Rob and Jessica know I haven't had a drink in more than 13 years.
"Next time," she repeats back to me.
"You'd be getting drunk alone," Rob, who claims he's quit drinking, says to Jessica.
"I know," Jessica says playfully. "That's a problem."
"We're sober teetotalers here," I say. "Although we could figure out a way to get some kind of a buzz."
Rob knows I'm a registered medical marijuana patient, but he's never admitted to me that he's a marijuana smoker. Perhaps it's because he's cautious around reporters; perhaps it's because of his background, which includes two short stays in jail. It's about the only thing that he's circumspect about. But, then, Corry surprises me.
"I do get samples from time to time," he says.
I'm not sure how to react, so I ask Jessica about her upcoming birthday, which happens to be the day before mine.
As we're chatting, Rob reaches under his desk, grabs a small, plastic bottle that reads "ibuprofen" on the label, and slides it across the desk.
"What's this?" I ask.
"That's for you."
After we wrap up the interview, I leave Corry's office and head out into the cold night. Walking along Welton Street, I open up the ibuprofen bottle and find two leafy green buds of marijuana tucked inside.
To the delight of some and the alarm of others, obtaining marijuana in Colorado—not very difficult to begin with—has never been easier, and the Corrys have spent years arguing, advocating, and often litigating for why it still isn't easy enough. Even though qualified Coloradans have enjoyed the right to use the controversial alternative medicine since voters approved Amendment 20 in 2000 (codified as Article XVIII, Section 14, in the Colorado Constitution), several factors have caused the issue to bloom into the frenetic circus that now commands daily headlines. The amendment is open to interpretation—particularly the part that qualifies "severe pain" as grounds for medical marijuana use, as well as its lack of clear legal guidelines for dispensaries or caregivers—but its passage had little impact initially. Marijuana possession and use was (and remains) against federal law, and for years the number of legalized patients hovered in the low four figures, most of them supplied by a small handful of dispensaries.
Things began to change in 2007, when a state court lifted the five-patient limit for each caregiver. The following year, Barack Obama was elected president, and soon after he took office the U.S. Department of Justice announced formally that federal law-enforcement officials would make marijuana offenses a low priority. This past July, the Colorado Board of Health held a public, daylong meeting at Metro State that was attended by impassioned medical marijuana advocates; the board essentially took no steps to further regulate the business. On top of everything else, the dismal economy has motivated more people to explore medical marijuana as a viable business and has caused politicians of unexpected persuasions—most notably Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California—to more openly discuss whether a less restrictive national marijuana policy might provide welcome tax revenue while also neutralizing Mexican drug cartels.
By last fall the "green rush" was on, and as of January, amid mounting efforts to curb the industry's growth, the number of Colorado medical marijuana patients was hovering around 40,000 while dispensaries in and around Denver, as estimated by sales tax-license filings, suddenly outnumbered Starbucks outlets. These developments, depending on your perspective, are either a sign of marijuana's budding cultural and commercial legitimacy or of the impending apocalypse.
Despite the controversy, there's not much debate about marijuana's ability to relieve the symptoms of certain medical conditions. It makes cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy less nauseated, calms muscle spasms for multiple sclerosis sufferers, and provides anti-inflammatory relief for people with chronic pain—after more than a year of taking steroid injections and prescription painkillers for a herniated disc in my lower back, with unsatisfying results and unwanted side effects, I became a registered patient last fall. Marijuana possesses other effects that keep sufferers from relying too heavily on other drugs, particularly prescription painkillers, which now kill more people than traffic accidents in Colorado and 15 other states.
Still, the medical marijuana movement has boomed so suddenly that it's left many people wary, and manic media coverage has fueled their concerns. Local news outlets have run dozens of stories about dispensaries: openings, governmental efforts to limit them, and robberies. These accounts often quote anonymous law enforcement sources and tend to alarm rather than to illuminate the issue. (During a week last December when there were 14 bank robberies in the Denver area, local coverage of the medical marijuana situation outweighed bank stories by almost three to one. There was no discussion about the threat bank thefts pose to public safety.)
