VERY IMPORTANT POTHEADS Debunking Myths About Marijuana

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The Very Important Blog 2005

12/28/05 - Ganga Globe Nominees Announced

The upcoming Golden Globe awards, given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, are seriously smoky. The Showtime series "Weeds," featuring Emmy-winner Mary Louise Parker as a suburban mom who deals pot for a living, has been nominated for three Golden Globes, and the HBO miniseries "Empire Falls," featuring at least two pot-smoking characters, earned four nominations, including a best actor nomination for Ed Harris.

Kate Beckinsale and Mark Wahlberg will help emcee the Globes. Beckinsale looked beautiful toking up with VIP Frances McDormand in "Laurel Canyon" (2003). McDormand is up for a Globe for her role in "North Country" and Charlize Theron, the star of that film, is also nominated. Theron was once spotted smoking pot out of an apple (not to be confused with co-nominee Gwynneth Paltrow's daughter).

Wahlberg is executive producer on HBO's "Entourage," which routinely and casually depicts pot smoking, including mentions of needing to make runs to Humboldt. In the funniest episode, a young is asked by a producer, "Are you high?" to which he responds in the affirmative. The producer not only gives him the role, he enlists the actor's help in scoring some pot. Both "Entourage" and "Weeds" are up for Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy.

Candice Bergen is also nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in "Boston Legal." Bergen won five Emmys over the course of the series Murphy Brown, plus an award from the American Cancer Society for educating women about breast cancer. Murphy used medical marijuana to help her tolerate chemotherapy while she battled breast cancer on the show's final season (1978/79). Bergen amply demonstrated how to hold a cigar, cigarette and joint for Jay Leno on the Tonight Show.

Vying for Best Actor will be Russell Crowe, who stood up for fellow Australian Shapelle Corby when she was facing a death sentence for smuggling pot out of Bali; and Heath Ledger, earning his first Globe nomination for "Brokeback Mountain." During the filming of "The Brothers Grimm" (2005) Ledger told The Daily Mail that he enjoyed Prague's high-quality pot, which he called "some of the most psychedelic marijuana on earth." Ledger and his ex-girlfriend, Naomi Watts, were once involved in a cannabis snafu in Vancouver when their dog, Bob, ate their stash and had to be rushed to a vet (see Cannabis Culture #45, Celebrity stoners

The 63rd Annual Golden Globe Awards will take place Monday, January 16, 2006 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel with a live telecast airing on NBC at 8 PM (EST).

Garrison Keillor, host and writer of PBS's "A Prairie Home Companion," now in its 26th year of homespun humor on the air, wrote a piece for "In These Times" criticizing the drug war and politicians who support it.

The piece begins, "We Democrats are at our worst when we try to emulate Republicans as we did in signing onto the 'war' on drugs that has ruined so many young lives." He calls the WOD a "Dostoevskian nightmare" that "makes you feel guilty about enjoying your freedom" and "only makes sense in the fantasy world of Washington, where perception counts for more than reality." He writes,

"I don't dare visit Sandstone Federal Prison here in Minnesota for fear of what I'd see there: People who chose marijuana, a more benign drug than alcohol, and got caught in the religious war that we Democrats in a weak moment signed onto. God help us if we form alliance with such bullies as would destroy a kid's life for raising cannabis plants." See the full story at

Keillor was interviewed in a documentary about folksinger Greg Brown saying he and Brown would get together and "smoke unfiltered cigarettes" for hours. Recently, he did a very funny bit on his show about a guy running into his exwife and current husband, and the husband setting him up with a coke bust...immediately moving to a song about Rhubarb Pie.

Time magazine's December 5 edition, with cover story THE YEAR IN MEDICINE FROM A TO Z, includes this entry:
Research into the analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis continued to bolster the case for the medicinal use of marijuana, making the "patient pot laws" that have passed in 11 states seem less like a social movement than a legitimate medical trend. One trial--the first controlled study of its kind--showed that a medicine containing cannabis extracts called Sativex not only lessened the pain of rheumatoid arthritis but actually suppressed the disease. An earlier study published in the Journal of Neuroscience showed that synthetic cannabinoids, the chemicals in marijuana, can reduce inflammation in the brain and may protect it from the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer's disease.

Seems LSD has no ill effects on longevity. Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman, who discovered LSD in 1943, will celebrate his 100th birthday in January at a conference in his honor. At the 1993 50th anniversary celebration of Hoffman's famous April 19 bicycle ride, held in Santa Cruz and San Francisco, many strongly believed that Hoffman's discovery was God's antidote to the unleashing of the nuclear bomb. See

Two psychiatrists speculate that Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll may have had some pharmacological assistance to morph into Mr. Hyde. Their conclusions are as fantastic as the story. See

-Rock legend Sting has added his name to a petition asking Prime Minister Tony Blair to refrain from upgrading cannabis from a class C drug to a class B. The petition has attracted the support of other stars such as actress Jean Simmons and former Spandau Ballet star Gary Kemp. It claims that the re-classification to class C has been a great success so far, saving up to 200,000 hours of police time and that reconsidering would "add to public confusion, inconsistency and the waste of police resources, without delivering any health or social benefits." See:

-A broad coalition of Dutch political parties unveiled a pilot program on December 2 to regulate marijuana farming on the model of tobacco. Under the test program, to be conducted in the southern city of Maastricht, existing health and safety standards will apply to growers, but they would no longer be the target of police raids or prosecution. Coffee shops permitted to sell marijuana would be required to provide consumers with information about the health hazards of smoking - similar to tobacco companies - and the chemical content of the marijuana. The shops would also have to say where they bought the marijuana they sell, which proponents say will deter growers from operating dangerous underground greenhouses.

-On December 6, Britain's Conservative Party crowned as its new leader 39-year-old David Cameron, a descendant of Henry VII through the monarch's daughter, Mary Tudor, and her marriage to the Duke of Suffolk. In October, Cameron refused to answer a question about whether or not he had used drugs, sparking a media frenzy. Cameron was the only Tory leadership candidate not to have supported calls for the law on cannabis to be tightened again. In 2002, he declared that heroin addicts should be given diamorphine to stabilize them to wean them off the drug. He said, "One of the things that has held back the debate is the politicians' attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator by posturing with tough policies and calling for crackdown after crackdown." One of Cameron's first acts was to name rocker/activist Bob Geldorf as an adviser on world hunger.

-Michimaru Obara, a 48-year-old monk at Eikoji shrine in Iwate prefecture, Japan, is suspected of cultivating about 2.4 kilograms of marijuana, and of selling at least 50 grams of to an office worker near Tokyo. The monk has admitted he cultivated the plant for personal consumption, but denies selling his harvest. Convicted drug users in Japan face up to life in prison under anti-narcotics laws, although most first-time offenders get suspended prison terms.

- Driving after smoking pot increases the risk of a car crash, but not as much as driving after drinking alcohol, according to a study conducted by researchers in Lyon, France. Researchers analyzed the drug test results of more than 10,000 drivers involved in motor crashes in France. They found 7 percent of drivers had marijuana byproducts in their bloodstreams, but more than triple that --  21.4 percent of drivers -- tested positive for alcohol.

Jack Carter, 58, said he won't officially announce his decision to run for Senator in Nevada until after the first of the year, but that response to his website has been "excellent." He does not have to disclose contributions until January. Carter was discharged from the Navy in 1970 after admitting he used marijuana. His Republican opponent Ensign, a first-term senator, has reported $2.1 million in campaign contributions and has said he's prepared to raise as much as $10 million if the race heats up.On the Net: Carter for Nevada

-Marijuana may be the cause of the recent Britney Spears/Kevin Federline break up. Spears reportedly kicked her hubby out when he continued partying after the birth of their son. "Britney turned around and fired two of her longtime security guards for letting what she called 'the weedman' into the house," a source tells Star magazine. "She just seemed crazy with anger." Sounds like she could have used a puff.

-Julia DeMato, Brookfield, Connecticut's former celebrated finalist in Fox TV's "American Idol" show, was charged with drunk driving and drug possession. Police said they found two marijuana pipes and a small quantity of marijuana and a small bag of cocaine. DeMato was released on a $10,000 bond to appear in court. She made the top 10 in the Idol competition but was voted out on March 26, 2003.

In a move about as symbolic as pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey, Resident Bush granted 11 holiday season pardons on December 20, bringing to 69 the number of clemency orders he has issued since taking office five years ago, the Justice Department said.

Among bank/government robbers, three moonshiners and those making false statements on loan applications, Bush pardoned Harper James Finucan of Charleston, S.C., who was sentenced in 1980 to 39 months' imprisonment and five years' special parole for possession with intent to distribute marijuana; and John Gregory Schillace of Hammond, La., sentenced in 1989 to 20 months' imprisonment and three years of supervised release for conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute.

One of those pardoned, Wendy St. Charles, is a lawyer for a Denver homebuilder, MDC Holdings, The Denver Post reported. St. Charles was convicted for conspiracy to conduct a narcotics enterprise and distribution of cocaine in 1984 and sentenced to four years in prison. MDC's chairman, Larry Mizel, has contributed more than half a million dollars to Republican campaigns along with his wife, Carol, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

-A Florida woman who went to the Bahamas to spend Christmas with her grandchildren was fined $500 and deported after being arrested in the parking lot of a local shopping mall on Christmas Eve with 3 grams of marijuana in her purse. Mary Brushe, 50, of Melbourne, Florida has been placed on a list of people never to be allowed back into the country.

-Corning, CA resident Thomas Jerome Arnold, 42, was arrested Christmas morning for allegedly carrying marijuana in a cookie tin, according to the Corning Police Department. Arnold was arrested and booked in the Tehama County Jail on charges of possession of marijuana with the intent to furnish it to another person and for a parole violation. He is being held without bail.

- Those arrested on petty marijuana possession/cultivation charges this month include an award-winning teacher and her counselor husband in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma; a popular swim coach in Algonquin, New York; and a long-time deputy DA from Santa Clara, California. The son of former Philadelphia Police Commissioner John F. Timoney pleaded guilty to trying to buy 400 pounds of marijuana from an undercover agent. Timoney had $455,000 in cash for the buy. He faces a maximum of 40 years in prison and a $2 million fine when he is sentenced April 10. See more at

-Rolling Stone's Austin Scaggs to Jamie Fox (12/29/05): "Have you ever tripped on acid and listened to music?" Foxx: "That's for another interview. (Imitating preacher) Got to stay clean here, bro!"

-Gilberto Gil, who serves as culture minister of Brazil, was of one of the biggest Latin American musicians of the 60s and 70s. According to The Guardian, "When you ask him about his intellectual influences he cites Timothy Leary. 'Oh, yeah!' Gil says happily, rocking back in his chair at the Royal Society of the Arts in London. 'For example, all those guys at Silicon Valley - they're all coming basically from the psychedelic culture, you know? The brain-expanding processes of the crystal had a lot to do with the internet.' Gil's constant references to the hippy counterculture are not simply the nostalgia of a 63-year-old with more than 40 albums to his name. . . . He must surely be the only serving politician to have completed a 22-gig tour of Europe earlier this year." Source:,,1672102,00.html

Washington, DC: The US Senate voted 51 to 50 on December 21 in favor of legislation that would lift the ban on federal aid to students who have a prior, non-violent drug conviction. The Congressional ban, known as the "drug offender exclusionary provision" of the Higher Education Act, has denied federal financial aid to some 175,000 students since its enactment in 1998. See

A sophisticated drug ring delivered high-grade marijuana to the doorsteps of thousands of regular customers, including celebrities, during the last six years in Manhattan and on Long Island, authorities said on December 7. Since Nov. 17, federal and local agents have arrested 12 suspects on money laundering and drug conspiracy charges, including John Nebel, the alleged head of the organization known as the Cartoon Network.

Authorities said they suspect customers included the rich and famous but refused to give any names. Electronic surveillance intercepted one conversation in October in which a courier boasted to a possible recruit, "We know comedians. We know celebrities. So you might meet a rapper, a singer." Authorities estimate that since 1999, the ring made a fortune by distributing more than a ton of hydroponic marijuana grown in Canada.

