Friday, August 21, 2009
The authors then put up an excerpt from their book on Alternet, "Campus Hypocrisy: Marijuana Is Safer, But Students Are Pushed to More Dangerous Booze" and I'm going to highlight my favorite bits:
Universities ... are not legally obligated to establish stringent penalties, such as enforcing zero-tolerance housing policies or barring students with minor pot violations from ever holding student office, as is the policy of the University of Maryland at College Park. More importantly, they are under no legal obligation to treat students who illegally possess marijuana on campus more severely than they sanction students who illegally possess alcohol. Yet most colleges do and often for no reason other than a perceived need to reflect existing societal differences. And by maintaining these disparate punishments in the face of student opposition, university governments and their boards of trustees are making a conscious, if inadvertent, decision to steer students toward the use of alcohol.
And what are the ramifications of these kinds of campus policies? First, as we all know, the use of alcohol by college students is rampant. According to data from the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study, approximately 80 percent of college students drink alcohol. Figures for binge drinking are even more startling. For instance, more than 44 percent of students surveyed in 2001 said that they had engaged in binge drinking in the preceding two weeks, and more than 22 percent had done so at least three times in that time period. Predictably, these frequent binge drinkers?and those around them?often suffer as a result. As described by George Dowdall in College Drinking, "[F]requent binge drinkers were 7 to 10 times more likely than the nonbinge drinkers to get into trouble with the campus police, damage property or get injured, not use protection when having sex, or engage in unplanned sexual activity."
The social consequences of all this student drinking are even more alarming. At the most tragic level, alcohol abuse is a leading cause of fatalities on college campuses. In 2001, there were an estimated 1,700 alcohol-related unintentional-injury deaths among college students and others aged 18 to 24. (all emphasis mine) But these deaths are just the tip of the alcohol-related-injury iceberg. Researchers estimate that every year approximately 600,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured while under the influence of alcohol. Of course, those who drink are not the only ones adversely affected. Even more disturbing is the number of injuries to others that are caused by students under the influence of alcohol. Each year approximately 700,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by students who have been drinking, and close to 100,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape. Yet these raw numbers only tell part of the story. The much broader impact of alcohol abuse on campus is evident when one looks at the percentage of violent acts that are booze-related. According to a 1994 report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), 95 percent of all campus assaults are alcohol-related, and 90 percent of all reported campus rapes involve a victim or an assailant who has been drinking alcohol.
"Virtually every sexual assault is associated with alcohol abuse. Almost every assault of any kind is related to drinking." - University of Maryland President C.D. "Dan" Mote, August 2008
But no, we have university presidents supporting the amethyst initiative while completely ignoring this SAFER alternative. I would hope that more women's groups (and also the men's group for that matter) start to recognize that supporting marijuana's legalization could have a seriously positive effect on the amount of sexual abuses of campus.
Smoke some weed. Seriously,
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
A book about marijuana has never hit #1 on Amazon.com. With your help that could change, and we can demonstrate to the country the depth of support for marijuana policy reform in this country. If it reaches #1, we will also draw national attention to the book's basic message -- that marijuana is safer than alcohol.
If you are planning to get yourself a copy of the critically acclaimed, Marijuana is Safer, we hope you will join hundreds of other supporters of more rational marijuana laws by making your purchase on August 20, 2009. (We would have preferred 4/20, but 8/20 will have to do.)I want to highlight one of the author before ending this post. Steve Fox, one of the three authors, was the lobbyist to congress for the Marijuana Policy Project from 2002 - 2005 and cofounded SAFER.... Oh and he's a TUFTS University graduate... yeah... go Jumbos.
Stay SAFER, Buy the Book August 20th,
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Before Washington ramps up yet another losing war on drugs, it should take a clear-eyed look at how its current strategies are affecting the supply and demand of drugs. Congressman Eliot Engel (D) of New York has introduced a bill to do just that.
Washington would be wise to back Congressman Engel's initiative because there has not been a thorough, frank evaluation of the fight against drugs in decades. The drug czar office's annual report is not enough. Recommendations by an independent commission, however, could generate the consensus and strategy we sorely need.
The cornerstone of US drug policy at home and abroad is to reduce the drug supply (from crop eradication to border seizures) in order to increase the domestic price of drugs. The idea is to deter both potential consumers and producers from entering the drug market.
Since May 1971, when President Richard Nixon proclaimed a "war on drugs," Washington and the Western Hemisphere have been unable to win it. Every claimed victory has turned out to be, in the end, a fiasco.
