VERY IMPORTANT POTHEADS Changing the Face of Cannabis

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August 17, 2007 - WORLD'S FIRST NARCOTICS OFFICER FAVORED HASHISH LEGALIZATION
Arguably the first senior police officer to combat cannabis, Sir Thomas Russell was of the opinion that Egyptians used cannabis to strengthen them against malaria and intestinal parasites, allowing them to continue working despite their illnesses. He advocated focusing law enforcement efforts on cocaine, heroin and morphine and proposed legalizing hashish for economic reasons.

From Cannabis: A History by Martin Booth (Picador, 2004) pp. 145-146:

"Thomas Wentworth Russell was born in November 1879 and, after graduating from the University of Cambridge in 1902, joined the Egyptian Civil Service, later becoming the founder of the famous Camel Corps. In 1917, he was appointed commandant of the Cairo Police, with the title pasha, a Turkish rank given to senior military commanders. Twelve years later [1929], he was made head of the Egyptian Central Narcotics Intelligence Bureau, and ordered to fight the drug trade wherever he found it. This he did, with efficiency and devotion, and he was knighted for it: yet it must be noted he considered opiates, especially heroin, to be the most dangerous drugs he encountered and he was if not apathetic towards cannabis then at least understanding of its place in Arab culture. . . .

"In his autobiography, Egyptian Service 1902-1946 (John Murray, London, 1946) Russell said he believed the drug was used because of the malaria, as well as bilharzias (or schistosomiasis [aka blood fluke]) and ancylostomsiasis (intestinal hookworm), from which a majority of peasants, particularly male, suffered as a result of contact with slow-moving water in irrigation canals. He considered that cannabis gave them the strength they needed to continue to work whilst suffering these debilitating diseases and, when the price of hashish rose due to effective policing, he noticed how they turned to drinking strong tea and mixing henbane leaves with their tobacco.

"After the Great War, Russell Pasha thought it was best to concentrate on what he called white drugs—cocaine, heroin and morphine that appeared commonly as white powder or blocks—and ignore the black drugs, hashish and raw opium. He even mooted legalizing hashish, producing it under government monopoly; this, he said, would not only control the drug but also swell the exchequer and address the balance-of-payments deficit being caused by the smuggling of hashish from overseas. The authorities disagreed and Russell was ordered to tighten his grip on the smugglers."

Thomas's 1954 obituary from the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime

Wikipedia on the Imperial Camel Corps

August 13, 2007 -WEEDS WETURNS, GOES GANGSTER
Martin Donovan co-starred with Mary-Louise Parker in 2002's "Pipe Dreams," where he plays a plumber who masquerades as a movie director to get girls, using Parker's scripts as bait. On Showtime's "Weeds" he plays the equally hapless DEA agent after the cool chick (Parker again), and may have met his end on the last season's cliff hanger. Tune in on August 13 to see how it will all sort out and see new cast member Mary-Kate Olsen (sans Ashley). "Weeds" has been nominated for five Emmys: Outstanding Lead Actress (Parker) and Supporting Actress (Elizabeth Perkins), Single-camera picture editing (for two different episodes) and casting.

But don't look for a pro-legalization stance from the show. An August 5 LAist Interview with Jenji Kohan, creator of "Weeds" has Kohan calling this season "gangster."

"I wanted to do an outlaw show. Pot was 'in the air' with all the clubs opening in LA after the passage of Prop. 215. It was the perfect vehicle because while it's illegal, no one takes it that seriously. It's the funny drug. Plus there's a pot smoker in every family - it crosses all social, religious, economic, political, racial lines."

"Contrary to popular belief, I am so not a stoner," Kohan told LAist. "While I have smoked pot in my lifetime, it's truly not my drug. I'm too much of a control freak. If anything, my vice is food." Asked, "What will you tell your kids about drugs?" the answer was, "I'm not in favor of drug use, and stupidity is punishable."

Meanwhile, the DEA had been cracking down on LA clubs and Craig X, who appeared on a Weeds episode, has been found guilty of marijuana crimes for operating a church in LA where the weed was used sacramentally. Too bad the stupidity of the drug war isn't punishable.

CORRECTION
I formerly wrote it was Stuart Luce who played the medical pot doc on HBO's Entourage. Correction: it was Bob Balaban, not Luce (both actors appeared as Steinblooms in "A Mighty Wind"). Balaban is actually Hollywood royalty. Among many other roles, he appeared in "Midnight Cowboy," Woody Allen's trippy "Alice," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (about which he published a diary), and several episodes of "Seinfeld" (wherein he played the head of NBC). He was a producer on 2001's Oscar-nominated "Gosford Park" (directed by VIP Robert Altman).

According to imdb.com, Balaban is the son of Elmer Balaban (1909-2001), one of seven Balaban brothers who once dominated the theater business in Chicago and much of the Midwest. Bob's Uncle Barney was chairman of Paramount Pictures from 1936 to 1964, and was one of the movie magnates who attended the Waldorf Conference in 1946, in which the blacklist against communists was implemented. Sounds like Bob understands how ugly a witch hunt can get and is for tolerance.

Kevin Dillon, who plays the patient wanting the pot, has been nominated for an Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Emmy. Entourage is up for seven Emmys: Outstanding Comedy series, plus Casting, Directing, Sound Mixing, Supporting Actor (Jeremy Piven and Dillon), and Guest Actor (Martin Landau). The awards will be presented in September.

GERALDO ON GETTING BUSTED
During an August 5 broadcast that began with a story about the Minnesota bridge collapse, Fox's Geraldo at Large featured a segment with Barry Cooper, a former Texas narcotics officer who produced a DVD with tips on how to avoid drug arrests titled, "Never Get Busted Again." Through rabid arguments, the segment got out the message that the 30-year drug war is a failure. A former narcotics officer, Cooper expressed his belief that ending the drug war would end the murder of police officers over drugs. The final thought he expressed was: legalize and tax drugs, and build bridges.

"I will do anything legal to frustrate law enforcement's efforts to place American citizens in jail for nonviolent drug offenses," Cooper says on his website. He has begun filming a second DVD, called "Never Get Raided" and is also is planning a documentary in which he would ply 50 partygoers with beer and marijuana and film what happens next. The aim, he said, is to prove that partygoers who get high are less dangerous than those who get drunk.

HEMPOLINE A COOL FUEL
The same night (August 5), Science Channel's Cool Fuel Road Trip had Aussie Shaun Murphy and his dog Sparky travelling through the southern US fueled by hempoline (Episode #8 at http://www.coolfuelroadtrip.com/). "Henry Ford built a car of hemp and ran it on hemp fuel," Shawn correctly stated, and his crew helped mix the 80% hemp oil, 20% ethanol mixture that got their RV on the road from Montgomery, Alabama to Jackson, Mississippi. A miscalculation on the amount of lye to be added (it's 3.5 g/l, not 35 grams) caused them to waste five gallons of precious hemp oil (which, it was noted, had to be imported since hemp is not legal to grow in the US). So the gang charged up a motorbike instead to make it across the Mississippi river. Hemp yields 300 gallons of oil per acre, the Cool Fuelers told us, a higher oil yield than other seeds. And the ethanol in hempoline seemed to clean out the fuel filter in their RV, which got better mileage on hemp than on other fuels.

CLARKSON REBELS/SMOKES POT (COINCIDENCE?)
Blender magazine's (blender.com) August profile of American Idol Kelly Clarkson presented America's sweetheart as a bit of a rebel, though it didn't mention her recent admission of pot smoking in Amsterdam (see below). The piece by Craig Marks documents the Grammy winner's rift with 74-year-old BMG Chairman/CEO Clive Davis and her split with manager Jeff Kwatinetz over her new album, "My December," and its tour. Clarkson's 2004 recording, Breakaway, earned about $100 million for BMG, selling 12 million copies worldwide and producing four #1 hit singles in an online era where CD sales are hitting the skids. But her new self-written material is darker than the "Since You Been Gone" style of singles that put her on the chart. in a sidebar, Blender compares her struggles with the music industry establishment to those of Mozart v. Colloredo, VIP Diego Rivera v. John D. Rockefeller, and Terry Gilliam v. Sid Sheinberg of MCA/Universal (over the movie Brazil). "I can't stand it when people put out the same record over and over again," Clarkson told Blender. "Life is too short to be a pushover." A Texan Christian, her new album will be influenced by the Rolling Stones's "Dead Flowers" era.

HOT AUGUST DAZE
According to my MAPS calendar, (www.maps.org) August has a couple of important dates in psychedelic history. The first is August 28, when in 1964 the Beatles first smoked pot (proffered by Bob Dylan).

And on August 29, 1956, Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill Wilson took LSD (then legal) under the supervision of a doctor, and with Aldous Huxley and Gerald Heard standing by. Heard's notes read: "At 1:00 PM Bill reported a feeling of peace. . . .At 3:15 PM he said he felt an enormous enlargement of everything around him. . . . At 3:40 he said he thought people shouldn't take themselves so damn seriously." Susan Cheever writes in My Name is Bill, "Bill loved LSD. He urged everyone he knew to try it, including [his wife] Lois, his secretary, Nell Wing, his friend Dr. Jack Norris, the Reverend Sam Shoemaker, and Father Ed Dowling. He even thought his mother might benefit." Although he had by this time stepped down as leader of Alcoholics Anonymous, Wilson still got grief from AA over embracing LSD. By the end of 1959, he had stopped taking LSD and no longer encouraged others to try it.

Bill Wilson became an alcoholic during the days of alcohol prohibiton; in 1933 when Prohibition was repealed, he "just shifted from speakeasies to bars," according to Cheever. (So much for law enforcement solutions to drug problems.)

Wilson was treated at the Charles B. Towns Hospital at 293 Central Park West in NYC where the Towns-Lambert treatment for alcoholics "consisted of belladonna (deadly nightshade), combined with ingredients like dried bark of prickly ash and henbane, followed by castor oil (Cheever). In his autobiography Pass It On, Wilson's description of the experience sounds psychedelic: "Suddenly, my room blazed with an indescribably white light. I was seized with an ecstasy beyond description." A military man and staunch conservative Republican from an established New England family, Wilson "never stopped searching for chemical cures for alcoholism."

A study conducted 40 years after alcoholics were given a single dose of LSD showed "dramatic" results, according to data released late last year. Erika Dyck, professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Alberta, said: "The LSD somehow gave these people experiences that psychologically took them outside of themselves and allowed them to see their own unhealthy behaviour more objectively, and then determine to change it.... I was surprised at ... how powerful they said the experience was for them - some even felt the experience saved their lives." The research was carried out in Saskatchewan where Humphry Osmond and his fellow British psychiatrist John Smythies. In one study, two-thirds of the alcoholics stopped drinking for at least 18 months after receiving one dose of LSD, compared to 25 per cent who stopped after group therapy and 12 per cent after individual therapy.

And in another August anniversary, on the evening of August 31, 1948, actor Robert Mitchum was arrested for marijuana in Los Angeles. Read about VIP Mitchum.

CAN'T KEEP DOWNEY DOWN
Robert Downey Jr. was widely praised in a Biography channel profile that aired recently. One critic acknowledged that Downey's filmmaker father turned him on to marijuana at the age of 8, and that this didn't make him such a good parent. But he nevertheless credited Downey Sr. with instilling a sense of adventure in his son, a quality that is sorely lacking in today's "play it safe" actors. According to the documentary, Downey Jr. had to forfeit much of his salary to insurance payments in several films he made after his well publicized troubles with hard drugs, notably "Two Girls and a Guy," a wonderful showcase for Downey's talents, and "The Wonder Boys," a role it was acknowledged no one else could have played. All marveled at his repeated comebacks against all odds, and his new-found success in his professional and personal lives. He will soon star in a major market superhero film. See: Downey Case Illuminates Drug War Injustice, Hypocrisy

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READING
Cannabis: A History by Martin Booth
Booth's comprehensive history of cannabis, from ancient times all the way to the modern hemp and medical marijuana movements, is illuminated with examples of prominent cannabis consumers throughout history, with an emphasis on American and British musicians and writers.

Drug Wars: The Political Economy of Narcotics by Curtis Marez
Marez, a USC professor, offers fascinating perspectives of the use of media to brand marijuana as evil and foreign, far beyond what has been previously reported, as well as astute political observations and a rare Latin American perspective.

July 22, 2007- HILLARY BACKS MMAR PROVIDERS; McCAIN FLOPS
As America's second largest cancer charity, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, came out strongly for protection of medical marijuana patients, Democratic frontrunner and VIP Hillary Clinton called for an end to federal raids in states where medical use of marijuana is legal, while John McCain backtracked on an earlier promise to end the raids.Source.

During a Manchester campaign stop on July 13, Len Epstein, a volunteer for Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana (GSMM), told Sen. Clinton, "Twelve states allow medical marijuana, but the Bush administration continues to raid patients," to which she responded, "Yes, I know. It's terrible." Epstein then asked, "Would you stop the federal raids?" Sen. Clinton responded firmly, "Yes, I will."

The following day in Claremont, Sen. McCain held a town hall meeting at which he was asked about his stance on medical marijuana. When asked in April about ending the medical marijuana raids, McCain had responded, "I will let states decide that issue." But this time, when GSMM campaign manager Stuart Cooper asked Sen. McCain if he still supported ending the raids, he went into headlong retreat. "Not yet," he said. "I don't think marijuana is healthy, I don't think that it is good for people, and there is a large body of medical opinion that says there is plenty of other medications that are more effective and better and less damaging to one's health to use to relieve pain. So I will continue to look at it on your behalf and many other young people who feel very strongly about it, but right now my answer to you is no."

Meanwhile, Rudolph Guiliani, who was a lobbyist for Oxycontin, has reiterated his position against medical marijuana. And Oxycontin's pushers, Purdue pharma, got probation and community service sentences on July 20 for "mislabeling" the drug, which (unlike cannabis) has caused deaths from overdose. Even Time magazine wonders: dispite the $634 million fine, did they get off easy?

See background at Presidential Hopefuls on Pot.

FORMER SURGEONS GENERAL CITE POLITICAL INTERFERENCE
A July 11 article in the International Herald Tribune states Dr. Richard Carmona, a former U.S. surgeon general, told a congressional panel that top Bush administration officials would not allow him to speak or issue reports on the subjects of stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education or prison, mental or global health issues. Top officials tried to "water down" a landmark report on secondhand smoke and delayed it for years, he said. Released last year, the report concluded that even brief exposure to cigarette smoke can cause immediate harm. Administration officials even discouraged him from attending the Special Olympics because, he said, of that charitable organization's longtime ties to a "prominent family" that he declined to name. When asked after the hearing whether that "prominent family" was the Kennedys, Carmona responded, "You said it. I didn't."

Carmona, 57, served as surgeon general for one four-year term from 2002 to 2006 but was not asked to serve a second. Before being nominated to the post, he was in the Army Special Forces, earned two Purple Hearts in Vietnam and was a trauma surgeon and leader of the special weapons and tactics team of Pima County, Arizona. Carmona testified under oath at a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chaired by Representative Henry Waxman, Democrat of California. The topic was strengthening the office of the surgeon general. Dr. C. Everett Koop, who held the post during the Reagan administration, and Dr. David Satcher, who served during the Clinton administration and the first year of the administration of George W. Bush, also testified. Each complained about political interference and the declining status of the office.

Satcher said the Clinton administration discouraged him from issuing a report showing that needle-exchange programs were effective in reducing disease, but he released it nevertheless. Koop said he discussed the growing AIDS crisis despite being discouraged from doing so by top officials in the Reagan administration. All three men urged major changes in how the surgeon general is chosen and how the office is financed. It's funny that Clinton's Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders didn't testify. At a 1995 drug policy conference in Los Angeles, Elders told the press that all her information about drug policy was removed from her office when she was on a trip while Surgeon General. Elders was forced out of office because of her stance on sex education and drugs. She supported Proposition 215, the 1996 California medical marijuana initiative.

Carmona said he was ordered to mention President George W. Bush three times on every page of his speeches. He also said he was asked to make speeches to support Republican political candidates and to attend political briefings. A recent Congressional investigation found that the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) used taxpayer money to boost support for Republican candidates in 2006. U.S. Drug Czar John Walters and his deputies traveled to almost 20 events with vulnerable Republican members of Congress in the months prior to the election. The taxpayer-financed trips were orchestrated by President Bush's political advisors and often combined with the announcement of federal grants or actions that made the Republican candidates look good in their districts. Karl Rove commended ONDCP officials for "going above and beyond the call of duty" in making "surrogate appearances" in "the god awful places we sent them." At the same time, President Bush was increasing funding for Walters' favorite programs, the anti-marijuana ad campaign and the student drug testing program. Read more.

MERRY OLD ENGLAND
Nine members of UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown's cabinet admitted this week that they had smoked marijuana, following the admission of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, the cabinet minister in charge of police and domestic security. Smith said in a television interview that she had tried marijuana while an undergraduate at Oxford University in the early 1980s. She said she had smoked it "just a few times", had "not particularly" enjoyed it and now realised it was "wrong". The display of openness overshadowed the announcement of new anti-crime measures by Miss Smith (Daily Telegraph, London).

Several senior Tory and Labour politicians, including the former Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, had previously admitted smoking cannabis. Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, when asked if he smoked it, said: "Occasionally in my youth." Andy Burnham, the Treasury chief secretary, admitted trying it "once or twice at university", while Ruth Kelly, the Transport Secretary and a devout Catholic, smoked it in her youth but realised it was "foolish and gave up". A spokesman for John Hutton, the Business and Enterprise Secretary, said he smoked cannabis at university over 30 years ago. "He regrets doing it now." Mr Brown has already issued a categorical denial and there were further denials yesterday from Jack Straw (Justice), Ed Balls (Children), Peter Hain (Work and Pensions) and David Miliband (Foreign Secretary). Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, remarked that he "did the sex and rock and roll but not the drugs" during his youth. Harriet Harman, the Labour deputy leader, told GMTV, "I did, when I was at university, smoke cannabis once or twice."

The prime minister, who promised his government would be guided by his moral compass, was said to be "relaxed" about the confessions. On July 18, Mr Brown announced that she would head a review of drugs strategy, including whether to reverse the earlier decision to downgrade cannabis from a class B to a class C drug.

See a tremendous editorial in the Sunday Herald titled It's Time our Non-Inhaling Politicians Stopped Treating Use Like Dopes.

ENTOURAGE JOINS THE CLUB
How ironic that just as the DEA has threatened to bring forfeiture proceedings against the landlords of all LA Cannabis Coops that Johnny Drama should join one on HBO's Entourage (episode #47). After only the cool "Californria Homegrown" trucker hat, Drama (played by Kevin Dillon) has a remarkable conversation with an understanding and and astute doctor, played by Stuart Luce, who diagnoses his panic disorder. Unfortunately, his manner of smoking the herb only exacerbates his problem (or perhaps it allows him to address it). Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, Showtime is airing the excellent documentary "In Pot We Trust," giving a full picture of the medical marijuana debate in Michael Moore fashion, and using it to promote the return of "Weeds" on August 13.

POPPER POPPED; WALKS
Blues Traveler harmonicat John Popper has been granted a conditional discharge of his pot case in Washington state. Popper, a Grammy winner, was riding in his Mercedes SUV being driven by Brian Gourgeois, 34, when it was pulled over by Washington state troopers in March for going 111 mph. The troopers said they smelled marijuana and used a dog to search the vehicle, finding s small amount of marijuana and a pipe. Officers seized the SUV and booked Popper and Gourgeois at Adams County Jail on misdemeanor charges of possessing a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia. Gourgeois was also charged with reckless driving.