Customers placed orders by calling a pager number to a roving call center, which averaged 600 calls a day from 50,000 phone numbers, court papers said. The marijuana was packaged in plastic containers featuring the network's cartoon character logo and a warm greeting: "Happy Holidays From Your Friends at Cartoon!"

And so, for your viewing pleasure, click on the Bugs-Bunny-as-Groucho-Marx icon for a story about Groucho.

12/1/05 - Marijuana Makes You Smile
In the largest-ever study of marijuana and depression, to be published in the journal Addictive Behaviors, daily or weekly marijuana users had fewer symptoms of depression than non-users. Marijuana users were also more likely to report positive moods and fewer somatic complaints such as sleeplessness.

"Not only does marijuana not cause depression, it looks like it may actually alleviate it," said Mitch Earleywine, co-author of the new study and associate professor of psychology at the University at Albany, State University of New York. Earleywine and co-investigator Thomas F. Denson of the University of Southern California used an Internet questionnaire surveyed 4,400 marijuana users and non-users. Depression and related issues were assessed using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale, a standard tool for researching depression and associated symptoms.

REFERENCE: Denson, Thomas F. and Earleywine, Mitchell, "Decreased Depression in Marijuana Users," Addictive Behaviors, in press, available at Source: Marijuana Policy Project,

Mile High City Gets Higher
Denver, Colorado got a lot of press when its voters passed a margin to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana by 54-46 percent on November 8.

Conan O'Brien was one who took notice, saying, "Yesterday the city of Denver passed a law that allows people over 21 to legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana. Which may explain Denver's new slogan, 'People Over 21 Can Legally Possess Up to an Ounce of Marijuana.'" After announcing the news on HBO's Real Time season finale, Bill Maher invited viewers to tune into the show's next season, starting in February, from its new home -- in Denver.

De-penalizing minor marijuana possession offenses will not increase marijuana use and will enable law enforcement to reallocate criminal justice resources toward addressing more serious crimes, according to a report released by the JFA Institute and commissioned by the NORML Foundation. According to the report, it typically takes police over seven hours to complete the paperwork associated with a criminal arrest. Full text of the report, "Rethinking the Consequences of Decriminalizing Marijuana," is available online at:

A 2003 ballot measure that directed Seattle police to make low-level pot busts their lowest priority, would have saved the city $6000 were it not for increased costs in overseeing the new law. Reports from emergency rooms and a survey of public schools between 2002 and 2004 show a slight decline in marijuana use. Mike McDonald, a Seattle resident who voted for the initiative, said he thinks the measure did change Seattle for the better. A couple of weeks ago, he said, a buddy was smoking a joint in his car near the Pike Place Market when two cops walked up. "They told him to put it out and move along. I don't think that would have happened before." Ahh, freedom.

Grandma Won't Apologize for Pot, her "Emotional Vitamin"
Longtime cannabis user Ruth Bergner outs herself in her autobiography, "I Smoke Pot with My Family: Speaking Up at 85,"  from iUniverse, Inc.

"I don't have to apologize for my hearing aids or my blood pressure medication, why should I have to apologize for pot, my emotional vitamin," asks Bernger.  "With just one puff, I am instantly more open, communicative, loving and forgiving." She hopes that sharing her life story will activate an open conversation about marijuana, encouraging present smokers to speak out for drug reform and use pot responsibly.

"I believe that, when used wisely, this substance supports us in learning to be more loving and emotionally sound human beings," Bergner said. In addition to "I Smoke Pot with My Family," Bergner has written and self-published a three-part series of children's books designed to teach lessons in personal growth and emotional education to her children and grandchildren.

For more information or to schedule an interview with the author, contact Klara Arter at (619) 838-2479.

Cannabis Relieves Crohn's, Arthritis
Patients with Crohn's disease report subjective benefits from cannabis, including pain relief and increased appetite, according to survey data published in the autumn issue of O'Shaughnessy's: The Journal of Cannabis in Clinical Practice. Beneficial effects were reported for appetite, pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, activity, and depression. Patients also reported that cannabis use resulted in weight gain, fewer stools per day and fewer flare-ups of less severity. See a summary of the study, "Cannabis alleviates symptoms of Crohn's disease."

Pre-clinical data published this past summer in the journal Gastroenterology found that cannabinoids may promote healing of the gastrointestinal membrane, and could offer relief to patients suffering from inflammatory disorders such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Previous trials in animals have demonstrated that the activation of cannabinoid receptors in the gastrointestinal tract protects the body from inflammation and modulates gastric secretions and intestinal motility, among other functions.

Cannabis extracts suppress pain and improve sleep quality in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, according to clinical trial data published in the current issue of the journal Rheumatology. Fifty-eight patients participated in the randomized, double-blind, parallel group study.  Thirty-one volunteers self-administered Sativex, a whole plant medicinal cannabis extract containing precise doses of the cannabinoids THC and cannabidiol (CBD), for a period of five weeks while the others received a placebo.

Sativex is now available by prescription in Canada and in Spain under the Spanish Ministry of Health's compassionate access program. British regulatory officials also approved the limited use of Sativex for select patients in the UK. For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500.     

Peyote Not Harmful to American Indians
A study of the effects of peyote on American Indians found no evidence that the hallucinogenic cactus caused brain damage or psychological problems among people who used it frequently in religious ceremonies, the Associated Press reported on November 4.

In fact, researchers from Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital found that members of the Native American Church performed better on some psychological tests than other Navajos who did not regularly use peyote. Those who had abused alcohol fared worse on the tests than the church members.

A 1994 federal law allows roughly 300,000 members of the Native American Church to use peyote as a religious sacrament. The five-year study was conducted among Navajos in the Southwest by McLean psychiatrist John Halpern. It compared test results for 60 church members who have used peyote at least 100 times against those for 79 Navajos who do not regularly use peyote and 36 tribe members with a history of alcohol abuse but minimal peyote use.

The project was funded in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A NIDA spokeswoman would not comment on the study.

Stand By Your Man Department
The Associated Press reported on Nov. 17 that possession charges against Los Lonely Boys drummer Ringo Garza were dismissed after his wife said marijuana found in their West Texas home belonged only to her, prosecutors said. (Linda McCartney clamied the same for Paul once, it's a rock and roll tradition.)

Lenora Garza, 25, was fined $2,000 and credited with time served after she pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge for possessing less than two ounces of pot. Garza, 23, and his wife were arrested in January after their home was searched by police. The arrest was the drummer's second for marijuana possession. He pleaded no contest to a similar charge in 2003.

The band was shown rehearsing with Carlos Santana for an upcoming music awards celebration. [Am I the only one who found their hit "Heaven" creepily about waiting for the rapture? Carlos was right when he called Ozomatli, not Los Lonlies, the future of music.]

Oliver: Twisting Hemp
Some have speculated that the gruel Oliver Twist asked for more of at his London workhouse was made from hemp seed. I just viewed the 1948 film version of the Dickens classic, directed by David Lean and banned in the U.S. at the time because Alec Guiness' portrayal of Fagan was seen as anti-Semitic. In it, and in Chapter 2 of the book version I found online, Oliver is told on his ninth birthday, "So you'll begin to pick oakum to-morrow morning at six o'clock."  Oakum is leftover fibers of hemp used to plug the decks of ships (which of course were outfitted with hempen ropes and sails, as anyone who read Moby Dick can tell you.) As to gruel, the book only mentions oatmeal procured from a "corn-factor." The boys subsisted on three meals of thin gruel a day, with an onion twice a week, and half a roll on Sundays.

More on Bennett the Bozo
I didn't realize in writing about Bill Bennett's latest gaffe last month that he's been equally outrageous about drug users. During his 15 June 1989 appearance on Larry King Live, one caller suggested that he "behead the damn drug dealers." Bennett was hardly alarmed, and replied: "I mean what the caller suggests is morally plausible. Legally, it's difficult. But somebody selling drugs to a kid? Morally, I don't have any problem with that at all."

In 1990, Mr. Virtues said, "Non-addicted users still comprise the vast bulk of our drug-involved population. There are many millions of them...Users who maintain a job and a steady income should face stiff fines...These are the users who should have their names published in local papers. They should be subject to driver's license suspension, employer notification, overnight or weekend detention, eviction from public housing, or forfeiture of the cars they drive while purchasing drugs." But not Rush Limbaugh, I'm sure. Or gamblers like Bennett. In a July 2001 interview on CNN, Bennett said, "Hypocrisy is better than no standards at all." How virtuous.

Charles Treated to Local Produce?
Prince Charles's visit to the Northern California coastal town of Bolinas last month inspired this comic from the San Francisco Chronicle:

Hooray for DPA!
The Drug Policy Alliance has identified six federal drug war programs that could be cut to save taxpayers a lot of money and reports Congress has cut these programs by $300 million. The Drug Czar will have $20 million less next year for those stupid anti-marijuana TV ads. States will have $185 million less for rogue drug war task forces that have caused problems from Tulia, Texas to Flint, Michigan. Other federal drug war bureaucracies will have about $100 million less.

Now, the bad news: Federal grants totaling more than $7 million will be used to pay for the establishment of random student drug testing in 350 schools nationwide, according to an announcement last week by the US Department of Education (DOE). Schools in Texas will receive the largest allocation of federal moneys, approximately $2.4 million. A 2003 study of 76,000 students by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, concluded, "At each grade level - 8, 10, and 12 - the investigators found virtually identical rates of drug use" in schools that drug tested versus those that did not. For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500.  A complete list of grantees is available online from the Department of Education.

Psychologist Susan Blackmore appeared at the Cheltenham Science Festival (June 8-12) to discuss whether drugs can teach us anything about ourselves (information: A version of her talk was published in the Daily Telegraph on May 21. In it, she says,

"Some people may smoke dope just to relax or have fun, but for me the reason goes deeper. In fact, I can honestly say that without cannabis, most of my scientific research would never have been done and most of my books on psychology and evolution would not have been written. . . . Some evenings, after a long day at my desk, I'll slip into the bath,  light a candle and a spliff, and let the ideas flow - that lecture I  have to give to 500 people next week, that article I'm writing for New Scientist, those tricky last words of a book I've been working on for months. This is the time when the sentences seem to write themselves. Or I might sit out in my greenhouse on a summer evening among my tomatoes and peach trees, struggling with questions about free will or the nature of the universe, and find that a smoke gives me new ways of thinking about them." [Sounds similar to Carl Sagan's experience, see]

"In just about every human society there has ever been, people have used dangerous drugs - but most have developed rituals that bring an element of control or safety to the experience," Blackmore continued. "In more primitive societies, it is shamans and healers who control the use of dangerous drugs, choose appropriate settings in which to take them and teach people how to appreciate the visions and insights that they can bring. In our own society, criminals control all drug sales. This means that users have no way of knowing exactly what they are buying and no-one to teach them how to use these dangerous tools. . .

"It's an old metaphor, but people often liken the task to climbing a mountain. The drugs can take you up in a helicopter to see what's there, but you can't stay. In the end, you have to climb the mountain yourself - the hard way. Even so, by giving you that first glimpse, the drugs may provide the inspiration to keep climbing."

Ecstatic Art Exhibit
The Geffen Contemporary Art Museum in Downtown Los Angeles is featuring an exhibit called "Ecstasy: In and About Altered States" through February 20.

The Citysearch Editorial Profile by Jeremy Beecher says, "A multi-layered, cut-glass fountain bubbling with [imagined?] LSD at the entrance says it all--"Ecstasy" pushes cultural boundaries in many different directions.Running the gamut from painting to interactive installations, the exhibit explores altered modes of perception from drugs and pharmaceuticals to hypnosis and schizophrenia. The signature piece is Belgian artist Carsten Holler's 'Upside Down Mushroom Room,' a disorienting installation reached by navigating a pitch-dark, zig-zagging, inclined hallway. Other notable work includes Finnish filmmaker Eija-Liisa Ahtila's three-screened representation of falling into schizophrenia."