This article is like a lot of the really well written articles promoting various measures to rethink the drug war. The significance here is that during the spate of magazines encouraging marijuana's legalization in the spring, the Christian Science Monitor's editorial board wrote a lengthy article opposing legalization, becoming one of the rare legitimate news sources to come out and oppose the rethinking of our drug laws.
The second link I have for you today comes from Democracy Now for their interview with Charles Bowden, author of "We Bring Fear," a story I've linked to at least 3 or 4 times now. He also wrote a great piece for Harper's, "The Sicario: A Juárez hit man speaks."(segment of the article on CNN. Harper's doesn't put their content online for free)
Charles Bowden has done a lot of reporting on how the drug war has been affecting Mexico and he has some real interesting things to say on the issue. What drew me most from this interview was:
What people have to understand is Mexico would collapse without drug money. Our agencies estimate Mexico earns $30 billion to $50 billion a year in foreign currency from selling drugs. Remittances from Mexican workers here is their number two official source of currency, and that’s about $20-$25 billion. But the drug industry is essential. It’s penetrated the whole culture, and it isn’t going away. And nobody is going to destroy it.
I’ll give you another statistic. The consumption of drugs in Mexico has exploded. Last week, a public health official in Juarez, a city of a million and a half, said there’s at least 150,000 addicts in the city. Think of it this way: trying to eradicate the drug industry in Mexico is like trying to eradicate gambling in Las Vegas. It is the economy. And it’s the unspoken part of the economy.
While I've spent most of my time ranting about the corruption, Bowden's opinion bring in another idea about why government is in no rush to end the drug war, they fear the complete collapse of the Mexican economy.
Unfortunately, I'm not conniving enough to understand the positives of plans like these so I can't elaborate. All I know is that 20-30 million people aren't going to stop smoking pot and doing cocaine so unless American strategy changes, it looks like Mexico's drug cartels and military will keep reaping the benefits.
Happy Birthday Jon.
Get high, stay high,
Sunday, August 9, 2009
"Traffic of heavy weaponry from American gun stores to Mexican drug cartels will once again feature in talks between the U.S. and Mexico when President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon meet at a North American summit in Guadalajara on Aug. 9 and Aug. 10. Mexico with its strict gun laws has long complained that the vast majority of firearms used by the gangs wrecking havoc here are brought in El Norte. Meanwhile, Obama has said more unequivocally than any president before that the U.S. has responsibility to stop American guns getting into the hands of the mobsters."
First things first, what the fuck is with the phrase, "El Norte?" Seriously TIME, have your standards dropped so low.
Second, while the mainstream media has always loved the topic of Mexican gangsters getting their expensive weapons from Arizona, it has done so for all the wrong reasons. Its a great story for anti-gun lobbyists who can now use redneck racism against the redneck 'keep your hands off of my guns' attitude. These stories will tell you, what many politicians from Bush to Obama will tell you, 90% of the weapons used by the Cartels come from American gun stores. Unfortunately for our politicians sense of honesty, that fact just isn't true. (for those not going to the link, 90% of guns tested are from American gun stores but the rest aren't tested because they're ruled out as non-American in origin before they reach American testing).
As Peter McCary Notes in The Devil's Advocate (Duke Law's independent newspaper):
"this narrative has frequently been untrue even for weapons traced back to the U.S. Over the past six years, more than 150,000 Mexican soldiers have defected and begun to work for the drug cartels that they formerly opposed. Many defectors have taken their M-16 rifles with them; Colt sold these weapons to the Mexican government with permission from the U.S. government. Admittedly, the evidence above leaves open the possibility that the cartels are primarily arming themselves with weapons bought in American stores."
Back to the article. The laughability continues:
"seven months into Obama's administration the guns keep flowing south and show no sign of abating. Mexican government raids continue to turn up vast arsenals of brand new firearms that can be traced to shops north of the Rio Grande. Another sign of the gangster's abundant supply of firepower is that they can afford to leave some weapons at murder scenes to avoid detection.
The first two sentences have no substance or proof of accuracy or anything to convince a cynic this isn't just a journalist saying what his pal in government wants him to. The last bit just shows how little this reporter knows about crime. I'm a pacifist, sissy stoner and even I know that any professional will leave his weapon at the scene; I've seen The Godfather.
Finally, the Time article mentions the Merida Initiative (or Plan Mexico as its critics call it) in the final paragraph as if it were something beneficial to the situation:
Calderon will be especially keen to see new efforts on the U.S. side because a large chunk of the American money promised for Mexico has been delayed. Under the Merida Initiative, $1.4 billion was earmarked to help Mexico fight cartels over three years. But following accusations of Mexican army abuses — including torture, rape, and murder — the Senate has held back 15% of those funds until it can certify that Mexico is making efforts to clean up its human rights record. Mexico's Congress this week issued a statement condemning this certification process.
