In 1990 the Republican candidate for state attorney general, Don Hanaway, criticized the annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival at the state Capitol, suggesting pot had a deleterious effect on intelligence. Masel, a rally organizer and bud aficionado who that same year ran for governor as a Republican, responded by challenging Hanaway to a chess match. Hanaway wisely declined.
"Bennett Masel," observed John Patrick Hunter of The Capital Times, "is a hell-raising rabble-rouser who has the uncanny ability to get the Establishment's goat."
And sometimes its attention, as when he's touted the potential of industrial hemp or successfully sued police for infringing on his free-speech rights. Mostly, Masel has earned a reputation; over time, he's also earned respect, and recent news of his advanced lung cancer has occasioned much sadness.