MOCA at the Geffen Contemporary
152 N Central Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90013 

Admission: Adults $8; children (under 12) free; students/seniors $5; Free on Thursdays.
Map and more

Random Drug News
-Poorer mental function seen among alcoholics, many of whom also regularly smoke cigarettes, may be partially due to the long-term effects of nicotine, Dr. Jennifer M. Glass, of the University of Michigan's Addiction Research Center, told Reuters Health. While research shows that improved mental functioning is one of the immediate effects of nicotine exposure, chronic smoking is known to have the opposite effect. Studies show that up to 87 percent of alcoholics smoke cigarettes, compared to less than 30 percent of the general United States population. Diminished cognitive ability among smokers may be partly due to some mechanism involving a restricted flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.

-Computer games can be as addictive as alcohol or marijuana addiction, says a new study by Charite Hospital in Berlin. "Excessive computer gaming probably actives the same structures in the brain as physical drugs," says Sabine Gruesser from the University Clinic's interdisciplinary addiction research group.

-Steve Pasierb, Pres. and Chief Exec., Partnership for a Drug-Free America [largely funded by pharmaceutical companies] wrote to the New York Times on Nov. 16, "Abuse of prescription and over-the-counter medications represents the single most significant change in substance abuse trends in recent memory. .. [N]ational tracking studies have shown one in six teenagers has used a prescription pain medication to get high, one in 10 reports abusing prescription stimulants and tranquilizers, and 1 in 11 has abused cough medication. The data show that teenagers are now more likely to have abused a prescription painkiller than they are to have experimented with a variety of illicit drugs, including Ecstasy, cocaine and LSD."

-Jennifer Obakhume, a senior at Inglewood High School in Los Angeles, reports on the trend of underground junk food networks at some California schools. Many school districts are limiting cafeteria soda and junk food options in an effort to curb childhood obesity. Her story was produced by Youth Radio.

Quote of the Month
"The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the prohibition law, for nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced." -- Albert Einstein, "My First Impression of the U.S.A.", 1921

11/04/05 - Hip Prince Charles to Visit San Francisco Bay Area
England's Prince Charles and his new wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, will arrive in San Francisco tonight, the first British royal visit to the Bay Area since Prince Andrew was here for several days in 1997. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Charles and Camilla will spend Saturday morning at the farmers' market in Point Reyes Station in Marin County and then have lunch in Bolinas with local farmers. On Monday morning, the Royal couple will head to the East Bay to visit the Edible Schoolyard, an educational program founded in 1994 by renowned chef Alice Waters. They will then head back to the city, where the prince will give a speech to environmentalists at the Ferry Building. The best chances for the public to catch a glimpse of the royals are likely to be at the Point Reyes Station Farmers' Market on Saturday and the Ferry Building in San Francisco on Monday.

Martin Uden, the British consul general in San Francisco, said of Charles, "He is a businessman farmer and does an enormous amount of charitable work. He is not just lending his name, either. He really gets in there." Charles was the keynote speaker at an environmental conference called Terre Madre in Turin, Italy, in October 2004. In the speech, Charles told the gathering, "I have always believed that agriculture is not only the oldest, but also the most important of humanity's productive activities." A private concert given by Sting on Wednesday night was attended by Charles and Camilla and benefited the Soil Association, which was founded nearly 60 years ago. Charles is the patron of the association and has pledged to raise about $35 million to expand the program.

The Prince of Wales, who turns 57 on Nov. 14 and whose full name is Charles Philip Arthur George Windsor, runs a nonprofit organization called the Prince's Charities that raises more than $200 million a year for 16 programs ranging from education to holistic health. He created an organic farm on his estate at Highgrove in 1985, when the movement was in its infancy. And he launched a high-end line of organic products called Duchy Originals that now brings in $71 million a year.

In December 1998, Charles surprised a Multiple Sclerosis sufferer by suggesting she try medical marijuana. Karen Drake, 36, said: "He said he had heard it was the best thing for relief from MS."

Prince Harry was 17 in 2002 when he was taken by his father to a rehab clinic for a few hours after admitting to smoking cannabis and drinking heavily at a pub near Highgrove the previous summer, when he was 16. The News of the World said Harry had experimented with marijuana over a two-month period at Highgrove, in a rundown shed at a nearby pub and at private parties held by friends. Charles was alerted to his son's behavior by a Highgrove staff member, who noticed a strong smell of marijuana, the newspaper reported. When he was 14, Prince Charles himself was at the center of an infamous underage drinking episode after he entered a pub on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland. He asked for a cherry brandy, and the incident attracted international attention.

In February 2000, Charles visited Trench Town, Jamaica, the neighborhood of late reggae legend Bob Marley, and was greeted by Marley's widow, Rita, and former bandmate Bunny Wailer. Mrs. Marley gave Charles a red, yellow and green Rastafarian knit hat with false dreadlocks, and the prince put it on. "I'll tell you who would really love that - my children,'' Charles said. Mrs. Marley said her husband would have been amazed by the royal visit to the neighborhood. "Boy, he'd burn a spliff to this - a big, big spliff,'' she said, "Rastafari lives!''

In March 2005, during a trip to Fiji, Charles drank a cup of kava juice and reportedly told Fiji's Foreign Affairs Minister Kaliopate Tavola he was hopeful that the export ban on kava, Fiji's traditional drink, will be lifted in the near future. Fiji Kava Council chairman Joe Nawalowalo welcomed Prince Charles' comments. He said scientists from Europe had attended a Kava conference in Suva last November where they stated that kava was safe. Banned in most of Europe and the United States, the infusion made from the root of a pepper plant is a mild narcotic which can make indulgers very relaxed and drowsy. Shortly after sipping the traditional beverage, Charles slipped up in a speech, muddling the dates he last visited the Pacific Ocean islands.

It was widely speculated that Charles might confront Resident Bush during his US trip about global warming and the war in Iraq, and that the Prince, an Islamic scholar, would advance a less confrontational approach to the Muslim population of the world. No word on whether or not Charles will visit any of San Francisco's many medical marijuana clinics.

On October 13, a research team led by Xia Zhang of the department of psychiatry at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada said that marijuana appears to promote the development of new brain cells in rats and have anti-anxiety and anti-depressant effects. The study was published in the November issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation. In the study, rats were given injections of HU210 -- a synthesized version of a cannabinoid chemical found in marijuana -- twice per day for 10 days. The rats showed evidence of new neurons in the hippocampus dentate gyrus, a region of the brain that plays a role in developing memories. When placed in a new environment, the rats were quicker to eat their food than rats that did not receive the compound, which suggested there was a reduction in anxiety behaviors. Perhaps this explains earlier studies which showed that rats lacking a receptor for THC were unable to learn new behaviors, repeatedly going back to where a platform had been placed instead of finding its new location. Are non-smokers more anxious about new ideas than smokers? Seems so to me.

The Associated Press reported on October 9 that the FBI is considering relaxing its hiring rules to allow former marijuana smokers to take positions at the Bureau such as intelligence analysts, linguists, computer specialists, accountants and others. The rules, however, would not be relaxed for FBI special agents who conduct most criminal and terrorism investigations. Also, the new plan would continue to ban current drug use. "Some senior FBI managers have been deeply frustrated that they could not hire applicants who acknowledged occasional marijuana use in college, but in some cases already perform top-secret work at other government agencies, such as the CIA or State Department," the article said.

The Los Angeles police chief recently announced he may have to loosen a ban on past marijuana smoking in order to get enough new recruits, as have his counterparts in Boston, Detroit and Miami. Supporting the announcement, Sgt. Ronnie Cato, president of the Oscar Joel Bryant Foundation, an organization of black LAPD officers, said, "If your president can smoke a joint, if your Congresspeople can smoke a joint, you mean to tell me a police officer can't smoke a joint when they were in college?" Private employers are also complaining they can't afford to turn away applicants because of past marijuana use, according to the AP. In how many other arenas are we losing some of our best, most well rounded participants because they use, or have used, marijuana?

According to an October 15 Associated Press story, Jack Carter, the son of former president Jimmy Carter, is considering a run for U.S. Senate. Carter, 58, said he would announce in a month whether he'll challenge Nevada Republican Sen. John Ensign, who is seeking a second term in 2006. Carter has said the Bush administration was waging a misguided campaign against terror, and he criticized President Bush's call to spend $200 billion rebuilding the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast without a tax increase or major spending cuts. He said both his father and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada have expressed their support. He also said he doesn't think revelations about past drug use would hurt his chances; he has admitted he was discharged from the Navy 35 years ago for smoking marijuana.

Gerald Ford's sons Michael and Jack also admittedly smoked pot (see last month's newsletter/blog). By contrast, John Ellis Bush, the youngest son of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, was arrested on September 16 and charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest.

Meanwhile, in the UK, the new head of Conservative leadership and self-described recovering Neocon MP David Cameron has, in GWB fashion, refused to answer questions about past drug use. Cameron, who has compared jihadists to Nazis, has a somewhat more liberal stance on drugs and domestic social issues than his fellow Tories, and the UK press is wondering aloud if Cameron is watching Showtime's series "Weeds," which is currently airing in London and has been dubbed "addictive."

San Francisco Chronicle Music Critic Joel Selvin's October 16 review of Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke by Peter Guralnick (LITTLE, BROWN; 748 PAGES; $27.95) says: "The tapestry of the times provides Guralnick with some of his finest moments, such as the impromptu visit by Fidel Castro to Harlem's Apollo Theater, across the street from the funky hotel where Castro stayed during a U.N. visit. Guralnick depicts the Cuban leader mingling easily with the R&B stars, with whom he shared an interest in chorus girls, cigars and marijuana." (Perhaps this is why Parade magazine, supported by the "Alcohol Beverage Network," smeared Venezualan president Hugo Chavez in a recent Walter Scott column as supporting communism and Castro.)

"Man, we had a ball," said fingerpoppin' R&Ber Hank Ballard of Castro's 1960 visit to NYC, when Castro gave a joint interview with Malcom X and came to Ballard's show in Harlem. "Beautiful girls, goddamn, you could smell dope [all over] the goddamn hotel. If I went to Cuba, I bet Castro would recall being a thte Theresa Hotel and going to the Apollo Theater to see Hank Ballard and the Midnighters."

It's too bad Cooke didn't take to pot instead of booze. The beloved composer of "You Send Me" and "Twistin' the Night Away" was shot and killed in 1964 after attacking a hotel manager in a drunken rage.


As new data reveals the number of marijuana smokers arrested yearly is approaching 800,000, corporate criminals continue to go free. On October 17, the US Supreme Court ruled that the government could not use RICO statutes to force tobacco companies to pay settlements from past profits, according to the Independent of London. In a case begun by the Clinton administration in 1999, companies including RJ Reynolds and Altria, the owner of Philip Morris, were charged with conspiring to hide the detrimental effects of smoking and of promoting cigarettes to children. Government prosecutors had hoped to use the civil Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act (RICO) to force the companies to hand over profits dating back 50 years. Shares in the tobacco companies shot up after the decision. Meanwhile, a case against Philip Morris is awaiting a ruling in Illinois, that one reviewing a $10 billion award in a class action suit by smokers of Marlboro Light cigarettes who believed company claims they were safer. The ruling will be critical for the industry because it will set the precedent in other cases over "light" cigarettes. It also remove a question mark over Philip Morris' owner, Altria, and allow it to move ahead with its plan to split into separate food and tobacco companies.

The head of the Balco lab at the center of a global steroid scandal was sentenced to four months in jail on October 19, a punishment the judge said was lighter than sentences meted out to drug dealers in less significant cases. US District judge Susan Illston approved a plea deal that will send Balco owner Victor Conte, 55, to jail for four months, to be followed by four months of home detention. Illston then sentenced Greg Anderson, 39, the trainer to baseball superstar Barry Bonds, to three months in jail and three months home detention for distributing steroids. Conte, his deputy, James Valente, 50, and Anderson admitted guilt to steroid distribution in July in pleas that knocked out almost all of the 41 original charges. Valente was given three years' probation and fined $3000. Illston appeared to express frustration with the plea deal that gave Conte only four months behind bars, a punishment she said that was "way less significant than the consequences that I mete out every single day for crimes that are far less significant."