It's nice to see Mexico's government condemning America for not sending them money for their soldiers to use to steal from, intimidate, and murder their citizens. I actually sent a message to Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, thanking him for being responsible for this holdup. (p.s. that's not a bad idea for anyone who wants to help out but doesn't know how... just write to elected officials, thanking them when they do things you agree with.)
Hey, I know a great way to end the worry about Mexican gangs getting access to American weapons, whether its from gun stores, theft, or just Colt selling M-16s to corrupt military with US government approval... STOP GIVING THEM A WAY TO MAKE MONEY AND JUST FUCKING LEGALIZE ALREADY... Wow, I must be upset, I'm shouting on the internet... Or maybe I'm just sober.
Time to go smoke a joint and continue to prove that all this conflict isn't accomplishing anything.
Peace, Love, and Bowls,
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Their description of their work:
Newsy.com videos analyze news coverage of important issues from multiple sources. Its unique method of presenting how different media outlets are covering a story gives context to complex policy issues.
I've watched a ton of the videos and they are really interestingly put together. I'd encourage those of you with interests beyond reefer to go to their site and check out the other videos. Since I just care about weed (at least on the this blog), I'll just show this great video:
The most interesting part of this video is that it very clearly shows that capitalism, that great American past time, will be responsible for the continued growing of illicit substances (like sweet Afghan Kush). If the US makes it unprofitable for Afghan farmers (and the Taliban) to produce opium then they can just produce cannabis, a plant that's even easier to grow.
"Our fathers and grandfathers cultivated marijuana." says one Afghan. He sounds just like a 50-year-old Californian I've seen in a video I can't now find who learned to grow reefer from his grandfather who started in the 1930's. Across nations and cultures, growing weed to subvert the US government is a hobby enjoyed by many.
If we forgot about cannabis, it is also worth mentioning that the US could just skip all the bullshit and allow pharmaceutical companies, that currently buy their poppies from Turkey, to purchase from Afghan farmers.
Here is the New York Times video on "Afghanistan's New Cash Crop" that was used in the Newsy segment.
p.s. this clip was sent to me by a staffer at Newsy who thought it might be good on this blog. If any other readers have material they think would be good to post, please e-mail it to me and feel free to include some of your own commentary for me to post (I'll even give you your own pseudonym if you want).
Thursday, August 6, 2009
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is soliciting proposals from qualified organizations having the capability to (1) grow, harvest, analyze, store and distribute GMP grade cannabis (marijuana) on large and small scales; (2) extract cannabis to obtain purified phytocannabinoids including delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC), analyze, and store; (3) prepare marijuana cigarettes and related products; and (4) distribute marijuana, marijuana cigarettes and cannabinoids, and other related products for research and other Government programs upon NIDA authorization.
So, the federal government is looking for a new person to grow pot for them. This is very interesting as very recently, the DEA prevented a UMass Amherst Professor, Lyle Craker, from growing marijuana for research purposes continuing the monopoly that the University of Mississippi has been holding for the past 40 years.
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) who had been pushing for Craker's case as documented all the steps as the case has and continues to move along.
The basic plotline of the story is as follows:
MAPS, led by Rick Doblin, set out to find someone to end the monopoly that NIDA has on growing government pot because it is shit at 1%-2% THC and is often left in storage for months or even years which turns it almost useless. They found Craker, who is in no way an activist for or against marijuana, to grow many different strains of marijuana for government testing. In legal terms, they needed to get him a Schedule I grower's license.
After a whole bunch of hurdles that you can read about here, in February of 2007, DEA administrative judge Mary Ellen Bittner officially recommended that Craker should "be permitted to grow research-grade marijuana for use in privately-funded government-approved studies that aim to develop the marijuana plant into a legal, prescription medicine."
The DEA immediately went into block mode and stalled and delayed and finally said "No." Despite support from 38 Members of Congress and both Massachusetts Senators, they just went ahead and ignored Judge Bittner's ruling.
Its very similar to how they ignored Judge Francis L.Young's 1989 decision: "The cannabis plant considered as a whole has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, there is no lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision and it may lawfully be transferred from Schedule I to Schedule II. The judge recommends that the Administrator transfer cannabis ."
