Weed Wars

Dispatches from the California Marijuana Front

April 27, 2010
Shasta Lake antiques dealer cashes in on marijuana history

Thumbnail image for lee chairs 002.JPGWhen one of California's oldest drug stores closed in Weaverville four years ago, Shasta Lake antiques dealer Chris Jennings seized the day like a shrewd investor.

He bought up dozens of old medicinal bottles and pharmacy containers once used for administering and dispensing cannabis. Now Jennings and his wife, Sandra, are making a small fortune selling pre-Reefer Madness editions of pot collectibles from the late 1800s and early 1900s.

He has traveled across California, and to New York and Washington, to buy up antique bottles labeled for liquid elixirs that contained marijuana elements.

He has 1880s California drug store jars for "Cannabis Sativa" and "Cannabis Indica" and empty, turn-of-the-century bottles for liquid weed elixirs.

"These things have been used for the same symptoms since ancient times," Jennings says. "They were sold in drug stores and pharmacies up until the 1930s. Now they're being brought back on the market" as collectibles.

Jennings has been so successful in acquiring cannabis antiques that he and his wife renamed their business. It used to be Absolutely Wonderful Antiques. Now, it's Absolutely Wonderful Cannabis.

lee chairs 003.JPGHe has found a steady clientele in people involved in California's burgeoning medical marijuana trade.

"It has ballooned the market, completely ballooned it. I have a whole new customer base," Jennings said. "People in this business have disposable income. And they're interested in the history of the people who have used (marijuana) before them."

Jennings is no pot activist. He says he neither smokes marijuana nor embraces the culture. And he turns down any deals offered in weed.

"People are constantly asking me if I want to trade for product," he says. "Absolutely not - only cash or check with an i.d."

Pictured: Top - Antiques from the legal cannabis era. Below - Jennings pitches his pot collectibles. Peter Hecht/phecht@sacbee.com

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