Handing a major victory to the gun lobby, the House voted on October 20 to relieve gun manufacturers of liability for their products. A pending bill, Senate Bill 1873, would prevent parents from suing drug companies for possibly causing their child's autism by adding mercury to child vaccines. More information at Meanwhile, illegal logging in the Amazon is destroying rainforests twice as quickly as previously thought, and the Bush administration is suggesting ending federal protections on the marbeled murrelet, which will further open up logging in the redwood forests of the northwest.

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan recently said the gap between rich and poor in U.S. was so great, and increasing so rapidly, it could threaten democracy itself. He was equally dire about the state of our energy policy but opined that price signals sent by free markets would spur research and development into new approaches to the production and use of energy "that we can now only barely envision." However, a new study shows that U.S. corporations are investing next to nothing in R&D. Where are their profits going? Over 70% are to stock buy-backs for executives. If that's not criminal, it's certainly immoral.

As a snapshot of how the top one percent lives, Harry Shearer's Le Show reports that Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch is buying a $44 million apartment in New York City. Murdoch is reportedly worth $6.7 billion, putting him only 32nd on the recently-published list of Forbes' 400 richest Americans living here or abroad.


Two long-overdue studies have been announced that affect underserved populations: African-Americans and women.

Eighty-six patients with Sickle Cell disease at the Central Middlesex Hospital in London were invited to complete a structured self-administered anonymous questionnaire. Results showed that 36% had used cannabis in the previous 12 months to reduce pain, induce relaxation or relieve anxiety and depression. The majority expressed their willingness to participate in studies of cannabis as a medicine, and researchers recommended such studies as "important."

Researchers from the Vancouver Island and B.C. Compassion Societies, the University of B.C. and the University of Victoria found that 92 per cent of the women they surveyed rated marijuana either "very effective" or "effective" against morning sickness. The study will be published by the Journal of Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, likely in 2006, said Philippe Lucas, co-author of the report.

I've had countless request for more information on this subject since I published a review of a March of Dimes-sponsored published in Pediatrics by Melanie Dreher, et al finding that Jamaican mothers who smoked marijuana bore developmentally superior babies to matched mothers who didn't smoke, and "roots daughters" who smoked the most had the most developed children. Dreher also speculated about the benefits of breast milk, and we know hempseed contains hard-to-find gamma linoleic acid, present in healthy human breast milk.

Morning sickness is serious enough that the medical establishment once prescribed Thalidomide for it, leading to the horrible "Thalidomide babies" born with flippers for feet. Thalidomide is once more prescribable (though not for pregnancy) and after their grave error, nearly all male MDs and researchers tell women to suffer instead of medicate for morning sickness. But it's not just about the mother--arguably if women could nourish themselves better during pregnancy their children would benefit. One pregnant woman with severe (all day) morning sickness who contacted me was trying out more about the subject when she lost her baby.

See: "Prenatal Marijuana Exposure and Neonatal Outcomes in Jamaica - An Ethnographic Study," by Melanie C. Dreher, PhD; Kevin Nugent, PhD; and Rebekah Hudgins, MA in Pediatrics, February 1994, Volume 93, Number 2.

Actress and VIP Jennifer Aniston recently told Elle magazine, "I have a bunch of friends who are potheads who are genius and wonderful, but they just can't motivate... Trust me, I have no judgment on the average user. I've lived. But I am talking about the true potheads -- the wake-and-bakers who have arrested development because they have gone to the THC well one too many times." Sounds like what Joni Mitchell once said: "Grass, it sits you on your ass" or comments Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders and artist David Hockney have made about pot tending to making smokers too complacent at times. All good advice, and in keeping with Aniston's original comments when she came out, drawing a distinction between moderate and indiscriminate use.

I also wonder if Jen's still a bit perturbed at her former husband Brad Pitt, and whether or not she believes the nasty and unfounded rumors that the couple was unable to conceive because of his pot smoking. Her movie, "The Good Girl," has this premise. Aniston seems a genuine good girl and I wish her luck finding a more suitable hubby than Brad, who seems made for Angelina Jolie. If Jen wants to have a family, my best advice to her is to gain the weight back that she lost for her role on "Friends" (reportedly, 20 pounds). Hormones need body fat to function and many a female gymnast has reported fertility problems because of extreme pressure to lose weight.

10/4/05 - Yesterday was the 68th anniversary of marijuana prohibition. See a photo of the first person ever arrested for marijuana in the US. NORML calculates there have been 16.7 million marijuana arrests in the US since 1937.

Bill Bennett, our original drug "czar", the cigarette sucking, overweight, self-proclaimed moral arbiter who admittedly gambled away $8 million (but said he isn't addicted to gambling) is in the news again, this time for making a comment that although it would be reprehensible to do so, aborting all black babies would reduce the crime rate. The real amazement is that any self-respecting radio station would air this clown's show. According to his website, no stations in DC carry his show, and only one in New York state does. At least sophistication is alive somewhere.

We are sad to report the death of actor and VIP Bob Denver last month at age 70. Denver played hipster Maynard G. Krebs on TV's "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis"(1959-1963), arguably the first stoner on television. When Denver was arrested for having a shipment of marijuana delivered to him at his home in West Virginia in 1998, every major news outlet missed the obvious connection, remembering him only as Gilligan. The question remains whether or not the rumors are true that Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann on "Gilligan's Island," sent Denver his pot. Slate magazine has a nice take on the subject and check out Maynard's Coffehouse where you can submit your "really bad beatnick poetry" and win a prize.

Maybe because my 30th High School reunion is this year, I'm feeling nostalgic for the 70s, those kinder, gentler, and higher times. A check of High Times magazines from 1976/77, the year that pranksters changed the Hollywood sign to read "Hollyweed" as a New Year's joke, reveals that "Grandpa Walton" aka Will Geer said he likes marijuana in his strawberry tea, and admitted pot smokers included Paul Kantner of the Jefferson Starship and Gerald Ford's sons Michael and Jack.

Jack Ford made public his penchant for grass in a statement before the Western States Republican Conference. "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."

Busted during the era were Drummer Buddy Rich, Beatle wife/photographer Linda McCartney, actor David Carradine, and Lash Larue, a '30s cowboy movie star who had a whip in his car when arrested. Soon after that, articles appeared like "why weed is so hard to get" and "how to booby trap your garden," leading to the unkind cocaine-laced 80s.

A 1977 proposal by then-California Assemblyman (now mayor of San Francisco) Willie Brown that lowered penalties for growing 1 square yard of marijuana to a $100 fine and for growing one square rod (272 square feet) to a $500 fine was not passed. Gordon Brownell, then NORML's West Coast coordinator and chief author of the proposal, aimed the home grow bill at legislators concerned with stopping the "black market" traffic in pot. "We hope to reach them by pointing out that if they're not going to provide an incentive for people to grow their own marijuana, the effect will be to increase the amount of marijuana that is bought and sold commercially in the underground market," said Brownell, prophetically.

Nearly 30 years later, California's CAMP (Campaign Against Marijuana Planting) has reported growing seizures up to this year's total of one million plants statewide, and plantations with up to 10,000 plants reportedly tied to "Mexican mafia" operations that traffic in methamphetamine and heroin are regularly spotted in National Parks.

I see the Showtime series "Weeds" has taken an ugly turn, with its ditsy dope dealing heroine Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker) up against TV's version of the Mexican mafia: a swarthy stud who's hot for her. Now that her teenaged son has a predictable drug problem, I'm predicting her business will be taken over by PTA president Celia (Elizabeth Perkins), the wigged and wiggy cancer victim who has an acknowledged medical need.

A new government-sponsored study has found that children with the lowest levels of parental monitoring and parental involvement/reinforcement were almost 30 percent more likely to try marijuana for the first time when compared with the most highly monitored children. Children with higher levels of "coercive parental discipline" (attempts to correct child behavior by using serious threats such as physical and nonphysical punishment) were also more likely to try pot for the first time. An Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) funded "Open Letter to Parents," titled "Marijuana Could Threaten Your Teen's Success," will begin appearing next week in national and local newspapers, including The New York Times and USA Today, as well as in Time, Newsweek and People magazines. How about funding schools and libraries to bolster teens' academic success, instead of lame ad campaigns?

Ashley Smith, the woman who successfully talked accused rapist/murderer Brian Nichols into turning himself in last March after he allegedly gunned down three people in an Atlanta courthouse and took Smith hostage, says in her new book Unlikely Angel that she gave Nichols some crystal meth she had in her apartment during the ordeal. Nichols asked for marijuana, Smith said, but she didn't have any green stash on hand.

Smith famously read to Nichols from Christian-based book The Purpose Drive Life and her heroic and humane actions were attributed to her religion. According to The Book Standard, Smith now says she read little more than a paragraph of the book to Nichols, and it was the telling of her own story of past drug addiction that turned Nichols around and allowed Smith to pass the night unharmed.

Smith says she was a recovering methamphetamine addict and had some "ice" around to calm herself in need. Seems like this was a need. Noting that the Lord often chooses flawed individuals to do his work, Smith says she hasn't done drugs since the ordeal.

When I met Bill Maher earlier this year, I told him that just when I think he can't get any better, he does. With his new book, "New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer"(Rodale), Bill tops himself again. This collection, taken from the New Rules segment of his HBO show Real Time, merges Maher's unfailing grasp of common sense and responsibility with his unerring eye for bullshit and ever-present raucous humor (timid my #$%). And yes, my fellow cannabis connoisseurs, there are plenty of pot jokes, better ones than those he tells on TV. Even Costco is carrying the book but Maher went with righteous publisher Rodale for it, you can get it at

"New Rules" work isn't as off-base on the subject of women as some of Bill's otherwise exemplary work, but as cosmic counterbalance I am concurrently reading Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Susan Faludi's 1991 book "Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women" and am tremendously sorry I didn't read it sooner. NEW RULE: Bill Maher must read "Backlash" before he spouts off further about women based on his interactions with the ones he meets at the Playboy mansion.

The most we know about our new Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, thanks to questioning by Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, is that his favorite movies are "Dr. Zhivago'' and "North by Northwest." Interestingly, Cary Grant shot "North by Northwest" after he'd tripped on LSD. The actor took hundreds of therapeutic trips before that modern sacrament was made illegal. Grant's third wife Betsy Drake, who tried and recommended LSD therapy to her husband, is interviewed on the subject in the excellent new documentary "Gary Grant: A Class Apart." No word on whether or not Dr. Zhivago author Boris Pasternak indulged in drugs, but a Dr. Gavril Pasternak was, in 1998, studying the combined effects of cannabinoids and opiates on pain at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Researchers at the Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have recently completed experiments which show that the same receptors in the brain which stimulate the reinforcing properties of marijuana do the same for alcohol. The study's authors conducted tests on three groups of mice: those with a normal set of cannabinoid receptors called CB1, those with only 50 percent of the normal allotment of receptors, and those with the receptors blocked. They then put in two water bottles in the cages: one that contained normal water and another with a 10 percent alcohol solution. The mice with the normal CB1 receptors sought out the lab wine more often and drank more of it than the others.

The ho-hum NFL Network had a chance to brighten up its broadcasting arm this year with the addition of former Minnesota Viking running back Robert Smith. The well respected, well spoken Smith voluntarily skipped his sophomore year at Ohio State for academic reasons and counts among his interests astronomy, history, philosophy, chemistry, piano, the arts, computers and military science. He retired in 2004 and wrote a book.

But Smith reportedly lost his broadcasting offer with the NFL Network after publicly admitting that he smoked marijuana while playing for the league. The disclosure came during the discussion of a similar statement by wide receiver Randy Moss.

Smith, who finished second in the NFL in rushing in 2000, twice averaged better than five yards per carry from 1997 to 2000. The Vikings have had a 1,000-yard rusher just once in the four seasons since his retirement, and Minnesota was 18th in NFL rushing offense last season with 113.9 yards per game.