Inside the vehicle were four rifles, nine handguns and a switchblade knife. Troopers also found a Taser and night vision goggles. Popper faced an additional weapons charge for a knife and brass knuckles stowed in the glove compartment; however, prosecutors dropped that count when he agreed to turn them in to authorities. Troopers also said the vehicle had flashing emergency headlights, a siren and a public address system. In a news release, Popper "indicated to troopers that he had installed these items in his vehicle because (in the event of a natural disaster) he didn't want to be left behind." At the time of the arrest, Popper's manager George Couri said said all the weapons in the vehicle are registered and were transported in a locked cabinet. Couri said Popper is an avid gun collector who often stops at shooting ranges when traveling, and that's why officers found weapons in his vehicle.

Per the terms of Popper's deal with the prosecutor the misdemeanor will be expunged from his record if he manages to stay out of trouble for a year. Adams County Deputy Prosecutor Ted Sams said that Popper was not given any special treatment and received a typical sentence, which also includes eight hours of classroom drug counseling. Popper, 40, won't be required to submit to random drug testing. I feel so much safer now.

THAT'S CONVENIENT
Drug Enforcement Administration officials in Dallas discovered nearly 300 of marijuana plants growing in a wooded area 200 yards from the DEA office in Dallas on July 12. Agents say they have no idea who planted and carefully tended to the elaborate farm.

CANADIAN JUDGE NEGATES POT PROHIBITION
On July 13, Toronto Judge Howard Borenstein dismissed charges against a 29-year-old man charged with possession of 3.5 grams of marijuana on grounds the law against it is unconstitutional. The man has no medical issues and doesn't want a medical exemption to smoke marijuana. In 2001, Health Canada implemented the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations, which allow access to marijuana to people who are suffering from grave and debilitating illnesses. In court, the man argued that the federal government only made it policy to provide marijuana to those who need it, but never made it an actual law. Because of that, he argued, all possession laws, whether medicinal or not, should be quashed. The judge agreed and dismissed the charges. "The government told the public not to worry about access to marijuana," said Borenstein. "They have a policy but not law.… In my view that is unconstitutional." He said he would wait two weeks before making the ruling official. Prosecutors plan to appeal the decision. Similarily this week, Liberal Senator Larry Campbell called for the decriminalization of marijuana, arguing that the Canadian government should tax it. Source.

AN AMERICAN IDOL IN AMSTERDAM
American Idol Kelly Clarkson (25) told USA Weekend magazine she ate a marijuana cookie in Amsterdam. "It is legal there, and it is not legal here," she (somewhat erroneously) said. "I don't ever do anything illegal here," Clarkson added. "I have never smoked anything in my life. I've never tried any drugs. I wouldn't do anything that would cause holes in your brain or your nasal cavity. Call me Texan, but I don't think of marijuana like that." Texan?

VERNONIA PRINCIPAL TREATED JUST LIKE STUDENTS?
A Vernonia, Oregon elementary school principal charged with marijuana possession will face undisclosed disciplinary action but can keep his job, district superintendent Kenneth Cox said. According to the sheriff's report, Aaron Miller (41) was leaning against his bike in a park on the night of July 6 when Deputy Chance Moore approached him. Moore wrote that Miller smelled of marijuana and was asked if he'd been smoking pot. Miller became visibly upset and said, "I could be in a lot of trouble for this, but yes I have been smoking marijuana." The deputy checked Miller's pockets where he found a small stash of the drug and a pipe.

A school board representative said, "Mr. Miller will be dealt with in a fashion similar to, but more severe than, that which we deal with students." Vernonia School District has been in the forefront of efforts of anti-drug efforts and started mandatory drug testing of its athletes in 1989. Two years later, a seventh-grader refused to take a drug test and was kept off the middle school football team. His parents sued in a case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld the district rule in 1995 (Vernonia School District v. Acton)

"IRON RIVER OF GUNS" FLOWS FROM U.S. TO MEXICO
According to a July 13 Reuters story by Tim Gaynor, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) estimates that gunrunners haul thousands of weapons a week over the border to Mexico, and they say demand is voracious. "Just as you see the flow of drugs that comes north, there is an iron river of guns that flows south into Mexico to supply criminal organizations on the border," said Tom Mangan, senior special agent with ATF in Phoenix. "They are in the market for machine guns, hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles ... It's like they are outfitting an army," he added. Also in demand are the drug lords' favorite: heavily decorated Colt .38 Super pistols.

Detectives say the traffickers often make several trips a day over the border with a trunk full of weapons, selling them in Mexico for a markup of 300 to 400 percent. Specialist cartel armorers then set to work retrofitting the semi-automatic rifles to turn them in to machine guns, some using a high degree of workmanship Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina has slammed slack U.S. gun laws as "absurd." Mexico announced in May that it was setting up an intelligence network with U.S. law enforcement agencies to try to stamp out the trade. But with an estimated 200 million guns in private hands in the United States, ATF agents are under no illusion that it will be easy.

CHINA EXECUTES TOP DRUG REGULATOR
In a move to demonstrate its seriousness about the safety of its products, China executed its former top food and drug regulator on July 10 for taking bribes from pharmaceutical companies to approve untested medicine, The Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court carried out the death sentence against Zheng Xiaoyu, 62, the former head of the State Food and Drug Administration, shortly after the country's Supreme Court rejected his final appeal. Zheng was the first ministerial-level official put to death since 2000 and the fourth since China opened its doors to the outside world nearly 30 years ago. Late last year he was charged with accepting $850,000 in bribes to grant approval for hundreds of medicines.State media said his agency had approved 137 drugs that had not submitted proper applications, and that six of those turned out to be entirely fake, including an antibiotic blamed for at least 10 deaths in China.

On the same day that Mr. Zheng was executed, representatives of the country's leading food and drug regulatory bodies held a joint news conference to emphasize their determination to crack down on fake and counterfeit food and medicine and outlined measures they had taken to guarantee clean food and water supplies for athletes and spectators at next summer's the Olympic games in Beijing.

Fears abroad over Chinese-made products were aroused last year by the deaths of dozens of people in Panama who took cough syrup that contained diethylene glycol, an ingredient in brake fluid, that was imported from China. Counterfeit Colgate toothpaste containing traces of the same liquid was found on store shelves in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland. No deaths have been reported from the counterfeit toothpaste and the United States and several other countries have banned Chinese-made toothpaste that contains diethylene glycol. Chinese-made pet food tainted with the chemical melamine, a fire retardant, caused the deaths of cats and dogs in the United States this year. In North America, authorities this year have blocked or recalled toxic seafood, juice made with unsafe color additives and toys coated with lead paint imported from China.

STEROIDS A SUBJECT OF "TALK OF THE NATION" INTERVIEW
On July 17, Dave Zirin, author of Welcome to the Terrordome was the guest of NPR's Talk of the Nation. The program looked at the collision of sports and politics, greed, militarism and the gouging of communities, as well as steroid use by athletes.

LIFE IN THE ANTHILL
During a discussion of ants and their human-like characteristics on Comedy Central's The Colbert Report (7/18), expert Mark Moffett mentioned ants eating fungus, to which Colbert asked, "Are they tripping on these mushrooms?" "They seem happy with their diet," Moffett replied. "There is an overlap between man and ant then," Colbert commented.

Also ant colonies are almost entirely female, so maybe when we're reincarnated as insects females will get their fair chance for a psychedelic experience. David Denby critiques the comedy of the sexes in modern films in the New Yorker (7/23), asking "How did we get from Frank Capra's 'It Happened One Night' (1934) to Judd Apatow?s 'Knocked Up? (2007)." Denby characterizes today's films, starting (mainly) with Steven Frears's 'High Fidelity' (2000) as the 'slacker-striver' romance, where the males are the slackers and the females the strivers. Lamenting that the society that produced Katharine Hepburn and Carole Lombard movies has vanished, Denby writes, "I'd be quite happy if I never saw another bong-gurgling slacker or male pack again."

In films like "Fever Pitch," "Big Daddy," "School of Rock," "The Break Up," and "Wedding Crashers," the men (played by Vince Vaughn, Adam Sandler, John Cusack, Jimmy Fallon, Matthew McConaughey, Jack Black) are infantile but charming, Denby writes, and the women (Drew Barrymore, Sarah Silverman, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Sarah Jessica Parker) are ambitious and uptight. In days of old, Buster Keaton, Jimmy Stewart, Jack Lemmon and Elliot Gould may have played "idle young swells" but they were challenged to exert themselves "to heroic effort to win the girl." They were paired with women who matched them with wit and character. But in today's adolescent-male-dominated world, the men are witty and soulful, and the women are beautiful breadwinners without an original thought in their heads.

He makes a good point, and he only has to endure this situation on film. In "Knocked Up" as in the final season of "The Sopranos," the men's trip to Vegas includes 'shrooms? but not their women, who are left home building the ant hill.

FLYING THE FRIENDLIER SKIES
Hemp-friendly Richard Bransom will be in the US next week to premiere his new Virgin Air hub in San Francisco. Stocked with new 8320 airbuses with leather Riccaro seats, mood lighting, chat rooms and touch-screen food ordering. Competitive fares are at www.virginamerica.com

VIP QUIZ: FINISH THE BILL MAHER JOKE AND WIN A BIG PRIZE!
The comic gods and goddesses were definitely smiling on Saturday (7/21), when Bill Maher returned to the HBO airwaves with his new stand-up show "The Decider." Appearing at the Berklee Center in Boston, Maher did the best routine on the word "fuck" since Lenny Bruce, put Michael Jackson in perspective with bullyism, and called our unexceptional president a clown on the world stage. It's now official: our comedians are more politically astute than our elected officials.

Win a Tommy Chong Bong Song CD by supplying the most correct answers to the following questions:

FREEBIE: On the date of the presidential colonoscopy, Bill said he's been waiting for our president to set a timetable for (what?).
ANSWER: To pull his head out of his ass.

Fill in the blanks in Bill's jokes:

1. Any country that lets me run at the mouth like this in public (what?)

2. Republicans talk about Ronald Reagan like gay guys talk about (who?)

3. (Blanks) are the most reliable product since the toaster.

4. Politicians are not good at governing. They're good at (what?)

5. Our anti-immigrant wall should be a 2100 mile (what?) still have only one (what?)

6. Republicans think sex is bad because (why?).

7. If God looked around the whole country and made George Bush president how good is (what?)

8. You know a prescription drug is serious if it has the letters (blank) or (blank) in the name.

9. If there's one thing Al Gore knows its (blanking blank).

10. Bill predicted for the 2008 election , "Brown is the new (what?)"

11. In Ann Coulter's world, a faggot is apparently somebody who "blanks" and "blanks" people.

12. What Flintstone-inspired museum exhibit did Bill lampoon?

13. People with the most ridiculous ideas are those (what?)

14. Republicans think sex is bad because (why?)

15. Unlike some prescription drugs, marijuana has been exhaustively tested, just by (who?)

BONUS QUESTION: Unfortunately, this was not a joke.
FCC regulators were treated to (how many?) vacation trips by broadcasters. Send your entries to quiz@veryimportantpotheads.com. Deadline: August 24, the day Maher's Real Time returns to HBO.

HOPE ON HOP
And lest you think marijuana jokes are something new, on July 20 Sirius Radio Classics station aired a 1944 Bob Hope broadcast from an air force base in Yuma, AZ. After some jokes about sneaking over the border for tequila, Hope appeared in a cowboy skit with the Andrews Sisters. When asked how his legs got bowed, "Dragalong" Hope replied, "I smoked one of them Mexican cigarettes. And I had a bad landing." In a later skit, Hope tried to interest a chum into visiting a Gypsy fortune teller (played by Zsa Zsa Gabor). "Then we can eat the tea leaves," he said.

July 13, 2007 - DRUGS AND BEER ADVERTISE HEAVILY IN 2006
The Advertising Age magazine Top Advertisers of 2006 issue is out, and pharmaceuticals and beer are high on the list. The number one advertiser again last year was Proctor and Gamble, spending a whopping $4.9 billion, an increase of 6.8%. Drug maker Glaxo Smith-Kline moved up to the #7 slot, spending $2.4 billion, an increase of 8.6%. Pfizer (#31), Wyeth (#33), Merck(#38) and Schering Plough (#42) all spent around a billion, increasing their expenditures by 10-30%, with Merck nearly doubling their ad dollars. Bristol-Myers Squibb (#59), Lilly (#69) and Bayer (#70) upped their spending by 18-22%, coming in at $553-$691 million. Anheiser-Busch was 53rd on the list, spending $813 million, a decrease of 11.5%, and lost a little of its 33% market share of the 214.2 million barrels of beer glugged by Americans last year.

Of the top 200 advertised brands, Lunesta came in at #45, with its maker Sepracor spending nearly $300 million, an increase of 38.4%; Ambien's maker Sanofi-Aventis spent $207 million, a 60% increase. Ads for Plavix (#126) and Lipitor (#132) cost around $150 million last year, up 36-52%. At the bottom of the list were Viagara (#192), Amblify (#193) and Boniva (#195), all costing their makers around $100 million. The Office of National Drug Control Policy came in at #166, spending $116.5 million, a decrease of 16.8%.

The "US Revenue per Advertising Dollar" chart revealed that Pfizer's US revenue was nearly $26 billion and Johnson and Johnson's nearly $30 billion last year. Those two spent 4.3% and 7.7% of their revenues on advertising, respectively, compared to Wal-Mart which, with revenues of $271 billion, spent a mere 0.4% on advertising. Anheiser-Busch's revenues were $14.6 billion, and it spent 5.6% of that on advertising. Total advertising dollars spent in all measured media in 2006 was $285 billion.

COLEMAN CHALLENGED TO COME OUT
A letter to Minnesota Republican Sen. Norm Coleman from a former college friend asks why he supports brutal drug laws when he was an avid pot smoker as a young man. The letter, from Florida attorney Norm Kent, states, "in our dorm rooms at Hofstra University, you, me, Billy, your future brother-in-law, Ivan, Jonathan, Peter, Janet, Nancy and a wealth of other students smoked dope....We grew up to become lawyers. Our other friends, as you go down the list, are doctors, professors, parents, political consultants and professionals. No one ever got cancer from smoking pot or diabetes from using a joint."

The letter continues, "How about standing up and saying: 'I, Norm Coleman, smoked pot in 1969.'...Can't Norm Coleman come out of the closet in 2007 and say "These arrests are wrong, that there is a better way, and we need to find it. You might find more integrity and honor in that then adopting the sad and sorry policy of our Office of National Drug Control Policy. You might find the person you were."

MARIJUANA SMOKER LIVES 120 YEARS
According to a December 04, 2006 article in The Sun, Fulla Nayak, believed to be the world's oldest woman, puffs "ganja" cigars and drinks strong palm wine in her cow-dung hut in India. She is 120 years old and lives with her 92-year-old daughter and grandson, 72, by the Indian Ocean. (Thanks for JackHerer.com for this story.) See photos.

July 7, 2007 - VIP of the Month: Al Gore (II)
As VIP Al Gore was promoting his July 7 global "Live Earth" concert, his 24-year-old son, Al Gore III, was busted a second time for pot (the first was December 2003, when he was stopped for driving without headlights and sent to a substance abuse treatment program). This time, the young Gore was driving at 100 mph in his Prius, which when stopped, reportedly smelled of pot and contained several unprescribed pharmaceuticals (Valium, Xanax, Vicodin and Adderall). Perhaps it was just an enviro publicity stunt, to demonstrate that a Prius can travel at 100 mph (who knew?)

Thumb suckers (a.k.a. editorial writers) from around the country were quick to jump on the news, including Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post Writers Group whose personal drug of choice, she writes, is "a heavenly elixir made from crushed grapes." Purely as a policy matter, Parker wrote, "If marijuana were legalized, regulated and taxed at the rates applied to alcohol and tobacco, revenues would reach about $6.2 billion annually, according to an open letter signed by 500 economists who urged President Bush and other public officials to debate marijuana prohibition. Among those economists were three Nobel Prize winners, including the late Milton Friedman of Stanford's Hoover Institution. Friedman and others were acting in response to a 2005 report on the budgetary implications of marijuana prohibition by Jeffrey Miron, visiting professor of economics at Harvard. By Miron's estimate, regulating marijuana would save about $7.7 billion annually in government prohibition enforcement -- $2.4 billion at the federal level and $5.3 billion at the state and local levels." She suggested a "fresh, freewheeling debate free of politics and bureaucratic self-interest is overdue. Maybe Al Gore could moderate."

Independence Day for Scooter Libby
Canny and compassionate SF Chronicle columnist Debra J. Saunders notes the irony of Scooter Libby's pardon while hundreds, if not thousands, of worthy clemency petitions await the president's decision.

June 30 - MOUNTAIN STAGE GETS HIGH
This week's Mountain Stage broadcast on NPR features Todd Snider, who got a rousing round of applause for his song, Conservative Christian, Right-wing Republican, Straight white American males
(who Snider sings are haters of "Tree-hugging, peace-loving, pot-smoking, porn-watching, lazy-ass hippies like me.") Afterwards, Mountain Stage host Larry Groce disclaimed that songs sung on the show do not necessarily reflect the views of the show or NPR (PAUSE)..."or maybe they do." More laughter.

It's nice to see Snider get some recognition for his delightfully honest tunes, like his song "Allright Guy" with lyrics,

Now maybe I'm dirty,
And maybe I smoke a little dope.
It ain't like I'm going on TV
And tearing up pictures of the Pope.

(Something done by Sinead O'Connor, who once said she thought dealing marijuana was one of the most legitimate jobs a person could have.)

"UNUSUALLY FRISKY" DEER LEAD TO MARIJUANA PLANTS
Italy: Forest rangers uncovered a marijuana farm on a mountaintop near Trento after residents commented on how the deer were 'unusually frisky' and leaping about uncharacteristically. The rangers themselves had observed that the deer were out in the daytime which is unusual for the species. Further investigation yielded some pots and the remains of marijuana plants. Police arrested two people in their twenties over the plantation, a factory worker and a university student. The charges may be dropped, however, as the deer consumed most of the evidence.

MARIJUANA OK TO EAT, NOT SMOKE IN INDONESIA
The Associated Press reports that cooks in parts of Indonesia, a nation that executes drug traffickers, say they use tiny amounts of crushed marijuana leaves or seeds as a spice in certain dishes. Speaking to reporters on June 26, Vice President Yusuf Kalla said, "It is all right to use it as a food seasoning, but it should not be fully legalized." Kalla was quoted in The Jakarta Post. Indonesian police officers have never previously cracked down on the use of marijuana in the kitchen or said the practice was a particular problem, the article states. Kalla and the police chief both reiterated their support for the death penalty for drug traffickers, noting that neighboring Malaysia and Singapore also execute offenders.

HOOKAH CANUCKS
Michael Moore's new movie "Sicko" makes such a strong case for the superiority of Canadian health insurance that it ends with a reference to the website Hook-a-Canuck, where Americans can find Canadians to marry for their health plans. Now a poll from Angus Reid reports that 55 of Canadians believe marijuana should be legalized, while less than 10 per cent agree with authorizing the consumption of five other illegal drugs. Read more.

GRAVEL-ING FOR VOTES
Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel, who is primarily known for his efforts in ending the draft following the Vietnam War and for having put into the public record the Pentagon Papers in 1971, is running for the Democratic nomination for President in 2008. Cliff Schaffer of the Schaffer Library of Drug Policy reports that Gravel has been speaking out against the drug war in his presidential campaign and has requested that as many people as possible sign up on his web site indicating that they would like to see him on their state ballot. If you want to make some noise in your state, sign up and pass it along.

Responding to a caller on a CSPAN program asking about marijuana and the drug war, Gravel reportedly stated "That one is real simple, I would legalize marijuana. You should be able to buy that at a liquor store." Since leaving office, he founded and headed The Democracy Foundation, which promotes direct democracy. He lead a Hiram Johnson-style effort to get a United States Constitutional amendment to allow voter-initiated federal legislation similar to state ballot initiatives.