Medical marijuana makes strange bedfellows out of people; the Corrys, its two most vocal and visible advocates in Denver—and throughout the state—are registered Republicans. And this niche health-care debate is happening just as other conservatives are feverishly arguing that the U.S. government should stay out of the interactions between doctors and patients—generally the arrangement medical marijuana advocates want. Things have turned so upside down that some observers think Republicans should adopt a pro-marijuana stance as a purist constitutional issue. Although these trends terrify social conservatives, they could help the GOP lure back the young voters and independents they've lost in recent election cycles. Mason Tvert, the executive director of the pro-legalization Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), and a close friend of the Corrys, expects medical marijuana, and perhaps legalization, to soon become a conservative talking point. He notes that right-leaning columnists Kathleen Parker and George Will already have suggested legalization as a remedy for the violence being perpetrated by Mexican drug cartels.
This unprecedented paradigm shift—or at least the debate about whether one is under way—has vaulted the Corrys into a prominent public position. In the January issue of this magazine, Rob was named one of the 50 most influential people in Denver, and Jessica commands a similar amount of influence. Despite a couple of self-inflicted public humiliations, these publicity-hungry, media-savvy activists remain loyally wedded to their pet causes. They don't see the world—be it marijuana, marriage, or morality—the way many people do. Their goal is a return to the purest definitions of American freedom—the kind of freedom that enables adults to exercise personal choice in all walks of life without the intrusive presence of federal (or state, or local) government. Today, that belief, the one that pays the Corrys' mortgage, is expressed in fighting to give adults the right to sell, buy, and ingest marijuana. Tomorrow, without a doubt, it will be something else. Because anyone who thinks he can silence the Corrys simply doesn't grasp this couple's taste for uphill battles, especially ones that enable them to bask in the spotlight, no matter how harsh its glare might become.
On a frigid January night one block from Cheesman Park, the Corrys' stately home pulses with a bright, welcoming glow. The broad front porch has three doors, an uncorrected remnant of when, years ago, the home was subdivided into six units. Although only one family lives here now, the frenetic energy of the Corrys' brood, along with an open-door policy that would make Lady Liberty herself proud, gives the house a buzz it likely had decades ago.
The tired, poor, and huddled masses yearning to breathe free are all welcome at the Corry house. In addition to hosting parties for their coterie of political friends—Mason Tvert has played Santa Claus for the Corrys' two young daughters, and their annual political scandal-themed Halloween bash draws local pols of all affiliations—the family has been known to hire homeless people to do yard work. Later tonight, the Corrys' young nanny, who happens to be a liberal vegan, will move his things into the attic apartment; his presence will make it easier for the parents to maintain their impossibly busy schedule. This weekend, Jessica will pen a column for the left-leaning Huffington Post. She and Rob will end up cowriting a second HuffPo post on Saturday after state Senator Chris Romer suddenly withdraws his controversial regulation proposal. And Rob still has to prepare an alternative resolution to regulate the industry and present it to the state Legislature with the hope of snaring a sponsor.
While the food cooks—a multicultural smorgasbord of sushi, Middle Eastern skewers, salad, pita, and cannolis for dessert—the Corrys' older daughter, a white-blonde four-year-old named Cate, precociously assembles a small plate of cheese, crackers, and berries, while two-year-old Caroline watches a video in another room. Over a soundtrack of protest-era Stevie Wonder, Rob describes how the late-19th century French colonial home may have once been a speakeasy, during the time when alcohol was even more frowned upon than marijuana is now, and he notes that his basement offers ideal conditions for a grow room. "Maybe I'll set that up once I'm done practicing law," he jokes. "Make some real money."