Before the NFL goes the way of baseball with its preponderance of Viagra-generation ads, the league ought to catch a dose of reality and get with the times. As L. Jon Wertheim wrote in Sports Illustrated in 2002, "one assumption seems safe: Where there's smoke, there's a pro athlete.

So far, if Oakland Raider Randy Moss's performance on and off the field are any indicator, the NFL ought to start recruiting from the recently published High Times list of top stoner colleges. Moss's energy, enthusiasm and healthy competitiveness have been compared to Magic Johnson's. In his first three games with the Raiders, Moss had 15 catches for 343 yards. Unfortunately, Oakland racked up 327 penalty yards too and lost all those games. But last weekend the Raiders beat the Dallas Cowboys with Moss catching a 79-yard pass on Oakland's second offensive play. The latest news is that the NFL will try to force Moss into their drug program.

How (un)surprising that it's impossible to stay as skinny as model Kate Moss without the use of drugs like cocaine, and that the fashion industry is hopelessly self-indulgent. We do wonder, however, who's the unnamed "world famous photographer" the New York Times' Guy Trebay reported "draws his inspiration from daily deliveries of high-quality pot rolled into fat spliffs" in an article about Moss' recent outing. Coke use isn't new to celebs: Tommy Retting, the original "Timmy" on the old "Lassie" show, was charged in 1976 with conspiring to import cocaine after being stopped enroute from Peru to California with a cocaine-based liquid disguised as a Peruvian liqueur.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH: "We must take on our existence as broadly as we possibly can; this is the only courage that is demanded of us: to have courage for the most strange, the most inexplicable." --Rainer Maria Rilke (of whom Boris Pasternak was a fan.)

Increased federal spending on marijuana law enforcement has not been associated with a reduction in marijuana use, according to a report released August 23 by the Washington-DC based Justice Policy Institute (JPI).

The United States budget for drug control has increased over 300 times in the last 35 years, from $65 million to $19 billion. Reported marijuana usage rose 22 percent during the 1990s, despite a 127 percent increase in marijuana arrests, JPI researchers found. In 2003, an estimated 755,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana violations the highest total ever recorded in a single year. Throughout the past 20 years, marijuana usage has remained relatively stable.

A previous report published by the NORML Foundation in March concluded that rising marijuana arrest rates have not been associated with a reduction in marijuana use, reduced marijuana availability, a reduction in the number of new marijuana users, reduced treatment admissions, reduced emergency room mentions of marijuana, any reduction in marijuana potency, or any increases in the price of marijuana.

Most recently, an economic report released by the Washington, DC think-tank Taxpayers for Common Sense estimated that the federal government annually spends more than $3.6 billion dollars on anti-marijuana related activities, "yet little evidence indicates this spending accomplishes the government's stated goal of reducing marijuana use." Previous economic reports analyzing the cost of marijuana arrest expenditures at the state and local level have estimated these costs to be between $5 and $7 billion per year.

What is our government doing to alter its failed policy? Funding the search for a drug to counter marijuana intoxication and dependence. NIDA's marijuana medications development initiative "will encourage investigation of treatments that include behavioral intervention."

High Times Names "Top 10 cannabis colleges" * 10) University of Vermont, Burlington, Vt. * 9) Wesleyan University, Middeltown, Conn. * 8) Humboldt State University, Arcata, Calif. * 7) New College of Florida, Sarasota, Fla. * 6) University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich. * 5) Hampshire College, South Amherst, Mass. * 4) University of Oregon, Eugene, Ore. * 3) University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla. * 2) University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis. * 1) University of Colorado, Boulder, Colo.

ART GARFUNKEL CHARGED AGAIN - Singer Art Garfunkel, who pleaded guilty last year to pot possession in upstate New York, was charged again Sunday after a marijuana cigarette was allegedly found in the ashtray of his car, state police said. The 63-year-old Garfunkel, who lives in Manhattan, was charged after being pulled over for failing to stop his vehicle at a stop sign, The Daily Freeman of Kingston reported Tuesday. Upon approaching Garfunkel's car, a trooper noticed a strong odor of marijuana and a subsequent search turned up a joint in the ashtray, the newspaper reported. He was issued a ticket and is due back in Woodstock Town Court on Sept. 22. In January 2004, Garfunkel was charged with marijuana possession after state police stopped his limousine for speeding in the Ulster County town of Hurley, which is near Woodstock some 55 miles southwest of Albany. During that stop, police found a small amount of pot in Garfunkel's jacket. The next month, he pleaded guilty and paid $200 in fines.

MEDICAL NEWS - An August 24 article in the New York Times reveals Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said in remarks before a bar association meeting in Las Vegas that he regretted having to rule against California's medical marijuana initiative. "I have no hesitation in telling you that I agree with the policy choice made by the millions of California voters," he said. But given the broader stakes for the power of Congress to regulate commerce, he added, "our duty to uphold the application of the federal statute was pellucidly clear." ABC News reported the story as well. Stevens once called the Supreme Court, "a loyal foot soldier in the total war on drugs."

Hearings opened on August 22 in the American Civil Liberties Union's challenge to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's policy of obstructing privately funded, FDA-approved scientific research that could lead to marijuana being approved as a prescription medicine. Paul Armentano of NORMLreports that during the opening remarks in the case, DEA Attorney Brian Bayley explained that Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly -- head of the UMiss pot farm that has grown marijuana for NIDA for decades -- has been granted a DEA license to extract cannabinoids from NIDA-pot for R&D for the St. Louis-based Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals. Bayley referred to the extracts as "natural dronabinol." Also that the August 17, 2005 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) contains a commentary from Lawrence Gostin (Georgetown Law Center) calling for the reclassification of marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II under the CSA ("Medical Marijuana, American Federalism, and the Supreme Court").

Renee Boje is fighting a fast track extradition order from Canada to the US. The US federal authorities want to imprison her for a 10 year mandatory minimum to life sentence in a federal prison for medical marijuana charges stemming from a bust in California, where medical marijuana is legal. The Canadian Minister of Justice, Irwin Cotler, ordered Renee Boje surrendered to the US authorities on June 17, 2005, but an appeal is planned. There are a few ways that the public can help: 1. Please write to the Minister of Justice, Irwin Cotler, to ask him to reverse his decision to surrender Renee Boje to the US authorities. Please send your letter to Renee Boje so that she can copy it and submit it to the Court of Appeals & then forward your letter to the Minister for you: Renee Boje 307 W Hastings St Vancouver , BC , V6B 1H6 Email the Minister of Justice at and cc your email to Renee at 2. Please write to all media outlets that you can to help Renee's case to get as much public attention as possible which will help to show that she has the support of the public to remain in Canada with her family. 3. Renee owes her lawyers $30,000.00 in legal fees and if her case goes to the Supreme Court of Canada it will cost $250,000.00 to cover the legal costs as well as the costs of flying expert witnesses out to testify on her behalf. You may donate to her lawyer by sending a check or money order made out to John Conroy and mail it to: John Conroy Barristers and Solicitors 2459 Pauline Street Abbotsford, British Columbia V2S 3S1 ####

The San Francisco Chronicle's Nancy Gay opened her story yesterday (8/27): "Randy Moss' first venture into the Coliseum end zone wearing a Raiders jersey was eye opening in its simplicity, dazzling in its beauty -- and utterly void of attention grabbing histrionics.

Wide open inside the Arizona Cardinals' 5-yard line, with the nearest Cardinals defenders at least 10 yards behind him, the Raiders' top offseason acquisition expertly hauled in a looping pass from quarterback Kerry Collins with 7 minutes, 28 seconds remaining in the first half Friday night and simply strolled across the goal line. He held the ball in his hand briefly, walked to the back of the end zone to greet some fans and was mobbed by teammate Alvis Whitted before he could mock-drop his pants, pull out a Super Soaker or crowd surf in the north end- zone stands."

Moss's 40-yard catch put the Raiders ahead 10-5, but they ultimately lost the game.

In an article about Randy Moss, Jay Mariotti of the Chicago Sun Times asked, "Why do we rail against steroids and giggle about marijuana? Is it because we might have gotten high a few times in a college dorm and went on to lead normal lives? Is it because steroids enhance athletic performances and muddle statistical comparisons while pot, in some households, might augment a good time? Is it because steroids can make heads and bodies swell grotesquely while weed only gives you the munchies?"

Oakland voters were the first in the country to approve a measure last year to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana. "Pro athletes should be able to make their own decisions about pot," said Dale Gieringer of California NORML. "Who knows, it might even help them assuage an injury or ward off a migraine."

Gieringer isn't just stoned when he says that. Scientists have long known that injured athletes or even gunshot victims have a period of time in which the body's pain reaction is delayed. In a study published June 22 in the journal Nature, scientists at the University of Georgia and the University of California, Irvine, among others, found that the release of the body's own marijuana-like compounds is crucial to stress-induced analgesia -- the body's way of initially shielding pain after a serious injury. And Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA's leading all-time scorer, said he uses marijuana for migraines.

Although final toxicology results are not yet in, the football player who died last week seems to have done so not from marijuana or any other illicit drug but rather from hefting his 315-pound frame across the gridiron. San Francisco 49ers guard Thomas Herrion was not alone. ESPN reports that last year 370 players in the NFL weighed over 300 pounds, and even high school players are feeling the pressure to bulk up to such unhealthy weights.

When asked whether he still smokes marijuana during in an interview with for HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel," Oakland Raiders wide receiver Randy Moss said, "I might. I might have fun. And, hopefully ... I won't get into any trouble with the NFL by saying that. I have had fun throughout my years . . . predominantly in the offseason.

"I have used marijuana ... since I've been in the league. But as far as abusing it and, you know, letting it take control over me, I don't do that, no. . . But, I don't want any kids watching this, taking a lesson from me as far as, 'Well, Randy Moss used it so I'm going to use it.' I don't want that to get across. Like I say ... I have used (marijuana) in the past. And every blue moon or every once in a while, I might.''

Former Vikings star Moss was found with marijuana in his car after a traffic incident in 2002. On the advice of his agent, Moss issued a brief statement on August 18. "That was really me talking in the past, the past tense of way back in the beginning of my career, my childhood, especially in high school and in college. So before you first jump to conclusions about the big thing about me having or using marijuana or what not, you've got to read the story. Because it's in my past. And that's really what the interview was about; it was the past tense. So I'll just leave it at that.''

Baltimore Orioles' first baseman Rafael Palmeiro was back on the roster against the Oakland A's on August 16, playing in just his second game since serving a 10-day suspension for a positive steroid test. The Orioles defeated the A's 4-3, after which Palmeiro, who was booed loudly by the crowd, said he injured his ankle during the game. Congress is investigating whether Palmeiro perjured himself when he testified before a Congressional committee in March that he had never taken steroids


An August 15 article by Tamara Ikenberg in the Louisville, Kentucky Courier-Journal says, "You can get a contact high just from watching HBO's Sunday night lineup. On 'Six Feet Under,' weed is as common as an after-work cocktail. Members of the Fisher family, from frustrated young artist Claire to conservative brother David to matriarch Ruth, light up regularly. On 'The Comeback,' the writers of the fictional sitcom 'Room and Bored' are known to break out the bong for inspiration."

Ikenberg notes that these characters aren't that out of sync with society: According to the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly half of Americans over the age of 12 have tried marijuana at least once.

TV isn't the only medium where marijuana is making a statement, the article continues. Willie Nelson's new album cover sports the distinctive leaf, and video games such as "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" feature pot in their subplots. The off-Broadway play and "Vagina Monologues" spoof "The Marijuana Monologues" was a huge hit, and radio endlessly emits the reefer-steeped rhymes of hip-hop and rap.

"Unlike the munchie-prone misfits of the past, many of today's TV tokers are taxpaying family folks with careers and brains," writes Ikenberg. "And marijuana isn't the focal point when it's featured. No one makes a big deal out of it."