From Gravel's website (emphasis mine):
PRISON/DRUG REFORM
The United States incarcerates more people and at a higher rate than any other peacetime nation in the world. According to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics the number of US residents behind bars has now reached more than 2.3 million. We are losing an entire generation of young men and women to our prisons.

Our nation's ineffective and wasteful "war on drugs" plays a major role in this. We must place a greater emphasis on rehabilitation and prevention. We must de-criminalize minor drug offenses and increase the availability and visibility of substance abuse treatment and prevention in our communities as well as in jails and prisons.

We must increase the use of special drug courts in which addicted offenders are given the opportunity to complete court supervised substance abuse treatment instead of being sentenced to prison. We must eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing laws. We must increase the use of alternative penalties for nonviolent drug offenders. Drug defendants convicted of nonviolent offenses should not be given mandatory prison sentences. We should emphasize the criminalization of the importers, manufacturers, and major distributors, rather than just the street venders. Prisons in this country should be a legitimate criminal sanction -- but it should be an extension of a fair, just and wise society.

JUSTICE STEVENS' "BONG HITS" DISSENT POINTS TO PROHIBITION
By Charles Lane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Justice John Paul Stevens, the third-oldest person ever to sit on the Supreme Court, turned 87 on April 20.... On Monday, Stevens dissented in the case of the Alaska teenager who was suspended for displaying a "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner at a school event. While a majority of the court said the Constitution does not protect pro-drug student speech, Stevens took the historic view.

Harking back to Prohibition, which began three months before Stevens's birth and ended a month before he turned 13 in 1933, Stevens compared the current marijuana ban to the abandoned alcohol ban and urged a respectful hearing for those who suggest "however inarticulately" that the ban is "futile" and that marijuana should be legalized, taxed and regulated instead of prohibited:

"[T]he current dominant opinion supporting the war on drugs in general, and our anti-marijuana laws in particular, is reminiscent of the opinion that supported the nationwide ban on alcohol consumption when I was a student. While alcoholic beverages are now regarded as ordinary articles of commerce, their use was then condemned with the same moral fervor that now supports the war on drugs."

Stevens knows something about Prohibition -- he was born and raised in Chicago, where Al Capone and other organized-crime figures controlled hundreds of speakeasies. And he knows something about the moral fervor of Prohibition's supporters, because one of them was his mother, Elizabeth Stevens, who used to say, "Lips that taste wine will never touch mine." His father, Ernest Stevens, was a hotelier who carefully obeyed the alcohol ban in his establishments but who predicted in 1932 court testimony that his business would benefit from the end of Prohibition, because diners would abandon the speak-easies for legal restaurants like the ones in his hotels.

"[J]ust as Prohibition in the 1920's and early 1930's was secretly questioned by thousands of otherwise law-abiding patrons of bootleggers and speakeasies," Stevens wrote, "today the actions of literally millions of otherwise law-abiding users of marijuana, and of the majority of voters in each of the several States that tolerate medicinal uses of the product, lead me to wonder whether the fear of disapproval by those in the majority is silencing opponents of the war on drugs."

JUNE 25 - INDOOR GROWS: THE NEW DEADLY MEANACE
Jim Ellis of the Associated Press reports, "Marijuana grow houses are becoming so prevalent in Florida that local law enforcement are calling on the state to create an intelligence repository to combat the problem." More than 400,000 plants were seized from grow houses in the U.S. last year - up from about 270,000 the year before, the DEA said. That is less than 10 percent of the marijuana plant seizures in the U.S. but still a growing problem that has law enforcement burdened with overtime and storage issues.

"The days of mom and pop growing a couple pots of grass in their house is gone," claimed Mark R. Trouville, chief of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Miami office. Florida has the second highest number of indoor marijuana growers behind California, Trouville said. In 2006, officials in 41 of Florida's 67 counties uncovered indoor growers, he said. Last year, authorities in the Port St. Lucie area broke up a ring of more than 50 grow houses involving thousands of marijuana plants, linked to a scheme in which New Jersey financiers allegedly offered people "relocation packages" featuring 100 percent financing for homes. Trouville wildly stated that marijuana grown hydroponically indoors is as much as 200 percent more potent that if the drug were grown outdoors. "This ain't your grandfather's or your father's marijuana," Trouville claimed. "This will hurt you. This will addict you. This will kill you." Huh? (See next story.)

PURPLE BRAIN, PURPLE BRAIN
"More than 70 years in the making, the long-awaited sequel to the notorious 1936 film, Reefer Madness has arrived. It's called The Purple Brain, and just like its unintentionally campy predecessor, its purpose is to frighten Americans about marijuana," say NORML's Paul Armentano and DPA's Marsha Rosenbaum in an article on Alternet. The plot is as follows: Sure, the pot you and your 40-something peers once enjoyed may have been innocuous, but that's only because it bears no resemblance to the super-potent weed of today -- strains with such foreboding names as "Train wreck," "AK-47," and "The Purple." To top off this frightening message, unsubstantiated claims of "brain damage" resulting from the use of this super-pot are new buzzwords in today's Prevention circles.

Unlike alcohol -- or even aspirin, -- today's marijuana still poses no risk of fatal overdose, regardless of the strength of its primary psychoactive ingredient, THC. Moreover, cannabis consumers readily distinguish between low and high potency marijuana and moderate their use accordingly, the authors state. Recently scientists at the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research reported that they could find "no ... evidence of cerebral atrophy or loss of white matter integrity" attributable to cannabis use in the brains of frequent adolescent marijuana users (compared to non-using controls) after performing MRI scans and other advanced imaging technology. Separate studies assessing the cognitive skills of long-term marijuana smokers have also reported no demonstrable deficits.

MORE SCARE STORIES
Armed with a new report that links early marijuana use with gang activity, experimentation with other drugs and alcohol, stealing and fighting at school, drug "czar" John Walters of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has kicked off another season of the highly criticized National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign.

"It is incredibly ironic to see ONDCP simultaneously advancing the idea that marijuana causes laziness, which it has been doing for years, and then turn around and try to tell us that marijuana causes violence," said Scott Morgan, blogger for DRCNet. "It is also pretty shoddy to suggest a link between marijuana and gang membership. To whatever extent marijuana users are likely to join gangs, these relationships are facilitated by drug prohibition, which creates the black market in which these gangs thrive." In fact, the data linking marijuana use to gang membership is quite limited. ONDCP relied on one 2001 study of Seattle students to arrive at the conclusion that the two are linked.

The report's release may have more to do with ONDCP worries about budget cuts for programs proven not to be effective, like the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, than with actual cause and effect relationships between youth drug use and anti-social behavior, suggested Tom Angell, government relations director for Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP). Even there, ONDCP had limited success. Aside from reports in several Philadelphia media outlets, where drug czar Walters held a press conference to announce the report, a lone Associated Press story was picked up by 65 media outlets, most of them TV news stations in small to medium markets. Only a handful of print media ran the story, and that includes one outlet in marijuana-phobic Australia and one in Great Britain. But that won't stop ONDCP from producing more sensational but misleading reports, said NORML's Alan St. Pierre. "We can set our calendars and know that about a week before school starts in the fall, we'll get the next big scare effort from ONDCP," he predicted. Read more

DON'T TAKE CANDY CIGARETTES FROM STRANGERS
"The risk of becoming a smoker is associated with using candy cigarettes," concludes Dr. Jonathan Klein, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Rochester. Klein and his fellow researchers found that 12 percent of people who said they had never eaten a candy cigarette as a kid were current or former smokers today. In contrast, 22 percent of those who said they had eaten candy cigarettes either smoked often today or were former smokers. Just 14 percent said they had never smoked. In addition, the more often a child had consumed candy cigarettes, the more likely he or she was to become a smoker, Klein said.

"It strikes me as insane that we would manufacture candy that would teach kids how to use a product that will kill half of them," said Danny McGoldrick, research director for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "It is completely irresponsible to be selling products that teach kids how to use what is ultimately a deadly product." McGoldrick sees the sweets as the first step along a path that leads to smoking for real. "With tobacco companies introducing flavored cigarette products, it looks like the first step in a progression from learning and thinking that it's cool to smoke cigarettes to moving up to the real thing and being addicted for a lifetime," McGoldrick said. Parents shouldn't let children have these products, McGoldrick said. "And retailers shouldn't be selling these things," he added.

FORMER NARC MARKETS "NEVER GET BUSTED" DVDs
AP reports that former Texas narcotics officer Barry Cooper claims he has sold 10,000 DVDs on how to stash pot in your car without getting caught. "The formerly strait-laced lawman has become a shaggy-haired militant for the legalization of weed," the article states. Six months ago, Cooper released "Never Get Busted Again," in which the former star of West Texas' Permian Basin Drug Task Force gives tips on hiding marijuana (dashboards are rife with nooks and crannies) and throwing off drug-sniffing dogs (coat your tires in fox urine).

"I'm not helping them to break the law. It's clear the law is already being broken," said Cooper, 38, who left law enforcement a decade ago. "I will do anything legal to frustrate law enforcement's efforts to place American citizens in jail for nonviolent drug offenses." Defense attorneys have called Cooper as a witness to testify about unlawful tactics he says police use to make drug cases. For instance, he testified about how drug-sniffing dogs can be made to "false alert," which gives officers legal grounds to search a car or a home. Cooper said he had used that ploy himself. He claims that as a law officer, he took part in 800 drug busts and seized more than 50 vehicles and $500,000 in cash and assets. "He was among the best we had," said Tom Finley, who was Cooper's supervisor on the drug task force. "I don't understand why he would turn like this."

Cooper has begun filming a second DVD, called "Never Get Raided." He said he also is planning a documentary in which he would ply 50 partygoers with beer and marijuana and film what happens next. The aim, he said, is to prove that partygoers who get high are less dangerous than those who get drunk.

POOR LITTLE OLD CONNECTICUT
Connecticut's governor vetoed a medical marijuana bill last week, but Rhode Island's legislature voted to make theirs permanent, with a 58-11 House vote on June 21 that followed a 29-4 Senate vote to override the day before. Rhode Island's original medical marijuana law - also passed over a veto by Gov. Donald Carcieri (R) - had a one-year sunset clause, and was due to expire June 30.

"Thanks to this law, I have safe and legal access to my medicine, and I'm relieved that it's going to be permanent," said Bobby Ebert of Warwick, who uses medical marijuana to treat symptoms of AIDS. "Our legislature has stood with the scientific and medical community to ensure that I and hundreds of other seriously ill Rhode Islanders don't have to live in fear," said Rhonda O'Donnell, R.N., a multiple sclerosis patient who was the first to sign up for Rhode Island's program. "But the job won't be finished until every patient in every state who needs medical marijuana has complete protection. It's time for every state legislature and the U.S. Congress to change cruel and unscientific laws that criminalize the sick."

And perhaps because New Mexico governor and presidential candidate Bill Richardson signed a medical marijuana bill into law, New Mexico police say a man who was caught with 67 marijuana plants in the trunk of his car on June 22 told them he thought the plants were legal in the state. The Otero County Narcotics Enforcement Unit said Charles Barnes told police he wanted to see how well the marijuana plants would grow in the area around Cloudcroft, N.M., the Almagordo (N.M.) Daily News reported Friday. "Dude, I totally thought weed was legalized in New Mexico," police quoted Barnes as saying. The police confiscated the contraband and Barnes was issued a non-traffic citation for possession of marijuana.

DON'T CRY FOR THEE, ARGENTINA
More people regularly smoke marijuana in Argentina than in any other Latin America, according to a recent poll sponsored by the Organization of American States (OAS) and carried by the Argentine daily La Nacion. The Argentine daily reported Sunday that six percent of Argentina's population are habitual marijuana smokers, compared to 5.3 percent of Chile's population, which ranked second.

Last week Argentina authorities decided to take a second look at drug criminalization laws passed in 1989 and to no longer pursue drug consumers. Argentine Interior Minister Anibal Fernandez said drug trafficking groups have grown sharply, while police forces have concentrated on "pursuing innocent people." Fernandez in recent weeks met with regional security forces and diplomats in 17 countries, telling them that Argentina is now looking for a more "pragmatic" way to fight the growing narco-trafficking trade.

DECORATED MARINE CHARGED WITH GROWING MARIJUANA
CBS news in Arapahoe County, Colorado reported that Kevin Dickes, 38, a former Marine who was badly wounded by an enemy grenade while serving in Kuwait, was arrested in April when Aurora SWAT teams entered his home after a neighbor complained he was growing marijuana. Dickes said he smokes marijuana to ease his pain and has a state-approved medical marijuana license to grow it.
"They took me down," Dickes said. "They didn't give me a chance to speak. They had guns to my face. I never had that happen before in my life, even in Kuwait."

"I use it for pain," Dickes said. "It helps me tremendously. The narcotics get me sick, nausea, you throw up." Police confiscated at least 60 plants from Dickes' home. The state medical marijuana law sets a guideline of six, but Dickes' lawyer points out the law says, "You can have as many plants as you medically need." Dickes is charged with marijuana cultivation which is a class-four felony that carries a possible six-year prison sentence. There are 1,500 to 2,000 people in Colorado licensed to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.

According to Stars and Stripes (June 26), Officials at Yongsan Garrison, one of four Army bases in South Korea, say they see between five and eight soldiers busted (and sent to rehab) for drug use in an average year. But with more than three months left in fiscal 2007, which ends Sept. 30, they've already seen 16 soldiers test positive for drug use. Of those, eight tested positive for marijuana. In the 32 positive drug tests throughout South Korea this fiscal year, 11 involved prescription drugs. The article was accompanied by a sidebar titled "OxyContin can be very good -- or very bad."

FIREFIGHTERS UP IN SMOKE
According to firefightingnews.com, Texas firefighters who spent half an hour fighting a blaze in which 2,000 pounds of marijuana went up in smoke breathed so much of it that they would have failed a drug test, Fire Chief Shawn Snider said. It took more than 35 firefighters, 1,000 gallons of water and five gallons of chemical suppressant to extinguish the warehouse blaze on June 20. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were investigating the origin of the fire fodder. Local officials were investigating whether arson was the cause.

MISSING MARIJUANA
A video of two Seattle police officers' January arrest of an alleged drug dealer failed to square with their police report, according to a Post-Intelligencer story. A citizen auditor of the Jan. 2 arrest of George Patterson said officers Greg Neubert and Michael Tietjen confiscated a small amount of marijuana from a second man who witnessed the bust, but didn't report the marijuana and it's never turned up.

And a former United States Border Patrol agent was sentenced on June 20 to 90 months in prison for stealing marijuana from the scene of a traffic stop in 2005. Michael Carlos Gonzalez, 34, of Vail, Ariz., loaded one of 30 bundles of marijuana from the back of a stopped pickup truck into his Border Patrol truck while other officers pursued the driver. Gonzalez was wearing his service weapon at the time, which led to a firearms charge. The stolen marijuana was never recovered, but the other 29 bales had an average weight of 10 kilograms. Gonzalez will also face 36 months of supervised release and pay a $30,000 fine.

AND THE BEAT GOES ON
Bonnaroo, the Tennessee Music and Arts festival held in mid June that hosted a reunion of The Police, saw Maynard James Keenan, leader of Tool, reportedly saying from the stage, "I assume you're on the marijuana and the LSD. You're all under arrest."

JUNE 16 - VIP NAMED PEOPLE's BACHELOR OF THE YEAR
VIP Matthew McConaughey (right) came out on top of the annual "Hottest Bachelors" issue of People magazine, out on Friday. McConaughey was arrested for pot possession in 1999 after police responded to a noise complaint at his home in Austin, TX and found him nude and playing the bongos, with a bong at his side. He appeared as an older guy chasing high school girls in "Dazed and Confused" (1993) and his best role was in "Contact" (1997), based on the book by VIP Carl Sagan. He was formerly named People's 2005 Sexiest Man Alive. No arguments here.   

Other currently "sexy and sizzling" bachelors, according to People, include Adrian Grenier, who plays the pot-puffing movie star Vincent Chase on HBO's "Entourage"; and Justin Timberlake, who recently admitted to US Weekly he's inhaled (along with his ex, Cameron Diaz; see below). Timberlake raked in $1,108,989 in gross box office receipts last week, again topping Pollstar's weekly top concert list. Also in the top twenty was another known VIP, Norah Jones, who brought in $145,192.

VIP MONTEL WILLIAMS MAKES THE CASE FOR MEDICAL POT
Alternet Editor's Note: Connecticut may become the 13th state in the country to permit the use of marijuana for medical purposes. After legislation was passed in the state legislature this month, it is now up to Gov. M. Jodi Rell. See a letter of support from VIP Montel Williams.

FDA CONCERNED ABOUT CANNABIS ANTAGONIST'S EFFECTS
Paul Armentano, senior policy analyst for NORML who's broken many stories (such as the drug czar paying media outlets to include anti-drug story lines), has been sounding the alarm about the dangers of the pending cannabinoid antagonist drug rimonabant (aka Acomplia or Zimulti). Now an independent U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory committee determined yesterday that the controversial "anti-pot" pill is unsafe for human consumption in the United States. Sanofi-Aventis' would-be diet aid -- which has been linked to suicidal thoughts, depression and even multiple sclerosis -- counteracts the effects of marijuana and similar naturally occurring chemicals in the body (so-called endocannabinoids), causing users to lose their appetites and, according to the warnings of experts, a host of other unwanted and dangerous side effects. (Pot: good. Anti-Pot: bad. Any questions?)

SHOWTIME TO AIR MMAR DOC
"In Pot We Trust," a feature documentary from Showtime Independent Films about medical marijuana and will premiere on Showtime on July 9th, 2007 at 8:30pm. Other showtimes are: Sunday July 15th 3:45pm; Wednesday July 18th 12:00am; Saturday July 21st 11:15am; Thursday July 26th 12:00am and Tuesday July 31st 12:30pm.

See: Tommy Chong Interviewed About the Paris Hilton's Jail Sentence
and because we've trashed John Ashcroft on this blog and in the Tommy Chong Bong Song for prosecuting Chong, here is a new Johnny Stash tune for Johnny A.

PARDON MY "PARDON MY PLANET"
King Features Syndicate, a Unit of The Hearst Corporation that brings us Betty Boop and Popeye, writes the following about its cartoon "Pardon My Planet": "Eschewing the silly and safe, [Vic Lee's] Pardon My Planet is a cartoon for today's educated readers. By finding humor in all that makes us uncomfortable, Lee provides a sense of resolve about the fickleness of life and lets us all laugh at the goof-ball foibles of real people, laying bare the annoyances and eccentricities of the human race. Pardon My Planet appears in more than 130 newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, Toronto Star, Chicago Sun-Times, San Francisco Chronicle, New York Newsday, Detroit Free-Press, Philadelphia Inquirer, Denver Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Perth Western Australianer to name a few. If there is intelligent life in the universe, may it forgive us our shortcomings and celebrate our spirit." On June 15, the panel depicted two DEA agents holding a gun to the head of a jogger, saying "You can run but you can't hide from the long arm of the law. We could smell the endorphins a block away, Einstein." The title: "Widening the New: The Runner's High."

RIP FRANK WERBER
"If anyone ever lived up to the image of the swinging 1960s hipster, Frank Nicholas Werber was the man," wrote Peter Fimrite,SF Chronicle Staff Writer on June 9. The original manager of the Kingston Trio and a successful restaurant and business owner, Werber favored "sports cars, miniskirted young ladies, a penthouse office in San Francisco, sailboat cruises in Mexico and pot. Lots of pot. Narcotics agents said six sea bags full of marijuana were delivered to his swanky home overlooking Richardson Bay in 1968, leading to his arrest, two sensational trials and a six-month jail sentence in Marin County." A federal court jury eventually found him not guilty after a widely publicized trial and he was then tried by Marin County authorities for possession and cultivation of marijuana. Werber was defended by Terence Hallinan, who would later become San Francisco's district attorney. Werber loved to recount how Tommy Smothers of the Smothers Brothers testified that he had known the defendant for years and "before he started smoking pot, he was a real -- hole."

Born in Cologne, Germany, in 1929, Werber spent time in a Nazi concentration camp during the Holocaust, immigrated to the US and joined the navy, and held many jobs before he established Sausalito's famous Trident Restaurant in the 1960s. It began as a jazz spot and later became "a psychedelic health food restaurant" where a table was set aside for Janis Joplin and a young Robin Williams worked as a busboy. When Native Americans occupied Alcatraz from 1969 to 1971, the pier outside the now-defunct Trident was used to ferry supplies to island dwellers. In 1974, the Rolling Stones held a private party that was "a mind-altering experience" at the Trident thrown by Werber's good friend Bill Graham (whose parents were Holocaust victims).

Werber had a financial interest in the hit show "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" and was active in numerous sports, including sailing and scuba diving. He admitted smoking pot, but said he never trafficked in it. He argued that he was set up by dealers who were trying to save their own skin. Werber retired at age 43 to an old adobe lodge on 160 acres of wilderness in New Mexico once used by Teddy Roosevelt on his hunting expeditions. He died there of heart failure on May 19. A memorial is being planned for him in the fall.

JUNE 1 - VIP OF THE MONTH: HILLARY CLINTON

PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS ON POT

MAY 29 - A MEMORABLE "TIME"
VIP Bill Maher was once again in fine form on the HBO "Real Time" season finale on Memorial Day weekend. The monologue included a joke about VIP Larry Hagman being the only thing as high as it was in the 70s, plus commentary about John McCain saying "[Barak] Obama wouldn't know the difference between an RPG and a bong."

In answer to a story about Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) crying once more on the House floor, guest PJ O'Rourke commented, "Republicans should never skip their meds" and Ben Affleck declined, he said, to comment on someone else's bad acting moment. The ultimately electable Affleck made several astute observations, including the advantages of declaring a vague War on Terror instead of outlining definable goals like catching Bin Laden. "And the War on Drugs, how's that going?" he asked rhetorically, but PJ took the bait with what seemed, in the fray, to be an admission of partakement. Next a segment on George Bush's bumperstickers included the winners, "Ask Me About My Illegal Wiretapping" and "My other war is on drugs."

The show included a stellar interview with Michael Moore about his new film examining the health care industry, "Sicko," which has been praised by Fox News as "brilliant and uplifting" (yes, you read that right). But it was Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) who wowed the crowd, fresh from his debate with Republican presidential hopefuls where he said, "They aren't attacking us because we're rich and free, they're attacking us because we're over there" in response to a challenge from Rudy Guiliani. Paul, a long time drug war opponent who introduced a bill to legalize hemp farming in the US, has presented Guliani with a reading list, including the 9/11 report and said he expects an apology. Citing blowback from the 1953 CIA involvement in Iran to funding Osama Bin Laden and supporting Saddam Hussein, Paul advocated a non-intervention foreign policy with the defense of civil liberties at home. He said, "Peace is a powerful message" and noted that "The peace candidate always wins" in presidential elections. When Affleck predicted fellow Massachusettsian Mitt Romney would get the Republican nomination, the crowd shouted for Paul instead, prompting O'Rourke to suggest audience screening.

In typical nonpartisan style, Bill then berated Jimmy Carter for backing down, as dems do, for calling Shrub the worst president ever and proved his point by comparing George with his flubbing fellows from Richard Nixon to Warren G. Harding, using research from (he joked?) a Wikipedia search. See it

Bill will be at the "The Joint" at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas June 15 & 16 and back on HBO August 24.

MAY 26 - ONE DRUG PUSHER SUES ANOTHER
Kenneth Affolter, 40, who is serving five years in prison for making marijuana-infused candies and soft drinks, is being sued by the The Hershey Co. for giving his products names like Stoney Rancher, Rasta Reese's and Keef Kat. Each came in packaging similar to Hershey's Jolly Rancher, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Kit Kat candies, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Hershey's suit, filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court in San Jose, accuses Affolter of trademark infringement, trademark dilution and unfair competition. The company is seeking $100,000 in damages. Papers were served on Affolter on Tuesday while he was in a county jail awaiting transfer to state prison. Affolter's lawyer, David M. Michael, said he was negotiating with Hershey.

In 1996, researchers found anandamide, the body's natural cannabinoid, as well as three different cannabinoid compounds in chocolate.

According to Wolfgang Schivelbusch's book Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants, as coffee spread in the Protestant countries of England, Holland, and France, chocolate became the preferred drink of Catholic countries Spain and Italy. The Mexican import, containing the stimulant theobromine, served as an accepted nutritional substitute during periods of religious fasting until its oil was removed in 1820 by the Dutchman Van Houten, who invented cocoa.

The marriage of Hapsburg princess Anna of Austria to Louis XIII in 1615 brought chocolate to France, since Anna had been raised in Madrid and brought her chocolate with her. "It became the drink of the European aristocracy, as much a status symbol as the French language, the snuffbox, and the fan," Schivelbusch writes. After the inventions of cocoa and milk chocolate, its use rose in northern and central Europe, primarily for children. "The former status drink of the ancien regime had sunk to the world of women and children," writes Schivelbusch.

Because Germany had to import its coffee, "Coffee was declared an un-German drink, not merely because the flow of money out of Germany would make the country poorer, but also because the drink itself had supplanted Germany's hallowed national beverage, beer. A classically reactionary argument." The Brits shifted to tea, which the East India Company brought from China, forcing the Chinese to take Indian-produced opium in exchange. Coffee, tea, chocolate and sugar took on the economic and cultural importance that exotic "Oriental" spices had in the Middle Ages, and the introduction of distilled liquor coincided with rural landgrabbing in England and the flight to the cities. As Frank Herbert says in Dune, "He who controls the spice rules the world."

GEORGE MICHAEL ON A BETTER WORLD
George Michael, who earlier this month pleaded guilty to driving while unfit, said during a television interview on May 20 the incident "involves prescribed drugs and it involves a dependency on them, and the tendency to chase one drug with another because of side effects." He will be sentenced at Brent Magistrates Court in northwest London on May 30.

Michael also said, "I think my generation were taught that it was OK, especially as a musician, to speak your mind and we are living in a time when it's not OK. People are trying, in an effort to return to family values, to pretend that some of the things that happened between 1960 and 1985 didn't happen, and one of those things was basically the introduction into the culture of marijuana. . . . We could sit here with any number of policemen and doctors and they would all tell you if everybody who had a dependence on alcohol changed their mind and had a dependence on weed, the world would be a much easier place to live in."

Michael, who appeared on ITV1's South Bank Show last year smoking a joint, added, "I have started thinking for the first time in my life that actually I shouldn't be living here [in the UK]. I think the honest truth is there are places I could live and still be able to visit home, where I would not have to worry about this constant surveillance." Ah, but you gotta have faith.

ATLANTA CLEANS UP ITS ACT
Atlanta Police Chief Richard J. Pennington announced on May 22 he would overhaul the city's narcotics unit after a 92-year-old woman was killed in a botched drug raid last November. Prosecutors said in court documents that officers often lied to obtain search warrants and fabricated evidence of drug purchases, as they did when they burst into the home of Kathryn Johnston and killed her in a hail of gunfire. Two officers pled guilty last month to voluntary manslaughter and federal civil rights violations; a third officer is awaiting trial. All eight narcotics officers will be replaced by 14 new investigators and 3 sergeants, and Pennington hopes to up the number to 30 by the end of the year.

BLOOMBERG HYBRIDIZES NYC TAXIS
VIP, NYC mayor and possible presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg has put forth a five-year plan to convert New York's 13,000 yellow cabs to hybrid vehicles. In the last two years, the city has added about 375 hybrid vehicles to the yellow cab fleet, and under the mayor's plan, that number would triple by October 2008 and would grow by about 20 percent yearly. While the plan does not specifically call for hybrids, it requires all new taxis to get at least 25 MPG in 2008, rising to 30 MPG in 2009. Bloomberg said the move will have little impact on cab companies, who are by law required to replace their vehicles every three to five years. His plan escalates a 10-year plan so that it can be accomplished before he leaves office in 2009.

SPIRITUAL HIGHS AND LEGAL BLOWS
Jacob Sullum, the author of Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use (Tarcher/Penguin), provides a good overview of religious freedom issues in the June 2007 issue of Reason magazine. See: SPIRITUAL HIGHS AND LEGAL BLOWS: The power and peril of religious exemptions from drug prohibition. and its sidebar, Looking for God in All the Wrong Places?

MAY 20 - STONED ON THE SOPRANOS
In the final days of the HBO series The Sopranos, mob chief Tony finally catches up to his sister Janice, who took off to California leaving Tony in charge and resentful in New Jersey. When an aquaintance of a heroin-using nephew Tony has just put out of his misery offers him a joint in Las Vegas, he replies, "I always wanted to try that shit, but I always had all the responsibilities." Not only does he smoke pot, he takes peyote and yells "I get it!!" from a mountaintop and impresses his therapist with the observation that our mothers are like bus drivers and we spend our lives trying to get back on the bus. Now he'll either mend his ways or die (or both).

Meanwhile, Tony's son Anthony (played by actor Robert Iler, who at the age of 16 was arrested in NYC for smoking marijuana and robbery), is so depressed he's attempting suicide. In a counseling session, he recalls that his mother called him an "animal" for smoking pot at his confirmation party. "Did you ever think I was self-medicating?" he asks, at which his philandering, drug-using father scoffs.

HIGH NUMBER OF AZ MOMS ADMIT POT USE
A number of mothers in the Phoenix area admit they use marijuana to wind down after a long day, television station KPHO reported on May 19. Shay Pausa surveyed hundreds of mothers through her Web site, Chikii.com. She targeted women in affluent suburban areas."These were middle to upper-middle class women, professional women, mommies. We had some that were members of the PTA and one school teacher even reported," Pausa said.

They're women like Jan, who's 30 and has one child."I like it just to relax, if I'm very stressed out and I just need some time, just to relax. It's good for that," Jan said. Sue is 37 and has two kids. "But I've also used it for headaches. I've used it when I've been sick with the stomach flu, when I've been really nauseous and, I mean, I need to function. So it's in my medicine cabinet," Sue said. Of the hundreds of mothers Pausa surveyed, 52 percent said they smoke pot at least 10 times a year. Twenty-seven percent said they smoke it one to seven times a week. Some of the women even said they would someday tell their kids about their secret. So where do the women get marijuana? Some said they drop hints among friends until they find a supply, others said they grow it themselves.

JOINT IN THE BOX - OR - POT MAKES YOU GAY?
San Diego anti-drug advocates are protesting an ad for Jack in The Box that appears to represent a stoned teen driver ordering 30 tacos. In a statement, Jack in the Box responded that: "Our commercials are intended to present information about our products in a fun and entertaining way...Unfortunately, some individuals perceive the ad in a negative light, but that certainly was never our intention." According to 2005 California Healthy Kids Survey, more teens smoke marijuana than cigarettes in San Diego County. Of course, the unhealthiest thing would be eating 30 tacos.

Meanwhile, a new public service spot on MTV Canada is "dismaying some homos and delighting others," reported Toronto gay newspaper Xtra. In the ad from Saatchi & Saatchi, two young men sitting in the front seat of a car pass a bong to their friend in the back, then enter into an extended, steamy Brokeback-style kiss. The bleary-eyed buddy in the back seat figuratively rubs his eyes and asks: "Aren't you guys brothers?" The tag line: "If you're high, just make sure you don't drive." But kissing your brother is OK.

NEWS OF THE OLD
An article in the National Review by Deroy Murdock said NYC cops nabbed Barbara Jackson, a 71-year-old Bronx great grandmother and colorectal cancer survivor for scoring some pot in her neighborhood. "My taste buds are gone, but the marijuana helps me get the food down," she told the New York Daily News. "The marijuana has kept me alive. I wouldn't be here if I didn't smoke." Undercover officers arrested her March 13 and took her to the 46th Precinct where they fingerprinted her, and jailed her for five hours. Prosecutors dropped charges after a media furor.

Meanwhile, Canada's CTV.ca reports that a small but growing number of Canadian seniors are puffing pot. Mavis Becker, a Vancouverite who's about to turn 65, says she has a lot of stress caring for her 93-year-old father who suffers from dementia. When she gets wound up, Mavis rolls herself a joint. "I do have a habit of getting on the hyper side. And I find if I go out on my balcony and smoke a doobie, I feel way more relaxed and I don't get too excited about it," she says, adding, "I hope my grandchildren will be willing to roll a doobie for me if my arthritis gets too bad."

Researchers say they are seeing more pot smokers in nursing homes. One nursing home resident, who spoke to CTV News and asked not to be identified, says he has used cocaine and marijuana and says many other seniors he knows do too. "Marijuana, it calms you down. It makes you eat good and sleep good," he says.

Some seniors use drugs legally, prescribed as a medicine. But a recent national survey reported about one per cent of seniors report using marijuana recreationally. Many suspect the number is larger.

Some of these adults are discovering drugs for the first time in their older years, turning them to help them with physical aches and pains that come with age, or as a way to escape loneliness or emotional pain. "They are self-medicating in a safe way, and they are not coming to our attention because they are using it successfully," says outreach worker Marilyn White-Campbell.

According to the Canadian Addiction Survey, 12.8 per cent of Canadians aged 64-74 have used marijuana in their lifetime. But among those aged 44-54 -- the seniors of the future -- a much larger percentage of 50.1 per cent have used drugs.

THAT GUY'S NUTS -- GRAB 'EM
IACM via BBSNews 2007-05-13 -- British scientists analysed symptoms of 757 subjects, who developed schizophrenia, of whom 182 (24 per cent) had used cannabis in the year prior to first presentation to a psychiatrist due to the disease. There were no significant differences in the symptoms between cannabis users and non-users that have been observed in some small studies. In addition, cannabis users who developed schizophrenia had no greater family history of schizophrenia. The authors concluded that this "argues against a distinct schizophrenia-like psychosis caused by cannabis." (Source: Boydell J, et al. Schizophr Res 2007 Apr 24; [Electronic publication ahead of print])

A separate study by German researchers compared cognitive performance of 39 schizophrenic patients (19 cannabis-users and 20 non-users) and 39 healthy controls (18 cannabis-users, 21 non-users). On the whole, schizophrenic patients performed worse than healthy control subjects. Regular cannabis use prior to the first psychotic episode improved cognition in some tests. On the other hand, cannabis use deteriorated test performance in healthy controls, especially in cases when regular consumption started before the age of 17. (Source: Jockers-Scherubl MC, et al. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 2007 Mar 16; [Electronic publication ahead of print])

DEARBORN COP/BROWNIE BAKER RESIGNS BUT WON'T FACE CHARGES
A Dearborn police officer resigned on May 14 after admitting he took marijuana from criminal suspects and baked it into brownies. City Councilman Doug Thomas has vowed to investigate the police department's decision not to prosecute former Corporal Edward Sanchez after he told police investigators he took the marijuana out of his police vehicle, put it in the brownie mix and ate the brownies.

On April 21, 2006, Sanchez placed a phone call to 911 and told an emergency dispatcher that he and his wife were overdosing on marijuana. "I think we're dying," he said. "We made brownies and I think we're dead, I really do."

His wife, 26-year old Stacy Sanchez, voluntarily told police investigators that on another occasion, she removed cocaine from her husband's police cruiser that was part of the department's drug dog training program. She then went on a reported three-week coke binge. Stacy Sanchez has not been charged criminally either.

RICKY, I CAN SPLAIN
Former NFL rushing champion Ricky Williams tested positive again for marijuana last month, which will delay his return to the league until at least September, a person familiar with the case said on May 11. Williams sought to end a one-year drug suspension when he asked to rejoin the Miami Dolphins, but following the positive drug test, clinicians in the NFL's substance abuse program advised commissioner Roger Goodell to delay reinstatement, the person close to the case said. The NFL suspended Williams in April 2006 after he violated the league's drug policy for the fourth time. He resigned from the NFL in 2004, saying marijuana was 10 times better than Paxil, for which he once stumped, to treat his Social Anxiety Disorder. But the Dolphins threatened to sue him for breach of contract. Paxil's maker GlaxoSmithKline was sued by then-AG and now NY governor Eliot Spitzer for failing to publicize studies of Paxil use in children.

APRIL 30 - MOSS MOVES TO POT-FRIENDLY NEW ENGLAND
Wide receiver Randy Moss was traded on Sunday from the Oakland Raiders to the New England Patriots in an NFL draft where player behavior was a major issue. According to the Press Democrat, Moss, who will reportedly be playing under a "zero tolerance" policy for any controversial episode, was "thrilled to team up with coach Bill Belichick, but brushed aside questions about his marijuana use." Despite his reputation, Moss has had only one relatively minor run-in with the law since he entered the NFL in 1998. The Patriots are a preseason favorite to win their fourth Super Bowl in seven years.

Moss will be moving from pot-friendly Oakland, CA to the second most pot-using region of the US, according to a study released in 2005 by the US government, where Boston lead the nation with 12.2% pot smokers and New England finished as "high" as the West.

Elsewhere, Denver, whose voters passed a propostion to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in November 2005, drafted Jarvis Moss and Marcus Thomas of Florida, both of whom were suspended for a game for marijuana use.

APRIL 26 - GANJA-YA
A petty pot bust disqualified "American Idol" contestant Akron Watson (see below), but it turns out the mother and sister of Sanjaya, the ex-contestant with little else but his hair to recommend him, were busted for growing pot in 2005. The National Enquirer reported on April 25 that Sanjaya's mother, Jillian Blith, was arrested by the Pierce County, Washington Sheriff's Department in February 2005 after they found 310 marijuana plants in the Malakar family garage being watched by sister Shyamali, then 17, who had a bag of weed and "smoking devices." Shyamali reportedly led police to another growing site nearby where they arrested Blith and her husband, Charles Quist (Sanjaya's stepdad). Blith pleaded guilty to one felony count of unlawful manufacturing of a controlled substance, and served a 30-day sentence.

TUMORS RE-STUDIED
Traditional Chinese and Southeast Asian herbalists recommended hemp concoctions for treating cancer. Tibetan medicine includes cannabis in mixtures used to treat lung diseases and tumors. Medieval herbalists recommended "hempe" against "nodes and wennes and other hard tumors." In the 1970s, lungs of mice were injected with cancer cells and cannabinoids; the size of tumors dropped 25-82% depending on dose and duration of treatment. Other studies have found similar results. A new study from Harvard University researchers found that THC "seems to have a suppressive effect on certain lines of cancer cells" by curbing epidermal growth factor (EPF). See more.

FOOLISH DRUG AGENCY
As Congress votes to require the FDA to somehow regulate medical marijuana, the New York Times reports that the FDA is examining why Eli Lilly & Company failed to submit a February 2000 study which found that patients taking Zyprexa in clinical trials were three and a half times as likely to develop high blood sugar as those who did not take the drug. A few months later, Lilly provided data to the FDA that showed almost no difference in blood sugar between patients who took Zyprexa and those who did not. Zyprexa remains Lilly's top-selling drug, with $4 billion in worldwide annual sales. But prescriptions in the United States have fallen nearly 50 percent since 2003 amid the safety concerns. Zyprexa and other antipsychotics are intended to "quell the hallucinations and delusions associated with schizophrenia and to treat some cases of mania."

Also, the Washington Post reported that FDA knew about problems at a peanut butter plant in Georgia and on California spinach farms that led to disease outbreaks that killed three people and sickened hundreds.

TIME ASKS: WAS TIMOTHY LEARY RIGHT?
A John Cloud article in the April 30 issue of Time magazine reports, "a quiet psychedelic renaissance is beginning at the highest levels of American science, including the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and Harvard, which is conducting what is thought to be its first research into therapeutic uses of psychedelics (in this case, Ecstasy) since the university fired Timothy Leary in 1963."

