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Higher Learning Comedy Festival lives up to its name, delivering laughs and a contact high.

by Chuck king
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BOCA RATON – Cheech and Chong would have been proud.

Anyone who stumbled upon Wednesday’s Higher Learning Comedy Festival immediately grasped the concept.

The 420-themed show literally oozed a distinct aroma – and to producers Peggy Ching and Mike Cintron, that’s exactly what they envisioned.

“First we want to make sure we’re educating the community on the medical benefits of cannabis, CBD and marijuana,” Cintron said. “And then, No. 2, we’re raising funds for Jenifer Perdomo, one of the original advocates for legalizing marijuana in the Florida state. She’s battling Stage 4 lung cancer.”

Wednesday’s free event, held at the Boca Black Box, featured two comedy shows (the second running more than a hour late – go figure), a medication room that could have smoked a brisket, vendors hawking marijuana-related products, a vegan food truck (proof that stoners with the munchies will eat just about anything) and enough weed to make Snoop Dogg blush.

“Definitely people have been medicating early today,” Cintron said.

Dr. Peggy Ching who gave up her life as a surgeon to become a medical marijuana doctor and comic, launched the show with a bit of an educational seminar detailing how 420 came to be a defacto national get stoned day and preaching the medicinal benefits of marijuana.

Later she performed a comedic set.

“I’m very pleased with the turnout,” said Ching, who says she emailed 25,000 invitations to her patients inviting them to the show.

It may seem like cheating for a comic to perform in front of an audience already so stoned to the bejesus that the color of the paint on the wall elicits a giggle, but that wasn’t necessarily the case.

Some attendees had been celebrating the annual arrival of April 20 since sunrise – maybe even pre-dawn – leading to plenty of blank stares.

“It was a good crowd,” comic Charly Esturihlo said. “They were definitely high. And I thought they were responsive as much as they could be at that level of toxicity.”

Of course, the festivities affected some of the comics, too.

“I had a fun time going up there with the crowd,” Warren Scott said. “I probably got too high before I went up there but I think that was the point of the show. I think the audience is loving it.”

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