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Dave Chappelle’s Marijuana And Psychedelics Parties Don’t Concern Local Sheriff

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Comedian Chris Rock spilled the beans on behind-the-scenes festivities at Dave Chappelle’s recent comedy shows, telling Ellen DeGeneres that the parties have included “way more weed than anyone should ever have” as well as “a lot of mushrooms.”

“Mushrooms, like hallucinogenic mushrooms?” DeGeneres asked in an interview that aired on Thursday.

“Yeah, I was trying to be nice because your show’s on in the daytime, but we do lots of drugs,” Rock replied.

Lucky for the comics, the local sheriff thinks they’re only joking.

For the past several weeks, Chappelle has been hosting a series of socially distanced comedy shows at an outdoor pavilion in the small village of Yellow Springs, Ohio. The show, “Dave Chappelle & Friends – An Intimate Socially Distanced Affair,” has featured comics from across the country—including Rock, Michelle Wolf, Kevin Hart, Sarah Silverman, David Letterman and others—and drawn a cadre of other celebrity entertainers.

“A bunch of comedians fly in every weekend, we get COVID tested and we kinda put on a show,” Rock said, describing a buttoned-down atmosphere of friends. “It’s a bunch of us just having fun, being comics,” he explained.

Asked by DeGeneres about rumors of mushroom tea being served, Rock confirmed that certain drugs were common at the events. “Dave’s got, like, a weed–mushroom chef that prepares amazing meals with weed and mushrooms,” he said.

He emphasized that “no hard stuff,” such as cocaine, was provided.

To be clear, both marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms are illegal in Ohio, although possession of up to 100 grams of marijuana carries no jail time and a maximum penalty of $150. The limit is higher in the village of Yellow Springs, where officials last month decriminalized possession of up to 200 grams.

The state Senate voted in July to double the statewide cannabis possession decriminalization limit to 200 grams as well, but the bill has not been enacted into law. Meanwhile, four additional cities will be voting on marijuana reform ballot measures next month.

Possessing psilocybin, classified by the state as Schedule I controlled substance, is a criminal offense.

Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer, however, doesn’t seem too worried about what’s going on at Chappelle’s events. Fischer told local media outlet WHIO that he thought Rock’s comments were probably meant in jest.

“Chris Rock’s a comedian. Chris Rock is probably looking for jokes,” the sheriff said. “People have been making jokes about marijuana and drugs for years. Hopefully that’s what he’s talking about.”

While attendees have reported the smell of marijuana at the events, Fischer added, his department has not received any drug-related complaints about the shows. “To me these are just comments right now, unless we prove otherwise,” Fischer said. “It’s not raised to the level that we would go out en masse and try to make arrests.”

Whether or not the Ohio stories were all comedy, Chappelle’s fondness for psychedelics is well documented. When he was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, Chappelle proposed to fellow comedian Aziz Ansari that they trip on psilocybin mushrooms to celebrate. Ansari accepted, dedicating the dose to Twain himself.

Earlier this summer on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, comedian Tiffany Haddish said that she drank mushroom tea at a Chapelle event despite not normally doing drugs. “I went to Dave Chappelle’s to do some comedy,” Haddish said. “I got peer pressured into drinking the tea.”

What followed was a psychedelic trip, Haddish said, in which everyone around her—including actor Jon Hamm—began to resemble actress Phylicia Rashād.

In his interview with DeGeneres, Rock claimed that drinking the shroom-infused tea is what led Haddish to shave her head. “Tiffany Haddish drank the mushroom tea and cut her hair the next day,” Rock said. “I know she likes to act like, ‘Ooh, Common told me he loved me with no hair.’ No no, it was the mushroom tea talking.”

On a podcast in 2019, Joe Rogan claimed Chapelle once rented out a movie theater for a private film screening and took mushrooms given to him by a stranger. “We have this private screening of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, at one o’clock in the morning,” Rogan said. “Dave is eating mushrooms that some fucking guy gave him in the crowd.”

Beyond laughs, Chappelle’s openness about substance use has also made a serious impact on the drug policy reform debate. Former NAACP head and Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous, for example, said it was Chappelle who first convinced him that marijuana should be legal.

In her interview this week with Rock, DeGeneres said she’d be wary of tripping. “I think I would be freaked out,” she said. “Everyone that goes there drinks the mushroom tea?”

“Yeah, man!” Rock said. “We’re in a cornfield in a pandemic. What have you got to lose?”

For now, the comedy celebrations are on hold. Last week, organizers canceled six remaining shows due to coronavirus concerns after what organizers described as “a possible exposure within our inner circle.”

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Photo courtesy of YouTube/Kennedy Center

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Ben Adlin is a Seattle-based writer and editor. He has covered cannabis as a journalist since 2011, most recently as a senior news editor for Leafly.

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