"It represents the TV industry mirroring what's happening in society," Steve Bloom of High Times magazine told the Courier. "A lot of the writers, directors and producers, probably a lot of them smoke marijuana, probably a lot of them deep down would like to see the laws changed, so they're pushing the envelope by including storylines with marijuana. They want to see it more normalized on TV, and that would hopefully usher in some slight change in society's view of marijuana."

In the 1980s and '90s, non-cable networks also wove pot into plots, Ikenberg wrote. On "Roseanne," Dan and Roseanne toked up in the bathroom after confiscating drugs from one of their kids, and on "Murphy Brown," Candice Bergen's title character smoked pot during her battle with breast cancer [and demonstrated to Jay Leno the different ways of holding a cigarette, cigar and joint.] Pot fumes have long filled the air of the Forman basement on "That '70s Show," and Towelie, "South Park's" terrycloth toker, remains an icon of inhaling.

Seen on a rerun of "Married with Children":
Teenaged boy "Bud" quizzing his blonde girlfriend for a history test:

Bud: "What war did Ulysses S. Grant fight?"
Blonde: "The drug war?"
Bud: "No, the civil war."
Blonde: "They named a war for Sybil Shepherd?"

So much for our educational system.

A survey from Canada shows 58% of Canadians oppose extraditing Marc Emery to the U.S. for selling marijuana seeds to U.S. citizens.

The number of students attending schools where drugs are easily available has risen from 44% in 2002 to 62% this year for high schoolers and from 19% to 28% for middle schoolers, according to the 10th annual teen survey by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. A majority of teens said whether it was legal for them to smoke or drink had no bearing on their decision to do so. The full survey is available online at

Oral synthetic delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), legally available in the US by prescription as the medication Marinol, often provides only limited relief to a select group of patients - particularly when compared to natural cannabis, concludes a comprehensive report issued by NORML and The NORML Foundation. Citing more than 50 published studies and clinical trials, the report finds:
* Marinol lacks several of the therapeutic cannabinoids (naturally occurring compounds) available in cannabis.
* The synergism of these cannabinoids is likely more efficacious than the administration of Marinol alone.
* Marinol is far more psychoactive than natural cannabis.
* Cannabis vaporization offers distinct advantages over the oral administration of Marinol.
* Marinol is more expensive than natural cannabis.
* Patients ultimately prefer natural cannabis to Marinol.

In addition, an article published in the August issue of the Journal of Neurooncology concludes from clinical trial results that the administration of the cannabinoid THC selectively inhibits the proliferation of malignant cancer cells more effectively than does the use of a synthetic cannabinoid agent. Researchers at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute reported that the administration of THC on human glioblastoma multiforme (brain tumor) cell lines decreased the proliferation of malignant cells and induced apoptosis (programmed cell death) more rapidly than did the administration of the cannabis receptor agonist WIN-55,212-2. Researchers also noted that THC selectively targeted malignant cells while ignoring healthy ones in a more profound manner than did the synthetic agonist.

And Cannabinoids may stimulate healing in the inflamed lining of the gastrointestinal tract, according to clinical trial data published in the August issue of the journal Gatroenterology. A research team at the University of Bath, Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology found that human tissues from the gastrointestinal lining of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) contained large quantities of cannabinoid receptors. Activation of specific receptors promotes healing of the gastrointestinal membrane, and could offer therapeutic relief to patients suffering from inflammatory disorders such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, authors found. The study's findings are "the first [clinical] evidence that very selective cannabis-derived treatments may be useful as future therapeutic strategies in the treatment" of inflammatory bowel disease, said lead author Karen Wright.

For more, see

8/6/05 - Enjoy Your Pot (on TV Only)
Sounds like Showtime network has re-worked the movie Saving Grace into a sitcom called "Weeds" that's getting rave reviews. Showtime sounds worth subscribing to: the network also aired the musical "Reefer Madness" and is probably finding a large audience among the many marijuana enthusiasts who watch TV.

Dealing pot isn't such a strange thing for an upstanding woman to do in this country. By some reports our first lady Laura Bush dealt pot in college (see below.)

BTW, finally caught CBS's Late Late Show hosted by Saving Grace's co-author/star Craig Ferguson and rarely has such intelligent, heartfelt and hilarious television ever been aired. Well worth staying up for. Also, USA Today noted in a July 31 article that F/X's gritty war drama "Over There" featured a pot-smoking character, and that even Bob Saget smoked pot on HBO's series Entourage.

While Americans are enjoying watching pot smokers on TV, their government is out trying to make sure their thrills remain vicarious. At the behest of the U.S. DEA, Canadian police arrested "Prince of Pot" Marc Emery of Cannabis Culture magazine for selling mail-order pot seeds to customers in the U.S. (who are probably mostly small-time, personal use growers). Emery was ordered freed on bail but may be extradited to the U.S. along with co-workers who were also arrested. Tommy Chong stood up for Emery in an interview with the Vancouver Province, pointing out that Halliburton and Enron were the real criminals. The nearest analogy to this action may be the capture and trial of Panama's Manuel Noriega, which was touched on in John Perkins's eye-opening book Confessions of an Economic Hitman. Perkins also concludes, from his perspective as an economist for the likes of Bechtel and MAIN, that so-called "narcotrafficers" in Colombia etc. are mostly poor farmers having their land raped by greedy gringos. See and

Pot Smoking, Production: Still Smoking
The U.S. government has released a study mapping the numbers of people over the age of 12 who smoked marijuana in the last month. Boston leads the nation with a strong showing of 12.2% and New England finishes as "high" as the West, with other pot-smoking pockets in places like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, Kentucky, and college towns everywhere.

Another recent government study, the National Drug Intelligence Center's (NDIC) latest "National Drug Threat Assessment" report found domestic cultivation of cannabis is rising and is responsible for the majority of marijuana available in the United States. According to NORML, the report states that domestic pot production levels are increasing and now range from 6,000 to 19,000 metric tons annually. Accordingly, the report notes that 98 percent of state and local law enforcement agencies describe the availability of marijuana in their area as "high or moderate."

The NDIC report also finds that few state and local law enforcement agencies identify marijuana as a serious threat to public safety. Less than five percent of US law enforcement agencies surveyed identified marijuana as a significant contributor to violent crime in their area, and most ranked methamphetamine and/or cocaine as far greater threats to public health and safety. "[D]espite the volume of marijuana trafficked and used in [the United States,] ... the threat associated with [it] ... lags behind that associated with methamphetamine and cocaine, including crack," the report concludes. Authors add that an estimated 94 million Americans aged 12 or older have reported using cannabis, and "many of these users likely suffered no severe ill effects." For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of NORML at (202) 483-5500 or Full text of the NDIC report, "National Drug Threat Assessment 2005," is available online at:

8/1/05 - U.S. Government Drops 40 of 42 Charges Against Steroid Pushers
The San Francisco Chronicle reported on July 16 that federal prosecutors announced they had dropped 40 counts of a 42-count indictment against three men accused of providing steroid drugs to elite athletes. In exchange, the men pleaded guilty to felony charges that will leave them with relatively brief prison terms, or no jail time at all. More than a year ago, then-U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced the indictments during a nationally televised press conference, but the plea bargains announced on July 15 averted a trial scheduled for September that would have shined a light on sports.

Facing Federal Inprisonment, Medical Marijuana Patient Steve McWilliams Takes His Life
The news of the federal government's leniency in the high-profile BALCO case was particularly difficult to take in light of the DEA's continued interest in busing medical marijuana patients, and the July 12 suicide of medical marijuana patient and activist Steve McWilliams of San Diego. In 2003, McWilliams was sentenced to six months in federal prison for maintaining a modest 20-plant garden in his home in compliance with California law. McWilliams had been free on bond, pending appeal, but was forbidden by the terms of his probation from using medicinal cannabis, which he used under a doctor's supervision to treat chronic pain. Following last month's Supreme Court decision affirming the federal government's authority to prosecute state-authorized medical cannabis patients for violating the federal Controlled Substances Act, McWilliams had become increasingly worried that he would be ordered to serve out his federal prison sentence. He had been experiencing a great deal of pain and had expressed concern to friends that he would not be able to survive his sentence because of his deteriorating health. Williams had a pending court appeal based on a lack of rational basis for marijuana being classified as a Schedule I drug, which was expected to take two or three years to litigate. Other legal challenges remain possible, such as the medical necessity defense of patients (rather than third-party providers).


We haven't yet been able to find what writings prompted the following testimony from the AMA representative, Dr. Woodward, at the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act hearings in Congress:

Dr. Woodward: The work of F. Pascal (Thesis, Toulouse 1934--Contribution to the Study of Cannabis indica.) seems to show that Indian hemp has remarkable properties in revealing the subconscious; hence it can be used for psychological, psychoanalytical, and psychotherapeutic research, though only to a very limited extent. These are the present uses recognized-----
Mr. Lewis: Are there any substitutes for the latter psychological use?
Dr. Woodward: I know of none. That use, by the way, was recognized by John Stuart Mill in his work on psychology, where he referred to the ability of Cannabis or Indian hemp to revive old memories, and psychoanalysis depends on revivification of hidden memories.

We do, however, offer the following wisdom from Mills's On Liberty: Excerpt from On Liberty by John Stuart Mill (1859)
See full text at

Though he never wrote a work of his own on psychology, he edited and contributed notes to an 1869 re-issue of his father’s 1829 work in psychology, Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind, and reviewed the work of his friend and correspondent, Alexander Bain.

6/24/05 - FSU QB Sexton Finds God After Dave Matthews Concert
Florida State quarterback Wyatt Sexton was doused by pepper spray and taken to a hospital by police after he was found lying in the street and identifying himself as God. Tallahassee police officer Zachary Lyne said he found Sexton in the middle of the road wearing just a wet pair of shorts. The officer asked Sexton several times to identify himself, and eventually he said he was God or the Son of God, police said. Police Department spokesman John Newland said Sexton "appeared to be under the influence of some unknown narcotic or alcohol." Sexton's roommates told officers he attended a Dave Matthews Band concert in Tennessee with them earlier Monday.

A few days later (June 16), Wyatt's father Billy Sexton, the Florida State assistant head football coach, said in a statement that doctors have told the family "drug abuse is not the problem," but at least one commentator (John L. Crawford of the NewsLeader) speculated Wyatt was "probably on the wacky tabbacky or hanging out with Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds or sipping on the mushroom Kool-Aid." Fellow players, quoted in the Orlando Sentinel, offered praise and understanding for Sexton. "You see him on the field, he doesn't get frustrated. He's just a laid-back, calm person, and that's the way he is off the field," fullback B.J. Dean said. "Wyatt is the calmest, coolest person I've probably met since I've been in college. . . . But dealing with what we have to deal with, the pressure and everything, it could happen to anybody."

Cunningham Defends Morality
California Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Escondido) defended his character in the wake of news that a defense contractor took a $700,000 loss on the purchase of Cunningham's Del Mar house while the congressman, a member of the influential defense appropriations subcommittee, was supporting the contractor's efforts to get tens of millions of dollars in contracts from the Pentagon.

According to Copley News Service, Mitchell Wade bought Cunningham's house for $1,675,000 in November 2003 and put it back on the market almost immediately for roughly the same price. But the Del Mar house languished unsold and vacant for 261 days before selling for $975,000. Meanwhile, Cunningham used the proceeds of the $1,675,000 sale to buy a $2.55 million house in Rancho Santa Fe. And Wade, who had been suffering through a flat period in winning Pentagon business, reeled in tens of millions of dollars in defense and intelligence-related contracts. Wade's company MZM has also been a major contributor to Cunningham's political campaigns, having donated $13,000 in the 2003-04 election cycle.

"My whole life I've lived aboveboard," Cunningham said. "I've never even smoked a marijuana cigarette."

Cunningham, who successfully proposed legislation allowing the death penalty for "drug kingpins" in Congress, was more forgiving when his own son, Randall Todd Cunningham, was convicted in 2000 for possession of 400 pounds of marijuana. In court, the congressman cried and pleaded for mercy, explaining that his son "has a good heart. He works hard. He's expressed to me he wants to go back to school." While out on bail, the hard working son tested positive for cocaine three times; when an officer tried to apprehend him following the third positive test, Randy hurled himself out a window and broke his leg. Still, the congressman--who denounced Clinton's "soft-on-crime liberal judges" and railed against "reduced mandatory-minimum sentences for drug trafficking"--won for his son the mercy denied so many others. Randy got 30 months--half the federal "mandatory" minimum sentence.


