Feathered Bastard

Mary Jane Smokewear: Making Phoenix Dope One Toker at a Time

As Jack Nicholson's character writes over and over again in The Shining, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

Which is why I decided to take a break last night from immigration, Sheriff Joe, and all the drama here in Mari-Kafka County and pay a visit to the creators of Phoenix's Mary Jane Smokewear, a team that provides the public with dope designs to blaze by.

There is a segue, however. Previously, I've run into John Avila, one-half of this budtastic partnership, over at the Tonatierra Community Development Institute, where civil rights leaders Sal Reza and Tupac Enrique Acosta keep their headquarters. Avila was hawking anti-Arpaio T-shirts at the time.

Now Avila and partner Zack Maita have developed a line of apparel devoted to cannabis culture, including hats, T-shirts, ladies' tank tops and shorties, and so on, much of it tagged with the Mary Jane logo.

"We wanna take this marijuana culture into the mainstream," Avila told me at the pair's print shop near 48th Street and McDowell Road. "It's already happening. We've got a good niche, and we decided to run with it."

Indeed, a number of states have legalized medical marijuana, most notably the People's Republic of California (God bless it). Arizona also has a medical marijuana proposition on the ballot this year, though it's not as liberal as in other states.

Avila and Maita, however, are promoting the overall acceptance and legalization of pot smoking, in hopes of ending prohibition on the plant.

"You're going to take a lot of dope dealers out of business if you regulate it," argued Avila. "Plus make a lot of money for the state."

But the Mary Jane team doesn't beat you over the head with messaging. Rather, the designs are streetwear stylish, with T-shirts that read, "I Amsterdam," "Got Kush?" and one that says, "I (heart) AZ," with the heart replaced by a marijuana leaf.

They've also got a line of "Recession Proof" Tees, featuring -- ahem -- a $420 bill.

So far the Mary Jane brand has been featured in such fine publications as Skunk and Nug magazines, and Avila and Maita are gearing up for a big push during Phoenix Fashion Week, coming in October.

They've been pimping the line for about a year now, and almost sold out of what they had on them during the Cypress Hill Smokeout last year in San Bernardino, California. So far, they're not using hemp as a fabric, but they say they plan to do some hemp clothing eventually.

You can find their products either online at maryjanesmokewear.com, or in local shops such as Suburban Underground and Paraphernalia Boutique.

Playing devil's advocate, I asked the pair if they thought their fashions would increase drug use amongst the youth. Avila had a good response for that.

"I would say that marijuana, if it's legalized, would be a hell of a lot harder for minors to get than how it is now," he asserted. "If anybody wants weed, you ask a high school kid, he'll get it for you. But if you ask them to get a beer, chances are they've got to ask an adult."

Too bad I don't know any high school kids. They could tell me where to score.

Lighten up, people, it's a joke. No, really...

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons