Changing the Face of Cannabis

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December 29, 2008 - And Let Not Mankind Bogart Love

December 26, 2008 - Eartha Kitt Preached Lady Bird on Pot
Among the many accomplishments of the fabulous, dearly departed Eartha Kitt, she was James Dean's dance teacher and also taught kids in LA's Watts district, earing her an invitation to Lady Bird Johnson's Women Doers lunch on Jan. 18, 1968 that was to focus on juvenile delinquency.

During the question period, Kitt stood up and said, "Boys I know across the nation feel it doesn't pay to be a good guy." She moved in closer to the First Lady and said that boys don't want to behave for fear of being sent to Vietnam saying, "You are a mother too though you have had daughters and not sons. I am a mother and I know the feeling of having a baby come out of my guts. I have a baby and then you send him off to war. No wonder the kids rebel and take pot. And Mrs. Johnson, in case you don't understand the lingo, that's marijuana." (Source: David Murphy, Texas Bluebonnet: Lady Bird Johnson)

Kitt said within hours of the event, she was blacklisted after LBJ put the word out to the media that he didn't want to see "that woman" anywhere. The loss she suffered is incalculable, since she had just hit as TV's Catwoman #2. She appeared in only three memorable Batman episodes and didn't work again until she played Scheherazade in UK's Up the Chastity Belt (1971). More recently Kitt voiced Yzma in The Emperor's New Groove movies, and was the fortune teller in the 2007 Dope and Faith episode of TV's American Dad. Catch Eartha, who died on Christmas Day at the age of 81, performing "Santa Baby" with some friends.

Jim Carrey Says Yes?
Talking about doing bungee jumping stunts in his new movie "Yes Man" on TV's "Ellen" (12/17), Jim Carrey said, "I’m thinking, If there is a God, How do I explain that trip to Amsterdam when I was 19 and saying Yes to everything?"

Reefer Madness Hits Japan
"First a sumo wrestler, then an actor, now students at elite universities and a tennis player -- the list of people caught using marijuana has sparked fears of reefer madness in Japan." So begins a 12/17 Reuters Life! story By Yoko Kubota. The article reports pot arrests are up 19% in Japan, although only 1% of 18-year-olds admitted to using it in 2006. Authorities are looking to close a legal loophole that allows seed sales even though unlicensed germination is illegal.

The Family That Keeps on Giving
Wasilla, Alaska resident Sherry L. Johnston, mother of Bristol Palin's boyfriend, faces a Jan. 6 court date for an oxycontin-related arrest at her home by Alaska State Troopers, McClatchy News reported.

R.I.P. Dock Ellis
Dock Ellis, the Pittsburgh Pirate All-Star who pitched a no-hitter while on LSD in San Diego on June 12, 1970, died in Victorville, California on December 19 of a liver ailment. Ellis helped take the Pirates to their World Series win in1971 and played for the Yankees, the Mets, Oakland and Texas. He told The Los Angeles Times in 1985 that he began using drugs as a teenager, started to have alcohol problems while in the minor leagues, and “never pitched a game in the major leagues I wasn’t high.” His former agent Tom Reich said, "I've been in this business for 40 years and there was never a more standup guy..."He didn't take nothing from nobody. He was very much ahead of his time." (Compiled from NY Times and AP reports.)

Good News for Hemp
Obama's Ag Pick Backs Cellulosic Ethanol

December 15, 2008 - Not Your Granny's Brownies
First it was Polly Bergen baking pot brownies on Desperate Housewives. Now Charlotte Ray, the actress best known as the housemother on the 1970s TV series The Facts of Life, accidently doses the ER cast at their Christmas party with her special brownies, made for a friend in chemo. One astute observer wonders if the "High Holiday" episode is "a wink and a nod" to ER's creator, Michael Crichton, co-author of Dealing or The Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues who died Nov. 4 of cancer.

More Ganja Globes
Much has been made of the Golden Globe nomination of James Franco for his role as a pot dealer in in Pineapple Express, instead of his turn as Harvey Milk's lover (who also smokes pot) in Milk. Also nominated, along with Weeds and Entourage, are VIPs Shirley MacLaine and Susan Sarandon.

December 12, 2008 - Christmas Creed
"Moroccan Christmas," the episode of NBC’s “The Office” that aired on December 11, had a quick shot of actor/character Creed Bratton smoking a hookah. Bratton, who plays the surly/spacey Quality Assurance man at the office, may be the first TV character ever to play himself, or at least a character by the same name, in a recurring sitcom role.

Turns out Bratton was the guitarist from the 1960s band The Grass Roots before beginning an acting career, which he comes by honestly: his grandfather was the art director on the much-loved silent movie "The Thief of Bagdad.”

Between 1967 and 1972, The Grass Roots set a record for being on the Billboard charts for 307 straight weeks. They are one of only nine bands that have charted twenty nine or more Top 100 Billboard singles, and have sold over thirty million records worldwide.

The Office’s first-season “Drug Testing” episode is not to be missed for Steve Carrel’s line, “Sure Cheech and Chong were funny, but think how funny they’d be if they didn’t smoke pot.” But the show too often resorts to jokes about Bratton’s forgetfulness, and deletes scenes where he shows his musical talent, as when he upstages his boss by playing “Smoke on the Water” on the “Booze Cruise” episode. In a deleted scene from the episode "Goodbye Toby,” Creed gives his departing co-worker Toby the number of his friend Jorge in Costa Rica, who has "this amazing coffee that you snort."

Bratton sang one of his own songs titled "Spinnin' N Reelin'" in the episode "A Benihana Christmas," which will re-air on Tuesday, Dec. 16 at 10:00 or 10:30 PM on TBS. See “Moroccan Christmas” at

December 10, 2008 - Put Puff on Your Christmas List
Although its co-authors Peter Yarrow and Lenny Lipton deny it has any marijuana references, "Puff the Magic Dragon," penned in 1959, is now a Barnes and Noble children's book. And for adults on your list, apparently gift shops in Hanalei, Hawaii feature unauthorized merchandise of Puff, well, puffing. The song's still worth a listen by Peter Paul and Mary or this sweet slack-key version.

December 9, 2008 - Schnabel to Safer: Yes, I did.
Painter/filmmaker Julian Schnabel had this exchange with Morley Safer of 60 Minutes about moving to Brownsville, Texas at the age of 15:

"We were living in the marijuana hub of the United States," Schnabel remembers.

Asked if he was a "doper" himself, Schnabel says, "A doper? You mean did I smoke marijuana or take LSD? Yes, I did. Was I in the drug trade? No."

Schnabel, 57, commands upwards of $1 million for his paintings, and has received acclaim and awards for his films, such as "Basquiat" (1996) and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (2007). He drops in on an interview with Lou Reed this Wednesday on Elvis Costello's excellent new Sundance Channel show, "Spectacle."

One hundred years ago, painter Pablo Picasso (born nearly 70 years to the day before Schnabel) took hashish and had a vision that may have changed art forever.

December 8, 2008 - Kennedy Center Honors Potheads
VIPs (l-r) Pete Townsend, Barbra Streisand and Morgan Freeman are among this year's Kennedy Center honorees. First Lady Laura Bush introduced honoree George Jones (4th from left) who detoxed from alcohol and cocaine after he was introduced to coke in the 1970s by a manager. VIPs Jack Black, Joss Stone, and Rob Thomas performed at the awards show, which will air December 30 on CBS.

November 28, 2008 - Four Christmases, One With Marijuana
"From redneck 'rasslin' brothers (Jon Favreau) to pothead mothers (Sissy Spacek) to big-boobed breeder siblings (Kristin Chenoweth), Brad and Kate learn the value of family and like many who enjoy an unorthodox lifestyle, are manipulated into living like everyone else in order to make the moral majority feel better about the cages in which they have trapped themselves." This is how describes Four Christmases, the new movie starring Vince Vahan and Reese Witherspoon. In it, Spacek plays yet another pot-puffing psychotherapist.

In 2004's A Home at the End of the World, Spacek played Alice, a "prim and proper" woman introduced by her son's friend to "the joys of marijuana, which she smokes almost eagerly at first with her two boys, and the three dance about the room in the most delightful scene in this film." Spacek is on the board of The Jefferson Center, which looks for examples of free-speech infringement for its "Muzzle Awards."

Tales of Prohibition
As the National Geographic channel presents their special "Marijuana Nation" on Tuesday December 2 at 7 PM, the alcohol industry prepares to celebrate 75 years since the repeal of their prohibition on December 5 . Also harkening back to the Jazz Age, it's revealed in the season's final episde of HBO's "Entourage" that Vinnie's next role will be as Nick Caraway in a modern "The Great Gatsby," aka "The Great Grass-by"

More Pot Clubs than Starbucks?
The San Francisco Chroncle blog took comments about erroneous statements from the federal government claiming medical marijuana clubs outnumbered Starbucks in San Francisco.

Starbucks took its name from one of the first mates in Moby Dick, the other two mates being Flask and Stubb. Starbuck is a sober Quaker, with a name perhaps derived from the nautical term "starboard," meaning the right side of a vessel. Flask is described as “a short, stout, ruddy young fellow, very pugnacious,” obviously transubstantiated alcohol. Stubb's nose resembled the pipe he constantly smoked, and he caught a whale with a magical hemp line. (Details in the forthcoming VIP book Hidden Delights: Cannabis in Literature. )

While SF city officals have capped the number of cannabis clubs in their city at 24, and Starbucks boasts 71 locations there, it seems Flask is by far the winner: San Francisco has over 1000 liquor stores.

Prohibition Plays Little Role In Teens’ Decision To Abstain From Marijuana, Study Says


Bush's Bizarre Pardon List
Once again this year Bush pardons a handful of drug dealers and other criminals

Researchers find oldest-ever stash of marijuana
A 2,700-year-old stash of cannabis has been found by researchers in a tomb in China. The 789-gram stash was clearly "cultivated for psychoactive purposes," rather than as fiber for clothing or as food, says a research paper in the Journal of Experimental Botany. Researchers speculate the Caucasian man found wth the pot was a shaman of the Gushi culture, near Turpan in northwestern China.

November 27, 2008 - Pamela Anderson to Obama: Legalize It!
Actress and animal rights advocate Pamela Anderson has written an open letter to US President-elect Barack Obama, saying:

"I think we should legalize marijuana, tax and monitor - farm hemp etc. This would make our borders less corrupt and then I think eventually this will be a more secure option and save children in the long run - we should be able to farm hemp in America - it's just silly. It would create jobs and be good for the environment."

(She also advocates closing Guantanamo Bay, freeing Leonard Peltier, and castrating suspected child molesters.)

Meanwhile, Anderson's former hubby Kid Rock has a hit with "All Summer Long", reminiscing about "when we were trying different things, and we were smoking funny things..." mashing licks from the Marshall Tucker Band and Warren Zevon. He performed the song on his Thanksgiving Day VH1 Storytellers episode, where he skipped the word "stoned" in the chorus of his his other new tune "So Hot":

Because you know you're so hot
I wanna get you alone, so hot
I wanna get you stoned

November 21, 2008 - Summum In the Air
The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments from a religious group, the Summums, who believe that Moses was given seven aphorisms before he came down the mountain with the ten commandments. The group sued to have the aphorisms posted at a public building.

The aphorisms are actually pretty cool. And the Summum's sacraments are federally outlawed "nectars" made in a Salt Lake City pyramid. Maybe the nectars were what Al-Kidhr, "The Green One" shared with that trippy guy, Moses.

Shown left: Joe Cable as Moses in the upcoming Forfeiture 101 DVD from FEAR (Forfeiture Endangers Americans Rights.)

November 9, 2008 - ONDCP Wrong Again
Just as an admitted inhaler is elected President of the United States, the US Ministry of Propaganda (otherwise known as the ONDCP or Drug "Czar's" office) has unleashed their latest ridiculous ad campaign, stating, "Hey, not trying to be your mom, but there aren't many jobs out there for potheads." In addition to burrito taster, the ads suggest couch security guard and TV remote control operator as career paths for potheads.

One blogger invites all to Digg the page - List of successful admitted pot-smokers.

See our VIP list and list of jobs held by cannabis cogniscenti.

November 7, 2008 - VIP Obama To Lead Free World/Marijuana Initiatives Carry
Who says potheads can't be elected to office? Apparently, they can when the voters turn out. VIP Barack Obama's admissions about pot and cocaine use didn't prevent him from winning the US presidency by the largest margin since Lyndon Johnson ( LBJ was probably not a pothead; though JFK reportedly was.)

So far Obama's advisors come from the "investment" community, not the human rights ones, though we may get John Kerry for State, he of the contra-cocaine hearings. Citizens' visions for America can be sent to

In the same election, Massachusetts and Michigan eased their marijuana laws, Michigan for medical and Massachusetts for all. This despite our drug "czar" wrongly claiming cannabis clubs outnumber Starbucks in San Francisco as a reason Michigan should vote it out. According to California NORML, the number of dispensaries in SF is limited by city ordinance and has never exceeded 40. By contrast, the ABC reports that there are 3,500 licensed alcohol outlets in SF.

Only 12 years after California and Arizona were the first states to legalize marijuana for medicine, one fourth of US citizens now live in states with legal medical marijuana.

Pot Quote du Jour
The always astute VIP Bill Maher on the relative legality of short selling and marijuana:

"They're now putting an end to something called 'short selling,' which is when you borrow stock that you don't own, and sell it, hoping that it will go down so that you can buy it back at a profit. This was legal, but pot smoking isn't?"

Don't miss Maher's movie Religulous, in which he attends a Cannabis Ministry in Amsterdam. Coincidently, VIP Lewis Black has a new book out called Me of Little Faith. As VIP John Trudell noted on his recent, remarkable concert tour, you can either think or you can believe.

High Expectations
Research into medicinal marijuana grows up

Another You Tube Debut

October 30, 2008 - Can Obama Capture the Midwestern "Pot Mom" Demographic?

See the full episode.

The idea of a pot mom isn't so far-fetched.

Cal State Long Beach professor and novelist Diana Wagman wrote a column earlier this year called, What my cancer taught me about marijuana, subtitled Why I – and a surprising number my friends – smoke pot in which she wrote, “What really shocked me was how many of my old, dear, married, parenting, job-holding friends smoke pot."

And last year, a Phoenix woman surveyed hundreds of local mothers through her Web site,, targeting women in affluent suburban areas. Fifty-two percent said they smoke pot at least 10 times a year, and twenty-seven percent said they smoke it one to seven times a week.

Beauty and the Baggie
"Two of the most notable effects of marijuana use are that it makes a person hungry and it makes a person forgetful. Maybe that's what was happening with Lindsey Evans, Miss Teen Louisiana, over the weekend," writes Michael Thompson of Associated Content. Evans made headlines when she and her party buddies walked a restaurant check, leaving behind her purse containing a baggie of marijuana. Thompson continues, "Is it possible that even though the public likes a juicy story, maybe folks could give this a rest? We've had presidents of the United States, and Supreme Court nominees, who have admitted to smoking the stuff...." Just what I've been saying. Evans lost her crown but looked great in her mug shot. I see a High Times pictorial in her future.

Uganda Poultry Farmers for Pot
Veterinary doctors from Makerere University have requested politicians to stop harassing poultry farmers for growing marijuana, reports
Ali Mambule of the New Vision website. Dr. Rebecca Nalubega from the university’s veterinary department said local poultry farmers rely on cannabis to treat their chickens.

More Economic Arguments
In a Huffington Post article titled, Take the Handcuffs Off the Economic Recovery, Eric Sterling writes, "In 2005, federal, state and local taxes collected on tobacco and alcohol totaled $35.1 billion. America's 20 million marijuana smokers paid no taxes on their marijuana [except for medical marijuana patients at California dispensaries]. Depending on rates, $5 to $15 billion could be raised from marijuana taxes."

October 20, 2008 - VIP Ray Manzarek Speaks at NORML Conference

Nader: Lock Up the Real Criminals Instead
Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader held a news conference to outline his plan to empty prisons of non-violent drug offenders and replace them up with corporate criminals. Free Speech Radio News did an informative segment on the topic.

The Stoned Age
The London Telegraph ran a story saying "researchers have found equipment used to prepare hallucinogenic drugs for sniffing, and dated them back to prehistoric South American tribes."

Edie Adams, RIP
Edie Adams, the beautiful singer who was married to trippy TV pioneer Ernie Kovaks, has died at the age of 81. Famous for her sultry delivery of the tagline for Muriel cigars, "Why don't you pick one up and smoke it sometime?" Adams played Tempest Stoner in Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke (1978).

October 18, 2008 - Hedge Fund Wizard Backs Hemp, Marijuana Legalization
According to New York Magazine, Andrew Lahde, 37, the head of Santa Monica–based hedge fund Lahde Capital Management, who quit after posting an 870 percent gain last year betting against subprime mortgages, became something of a folk hero today after his awesome, Jerry Maguire–like farewell letter to clients made the rounds."

"I was in this game for the money. The low hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale, and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking. These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government. All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy, only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America."

He went on to call for a return of the philosopher king and a George Soros-sponsored forum on forming a government "that truly represents the common man’s interest" including the legalization of industrial hemp and marijuana:

"It gets you high, it makes you laugh, it does not produce a hangover. Unlike alcohol, it does not result in bar fights or wife beating. So, why is this innocuous plant illegal? Is it a gateway drug? No, that would be alcohol, which is so heavily advertised in this country. My only conclusion as to why it is illegal, is that Corporate America, which owns Congress, would rather sell you Paxil, Zoloft, Xanax and other additive drugs, than allow you to grow a plant in your home without some of the profits going into their coffers."

Lahde needs to realize he is the new George Soros and put his money where his heart is.

How to Lose Friends & Alienate People
Along with this week's ho-hum movie debuts (Mark Wahlberg as a vigilante DEA agent in a film based on a video game, and another lose your virginity/road trip story) comes How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, about a British writer struggling to fit in at a high-profile magazine in New York, based on Toby Young's memoir about his days at Vanity Fair.

The film's star Simon Pegg, when told Jeff Bridges had been cast, exclaimed, “ I ’m gonna work with the dude!" VIP Kirsten Dunst reportely has her best role in years in the film, which reunites her with Mother Night producer/writer Robert B. Weide (directing this time). Dunst will also star in the upcoming Sweet Relief (2009), the story of Marla Ruzicka, founder of the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC), an organization that counted civilian casualties and assisted Iraqi victims of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.

October 12, 2008 - Happy Indigenous People's Day

Moore No Marijuana Saint
According to DigitalSpy, Roger Moore, star of TV's "The Saint" and one of film's 007s, "has hinted that he was a marijuana smoker in the past." In an interview with Jonathan Ross, Moore said was surprised to find an ashtray at anti-tobacco crusader and VIP Tony Curtis's home in the 1970s, two months before Curtis was caught at Heathrow Airport with marijuana. Ross asked Moore if he had ever shared a marijuana cigarette with the star, to which Moore replied: "No... not with Tony."

This would make Moore the second known James Bong, the first being VIP Pierce Brosnan.

An Orwellian Past
According to The Orwell Prize postings of George Orwell's diaries, the author of Animal Farm and 1984 tried "kiff" in Morocco in 1938. His diary entry from October 9 of that year says:

"Arab drug kiff, said to have some kind of intoxicating effect, smoked in long bamboo pipes with earthenware head about the size of a cigarette holder. The drug resembles chopped grass. Unpleasant taste & -- so far as I am concerned -– no effect. Sale said to be illegal, though it can be acquired everywhere for 1 Fr. For about a tablespoonful."

Another writer who travelled to Morocco, VIP Paul Bowles wrote,

“The Moroccans were constantly talking about majoun, which mighty otherwise be described as cannabis jam. Often I had accepted a pipe of kif when it was passed to me, but since I never inhaled the smoke, I had not received the effect and still thought of kif as a bad-tasting sort of tobacco.”

Though his first majoun “tasted like very old and dusty fudge from which all flavor had long since departed,” this “in no way diminished its power.” Going to the top of a mountain, he felt himself “being lifted, rising to meet the sun. . . .In another hour my mind was behaving in a fashion I should never have thought possible.”

Bowles wrote, “[T]he user of cannabis is all too likely to see the truth where it exists, and to fail to see it where it does not. Obviously few things are potentially more dangerous to those interested in prolonging the status quo of organized society.”

Orwell had that part down, kif or no kiff. Presciently, 1984 was the year Nancy Reagan Just Said No, although Kitty Kelly says she may not have.

Text Messaging Impacts Psychomotor Skills Far More Than Cannabis, Study Says

Sept. 27, 2008 - Paul Newman, Sweet Bird of Youth, Dies at 83
It is with sadness we report the death of Paul Newman of lung cancer. The New York Post blog reported that Newman, a former (tobacco) chain smoker, was diagnosed with cancer last year, forcing him to pull out of a reunion project with Robert Redford.

Newman was photographed wearing a razor blade on a chain around his neck at the height of the Hollywood cocaine-snorting heyday. After his only son, Scott, died of an accidental alcohol and Valium overdose in 1978, Newman set up a drug abuse prevention foundation in Scott's name, as well as a charity that sends kids with illnesses to camp, funded by Newman's Own food sales. According to Democracy Now, Newman was an anti-nuclear peace activist who protested the Vietnam war.

In the 1962 film Sweet Bird of Youth, Newman played a young hustler who tries to extort money from an aging actress with a hashish habit (played by Geraldine Page, pictured with Newman at right). The 2005 HBO miniseries "Empire Falls," featuring at least two pot-smoking characters, earned Golden Globes for Best Miniseries or Movie and Best Supporting Actor for Newman. No one asked what he was smoking on that ladder.

September 26, 2008 - Doobies Down Under
"Australia's acting prime minister admitted Friday she had smoked marijuana as a university student, but said it was no big deal," reported AFP. "At university, tried it, didn't like it," said Julia Gillard (pictured left), the deputy prime minister, who is standing in for Kevin Rudd while he attends the UN General Assembly in New York.

"I think probably many Australian adults would be able to make the same statement so I don't think it matters one way or the other," said Gillard, who has been an Australian Labor Party member of the Australian House of Representatives since October 1998, and now serves as Minister for Education, the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and also the Minister for Social Inclusion. She is the first woman to hold the position of Deputy Prime Minister.

Gillard made the admission in a radio interview after a similar confession on television by opposition leader and multi-millionaire former merchant banker Malcolm Turnbull. Turnbull, who took over the leadership of the conservative Liberal Party earlier this month, said he regretted smoking cannabis.

"Yes, I've smoked pot," he said, drawing laughter from the live studio audience on ABC1's Q&A program. ""I think most well not most, many people have, it was a mistake to do so....I think now, with what we know about marijuana, I think it is a very serious drug and it is a drug that we should strongly discourage everybody, be they young or old, but obviously particularly young people, from using."

Turnbull rose to the public's attention as the successful advocate in the Spycatcher trial (he blocked the British Government's attempts to suppress the memoirs of a former MI5 agent), and later wrote a book on the trial. Turnbull was chairman of Axiom Forest Resources, which conducted logging in the Solomon Islands under the trading name Silvania Forest Products, managing director and later a partner of Goldman Sachs, and chair of a large Australia Internet Service Provider, Ozemail, which was sold to MCI Worldcom.

The latest admissions bring to at least four the number of self-confessed marijuana smokers on the front benches of Australia's parliament. Treasurer Wayne Swan and environment minister Peter Garrett, former frontman for the rock group Midnight Oil, have admitted smoking cannabis in their university days. And opposition frontbencher Tony Abbott confessed to having a "half-hearted puff" during a rugby tour to the US. Swan said that smoking marijuana as a student at the University of Queensland in the 1970s was not "a Mick Jagger experience," and that unlike Bill Clinton and Tony Abbott, he inhaled.

Far from stirring outrage among the electorate, the only immediate reaction to Turnbull's confession came from the director of the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre. "I'm just sending him an email now congratulating him on his refreshingly honest, straightforward and well-informed response," said Jan Copeland. Copeland she said hoped the message would help to further lower the nation's rates of cannabis use, particularly among males in their teens and 20s.

Statistics show that 750,000 Australians out of a population of 21 million use cannabis weekly while 300,000 use it daily and that it is still the nation's most common illicit drug.

Prime minister Kevin Rudd, whose nickname "Saint Kevin" took a bit of a battering when he admitted last year to a long-ago drunken night in a New York strip club, has not commented on whether he has smoked pot.

Just a Good Old Boy, Never Meanin' No Harm...
Former Dukes of Hazzard TV star Tom Wopat (right) failed to outrun the law when he was caught with marijuana at an airport in Wisconsin. According to, security staff found 1.2 grams of weed on Wopat as he passed a security checkpoint at Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport. The actor was allegedly handed an on-the-spot $500 fine, which he paid. A veteran of Broadway shows like "Annie Get Your Gun" and "42nd Street", the 57-year-old actor is currently starring in the Broadway musical "Chicago."

(If you see the Dukes of Hazzard movie, be sure to stick around for the last scene where the politicians exit Willie Nelson's tour bus.)


Over 20 Million Screwed
NORML's Paul Armentano calculates the 20 millionth arrest for marijuana will be made on October 10.

VIPs included among those US arrests are: Louis Armstrong, Dan Aykroyd, Candy Barr, Lord Buckley, Neal Cassady, Macaulay Culkin, Bob Denver, Art Garfunkel, Gene Krupa, Mezz Mezzrow, Robert Mitchum, Willie Nelson, Anita O'Day, Aaron Sorkin, and Ron White. I feel so much safer now.

Dark Days for Chocolate
Hershey's has begun omitting cocoa butter from several of its products, substituting insted cheaper vegetable oils and winning FDA approval to use the words "“chocolate candy,” “made with chocolate” or “chocolatey” for their non-chocolate chocolate. Whatchamacallit, Milk Duds, Mr. Goodbar and Krackel candies no longer have milk chocolate coatings, and Hershey’s Kissables are now “chocolate candy” instead of “milk chocolate.”

The Bangkok Post reported their Food and Drug Administration has asked distributors to temporarily remove Oreo wafer sticks, Dove milk chocolate bars, M&M chocolate candies, Snickers caramel peanut bars and nougat, Mentos yoghurt candies, for fear they contain tainted Chinese milk. The United States has imported two million pounds of a milk protein called casein this year, along with other powdered milk proteins that are used as ingredients in many processed foods, according to figures from the USDA, according to a New York Times story.

But who got prosecuted? Tainted, Inc. , an Oakland-based manufacturer of cannabis candies sold to medical marijuana patients. After sweating out the possibility of a 37-month federal prison sentence, all got probation after pleading guilty.

September 22, 2008 - Palin Patter
That unimpeachable news source The ENQUIRER quotes unnamed sources to back up its "exclusive" story that Sarah Palin's oldest son, Track, 19, and pregnant sister Bristol, 17, party even harder than the Bush twins.

"I've partied with him (Track) for years," a source disclosed. "I've seen him snort cocaine, snort and smoke OxyContin, drink booze and smoke weed." Of 17-year-old (now pregnant) Bristol, another "family friend" said, "Bristol was a huge stoner and drinker. I've seen her smoke pot and get drunk and make out with so many guys. All the guys would brag that the just made out with Bristol." Now Track will join the army while Bristol breeds the next generation of cannon fodder.

The following week (9/29) the Enquirer followed up with a story claiming Bistol was caught smoking pot on video when she was only 15 (but showed no photographic evidence). “Bristol smiles at the camera, puts her lips around the pipe and inhales deeply. She holds the smoke in for a while, exhales, coughs a few times and then laughs uncontrollably...It was just another regular night of partying for Bristol and the other wild kids in Wasilla,” says the story, which also alleges that Track sold OxyContin pills "for a lot of money."

The more believable Jacob Sullum of Reason magazine had a piece in the Chicago Sun Times on 9/18 noting, "As Wasilla mayor in 2000, Palin championed a city council resolution opposing a ballot initiative that would have legalized marijuana for adults. In March her administration asked the Alaska Supreme Court to reverse its 1975 decision shielding private marijuana use, arguing the drug is more dangerous than it used to be.

"In other words, Palin got to smoke pot without worrying about legal consequences and now wants to deny that assurance to fellow Alaskans doing exactly the same thing. 'Palin doesn't support legalizing marijuana,' the Anchorage Daily News reported in 2006, because she worries about 'the message it would send to her four kids.' It's Palin's job to teach her children that certain pleasures are reserved for grownups. The government should not continue to arrest adults who are harming no one simply because her children are easily confused."

White Speaks, Jokes About Minor Pot Bust
Ron White appeared on The Regular Guys show on Atlanta's Rock 100.5 FM to discuss his recent pot bust in Florida. After the DJs suggested he could crib from the apology just issued by Atlanta Falcon Lawyer Milloy after a DUI charge, White responded, "A DUI, that’s a big deal. I had 7/8 of a gram of marijuana. If it was 7/8 of a gram of a dead girls’ underwear, that would be a crime." He added, "I didn’t know that much was illegal. I’ve been in Florida a lot and I didn’t know they had any laws."

White said he thought the policemen were approaching him for an autograph when three cops and a drug dog met his plane. The dog gave a false positive on the plane and also alterted to White's bag. Driving him to jail, "I swear we drove past three meth labs and a dead hooker. ...They say they catch a lot of big-time dealers that way, but I say if you’re looking for a rabid pit bull and you don’t find one, don’t shoot a collie." He confirmed that he set pizza to the jail after he was released.

On White's next stop in Mississippi, six cops were waiting for him after another anonymous tip. Asked if that sort of thing changed his lifestyle, White replied, "There's not very much pot on the plane and we smoke out of an apple—the edible pipe. It worked that second night."

"I have a prescription for medical marijuana," White said, joking, "I get bummed when I run out of weed, and marijuana cures that." He then added, more seriously, "My life is busy and people are chewing on me, so I could eat a handful of Zanax and feel fine, or I can smoke some weed and my doctor says smoke some weed." He admitted to having a one-hitter on the plane that he uses, on doctor's orders, when he feels anxious.

"Eventually [medical marijuana] will be available all over the place," White opined. "It’s four or five states now (actually, 12). "Literally you can blow a joint into a cop car in Santa Barbara," he said. (Sadly, not true.) Of medical marijuana in California, White said, "What happened is they took what was going on underground, brought it above ground and taxed it and now everybody's happy and the court system isn’t clogged with cases of victimless crimes." (Sadly, also not quite true.)

As to the anonymous informant who fingered White, he speculated it was one of the pilots who reported him for a May 11 incident when he got angry with them and fired them. White said it was because they showed up two hours late. "He smokes marijuana like a chain smoker smokes cigarettes," one of the pilots, Scott Wolcott, said of White, and the other pilot, Chris LaPlante, told a reporter the pilots used oxygen masks against marijuana smoke on the plane. The FAA website has no report on the incident.

"Do you get mellow when you’re stoned? You don’t go tearing the place up?" White was asked. "I don’t know anyone who does that on weed," was the response.

White said he has received "an outcry of support like something really happened. Country people, rock and roll people, but I won’t say who because you’ll say they endorse my horrible behavior, which isn’t much different than your horrible behavior." Of the incident, he said, "It’s spiked record sales, book sales....It lends credibility to other stories because they know this one is true."

See the four-part interview at:

And check out this YouTube debut, "Living the Outlaw Life."

I'm Proud to Be a Barber from Muskogee
"We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee," pot-lover Merle Haggard sings in his spoof, "Okie from Muskogee." But on September 19, the Muskogee Phoenix reported that Johnnie L. Tarkington, 52, was arrested at his Muskogee barber shop after a search warrant was served and about a half pound of marijuana was seized. Two marijuana buys by an undercover cop were recently made at the shop, police said, adding, “There was a whole lot more than haircuts and shavings going on at the old barber shop.”

Tarkington was booked into Muskogee County/City Detention Facility on complaints of possession and distribution of marijuana. Perhaps he'll get credit for helping the local populace abide by Haggard's lyric, "We don't let our hair grow long and shaggy/ Like the hippies out in San Francisco do." Read the lyrics and get a complimentary Okie from Muskogee ringtone for your "cell" phone (which Ron White argued he ought to have been able to use in his jail cell.)

Are You Experienced? Artie Is
No sooner had we added Peter Boyle to the VIP list, than we spied an interview with Boyle's "outer" Artie Lange in the current High Times magazine. Lange recounts taking a trip to Amsterdam with fellow Howard Stern show staffers, and smoking a blunt in a coffeehouse. "I don't know if it was psychological because I was in Amsterdam, but it was the smoothest, best experience I'd ever had with it. I walked all through the city, and the best way I can describe it is like the Jimi Hendrix song, 'Are You Experienced?' was beautiful." Those who haven't tasted the beautiful freedom on Amsterdam can check out the High Times 21st Annual Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam this November.

September 13, 2008 - Ron White Fingered for Florida Arrest
A jealous lover? A comedic rival? or was it just a mean person who tipped off Florida police that illegal drugs were being carried aboard a plane from Los Angeles. As Ron White's private jet touched down on September 10, Vero Beach police used K-9s to find less than 3 grams of marijuana and a pipe on the cooperative 51-year -old comedian, known for his appearances on The Blue Collar Comedy Tour with Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and Larry "The Cable Guy." According to a police spokesperson, White said the marijuana was for medical purposes but could not provide a prescription. He lives in Beverly Hills, California.

White, who commonly appears onstage with a glass of whiskey and a cigar, is known as "Tater Salad" from a joke about getting booked into a Texas prison under that name. According to White's Web site,, the Blue Collar Tour sold out shows in more than 90 cities and grossed more than $15 million. The DVD sold more than 1.5 million copies and the sequel, "The Blue Collar Comedy Tour Rides Again," has sold more than 2 million copies.

White was booked into Indian River County Jail at 6:07 p.m. Wednesday and released at 8:06 p.m. after posting $1,000 bail. He went on to perform at two sold-out shows, presumably with more material than he had before.

In an incident earlier this year on White's plane, he allegedly stormed the cockpit after drinking too much. His first CD was titled "Drunk in Public." Perhaps White has, or needs, a medical recommendation for alcoholism.

Interior Department: Sex, Drugs and Scandal
"A culture of substance abuse and promiscuity" has prevailed in the Interior Deparment's royalty-in-kind program, according to three reports by the Department's inspector general Earl E. Devney. Several officials at the agency, which collects about $4 billion in oil and gas royalties annually, "frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives." In an environment "devoid of both the ethical standards and internal controls sufficient to protect the integrity of this vital revenue producing program," officials also accepted gifts like golf, ski and paintball outings from energy companies "with prodigious frequency," and allowed them to revise their bids to purchase oil and gas after agency acceptance, the reports say.

Gregory W. Smith, the former royalty-in-kind program manager, reportedly purchased cocaine several times a year between 2002 and 2005 from his secretary, with whom he also had a sexual encounter. Smith also reportedly forced another employee to perform oral sex on him in his car. The Justice Department has declined to prosecute Smith, who retired in 2007, but they've plenty of time to go after nice guy Charles Lynch for running a California Cannabis Coop, one of dozens of such federal cases.

McCain Drug Scandal Re-Surfaces
More in the Republican drug scandal arena: a September 11 Open Left article by Matt Stoller, Did McCain Tamper with the Drug Enforcement Agency to Protect His Career? interviews whistleblower Tom Gosinski about the time Cindy McCain was facing federal charges and, experts say, a 20-year prison sentence for obtaining "a controlled substance by misrepresenting, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge" through her former charity, the American Voluntary Medical Team. Gosinski claims John McCain used his political connectinos to blackball him in the Republican party, and had a henchman bring extortion charges against Gosinski. A September 12 front-page Washington Post story said the McCains claimed Gosinski tried to extort $250,000 from the McCains over the scandal (for which Mrs. McCain did no time.)

Franco is Frank in GQ
James Franco, who plays a pot dealer in Pineapple Express, graces the cover of September's GQ magazine next to the headline: "James Franco, The Next James Dean: If James Dean Were Funny and Did Stoner Comedies."

In the article, Franco (born on Bicycle Day, 1978) laments some of his movie choices, stressing he does not mean his recurring role in the Spiderman flicks, and not mentioning Pineapple in that context. But he did have some amusing anecdotes:

“Already,” he relates, “I have had people come up to me in cafés and say, ‘Hey, you’re James Franco, right? Hey, I can’t get hold of my guy—do you know where I can buy some good weed?’ ...I’ve had someone come up to me and be, ‘Hey! What’s up, man?’ and give me a handshake and palm me a little bag of weed.” (The same thing happened to VIP Robert Mitchum after his 1948 pot bust.)

Franco told GQ, in a confessional tone, “I haven’t done drugs, I haven’t even smoked pot, since high school.” He is currently taking 62 credits at UCLA and will appear as the lover of Harvey Milk, played by Sean Penn, in the upcoming Milk. "Oh, my God, I’m kissing Spicoli," was Franco's thought (referring, of course, to Penn's role as the stoner in Fast Times at Ridgemont High). Franco has been trying his had at writing, directing and producing and will appear as VIP Alan Ginsberg in Howl (2009), also starring Mary-Louise Parker of Weeds.

Speaking of James Dean, Franco won a Golden Globe for portraying him in a 2001 TNT movie, and John Gilmore's book Laid Bare outs Dean as a pot smoker. Known to be a fan of VIP Lord Buckley, Dean was the subject of one of Buckley's monologues.

Flashing Back
I just got my new Flashback Books catalogue, full of interesting items, including:

-A rare blue cloth binding first edition of Fitz Hugh Ludlow's The Hasheesh Eater: Being Passages from the Life of a Pythagorean (1857);

-An "unusually fine" signed first edition of VIP Norman Mailer's Advertisements for Myself, in which he defends marijuana smoking "and how it brought him back to sex," with much more on hipsters and Beats;

-A first edition of Really the Blues (1946), signed by its authors VIP Mezz Mezzrow and Bernard Wolfe;

-Richard Schultes's "Hallucinogens of Plant Origin" reprinted from Science (1969) and signed;

-A signed first edition of Terence McKenna's Food the the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge (1992);

-Papers from SOMA, the British organization that ran ads in 1967 advancing marijuana decriminalization signed by the recently-knighted Beatles and other luminaires;

-"A review of the Biomedical Effects of Marihuana on Man in the Military Environment" (Dept. of Army, 1970);

-A signed copy of Tommy Chong's The I Chong: Meditations from the Joint (2006) with extra materials;

-A signed first edition of Robert Clarke's Marijuana Botany (1981);

-A limited edition double CD of Rolling Stone Brian Jones's presentation of the Master Musicians of Joujouka, "whose Sufi trance sound is informed by their use of kif and hashish." With liner notes by Jones, William Burroughs, and Brion Gysin (who contributed the hashish fudge recipe to Alice B. Toklas's cookbook);

-Some choice selections from VIP Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary, and much more.

The catalog is available for $10 postpaid, send to Flashback Books, P.O. Box 471659, San Francisco, CA 94147.

Start the Conversation
VIP Rick Steves' collaboration with ACLU, Marijuana, It's Time for a Conversation, has posted online interviews with Richard J. Bonni (co-author, The Marijuana Conviction); Jack A. Cole (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition); John P. Morgan, M.D. ( Professor Emeritus of Pharmacology at the City University of New York Medical School) and others. Share them with your family and friends!

Getting off the Skunk Train
The NORML blog picked up on the news that VIP Jacqui Smith lied about increased potency of marijuana when she pushed for harsher drug laws in Britain. The myth of dangerous "skunk" weed has been promulgated by VIPs Richard Branson and Pattie Boyd.

September 6,2008 - Shirley, You Jest!
Shirley MacLaine's 11th book, SAGE-ing While AGE-ing (2007, Atria Books) contains the following passage: I've never done a line or coke or taken any drugs for recreation. But once Robert Mitchum gave me some bang brownies, and I thought I was walking around in my own brain cells (fascinating, by the way). And I smoked pot in a hotel room in London, and afterward nearly ate the furniture, I was so hungry.

Since MacLaine recounts being so fearful of gaining weight she once told mafioso Sam Giancana to go fuck himself for trying to make her eat some spaghetti, perhaps the munchies were one reason she chose not to further explore the "fascinating" experience of "bang" (presumably, bhang, but it's cute her way). One of the experts she quotes, Dr. John Mack of the Department of Psychology at Harvard, noted that the use of psychedelic substances is one way to challenge the prevailing materialistic-dualistic worldview, but MacLaine, 74, choses other means, exploring UFOs, star beings, numerology, synchronicity, past lives and more in her far-reaching book. It's funny she doesn't notice that Mitchum's 1948 arrest came just after the Roswell UFO sightings and the National Security Act.

Of drugs, she writes: In the sixties, when nearly everyone was experimenting with drugs, my friends explained how they loved being high because they could see the possibility of joy and love, etc. It has been proven [she doesn't say how] that liquor and drugs dull and block out the lower energy senses that we suffer from and allow us to experience the higher levels of who we can be--and really are. We can then become addicted to the higher experience. ...

Somewhat wisely and compassionately she adds: Many people who are interested in expanding their conscious use drugs...the Timothy Leary approach. Yet our legal system puts millions of people behind bars every year for trying to block out lower energy senses and find the higher potential. Why doesn't our legal system teach rehabilitation through meditation and prayer so the people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol can find their higher power another way?

MacLaine says the ghosts who lived in her New Mexico home told her that drugs "make the soul incapable of the beautiful experience of passing." Aldous Huxley, for one, would disagree with that.

MacLaine will appear on Regis & Kelly on September 8 and will receive an award at the Toronto Film Festival on September 10.

Cannabinoids Conquer Bacteria
Source: Antibacterial Cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa (Journal of Natural Products)

The antibacterial properties of marijuana have been known since the 1950s, and have now been linked to the plant's cannabinoids. A study by Italian and British researchers has found cannabinoids to have "potent antibacterial activity" and "exceptional" activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

The team investigated the antibacterial profile of the five major cannabinoids Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), cannabinol (CBN), and their chemical cognates. The researchers chose to focus on the nonpsychoactive cannabinoids, although all showed antibacterial activity. Topical treatments against MRSA and other pathogens are one promising future product.

The researchers state, "Given the availability of C. sativa strains producing high concentrations of nonpsychotropic cannabinoids, this plant represents an interesting source of antibacterial agents to address the problem of multidrug resistance in MRSA and other pathogenic bacteria. This issue has enormous clinical implications, since MRSA is spreading throughout the world and, in the United States, currently accounts for more deaths each year than AIDS." But they warn, "Several studies have associated the abuse of marijuana (Cannabis sativa L. Cannabinaceae) with an increase in opportunistic infections, and inhalation of marijuana has indeed been shown to interfere with the production of nitric oxide from pulmonary macrophages, impairing the respiratory defense mechanisms against pathogens and causing immunosuppression."

Sumo Wrestles with Marijuana, Fraud, Abuse
Russian siblings Roho and Hakurozan (pictured, left), tested positive for marijuana in urine samples taken by Japan's sumo wrestling association a month after another Russian, Wakanoho, became the first sumo wrestler to be expelled in the sport's 2,000-year-history when police found a marijuana cigarette in his wallet.

"The revelation of drug use among sportsmen known for their Spartan training methods and supposedly disciplined lifestyle is a huge embarrassment for the sumo authorities," said UK's Guardian newspaper, which reported the head of the sport faced calls to resign over the Wakanho incident because the wrestler was his protege.

Wakanoho, 20, was arrested after admitting he had bought a small quantity of the drug in the Roppongi district of Tokyo, the Guardian reported. A pipe used for smoking cannabis was found in his apartment.

The sumo association said it had carried out surprise tests on all 69 wrestlers in sumo's top two divisions. Only Roho, 28, and Hakurozan, 26, tested positive, officials said. "It is possible that they inhaled very recently, probably within the last two days," said Shohei Onishi, a sumo anti-doping official. Both wrestlers denied smoking marijuana, but later admitted to having smoked it in Los Angeles in June. Although possession of marijuana is punishable by up to five years in prison, Japanese law carries no penalty for simply smoking it.

"Sumo authorities are under mounting pressure to show zero tolerance towards drug use as it battles to salvage its already tarnished reputation," reported the Guardian. "Earlier this year Junichi Yamamoto, a stable master, was arrested on assault charges following accusations that he had ordered the beating by three of his wrestlers of a 17-year-old trainee in June last year. The victim collapsed and died the following day. Sumo elders have also had to fend off accusations of match fixing and have been ordered to clamp down on the widespread physical abuse of younger wrestlers."

Non-Sumo Sports News
A Denver-based marijuana policy reform organization is decrying the estimated $300,000 fine levied by the National Football League against New England Patriots running back Kevin Faulk for marijuana possession. Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER) is calling for changes to the NFL's marijuana policy via an on-line petition and an official letter to Commissioner Roger Goodell that the organization delivered to the league's office in New York City on September 5.

"The NFL has no problem with players using alcohol and it accepts hundreds of millions of dollars to promote booze to football fans of all ages," said SAFER Executive Director Mason Tvert. "Yet the league punishes those players who make the safer choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol to relax and recreate. The NFL is driving its players to drink." Faulk is on one year's probation after he was stopped and searched while attending a February 22 Lil Wayne concert at the Cajundome in Lafayette, Louisiana. Four hand-rolled cigars containing marijuana (aka "blunts") were found on Faulk, who pleaded no contest to the charges in July.

Meanwhile, Mario Chalmers, the Miami Heat rookie guard who "miraculously" helped Kansas win the NCAA championship five months ago, and his former Kansas teammate Darrell Arthur were reportedly caught in their room with two women at the NBA's mandatory rookie transition program, held at a resort in Rye Brook, N.Y. Security officials say they detected the scent of marijuana coming from the players' room, although no drugs or drug paraphernalia were found.

Both Chalmers and Arthur denied smoking marijuana, but even having guests in the room broke NBA policies. They will have to repeat the class next year. Both could be fined up to $20,000 and still may face a suspension at the start of the season.

And Penn State police, responding to a call about noise violations at the campus Nittany Apartments, said they smelled a strong odor of marijuana. Obtaining a search warrant, they seized 5 roaches; 3 small samples of suspected marijuana; a bag of marijuana with an empty cigar from a trash can; mixed pills outside a trash can; a can containing a marijuana roach; and a bag of marijuana in a trash can. No immediate charges were filed, but Maurice Evans and Abe Koroma, who play end and tackle on the Penn State football team, were suspended from play. Evans was crying before Saturday's game against Oregon State, according to defensive end Josh Gaines. Coach Joe Paterno didn’t say Saturday when Evans, an All-American candidate, or Koroma would return to the team.

Pot & Palin: Joe Biden, Drug Warrior
By the ever-astute Fred Gardner for Counterpunch

Putting the Grass in Grass
A nationwide group of marijuana legalization advocates has announced a prize for the first person to genetically modify any common food to produce the active ingredients in marijuana. The group’s web site lists plants that are the best candidates for the genetic modification. They will also consider other plants that could be consumed by humans, such as ordinary lawn grass.

Technical papers describing the processes used will be published at More details are available at:

September 1 - Read It and Veep
It must have been a bitter moment for VIP Hillary Clinton and her supporters when Clinton was acknowledged by 44-year-old Alaska Governor Sarah Palin after she was chosen by John McCain as his running mate. The only major-party woman left in the race is an anti-abortion conservative and lifelong NRA member with two years' experience as governor, following holding office as mayor of a small Alaska town. But at least she admits to smoking pot. "I can't claim a Bill Clinton and say that I never inhaled," Palin said during her 2006 gubernatorial run.

Biden: His Time
Meanwhile Joe Biden, VIP Barack Obama's 65-year-old running mate, is the man who wrote the bill that gave us a "drug czar." Biden is disliked by Tommy Chong, who went to prison under Biden's law, but the Drug Policy Alliance's Ethan Nadelmann points out that he has at least tried to rectify one of the most egregious injustices of the war on drugs.

Biden is on record saying he would end the federal raids on medical marijuana patients a house party in Canterbury, New Hampshire, on May 12, 2007. He added, "But you know that one of the things we have got to deal with is the issue of pain management. I spent a lot of time in the hospital, fortunately I wasn't, for most of the time, in serious pain. But, you know, lying there for 59 days in an ICU unit you see people and hear people in pain. We have not devoted nearly enough science or time to deal with the pain management and chronic pain management that exists. There's got to be a better answer than marijuana. There's got to be a better answer than that. There's got to be a better way for a humane society to figure out how to deal with that problem."

California AG Brown Gets Into the MMar Act
In a move that the Wall Street Journal ties to his plans to run for Governor again, California Attorney General Jerry Brown seems to have joined the ongoing cannabis-club raiding gold rush the feds have been enjoying. On August 22, the day of the first state Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement raid of a club since the days of the dastardly former AG Dan Lungren, Brown issued medical marijuana guidelines designed to “ensure that medical marijuana is not diverted to illicit markets.” Read California NORML's analysis of the new guidelines.

Brown, who was elected California’s Governor in 1974 and reelected in 1978 by over one million votes, saw his populist 1992 run for President derailed by an anonymous accusation that he smoked pot in the Governor’s mansion, made by a man who appeared on television with his face and voice obscured. Brown’s reaction, which should have been, “So what—I dated Linda Ronstadt too,” was instead so unnecessarily defensive it helped sink his campaign.

BNE's raid of Today’s Healthcare in Northridge club resulted in the arrest of the club’s owner and a suspected middleman between the club and Northern California growers, and netted a total of six pounds of marijuana and $9000 in cash. It's a far cry from the estimated $100 million in sales tax the club contribute yearly to California's coffers.

Meanwhile, I just Stumbled Upon the Curb Your Enthusiasm moment where Larry buys pot from a street dealer for his ailing father. Yeah, this is so much better than buying from a club. If we get McCain/Palin, we can have back alley abortions again too.

Blasting the Stoner Stereotype
An article in Blast magazine quotes successful college students who like to get high. It declares:

The days of the "stoners" lying on the grass in hippie attire, munching on snacks and going nowhere with their lives has disappeared. The typical "stoner" has been replaced with a well-dressed, put-together college student who does well in school and blends in seamlessly with the rest of the student body....Students are smoking cannabis while studying, writing papers and taking tests and doing extremely well while they're at school.

"I think that it adds to my quality of life and my educational experience," said Megan, who regularly does her school work while under the influence of marijuana. "There are a lot of people who feel the same way and I think that will lead to the legalization." Read more.

War on the Sythians, and others
Look for an upcoming piece in Junior Scholastic on the Georgia-Russia war by former High Times senior editor Steve Wishnia. He writes, "While I was researching it, I found that some people in the area are believed to be descended from the ancient Scythians. The Scythians, as those of you who are up on your herbal history know, were the first recorded pot-smokers in the Western world. In 440 BCE, the Greek historian Herodotus wrote that they would put a plate of hot stones in a tent, throw buds on the stones, go in and inhale the smoke, and emerge 'howling with pleasure.' On the other hand, the Scythians were not your stereotypically peaceful pot smokers. They were a warrior tribe that enjoyed drinking their vanquished enemies' blood." Wasn't Spartacus as Scythian?

Labor Day marks the anniversary of the 2001 shooting death of Tom Crosslin of Michigan's pro-pot Rainbow Farm at the hands of federal and state police. The following morning Crosslin's companion Rolland Rohm was also shot and killed. See Memorial Day Weekend 1997 at the farm, "featuring speeches from Gatewood Galbraith, (The Last Free Man In America), Jack Herer (Godfather of The Hemp ...Movement), Chris Conrad, (Hemp Guru), & Elvy Musikka, (Federal Medical Marijuana Patient & advocate) & Master of Ceremonies Derrik DeCrane."

"Imagine returning home after work to take a shower before an evening meeting. Suddenly, your door is broken down, your two Labrador retrievers are shot, and you are interrogated for hours while handcuffed in your boxer shorts as you watch your beloved dogs bleed to death before your eyes. It sounds like the twisted plot of a horror movie about a home invasion, but these events actually happened in Prince George's County, Maryland, outside Washington, D.C. on July 29, 2008, to Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo and his family." Thus begins a letter at the Drug Policy Foundation action site to the nation's mayors, asking them to stop paramilitary tactics. Read more and take action.

Christmastime at the Lebowskis
The Big Lebowski is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a multi-page story in the new Rolling Stone. A more patient guy than I, Steve Bloom of CelebStoner waded through it for a Christmas Quote.

August 17, 2008 - THC meets THX: A Woman's Review of Pineapple Express
Pineapple Express does The Big Lebowski two better by involving both a pothead (Seth Rogen) and his dealer (James Franco) in a full-blown action flick. It's an entertaining and cleverly realized yarn, despite the tired old elements of warring evil drug gangs, a corrupt cop (albeit in the unusual person of Rosie Perez), and lots of second-act violence, some of it among crazy-looking pot plants. The opening sequence presents just about the most accurate and hilarious depiction of the effects of pot smoking ever filmed, and irresponsible acts like driving while smoking and selling to schoolchildren are part of the over-the-top plot (and properly rebuked, or at least examined).

The inability of Rogen's character to commit to marriage even after a near-death experience is amusingly played in the film, with its "bros before hos" theme. Though his girlfriend is left hanging at the end while more male bonding occurs, the characters do perform some heroic acts worthy of winning a damsel in distress. Perhaps the filmmakers read last year's David Denby review that challenged them to do so.

"Literature was a particular laddish enterprise, the province of young bachelors who usually gave it up when -- or if -- they married," writes Germaine Greer in Shakespeare's Wife (2007, HarperCollins, New York). Shakespeare, who got the 26-year-old Anne Hathaway pregnant when he was 18, left his wife and children behind to pursue his writing in London, probably patronizing prostitutes and having a homosexual affair with his patron, The Earl of Southampton. Initially criticized as lightweight fare, Shakespeare's plays have endured through the ages. And so it continues to go.

The Pineapple Express should ride to big bank in foreign markets, where violence needs no translation. I smell a sequel in the making.

August 15, 2008 - Men and Women on Pot
Men's Journal has an article in their September 2008 issue titled, "Athletes Discover Pot for Pain"--Tagline: "Marijuana works wonders on serious pain related to major illnesses. But could weed also be a better option than over-the-counter drugs for sports injuries and muscle soreness?" by Marc Peruzzi. A table compares cannabis with ibuprofen, acetominophen, aspirin, and naproxen.

And the July 2008 issue of Elle magazine ran an article titled "Pot Stirring". Tagline: "After years of prescription antidepressants that offered no relief from anxiety disorder, Patsy K. Eagen experiments with her drug of choice--marijuana, which for some may be the medicine to send SSRIs up in smoke."

August 4, 2008 - Stoner Flicks Rule
If you had the New York Times delivered on Saturday, chances are the first story that hit your eye was their story Boldly Going One Toke (or More) Over the Line, which not only promoted Sony Pictures' Pineapple Express but treated the stoner comedy as a full-fledged genre, with photos from Reefer Madness and Cheech and Chong through Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Dazed and Confused, Half Baked, The Big Lebowski, and the Harold and Kumar franchise (the first installment of which is airing on cable this week).

New Yorker film critic David Denby, in a scathing review of the the 40-Year-Old Virgin/Knocked Up genre published last July, wrote of Pineapple's director Judd Apatow, "Apatow does the infantilism of the male bond better than anyone, but I'd be quite happy if I never saw another bong-gurgling slacker or male pack again." But nothing succeeds like success, and by October Denby was interviewing writer/actor Seth Rogen and Apatow about their "pothead action movie" at the New Yorker fest, now calling their work "shallow on the surface but with endless depths."

As Cheech and Chong announced they would reunite for a comedy tour (news that got more pick-ups than a press conference for the Barney Frank legalization bill, the first in 23 years) Rogen, 25, appeared on The Tonight Show and Fresh Air with Terry Gross, who asked him if he was depressed during the four years between his TV shows Freak and Geeks (1999-2000) and his first film break. "I was probably too stoned," joked Rogen, who wrote for The Ali G. Show among his other credits. Rogen will appear on The Daily Show on August 5, a day that will go down, no doubt, in stoner history.

Strikingly, the only female lead in the Times's stoner flick list was Anna Faris in the "little seen" Smiley Face (2007), where she plays "a pot-addled would-be actress stumbling through a long, weird day." So, women can get stoned, but they don't have any fun? It's also a shame to see James Franco, who was so appealing opposite Neve Campbell in Robert Altman's The Company (2003) relegated, as nearly all young actors are, to playing comic book heroes or Tommy Chong-style stoners. (I have never once seen a real-life stoner who acts that way, nor does Chong in real life.) But I'm sure I'll enjoy the film, and I actually like Rogen's goofy/sweet/thoughtful/funny persona. I just hope it's not too violent.

After a comedy stint in the musical Reefer Madness (2005), Campbell goes so far as to bare her breasts for attention in I Really Hate My Job (2007), a dreary film that could have used a toke, or an actor not making another Bromance. This as a new Apatow project is anounced by Sony: a Sherlock Holmes/Dr. Watson buddy flick starring Ali G's Sacha Baron Cohen and Will Farrell, written by Etan Coen, whose Tropic Thunder, the ultimate male bonding extravaganza, is due out later this summer. If you read John Gilmore's book Laid Bare, which outs James Dean as a pot smoker, you'll see a movie business run by old gay men. Hey, just like Washington!

How China Got That Way
With all the focus on China for the Olympics (where anti-doping samples will be accompanied by armed guards through the smog-filled streets of Beijing), it's interesting to revisit the role drugs played in the history of China, Britain and the U.S. Read more.

August 3, 2008 - Jobs for Stoners carried this post:

Here is an incomplete list of employment prospects for marijuana smokers:


Vice president
Speaker of the house
Supreme court justice (Clarence Thomas)
Lieutenant governor (David Patterson, now governor)
Congress person (numerous)
Secretary of health and human services
Queen of England
Talk show host

I would add:

Olympic athlete; NBA player, NBA coach, NFL player
Author, painter, actor, director, comedian
Singer, pianist, guitarist, drummer, trumpet player
Anthropologist, physicist, neurologist, psychologist, mathematician
Software mogul, stripper, explorer, mayor

and many more...

July 20 - Ehrenreich in Oakland
Pastor Lynice Pinkard gave a rousing introduction to author Barbara Ehrenreich's talk at the First Congregational Church of Oakland, California on July 15. Pinkard spoke of the two strands necessary for engagement and transformative action: both radical critique plus "celebration and hope in the face of overwhelming odds." She cited Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed, where she took minimum wage jobs in order to report on the world of the working poor, and her book Dancing in the Streets, where she celebrates celebration.

Speaking about her new book of essays, This Land is Their Land, Ehrenreich's talk hinged on the news that the top 1.5 % of the country now is worth as much as the bottom 90%, and most people are "living in their own personal recessions." Of universal health care, she mentioned the environmental news that 41 million Americans are getting prescription drugs in their drinking water -- free! Noting that $10 billion is being spent yearly on veterinary care, she called for making vet care available to all. Since plastic surgery is soaring, why not solve the fuel crisis by building a pipeline for liposuction fat sucked from the ultra rich in Los Angeles. On a serious note, she said that an estimated 18,0000 Americans die yearly from the lack of health insurance, 6 times the number that died on 9/11.

Ehrenreich was asked about Obama's flip-flopping on marijuana legalization, and suggested interested folks log on to his website to make their voices heard. She added that The Nation is drafting an open letter to Obama, reminding him he won't win without the energy generated in the spring which he had because he appealed to progressives. She told this reporter she thought that letter included a statement about marijuana legalization. Along with Tom Hayden and Danny Glover, she signed on to an earlier open letter urging progressives to back Obama. 

Of questions about the recent flap over the New Yorker cover depicting Michelle and Barack Obama as a terrorist and a Muslim, Ehrenreich commented that this country has irony deficiency disease. Maybe so, but Ehrenreich is doing all she can to revive our irony, and our ire. She is on her way to Jobs for Justice events in Portland and Seattle. Now that's she's appeared on The Colbert Report, she can tackle anything.

Obama Not a Deadhead (but close)
Barack Obama made the cover of the Rolling Stone with an editorial endorsement and a revealing interview by Jann Wenner. Reacting to the news that Bob Dylan had endorsed him, Obama said he probably had 30 Dylan songs on his iPod, including the entire Blood on the Tracks album. "Actually, one of my favorites during the political season is 'Maggie's Farm'," he said. " It speaks to me as I listen to some of the political rhetoric."

Remarking that at his RS cover shoot he recognized the Grateful Dead music that was playing, Wenner asked the candidate if he was a deadhead. "I'm not sure I fully qualify as a Deadhead - I don't wear tie-dye and I've never followed them around anywhere. But I enjoy the songs," he said, adding that The Dead played a benefit for him and " I just like them as people."

Asked if he had a musical hero, he named Stevie Wonder (who playd at the Free John Sinclair rally in ). He added his iPod includes a lot of Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Charlie Parker, plus "everything from Howlin' Wolf to Yo-Yo Ma to Sheryl Crow to Jay-Z." There are a lot of drug users there. There was also this exchange:

The War on Drugs has cost taxpayers $500 billion since 1973. Nearly 500,000 people are behind bars on drug charges today, yet drugs are as available as ever. Do you plan to continue the War on Drugs, or will you make some significant change in course?
"Anybody who sees the devastating impact of the drug trade in the inner cities, or the methamphetamine trade in rural communities, knows that this is a huge problem. I believe in shifting the paradigm, shifting the model, so that we focus more on a public-health approach. I can say this as an ex-smoker: We've made enormous progress in making smoking socially unacceptable. You think about auto safety and the huge success we've had in getting people to fasten their seat belts.

"The point is that if we're putting more money into education, into treatment, into prevention and reducing the demand side, then the ways that we operate on the criminal side can shift. I would start with nonviolent, first-time drug offenders. The notion that we are imposing felonies on them or sending them to prison, where they are getting advanced degrees in criminality, instead of thinking about ways like drug courts that can get them back on track in their lives - it's expensive, it's counterproductive, and it doesn't make sense."

On July 1, Obama stated that he opposes a November ballot measure that would ban same-sex marriage in California in a letter to San Francisco's Alice B. Toklas Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Democratic Club.

Pot: An American Pastime

The Time/CNN website posted a story "An American Pastime: Smoking Pot" by Sarah N. Lynch on July 11, which sought to spin the survey published this month in PLoS Medicine, a journal of the Public Library of Science, finding that despite tougher drug policies in the U.S., Americans were twice as likely to have tried marijuana than the Dutch. In fact, Americans were more likely to have tried marijuana or cocaine than people in any of the 16 other countries, including France, Spain, South Africa, Mexico and Colombia, that the survey covered.

Researchers found that 42% of people surveyed in the U.S. had tried marijuana at least once, and 16% had tried cocaine. About 20% of residents surveyed in the Netherlands, by contrast, reported having tried pot; in Asian countries, such as Japan and China, marijuana use was virtually "non-existent," the study found. New Zealand was the only other country to claim roughly the same percentage of pot smokers as the U.S., but no other nation came close to the proportion of Americans who reported trying cocaine.

"Yet experts say the findings of the new survey don't fairly reflect the success or failure of any particular drug policy," the article states. Jim Anthony, chair of the department of epidemiology at Michigan State University and an author of the study, says U.S. drug habits have to do, in part, with the country's affluence. "Another factor may be an increasing awareness that marijuana may be less toxic than other drugs, such as tobacco or alcohol. (However, the study also found that the U.S. is among the leading countries in the percentage of respondents who have tried tobacco and alcohol)."

"One of the questions raised by research of this type is whether Americans will want to continue supporting the incarceration of young people who use small amounts of marijuana," Anthony says.

The ongoing study, which surveyed more than 85,000 people in 17 countries, is part of a larger project through the World Health Organization's World Mental Health Survey Initiative.

Czech archer tests positive for marijuana
Agence France-Presse reported that Czech archer Milan Andreas has tested positive for marijuana and would miss the Beijing Olympics. The 19-year-old said he had taken marijuana in September last year without a thought for the consequences. "The Olympics should have been the height of my career and instead it has turned into the greatest upset," Andreas lamented.

Coffee production touted as alternative for Kalinga marijuana farmers
ABS-CBN reported along with Reuters that the local goverment in Tinglayan, Kalinga "is determined to enhance coffee production to eradicate marijuana plantations in its far-flung villages. One official said marijuana planting is still rampant in the villages of Loccong, Busculan, Butbut and Balay. The municipal government is planning to approach more farmers, particularly those who are cultivating marijuana, and convince them to plant coffee plants instead.

Jerry Baliang, acting regional director of the Department of Agriculture in the Cordillera Administrative Region, said more than 8,000 hectares of land in Kalinga have been converted into coffee farms.

In its 2008 International Narcotics Control Strategy report, the US State Department said marijuana had regained popularity in the Philippines and the drug was also being exported to Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Malaysia.

The report, citing data from the Philippines' Dangerous Drug Board (DDB), had identified at least 60 cultivation sites in the Cordilleras and on the troubled southern islands of Mindanao, Jolo, Basilan and Tawi-tawi.

Warning: Don't Dance Strangely or Leave Your Car Door Open
A teenager whose strange dancing at a Sheboygan festival caught the attention of authorities is now facing drug charges, according to the Associated Press. A criminal complaint says a security officer at Hispanic Fest last Saturday alerted a patrolling police officer about a man who was "dancing strangely." The security officer thought the man was either drunk or high on drugs. The complaint says the police officer noted the man smelled strongly of marijuana, then searched him and found 2.6 grams of marijuana and a glass pipe. Eighteen-year-old Jeffery Holm Jr. of Plymouth was charged with marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. Source: The Sheboygan Press.

And Barenaked Ladies frontman Steven Page, 38, was arrested in upstate New York after police noticed a car with its driver's side door left open. They say they found Page and two women in a nearby apartment, along with cocaine and marijuana. Page, released after paying $10,000 bail, is due in court Thursday.

A story in Canada's National Post called their native son "a noted environmentalist, a political activist, a self-made musician who uses his music as a force for change" and "not just another musician facing another drug charge. ...The Barenaked Ladies are most often associated with aid trips to Africa, benefit concerts and, as of May, children's songs. The band just released its first kids' album, Snack Time, featuring songs about raisins, a loon named Louis and a reggae number about a pollywog turning into a frog." They are scheduled to perform at a concert to benefit four children's charities on Long Island, N.Y., in late August.

The investigating officers also found cocaine inside Mr. Page's Toyota Prius, Manlius police Captain Bill Bleyle said in an interview. No charges have yet been laid in connection with the cocaine found in Mr. Page's car. While early reports suggested Mr. Page faces up to 15 years in state prison if convicted, the maximum sentence would be 5 years, said Mark Mahoney, Mr. Page's lawyer.

"Fans rallied around the singer on various Web sites devoted to the band yesterday, with many expressing disappointment and concern for his well-being, not outrage," the article stated.

Medical Marijuana on Retirement Living TV

July 13 - Now That's Ital-Lion
Peter Popham of The Indpendent (UK) reports the Italian Supreme Court ruled that "smoking or possessing cannabis is not a criminal offence but a religious act when the person doing it is a Rastafarian."

Last year, the same court declared that cultivating even a single cannabis plant was a punishable offence. But now Italy's Court of Cassation has said Rastafarians use marijuana "not only as a medical but also as a meditative herb. And, as such [it is] a possible bearer of the psychophysical state to contemplation and prayer".

The ruling overturned the conviction of a man in his forties from Perugia who was sentenced to 16 months in jail plus a €4,000 (£3,000) fine in 2004 for possession of 97g of marijuana. His religion, the judges said, permits the smoking of 10g per day. Rastafarians smoke the drug, said the court, "with the memory and in the belief that the sacred plant grew on the tomb of King Solomon".

"The government is livid," the article states. The judgment "shatters the laws which forbid and proscribe penal sanctions for" the use of illegal drugs, an Interior Ministry spokesman said. Right-wing politician Senator Maurizio Gasparri said: "Today we learn a Rasta is free to go around with drugs. If somebody belonged to a religion which permitted them to eat their children, would they give them the go-ahead, too?"

But the verdict was received with joy at Rototom Sunsplash, Europe's biggest festival of reggae music, near Udine, in north-east Italy. "Finally the principle of religious pluralism is beginning to make headway," Filippo Giunta, president of the festival, said. "This judgment ... underlines again the difference between this substance and so-called 'hard' drugs, alcohol included."

McCain Gaffes on Tobacco, Viagara
As the news hit that John McCain lost favor with the Reagans when he dumped his wife Carol for beer distributor heiress and former prescription drug junkie Cindy McCain, he was caught on film suggesting tobacco exports to Iran was "one way to kill them." On top of that, he hemmed and hawed mightily over a question raised by former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, the Republican National Committee's "victory chair" who has been mentioned as a VP possibility. Fiorina suggested women should be able to choose a health-insurance plan that covers birth control but not Viagra. "Those women would like a choice," she said. Pressed by LA Times reporter Maeve Reston, McCain had this nonresponse:

High-Tower Right Again
The Marijuana Policy Project has debuted a terrific video of Jim Hightower answering questions about the drug war with his usual highly cogent plain speaking. Hightower has risen from his post as Texas's Agricultural Commissioner to become America's conscience, a Jiminy Cricket to the lying Pinocchios of Politics. Don't miss his reasons why the gateway effect is bunk, or his daily Hightower reports.

(Jiminy Cricket, I find on Wikipedia in looking up its spelling, was originally a euphemism for Jesus Christ, first uttered in Pinocchio's immediate predecessor, 1937's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Another example occurs in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.)

Desired Reading
The July/August 2008 issue of Mother Jones magazine has a great package of stories on criminal justice, prisons, and the drug war. Pickup your copy, or subscribe to this wonderful magazine today, for only $10/year.

Wackness, Harry Potter Stars Grow Up
The Wackness and its writer/director Jonathan Levine have been getting rave reviews since the film won the dramatic audience award at Sundance in January and was picked up by Sony. The Vancouver Sun calls it "the spiritual coming-of-age antidote to Risky Business."

In the film, Nickelodeon star Josh Peck, the pudgy half of "Drake and Josh," plays Luke Shapiro, a sexually repressed teenage pot dealer who trades his product for treatment by psychiatrist Ben Kingsley (pictured, left). "It's definitely a different sort of forum than people are used to seeing me in," Peck told AP. "But I really hope that the Nickelodeon audience can sort of take a leap of faith with me and accept me in this new arena."

Olivia Thrilby, who played Juno's best friend in last year's sleeper hit and Peck's love interest in The Wackness, told the Boston Herald she "most enjoyed filming a scene in Central Park in which she and her co-star shared a weed-laced kiss."

“We were sitting on a rock in Central Park smoking fake joints and filming and we see these people below us smoking real joints. We yelled down to them and tried to tell them we were filming a movie about what they were doing but they were really confused so we decided not to freak them out,” she said. "We were enlightened by the natural aroma though,” she said.

And Daniel Radcliffe, who plays the title character in the Harry Potter films, told Empire magazine of the sixth installment, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, "There is a fair amount of sexual energy and there are some drug parallels. We have a couple of Trainspotting moments [referring to the 1996 Scottish film about a heroin addict.]" He added: "There's a great balance. The light parts are lighter than before, and the dark parts are extremely dark." Which is funny, because The Wackness is all about light and dark (or dope and wackness.)

In other filmnews, Robert Downey Jr. has reportedly signed to play cocaine user Sherlock Holmes. To discern the director's name, you'll have to play the game.

NAME THAT POTHEAD: This British filmmaker left school at 15 with a certificate in film studies and took a job with Island Records, “a period that coincided with a fondness for taking marijuana,” said The Times Online (4/25/2008). He made his name with the surprise hit Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels in 1998. In it, four friends come up with a plan to steal from thieves in the flat next door after overhearing they plan to rip off their pot-growing neighbors. Answers:

Did Paraquat Kill Carrie Hamilton?
I just saw the American Masters profile of Carol Burnett  on PBS, and learned her daughter Carrie Hamilton died of lung cancer in 2002, at the age of 38. Around 1978 Hamilton smoked pot, according to a 1979 People magazine story.

"Mom became the enemy in 1977. After discovering her 13-year-old daughter was sneaking cigarettes, Burnett began to eavesdrop on Hamilton's phone conversations....Soon cigarettes became pot and alcohol; uppers, downers, psychedelics, cocaine and mushrooms followed."

"I was always Carol Burnett's daughter," Hamilton, at 15, explained to People. "When I got high, I wasn't anymore. I wanted my own image." She became a successful performer in her own right, starring in the film Tokyo Pop and co-writing a play with Burnett. But doctors diagnosed Hamilton with lung cancer in August 2001, and three months later found the cancer had spread to her brain.

According to the American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 73, Issue 7 784-788 (1983), " In March 1978, 13 (21 per cent) of 61 marijuana samples from the southwestern United States were found to be contaminated with the herbicide paraquat, a pulmonary toxin, in concentrations from 3 to 2,264 parts per million. The source of the contamination was an aerial spraying program in Mexico, supported indirectly by United States funds." Paraquat is toxic to the lungs. Friendly fire, indeed.

One Thing Potheads Are Good At
Leah Garchik's column in the San Francisco Chronicle of 7/8/2008 reports that for the 13th year straight, Bolinas beat Stinson in the July Fourth Tug-o-War. "How do those skinny tie-dyed potheads manage to beat us every year?" moaned one competitor.

The Dog Doesn't Disappoint
The Ottawa Citizen reported on July 7 that 45 minutes into Snoop Dog's performance, the "renowned pothead" caught a whiff a banana-sized joint near the stage and demanded a hit, after which he loosed up and his show improved considerably. Elsewhere, Snoop's wife of 11 years had DUI charges dismissed when it could be proven she was under the influence of marijuana.

July 7 - Limbaugh: "I thank God for my addiction"
VIP Rush Limbaugh appears, puffing a big cigar, on the cover of Sunday's New York Times Magazine. The accompanying article by Zev Chafets reveals charming stuff like the fact that Limbaugh has been playing a spoof called "Barack the Magic Negro" to the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon" on his show. Limbaugh says he doesn't even know where PBS is on the radio dial, which is fine because we don't know, or care, where he is either. Of Bill O'Leilley Limbaugh says, "The man is Ted Baxter."

Chavets interviewed Florida psychologist, Steve Strumwasser, who was hired by Limbaugh’s lawyer, Roy Black, after Rush's 2006 bust for "doctor shopping" prescription pain medications. (The article doesn't mention that Limbaugh received 2,000 pain pills prescribed by four doctors in six months' time, and used his maid to buy his drugs. Then there was the off-label Viagara episode, not mentioned either.)

“I assessed Rush, and I saw he had a problem he couldn’t control,” Strumwasser told Chavets. According to Strumwasser, Limbaugh had previously tried twice to stop using drugs on his own and failed.

Limbaugh told Chavets, “I thank God for my addiction. It made me understand my shortcomings...My problem was born of immaturity and my childhood desire for acceptance. I learned in drug rehab that this was stunting and unrealistic. I was seeking acceptance from the wrong people.”

Though he's on record saying drug users should be "convicted and sent up," Limbaugh himself was booked in and out of jail in April 2006 faster than you can say "maggothead." And one observer, fellow California DJ Randy Raley, debunks Rush's assertion that he only puffed pot twice.

Tony Newman of the Drug Policy Alliance weighs in on the topic in his piece, Rush to Judgement. And has an
interesting new article about the deadly nature of prescription drug abuse What's Killing America's Drug Users?, citing a new state of Florida study about which the New York Times reported that the "rate of deaths caused by prescription drugs was three times the rate of deaths caused by all illicit drugs combined." The Florida study "attributed not one death to cannabinoids—you know, marijuana and hashish," wrote Slate.

Science Stuff

ScienceDaily (July 3, 2008) reports that scientists from Hungary, Germany and the U.K. have discovered that our own body not only makes chemical compounds similar to the active ingredient in marijuana (THC), but these play an important part in maintaining healthy skin. This finding on "endocannabinoids" just published online in, and scheduled for the October 2008 print issue of, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology ( FASEB) Journal could lead to new drugs that treat skin conditions ranging from acne to dry skin, and even skin-related tumors. "This research shows that we may have something in common with the marijuana plant," said Gerald Weissmann, MD. "Just as THC is believed to protect the marijuana plants from pathogens, our own cannabinoids may be necessary for us to maintain healthy skin and to protect us from pathogens." It is also suggested that these agents can be efficiently applied locally to the skin in the form of a cream.

Wired magazine reports that a chemical in marijuana, beta-caryophyllene, has been proven effective to treat pain, inflammation, atherosclerosis, and osteoporosis. Jurg Gertsch, of ETH Zurich, and his collaborators from three other universities learned that the natural molecule can activate a protein called cannabinoid receptor type 2. When that biological button is pushed, it soothes the immune system, increases bone mass, and blocks pain signals -- without causing euphoria or interfering with the central nervous system. The chemical has not yet been proven to be safe and effective in humans.

Meanwhile, Big Pharma Is in a Frenzy to Bring Cannabis-Based Medicines to Market and in its largest report ever on the topic, The World Health Organization Documents the Failure of U.S. Drug Policies

July 4, 2008 - Be the 100,000th Unique Visitor to has nearly reached 100,000 unique visitors (by the Bravenet counter -- we're getting more, plus tons of "hits" by our new counter). If you are the 100,000th visitor, you can win the original prototype to the new Name that Pothead card game, featuring 102 famous potheads in six categories. Here's how to win:
1. Visit
2. Click on "VIPs" to get to the page
3. Scroll to the bottom of the page to view the hit counter. If it says "100,000," print the page and send it along with your name and address to: Conscious Communications, POB 1203, Redway CA 95560. (Allow 6 weeks for delivery.)

Pothead of the Month: Rob Thomas
Rob Thomas, the singer/songwriter of the highly successful band Matchbox Twenty, was interviewed on tour in the March 6 Rolling Stone surrounded by his dogs, DVDs, scented candles, and "a blue bong he hits between sentences." Now Thomas tells CelebStoner he's a "huge" pothead and advocate for legalization.

The second you hear Thomas's voice you know he's full of conviction. His band combines lush musicality with rocking urgency and angst. He's not afraid to say he's been wounded by love, and has a genius for capturing the little moments that define relationships, and life.

Interestingly, Thomas's first band was called Tabitha's Secret. Perhaps he is aware of Tabitha's Weekend (6 March 1969), the episode of TV's Bewitched in which Tabitha turns herself into a cookie. In it, Endora (the grandmother witch) is offered brownies by Darrin's (straight) mother. "Those wouldn't be from a recipe by Alice B. Toklas, would they?" Endora asks. When told they were not, "Well then, never mind" is her answer.

Higher Education Chronicled
"I never would have made it this far in graduate school without the aid of marijuana," begins a July 2 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education written under the pseudonym Tom Quincey. It continues, "I think my pot smoking has helped smooth out the roughness of a Ph.D. program. And frankly, I think the disturbing issue with a younger generation of graduate students is that they don't toke up enough. Instead many indulge in things far worse, both for them physically and for the humanities..."

Noting he is not recommending daily smoking, the author writes, "But if you use the substance judiciously, marijuana can remind you that 'intellectual labor' is really a form of Play, and infinitely preferable to most of the jobs your peers are drudging through. Hence, I accept Paul Bowles's basic distinction between an alcohol-drinking culture and a cannabis-smoking culture, with the latter encouraging inwardness and creativity." The author recounts using pot to blast through writer's block in a way liquor could never do, and encourages his readers to eschew hard drugs and join NORML. "Together we'll resist the soulless forces of materialism and corporate conformity. And maybe someday I'll be able to write a column like this under my real name." Now there's an Independence Day message.

Jesse Helms Dead at 86
Ex-Senator Jesse Helms, who Helms once said his job was to derail the freight train of liberalism, is dead at 86. A champion of North Carolina tobacco growers, Helms single-handedly stopped the nomination of fellow Republican, then-Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, as ambassador to Mexico because Weld supported medical marijuana. Helms tried in 1983 to filibuster legislation to make Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a national holiday.

Highly Recommended: Wonderful Tonight
Wonderful Tonight, the autobiography of rock muse Pattie Boyd, for whom George Harrison wrote "Something" and Eric Clapton wrote "Wonderful Tonight" and "Layla," confirms some rock and roll drug stories and reveals others. Boyd married Harrison after meeting him on the set of "A Hard Day's Night" and was a top model who became a photographer.

After George returned from the Beatles' U.S. tour, where he told Pattie Bob Dylan turned the Fab Four onto pot, he rolled a joint and told his wife to inhale deeply. "It was quite dark in the room, we were listening to music, chatting away, until all of a sudden we were roaring with laughter and realized we were stoned," Boyd wrote. "Everything seemed hilarious."

While The Beatles were doing uppers in Hamburg to play long hours, Boyd was doing diet pills to stay Twiggy-skinny. "Drugs were part of our lives at that time and they were fun. We didn't take anything hard--none of us used heroin...but we took acid regularly." After they were first dosed with LSD, George said, "It was as if I had never tasted, talked, seen, thought, or heard properly before. For the first time in my whole life I wasn't conscious of my ego." But later, Boyd traveled to San Francisco's Haight Asbury district with George, who got turned off to the scene by what he saw. In 1967, one month after the Beatles signed on to an advertisement in the London Times calling for marijuana legalization in protest over the Rolling Stones' pot bust, they traveled to India to study with the Maharishi and vowed to give up all intoxicants.

Boyd stands up for the relative safety of marijuana over hard drugs in the book, but repeats a fiction now popular in England that today's so-called "Skunk" is much stronger and more dangerous than what her crowd smoked. "Dope in the sixties...was about peace, love, and increasing awareness. It was the basis of flower power; it was innocent. Cocaine was different and I think it froze George's emotions and hardened his heart." She recounts her painful relationship with Clapton, whose abuse of alcohol, cocaine and heroin are also documented in his recent book. The couple nearly reconciled after taking Ecstasy together, and Boyd finally found peace during an Ayahuasca journey after Harrison died and Clapton remarried.

Charles Lane Played Pothead
Charles Lane (left), the veteran character actor who died last July 9 in Los Angeles at the age of 102, was known to many as the train stationmaster on TV's Petticoat Junction. One of Lane's final performances was as the pot-smoking priest in Date with An Angel, the delightful 1987 film that starred French beauty Emmanuelle Beart as a fallen angel who brings joy and hope to the world without saying a word.

10 Years Later, Ricky Williams Looks Forward

What Your Government Knows About Cannabis And Cancer -- And Isn't Telling You

Senator Webb Questions Drug War Costs

June 22 - RIP to VIP George Carlin
The preeminent stand-up comedian of his time, George Carlin took us from the difference between AM and FM, baseball and football to his latest curmudgeonly specials, and along the way, showed us his Toledo Window Box (right) and voiced a character named Munchee in the Simpson's episode "D'ohing in the Wind." Carlin admitted to smoking pot judiciously into his old age and died of heart failure at the age of 71.

According to his NYTimes obit, Carlin "talked openly talked about the use of drugs, including acid and peyote, and said that he kicked cocaine not for moral or legal reasons but after he found 'far more pain in the deal than pleasure.'...In December 2004 he entered a rehabilitation center to address his addictions to Vicodin and red wine."

"Beer leads to heroin, that's a fact. In fact, mother's milk leads to everything," Carlin joked on Toledo Window Box, where he says he got into weed instead of alcohol in 1952-3, realizing, "Grass doesn't make you stagger, your breath don't smell, and you don't puke on your shoes." He then deconstructs our favorite nursery rhymes, like, "Mary had a little gram..."

"There's a cold front coming Canada, not to be confused with a high front from Mexico," his Hippy Dippy Weatherman joked.

According to his AP obituary, "Carlin's infamous seven censored words sketch led to a Supreme Court decision on broadcasting offensive language. When he uttered all seven at a show in Milwaukee in 1972, he was arrested on charges of disturbing the peace, freed on $150 bail and exonerated when a Wisconsin judge dismissed the case, saying it was indecent but citing free speech and the lack of any disturbance. The words were later played on a New York radio station, resulting in a 1978 Supreme Court ruling upholding the government's authority to sanction stations for broadcasting offensive language during hours when children might be listening."

Carlin produced 23 comedy albums, 14 HBO specials, three books, a few TV shows and appeared in several movies. He won four Grammy Awards for best spoken comedy album and was nominated for five Emmys. On Tuesday, it was announced that Carlin was being awarded the 11th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, which will be presented Nov. 10 in Washington and broadcast on PBS.

George Carlin was born on May 12, 1937, and grew up in Manhattan, raised by a single mother. After dropping out of school in the ninth grade, he joined the Air Force in 1954. While in the Air Force he started working as an off-base disc jockey at a radio station in Shreveport, La., and after receiving a general discharge in 1957, took an announcing job at WEZE in Boston. "Fired after three months for driving mobile news van to New York to buy pot," his website says.

We trust Carlin is safe, safe at home.

June 21 - U.S. Seeks to Imprison Pothead Hacker
UK's The Daily Mail reports that the U.S. is seeking to extradite 42-year-old British hairdresser/computer hacker Gary McKinnon who, while smoking copious amounts of pot, managed to hack into U.S. military computers. "His efforts have been described as the biggest military computer hack of all time," the article states. "Since then, the deeply embarrassed and enraged U.S. authorities have determined that their British pothead nemesis should pay a heavy price." If extradited, McKinnon faces 60 years in prison and, he fears, a stint at Guantanamo Bay.

June 20 - Rock Puffsome?
There’s a brief mention of pot, and lots of liquor, in the Doris Day/Rock Hudson romantic comedy Lover Come Back (1961), spied on (where else) TCM. The rather convoluted plot goes something like this:

Advertising executives Carol Templeton (Doris) and Jerry Webster (Rock) work for competing ad agencies. Angered by Jerry’s method of nabbing clients using alcohol and women, Carol brings his behavior up before the Advertising Council. But Jerry bribes Carol’s star witness by filming her in a TV commercial for an imaginary product named VIP. When the ads are accidentally broadcast, Jerry pays a scientist to invent something he can call VIP. Meanwhile, Carol goes after the VIP account and mistakes Jerry, whom she has never met, for the scientist. As in other Hudson/Day movies, Rock pretends to be an inexperienced and marriageable man instead of the rogue he truly is, a ruse that was a good cover for Hudson’s homosexuality.

Jerry tells Carol he will consider her for the VIP account, but says he also has loyalty to Webster (himself). When Carol shows up at Webster’s apartment she is surprised when Jerry, who she thinks is the scientist, opens the door. Jerry feigns confusion, implying he was partying with Webster the night before and his memory is fuzzy.

Rock: “I was dizzy after that cigarette he gave me.”

Doris: “Oh, that depraved monster! What kind of cigarette?”

Rock: “I don’t know. It didn’t have any printing on it.”

Carol drags Jerry to her apartment where he tells her he lacks the confidence to make love to her. She goes into the kitchen and sings, “Lover, Should I Surrender” before popping a champagne cork and nearly donning a negligee—just before discovering the ruse. Furious (yet still sweet, as only Doris Day could be) she once more brings a complaint to the Ad Council, this time involving the District Attorney as well.

Meanwhile, the true scientist has come up with a product worthy of the VIP name. He calls it “A triumph of advanced biochemistry. Looks like candy, tastes like candy, and enters the bloodstream as pure alcohol. Each one of these is the equivalent of the triple martini. I’ve given this country what it has long needed: a good 10 cent drunk.”

Jerry shows up at his hearing with a box full of VIP, which the Ad Council stuffs themselves with. Hijinks ensue and he and Carol end up in bed with a marriage certificate neither remembers signing. Still furious, Doris shouts, “No alcoholic beverage, no drug known to science could induce me to stay married to you!” and storms out (pouting prettily). Representatives of the liquor industry then show up to bribe Jerry into burning the VIP formula by giving him a chunk of their $60 million advertising budget, which he gallantly gives to Carol.

The drug-laden plot is reminiscent of Bye Bye Birdie (1963) wherein biochemist/composer Albert F. Peterson (Dick Van Dyke) tries to make good in one or the other profession in order to marry his fiancée Rosie DeLeon (Janet Leigh). Just as he gets the Elvis-like Conrad Birdie to sing “One Last Kiss” on the Ed Sullivan show to Ann Margret, he hits upon the formula for a stimulant drug that truly makes him successful.

For factual information on marijuana and amphetamines, see The History Channel’s Hooked: Illegal Drugs and How They Got that Way - Marijuana and Methamphetamine (2000).

Highly Recommended: Bongwater (1997)
The always engaging Luke Wilson stars as David, an artist/pot dealer with goofy friends and romantic troubles in Bongwater (1977), based on a novel by Michael Hornburg. With Jack Black as the quintessential hippie Devlin and Brittany Murphy as Mary, the friend who takes Davis on a mushroom hunt. With real life, intelligent characters and situations, this one is a cut above the usual stoner fare.

June 19 - Specter Would "Absolutely" Puff Legal Pot
Reporter Dan Gross of the Philadelphia Daily News asked Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter, 78, who has completed eight of 12 rounds of chemotherapy for his cancer, whether he would use medical marijuana himself.

"If it were legalized in Pennsylvania and if I were in pain and my doctor prescribed it, then yes, absolutely I would," he told me, Gross wrote, adding, " When I asked if he would consider sparking up without it being legalized, I'd swear there was a brief smile before the senator said he was 'certainly not about to say I would violate the law.'" Several years ago, early in his battle with cancer, Specter told Gross that he had considered introducing legislation supporting medical marijuana.

On the blog reform groups Pennsylvanians for Medical Marijuana and Philadelphia NORML they were starting a letter-writing campaign to Specter and other officials on the issue.

Pot Potency/Health Link Debunked
Science Daily reports today that "Claims that a large increase in the strength of cannabis over the last decade is driving the occurrence of mental health and other problems for users are not borne out by a study of the worldwide literature, say researchers at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) and the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI), both from Australia." Cannabis samples tested in the United States, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Italy have shown increases in potency over the last decade, but no significant growth in other European countries or in New Zealand has been found during the same period, the article states.

In their discussion of potential health risks, the authors point to studies that observe that some cannabis smokers, when faced with a 'strong' product, act rather like tobacco smokers and adjust their dose by increasing the interval between puffs, or holding smoke in their lungs for a shorter period of time. This behavior may reduce possible harms caused by increased potency. The authors also discuss the health risks of contaminants.

The authors say "Given the relatively high prevalence of cannabis use it is important we have current, accurate information to help users make informed decisions about their use, and that policy development and media debate about the health harms associated with its use are guided by research evidence rather than rumour."

June 18 - Shrinks Get Spacey
This is becoming a trend. First Bette Midler took a quick toke playing Mel Gibson's psychologist in What Women Want, then Angelica Houston shared a joint with her fellow shrink Hank Azaria on Huff, and Ben Kingsley opens The Wackness as a bong-sucking psychotherapist. Now Kevin Spacey, who played a middle-aged man who rediscovers pot in American Beauty, has signed to star in the indie drama, Shrink, from Thomas Moffett's script about a celebrity shrink in the midst of a personal crisis who turns to (you guessed it) ganja. A co-production between Ignite, Ithaka and Spacey's production house, Trigger Streethe, Shrink's cast will include Robin Williams and Gore Vidal and is scheduled to arrive in theaters later this year.

June 17 - Cyd Charisse and The Electric Prunes
As we say goodbye to the Texas girl who learned to dance to recover from polio and became Cyd Charisse, we revisit the appearance of psychedelic rockers The Electric Prunes on The Cyd Charisse show circa 1966. After introducing the band as "new and different" with a pair of puppets, Charisse donned flapper garb reminiscent of her performance in Singing in the Rain to dance in a skit for the Prune's third number. The band opened with Get Me To the World on Time ("Here I go/higher and higher") followed by their biggest hit, I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night).

Bringin' in the Weed
Showtime's Weeds will address marijuana smuggling this season, as Nancy walks her boots across the US-Mexico border, and gets caught. Meanwhile, Allen St. Pierre of NORML informs me that the U.S. government admitted last year in an ABC interview that Mexican marijuana smugglers caught with 500 pounds of marijuana or less are routinely released. Yet, American citizens are constantly prosecuted for simple possession of far smaller amounts.

Making an important distinction between hard and soft drugs, Nancy refuses to smuggle heroin. For a true-to-life story of a young Colombian woman who becomes a heroin smuggler, see Maria, Full of Grace, the 2004 film that won first-time actress Catalina Sandino Moreno a well deserved Oscar nomination.

June 16, 2008 -David Sedaris a Pothead No More
"David Sedaris is famous now, but he's spent so much time remembering the years when he was a slacker and a pothead that he's come to seem like the ordinary kid who one day discovers he has superpowers," begins a June 15 Bloomberg News article by Craig Seligman. The article goes on to say that Sedaris writes he has given up smoking both pot and cigarettes in his new book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames.

Sedaris, 51, is the humorist who contributes audio essays to NPR's This American Life. He is a best selling author of novels and essay collections like Me Talk Pretty One Day, and his essays appear regularly in Esquire and The New Yorker. One of these, "Of Wildflowers and Weed" (2007) describes an encounter with his pot dealer nine years earlier. A 2008 essay, Letting Go: Smoking and Non-Smoking says he was given a pack of cigarettes to take home after a fourth-grade school field trip in North Carolina.

As a child, Sedaris had a lisp, obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette's syndrome, which he says improved after he took up smoking ("A Plague of Tics" in Naked (1997)). In Me Talk Pretty he writes, "For the first twenty years of my life I rocked myself to sleep. It was a harmless enough hobby, but eventually I had to give it up. Throughout the next twenty-two years I lay still and discovered that after a few minutes I could drop off with no problem. Follow seven beers with a couple of scotches and a thimble of good marijuana, and it's funny how sleep just sort of comes on its own."

In 2001, Sedaris was named "Humorist of the Year" by Time magazine and became the third recipient of the Thurber Prize for American Humor. He was named by Time magazine as “Humorist of the Year” in 2001. He's been nominated for two Grammy Awards for Best Spoken Word Album ("Dress Your Family in Corduroy & Denim") and Best Comedy Album ("David Sedaris: Live at Carnegie Hall"). Not bad for a slacker/pothead.

Potheads on Parade
The Los Angeles Patient Advocacy Network's float reportedly won the top prize at the Gay Pride Parade in L.A. last weekend. Here's a picture of two happy partcipants (right).

June 13, 2008 - Reason: Drug Czar Reports Marijuana is Better than Ever

Bob Barr: I Was Wrong About the War on Drugs

The ACLU has made VIP Rick Steves' DVD "Marijuana: It's Time for a Conversation" available for the low-low price of $5.00. The accompanying booklet is free.

Cannabis should be legalised and taxed, an influential Scottish think tank recommended just weeks after the UK's government hardened its attitude towards the drug, reclassifying it as a class B substance. According to a June 10 article in The Scotsman, the Scottish Futures Forum has published a report on drugs and alcohol in Scotland, saying one way to tackle the problem of addiction to harder drugs was to tax and regulate cannabis.

Forum chairman Frank Pignatelli said studies of San Francisco, where cannabis is illegal, and the Netherlands, where it is decriminalised [actually, tolerated], showed that the idea is worth considering because it breaks the link with class A drugs. In the Netherlands, only 17 per cent of cannabis sellers were also selling drugs such as crack, cocaine and heroin, while in San Francisco it was more than 50 per cent.

High-Flying Broadcom Founder Indicted
Flying in his private plane from Orange County California to Las Vegas in 2001, Broadcom Corp. co-founder and billionaire Henry T. Nicholas III and his entourage "generated so much marijuana smoke that it billowed into the cockpit, requiring the pilot flying the plane to put on an oxygen mask," according to a federal grand jury indictment made public on June 5. Nicholas, who stepped down as Broadcom's chief executive in 2003, surrendered that day to the FBI.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a second indictment accused Nicholas of manipulating stock options at Broadcom, the Irvine-based maker of computer chips used in such products as mobile phones, Apple Inc.'s iPod and Nintendo Co.'s Wii consoles. In a 21-count indictment, Nicholas and William J. Ruehle, 66, Broadcom's former chief financial officer, were accused of backdating millions of stock options for five years to improperly reward employees.

A second, four-count indictment alleges Nicholas, 48, maintained homes and commercial properties in Orange County and Las Vegas for the "purpose of using and distributing controlled substances," including cocaine and methamphetamine. Among other things, Nicholas allegedly supplied Broadcom customers with prostitutes and narcotics he sometimes referred to as "party favors." He is accused of slipping MDMA (ecstasy) into some of the drinks of technology executives and representatives who worked for Broadcom's customers without their knowledge.

Nicholas also allegedly paid $1 million in June 2002 to buy the silence of another, unnamed Broadcom employee who was aware of his illegal drug activity. "In or around 2001, in the lobby of Broadcom's offices . . . Nicholas directed a Broadcom employee to provide approximately $5,000 to $10,000 in cash to a drug courier in exchange for an envelope containing controlled substances," the indictment alleges.

"Dr. Nicholas will contest these charges vigorously," his lead attorney, Brendan V. Sullivan Jr. of Washington, D.C., said in a statement. "He is confident that he will be fully vindicated." U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Nakazato ordered Nicholas freed on bail of $3.4 million and ordered that Nicholas be confined to a Malibu drug treatment facility, with electronic monitoring, and that his two private planes be disabled. He warned Nicholas that he would be arrested if he violated any terms of his release, which also stipulate random drug tests.

The kicker: Nicholas was the chief financial backer of last-minute campaign commercials that derailed Prop. 66, which would have reformed California's Three-Strikes law to require a violent conviction for life imprisonment. The measure was leading by 62% for and 38% against with only 2 weeks left until the election. In the ads, California's former pot-smoking governator spoke in front of blown-up photos of convicted rapists and child molesters who he (falsely) claimed would be released if Prop 66 were passed.

June 7, 2008 - Weeds to Grow Again
As if it wasn't bad enough that Showtime paired Weeds with a show called Californication last year, now the network is co-promoting it with a new series about a hooker. Both will premiere on June 16. Nancy, the non-pot-smoking pot princess of Southern California, burned down her house at the end of last season and will reportedly be traveling to Mexico and moving in with her father-in-law, played by Albert Brooks.

Last season Nancy contined to fuck her way to the top, while doing other nice things like holding a knife to her neighbor's throat. But she does worry that she's not exactly a good role model for her kids. In fact, I wonder what "technical advisor" Advanced Nutrients thought of the face she made when someone suggests her son would make a good pot farmer. But the show must be having some effect, even in Orange County: UC Irvine's drama department just presented the musical Reefer Madness.

The charm of the show, for me, is in the ancillary characters, like the brother-in-law played by the talented Justin Kirk, and SNL's Kevin Nealon, the bong-loving bad boy of Agrestic. Nealon is being shown in a goofy promotional interview on Showtime where he is asked if he favors legalization. "I think marijuana should be legal for medical purposes and for entertainment purposes, but not the other uses," he jokes.

Last season, in the biggest break-out role since Bob Saget's Entourage appearance, Mary-Kate Olsen guest starred as a Jesus freak who sewed up the Christian market for Nancy. "It's St. John's anointing oil," she correctly stated. Likewise, even the hippie hilariously played by Ashton Kutcher in Bobby noted the spiritual nature of the herb and the founders of Advanced Nutrients have been knighted by the Bulgarian Order of St. Michael. While Weeds tarts up what's sacred for entertainment value, at least they slipped in one note that's radical and true.

NAME THAT POTHEAD: What Weeds cast member won an Obie Award for his role as a blind gay man in 1997’s Love! Valor! Compassion! and appeared as the employer of a pot-puffing waitress played by Salma Hayek in Ask the Dust (2006)?

HINT: When he accepted his High Times Stoney award for acting in 2006, he commented in his acceptance speech that the money he made from the hit series is only a fraction of what he’s spent on weed over the years. (In 2007 he was nominated for a Golden Globe award for his role on Weeds.)