W. Pardons Texas Man with Marijuana Charge
Among the seven pardons issued by G.W. Bush this month was one for James Edward Reed, Kaufman, Texas, sentenced January 1975 to 18 months in prison and two years special parole for conspiracy to possess marijuana with intent to distribute. This leaves the rest of the estimated 700,000 people arrested every year for marijuana with criminal convictions. Even worse, many will now be disqualified from ever getting student loans. See more

Comedy Central Cheers/Jeers
Reno 911, Comedy Central's welcome antidote to the endless "Cops" shows on TV, "outed" their character Clementine Johnson, a former showgirl and member of Reno's finest. In hearings before the district attorney, Johnson was charged with stealing marijuana from the evidence room and smoking it at the station. See a hilarious video of Johnson nabbing a drunk driver with her showgirl steps at the CC Website, where her undercover identity is revealed as Tarragon the Pothead.

Too bad the video of CC's upcoming Mind of Menicia is so off-base on the recent Supreme Court medical marijuana ruling. In reality, medical marijuana has always been against so-called federal law, and since the constitution is constructed to give the states power over their citizens' health, the conservative states-rights court had to doublespeak all over themselves to pen the essentially meaningless ruling. As CC's VP of original programming Lauren Corrao is also their head of development, one wonders if the network is receiving ONDCP "credits" for such tripe.

Indian Celebrities Stopped for Pot
Fashion choreographer Prasad Bidapa was detained on June 14 in Dubai for allegedly possessing marijuana. Bidapa was stopped when he arrived at Dubai airport on Saturday after a two-gram package was found in his hand baggage. His wife, theatre actor Judith, said in a statement, "The issue here is not whether my husband smokes marijuana. It is that he was found carrying it in a country that does not permit this. He's a law-abiding citizen and has no previous track record of any kind." Bidapa is the latest celebrity from India to be held for carrying drugs to the UAE. Actor Vijay Raaz was held earlier this year and released after a few days. In 2003, Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi's son Farhan was arrested along with three other prominent socialites.

Culkin Pleads Guilty
According to the Associated Press, former child star Macaulay Culkin pleaded guilty on June 8 to misdemeanor charges of possession of a medication without a prescription and marijuana and was given a deferred sentence. Culkin, star of the 1990 movie "Home Alone," was arrested Sept. 17 after Oklahoma City police stopped a car in which he was a passenger. Officers found over a half-ounce of marijuana and several tablets of Xanax, court records show.

During a brief hearing, Special Judge Russell Hall gave Culkin a 1-year deferred sentence on each of the charges and assessed a total of $940 in fees. Culkin, 24, arrived in Oklahoma County District Court about 10 minutes before his case was called and was immediately recognized by other misdemeanor defendants and court personnel. Debra Forshee, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma County District Attorney's office, said "We treated him as we would treat any other defendant." Assistant District Attorney Greg Mashburn said Culkin completed all requirements of his probation before he came to court, including a drug and alcohol assessment. Mashburn said the assessment revealed Culkin does not have a drug problem.

Scientists discover the body's marijuana-like compounds are crucial for stress-induced pain relief
Scientists at the University of Georgia and the University of California, Irvine, among others, have published a new study showing that the release of the body's own marijuana-like compounds is crucial to stress-induced analgesia the body's way of initially shielding pain after a serious injury. Andrea Hohmann, a neuroscientist in the department of psychology at the University of Georgia and co-author of the paper, said, "This is the first time anyone has shown that one of the body's naturally occurring cannabinoids, a compound known as 2-AG, has anything to do with pain regulation under natural conditions." The study was published June 22 in the journal Nature.

Hohmann's co-author, Daniele Piomelli at the University of California-Irvine, is the discoverer 2-AG, which blocks the breakdown of this marijuana-like compound and is patented by UC-Irvine. Other co-authors are Jocelyn Krey and Michael Walker from Brown University; Andrea Duranti, Giorgio Tarzia and Andrea Tontini from the University of Urbino Carlo Bo in Italy; and Marco Mor from the University of Parma, also in Italy.

Scientists have long known that injured athletes or even gunshot victims have a period of time in which the body's pain reaction is delayed. This effect is called "stress-induced analgesia." By the mid-1990s, researchers had targeted the sites of action of the brain's naturally occurring marijuana-like compounds as having a crucial role in blocking pain, but no one understood the conditions in which these compounds were released to block pain. Researchers along the way found out there are two kinds of stress-induced analgesia mechanisms, opioid and nonopioid (or "opioid independent"). Hohmann and colleagues discovered that the opioid-independent form was produced by release of the brain's own marijuana-like compounds. "We showed that cannabinoid receptors were involved in this remarkable phenomenon," said Hohmann, "because blocking the receptors where marijuana acts virtually erased this opioid-independent form of stress analgesia."

A new drug increasing the body's own marijuana-like compounds could work similar to something like Prozac, which blocks the body's reuptake of the compound serotonin, causing it to be active longer, Hohmann said. Apparently, several parts of the brain are involved in the effect, most notably a structure in the midbrain known as the periaqueductal gray. In this region, stress causes the release of the naturally occurring marijuana-like compounds in the brain.


According to the New Zealand Herald, Hollywood superstar Russell Crowe has appealed to the Australian government to save 27-year-old Australian woman Schapelle Corby from life imprisonment if convicted of smuggling more than 4kg of cannabis into Bali's Denpasar airport in her bodyboard bag last October. The comments came on the John Laws Radio Program after Indonesian prosecutors announced they would seek life imprisonment rather than the death penalty for Corby.

The 41-year-old Oscar award winning actor, who owns a property at Nana Glen on the mid-north NSW coast not far from the hippie capital Nimbin, also said it was time to decriminalise marijuana, as the current system was jeopardizing too many lives. Crowe called on Prime Minister John Howard to act, asking, "How can we, as a country, stand by and let a young lady, as an Australian, rot away in a foreign prison?" Crowe said the government should request Corby be brought back to Australia to face trial under her native country's judicial system. "The photographs of Schapelle Corby broke my heart," he said.

The BBC reports that distracting email and phone calls are more disruptive to concentration than is marijuana smoking. A research study conducted for computing firm Hewlett Packard found a 10-point IQ fall due to "infomania", - more than twice that found in studies of the impact of smoking marijuana, said researchers. The University of London psychologist who carried out the study, Dr Glenn Wilson, told the Daily Mail that unchecked infomania could reduce workers' mental sharpness. Those who are constantly breaking away from tasks to react to email or text messages suffer similar effects on the mind as losing a night's sleep, he said. See


Oh, the Cowboy and the Hippie should be friends

California Rep. Mark Leno's hemp legalization bill died in committee this week, but elsewhere progress continues. See


Former Weatherly, PA Police Chief Brian Cara, who was videotaped on the job smoking marijuana seized by his department eight times in one day, was sentenced to serve 30 days to a year in county prison, followed by a year of probation. Cara was arrested last year after some of his officers testified before a grand jury, and drug agents planted marijuana and a camera in the police office in a sting.

Cara blamed his drug use on the deaths of his parents, an aunt who helped raise him and a brother in the last 10 years. ''I must point out that I am not addicted to this or any other drug, but was attempting to calm my nerves after many major tragedies both in my personal and professional life,'' Cara wrote in a letter to the judge. He apologized for his actions, but not to his fellow officers.As the officers who had testified against him left the courtroom, one of Cara's supporters, who refused to give his name, shouted ''Judas!'' at them.

Cara had been a Weatherly police officer for 15 years and chief in the town of about 2,600 for 10 years. During his career, he founded Weatherly's Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program and was recognized for saving two lives.


SEATTLE -- Former Seattle SuperSonics forward Shawn Kemp was charged on April 29 with marijuana possession, after a county sheriff's deputy noticed a marijuana smell coming from Kemp's parked truck and found a bag in the trunk. Kemp, a five-time All-Star, was drafted by the Sonics in 1989 and played for Seattle until 1997. He also played for Portland and Orlando before ending his career in 2003. Kemp appeared in 78 NBA playoff games, leading the Sonics with 23.3 points and 10 rebounds per game in the 1996 NBA Finals against the Chicago Bulls.

If anyone is missing the current match-up between former VIPs Damon Stoudamire and Rasheed Wallace, now playing against each other for Philadelphia and Detroit in the NBA playoffs, tune in to see some superb basketball. Stoudamire and Wallace were co-captains of the Portland Trailblazers when they admitted to smoking marijuana after being pulled over for speeding in November 2002. Wallace lead the Trailblazers in scoring, rebounds and blocked shots in 2000/2001; held annual coat and food drives and summer basketball camps; has his own record label and hosted a Hip Hop radio show. Stoudamire was the Trailblazers' only player to start all 82 games in 2000/2001 and scored a season-high 32 points in Utah including hitting the game-winning basket with .4 seconds left. He set up a $20,000 scholarship fund in support of the Boys & Girls Club and was a spokesperson for the American Red Cross.

3/1/05 - UPDATE
Reuters reports conservative strategist Doug Wead has turned over tapes of George Bush discussing "the marijuana questions" to Bush's private counsel. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, "It's a matter we consider closed." Far from it, Mr. Resident, as Clarence Page takes you to task for dodging the question confronting parents everywhere.

2/23/05 - BUSH: DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DID (or maybe I didn't, but I won't say)

So G.W. Bush has been caught on tape saying basically what he's been saying all along about his own drug use: it's nobody's business. The problem is, George has made it his business what drugs other people do, and he seems to have a little problem with dishonesty, the quality for which he blasted predecessor Bill Clinton.

The New York Times published a story on February 20 based on recordings made between 1998 and 2000 by Doug Wead, a former aide to Bush's father. The White House did not deny the authenticity of the Wead tapes. "The governor was having casual conversations with someone he believed was his friend," White House spokesman Trent Duffy said, referring to Bush.On tape, Bush criticizes then-Vice President Al Gore for honestly admitting his marijuana use and says, "I wouldn't answer the marijuana questions. You know why? Because I don't want some little kid doing what I tried." He added, "Baby boomers have got to grow up and say, yeah, I may have done drugs, but instead of admitting it, say to kids, don't do them."

Although Bush has admitted to an alcoholic past, his duplicity on illicit drugs echoes comments he made to Tim Russert of NBC's Meet the Press during his first presidential campaign, when reporters were trying to get him to deny using cocaine. Bush said, "I've said all I'm going to say. I don't want to provide any excuse for your 14-year-old child to say, 'Hey, maybe if old Governor Bush did something, I think I'm going to try it.'"

His kids don't seem to have gotten the message. Both Jenna and Barbara Bush have been cited twice for using a false ID for underage drinking, and a Rolling Stone interview with actor Ashton Kutcher revealed that the Bush twins smoked pot at a party at Kushner's house in 2002. More troubling, Bush's "young and irresponsible" lifestyle, which we are to forgive and forget, is unforgivable to him in others. When governor of Texas he required drug screening tests for state employees, and signed legislation mandating jail time for anyone caught with less than a single gram of cocaine. Under Bush's proposed national drug control budget, school prevention programs will lose their entire $440 million in federal funds and local police forces will lose methamphetamine-fighting funds. Instead Bush's ONDCP plans to shift monies to drug testing in high schools and intelligence gathering.

In 1987, Al Gore admitted to his use of marijuana while an under grad at Harvard, as an Army news correspondent in Vietnam, and while a reporter in Nashville. Gore stated, "During my junior and senior year of college, it was looked at in the same way moonshine was looked at in Prohibition days." Gore's son, Albert Gore III, was arrested on a marijuana possession charge in December 2003.