Meanwhile, Andrew Feldmar, a well-known Vancouver psychotherapist, was denied access to the US under the Homeland Security Act when a Border Patrol agent googled his name and found an article Feldmar had published in the spring 2001 issue of the journal Janus Head. The article concerned an acid trip Feldmar had taken in London, Ontario, and another in London, England, almost forty years ago. It also alluded to the fact that he had used hallucinogenics as a "path" to understanding self and that in certain cases, he reflected, it could "be preferable to psychiatry." (A short list of luminaries who could be in a similar predicament due to their admission of the use of LSD: Aldous Huxley, Gregory Bateson, Henry and Clare Booth Luce, Jerome Robbins, Bill Gates, Cary Grant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jack Nicholson, Bill Wilson, and Oliver Sacks. "Drug" use aside, is our freedom of speech now considered as "quaint" as the Geneva Convention?)

WILLIE NELSON FINED IN MARIJUANA CASE
According to the Baton Rouge Advocate, VIP Willie Nelson and his tour manager were ordered to pay $1,024 each and were sentenced to six months of probation after pleading guilty to possession of marijuana in St. Martinville, LA on April 24. Nelson, tour manager David Anderson, Nelson's sister and two of the singer's tour bus drivers were cited on misdemeanor drug charges in September while traveling on Interstate 10 through St. Martin Parish. State Police investigators said they found 1 1/2 pounds of marijuana and a small amount of hallucinogenic mushrooms in a search prompted by a "strong odor of marijuana" during a routine motor coach inspection stop of his tour bus.

The $1,024 in penalties and fees imposed on Nelson and Anderson include court costs, $500 in fines, a $50 fee for courthouse security and $75 to reimburse the Acadiana Crime Lab for tests that confirmed the green leafy substance found on the tour bus was indeed marijuana. The $500 fine was the maximum allowed for misdemeanor possession of marijuana. The judge also handed down 90-day suspended jail sentences, which could be imposed if the singer or his tour manager get in legal trouble again during the six months of unsupervised probation. As part of the plea deal, prosecutors dismissed charges against Nelson's sister, Bobbie Nelson, who, like her brother, is in her 70s. A criminal background check indicated that Willie, who has made no secret of his marijuana use, had never before been convicted on a drug charge.

CLERGY BACKS MEDICAL POT IN ILLINOIS
Arguing that Illinois lawmakers have a moral duty to legalize medical use of marijuana, dozens of pastors and church leaders are urging them to allow doctors to recommend the drug for seriously ill patients, the LA Times reported on April 18. A petition e-mailed to state senators last month asked that neither medical practitioners face criminal sanctions for recommending the drug nor patients for using it if doctors have told them it could help. The signers included representatives of Protestant, Jewish, Unitarian and other faiths.If SB 650, authored by Sen. John J. Cullerton, is passed and signed into law, Illinois would become the 13th state to allow the use of medical marijuana.

In recent years, a growing number of religious denominations have spoken in favor of marijuana's medicinal value. "I've been a pastor for more than 30 years, and I know some of my parishioners, and their doctors have thought that they need this tool for better pain management," said the Rev. Bob A. Hillenbrand, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Rockford. He, along with 49 other religious figures in Illinois, signed the petition that had been pulled together by the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative, a Washington, D.C.-area group that lobbies religious leaders on drug policy issues.

Illinois already has a law, dating to 1978, that allows doctors to dispense the drug for cancer and glaucoma patients and other procedures "certified to be medically necessary." The bill was signed into law by then-Gov. James R. Thompson. But heated political debate over the issue at the time, as well as some restrictions that were tied to it, essentially nullified the law, Cullerton said.

LAUGHTER AND MEDICINE MIX IN "THE DOPE SHOW"
Getting caught up in a Southern California federal drug raid turned "Last Coming Standing" star Tere Joyce into a marijuana missionary, writes The Pasadena Weekly. Joyce is not a medical marijuana user, but she does get high, the article states, and she's one half of "The Dope Show," a pot culture variety show that started last year at the annex room of the Ice House Comedy Club in Pasadena.

When agents stormed into the Woodland Hills Co-op, Joyce says she was not actually in the dispensary, but in a suite next door waiting for a ride from the business manager of that office, who had just picked up the car-less Joyce from an interview for National Lampoon Radio about "The Dope Show." Joyce said, "I thought I was going to have an anxiety attack. For a second, I feared for my life. I was actually crying. I kept thinking, 'What if a gun goes off? What if this is the end? What if I pee my pants?'" At the time, Joyce, who was handcuffed, questioned and detained by agents, really did have to use the bathroom, which she was later able to do, but not out of sight from a female agent.

Joyce once smoked marijuana with Tommy Chong, which is "like shoplifting with Wynona Ryder," said Jeff Peterson, who founded "The Dope Show" and partners with Joyce onstage. "Comics have the gift of communication. They can make social change in many ways," Joyce said. And just as the word "dope" has multiple meanings, "There's an informal meaning of the word that's 'righteous knowledge; the truth...And it's an aphrodisiac," she added with a playful wink.

According to the article, Portland, Oregon's KUFO-FM personalities "Big" Jim Willig and Kristine Levine were pressured to beg off performing in "The Dope Show" at a benefit for NORML, earning them and their masters at CBS the dishonor of being named "Rogue of the Week" in the local alternative newspaper, Willamette Week. Now, with their jobs rumored to be on the line, these deejays have apparently begun denigrating the show and its performers on air.

"When you start addressing the political issues that surround marijuana, I think that's why people are getting so upset. They don't want to look at you like you have something to say that has a point. It's a moral issue, a legal issue, a social issue, and when you're really saying something, they're like, 'No. You're supposed to be the dumb clown,'" said Joyce. "We're marijuana missionaries," said Peterson. "It's worth fighting for. To all those others out there: Stop sitting on the fence. Stand up!"

Joyce and Peterson return to the Ice House on May 23. For more information on the "The Dope Show," visit www.myspace.com/theedopeshow or www.myspace.com/terejoyce.

APRIL 22 - CHONG PROSECUTOR TARGETED IN US ATTORNEY SCANDAL
The Justice Department is reviewing a House Judiciary Committee request to speak to Mary Beth Buchanan, who came out of nowhere to be appointed head of all US attorneys by John Ashcroft after she oversaw the investgation into the crash of flight 93 on 9/11 and prosecuted Tommy Chong for selling bongs over the internet. Investigators want to question Buchanan over her role in the firings of US attorneys who refused to target Democrats for prosecution. Reporters Greg Gordon, Margaret Talev and Marisa Taylor of McClatchy Newspapers have established a likely relationship between the post-2000 hard right turn in civil rights policies at the Department of Justice and the promotion of the new cadre of right wing U.S. Attorneys who support restricting voter eligibility. Read more.

Buchanan was appointed US attorney for Western Pennsylvania by Resident Bush in September 2001. According to the Monesson Valley Independent News, her office has opened at least five investigations into prominent Democrats over the past five years, and critics say she has ignored allegations against fellow Republicans during that time. She has prosecuted former Allegheny County Sheriff Pete DeFazio and aides in his office and former Allegheny County Judge Joseph Jaffe. An investigation of former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy ended without charges being filed and Dr. Cyril H. Wecht, a Democrat, is defending himself against charges he abused his former public office as Allegheny County coroner for private financial gain. Allegations of improper use of office staff have been leveled against two Republican politicians in Buchanan's jurisdiction, U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy and former state Rep. Jeff Habay. Habay was prosecuted in Allegheny County Court. No federal charges have been filed against these men, but federal authorities are prohibited from saying whether either is being investigated. "It has been and remains the practice of my office to investigate and prosecute individuals who violate federal law without regard to their political affiliation," Buchanan said.

In 2004, Buchanan announced she would not bring charges against two Pennsylvania state police officers who shot a 12-year-old African American boy in the back on Christmas Eve 2002. Michael Ellerbee had stolen a car and given police chase on foot when he was shot. The bullet went through his heart, killing him almost instantly. Read more

SPIDERMAN'S MARY JANE LIKES WEED, AND SO DID CARL SAGAN

NORAH JONES SMOKES, BUT NOT WILLIE'S WEED

APRIL 18 - HO AND PAKALOLO
Don Ho, who popularized Hawaiian music all over the world, died on Sunday morning of heart failure at the age of 76. "Tiny Bubbles," released in 1966, was his signature tune, and he performed it in 2005 during the Pro Bowl halftime show.

In 1978, Ho recorded "Who Is the Lolo (Who Stole the Pakalolo)," a novelty song that became a hit in Hawaii and is reportedly still frequently heard on Island radio stations. Pakalolo is Hawaiian slang for marijuana.

Ho was a Waikiki showroom headliner for 43 years, from 1964 until last Thursday night at the Waikiki Beachcomber where he performed for a full house and got a standing ovation. Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann named Ho and "Hawaii Five-O" as the two major contributors to the tourism industry in the islands' history.

Born in 1930 as Donald Tai Loy Ho, he was of Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and German ancestry. He was a football star at Kamehameha, graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and then joined the Air Force. He started making music in 1959 and hosted the "The Don Ho Show" on ABC in 1976-77. An authorized biography of Ho by Jerry Hopkins is scheduled for release this year.

According to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, "Throughout his career, Ho shared his stage with other entertainers and made room in his show for many talented young hopefuls. He shared his knowledge with many others, and provided several with recording opportunities. It became axiomatic that any Hawaii resident who made deprecating comments about Ho didn't know what they were talking about and was not to be taken seriously."

MISSING MOSS
In the sports world, while we await findings of any Tour de France bicyclist who wasn't on banned drugs, NFL receiver and VIP Randy Moss is the subject of wild speculation about which team he will play for in the fall. Moss was traded from the Minnesota Vikings to the Oakland Raiders in 2005 and admitted he still "might" smoke marijuana "predominantly in the offseason" during a pre-season interview with with Bryant Gumbel, which probably only boosted his popularity in a town that had just voted to legalize and tax adult use of marijuana. He has had a mixed record with the Raiders, fighting injuries and publicly expressing his disappointment in Oakland's quarterbacking.

Meanwhile, Moss's former agent Louis Dante di Trapano was handcuffed and dragged to prison by a multi-agency task force in Charleston, WV on April 9 even though he turned himself in on a probation violation for a petty methamphetamine charge. In an industry rife with gambling, gangsters and illicit drugs of all kinds, this would be a victory if de Trapano was some kind of kingpin. According to the Charleston Gazette, a U.S. District judge issued a warrant for di Trapano's arrest last week after Charleston police cited him on April 1 for possession of methamphetamine in the 200 block of Beauregard Street. In October, di Trapano was sentenced to serve the remainder of a six-month sentence in federal prison after he earlier pleaded guilty to being a drug addict in possession of firearms. The state Supreme Court has since suspended his law license.

APRIL 12 - FDA TARGETS UNAPPROVED PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
UPI reported that Federal regulators ordered several prescription brands of nausea medication off the U.S. market on April 6 because the drugs had not cleared the Food and Drug Administration. The agency said roughly a dozen manufacturers and distributors have until May 9 to stop sales of rectal suppositories containing trimethobenzamide. Approximately 2 million suppositories containing the drug were sold last year, according to the FDA. The ban affects widely sold brands including Tigan, Tegamide, Tigen, and Trimazide.

Trimethobenzamide is one of hundreds of drugs circulating on the U.S. despite never gaining the FDA's approval. A 1962 law forcing companies to prove a drug's effectiveness before selling it exempted products on the market before that year. The FDA first determined in 1979 that companies never showed the effectiveness of trimethobenzamide suppositories. But last summer, the agency began a crackdown on unapproved drugs that has finally led to action.

Deborah Autor, director of the FDA's Office of Compliance said, "I think there are probably several hundred unapproved prescription drugs out there. We think it's important to get the word out to industry." The FDA website says, "Many healthcare providers are unaware of the unapproved status of some drugs and have continued to unknowingly prescribe unapproved drugs because the drugs‚ labels do not disclose that they lack FDA approval. Often these drugs are advertised in reputable medical journals or are included in widely used pharmaceutical references such as the Physicians‚ Desk Reference (PDR)."

The first drug targeted in last summer's campaign was the antihistamine carbinoxamine because of safety concerns regarding their use in children under 2 years of age. FDA has approved two carbinoxamine products for various allergic symptoms but said, "Many unapproved carbinoxamine products are labeled for treatment of cough and cold symptoms, an indication for which carbinoxamine has not been found safe and effective by FDA. Many companies are selling carbinoxamine drops and syrups that are specifically labeled for use in children as young as one month of age. Carbinoxamine has never studied in very young children, and FDA cannot predict how they will respond to it." Under the guidance issued last June, FDA is "encouraging" companies to comply with the drug approval process and seek approval for their products, as well as safeguarding consumer access to important medicines. Those manufacturers that do not comply with drug approval requirements may be subject to enforcement action. For additional information, see FDA's Unapproved Drugs Web Page.

BONG AND VODKA DON'T MIX, SAYS SPIRITS COUNCIL
A bottle of vodka shaped like a water pipe was outlawed by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, an industry trade group that responds to complaints about alcohol-related advertising. After receiving a complaint about Bong Vodka, the board ruled that it was inappropriate to market a bottle of liquor that resembles "a pipe commonly used to smoke marijuana." The Florida-based company that imports the vodka from Holland argued that the bottle was "pop-icon imagery" dating back 100 years to the vodka's Dutch origins.

APRIL 7 - IS CANNABIS KOSHER?
According to an NBC story of March 30, Israel's pro-marijuana political party is claiming that because hemp is on a list of items to avoid during Passover, it's Kosher for the rest of the year. Green Leaf Party's Michelle Levine said, "We want people to be able to come and sit in a cafe in Jerusalem even if they're not religious, even if they're not Jewish, and have a spiritual experience in the holy land." Israel's "chief Ashkenazi Rabbi," Yona Metzger, dismissed the idea and its logic. Israel's civil laws clearly outlaw marijuana.

According to Green Gold: Marijuana in Myth, Magic and Religion by Chris Bennett, Lynn Osburn & Judy Osburn, the "calamus" or "kaneh bosm" often mentioned in the bible is undoubetly cannabis. Ditto the "incense" or "burning sacrifices" often mentioned.

HEMPY EASTER (BUT NOT FOR THESE FOLKS)
An East Hartford, Connecticut man was arrested after police found him with a plush Easter bunny that had been stuffed with marijuana. Ian Lawrence, 25, was pulled over by police on Wednesday after allegedly running a red light. Police found 19 grams of marijuana in his car, most of it inside the stuffed rabbit, police said. And Illinois State Police say they seized more than 760 pounds of marijuana Wednesday from a tractor trailer stopped at the weigh station south of Marion. The truck, carrying a load of carrots en route to Ohio, was found to be overweight.

APRIL 3 - COLORADO'S ROCKY MOUNTAINS OFFICIALLY HIGH
On March 12, the Colorado legislature voted to name VIP John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" as the state's second official song after "Where the Columbines Grow," which was adopted in 1915. The Rocky Mountain News wrote, "Some Republicans raised concerns that the song could be a Siren's call to getting stoned, because of the line, 'Friends around the campfire and everybody's high.' In the House, Rep. Debbie Stafford, R-Aurora, unsuccessfully tried to amend the resolution to clarify that Rocky Mountain High 'reflects Colorado's high elevation and in no way reflects or encourages any drug abuse.' This caused Rep. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, to joke, 'But it's a joint resolution.'"

Sen. Bob Hagedorn, who pushed for the designation, said "Rocky Mountain High" has been an unofficial state song for years and has introduced many people around the world to Colorado. He noted that West Virginia adopted Denver's song "Take Me Home, Country Roads" - with its opening line of "Almost heaven, West Virginia" - as a second song in addition to an older state tune, and that Denver chose Colorado as his home state. Hagedorn, who is a recovering alcoholic and serves on the board of the state's largest drug treatment facility, said he wouldn't promote a song that encouraged drug use.

"Exploring inner space had become as important to my generation as the exploration of outer space," Denver's wrote in his autobiography Take Me Home, where he admits to getting stoned in Aspen in 1972 with friends Paul Lurea, Michael Shore, Don Straka and a gentleman named "Crow" with whom he also tripped. Denver wrote that the line from "Rocky Mountain High": "And they say he got crazy once, and he tried to touch the sun," came from that episode, but wasn't just about tripping. It was also about exhilaration, freedom and mortality. The popularity of "Rocky Mountain High" made Denver a "superstar," he wrote.

BARR TO BAT FOR POT
Bob Barr, the former Georgia congressman who brought forward the so-called "Barr amendment" blocking the District of Columbia's voter approved medical marijuana law, has become a lobbyist for the Marijuana Policy Project. Barr will lobby for the rights of states, and the District, to set their own medical marijuana policy without federal interference. The four-term former Republican congressman will also work to de-fund the ONDCP's anti-drug advertising, which has been shown to increased the likelihood that teens would smoke pot. "A lot of conservatives have expressed great concern over the taxpayer money that is being wasted on this poorly run advertising campaign," said Barr, who left Congress in 2003.

Barr now believes there might be "legitimate medical uses of marijuana and we ought not have this knee-jerk reaction against it, and people ought to be allowed to explore." He said, "I, over the years, have taken a very strong stand on drug issues, but in light of the tremendous growth of government power since 9/11, it has forced me and other conservatives to go back and take a renewed look at how big and powerful we want the government to be in people's lives."

US ON DRUGS
"Hollywood's Drug Problem: Who's using? It's not just who you think!" screamed the cover of US Weekly on March 26, which sported photos of Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan and promised to take the reader "inside the dark world destroying the lives of today's top stars." The "Lives that Were Lost" page dredged up River Phoenix, John Belushi, Kurt Cobain and Chris Farley, and added Anna Nicole Smith, who had nine prescription drugs and no illegal ones in her body when she died on February 8.

Later in the 10-page spead, the mag showed celebs whose lives aren't exactly going badly. Charlize Theron was pictured smoking something from a granny smith, and VIP Cameron Diaz, Mischa Barton, Hilton and Ryan Phillippe were shown toking funny cigarettes or pipes in paparazzi pics. On our favorite page, "Celebrity Confessions," George Clooney was quoted saying (in 1997): "I loved acid when I was at college. It was an escape. I liked mushrooms. They were like easy acid." But he warned of the dangers of "blow" which "would dress you up for a party, but never take you there."

Kate Hudson, in a photo taken in Malibu on June 4, 2006, sported a hemp leaf on her shorts. Brad Pitt was pictured in a sweater with a pot leaf motif over the 2006 quote, "If someone wants to do drugs. . . as long as he or she isn't corrupting minors or driving under the influence or endangering others, shouldn't a person have that right?" Former wife and VIP Jennifer Anison's Rolling Stone quote of 2001 was included: "I enjoy marijuana once in a while. There's nothing wrong with that. Everything in moderation."

Justin Timberlake said he'd inhaled and "done too many drugs already" in 2006, and Joss Stone said earlier this year "I'm not much interested in drugs-apart from the occasional spliff." In the ads for her new album Stone is unclothed and body painted with peace signs and flowers (see at right).

"Lost" star Dominic Monaghan didn't say which drugs he'd taken but said in 2004, "For me, it's always been an education, and I've always had a pen and paper with me whenever I've been involved in any kind of drugs." Sienna Miller said in 2007, "I still love the odd hallucinogenic drug. . . If I had a drug of choice, it would be magic mushrooms." Gwen Stefani, whose band once shot a video that looked a whole lot like the first acid trip on Bicycle Day (April 19, 1943) wasn't represented, but Pink said in 2002 "I don't consider pot a drug. It's a plant. It comes from the earth. George Washington smoked pot." Yeah, let's get this party started!

BERRY REGRETS POT USE
Halle Berry has come out saying she regrets using marijuana, which made her too paranoid to leave her house. She is also quoted in the April Reader's Digest saying her father battered her mother and when Berry was broke at age 21, she lived in a New York City shelter because her mother wouldn't send her money. She said she had a "longtime therapist." But does she regret her marijuana use as much as making "Catwoman?" She wasn't asked.

