The Dope Tapes: A 20-year-old collection of cannabis media
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Michael and Michelle Aldrich are perhaps two of the most notable cannabis activists you've never heard of. Their archive "The Dope Tapes" consists of decades-old drug media.
The name Michael Aldrich won’t mean much to most people reading this. But Michael happens to be responsible for one of the biggest cannabis archives in the world.
Living near the San Francisco Marina District with his wife Michelle Aldrich, Michael is the author of “The Dope Tapes,” a collection of videos documenting American media reports and broadcasts on cannabis and other drugs.
The Dope Tapes begin in January 1986, which is when Michael and his wife first got a VCR machine. By 2006, Michael and Michelle were in possession of over 600 hand-labelled VHS tapes documenting over 20 years of America’s reporting on drugs in the media.
The tapes feature everything from news reports and music videos to movies and commercials. There’s no transition between one clip and the next; they simply start whenever Michael hit record after hearing “dope” get mentioned on TV.
The collection is not limited to tapes, as Michael also owns over 30 years of news clippings on cannabis and drugs.
THE ACTIVISM OF MICHAEL AND MICHELLE ALDRICH
But the tapes aren’t all Michael has to his name. He is also the secretary of Patients Out Of Time, a non-profit organization aiming to educate health professionals about the medicinal benefits of cannabis.
In 1970, Michael also authored “Marijuana Myths & Folklore,” the first ever PhD dissertation on cannabis in the US while at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
And he isn’t on his own; Michael’s wife Michelle is also a renowned cannabis activist. In November/December 2011, Michelle was diagnosed with two tumors; one in her lung and another in her kidney. She had been using cannabis since the 1960s.
In 2013, Michelle published an article in O’Shaughnessy’s titled “Cannabis Healed My Cancer.” The article detailed Michelle’s diagnoses and her battle with cancer, which came to an end a few years later. Michelle claims it was a “milagro oil,” a concentrate somewhat similar to Rick Simpson oil that did the job.
Today, both Michael and Michelle continue their work to put an end to the criminalization of cannabis and inform the public about the plant, its effects, and its potential as a medicine. Besides this, Michael is also continually working on his collection of drug paraphernalia, which includes everything from pipes from all across the globe to early editions of the Hasheesh Eater (The US’ first piece of literature focusing on cannabis).
Michael and Michelle’s Dope Tapes are readily available on Archive.org.