Dinner offers a well-rehearsed scene; the two often slip into playfully adversarial Hepburn-Tracy-like banter in front of others, highlighted by rapid-fire exchanges that Jessica sometimes punctuates with a flirty air kiss or a wink toward her husband. As Rob and Jessica chatter back and forth, Cate and Caroline happily climb into and out of their mother's lap while her food gets cold. Rob's told me that he's still hoping to have a son—despite the fact that the marriage might charitably be described as having had its ups and downs—and when I mention this to Jessica later, she says that if they did it they'd probably need a surrogate. She has a rare vascular condition that requires regular procedures to reinvigorate her blood flow, which could make it too risky to carry another child to term. (She's also diabetic.) The 31-year-old mom describes all this frankly, except when she doesn't want her daughters to hear too much. "It's a terminal condition, but so is life, right?" she says with a glance toward her girls. "Last year it looked so bad for a while that the doctors said it might have K-I-L-L-E-D me before I turned 40, but they were able to get it under control."
"You should try medical marijuana for appetite stimulation," Rob says to Jessica.
"I know it's good for that, but I just don't like how it makes me feel," Jessica says. (Despite her vociferous activism for marijuana rights, she claims to no longer smoke or eat it.)
"For whatever reason," Rob shrugs, "it doesn't give me the munchies." He turns to his daughter Cate and, in a playful Cookie Monster voice, says, "The munchies are gonna getcha! The munchies are gonna getcha!"
In the Corrys' world, children's delicate ears should be protected from topics like death and disease, but marijuana is nothing to be afraid of, and Rob frames recent governmental attempts to limit the spread of dispensaries as a classic Wild West showdown. "I'm confident we have the law and the facts on our side," he says. "They can't ban this. But any time you take on city hall, you take on The Man."
Rob's contempt for authority blossomed in middle America, amid the corn fields of Iowa. He smoked his first joint when he was 14, joined the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (known as NORML) because he thought it was cool, and in a mid-'80s government class at his Iowa City high school, he once shepherded a bill legalizing marijuana through a mock legislative session. Corry did his undergraduate work at CU-Boulder, his libertarianism emboldened by his famously liberal surroundings. As a member of student government in the late-'80s, he opposed a measure that would have paid for a group of students to attend a Martin Luther King Jr. conference in Atlanta because he couldn't understand why the money should come from the students' general fund. He lost and then was nominated to attend the conference, his first experience as a minority himself. Later, at Stanford Law School, Corry sued the university over a speech code that prohibited politically incorrect statements, and won. "As long as I've been able to think about politics, I've been pro-freedom, just leave me alone," he says. "It's a minority philosophy in places like that, but I feel like I got a superior education because I was more challenged by my professors and peers. My views were tested and were modified when I couldn't survive the test."
Corry graduated from Stanford and worked for the Pacific Legal Foundation in Sacramento—the "libertarian ACLU"—for two and a half years, before moving to Washington, D.C., for a position with the House Judiciary Committee in 1997. It was a dream job for any ambitious conservative, with the prestige of serving for an esteemed organization whose mission was to scrutinize the Clinton administration's Department of Justice just as the president's Oval Office shenanigans were snowballing into an impeachment scandal.
The iconoclastic Corry was sticking it to The Man at the highest levels—until his own poor judgment torpedoed everything. One night in 1998, Corry was out drinking and returned home with three people he'd just met. He says they'd noticed that he kept his wallet in the breast pocket of his jacket, and soon after he hung it up, they snatched the jacket and took off. Corry followed them outside with a rifle. Although he never pulled the trigger, the next morning police came and found the rifle, two more guns, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and they arrested him for brandishing a weapon.
The Department of Justice also happens to be Washington's prosecuting arm, and so Corry found himself in a particularly difficult spot; the DOJ's officials were only too happy to go after the conservative hotshot who'd been an active opponent. Corry spent 40 days in jail, where he was housed alone in a cell for his own protection. The conviction cost him his job, but he rebounded to lobby for the Prison Fellowship ministries, one of the few places, Corry says, where having done time was an asset.
Corry returned to Colorado in 2001 to build a criminal defense practice and began dabbling in marijuana-related cases. He was working on a civil-rights bill when he met Jessica Peck, a CU-Boulder student who had arrived at the school with every intention of rebelling against her conservative upbringing. Instead, the experience cemented her libertarianism.