Answers to:

Where the Joints Are
VIP Bill Maher will be the guest programmer on TCM just after the Weeds debut on June 16. One of the four films Maher picked is Where the Boys Are (1960), a film that was quite ahead of its time, addressing sexuality and following four girls through the maze of men they encounter on spring break in Ft. Lauderdale, while seemingly hinting at pot use.

Cowboy actor Chil Wills contributes a fine performance as Ft. Lauderdale's police chief, who informs his men that the kids who will be invading their town to "celebrate the rites of spring...have that right." Paula Prentiss' love interest T.V. (Played by Jim Hutton) constantly listens to a police radio to "keep up with his friends." When the girls meet Frank Gorshin's character, a jazz musician named Basil (pronounced with a long "a", like the green leafy herb), he invites them to a concert where they play a song called "A meeting between Shakespeare and Satchel Page on Hempstead Heath." Afterwards he orders a Grasshopper, saying, "No man, no--not the one that hops!"

Yvette Mimeux's dreamy character Melanie (shown above) looks a lot like the cover of the 1956 novel Reefer Girl, and she goes astray with too many college boys, while uttering lines like, "Mystic!" and "I must have been really smashed--stoned!" When the boys teach her to smoke cigarettes, she reassures her friends, "I don't inhale, though."

In the commentary to the DVD version, Connie Francis reveals that she brought her favorite songwriter Neil Sedaka to the project, and sadly the film's sappy theme song was picked over her preferred song. But Sedaka also penned "You've Got to Turn on the Sunshine," the song Connie uses to nab her musician. Remember folks, "You don't have to be a politician, you can change it all with a sunny disposition."

June 5, 2008 - Barr's Brownies on The Colbert Report
Last night's The Colbert Report featured this interview with Libertarian Presidental Candidate Bob Barr that wrapped up with a discussion of hash brownies and the failure of the drug war:

Former Drug "Czar" Advocates Releasing Drug Prisoners

American taxpayers would save more than $46 billion if drug addicts now in prison were instead treated, according to a study released Friday at a national convention of drug court professionals. Retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, a former U.S. drug czar, and actress Melanie Griffith joined experts in calling on lawmakers to increase funding for such courts. "This is not a war on drugs," McCaffrey said. "This is a problem for our families in America. In order to turn drugs around in this country, we're going to have to treat those 1.5 million people who are addicted."

The study from the Urban Institute in Washington found that about 3 percent of arrested addicts are referred to a drug court, which offers supervised treatment to nonviolent offenders whose records are expunged if they complete the program. "Most addicts need something more than being warehoused," said Judge Charles Simmons Jr., a drug court judge in Greenville, S.C. "Drug courts are putting families back together, and they are decreasing crime at a tremendous savings to taxpayers."

Housing an inmate in prison can cost up to $40,000 a year while drug court treatment costs up to $3,500 per offender a year, Simmons said. McCaffrey said 15 years of research has yielded definitive proof that drug courts significantly reduce crime by as much as 35 percent. He said legislators and the public may get behind the system once they understand its cost savings.

Potheads Duel for Championships
Leading up to this year's NBA finals, ESPN has been runing the classic Lakers/Celtics 1984 NBA finals matchup, the year VIP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar surpassed Wilt Chamberlain to become the NBA's top all-time scorer, a record he still holds. In game 6, Kareem fouled out and his Celtics counterpart Robert Parish got a key steal before he too fouled out. The Celtics won it in overtime on their way to winning game 7 and the series.

Called "The Chief" after Ken Kesey's character in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Parish was a nine-time all star and at 39 was the oldest player in the NBA when he admitted guilt in a minor marijuana possession charge in February 1993. Parish paid a $30 fine. At the time, marijuana was not tested for in the NBA.

(In looking this up, I found an earlier Charles Barkley admission from 2005. Here he admits he smoked it while playing for the NBA.)

June 2, 2008 - MTV Censors "Pothead" Award Presenters Seth Rogen and James Franco
But brings it to you on its blog.
Franco told AP backstage that MTV tried to pull back from the script that had he and Rogen smoking "fake" weed at the last minute. Instead the cameras pulled back when the actors went through with the segment. Robert Downey Jr., who accepted the award on behalf of his blockbuster Iron Man reportedly looked puzzled when he said, "Thanks fellas," he said, "for that intoxicating introduction."

June 1, 2008 - Scott McClellan’s Higher Loyalty Exposes Bush’s Venality on Drugs
Saying he has a “higher” loyalty to the truth and his values, former Bush loyalist and press secretary Scott McClellan’s new book What Happened lays bare the Bush administration’s inner workings, including this overheard telephone conversation on the campaign trail in 1999 involving Bush's rumored cocaine use:  "'The media won't let go of these ridiculous cocaine rumors,' I heard Bush say. 'You know, the truth is I honestly don't remember whether I tried it or not. We had some pretty wild parties back in the day, and I just don't remember.'"  

"I remember thinking to myself, How can that be?" McClellan wrote. "How can someone simply not remember whether or not they used an illegal substance like cocaine? It didn't make a lot of sense."  

(Thanks for this tip to the eagle-eyed Dale Gieringer of California NORML, a website so hot it's censored by the Bloomberg newsroom.)  

VIP of the Month: Phil Jackson
Last week, Zen master and VIP Phil Jackson coached the Los Angeles Lakers to the 2008 NBA Western Conference Championships. Jackson now has 190 playoff wins, more than any other NBA coach, and ties Red Auerbach with 11 NBA finals appearances.( VIP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, an assistant coach for the Lakers whose audiobook On the Shoulders of Giants is getting raves, was present at the victorious game.)  

According to a story, in Jackson’s 1975 memoir Maverick, he spoke frankly about marijuana use and experimentation with LSD. In his 1995 bestseller Sacred Hoops, Jackson reveals his Indian name is Swift Eagle and VIP Bill Bradley’s is Tall Elk – both names given at a 1973 naming ceremony at Pine Ridge Reservation.  

With recent revelations from Josh Howard about the prevalence of marijuana use among NBA players (see below), basketball is arguably the stoner’s sport. As if on cue, Joakim Noah, the rookie guard from Jackson’s former team the Chicago Bulls, accepted a deferred prosecution agreement on May 29 after being charged with possession of marijuana and having an open container of alcohol in Gainesville, Florida a few days earlier. Noah led the University of Florida Gators to consecutive national championships before being selected ninth overall in last June's draft by the Bulls. He averaged 6.6 points and 5.6 rebounds in 74 games last year.

Sydney Pollack Honored for VIP’s Story
Director, actor and producer Sydney Pollack, who died on May 26, had a distinguished career that included Three Days of the Condor (1975) to HBO’s Recount (2008). But his biggest success came with Out of Africa (1985), which earned him his two Oscars, for Best Direction and Best Picture.

Out of Africa is based on the book by Danish author and VIP Isak Dinesen, who enjoyed hashish, opium, and kava with Denys Finch Hatton in Africa. Read more.

Flying the Friendlier Skies
A ranking Customs and Border Protection agent accepted nearly $150,000 in cash to let shipments of hashish pass through JFK Airport in New York City undetected, federal prosecutors say. Customs supervisor Walter Golembiowski, 65, was arrested along with agent John Ajello, 51, and five others in a scheme that dates back to 2003 and involved shipments of more than 600 pounds of hashish on the way from London and Morocco. Source.

And a customs officer hid $10,000 worth of marijuana in a someone's luggage and then forgot which bag contained the contraband during a practice session Sunday in Tokyo. "The officer stuffed five ounces of the drug into the side pocket of a randomly selected black suitcase coming off an overseas flight into Narita yesterday so that the dog could get some practice at detecting drugs," UK’s Times reports. The duo then lost track of the bag and the drugs. Officials are urging anyone who finds a metal box filled with weed to call the Narita airport ASAP.

Big Brown Trainer Liked Big Green
As thoroughbred Big Brown tries to overcome an injury to become history’s 12th Triple Crown winner at the Belmont Stakes on June 7, the New York Daily News reveals that Big Brown’s trainer Rick Dutrow, 48, “was suspended in Maryland in the '80s for possessing marijuana and ruled off New York tracks for testing positive for pot during that period." Dutrow reportdly had his New York license suspended briefly again in 2000 for another positive test.

"Nah. I never have thought I had an addiction where I had to have it," says Dutrow. "I never had a problem with alcohol. Mostly gambling. It could have been (a worse problem then). I don't know about that, but it could have been." Dutrow readily admits to gambling "big" today. Source.

California Assembly Protects Workers Rights
AB 2279, which protects medical marijuana users’ right to work, was passed by the California Assembly . Now is the time for Californians to take action on this bill to ensure its passage in the Senate. Medical-marijuana-using VIPs include Rodney Dangerfield, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Montel Williams and Melissa Etheridge. And of course California's Governator smoked pot in his youth, which doesn't seem to have hurt his health or ambition. If this bill doesn't pass, we'll miss many more contributions by marijuana users.

For background, see How Pot Became Demonized: The Fine Line Between Good Medicine and "Dangerous Drugs" , an excerpt from the forthcoming book Dying to Get High by Wendy Chapkis and Richard J. Webb (NYU Press, 2008).

Didn’t She See Caddyshack?
According to the Associated Press, Bill Murray’s wife Jennifer Butler Murray is suing him for divorce, alleging he is addicted to alcohol and marijuana, and he’s jetting off to places like Japan to do ecstasy with Scarlett Johansen (oops, that was just a movie.) Murray was reportedly expelled from the Pre-Med program at Regis College because of marijuana use.

Highly RecommendedTM - 20 to Life: The Life and Times of John Sinclair
Most people know John Sinclair as the Michigan activist who was serving a 10-year sentence for giving two marijuana joints to an undercover policewoman when VIP John Lennon and Yoko Ono appeared at a concert on his behalf and won his release. 20 to Life (2007) tells Sinclair's story through interviews with Sinclair and his fellow Detroits Artists Workshop and White Panther Party members. Like Lennon and Ono, Sinclair believes -- and demonstrates -- that art is a transformative power, and this film does him justice.

"We hope you're the first," said Yoko in a phone conversation with Sinclair the day he got out of jail. Lennon said at the concert, "Apathy isn't it. and we have to do something." The most astute comment in the film came from the German-born associate of Sinclair, who saw his struggle as a first amendement battle. "They couldn't just put him in jail for his opinions, because in this country you have free speech," she said.

The former manager of the rock band MC5, Sinclair has become a musician himself, and his "Monk on the Mound" is a special treat, mixing styles reminiscent of VIPs Alan Ginsberg and Lord Buckley in a jazzy/hip patter. In fact, the film is dedicated to VIP Mezz Mezzrow, who brought pot to jazz. And we love his answer when Sinclair was asked at the 2003 Cannabis Cup awards in Amsterdam how he now feels about pot.(You have to buy the film to see it.)

May 25, 2008 - Cepeda Granted Reprieve by Exiting DA
Orlando Cepeda, the San Francisco Giants baseball great who is one of two Puerto Ricans in the baseball Hall of Fame, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge and had all other charges stemming from his traffic stop last year dismissed by outgoing Solano County Deputy District Attorney Joe Camarata, according to

In his first season in 1958, Cepeda batted .312 with 25 home runs and 96 RBI, led the National League in doubles (38), and was named Rookie of the Year. In 1967, he was named the National League MVP by hitting .325 and having a league-leading 111 RBIs. After his retirement, Cepeda spent 10 months in federal prison for a 1975 conviction for smuggling marijuana. Since 1990, he has been a community representative for the Giants.

In an informal VIP poll, 100% of respondents asked where they could send campaign contributions to Mr. Camarata, for whatever office for which he may run.

As I write this, VIP Willie Nelson is singing a new song called "Peaceful Solution" at Farm Aid 2008. "There was a war and we're in it/and we know that we can win it...let's take back America." Sing it, Willie.

Brown Move Backfires
Just after his Home Secretary announced a crackdown on marijuana (see below), Gordon Brown's labour party saw a stuning defeat after running a "xenophobic" campaign in the UK, said conservative leader David Cameron. Quite possibly, it has to do with rampant mail voter fraud in Britain, since the US tends to lead the way on such matters. Cameron, you may recall, did the Shrub-style nondenial and called for drugs legalization.

FEMA employee arrested for marijuana
At least FEMA is doing something constructive in New Orleans. A FEMA employee was charged with trafficking marijuana after Louisiana investigators used a confidential informant to set up a buy with the suspect, identified as Justin Weysham, 30, of Bay St. Louis. Weysham showed up to the buy location in a white Chevrolet Impala on May 14. Investigators stopped him and found the half pound of marijuana. Weysham was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Weysham listed his employer as FEMA on the arrest report.

Hazy screens: Is Hollywood pushing marijuana?
"Call it cinema's stoned age. Films featuring characters using marijuana have mushroomed," begins a May 16 Christain Science Monitor article, which notes that pot-friendly films, mostly written by people under 40, represent a shift in Hollywood, and they're making money.

How Pot Became Demonized: The Fine Line Between Good Medicine and "Dangerous Drugs"
A excerpt from "Dying to Get High" by Wendy Chapkis and Richard J. Webb (NYU Press, 2008). (c) 2008 NYU Press.

May 12, 2008 - Tommy Chong Re-Persecuted over First Amendment Rights

Have you seen "a/k/a Tommy Chong," telling the story of Chong's arrest and subsequent imprisonment for selling bongs on the internet? Probably not, unless you were lucky enough to see it when it got rave reviews at the Toronto and Sundance Film Fests or had a coupla noprofit showings in New York and LA. Or you saw the first half of it at the NORML conference in SF until it was halted due to folks getting into the spirit in the hotel conference room.

Now, there's less chance of you seeing this exemplary film, since last week the FBI seized 8,000-20,000 copies of "a/k/a Tommy Chong" DVDs during "Operation True Test," a round up of urine-testing-products companies lead by the Pittsburgh office of the DOJ. That office, you may remember, was responsible for prosecting Tommy Chong after an 8-month DEA entrapment operation enticed his son's company into sending a shipment of bongs to Pennsylvania, where paraphernalia is illegal. The videos were seized from Spectrum Laboratories, a urine test prevention company that has been in business for over a decade.

DOJ chief attorney Mary Beth Buchanan is in hot water over her malicious prosecution of Pittsburgh coroner Cyril Wecht for numerous counts of fraud. A jury has hung and a mistrial was called after the verdict, when Buchanan sent the FBI to interrogate the jury. Asked about the strange tactic of sending the FBI on such a task, Buchanan replied it was routine. The House Judiciary Committee asked the DOJ for files on the Wecht case last July, and the Department has not complied. Committee Chair John Conyers sent a letter on Friday to Attorney General Michael Mukasey saying that if the Department did not take notice, "we will have little choice but to consider the compulsory process."

Arguably "a/k/a/ Tommy Chong" could be a financial success, and this action is trade impedance. Stoner buddy flick "Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay," the sequel to the New Line franchise that was built on DVD rentals, was #2 in the box office the April weekend it opened, with a respectable $15 million in ticket sales. (The following week "Iron Man" clobbered it with $98 million.)

First-time filmmaker Josh Gilbert had generous access to vintage Cheech and Chong footage, Chong family photos, Tommy's last dance with his wife Shelby before leaving her for nine months, and his Tonight Show with Jay Leno appearance the day after he got out. ("Tommy Chong's here. (loud applause.) He took the red eye.") The story it tells is complete, cogent, engaging and entertaining. Michael Moore said of it, "The real stoners in this excellent documentary are the administration officals drunk with power and out of control, and a nation of otherwise good people who've been given the worst drug of all--fear."

Let this incident start the debate about drug testing. I picked up phones at LA NORML for two years and half of our calls were from workers or students facing drug testing. An executive who had taken a toke or two on New Years Eve called, saying he was drug tested the minute he reported for work in the New Year. He was terrfied he'd lose his job, which supported his wife and two children. Then there was the warehouse worker who was being scapegoatted for a safety violation because the union workers were immune from peeing in a cup in their union contracts. Obviously, the policy is having an opposite effect on worker safety and it's denying good people their right to work.

I would always suggest the caller seek legal counsel and consider refusing the test, but not a single person who called felt he or she was in the position to do that. They needed their jobs and few could afford a lawyer. So many probably resorted to using "clean pee" products to escape detection. But unless you're flying a jet or conducting brain surgery, a drug test is more a loyalty oath than a safety check. Have we reached that low point in our country when the word "True" is used to describe a piss test and little else?

Call your media outlets and demand to see "a/k/a Tommy Chong." For freedom. And truth.

May 10, 2008 - Brits Step Back on Cannabis Reform
One-Time Smoker Leads the Charge

Over the objections of her own Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, UK’s Home Office Secretary Jacqui Smith announced in a May 7 speech to Parliament that her government would seek to reclassify marijuana as a Class B drug, four years after Tony Blair’s government downgraded it to Class C. Parliament must approve the measure.

"I have asked the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to propose more robust enforcement measures to reflect reclassification," Smith said, adding she intended to target marijuana traffickers and "the trade in cannabis paraphernalia.” The measure would more than double the maximum sentence for marijuana possession to five years, although in practice the ACPO has said its officers issue warnings in the vast majority of cases.

Interestingly, Smith said in a television interview in July 2007 that she had tried marijuana while an undergraduate at Oxford University in the early 1980s. (She added that she had smoked it "just a few times," had "not particularly" enjoyed it and now realized it was "wrong.") The admission prompted similar ones from UK Chancellor Alistair Darling, Treasury chief secretary Andy Burnham, Transport secretary Ruth Kelly, and Business and Labor Enterprise secretary John Hutton. Several senior Tory and Labor politicians, including the former Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, previously admitted to puffing pot in their day.

But apparently the Brits believe the US’s propaganda that today’s pot is too strong for their kids. Smith said the reclassification is intended to send a message against "skunk," a more potent hybrid that now accounts for 80 per cent of street cannabis seized.

NAME THAT POTHEAD: This British-born, California-residing painter took the occasion of his exhibit at London's Royal Academy of Arts in the summer of 1999 to call for the legalization of marijuana. "I remember Jack Straw [UK's home minister] in 1968 saying 'you can't legalise marijuana as we haven't got enough information.' Thirty years later, he's said exactly the same thing. I don't know what life has taught him, I've learnt quite a lot. I've smoked a lot of marijuana. It hasn't harmed me." He told the gathering he smoked a regular "joint" with a glass of whisky in the evening, but hastened to add he had never indulged in stimulants when working because "drugs and art don't mix…You have to be very clear-headed," he said. Drugs made you "too pleased with everything" and to create great work "you have to struggle."

HINT: He is the pop artist famous for his photocollages and LA poolside scenes.

Answers to:

May 4, 2008 - Harold and Kumar #2 at the Box Office

In its opening weekend, Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, the second film that follows two pot-smoking buddies through their wacky tobaccy adventures, grossed nearly $15 million dollars, making it second only to Baby Mama, which grossed $17.5 million. It’s quite a success story for the funky franchise from New Line Cinema, which got it start reviving the 1936 propaganda film Reefer Madness.

This feel-good flick is over-the-top adolescent at times, but overall it is heartwarming, clever and politically savvy, with two charming ethnic heroes negotiating post-9/11 American life, puffing all the way.

High Times magazine was invited to the set for the scene where Vanessa, played by Danneel Harris (pictured here with Kal Penn), turns the once-nerdy Kumar onto something truly mind-blowing in their campus library. Though neither lead actors partake, Harris told HT she does. Among her other roles, the 28-year-old actress has played Rachel on 42 episodes of the high school show One Tree Hill on the CW network. According to their website: "The CW Television Network was formed as a joint venture between Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corporation. The CW is America's fifth broadcast network and the only network targeting young adults 18-34."

Elsewhere in Cinemaland, The Wackness with Ben Kingsley is getting rave reviews at festivals and Pineapple Express, in which a "pothead" witnesses a murder, looks like a stereotypical Judd Apatow entry. Both are scheduled for an August release.

Maverick Outs NBA

On April 25, soft-spoken Dallas Mavericks forward Josh Howard said on a radio show that he likes marijuana and smokes it during the offseason hours before a playoff game against the New Orleans Hornets. "Most of the players in the league use marijuana and I have and do partake in smoking weed in the offseason sometimes," Howard said on The Michael Irvin Show on the ESPN Radio affiliate in Dallas, adding that ''everybody in the media world and in the sports world” knows it.

''That's my personal choice and my personal opinion,” Howard said, “I don't think that's stopping me from doing my job.'' Arguably so. Howard has averaged 15.2 points and 6.4 rebounds for his five-year NBA career and averaged 19.9 and 7.0 this past regular season. The Mavericks won Game 3 that night with Howard scoring 18 points, but the team ultimately lost the series, and Howard seemed to feel the pressure his admission brought him.

Mavericks owner and self-made billionaire Mark Cuban calmly commented, "It depends if we win or lose....If we win, 'Boy, it's amazing what guys do for motivation. It worked!" Cuban said. "If we lose, 'Oh, what a distraction."'

Howard’s admission brought one from commentator and T-Mobile spokesperson Charles Barkley, who put his use squarely in the court of his past. In 1993, the year he was voted the NBA’s most valuable player, Barkley made national news when he wrote the text for his "I am not a role model" Nike commercial.

In 2001, former NBA star Charles Oakley estimated that 60 percent of league's players used marijuana. The NBA's drug-testing policy allows for four tests per season. However, if the league has "probable cause," it can to test a player as often as it wants, including during the off-season, presuming the players' association agrees to the probable cause.

“Back in December, [Howard] scored a career-high 47 points against the Utah Jazz,” wrote Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun Times. “What if he smokes dope the way hard-charging executives chill out with a martini or two? And how many of those executives, offspring of the 1960s, now chase those martinis with a few tokes on a joint?”

“It's not right, but history shows that illegal drugs are usually the drugs that are out of favor with the ruling class,” Telander continued. “Drugs are made illegal, as long as enforcement mainly affects the poor and the underclass.” There’s an issue for the NBA.

Medical Marijuana User Dies for Lack of Liver

Washington medical marijuana patient Timothy Garon died one week after he was denied a liver transplant due to his medical marijuana use. Garon, who had Hepatitis C, was in an intensive care nursing center at the Bailey-Boushay House at the time. A University Medical Center committee told him that he would need to go on a 60-day drug treatment program and take part in a class before he could even be considered to be put on the list.

The news came as researchers from the University of Ottawa, published their findings that the use of cannabinoids may be helpful in the treatment of appetite loss and nausea observed in patients with hepatitis C who undergo an anti-viral treatment. The medical records of all hepatitis C patients, who received a treatment with ribavirin and interferon between August 2003 and January 2007, were reviewed. Of the 191 patients identified, 25 received oral cannabinoid containing medications. 64 per cent of all patients who received cannabinoids experienced subjective improvement in symptoms and weight loss stabilized one month after cannabinoid initiation. (Source: Costiniuk CT, Mills E, Cooper CL. Evaluation of oral cannabinoid-containing medications for themanagement of interferon and ribavirin-induced anorexia, nausea and weight loss in patients treated for chronic hepatitis C virus. Can J. Gastroenterol 2008;22(4):376-80.)

This is not the first medical marijuana patient who died for the lack of a transplant; the first known one was Redding, CA resident Edward Plotner, who died in 1998 after he was denied a life-saving organ from the California Pacific Medical Center. Plotner began using cannabis to counter the effects of Interferon therapy for his hepatitis. According to Dr. Joanne Imperial, then head of Stanford's liver transplant progra, cannabis is not a risk factor for hepatitis, as are alcohol, intravenous drug use, and internasal cocaine use.

Midlife pot smoking on the rise in Canada

An April 15 article in The Globe and Mail begins, "Ice-cold beer probably won't be the only mood-altering substance on the menu in many backyards across Canada this summer. An increasing number of adults - particularly those in their 30s and 40s - are using marijuana, according to a new Ontario-wide report that reflects what experts describe as a growing cross-country trend."

That report by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health found the average age of marijuana users in Ontario was 31 in 2005, compared with 26 in 1977. Forty percent of those surveyed in 2005 who reported smoking pot in the previous year were between 30 and 49. In 1977, that number was just 15.4 per cent.

"Basically, it tells us that cannabis use has become a more and more acceptable lifestyle for adults," said Juergen Rehm, senior scientist at CAMH. "Now we see it is trickling into the lives of more and more and older and older Ontarians." Dr. Rehm said there is no real health concern among the 14 per cent of Ontarians who reported occasionally smoking marijuana on a recreational basis, about once a month or less. The problem is with the 2 per cent of Ontarians who smoke often, are intoxicated for long periods of time and are considered "hazardous" users.

Nearly one-third of those who used marijuana in the previous year had completed at least some post-secondary education, and 32 per cent earned more than $50,000 a year, the report said. The same survey found that overall rates of cigarette smoking and drinking and driving have significantly declined in Ontario over the past decade, while binge drinking remains elevated.

"We definitely are seeing an older clientele coming to the store, there's no question about that," said Robin Ellins, proprietor of the Friendly Stranger, a cannabis culture shop in Toronto. "We see everybody. I've had women that are in their late 60s coming in to buy their first pipe." Ellins said he doesn't believe rates of marijuana use have actually increased among older Canadians. Rather, the destruction of old taboos means that people are more willing to admit to toking on the weekend than they were before, he said. "The consumption was there in that group before, but they couldn't let their neighbours know and they couldn't let their boss know, but now, they're getting together on the weekend and smoking with their neighbours."

A United Nations world drug report released last year showed that 16.8 per cent of Canadians between 15 and 64 had smoked pot in the previous year, one of the highest levels in the world.

Judge rejects Pennsylvania man's religious use argument

Ten seconds after Robert George Henry, 48, of Fannettsburg, PA finished testifying about his religious use of marijuana, Judge Edgar B. Bayley ruled against him.

Henry, 48, of Fannettsburg, Franklin County, tried to convince the judge that the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of religious freedom protects his drug use. In a motion to the court, he compared his marijuana use to the Christian use of wine in Holy Communion. Henry testified that he joined the Hawaii Cannabis Ministry and became an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church three months after his arrest on drug possession and drunken driving charges. Under questioning by Senior Assistant District Attorney Derek Clepper, Henry admitted that he had smoked a pipe of marijuana a half-hour before the trooper pulled him over.

"The first thing I do every day is smoke a little bit of cannabis and say my daily prayers," said Henry, who said he has served five years in prison on drug and burglary convictions. "I've come to the belief that smoking cannabis helps me commune with my Lord and helps me understand what he wants me to do with my life."

When Clepper pressed him on his knowledge of the law's bar on marijuana possession, Henry replied that he and other Cannabis Ministry members "don't feel we should be persecuted for our cannabis use." When he began expounding on those beliefs, Bayley shouted "Stop! Stop! Stop!" Defense attorney George Marros said Henry has no immediate plan to appeal Bayley's decision. Henry is scheduled for trial next month. Source

Desparate For Something New

Perhaps the idea was hatched when Mary-Louise Parker of Weeds beat out all four Desperate Housewives for an Emmy two years ago, or when General Hospital or Murphy Brown used it for a story line. On May 4 Lifetime re-aired Episode 3, Season 4 of Desperate Housewives ("The Game") wherein Lynette (played by Felicity Huffman, who took home the 2005 Golden Globe for her role in Transamerica) gets baked on pot brownies baked by her mom, Stella, played by Polly Bergen(!). Spongebob Squarepants epiphanies and charades follow. The show originally aired on October 14, 2007.

The Dude Abides, Sort Of

Jeff Bridges has been acting since he was six months old, and appears as a bad guy in Iron Man with Robert Downey Jr. USA Today (4/27) noted that Bridges is “an actor better known for his laid-back (and occasionally stoned) characters,” meaning mainly ''The Dude,'' in the Coen Brothers' 1998 comedy, The Big Lebowski.

''I was a little nervous about broadcasting that kind of behavior to the world,'' Bridges said. ''I mean, Dude was a major pothead.'' And was Bridges, the paper asked? ''Oh, yeah,'' he said. ''Big time. That part of my life was in the past.''

"I think he could be the most underrated actor working," said VIP Susan Sarandon. "His real self disappears when he's in character, which might be why he's not as high-profile as he deserves. You don't get the feeling it's important for him to be front and center." (Just like a stoner.)

The 7 th Annual Lebowski Fest will be held July 11-12 in Louisville Kentucky. The event offers unlimited bowling, trivia contests, special appearances, White Russians, Sarsparillas and Oat Sodas, a screening of the film, and “what have you.”

Ohio State Gets Sensible on Pot

Ohio State's student government association passed an advisory initiative making the university's penalties for possessing marijuana on campus the same as the punishment for having alcohol.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) at Ohio State has persevered for five years to pass the initiative. The issue passed with 60.87 percent of the votes, a margin of 2,895 to 1,861 votes.

The director of communications for the university said, "The election allowed students to express their opinions on several issues, but this issue holds no particular clout. We follow the law and OSU's code of conduct."

The measure states, "This referendum shall in no way interfere with the duties of local and state law enforcement agents." The next goal for SSDP is to enact similar measures citywide, as Denver did several years ago.

Just Say Yes/No in LA Times

In an LA Times editorial page series, Reason editor Jacob Sullum (author of Just Say Yes: In Defense of Drug Use) and Charles "Cully" Stimson debated drug legalization. Under the headline “Smoking marijuana isn't a harbinger of ruin” Sullum wrote, “ According to the federal government's survey data, at least half of American adults born after Word War II have tried marijuana. Because people may not be completely candid about illegal behavior even in a confidential survey, the true percentage is probably higher. And many of those who have never smoked pot no doubt know people who did, yet somehow emerged unscathed from the experience.”

Noting that Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Al Gore, Newt Gingrich and other major political figures “managed to smoke without wrecking their lives,” Sullum wrote, “Until politicians admit that smoking marijuana is not a harbinger of ruin but a generally harmless rite of passage, they will not be able to have an honest discussion about drug policy.” Stimson, a former military prosecutor and Heritage fellow, responded with an imaginary scenario about a president who’s on heroin when the nuclear threat arrives.

More Sports News

- Kyle McAlarney, the college basketball guard who missed the 2007 Big East season when Notre Dame suspended him for possession of marijuana, helped lead the Irish to the NCAA playoffs. Last year, without McAlarney, Notre Dame lost in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

McAlarney was Notre Dame's second-leading scorer at 15.2 points per game. He was one of 11 players named to the All-Big East first team and led the Big East in 3-point shooting at 46.3 percent (63-of-134), setting a Joyce Center record. He scored 32 points against Connecticut and 30 on Villanova and Syracuse, and set a Notre Dame record when he hit 9-of-11 3-pointers against the Orange.

McAlarney has one more year of eligibility at Notre Dame, which is now ranked in the top 10 by three different online sites (ESPN, Fox Sports and Sports Illustrated). "He could have easily left and gone somewhere else," said senior captain Rob Kurz. "He stuck with it when a lot of people were asking questions about his character. . . . He's a great example for the university of what second chances are all about."

-Preston Parker, who was named Florida State's football MVP last season, was arrested on gun and drug charges in Palm Beach on April 23 after a traffic stop turned up a pill bottle for Prednisone prescribed to Parker that contained marijuana. Under the dash of the right passenger side of the vehicle, the officer found a loaded .45-caliber handgun and a baggie with 4.8 grams of marijuana. Parker 21, was charged with carrying a concealed .45-caliber handgun and possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.

Parker emerged as FSU's top offensive threat last year and was named to the All-ACC second team. He led FSU with 1,513 all-purpose yards, including 791 receiving. FSU's substance-abuse policy states that an arrest for marijuana possession counts as one positive drug test. After two positive tests the athlete is automatically suspended and after three positives he or she is dismissed from the team. Parker has not failed any drug tests previously. Source

-Laurel Park, Maryland-based jockey Ryan Fogelsonger, 26, was suspended indefinitely by state stewards after testing positive for marijuana in a random drug test of the track's riding colony on January 5. Fogelsonger, who had no record of prior drug use, immediately had his license suspended and is denied access to the grounds by the Maryland Racing Commission.

In order to be reinstated, Fogelsonger, of Elkridge, Maryland, must enter a drug counseling program and submit to subsequent testing. When the counselor believes Fogelsonger is ready, the rider will appeal to the stewards on the jockey's behalf at a hearing before the stewards, according to state steward John Burk. Source

Good News for Schwag

The Journal of Pain (4/17) reports that low-dose marijuana is as effective against neuropathic pain without "stony" side effects.

Neuropathic pain can result from spinal cord injury, diabetes-related nerve damage, multiple sclerosis, or other types of nerve injury, and is typically treated with a wide range of drugs including antidepressants, anticonvulsants, opioids, and anti-inflammatories, the study's lead author, Dr. Barth Wilsey of the University of California, Davis Medical Center, told Reuters Health.Wilsey became interested in testing marijuana for treating neuropathic pain, he said in an interview, after many of his patients told him they were already smoking pot to cope.

He and his colleagues had 38 people with neuropathic pain smoke high-dose joints containing 7% delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (9-THC), a lower dose version containing 3.5% 9-THC, or a placebo cigarette from which all 9-THC had been extracted. All study participants had abstained from smoking pot for at least 30 days beforehand, and smoking sessions were separated by at least 3 days to allow the drug to leave their systems.

The low- and high-dose marijuana cigarettes produced identical levels of pain relief and reductions in the intensity and unpleasantness of pain, the researchers found. But study participants were more likely to report feeling "high," "stoned" or "impaired" when smoking the higher-dose joint. They also had impairments in attention, learning, memory and fine-motor coordination and speed. The lower-dose cigarettes produced some impairment in learning and memory, but to a lesser degree."The lower dose did not adversely affect people's thinking," Wilsey said."There might be a therapeutic window that we could advise for using smoked cannabis in treating nerve injury pain."

Wilsey and his team are now planning studies of marijuana cigarettes containing 1.75% 9-THC to determine if an even lower dose can produce equal pain relief with fewer side effects. They also are planning to test vaporized cannabis, to avoid the health effects of smoke.Source: Reuters (Wire) Author: Anne Harding Published: April 30, 2007

Hillary's Uninspiring Drug Reform Plan
Ellen Komp, AlterNet. April 14, 2008.
We are likely to see more money spent on failed policies if Hillary moves back to the White House in 2009.

April 6, 2008 - According to The TV, Canadian Teen TV series Degrassi: The Next Generation features a "part time lesbian, reformed mean girl, pot-head cheerleader" named Paige (played by Lauren Collins). IIn addition to CTV, the show is rebroadcast on MTV’s nighttime teen network The N (and in syndication) in the United States. The show is reportedly a top-10 favorite destination of users, and has quite a following among women age 25-34.

So of course I checked it out. In one episode, career-minded Paige crashes and burns at a College Fair after her bad-girl friend talks her into smoking the pot her boyfriend gave her the night before when he dumped her. There was no mercy for her, but there was some for the cancer patient/student who finds relief in pot, until he overindulges. And in the most interesting episode, teen queen Emma gets clued in that her country-club boyfriend set up his rival with a pot bust. It was reminiscent of the old Spin City episode where it's revealed the Mayor's high school buddy started his downward slide after a similar incident. Overall the young actors on Degrassi (and elsewhere) need to learn that acting stoned isn't the same as acting drunk, or stupid. Check out Meryl Streep in Adaptation if you want to see a good job of acting under the influence.

April 1, 2008 - No April Fools in NY Times
A wonderful April 1 oped by the NY Times’s Timothy Egan talks about the marijuana law reform advocacy of VIP Rick Steves. “He looks at the 800,000 Americans arrested every year on marijuana charges and wonders why the waste of time, money and lives. Year after year, nothing changes, except the faces of those in jail,” the article states. “He thinks marijuana should be decriminalized, and that drug use in general should be treated primarily as a health issue — as the Canadians, the British, the Swiss and others do.”

As for the reaction Steves’s advocacy have caused, Egan writes, “Sponsors of his television shows have hardly blinked. Cops and conservatives have told him how much they agree with him. And, less than a month ago, the Luther Institute gave Steves its annual Wittenberg Award, recognizing ‘outstanding service to church and society.’”

By contrast, Egan states, “The cheerleaders and architects of harsh drug laws — from Rush Limbaugh, who promised to take random drugs tests after admitting his addiction to pain pills, to the former drug czar Bill Bennett, who had a multimillion-dollar gambling habit — have been exposed as moral frauds.”

Egan adds, “Two of the major presidential candidates are in a unique position to pivot away from the status quo. It’s been largely forgotten, but Cindy McCain, the wife of the presumptive Republican nominee, was once so hooked on the opioid painkillers Percocet and Vicodin that she resorted to stealing from a medical charity she ran.”

According to a 1999 story, Cindy McCain recounted for Jane Pauley (on "Dateline") and Diane Sawyer (on "Good Morning America") the tale of her onetime addiction, and the fact that she stole the drugs from the American Voluntary Medical Team, her own charity, and had been investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Her addiction, which came about after painful back and knee problems, was exacerbated by the stress of the Keating Five banking scandal that had ensnared her husband.

Egan also mentions Barack Obama’s admissions in his 1995 memoir of youthful alcohol and pot use, “maybe even a little blow when I could afford it.” Egan astutely adds, “He is lucky, a man told him on the campaign trail not long ago, that he didn’t end up in jail — a ruined life, one of the 2.3 million Americans locked up in the world’s largest prison system.”

March 29, 2008 - Zonkered!
According to the Wesleyan Argus of Middletown Connecticut, University officials banned Wesleyan’s traditional Zonker Harris Day because of associations between the Doonesbury character and the “drug culture.” In late February, Director of Residential Life Fran Koerting said that honoring the character, described in The New York Times as a “flaky pothead,” projected the wrong image for the University during April’s high-publicity WesFest celebration. Public Safety has reportedly been ordered to shut down the event if it is called “Zonker Harris Day” in any official document.

Organizers still plan to hold the traditional music and arts festival during WesFest weekend, under the temporary name “Honker Zarris Day,” or “He Who Must Not Be Named Day.” Barring any new developments, the festival will still happen on April 19.

March 28, 2008 - Getting Byrned
A battle is brewing in Congress over Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance (JAG) Grants, federal monies that fund drug task forces throughout the country. After abuses of the funds by Texas task forces were nationally reported, taxpayer groups successfully urged the Bush administration to zero out the grants. However, Democrats put back the pork and this year, even more monies are sought, to the tune of $906 million. The Senate, lead by the usually liberal Russ Feingold, has already passed the measure and the House will vote on it after they return from their Easter break. The National Narcotics Officers Association and state Attorneys General are lobbying in DC for the funds, and getting several news stories a day sounding the alarm that funding may be lost.

Bill Piper, Director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, which has been advocating for reform of Byrne grants for four years, points out that what is seen as free money for states actually costs local jurisdictions, since bulking up law enforcement means more drug-related incarcerations for which locals must pay. Also, since task forces are funded by federal grants or asset forfeiture instead of local budgets, they aren't always responsive to local mores and policies, Piper says, making for a "rogue cop" environment. "A lot of Democrats are disturbed by the fact that 1/100 Americans are behind bars, but then they turn around and vote for programs like the Byrne grants," Piper lamented. He did point out that the money can legally be funneled into treatment programs instead, and that DPA itself got a $500,000 grant for youth methamphetamine prevention in New Mexico.

Find your local jurisdiction's 2007 funding

See more at

March 26, 2008 - More Refreshing Honesty from NY Gov. Patterson
New York state thought it was cleaning up its act dumping Governor Eliot Spitzer for David Patterson, but Patterson was barely sworn in when he and his wife both admitted to marital infidelity. Now Patterson has proven refreshingly honest on the drug question as well. Here's a transcript of Gov. Paterson's interview with NY 1 anchor Dominic Carter, following a reference to a question about drug use in a debate between Gov. Spitzer and Tom Suozzi in 2006:

DC: " So now you're the governor of the state, have you ever used any illegal drugs Governor Paterson?"

DP: " Actually, Dominic, I was in the audience and was asked the same question on camera after that interview and I answered in the affirmative."

DC: "You have?"

DP: "Yes."

DC: "Marijuana?"

DP: "Yes."

DC: "Cocaine?"

DP: "Yes."

DC: "You have used cocaine governor?" DP: "I'd say I was about 22 or 23. I tried it a couple of times."

DC: "When was the last time? Is that the only time?"