MY SPACE-Y
The Sheboygan Press reported on March 14 that a local teen lead police to his pot plants by posting a picture of them on his MySpace site labeled, "My Mary Jane thats growin in my closet right now." Moua Yang, 18, was charged with two felonies and two misdemeanors following a police raid of his apartment found three potted marijuana plants in a basement closet that matched the online picture, according to a criminal complaint. Yang was identified after a school resource officer at South High School identified him as a former student there.

Police first found out about Yang's alleged drug use through his postings on another Web site police monitor for gang-related activity, according to a criminal complaint. On that site, Yang posted pictures of numerous weapons and drug paraphernalia and brags about having marijuana plants growing in his house and using Ecstasy, the complaint said. Yang faces up to three years and seven months behind bars and fines up to $21,500 if convicted on charges of felony manufacturing marijuana and maintaining a drug trafficking place, and misdemeanor possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Apparently, no weapons charges were filed.

KENNEDY VINDICATED FOR AMBIEN INCIDENT
A March 14 New York Times article by Stephanie Saul began, "The most widely prescribed sleeping pills can cause strange behavior like driving and eating while asleep, the Food and Drug Administration said yesterday, announcing that strong new warnings will be placed on the labels of 13 drugs. The F.D.A. also ordered the makers of the well-known drugs Ambien and Lunesta and the producers of 11 other commonly used sleeping pills drugs to create patient fliers explaining how to safely use them."

Night eaters said they woke up to find Tostitos and Snickers wrappers in their beds, missing food, kitchen counters overflowing with flour from baking sprees, and even lighted stoves. In some cases, the patients had gained more than 100 pounds. Making phone calls, purchasing items over the Internet, or having sex under the influence of sleep medication was also reported. Sleep-drivers reported frightening episodes in which they recalled going to bed, but woke up to find they had been arrested roadside in their underwear or nightclothes.

Last May in Washington, Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), was taking Ambien when he crashed his car near the Capitol. Kennedy entered a treatment program following the incident. United States sales of Ambien and Lunesta alone last year exceeded $3 billion, the article stated, and last year makers of sleeping pills spent more than $600 million on advertising aimed at consumers.

THE PASSING OF A DISCORDIAN LUMINARY
Robert Anton Wilson, co-author of The Illuminatus! Trilogy, died peacefully at his home in Capitola, California on January 11 at the age of 74. Post-polio syndrome had severely weakened Wilson's legs, leading to a fall seven months ago that left him bedridden until his death, his daughter said. Anton was a member of Santa Cruz's Women's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) member who used medical marijuana to ease the suffering of his condition.

Wilson wrote 35 books on subjects such as extrasensory perception, mental telepathy, metaphysics, paranormal experiences, conspiracy theory, sex, drugs and what he called quantum psychology. He appeared in the place of the ailing Timothy Leary on an episode of Politically Incorrect dedicated to Timothy Leary just before his death in 1996. Host Bill Maher opened the show by asking the immortal question, "What was wrong with the brown acid at Woodstock?" to which guest Michelle Phillips replied, "I don't know, but two weeks before I did Owsley acid at Monterey Pop and there was absolutely nothing wrong with that." Wilson related the tale of Dr. Leary being given a psychological test he had himself written upon entering prison in California. Leary filled out the questions to indicate he was placid and easy to influence and was incarcerated in a low-security facility in San Luis Obispo, from which he escaped.

Free thinker, independent spirit, wise and witty sage, Anton will be much missed. Check out his books at: http://www.rawilson.com/main.shtml

LONG LIVE DIONYSIS
Barbara Ehrenreich's book Dancing in the Streets is proving to be a fascinating read, with chapters like "Jesus and Dionysis" and (War one). While ancient revelers danced to call in the god Dionysis, the repressed Puritains hoped "God" wasn't watching their ecstatic dancing. Reminds me of a quote from Carl Jung:

"The Dionisian element has to do with emotions and affects which have found no suitable religious outlets in the predominately Appolian cult and ethos of Christ. The medieval carnivals and jeux de paume in the church were abolished relatively early; consequently the carnival became secularized and with it divine intoxication vanished from the sacred precincts. Mourning, earnestness, severity, and well-tempered spiritual joy remained. But intoxication, that most direct and dangerous form of possession, turned away from the gods and enveloped the human world with its exuberance and pathos. The pagan religions met this danger by giving drunken ecstasy a place within their culture. . . . Our solution, however, has served to throw the gates of hell wide open." (The Portable Jung, Penguin (1971) p. 391-2)

March 9, 2007 - VIP OF THE MONTH: RICK STEVES
PBS travel host Rick Steves (right) has everything we like to see in a Very Important Pothead: a zest for life that translates into success and recognition, a gentle soul, an independent spirit, and the courage to stand up for his convictions. Especially if you get HD TV, don't miss the breathtaking views of Rick Steves' Europe, currently airing on PBS. Read more about Rick and his cannabis advocacy and check out his site.

I THINK WE'RE TURNING JAPANESE
Britain's GW Pharmaceuticals plc (AIM: GWP) and Japan's privately held Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. announced on February 14 that they have entered into a major long term strategic "cannabinoid alliance," with Otsuka paying up to $273 million plus royalties to develop and market GW's Sativex® in the United States. The companies are also in detailed discussions "with a view to entering into a cannabinoid research collaboration in the field of Central Nervous System (CNS) disorders and cancer treatment."

In 2006, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) permitted Sativex, a cannabis extract that is packaged as a pump action oro-mucosal spray, to enter directly into late stage development in the US for the treatment of pain in patients with advanced cancer that has not been adequately relieved by opioid medications. Phase II/III studies will commence this year.

The Otsuka Pharmaceutical Group has "placed significant emphasis" on the research of CNS disorders for the past 27 years. Otsuka's lead product in the field of CNS, ABILIFY®, used to treat schizophrenia and (off-label?) bi-polar disease, brought in over $1.9 billion in 2006. Otsuka is continuing to expand its CNS specialty sales force presence in the US.

So while Britain's GW and Japan's Otsuka work to profit from Sativex, our DEA continues to raid and close U.S. cannabis clubs, and prosecute those who operate them (and in the case of Dustin Costa, hand down a 13-year sentence).

One bright spot: DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner has ruled that University of Massachusetts-Amherst Professor Lyle Craker be permitted to grow research-grade marijuana for use in privately-funded government-approved studies that aim to develop the marijuana plant into a legal, prescription medicine.

"EXUBERANT" DIABETES BONGS DEBUT
Adweek reports that last year, Pfizer paid Sanofi-Aventis $1.4 billion for Exubera, a new inhaled insulin product for diabetics that Pfizer forecast would produce $2 billion in sales every year. What Pfizer got for its investment "was a device that looks a lot like a marijuana bong."
The product looks like a plastic tube into which patients slip prepared doses of powdered insulin, which burst and fill the transparent chamber with a cloud of insulin. The patient then inhales the powder from the top of the tube, "in the same way a dope smoker takes a hit of cannabis smoke."

Exubera was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in February 2006, but the launch has been delayed, with doctors and patients reportedly confused by the bulky and unconventional device. There is one possible silver lining for Exubera, the article reports. Pfizer will gain experience in the "burgeoning field of inhaled drug delivery systems, which some believe could be a goldmine in the future."

Elsewhere, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation recently banned all Pfizer drug reps from its 14 clinic facilities because it believes Pfizer is promoting Viagra in a way that encourages irresponsible use of the drug among crystal meth users. The foundation in January filed a lawsuit against Pfizer in California state court alleging that Pfizer has essentially stopped marketing Viagra for a legitimate medical condition suffered by older males and is actively promoting it to "normal healthy men" of younger ages for recreational reasons or for any occasion in which a man cannot achieve an erection—such as drug use or fatigue. The foundation claims that 32% of gay men with a median age of 32 have used Viagra; that 36% of gay Viagra users have combined it with illegal drugs; and that in "repeat HIV testers" Viagra users are more than twice as likely to test positive for HIV.

AMERICAN IDOL CONTESTANT BOOTED FOR POT BUST?
UPI reported on February 8 that "American Idol" contestant Akron Watson from Dallas was uninvited to the Hollywood round of the competition. No reason was given, however Watson said he'd told producers of a 2003 misdemeanor marijuana possession charge. In the weeks after his successful tryout, an Idol crew came out to interview Akron at his home, and he received numerous e-mails from producers at the show with information regarding his trip to Hollywood for the next round of auditions. But then, less than a week before he was supposed to get on a plane headed for Los Angeles, Akron received a disturbing phone call from a representative of the show. "They said we're not gonna let you go," explains Akron. "And I asked 'why?' And he said 'Well I'm not really sure'. . . and then he gave me some alternatives for what I should say to people if they asked why I was kicked off . . . He told me to tell people that I was now an alternate ... That would protect [me] and protect the show." American Idol PR representative Alex Gillespie said that the show would not ever be giving a reason for Akron's elimination from the competition. If you'd like to show your support for Akron Watson, go leave him a comment on "Bring Ak Back" MySpace site

And, it had to happen: there is now a MySpace-style site called Pot Space

OSCARS HIGH ON SOMETHING
"Somebody dropped their rolling papers," announced Oscar host Ellen DeGeneris on the February 25 broadcast, while mock-vacuuming past the Kodak Theatre's front row. "Oh, the band," she said, tossing the pack into the orchestra pit. But more likely the errant papers might have belonged to a presenter or a nominee that night.

The big prize, Best Picture, was co-presented by Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson, both of whom have famously smoked pot on film. VIP Robert Altman's passing merited the final slot in the memorial film, and garnered an appreciative round of applause from the audience. Altman's absence cleared the field for Martin Scorsese's brutally violent and largely nonsensical film, "The Departed," to win the Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing and Best Picture statues. (Scriptwriter William Monahan's opening statement upon his win was, "Valium does work.")

VIP Melissa Etheridge (left), who used marijuana medicinally for the nausea of cancer chemotherapy, rocked the house and took home a statue with "I Need to Wake Up," her theme song to VIP Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" which ought to be an anthem for us all. The film took the Best Documentary prize, and Gore scored the funniest moment of the night with a spoof on a lengthy acceptance speech. Missing from the Best Documentary category, which Jerry Seinfeld announced as "depressing," was "A/K/A Tommy Chong", which deserved a nod.

Forest Whitaker, who began his career in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" and smoked with a lover in Altman's "Ready to Wear," won Best Actor for "The Last King of Scotland" and spoke of his desire to connect with the light that exists in everyone. VIP Cameron Diaz was charming announcing the Best Animation prize, and it was quite droll hearing the undearwear-free Helen Mirren announce in her crisp English accent the lengthy title of "Borat," pot-lover Sasha Cohen's nominated comedic antidote to the overwhelmingly violent evening's fare.

In other drugs, Alan Arkin beat out the other Supporting Actor nominees playing a heroin-using grandpa who refused to quit, and Ryan Gosling was nominated for his role as a crack-using teacher in "Half Nelson." "A tree can be crooked and straight," Gosling instructs his class in the clip shown, while Peter O'Toole said, "I've tried to give pleasure. It's all I recommend to anyone."

Ennio Morricone, who won a well deserved special Oscar for his film scoring career, is listed on the NNDB.com site as a marijuana user, but I couldn't find any documentation of such. Hear a musical montage of Morricone's music

Hosted the day before by VIP Sarah Silverman, The Independent Spirit awards went to "Little Miss Sunshine" (Best Feature, Best Director, Best First Screenplay, Best Supporting Male); "Thank You for Smoking" (Best Screenplay); VIP Frances McDormand (Best Supporting Female, "Friends with Money"); and "Half Nelson" (Best Female and Male Lead). Best Documentary went to "The Road to Guantanamo."

DOBBS ON DRUGS
It's not enough that quasi-journalist Lou Dobbs has beat the anti-immigrant drum to the point of supporting armed "minutemen" at the border with his shamelessly biased broadcasts on CNN. His new series "The War Within" on the drug war was pre-announced with a typically biased piece. Dobbs aired a two-part "expose" on the $25 million pro-pot movement in February, during which CNN Correspondent Bill Tucker noted that $100 billion is spent fighting WOD yearly even while the country is moving towards a "friendlier stance" on marijuana. The story was followed with the news that a "Free and Secure Trade Program (FAST)" -approved driver was stopped at the Mexican border with 2,700 lbs of marijuana hidden among produce. Meanwhile, last I checked the poll results to Dobb's question "Do you believe marijuana should be legalized in this country?" were: Yes: 80% (14,844 votes); No: 20% (3720 votes).

On the March 7 broadcast, Dobbs ominously teased viewers at least three times with the news that teenage girls are using drugs and alcohol at a higher rate than boys. Accompanying the news was gratuitous, fuzzy footage of braless young women dancing. The program aired a story about a 15-year-old girl who said she lost her virginity after getting drunk, passing out, and being raped. Dobbs then shot into promos for the HBO film "Addicted," which he pronounced "very important" and predicted would be "absolutely seminal and pivotal." Meanwhile, footage of bongs being loaded and smoked were shown. After interviewing filmmaker John Hoffman NIDA co-sponsor Nora Volkow, Dobbs then called out to every middle school and high school, and "everyone in this country who has a family" to watch the March 15 broadcast "if you care about your child."

STERN STANDS FOR POT
Even though he says he no longer smokes pot, Howard Stern has announced that he will support a presidential candidate only if s/he supports marijuana legalization. Me too. And I got more on the story about Stern co-host Artie Lange smoking pot with Peter Boyle: Lange said he was appearing on "Norm" while Boyle was filming "Everybody Loves Raymond" on the same lot, and they would meet at the lunch truck because they were both big eaters. One day Boyle asked Lange to smoke a hooter he provided. They did. And, presumably, went back to the lunch truck.

LIQUID EXPERIENCE ISN'T
Didja ever notice that TV commercials for sugary breakfast cereals and candies often feature trippy artwork and superhuman feats like flying? But their products don't deliver.

The "energy drink" market segment has recently been augmented in Japan by VIP Arnold Schwarzenegger stumping for a nicotine-laden energy drink, and spoofed on HBO's "Entourage" with the tagline, "Drink it till your heart pops." Now some enterprising folks at a Los Angeles-based company called Beverage Concepts have teamed up with Authentic Hendrix, the Seattle-based company that licenses Hendrix's name and images, to produce "Liquid Experience," an energy drink scheduled to debut in April.

No word on what's in the drink, but the company's other product, Liquid Ice Energy Drink is stuffed with sugar (29 grams), sodium (200 mg), caffeine (80 mg) and taurine (a full gram) plus some B vitamins and enzymes. Not a brew likely to give one the "experience" Jimi sang about on his breakthrough 1967 album, "Are You Experienced?"

"To see his image and the beautiful feelings it has created during my lifetime cheapened by base advertising ... is very disappointing to me," said bassist Michael Balzary, better known as Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

According to Room Full of Mirrors, the 2005 biography of Hendrix by Charles R. Cross, Hendrix said after trying LSD he played colors, not notes, and "saw" the music in his head as he played. The Grateful Dead concurred, as did Albert Hoffman, the Swiss chemist who discovered LSD in 1943. "Every acoustic perception...became transformed into optical perceptions," Hoffman wrote of his/mankind's first trip.

VIP SCOOP: NIXON CARRIED POT INTO JAPAN
An LA-based trumpet player who toured with VIP Louis Armstrong told me last month Armstrong told him he once ran into Richard Nixon at an airport in Japan. Nixon said, "Hi Pops, can I do anything for you?" and Louis, who had his gage in his case, asked Nixon to carry it for him.

Both Armstrong and Nixon toured Japan in 1956. On July 6th, 1971, the following statement was made available to the press on board Air Force One en route to San Clemente, California: "Mrs. Nixon and I share the sorrow of millions of Americans at the death of Louis Armstrong. One of the architects of an American art form, a free and individual spirit, and an artist of worldwide fame, his great talents and magnificent spirit added richness and pleasure to all our lives."

The U.S. State Department said of Armstrong, "His memory will be enshrined in the archives of effective international communications. The Department of State, for which he traveled on tours to almost every corner of the globe, mourns the passing of this great American." On July 9, 1971, Leonard Garment, Special Consultant to the President, represented the President at Armstrong's funeral services in New York City.

GUILIANI: WHAT A DRAG
Former NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani, the top runner for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, has been photographed numerous times in drag (see right). But it wasn't healthy to take a drag of pot in Guiliani's New York. In 1992, when Rudy took office, New York police arrested 720 pot smokers. But the year he left office, 59,945 people, including 19 at a memorial for VIP John Lennon and eight members of an East Village medical marijuana co-op, were arrested in the Big Apple, many of them in public parks. Read more.

FIRST LADIES RECANT
Canada's former first lady Margaret Trudeau said quitting marijuana helped her mental health at a press conference for the Canadian Mental Health Association's March 7 Bottom Line Conference. Trudeau, who was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, said, "I loved marijuana. I was a hippie in the '60s. I started smoking at a young age. I took to it like a duck to water. Strawberry Fields Forever and all that."

Trudeau said it is not uncommon for mental health sufferers to self-medicate with alcohol or marijuana, claiming, "Marijuana can trigger psychosis," and adding, "Every time I was hospitalized it was preceded by heavy use of marijuana." Trudeau was hospitalized three times for mental illness. Her first followed the birth of her second child, Alexandre, and her most recent one followed the deaths of her son Michel and Pierre Trudeau.

Trudeau said, "It takes maturity first to comply with the pharmaceutical. There's the feeling that it is taking away from your creativity, your spark. My doctor said 'No Margaret, it's your disease that's taking away from your spark.'" She said she has completely given up the use of marijuana, something she once thought made her feel "wonderful." "I miss it," she said of pot-smoking.

A new book, Laura Bush: An Intimate Portrait of the First Lady by Ronald Kessler (Doubleday, 2006) debunks Kitty Kelley's assertion in The Family that Laura Bush was "a go-to girl for dime bags of marijuana" while a student at Southern Methodist University. Kelley's source, Austin public-relations executive Robert Nash, told Kessler he only passed along rumors to Kelley. "She is taking a kernel of cocktail chatter that was ill-advised and stupid on my part, and she has blown it up," said Nash. Gordon Johndroe, Laura's press secretary, said the first lady is so naēve she spoke of "dime boxes" of marijuana, instead of bags when talking to him about the Kelley book. Bush's classmate Susan Byerly Nowlin said, "In the South, there was virtually no marijuana. It was so new." Bush graduated from SMU in 1968.

Kessler also tackles Kelley's assertion that Laura and George visited Jane Purucker Clarke, one of Laura's sorority sisters, and her husband Sandy Koufax on the island of Tortola for "heavy pot-smoking parties." Pamela Nelson, another sorority sister, said Clarke was not married to Kofax at the time of the visits and Clarke called the story "a lie."

More debunkment from Gertrude Stein's first lady Alice B. Toklas, whose cookbook had a recipe for Hashish fudge: Toklas wrote in a letter to Donald Gallup on 12/19/21, "I hope you were as shocked as I was by the notice in Time of the hashish fudge. I was also furious until I discovered it really was in the cookbook! Contributed by one of Carl's most enchanting friends, Brian Gysin, so that the laugh was on me. Thornton said that no one would believe in my innocence as I had pulled the publicity stunt of the year, that Harper had telegraphed from London to the Attorney General to see if there would be any trouble in printing it."

NORML ANNOUNCES LIFE INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR RESPONSIBLE CANNABIS SMOKERS
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has partnered with The McLaughlin Company and a pair of nationally recognized insurance providers to offer life insurance products to responsible cannabis consumers. NORML and its partners hope to also offer cannabis-friendly disability and health insurance products later this year. Listen to an audio message about the NORML Life Insurance program from The McLaughlin Company's Webb Hubbell.