Jessica grew up in Arvada, the youngest of four, in a teetotaling, conservative, Christian family. As a child, Jessica played on boys' basketball teams, and her father had her attend part of a murder trial in Denver when she was 12 years old—on Father's Day—purely for the educational experience. She later nurtured her pugnacious tenacity in testosterone-laden environments: on the sideline at CU-Boulder football games, as a runner for ESPN, and as a newspaper reporter. "With Jessica there was never a fear that she'd follow the group off the edge of a cliff," says her sister Jennifer Radack, "because she was always the first one to jump." Jessica says her father steered her and her siblings this way so she'd never be someone who'd make excuses. "He gave me every opportunity a boy would have," she says, "so that when I became an adult I'd never be able to claim that I was a victim."
Last December I met Jessica Corry in the Ship Tavern in the Brown Palace Hotel. It was late afternoon, and the place was mostly empty except for a family of five: two grandparents, two parents, and a young boy. Coincidentally, the grandfather was former state Senate president and staunch conservative John Andrews, whom Jessica once worked for—and whom she considers a second father. They greeted each other warmly, but when she told him she was there to speak with me about the "MMJ issue"—abbreviating medical marijuana in front of the senator's grandson—Andrews said nothing and looked down at the floor, visibly uncomfortable. If Jessica noticed any tension, she didn't let on.
The Corrys' unapologetic advocacy for marijuana rights makes such awkward encounters with fellow conservatives fairly common, yet they blithely ignore any rigidity that might greet them if it doesn't mesh with their convictions. Jessica—the High Times magazine Freedom Fighter of the March 2010 issue—often demonstrates eloquently fierce intelligence right alongside an almost childlike obliviousness to decorum. From CU to Johns Hopkins University, where she studied public policy, and on to Washington, D.C., where she served as a press secretary for Republican senators Fred Thompson and Olympia Snowe, Jessica always has vocally opposed anything she sees as politically correct nonsense. At CU she started a group called Equal Opportunity Alliance, which tried to get the race box eliminated from college applications. For a while, it seemed to have broad support. "But when people found out there was this Republican white girl behind it, there was all this backlash," she says. "The bill failed, and I remember thinking, 'Screw this, I'm done with politics.' " Then, not long before she graduated, she got a call from a Denver lawyer named Rob Corry, who had read about her work. He was 11 and a half years her senior, had attended CU and shared her love for Buffalo football, had lived in the same D.C. neighborhood she once had, and was a libertarian Republican. The two bonded instantly as friends and colleagues, and Rob courted Jessica over the next year. "Everything was, me too, me too, me too," she says.
The new couple also had a shared passion for thumbing their noses at the establishment. In 2004, when Jessica ran unsuccessfully for state senator, she ignored advisers who told her to not have Rob speak publicly about marijuana issues. She also revealed her own full-throated taste for controversy in 2006, when, to celebrate her older daughter's first birthday, she penned a column for the Denver Post that argued for marijuana legalization around the same time she helped launch the advocacy group GOCAMP (Guarding Our Children Against Marijuana Prohibition). "I got letters from prominent Republicans, some of them elected officials, saying that I was writing my political eulogy, but I told them, 'I'm just getting started,' " she says. "Many of them are friends who will whisper about how insane the drug war is, but people steer clear of it because it still can be a politically devastating issue."
Jessica doesn't whisper about anything; to hear her tell it, she's already convinced all kinds of people like herself. Anyone who has hand-wringing angst over the medical marijuana movement's disdain for children will hear Jessica's argument that American drug policy is generational child abuse that bankrupts our economy and obfuscates the truth about marijuana, to the eternal harm of children everywhere. In fact, many women, including moms, are diving into the business because of a belief in the cause as well as the financial opportunity. "It's an interesting line to walk being a mom and also part of this movement," says Jan Cole, one of Rob's clients and a mother of two who owns the Greenleaf Farms dispensary in Boulder. "I worried that I might not get invited to the PTA meetings, or that my daughters might get shoved aside," she says. "But, if anything, it's been very warm and welcoming. I'm hoping these places will evolve to where women can walk in, feel safe, and find a healthier alternative to pharmaceuticals."