DP: "Yea, it was around that time. A couple of times..and marijuana probably when I was about 20. I don't think I touched marijuana since the 70's."

DC: "Governor, we're not used to politicians being so forth right and honest. Honestly they often lie. Why are you trying this different approach and putting your cards on the table?"

DP: "I think inevitably a good ethical decision is a good political decision...a lot of people more Americans have tried a lot more during that period of time and gone on to lead responsible lives and hopefully have lived their lives to their fullest.. By the way, the answers I just gave you, are the ones I gave you the night at the debate you moderated back in July of 2006."

DC: "I think you would agree it is an entirely different ball game when you're a candidate for lieutenant governor and when you're now the governor of the state."

DP: "Are you suggesting I would change my answer because I was governor than that when I gave when I was Lieutenant Governor."

DC: "What I'm trying to say governor, no matter who is the governor and lieutenant governor, people pay a lot more attention when you're the leader of the state, the actual leader."

DP: "I'm sure there is, but there is only one truth -- and that's what I told you."

Naturally, all this was fodder for late night joksters. David Letterman replayed the interview where Patterson responded in the affirmative to the cocaine and marijuana questions, adding LSD and three-way sex. Jay Leno remarked that this is the biggest scandal about a Democrat in a week! " He’s black, he’s blind, he’s had extramarital affairs and he’s done cocaine and marijuana—are you sure he’s a governor? He sounds more like a blues musician." Leno quipped.

Reagan's Record
As Nancy Reagan endorses John McCain for President, it’s interesting to revisit her political record.

Kitty Kelley interviewed over 1000 people for Nancy Reagan: The Unauthorized Biography (Simon and Schuster, NY, 1991) and said people were more fearful of speaking publicly about Nancy Reagan than they were about Frank Sinatra. In July 1988 Kelley got a call from an FBI agent about a FOIA request she made for the book. She writes that Nancy was close to Betsy Bloomingdale and her husband Alfred, whose grandfather founded the Bloomingdale's department store chain. In 1968, while Ronald Reagan was governor of California, Nancy was telephoning Alfred daily and discussing policy matters with him, according to his former executive assistant, Sheldon Davis.

Davis told Kelley: "I remember Alfred coming into the office one Monday morning and laughing his head off about a small dinner party the Bloomingdales had given on Saturday night. The Reagans were there, the Bloomingdales, the Jack Bennys, and the George Burnses, I think; I forget who else was there. Anyway, they were all sitting around the dining room table eating Betsy's famous peach ice cream for dessert and talking about drugs and problems with the kids on campuses. Someone said, 'What's the big deal with this marijuana stuff anyway? What the hell is it?' Nobody knew anything about it, except what they had read or heard from their children. So Alfred went upstairs and got a joint that he had bought that afternoon from a hooker. He took it down to them, lit it, and passed it around so everyone could take a few toots. Within five minutes they all started giggling but claimed they didn't feel a thing and said they couldn't see what the big deal was. Alfred said it was so funny to watch Jack Benny and then the governor and his wife smoking pot. He laughed like hell every time he talked about it."

Kelley tried twenty years later to verify Davis's story. Janet DeCordova, wife of "Tonight Show" producer Fred DeCordova, said the incident did not take place at any of the dinner parties she attended at the Bloomingdales'. "Big deal, if he [Alfred] did pass a joint," she said, "but he didn't." Jimmy Stewart's wife Gloria said she'd never heard the story and Ursula Taylor Schacker said, "I wasn't there, but I wouldn't put it past the man." Bloomingdale was later accused by his longtime mistress Vicki Morgan of riding her piggyback and whipping her.

Kelley also writes that Ronald Reagan had many affairs during his lifetime, proposed to another woman before Nancy, was an undercover agent for the FBI, and was investigated by the justice department for tax fraud while a spokesman for General Electric. She writes that Nancy had a homosexual godmother, siphoned off $3.8 million from her antidrug charities into her own foundation, spied on her children and mistreated her stepchildren, and gave the best head in Hollywood (according to a book by Peter Lawford's exwife). An unnamed senior White House staffer speculates in the book that Nancy was on amphetamines to curb her appetite because she was so energetic. But apparently when Kelley's book came out, it was the charge of smoking marijuana that the Reagans found most insulting because that was the charge they answered publicily.

Kelley writes that Reagan was so clueless she initially tried to team with producer Robert Evans on her anti-drug crusade, until Evans was prosecuted for cocaine. But preciently, Nancy predicted in 1972 that legalizing marijuana would lead to reefers in vending machines.

Rep. Barney Frank announced on VIP Bill Maher's Real Time live program on Good Friday that he would "file a bill as soon as we go back to remove all penalties for small amounts of marijuana." This will be the first time in US history that a re-legalization bill will be filed in Congress.

Saying the move warmed his heart, Maher asked Frank why he was doing so at this stage. Frank frankly answered that he'd been burned early on by bills to remove penalties for gay sex, and now "I finally got to the point where I think I can get away with it." One can hope other long-term politicians, will also want to do the right thing before they retire.

The Congressman, who has served since 1981, jokingly added that he feared the bill would negatively impact public health, since it would allow medical marijuana in all states. Republican PJ O'Rourke jumped in saying he was suddenly feeling a little ill himself. Maher countered that there were pot shops on every street corner in Los Angeles, but Frank reminded him that they were still at odds with federal law.

"I now think it's time for the politicians to catch up to the public," Frank said. "The notion that you lock people up for smoking marijuana is pretty silly. I'm going to call it the Make Room for Serious Criminals bill."

Time to lobby your Congress critters, who are on Easter break and will reconvene March 31.

Lost in the flap over the anti-American tirade from Obama’s minister is a major reason why Jeremiah Wright damned our country. "The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America'," Wright said in a 2003 sermon. "No, no, no, not God bless America, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human." (see )

When Wright says the government gives people drugs, he was likely referring to the work of Gary Webb, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist who wrote in a 1996 San Jose Mercury News series that Nicaraguan drug traffickers had sold tons of crack cocaine in Los Angeles and funneled millions of dollars in profits to the CIA-supported Nicaraguan contras during the 1980s. More compelling evidence is presented in the current not-to-be-missed Showtime program American Drug War: The Last White Hope.

Regardless, Wright has cause to be outraged over racism in the drug war. Although public health data reveals that whites use drugs at the same rate as blacks, African Americans make up almost half of those arrested and convicted for drug offenses. Between 1992 and 1996, drug sentences skyrocketed and the African American prison population doubled. Today, 1 in 3 black men are in prison, on parole or on probation and 1 in 14 black children has a parent in prison. (See Drug Policy Alliance: “The War on Drugs or The New Jim Crow?

Did Obama address these issues in his mop-up speech? Of course not. Although he has admitted to youthful drug use, Obama and the other candidates have managed to sidestep the issue of our longest, 100-year drug war, its detrimental effects on all of society, its inhumanity, and the justified rage that it engenders.

An Israeli researcher who has taken 160 ayahuasca trips theorizes that Moses had the same experience

In the British journal Time and Mind, researcher Benny Shanon of Jerusalem's Hebrew University wrote that a psychoactive plant, harmal, is found in the Sinai desert and considered to have magical and healing powers. He hypothesized that the phenomena described in the Book of Exodus could have been brought on by an "altered state of awareness."

"In advanced forms of ayahuasca inebriation, the seeing of light is accompanied by profound religious and spiritual feelings," Shanon wrote. "On such occasions, one often feels that in seeing the light, one is encountering the ground of all Being ... many identify this power as God."


Dawn Wells, the petite brunette who played Mary Ann on TV’s Gilligan’s Island, isn’t most people’s idea of a pothead. It was a surprise to many when the 69-year-old actress was caught with pot in her car last October. She was sentenced on February 29 to six months' unsupervised probation and quickly lost a speaking engagement for a Girl Scouts fundraiser.

The still-perky Wells is the founder of the Idaho Film and Television Institute and organizer of an annual family movie festival called Spud Fest. She was pulled over by an Idaho state trooper on her way home from a surprise party held in her honor, when the officer noticed the telltale smell of pot. A search found several half-smoked doobies and stash boxes. At the scene, Wells claimed she had picked up three hitchhikers who did the puffing; her lawyer later claimed another friend had left pot in her car that day.

In an interview on TV’s Entertainment Tonight, Wells claimed the pot was not hers and challenged the validity of the sobriety test she failed. She admitted she was weaving on the road, which she says was because of trying to turn on the heater in her new car, and plea bargained all charges down to reckless driving.

Driving issues aside (she had a few drinks at the party), it’s too bad Wells couldn’t admit to her likely marijuana use, as have other girl-next-doors Jennifer Aniston and Kirsten Dunst. Her arrest is one of almost 800,000 yearly pot busts in the US, and most offenders don’t get off as easily as TV stars, losing jobs, college loans, and sometimes even their children.

Ten years ago, Wells was rumored to be the person who mailed her co-star Bob Denver a package of pot to his West Virginia home. Denver, who played the title role of Gilligan, was arrested after receiving the package and also got probation. Interestingly, for all you cats and kitties who are too young to remember, Denver’s breakthrough TV role was that of Maynard G. Krebs, beatnik buddy to the title character in "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" (1959-1963) and arguably the first stoner-type character on TV.


Madonna, 49, grabbed headlines away from her fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees by using her acceptance speech to reveal she took Ecstasy and smoked grass on her way to the top. The admissions came on March 10 at New York's Waldorf-Astoria hotel.

After accepting her award from Justin Timberlake, Madonna said, "The night I met Michael Rosenblatt, who signed me to Sire Records, I jammed my demo tape into his hand, we both did a tab of ecstasy and then we danced the night away." She then recalled the night she met long-term publicist Liz Rosenberg, saying: "We smoked a joint together." (See how bonding with drugs can help form productive relationships?)

Timberlake, who collaborated with Madonna on her upcoming album 'Hard Candy' and has admitted to past drug use, said Madonna gave him injections of vitamin B12 when they worked together. “That is what Madonna will always be to us. The shot in the a** when we really need it!" he said.

Others to be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year include The Dave Clark Five, Leonard Cohen, John Mellencamp and The Ventures.

The March 6 Rolling Stone cover story on Jack Johnson contained no admissions, but elsewhere in the mag, Matchbox Twenty front man Rob Thomas, 36, was interviewed on tour surrounded by his dogs, DVDs, scented candles, and "a blue bong he hits between sentences."

Seen on The Colbert Report: during a March 18 interview with Carole King, Colbert pulled out his Tapestry album and noted it folded, briefly demonstrating how this allowed people to clean their pot on it in the 70s. Sony is re-releasing Tapestry on CD with additional material on April 22.

Over two days of debate, Republican state Sen. Jason Crowell successfully scrapped a provision requiring the Missouri State High School Activities Association to perform drug tests on athletes from a bill on underage substance abuse.

"I guarantee you there's more kids smoking dope and doing marijuana than there are kids doing anabolic steroids," Crowell said in floor debate. "The athletes aren't the potheads. If this is really about the kids, the athletes are the least of your problems." Crowell pointed to his brother, who as a high-school wrestling coach and MSHSAA

representative in Southeast Missouri had never heard of athletes taking steroids. "This is patently the wrong direction to go," he said, before introducing two amendments cutting the drug-testing language from the bill.


In a March 9 New York Times article by Susan Stewart, Hamish Linklater, who plays Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s brother, Matthew, on the CBS show “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” said his character was conceived as a surfer, a stoner and a slacker. But, the article stated, CBS dislikes marijuana references “unless they’re very clever or very veiled.” Instead, Matthew plays a medical school dropout training to be a psychotherapist. Seems like the hard-drinking Christine could use a shrink, and a joint. Now says Chrisine smoked pot in her garage in last week's episode, Burning Down the House.

ANOTHER POTHEAD IDOL? and other sites have noticed that dreadlocked American idol contestant Jason Castro "seems kinda baked all the time." Last week's show began with a medley of Beatles songs, many of which were inspired by the weed.

Martin Chilcutt, a 74-year-old former intelligence officer with the U.S. Naval Air Force, has become an advocate for Michigan's proposed medical marijuana law. According to a March 8 story in the Kalamazoo Gazette, Chilcutt said pot has helped him to ease the pain and anxiety following his exposure to radiation during a 1956 U.S. government project testing nuclear and thermonuclear weapons.

A retired psychotherapist, Chilcutt said he first learned of marijuana's medical benefits in the late 1970s while counseling

Vietnam War veterans in California. He now serves as executive director of Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access, a Kalamazoo-based group he founded in 2007. He has battled skin cancer three times and has been in remission for the past 10 years.

If the marijuana-use proposal is approved by state voters, Michigan would become the 15th state -- and the first in the Midwest -- with a law that permits marijuana use for seriously ill people.

Jesus Weed: The misadventures of a young man in search of the perfect high by Gerald Taylor (2005, Ebury Press, London)

Jesus Weed is a rollicking adventure that will grip you from page one. Raised Catholic with an imaginary guardian angel who tattled on him to God, Taylor recounts smoking weed for the first time while working on a New Zealand sheep farm in 1973. Soon he was dealing pot and travelling the world, to the US, Mexico, Thailand, Afghanistan, and beyond. Along the way, he got some interesting history lessons from people whose “memories were as long as the bible.” Seems Alexander the Great invaded Carthage after the Phoenicians sold him a load of hash cut with camel dung. Alexander, whose Afghani supplies had been cut off by border uprisings, also invaded Lebanon’s Bekkah Valley around this time for its Lebby Red.

You’re Gonna Miss Me

This 2005 documentary (NetFlix has it) chronicles the rise and fall of Roky Erickson and The 13th Floor Elevators, the Texas band that coined the term “psychedelic rock.” The Elevators were fronted by Erickson, who is praised in the film by Patti Smith, ZZ Top, and promoter Chet Helms (who says Roky influenced Janis Joplin’s singing). Called “a guy permanently [naturally] tripping,” “not of this world,” and “a jewel,” Erickson was overdosed on his second acid trip in 1968 and briefly institutionalized with a schizophrenia diagnosis. Under surveillance by Austin police who admittedly wanted to make an example of him, Erickson was busted for possession of matchbox full of pot in 1969. He pleaded insanity and spent three years in Rusk State Hospital for the Criminally Insane where he was reportedly given electroshock therapy and Thorazine. He tried a comeback in 1975 and after intervention from his family, recently appeared at the SWSX festival in Austin.

According to Wikipedia, the band’s name was a play on the fact that the letter “M” for marijuana is the 13th letter in the alphabet.

Also see: Eye Mind: The Saga of Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators, The Pioneers of Psychedelic Sound by Paul Drummond and

Next week’s "Root of All Evil" with VIP Lewis Black (Weds, 10:30 PM on the Comedy Channel) will see Beer face off against Weed, with judge Lewis deciding which is evil. (Last week pitted Donald Trump v. Viagra.)

February 3 - Moss Triumphs As Patriot
Randy Moss, written off my many as a shiftless pothead, appears to have been correct when he blamed the Oakland Raiders’ poor performance on bad quarterbacking. When Moss teamed up with Tom Brady of the New England Patriots this year, the result was near perfection. The Patriots ended the season with a perfect 16-0 record, after beating the NY Giants 38-35 on December 29. After missing an underthrown pass from Brady, Moss was given a second chance to make the winning touchdown, a 65-yard play that was also Brady’s 50 th touchdown pass of the season (breaking a Peyton Manning record) and Moss’s 23 rd touchdown reception of the year (breaking a record held by Jerry Rice since 1987, though Rice did it in 14 games).

The New York Times proclaimed, “The tandem of Brady and Moss has electrified the N.F.L. this season, and this touchdown will be immortalized.” The Patriots are only the 4 th team to end the season with a perfect record, and the first to win 16 games. They won a record 19 consecutive regular-season games and also set a new single-season record of points scored with 589, surpassing the 1998 Minnesota Vikings' mark of 556, Moss’s first season in the NFL when he caught 17 touchdown passes for the Vikings.

"We're grown men but we're really big kids at heart," Moss said of his enthusiasm on the play. He came to the podium in diamond earrings, sunglasses and with his tie loose and the top button of his shirt undone. On the podium, he was engaging and funny. When a Japanese reporter said his audience was closely following the team, Moss smiled and said he didn't speak that language. "Just tell them we said what's up, man," Moss said.

Brady was asked what it was like to work with Moss, who joined the Patriots at the start of this season. "It's terrible, it's awful," Brady said with a characteristic smile. "No, he's the best so it makes it easy on me."

"I don't think me breaking Jerry Rice's record is special," Moss said. "I think shutting you guys up is what made it special, all the negativity, all my critics."

Next thing you knew, public sentiment had turned against Moss again and Brady was unable to perform in the Stupor Bowl against the Giants offensive line (who looked like they were on coke, as did their coach.)

Texas Senator: Lottery Scratchers Like Crack

The State of Texas has taken legalized gambling to the next level by offering not only $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $25, and $30 tickets, but also now a $50 scratch-off with the top prize of $5 million. A State Senator of Texas, Eliot Shapleigh said in response, "Scratch-off tickets are to the lottery what crack is to cocaine."

In 2006, according to a University of North Texas survey commissioned by state lottery officials, the typical black player spent $70 a month on the lottery, compared with $47 for Hispanics and $20 for whites. Scratch-offs showed an even larger degree of imbalance. Players with a high school degree or less typically buy $20 a month worth of scratch-off tickets, compared with $10 for college graduates. Similarly, players with an annual income of less than $12,000 spent 33 percent more a month than those with incomes above $100,000. Source

Charges Dropped Against Denver Vet

According to the Denver Post, charges were dropped on December 14 against a Desert Storm veteran who was arrested for growing 71 marijuana plants in his basement. Kevin Dickes, who has a medical-marijuana card, said he needed the marijuana to help him with the pain he has suffered daily since a grenade landed next to him in Kuwait when he served there as a Marine in 1991. He has no feeling below his right calf and suffers from chronic vascular disease.

Police swarmed Dickes' Aurora, Colorado home on April 27 on a tip from a neighbor. SWAT officers opened his door and threw him to the ground and pointed their guns directly at him, according to Dickes.

Under Colorado's medical-marijuana law, approved by voters in 2001, patients under a doctor's care who get a medical-marijuana card, as Dickes did, can have up to 2 ounces of pot or six plants. But there is a provision in the law that allows for more plants if a judge deems that the medical condition warrants it.

Pot-Puffing Professor Gets Real
On January 6, the Dallas Morning News picked up Cal State Long Beach professor and novelist Diana Wagman’s column: What my cancer taught me about marijuana, subtitled Why I – and a surprising number my friends – smoke pot

Among other things learned during chemotherapy treatment, like that eyelashes really do have a purpose and how wonderfully helpful her friends are, Wagman wrote, “What really shocked me was how many of my old, dear, married, parenting, job-holding friends smoke pot. …People I never expected dropped by to deliver joints and buds and private stash. … The poets and musicians were not a surprise, but lawyers? CEOs? Republicans?”

Pain was the #1 reason Wagman’s 40- and 50-something friends still get high, she wrote, adding, “We're all beginning to fall apart, and a couple of tokes really take the edge off the sciatica, rotator cuff injuries, irritable bowel syndrome and migraines.”

Wagman’s oncologist told her pot’s antinauseant properties were discovered 25 years ago, and that patients seem to like it today “ because they would rather support a farm in Humboldt County than a huge pharmaceutical conglomerate.” When modern medicine’s anti-nausea drugs didn’t work for Wagman she lit up, finding it helped “a lot” but shocking her 15-year-old DARE-educated daughter.

“I had come full circle in my life,” Wagman wrote. “The next time I had a toke, I stood in my bathroom with the fan on, blowing smoke out the window, but instead of my parents, I was scared my kids would find out I was smoking dope again.”

Oriental Delights Are Back

Arabian Nights, the book that turned Europe onto hashish, is back in vogue. According to the New York Times, the Arabian Nights event given by the designer Marc Jacobs at the Rainbow Room on December 12 was the office party of the year. Also spied on TV: a Hugh Hefner Arabian Nights party where Hef was depicted as a shiek, complete with hookah and (of course) harem girls in a mural that lead to the tent (as in, pitching one).

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