A South African news agency reports that although vast swathes of Indonesia's Aceh province were destroyed in the recent tsunami, marijuana crops have mostly survived, thanks to the fact that it was grown in the hills, high above the flat coastal areas. Although marijuana is illegal in Indonesia, its use is widespread in Aceh where it is traditionally added to curry and even coffee, as well as being smoked. In the region that bore the brunt of the human cost of the tsunami, with an estimated 237000 Acehnese killed in the catastrophe, marijuana has provided an important link to traditional ways of life. One doesn't need to look for long in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh to find a roadside stall selling gulai daging, a meat-based curry dish, simmering on a gas stove. This despite the fact that being caught with a kilo of marijuana can get residents two and a half years in jail. "In Aceh, even for the poor, tradition states that we should eat gulai daging at least three times a year," explains a local journalist from the local Serambi newspaper. "One or two days before ramadan, at the end of ramadan and before the celebrations for the Haj" annual pilgrimage.


Hosting the Recording Academy's 47th Annual GRAMMY Awards on February 13 was musician/actress/ producer and all-around groovy gal Queen Latifah, who was nominated for her jazzy The Dana Owens Album. The Queen has graced the airwaves, films and TV since her groundbreaking 1989 debut All Hail The Queen set the standard for female rappers, and paved the way for future women in hip-hop to make their way onto the charts. Her standout performance in the recent film adaptation of Chicago earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, a Golden Globe nomination, and a SAG Award nomination. The Academy bio did not mention that she was arrested in February 1996 when police found marijuana in her car. But hey, who cares?

Performing at the Grammies and winning Rock Album of the Year was Green Day, a band that expresses its love of marijuana in its very name, a "green day" reportedly being one spent smoking the green stuff. Green Day also earned nominations for Best Rock Song and Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, all for "American Idiot," from the winning album of the same name.

Newcomers Los Lonely Boys, whose drummer Ringo Garza was arrested on January 6 for his second misdemeanor marijuana possession charge, took the first award of the night for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, for "Heaven" from their debut album Los Lonely Boys [Or Music/Epic Records]. The group was also nominated for Best New Artist and Record Of The Year.

VIP Ray Charles won five posthumous awards -- among them Album Of The Year as well as Record Of The Year for the Norah Jones duet "Here We Go Again". Charles was honored by Bonnie Raitt and Billy Preston during the show, and also by Jamie Foxx, who is up for an Oscar later this month for portraying Charles in the biopic Ray. Also honored, by a wailin' Melissa Ethridge and 17-year-old Best New Artist nominee Joss Stone, was the late great Janis Joplin. Legendary Godfather of Soul James Brown, who performed with Usher in one of the more innovative segments of the show, qualifies as a VIP, having been arrested for marijuana and other charges in January, 1998.

(Early reports that the Tommy Chong Bong Song was nominated for a Grammy were not confirmed, thanks for asking!)

P.S. Kisses to Paul McCartney for singing "Get Back" at the Superbowl, with the lyric, "Jo Jo left his home in Tucson Arizona, for some California grass." And wasn't it a beautiful moment when everyone was holding candles and singing, "Hey, Jude"? Rock on, Paul.

Excerpt from Brother Ray: Ray Charles' Own Story By Ray Charles and David Ritz The Dial Press, NY, NY 1978 (A new paperback edition is available from DaCapo press) ...When I first arrived, [in Seattle at the age of 18, "curious about everything"] I didn't even know what grass was. But after playing several gigs around town, I started smelling it. I questioned the other musicians about what they were smoking. During the breaks, I asked if I could follow them outside . . . and I kept pushing, kept pestering, kept poking them till they laid a joint on me. That's how I started smoking weed. It seemed all right to me. I liked the taste, and I liked the mellow effect it had on my body and on my mind. Playing behind grass wasn't bad. I could really feel the groove of the music. And I thought it added to lovemaking. I thought it acted like an aphrodisiac. So like everyone else, I smoked it. (Charles also says, "It's bullshit that pot leads to heroin.")

2/1/05 - Pothead Paul to Headline Superbowl XXXIX Halftime Show

The NFL, anxious to clean up its act after Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" during last year's Superbowl halftime show, has named former Beatle and marijuana legalization advocate Paul McCartney as this year's entertainment. McCartney joins a list of VIPs (VeryImporantPotheads) who have played the gig. Last year, VIP Willie Nelson played along with country singer Toby Keith, he of the famed tune, "I'll Never Smoke Weed With Willie Again." Superbowl XXXI featured a "Blues Brothers Bash" with Saturday Night Live's Dan Akyroid and James Belushi. Superbowl VI featured a salute to marijuana enthusiast Louis Armstrong with Ella Fitzgerald, who once recorded a tune called, "When I Get Low I Get High."

The U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP, aka "Drug Czar's Office") will bow out of the SuperPricey ads this year, saving the US taxpayers millions of dollars. In the past, the office has used the audience to launch its "drug use=terrorism" and other ridiculous campaigns. Perhaps the agency is keeping a low profile, rather than be dragged into the controversy surrounding Armstrong Jones and at least two other conservative commentators who have recently been revealed to be on the dole from the Bush administration to push No Child Left Behind and other programs. As the Wall Street Journal reports, ONDCP has long been known to engage in such tactics, offering advertising "credits" to sitcoms that promoted anti-drug themes.

Now the airways are safe for all those wholesome Viagra ads. Notably absent will be Celebrex and Vioxx ads, since their safety is in question. The Stuporbowl, of course, is awash with beer and junk-food commercials and is said to be a big day for drunken wife battering and alcohol-related traffic fatalities. At least it's not as bad as NASCAR, with its hard-liquor ads right on the cars (a situation now deplored by the AMA).

MEDICAL NEWS: Researchers Buzzing About Marijuana-Derived Medicines

WAS POPEYE A PUFFER? The October/November issue of Cannabis Culture magazine and a new article on Alternet wonders what cartoon character Popeye was smoking in his pipe. Dana Larsen reveals "spinach" was slang for marijuana in the 1920s and 30s, when sailorman Popeye first appeared in a comic strip. The magazine has also "outed" 70s cartoon show HR Pufinstuff

STEWART V. O'LEILLEY: ROUND 2 - Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's The Daily Show interviewed Fox talk show host Bill O'Reilly on October 7, following O'Reilly's comment during an interview with Stewart that The Daily Show's viewers are "stoned slackers." "Oh Jon, you know I was stoned when I said that," O'Reilly joked. Jokes about bongs and brownies in the Daily Show green room ensued and Stewart pronounced himself so charmed by O'Reilly, "I'm going to cut off my own mike." (In July, O'Reilly tried to cut Reason magazine Editor Nick Gillespie off in the opening minutes of a segment about medicinal marijuana, saying, "Mr. Gillespie, I'm going to cut your mike now because you've had your say.") Comedy Central found that the Daily Show viewers are more likely to have college degrees than The O'Reilly Factor's.

R.I.P. TO V.I.P. RODNEY DANGERFIELD - Fellow VIP Gov. Schwarzenegger issues statement on Dangerfield's death

Home Alone, Smoking Pot: Macaulay Culkin charged with possesion of marijuana and prescription Xanax. Like Ricky Williams, Culkin seems to be self-medicating for psychological problems.Studies have shown children left alone after school are more likely to use illegal drugs than those involved in after-school activities - the same ones bone-headed drug warriors would exclude students from if found to have positive drug tests.)


Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams to NFL: Piss Off!

Kerry: Get an Herbal, Not a Fetal Position

Kerry Busts Ollie North

"Uncle" Walter Cronkite Says "Yes" to Drug Legalization


1/05 - U.S. won't pursue case in boy's death
U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan, the woman who sent Tommy Chong to prison for selling bongs over the internet, has announced she will not bring charges against two Pennsylvania state police officers who shot a 12-year-old 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. In her announcement, which topped off a 23-month investigation, Buchanan said, "In a criminal prosecution, the government is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the police officers used force willfully, that is, deliberately and with knowledge that they had no justification. The evidence in this case does not support a finding of willful or deliberate misconduct" against troopers Juan Curry and Samuel Nassan. Read more

Ferguson Takes Over CBS Late Late Show
Scottish actor, comedian, musician and author Craig Ferguson, who took over for Craig Kilborn as host of CBS's Late Late Show on January 3, played a marijuana smoker and grower in "Saving Grace" (2000), a film he co-wrote. Ferguson's character smokes pot in the opening scene of the film, in which he helps an English widow grow marijuana to save her home. Starring Academy-Award-winning actress Brenda Blethyn in the title role, Saving Grace won the World Cinema Audience Award at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival.

Ferguson and Blethyn appeared at an advance screening of the film in San Francisco, where he was asked by whether he had been pressured to present marijuana in a negative light in the film. "Oh yes," Ferguson replied. "At one point they wanted my character to die." The crowd gasped, since that outcome would have been completely out of place in the delightfully light-hearted film. Ferguson admitted he tacked on a somewhat contrived ending to the film; nonetheless Sundance proclaimed, "The charming finale soundly revokes the adage of crime not paying."

Ferguson is best known to American audiences for his role as Drew Carey's boss on ABC's "The Drew Carey Show." That show aired an intelligent handling of the employment drug testing issue, portraying an affronted Carey dumping his staff's urine samples but later bringing in a drug-sniffing dog to find the drugs in question. Cocaine was soon found in the boss's office, the very man (played by Ferguson) who had ordered the drug testing. We hope Ferguson may bring his love of humor and irony to his new gig and wish him a wide audience.

Laura Bush a Pot Pusher?
From The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty, by Kitty Kelley Doubleday 2004, p. 575
"Both George and Laura used to go down to the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands to visit Laura's college roomate Jane Clark and her boyfriend, the former baseball great Sandy Koufax. Elsewhere on the island, the Bushes used to attend and enjoy heavy pot-smoking parties. This was not inconsistent with Laura's past. She graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1968 and had been known in her college days as a go-to girl for dime bags of marijuana. 'She not only smoked dope,' said public relations executive Robert Nash, an Austin friend of many in Laura's SMU class, 'but she sold dope.' "

Actually, this is the least explosive information contained in Kelley's exhaustively researched book, and it's interesting that when the book was released just before the 2004 Selection, the media conveniently focused on the family's drug peccadillos instead of more important revelations. Don't believe the hype: check it out for yourself.

VIP Arnold Schwarzenegger Pardons Three Drug Offenders
According to the San Francisco Chronicle (12/23/04), California Governor and Very Important Pothead Arnold Schwarzenegger has granted "full and unconditional" pardons to three men convicted of drug crimes in the 1970s. The pardons were the first to be issued by a California governor since Pete Wilson left office in 1999 and were selected from 655 people with pending applications.

The lucky three pardonees are Alec Webster of Santa Cruz, Antonio Garcia of Hacienda Heights and James Brown of Arvada, Colo. Webster was 24 years old in 1975 when he was convicted of selling 21 pounds of marijuana and about 500 tablets of LSD to an undercover police officer. Garcia was convicted in 1978 of selling $20 to $30 worth of heroin to an undercover officer in Los Angeles. Brown was convicted in Riverside County in 1971 of stealing a bottle of prescription pain medication from a dentist's office and then driving while under the influence of the drug.

Martha Stewart Urges Americans To Reform Drug Laws
In her holiday message, posted on her personal website, Martha Stewart made an impassioned plea against the drug war. "I beseech you all. . . to encourage the American people to ask for reforms, both in sentencing guidelines, in length of incarceration for nonviolent first-time offenders, and for those involved in drug-taking," she wrote from prison. Other prominent Americans who were incarcerated and have since become advocates for drug policy reform include former Arizona Supreme Court Justice and Associate U.S. Attorney General Webb Hubbell, former Nixon aide Chuck Colson, Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, former Pennsylvania Attorney General Ernest Preate, former California Assemblyman Pat Nolan and former New York Court of Appeals Justice Sol Wachtler.

Nearly three-fourths of older Americans support legalizing marijuana for medical use, according to a poll done for the nation's largest advocacy group for seniors. Read more. Speaking of Senior Citizens, Happy Birthday to VIP Bob Denver, who turned 70 on January 9.

"Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle" is Now Available on DVD. Check it out


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