Those who tout marijuana's benefits are bewildered that the drug is so demonized by a culture that not only condones, but celebrates, alcohol use. Marijuana is generally acknowledged to be less harmful than booze, especially in that, unlike alcohol, marijuana does not incite its users to violence. (Government studies have estimated that alcohol contributes to up to 30 percent of all violent crime in the United States, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has shown that about 35,000 Americans die annually from the overuse of alcohol; meanwhile, no study has ever connected long-term marijuana use to higher rates of death or violence.) Even state Senator Romer, a prominent advocate for regulating medical marijuana, admits that he might eventually see the wisdom of legalizing it altogether. "Given my children's experience, the most dangerous thing I see on college campuses right now is binge drinking, not marijuana," he says. SAFER's Mason Tvert says our national love affair with booze, combined with our knee-jerk suspicion of marijuana, borders on the absurd. "Can you imagine if our baseball stadium was called Cannabis Therapeutics Park?" he asks. "That seems crazy, but why is it crazier than Coors Field?"
The Corrys' own experience with alcohol offers a graphic illustration of just how much chaos booze can trigger. In 2005, married and with their first daughter just months old, the Corrys hosted a party at their home in Arvada, where they lived at the time. One of the guests was a family friend who decided to spend the night in a spare bedroom. Sometime after 2 a.m., as the workaholic Jessica fired off e-mails in another part of the house—her work-related messages are often time-stamped well past midnight—Rob slipped into the woman's room and found her asleep. The woman claimed Rob took advantage of her while she was in a narcoleptic state—she suffered from the sleep disorder—and news reports say that in her grogginess she initially thought Rob was her boyfriend, who also had attended the party but had left earlier. In statements to police, the woman said that she awoke to find herself naked while a man was trying to have sex with her. The pair did not have intercourse; however, she momentarily performed oral sex on Corry before the sound of his voice roused her enough that she shooed him from the room.
The woman reported the incident to the Arvada police a few days later, and the police department investigated the case for almost two months. The investigation included surreptitiously taped conversations between the woman and Rob; she also alleged that the Corrys had her followed and alternately tried to intimidate her and buy her silence, which the Corrys deny. Finally, in November 2005, police charged Rob with two counts of sexual assault and one count of unwanted sexual contact.
The Corrys have always pressed their most dearly held causes with vehement spin, and this one has been no exception. Both contend that there was personal and political motivation behind the charges, from the accuser and the authorities. That's why, Rob and Jessica now say, the couple that fell in love because of their shared tenacity and appetite for a good fight, instead chose to cut and run. Worried that a conviction on any count could mean that Rob would be forbidden from living under the same roof as his child, Rob's attorneys devised a treatment plan designed to placate both the prosecution and the court. In January 2007, Rob pled guilty to third-degree assault, a class one misdemeanor, which means he is not legally considered to be a sex offender. The judge sentenced him to 60 days in jail, five years' probation, and substance-abuse evaluation.
Although the presiding judge accepted the plea deal, the sentencing hearing transcript leaves little doubt about how she viewed the evidence. In it, she slapped away the Corrys' attempt to frame the case as being about adultery, saying that, although she hoped they could find a way to save their marriage, "It has nothing to do with this case. What this has to do with is that [Rob] chose to go into the room and physically and sexually assault a woman who did not want that." She added that Rob's decision to sexually violate someone is why she "[could] not in good conscience allow [him] to walk out of the courtroom today," and she sentenced him to 60 days in jail, despite the defense attorney's ardent request for probation only.
Despite having now served two jail sentences, Rob's professional persona seems perpetually coated in Teflon. After the Arvada incident, the Colorado Supreme Court's Attorney Regulation Counsel (ARC) reviewed the case and, in October 2007, suspended him for one year and one day. But ARC stayed the penalty pending his successful completion of a three-year probation. (ARC's probation, which expires later this year, runs concurrently with Rob's five-year probation from the Arvada case, which ends in early 2012.)