It's Official: POT PRISONERS COST A BILLION

MARIJUANA GAINS WONDER DRUG STATUS
By Lester Grinspoon, M.D.

HECK OF A GUY
Joe Heck, a Nevada state senator and an M.D., has introduced legislation to make growing marijuana around children a felony. Heck is a President and Medical Director of Specialized Medical Operations, Inc. (www.SpecMedOps.com), a corporation dedicated to providing quality medical training, consulting, and operational support to Law Enforcement, EMS and Military Special Operations. He holds the rank of Colonel in the United States Army Reserve, and currently serves as a medical plans and operations officer with the U.S. Northern Command. In July 2006 Heck graduated from the U.S. Army War College, earning a Masters of Strategic Studies. From 1998 to 2003, he served as the Medical Director of the Casualty Care Research Center of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, where he provided medical support for several Federal law enforcement agencies and oversight for the medical response to acts of terrorism. Despite being in the senate only since 2004, Heck is Assistant Majority Whip and Vice-Chair of the Transportation and Homeland Security committee. As well as the mmar bill, he's authored a bill to allow doctors to tell patients "I'm sorry" without getting sued.

LA TIMES MISSES MEXICO MARK
A January 29 LA Times article "Mexico's willing drug fighter" missed some important points. While proclaiming "broad support" for President Calderon's new and questionable tactics (even though only a third of Mexicans polled approved of them), the story failed to mention that on April 28 of last year, Mexico's congress voted to legalize personal amounts of marijuana, peyote, and other drugs, as a means of stemming the violence that always accompanies an illicit market. A recent report by DrugScience confirms that marijuana is the U.S.'s top cash crop, with a value of $35.8 billion in 2006, and Oakland's Measure Z marijuana policy oversight committee projects that California could receive $70 - $120 million in sales tax revenues alone if medical marijuana was taxed legally like other herbal medicines. Instead, the U.S. is considering sending Mexico $850 million in federal funds to fight what Calderon acknowledges is "a permanent fight" against drug traffickers.

SURGEON GENERAL CALLS FOR HALT ON ALCOHOL ADS
On March 6, the U.S. Surgeon General's Office (SGO) called for an end to alcohol advertising in college publications, alcohol-company sponsored college events and a voluntary cutback on billboards in an effort to curb underage drinking. In addition, the SGO asked the entertainment and media industries not to glamorize underage alcohol use in films and on TV. Between 2001 and 2005, 1.4 million alcohol ads ran on TV at a cost of $4.7 billion. The number of ads spiked 34 percent during that five-year span, thanks in part to the fact that distilled spirits companies broke a 48-year-old self-imposed ban on TV advertising (Brandweek.com).

FDA REGULATION OF TOBACCO HEARD IN CONGRESS

After Sen. Edward Kennedy lead hearings into regulation of tobacco by the FDA, several advertising groups sent him an eight-page letter calling the bill unconstitutional. The letter from the Association of National Advertisers, the American Advertising Federation and American Association of Advertising Agencies makes it clear the ad groups' biggest concern is that the tobacco curbs would extend to food or beverage marketers, including spirits advertisers. "Don't start down this road to content-based censorship of advertising," the letter said. On March 6, FDA chief Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach told the Associated Press that government regulation of tobacco could backfire by leading smokers to light up more often and inhale more deeply, adding that if the FDA reduced nicotine levels in cigarettes, people would change their smoking habits to maintain current levels of the addictive drug. "What I don't want to see happen is that we are in a position where we are determining that a cigarette is safe," he said, while acknowledging smoking kills more than 400,000 Americans a year. He later suggested regulation wasn't the solution. In 1996, the FDA moved to regulate tobacco. The Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that Congress had not authorized the agency to do so.

CELEBS ON DRUG MONEY

We haven't heard much from VIP Montel Williams on the medical marijuana issue since he started touring the country handing out Pharmaceuticals for the Poor. Another February 26 article in Adweek lists celebs on the big pharma gravy train, concluding the real celebrity endorsement deal money is in anti-depression drugs, "which make oodles by treating...but seemingly never actually curing...the clinical blues."

- Former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and NFL commentator Terry Bradshaw stumps for GlaxoSmithKline's Paxil, for whom he has run a program titled "Overcoming Depression with Terry Bradshaw"
- Lorraine Bracco, who plays a psychologist on "The Sopranos," endorses the anti-depression campaign of Pfizer, makers of Zoloft
- Eli Lilly & Co. signed soap actor Linda Dano to promote an anti-depression program called "Support Partners." Lilly also markets Prozac.
- Cara Kahn of MTV's "The Real World" promoted Wyeth's Effexor.

Missing from the list is Ricky Williams, who quit the Miami Dolphins rather than continue to submit to drug testing. Williams, who suffered from SAD (Social Anxiety Disorder), was a spokesperson for Paxil but told the Miami Herald he had to stop using it because it didn't agree with his diet and said, "Marijuana is 10 times better for me than Paxil." BTW, some experts think extending Daylight Savings Time will exacerbate the other SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder.

ROME AND HEMP
Episode 15 of HBO's series "Rome" has the following scene: Octavia is hosting a friend, Jocasta, the daughter of a wealthy businessman. She's just returned from Macedonia with two sacks of hemp. With the help of a slave girl, Octavia tries smoking the seeds for the first time, only to choke on the smoke. They're interrupted by Atia, who reprimands them for stinking up the house, before taking a hit of the hemp herself." And Cleopatra, who should be returning soon, was smoking something last season too.

NEW BOOKS
As the 60s generation reaches the writing-of-memoirs age, look for more confessions about drug-taking to hit print. Recently spotted were:

-VIP David Crosby's new book Since Then speaks of advice he gives his children (in paraphrase): There is a time and place for grass. You're high on life right now, that's the safest intoxication....There are two kinds of smokers: those who do nothing and those who do it to enhance life's experiences. Don't be the first kind.

-Barbra, The Way She Is, by Christopher Anderson (Wm. Morrow 2006) recounts how while playing Vegas in 1970 La Streisand voiced jealousy of Dean Martin and the Rat Packers who drank onstage. Announcing her preferred method of relaxation was grass, she lit up onstage, leading groups like Little Anthony and the Imperials to send her the "best pot." The book also says her role in "The Way We Were" was dependent on her appearing at a McGovern rally organized by Warren Beatty on April 15, 1972 at the LA Forum.

According to David Crosby's earlier book, Stand and Be Counted: After a second standing ovation at the McGovern event, Barbra stopped to talk to the crowd. Speaking of her stage fright, she said, "I was even more scared until I spoke to friends of mine, also performers you know, and they were telling me. . . that in order to conquer their fear. . . some of them drink. But I really hate the taste of liquor so I can't do that. Some of them take pills, but I can't even take aspirin." At that moment she took an exaggerated drag of what appeared to be a joint. After huge laugher and applause, she made a confused face and asked, "It's still illegal?" Taking another toke she spoke through clenched teeth (as though holding the smoke in) she said, "We should face our problems head on." She then sang, "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" (with the lyric, "You'll feel part of every mountain, sea and shore. You can hear, from far and near, a world you've never heard before.") She received a total of six standing ovations.

-"Somewhere," a new biography of choreographer Jerome Robbins ("West Side Story"), says Robbins took psilocybin pills with Robert Graves at Gordon Wasson's apartment on January 31, 1960. Later, he had a poorly planned bad trip on LSD.

ART NEWS
-Rock photographer Glen La Ferman says he was uncovered images from VIP Bob Marley's last photo session. Many of the beautiful images depict Marley partaking of the herb and are available in limited edition prints stretched on canvas. See www.marleyoncanvas.com

-Dr. Seuss's Cat in the Hat turns 50 this year, and in recent years Seuss's "secret art" has toured in public exhibitions. One of those rare images, "Tower of Babel" was spotted beautifully framed at The Vault Gallery in Cambria, CA (www.vaultgallery.com). Vault's owner, who hosted a Seuss exhibit last year, told me Theodore Geisel's widow kept the painting under wraps, understandably since it shows Seuss's character Horton aimed at by an elephant hunter and a steamroller heading towards a hookah-smoking man (middle right). Another Geisel painting is "Happy Caterpillar on a Mushroom."

STONER FILM NEWS
-Dave Chappelle's not-half-bad stoner flick Half Baked is now available on DVD as Half Baked: Fully Baked Edition. Snoop Dogg, Tommy Chong, Willie Nelson, Jon Stewart, Bob Saget, and Steven Wright all make appearances in the film, Stewart as the "enhancement smoker." See a review

-The $10-million sequel to New Line's Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle is currently filming in Shreveport, Louisiana. According to the LA Times, the first film grossed just $18 million in theaters in the summer of 2004, but developed a "huge cult following" (and more than $30 million in extra revenue) on DVD. The sequel was initially designed around a trip to Amsterdam, until the studio informed the writers that Americans-in-Europe comedies are typically a disappointment. So instead the Asian- and Indian-American heroes are thrown off a plane to Europe when the "bong" they carry on is confused with a "bomb." They end up escaping into the post-9/11 Deep South. The cast includes "Daily Show" correspondents Rob Corddry and Ed Helms, "SNL" regular Andy Samberg, and the return of Neil Patrick Harris.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BILL
The Producers Guild of America gave HBO's 'Real Time with Bill Maher' the Johnny Carson best variety TV show award on January 20 (Bill's birthday). Bill will be the guest on CNN's Larry King show on Monday, March 12.

DUTCH HEALTH SECRETARY SPEAKS AGAINST MARIJUANA TESTS FOR SPORTS
The AP reported on February 12 that the Dutch health secretary said recreational drugs such as marijuana and alcohol, and some others that don't help athletes perform better, should be removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of banned substances. Clemence Ross was speaking at a closed conference in Amsterdam that is part of an ongoing review of WADA's World Anti-Doping Code. "WADA should focus all its powers on the core task, and spend its money and efforts that way," Ross said. "Combating soft drugs should be a task for the government." WADA's review began in 2006 and will culminate in an update to the code at a major meeting in Madrid in November. About 85 representatives of governments and various organizations were attending the two-day meeting ending Tuesday. Since fishing and dart throwing were added to the list of "sports" that test for marijuana last year, this seems logical.

COLORADO JUDGE RESIGNS OVER LAFAYETTE MARIJUANA ORDINANCE
(AP) A Boulder criminal-defense lawyer who has been serving as an associate municipal court judge in Lafayette, CO for eight years has resigned to protest the city's tough new penalties for marijuana possession. Leonard Frieling said that he is unwilling to enforce the ordinance that increases the maximum penalty for possession of small amounts of pot from a $100 fine to a $1,000 fine and a year in jail. Frieling said he doesn't think marijuana should be illegal for adults who are allowed to drink alcohol, but he said he was willing to enforce the current $100 fine – which matches the state penalty for possession of small amounts of the drug.

DO YOU YOU TUBE?
curious george pronounces of playstation 3: "those graphics are dope"
Ben Harper sings for freedom
Sheryl Crow Does the Same

EVENTS
April 5, Thursday 7 PM: VIP Lord Buckley 101st Birthday Party, in Museum. Refreshments served http://www.tuolumnemuseum.org/events.htm.

1/19/07 - Colbert Interviews O'Leilly on January 18 Show
"You're not high, Bill O'Reilly is really here. You might also be high."

To his credit, O'Reilly not only interviewed Steven Colbert on his show that day, he also had Americans for Safe Access (ASA) Executive Director Steph Sherer discussing Wednesday's federal raids on cannabis clubs in Los Angeles and West Hollywood.

To their discredit, the White House Correspondents have chosen (or exhimed exhumed) Rich Little to regale this year's crowd with imitations of Richard Nixon, Johnny Carson and Paul Lynde.

GOLDEN GLOBES GO GOOEY
According to AP, Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton had his seating arrangements for Monday's 64th annual Golden Globe Awards changed a few days before the event, when organizers realized he was scheduled to sit with the cast of Showtime's "Weeds." Bratton eventually landed at a table filled mostly with representatives of French champagne maker and event co-sponsor Moeet & Chandon. The chief was one of several local law enforcement officials including Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and Beverly Hills Police Chief David Snowden to attend the show. Despite the presence of so much brass, several boxes containing 80 goodie bags valued at $450 each were stolen. By Tuesday morning, however, Beverly Hills police said they had arrested two people at the hotel with some of the loot.

Though Mary Louise Parker was nominated for her performance in Weeds, her award went to America (?) of Ugly Betty, a TV version of "The Devil Wears Prada" (for which Meryl Streep also won). Other awards were equally uninteresting.

MYSPACE USED TO ENTRAP WOULD-BE DRUG DEALERS
According to the Charlotte Sun Herald, Punta Gorda, Florida Police Detective Thomas Lewis' fake MySpace caught two "drug" dealers in two days this week. On Monday, Shawn David Stevens, 30, allegedly made contact with the undercover officer's online alter ego, a drug-seeking 20-year-old woman, and arranged to sell her Ecstasy pills. He met undercover officers at a Punta Gorda gas station with disguised ibuprofen pills instead and was charged with possession of a counterfeit controlled substance with intent to distribute. On Tuesday, James Brian Johnston, 34, allegedly arranged to bring two marijuana joints to the fictitious woman and was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute when he brought instead a single joint.

The Punta Gorda Police Department began using MySpace.com to find drug offenders last month, netting their first MySpace-related arrest Dec. 12. Lewis started using the site after he became acquainted with it through his 13- and 16-year-old daughters.

DON'T TOUCH MY WATERBOTTLE, IF YOU PLEASE
Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Michael Vick set off a firestorm of press on Wednesday when a waterbottle he reluctantly surrendered to security at Miami International Airport was found to have a hidden compartment that "contained a residue closely associated with marijuana." Charges may be filed pending lab tests, and the NFL could force Vick into a random drug testing program.

Vick threw for a career-high 20 touchdowns and rushed for 1,039 yards this season, the first NFL quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards. But the Falcons failed to reach the playoffs for the second straight year after it ranked 25th in scoring and last in passing.Sounds like Vick would make a better halfback, he doesn't seem to have the brains for quarterbacking, though he has eight years remaining on a $130 million contract he signed in December 2004.

Vic has other personality problems: he was fined $10,000 by the NFL and agreed to donate the same amount to charity after making an obscene gesture toward fans at the Georgia Dome after a Nov. 26 game. Maybe he has SAD (Social Anxiety Disorder) like Ricky Williams, who was a spokesperson for the anti-depressant Paxil when he tested positive for marijuana and temporarily quit the NFL over the incident. Williams told the Miami Herald he had to stop using Paxil because it didn't agree with his diet and said, "Marijuana is 10 times better for me than Paxil." A new documentary, "Big Bucks, Big Pharma: Marketing Disease & Pushing Drugs" looks at how illnesses like Social Anxiety Disorder are created by pharmaceutical companies to make greater profits.

SADHUS CHILLUM OUT
India's biggest religious gathering, the six week-long Ardh Kumbh Mela, or Half Pitcher festival. The festival, held every three years, is marked by rituals of millions of Indians who bathe in the Ganges. Reuters reports with "the smell of cannabis heavy in the air," "much of the colour, eccentricity and, for many Indians, the spiritual heart of the Kumbh Mela are the thousands of 'sadhus', or holy men dressed in saffron robes who gather from all over India....for Indians these are saints who can help them, whether to bring rains or cure illnesses." Renouncing the material world in the hope of breaking the cycle of life and death, many sadhus have even made the Guiness Book of Records, including for one for continuously standing for 17 years.

NATHANAEL WEST ON MARIJUANA
Nathanael West's 1939 book, The Day of the Locusts, often cited as one of the best Hollywood novels, has its character Faye Greener sing five verses of the Stuff Smith tune "If You're a Viper" just before she sleeps with a mysterious Mexican (her dealer?):

"I'm the queen of everything
Got to get high before I can swing..."

All the white men in the book unsuccessfully pursue Faye, but West concludes, "Mexicans are very good with women." (Note to Bill O'Reilly: it's easier to get a woman with a joint than a loofah.)

Read more on West.

NEWS LINKS
Barbara Ehrenreich's 1/18 appearance at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club, titled "Exploring the Communal Impulse for Joy," should be archived soon at www.commonwealthclub.org

A January 16 TODAY show had food editor Phil Lempert talking with NBC's Natalie Morales about hemp foods, complete with a plastic "hemp" plant and a table full of healthy hemp food items. Ann Coulter comes in munching an Alpsack bar saying, "I'm starting to giggle."

A new study suggests that a tendency toward delinquency or living in a neighborhood where drugs are readily available are just as important in determining whether a young person will abuse marijuana and whether or not he tries cigarettes or alcohol first.

The Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee is considering a bill that would expand the state's medical marijuana law to include additional diseases and allow people permitted to use marijuana to grow more for their own use. And a state senator whose first wife suffered a painful death wants South Carolina to legalize medical marijuana use. Sen. Bill Mescher of Pinopolis says the issue has been on his mind for about 20 years. "My first wife died of lung cancer - a long agonizing death," the Republican lawmaker said. A doctor said marijuana might help ease the pain and nausea from chemotherapy, but South Carolina law wouldn't allow it, Mescher said.

Should Illegal Drugs Be Taxed? Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2007 By CLAYTON NEUMAN

According to AP, George Michael pleaded not guilty to charges of being unfit to drive and possessing marijuana on January 10. The 43-year-old singer was arrested Sept. 30 after police responded to complaints that a car was blocking an intersection in north London. Police said Michael was found passed out inside the car. Michael, who was referred to by his birth name, George Panayiotou, wasn't in court, and the pleas were entered by his attorney, Keima Payton. Judge Katherine Marshall provisionally set a trial date for April 23, but Payton said blood samples taken on the night of his arrest weren't legal, meaning the trial should be scrapped. "Are you saying prosecution should not take place because it is unfair?" Marshall asked. "Indeed," Payton said. Arguments were set for March 7 to discuss whether the blood sample taken from Michael was inadmissible.

NOW THAT'S BAD LUCK
Two brothers were busted for growing marijuana, after a car crashed into their Denver home last Wednesday, revealing the operation. More than seventeen pounds of marijuana (nearly 100 plants) and growing equipment were confiscated from the home of 60-year-old Eduardo and 53-year-old Miguel Vigil after an unrelated driver lost control on the icy road and crashed into the front of their house. The Vigil brothers are charged with cultivation of and possession with the intent to distribute marijuana. Both were released on bond and are scheduled to appear in court January 26th.

BY THE WAY, THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY HAS SELECTED DENVER AS THE SITE FOR ITS 2008 CONVENTION. SINCE DENVER VOTERS HAVE THROWN OUT THE CITY'S LAW AGAINST SMOKING POT, IT COULD BE THE DEMS WILL FINALLY BE PUTTING THE "PARTY" BACK IN THEIR PARTY.

1/13/07 - VIP OF THE MONTH: STEPHEN COLBERT

POT IS U.S.'s TOP CASH CROP
Reaction was swift to the breaking news that a report by researcher Jon Gettman establishes that despite decades of marijuana "eradication" campaigns in which over 100 million marijuana plants have been destroyed, marijuana is America's top cash crop, with a value of $35.8 billion this year -- exceeding the combined value of corn ($23.3 billion) and wheat ($7.45 billion).

CNN reporter Stephanie Elam (pictured, right) introduced the study by referring to "our friend marijuana." Noting that one third of the crop comes from California, Elam called it "my home state." (Perhaps that's where they came to be friends.) Elam, the co-host of Black Enterprise Report, added the report argues marijuana has "become something that could be treated like alcohol, and then, therefore, the government could tax it. And it would be another way for them to gain money...it's an interesting idea."