Rob Corry has never stopped practicing law; even during his trial and jail terms, he merely sent associates to cover for him whenever necessary. In fact, he says he actually increased his client base after pleading guilty because he met a few people in jail who later hired his services, and he still spins the Arvada case as being more about adultery than anything more nefarious. "I've got two strikes," he says. "I know I was morally wrong on the night I went into that room to cheat on my wife." The Corrys still insist that Rob has never committed a crime. The two have gone through extensive marriage counseling, and Rob says the process of reconciliation remains "very difficult, and always will be." He knows his convictions will forever be attached to his name and used to undermine his credibility, and he's resigned to it, even though, in the eyes of some, he's getting off easy.
More than four years after that night in Arvada, after countless hours of soul-searching and even some informal short-term separations—Jessica euphemizes them as "breathers"—the Corrys say they remain committed to each other. Whether it's out of marital duty or a keen sense of personal ambition—Rob's medical marijuana crusade continues, and Jessica says she might run for office again someday—is anyone's guess. "We were humbled, and it's made us better people, lawyers, advocates, and parents," Jessica says. "I wouldn't wish this on anyone, but I'm almost at a point where I can say it was an essential part of what I've become. I can no longer walk around pretending to be the perfect PTA mom with the perfect husband, house, and educational pedigree, because that's not who I am anymore. I've seen so many people in politics try to fool everyone into thinking they're perfect, and in the process they only end up fooling themselves."
One Sunday in December, a hotel meeting room near the junction of I-25 and I-70 is packed for the Cannabis Holiday Health Fair. Dozens of plastic monochrome decorations—silver, black, and white icicles, orbs, and stars—dangle from the low ceiling, and beneath this space-age mistletoe the true believers mill about, soldiers in enthusiastic support of the cause. Although the object of their affection and devotion is officially unavailable, the unmistakable pungency of marijuana permeates the room.
Many registered Republicans would recoil at such a scene; the Corrys embrace it, as equally comfortable among suit-clad, American flag pin-wearing patriots as they are with tie-dyed hippies. If you advocate personal freedom, question accepted notions of morality, and are suspicious of an overzealous government, the Corrys will always have your back. In medical marijuana, they have found a complex, contradictory, and sometimes inscrutable issue, which is why having this complex, contradictory, and often inscrutable duo as its most vocal champions might just be the perfect marriage.
When it comes to politics, Rob and Jessica will forever be of one voice, even if someday the Corrys split into two. Because while they may not have a "till death do us part" view of marriage, they do share a conviction that keeps them fighting for marijuana patients' and dispensaries' rights in places like Centennial, where the Corrys ended up winning a ruling that allowed their clients to reopen their business, although the city has since erected more procedural roadblocks. This fervent, sometimes reckless devotion to their political beliefs is the Corrys' one true love, that thing that keeps them plugging along, case by case, until, as they like to say with one of their favorite showy sound bites, Americans no longer have to live under this repressive era of marijuana prohibition.
That's why, in this room full of political lefties, the right-leaning Rob Corry is a hero. He inches through the crowd—followed by two men filming his maneuverings for a documentary—because everyone wants to pay tribute, ask his advice, or snag an autograph. There are copies of the February issue of High Times floating around, and several people ask Rob to sign theirs because he's mentioned in an article about Colorado's marijuana movement. He's careful to keep two copies for himself. Back home, he and Jessica keep baby books for their two girls that chronicle everything Mom and Dad do—well, almost everything—while their daughters are too young to remember, so maybe one day they'll see how their parents tried to help make their kids' world a little bit better. The books include the standard stuff: family pictures, clippings, and other keepsakes. They also include Jessica's pro-marijuana column and pictures of the parents and children with prominent political figures—and soon they'll include copies of High Times, one for Cate, one for Caroline. "I want to give these to them," Rob says as he signs another autograph. "So maybe someday they'll think I'm cool."
Luc Hatlestad is a senior editor of 5280. E-mail him at email@example.com.