Bill Steigerwald weighed in with a Christmas Eve editorial in the Richard Mellon Scaife-owned Pittsburgh Tribune-Review titled "America's No. 1 crop ain't Xmas trees," writing, "Gettman's study reinforces what long has been obvious to everyone except the American Talibans who continue to write and enforce our immoral, un-American drug prohibition laws: The government war on (some) drugs has been a costly failure for three decades. The mindless war on marijuana--now almost 70 years old--is an even bigger bust." The New Zealand Herald opined, "Because drugs are illegal, those who traffic in them pay no tax on their earnings, an enormous incentive to invest and expand. It seems strange that governments, which use the taxation system as a tool of economic management, should persist with policies that confer irresistible commercial logic and appeal on an activity of which they thoroughly disapprove. With benefactors like these, who needs Santa Claus?"

A December 21 editorial in the Hindustan Times titled "High in America" began: "The war in Iraq is not the only one that President Bush is not winning. There is another one brewing in his own backyard. America seems to have decided to 'Just Say No' to its administration's long drawn-out War on Drugs, especially the battle against cannabis sativa aka marijuana. Where the government has been trying to weed out this Schedule I drug from the market, the people have been planting seeds of dissent -- literally."

D'UH REPORT: US POLICY STILL NOT WORKING
The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA) changed its name to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NS-DUH) upon release of its August 2006 survey reporting that a record 97.5 million Americans, 40% of the population aged 12 and over, admit to pot smoking. NS-DUH researchers report 38.7% of 12 graders admit to ever using marijuana, and 15.1% say they have used it in the past month. Figures from the Monitoring the Future study (44%/19.8%) and US Centers for Disease Control (47.6%/22.8%) are even, um, higher.

According to a report released in December by the Marijuana Policy Project, rates of teen marijuana use in states that have decriminalized adult marijuana possession are statistically equal to rates in those that have retained criminal penalties. However, since Britain ended most marijuana possession arrests in 2004, the rate of marijuana use by 16-to-19-year-olds has dropped. In the Netherlands, where adults have been allowed to possess and purchase small amounts of marijuana since 1976, the rate of marijuana use by adults and teens is lower than the U.S., and teen use of cocaine and amphetamines is far lower than in the U.S. The report concludes that apart from possible "boomerang" and "forbidden fruit" effects of criminal penalties, the obvious lack of controls in an illicit market impacts underage users most of all. Well, D'UH. Download the full report here and send it to your Congressman

WE LOSE ANOTHER LIGHT: RAYMOND SHAFER
Former Pennsylvania Governor Raymond P. Shafer died on December 12 at the age of 89.
About 250 people, including three former governors -- William Scranton, Richard Thornburgh and Tom Ridge -- attended his funeral at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA, where Shafer served as a trustee for more than 20 years and as president from 1985 to 1986.

After graduation from Allegheny College and Yale Law School, Shafer was PT boat commander in WWII who took part in more than 80 combat missions, earning the Bronze Star and other honors. He served two terms as district attorney of Crawford County, PA, was elected a state senator in 1958 and later lieutenant governor before serving as Pennsylvania's governor from 1967 to 1971. Shafer's administration was embarrassed in 1968 when the state commissioner for the blind fabricated a story that six college students were blinded by the sun after taking LSD. Shafer later called the incident a hoax.

In 1971, President Nixon named his fellow Republican Shafer to chair the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse. The unexpected result was the report, "Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding" which recommended decriminalization. Nixon shelved the findings. Shafer's memorial website has many pertinent links

SAY IT LOUD: I'M HIGH AND I'M PROUD
James Brown, the beloved, proud and flawed "hardest working pothead in showbusiness" died on Christmas Day, 2006 at the age of 72.

Abandoned by his mother and raised by an aunt in a South Carolina brothel during the depression, Brown picked cotton, danced for spare change and shined shoes before landing in reform school at the age of 16 where he got introduced to gospel music. The musically untrained Brown ended up touring with an ensemble of singers, dancers and musicians with 800 songs in their repertoire. Brown influenced soul music in the Sixties, funk in the Seventies and rap in the Eighties. His 1968 anthem, "Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud" erased the word "negro" from political correctness and boosted Black Pride like never before. In 1969, he played at Richard M. Nixon's inauguration celebration.

According to his friend Al Sharpton, Brown sweated off 7-10 pounds a night during his high-energy performances and often rehearsed his band for hours after his shows. In 1986 Brown said, "Michael Jackson, he used to watch me from the wings and got his moon walk from my camel walk. I ain't jealous I'm zealous. I ain't teased, I'm pleased." A charter member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Brown received a lifetime achievement Grammy Award in 1992, a star on Hollywood's walk of fame in 1997, and Kennedy Center Award in December 2003.

Brown had several brushes with the law during his lifetime, some of the worst while he was doing PCP and others for which he was found not guilty. He was arrested in January 1998 for possession of marijuana and guns and completed a 90-day drug treatment program. Brown said he used the marijuana for medicinal purposes to treat eye ailments.

POLITICIANS AND POT
-At the passing of Gerald Ford, his wife Betty's work in drug recovery has been highlighted. Betty became addicted to alcohol and prescription painkillers, but her attitude regarding pot was refreshingly open. Asked by Morley Safer as first lady what she thought about her children possibly using marijuana, Betty replied, "I think if I were their age I probably would have been interested to see the effect." Ford sons Michael and Jack have both admitted to smoking marijuana.
Jack Ford made public his penchant for grass in a statement before the Western States Republican Conference in 1976. "I've smoked marijuana and I don't think that's so exceptional for people growing up in the 1960s," said Ford in an interview. "The fact that there's so much moral indignation over it is one of the reasons there are so any problems with the disillusionment and alienation of young people in this country."

-On January 3, the FBI released 1,561 pages of documents on Former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist detailing his addiction to and withdrawal from the painkiller Placidyl, which often caused his speech to slur noticeably during his tenure on the court. During a 1986 investigation, the FBI concluded that Rehnquist began taking Placidyl for insomnia after back surgery in 1971, the year before he joined the court. By 1981 he apparently was taking 1,500 milligrams a night, three times the usual starting dose. That year, Rehnquist checked himself into George Washington University Hospital, where he tried to escape in his pajamas and imagined that the CIA was plotting against him, the records indicate. He was weaned off Placidyl in early 1982 in a detoxification process that took a month, according to the records. An additional 207 pages were withheld under federal disclosure laws, and the FBI said an entire section of his file could not be found.

-Democratic Great Black Hope Barak Obama admitted to trying cocaine and pot in high school in a memoir written 11 years ago, says a Washington Post story also printed on January 3. Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance now has 800,000 copies in print, since Obama's book, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, has become a bestseller. In an interview during his Senate race two years ago, Obama said he admitted using drugs because he thought it was important for "young people who are already in circumstances that are far more difficult than mine to know that you can make mistakes and still recover."

DIAZ DOES (OR DID)
I guess Rolling Stone's characterization of "The Herbsman" in its fall style issue (9/7/06) was on the mark when it included in its pothead profile: "All my exes look like Cameron Diaz." Seems the 34-year old Diaz came "out" to Britain's GQ magazine in December. Talking about her surfing lifestyle as a teen growing up in California, she said, "It took two hours to get there on the bus. You stayed all day, ate corn dogs. It wasn't the 'California Dreamin' thing. We had only $2 for a joint." She was set to star alongside Jim Carrey in the comedy "A Little Game" but script changes caused both stars to pull out of the project. Said Diaz, "I wasn't really looking to work anyway. It's almost snowboarding season." If RS remains a style predicter, look for Diaz to hook up with Jack Johnson or Ben Harper, or anyone wearing Calvin Klein cargo pants, Rebooks and a ball cap. (The actress is shown here sharing a joint with Drew Barrymore.)

THE PLOT STICKENS ON DAYTIME TV
Nine years after Candace Bergen used medical marijuana on TV's "Murphy Brown," daytime TV has caught up with its prime time counterpart. An episode of "General Hospital" aired on December 26 had character Alexis Davis, an attorney, trying marijuana for relief from chemotherapy treatments. In the episode, number 11,199 of the 43-year-old soap, Alexis (played by Emmy winner Nancy Lee Grahn) tries "Cannabis excellantus" brought by her daughter Samantha (Kelly Monaco) and computer programmer/pot dealer Damian Spinelli (Bradford Anderson). "Medical marijuana is used all the time for pain and nausea when you're getting chemotherapy. . .It's legal in, like, 11 states," Sam tells her mother.

We rejoin our heroine as she is placing a joint in an ashtray. While denying she feels stoned, Alexis reports she "can't stop thinking about potato chips" and would like to try on Spinelli's beanie as a fashion statement.

On the December 28 episode, Alexis is told by her younger daughter's caretaker to continue "whatever you were doing" the day before because the child was happier than she had been in months. When left alone, Alexis pulls out her baggie of joints and lights up, munching crackers as she is found out by the child's father, Sonny (who merely finds it amusing). But what will happen when the dastardly Rick, father of Alexis's other daughter Molly, launches a custody battle? Tune in for more drama at 3 PM weekdays on ABC.

PETER BOYLE, TOMMY CHONG, AND MICHAEL CAINE
With sadness we mark the passing of Peter Boyle. A fan writes, "On 12.14.2006 Artie Lange admitted to smoking pot on the set of the West Wing with actor Peter Boyle on the Howard Stern show." Tommy Chong is on record citing Boyle's work as an early influence, and John Lennon was Boyle's best man because his wife and Yoko are friends.

At a time when commentators are lamenting the extreme violence of Oscar-contending films, Chong writes on his blog: "We saw the new James Bond movie yesterday and wow! They really could use some calming herbal smoke. In fact I miss the laid back days of the Cheech and Chong movies. . . I miss the simple honest loving message that those movies showed. No one lost their lives. No one was shot. No one was butchered or beat up! . . .I think it is time to do another one which is why I am in the middle of a couple of projects that will bring back that simple loving feeling. . . .Peace rules....tc"

For those interested in more serious fare, check out "With Children of Men," a cautionary film about a man who has to save the last pregnant woman on the planet. As with Chong's character Leo on "That 70s Show," the clued-in character is the cannabis lover, played by a long-haired Michael Caine.

POT CLUB PLAYS SANTA
According to the Bakersfield Californian, Nature's Medicinal cannabis club donated more than 500 toys to the U.S. Marine Corps' Toys For Tots program in December. The donations were given by patients of the dispensary, who were offered discounts on their medicine for participating. Nature's Medicinal has also donated to the Bakersfield Homeless shelter this year and has plans to include more charitable organizations in the future.

THAT'S JUST MEAN
The Associated Press reports Clemson Tigers cornerback Duane Coleman, a senior who started all 12 games, did not play in the Music City Bowl due to a minor marijuana possession charge following a traffic stop. Clemson yielded 409 yards to Kentucky for a 28-20 loss in the Dec. 29 game.

Coleman was named the Atlantic Coast Conference's defensive back of the week in September after the Tigers defeated Florida State, 27-20. He had nine tackles against the Seminoles and finished the year with 81 tackles, three fumble recoveries and his only career interception. He spent his first two-plus seasons as a running back and was the team's top rusher in 2003. He is the only player in school history with at least 50 receptions and 100 tackles. He joined the program in 2002, an NCAA partial qualifier. "Few people thought I would graduate when I first came here....But, I accomplished that and I am proud to be a Clemson graduate." He apologized to his teammates for missing the bowl game.

BUSH PARDONS (A FEW) DRUG OFFENDERS

As in other years, G.W. Bush's 2006 presidential pardons included several involving drug or alcohol-related offenses. Others in the list of 16 included a variety of fraud, kickback, and conspiracy felons, one of whom was a Bush contributor. On the pardons list were:

- William Sidney Baldwin Sr. of Green Pond, South Carolina, conspiracy to possess marijuana. Sentenced October 27, 1981, to six years' imprisonment.
- Marie Georgette Ginette Briere of Gatineau, Quebec, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Sentenced July 9, 1982, to three years' imprisonment and three years' special parole.
- George Thomas Harley of Albuquerque, New Mexico, aiding and abetting the distribution of cocaine. Sentenced November 30, 1984, to nine years' imprisonment and five years' special parole.
- Patricia Ann Hultman, of Kane, Pennsylvania, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute cocaine and other controlled substances. Sentenced October 28, 1985, to one year of imprisonment.
- Eric William Olson of Ojai, California, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, possession with intent to distribute, possession, and use of hashish. Sentenced February 21, 1984, by an Army general court-martial to confinement at hard labor for one year, reduction in pay grade, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and a bad conduct discharge.
- Thomas R. Reece of Cumming, Georgia, violating the Internal Revenue Code pertaining to alcohol. Sentenced May 2, 1969, to one year of imprisonment.

Bush also commuted the sentence of Phillip Anthony Emmert of Washington, Iowa, whose case involved conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and last August, he granted absolution to a convicted moonshiner, Randall Leece Deal of Clayton, Georgia, who was a cast member of the 1972 Academy Award-nominated movie "Deliverance."

CAUGHT IN TRANSIT
-Rolling Stone reports that Los Payasonicos, a group of singing clowns who host a popular children's TV show in Mexico, allegedly had 500 pounds of cocaine in their bus when stopped by U.S. Customs.

-The president of an American reinsurance firm doing business in Bermuda has denied bringing a small amount of pot into the island last month. In Magistrates' Court, Robert Hanafin of Vestal, New York pleaded not guilty to importing 1.7 grams of cannabis. He was granted bail of $5,000 and told to return for trial on January 12.

- Chinese scientists studying a 2,800-year-old mummy found in 2003 in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region announced that a sack of marijuana leaves was found buried alongside the corpse. "From his outfit and the marijuana leaves, which have been confirmed by international specialists to be ingredients for narcotic, we assume the man had been a shaman and had been between 40 and 50 years old when he died," according to Li Xiao, head of the heritage bureau in Turpan. No charges were filed.

HARVARD PROF: MODERN RELIGIONS HAVE ECSTASY DEFICIT
As a judge has ruled that Dan and Mary Quaintance are not sincere in their ancient belief that cannabis can be used as a spiritual aide, leaving them open to prosecution and sentences up to 40 years, an interesting article in The Economist (12/23) delves into Pentecostalism on the 100th anniversary of its founding in Los Angeles. Harvey Cox, a Harvard professor, is quoted saying Pentacostalism fills the "ecstasy deficit" left by modern religions. As the Pentecostals say, "the man with an experience is never at the mercy of the man with a doctrine." Today there are more than 500 million "revivalists" in the world (ie, members of Pentecostal denominations plus "charismatics" in traditional denominations). "LA's most successful export is not Hollywood but Pentecostalism," the article concludes.

But in Nigeria, with its 12,000-acre Pentacostal "redemption camps," cannabis is holding strong as a spiritual aide: A December 26 article in the Nigerian Tribune notes that cannabis smoking and cultivation is on the rise in the country. The article mentions the late Afro Beat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, who "never hid his love for marijuana. Despite brushes with law enforcement agents, Fela kept on smoking it, praising to the high heavens the efficacy and potency in the banned drug as performance enhancer." Cannabis smokers conduct pilgrimages to Fela's shrine, the article states.

Commander Okey Ihebom of Nigeria's National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) claimed cannabis being produced in the country's Edo and Ondo states is the best in the world and commands a high price. While understaffed police might encounter armed farmers in the inaccessible regions of Edo, "The perception that cannabis producing or consuming communities are violent, may not be entirely true. Look at Ondo, a leading cannabis producing state in the country and yet it is a peaceful state," he said.

US SENATORS TRAVEL TO LATIN AMERICA AMID FRONTIER SQUABBLES

According to Reuters, Ecuador's President-elect Rafael Correa traveled to Colombia's frontier on December 28 to sharply criticize his neighbor over the US-backed spraying of glyphosate herbicides on coca leaf crops along a patch of their frontier this month. Accompanied by his defense and foreign ministers, Correa traveled to villages where Ecuador says drift from the spraying damages legitimate crops and harms the health of local residents. Ecuador has recalled its Colombian ambassador for consultations over the fumigation and wants it stopped immediately.

"This is a useless policy. Coca cultivation has multiplied, not diminished," Correa told reporters. "It's just propaganda to say that glyphosate, fumigation and (anti-drug campaign) Plan Colombia have reduced coca plantations. . . .There is evidence that they have actually increased. Why? Because of the poverty, misery and state of abandon on Colombia's southern frontier, and that is not resolved by bombarding it with glyphosate," he said.

On December 29, a delegation of six U.S. senators said they will seek to extend trade benefits for Ecuador, despite Correa's refusal to renew in 2009 a lease on an air base used by the U.S. military to hunt for cocaine smugglers. After meeting with Correa in Quito, incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said "the people of Ecuador should feel comfortable that it [the trade agreement] will be extended." That same day, the bipartisan delegation led by Reid met with Bolivian president Evo Morales for more than an hour. Joining Reid were incoming Majority Whip Richard Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois; Sen. Kent Conrad, a Democrat from North Dakota; Sen. Judd Gregg, a Republican from New Hampshire; Sen. Robert Bennett, a Republican from Utah, and Colorado Democrat Ken Salazar.

MUSICIANS HONORED
-The Ella Fitzgerald U.S. postage stamp debuted this week. The exquisite Ella recorded "When I Get Low, I Get High" with the Chick Webb orchestra in the 1930s. Hear a sample.

-R.E.M. was inducted into Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Frontman and righteous dude Michael Stipe, 47, is on record supporting marijuana legalization among his other worthy causes. Answering the question on MTV Rock, "Do you believe that adults who possess or grow marijuana for their personal use should be subject to arrest and imprisonment?" Stipe replied, "Absolutely not. That's ludicrous. I also feel like George McGovern should have won the 1972 election."

LOOKING AT BOOKS
NORML boardmember Barbara Ehrenreich appeared on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" to discuss her new book, Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy. Talk touched on historical repression of expressions of collective ecstasy, including the "ways in which the War on Drugs is an excuse for cracking down on festive behavior, as a tool for closing down clubs or raves on the excuse there might be drugs there." The program's host replied it reminded him of the Gestapo's treatment of the Swing Kids in Germany. Ehrenreich mentioned sociological studies that indicate the rise of depression in the last few centuries may be related to the loss of communal celebrations. Also see When Dancing is Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Dance.

Gary Lachman writes of the new book, Pharmakon: Drugs and the imagination by Julian Vayne: "Vayne argues that drugs can be an effective tool in self-exploration, and provides some useful theoretical scaffolding in understanding exactly what a "drug experience" is. The tone is academic, and a great part of the book is devoted to the mechanics of how drugs interact with our neurochemistry. Vayne's most interesting insights come with his discussion of autism and schizophrenia as two poles of human consciousness: one an impenetrable contraction of the ego, the other a debilitating exposure to the chaos of the unconscious. Like many writers on mystical subjects, Vayne sees western culture as veering too much into an ego-bound autism. Hence the virtue of hallucinogens in providing a kind of controlled schizophrenia to even things out."

ON VIDEO
"Little Miss Sunshine," with a terrific performance by Alan Arkin as the heroin-snorting grandpa of a dysfunctional but loving family, is out on video, along with "A Scanner Darkly," based on the Philip K. Dick novel about drugs and surveillance.

ARTICLES and ANNOUNCEMENTS
MPP's Bruce Mirken explains why smoking doesn't make you a junkie

2006: The Year In Review -- NORML's Top 10 Events That Shaped Marijuana Policy

Ron Mann's Cannabis Clip Contest
Hey Flash videographers, animators and artists... Stretch your creative brains and help NORML get the word out about marijuana law reform.
Create the best Flash clip and win $1000! Deadline: February 1, 2007

Look for VIP Sarah Silverman's Comedy Central Special later this month.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

From Roseanne Barr's hilarious HBO special "Blonde and Bitchin'":
"The War on Drugs is a war on poor people using street drugs waged by rich people on prescription drugs."

VIPs HITS 50,000 MARK!
After two years online, VeryImportantPotheads.com has officially racked up over 50,000 hits, all with no promotion or support. Often imitated but never equaled, VIPs.com now has over 100 profiles of prominent tokers through the ages. Look for us to expand to other media this year.

 

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