And now, they need someone else to grow some pot for them. The One issue I really take with the "job posting" by the government is that it specifies "GMP grade cannabis." Meaning, the same shitty weed they've been growing and testing forever. Marijuana is a beautiful plant (as I wrote about in The Observer) and one of the amazing things is the variety of plants and the very potent differences between them. How can the government claim it is even doing research into marijuana when it only uses something barely any stronger than industrial hemp? Oh right, because most of the people in Washington are lying sacks of shit.
Well, I know when I've ranted too much so I'll end this post with my best wishes for all of you, especially if your wishes are to get stoned.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
I’ve been writing for nearly a year, and still I haven’t yet focused on the idea of marijuana as medicine. That’s mainly because up until a few months ago, I actually sided with ex-Drug Czar John Walters when he said in 2003 that medical marijuana made as much sense as “medical crack.” I felt then, and still do now, that by looking at cheeba as medical issue, we gloss over the more important civil rights and security issues that I’ve tried to cover in previous columns.
But one simply can’t pay attention to the ongoing marijuana debate as closely as I do and continue to believe that administering crack rocks from the local bathtub-lab to patients has the slightest similarity to suggesting they puff leaf of Mother Nature’s homegrown bounty.
As for me, I credit cannabis with helping me overcome long-term anxiety issues that exploded during my first semester. I started smoking daily soon after I had my first panic attack. I haven’t had one since. The only times I’ve felt my classic feeling of anxiety come around tend to be on vacations when I haven’t been able to medi … I mean smoke for several days.
DISCLAIMER: This is not an advertisement for self-medicating with illegal drugs. Marijuana affects many people poorly, adding additional pressure and paranoia to their lives or evenings. This is just my personal experience, and it should go without saying that you need to find what works best for you—and don’t you go blaming anyone else if it your experience is no good, especially not some pot columnist.
But marijuana’s beneficial psychological effects—including alleviation of depression, schizophrenia, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)—pale in comparison to its effectiveness in addressing the physical. Pot and its derivatives have repeatedly been proven powerful and singular methods of treatment for pain, nausea, inflammation, weight loss, PMS, and cancer.
Yes, I did just say cancer. For cancer patients, cannibanoids address the debilitating side effects of conventional treatment strategies in ways that, for some, are irreplicable. While this particular utility is just now gaining attention, older anecdotal and recent scientific evidence has made the beneficial connection between compounds in cannabis and actually fighting cancerous cells themselves.
Much of my anecdotal evidence comes from Rick Simpson, who has been giving out hemp oil (often for free) as medicine for several years. Rick has dozens of patients; patients who were sent away from their doctors with nothing to look forward to but death. These conventionally “doomed” survivors have testified to the power of Rick’s medicine. I encourage everyone to challenge their skepticism, check out those testimonials, find out more about Rick at his website: www.phoenixtears.ca and download Christian Laurette’s documentary on Rick: “Run From the Cure.”
More anecdotal evidence comes from Professor Donald Tashkin of UCLA who recently completed a 30-year study of marijuana users. In 2006, he reported: “We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use. What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect.”
Concerning the more experimental and scientific, work is currently being done—almost exclusively outside of the US—to investigate the cancer-fighting properties of cannabis. Manuel Guzman from the University of Madrid has done significant work investigating just how THC kills cancerous cells and if any bio-chem major wants to look it up and give an explanation, I’d be very appreciative. It has something to with blocking pathways or connections… I don’t know.
What’s really going to piss you off, if you’re anything like me, is that while all of this information seems new, our government has known about the amazing powers of the cannabis plant and its derivatives for the last 20+ years. Did you know that in 1988, a senior DEA judge named Francis L. Young completed a massive study of the appropriateness of re-scheduling marijuana from class I (no accepted medical use) to class II. He concluded:
“The evidence in this record clearly shows that marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record.”
Over 20 years later, cancer patients are having their homes raided by SWAT teams and sent to prison.
What’s keeping reefer unstudied and illegal? I’ll leave just one fact: The non-profit group Partnership for a Drug Free America (PDFA) has received millions and millions of dollars from tobacco, alcohol, and pharmaceutical companies who, for some odd reason, also give money to many of the same politicians opposed to seriously discussing marijuana. *cough* Obama *cough.*
Anyways, I like to end these on a high note so I will say that things are looking better. More and more states are investigating plans to allow the sale of marijuana for medical uses. Eric Holder has announced that the DEA will stop raiding California dispensaries (this has already been violated but at least he said it). Meanwhile, the research is pouring in, showing the power of cannabis to help and heal.
I’ve been stressed by work all week so I think it’s about time for me to medicate.
P.S. Since I wrote this article I've been made aware of Granny Storm Crow's List, a very thorough list of legitimate medical studies into cannabis and it's effects. Please go check it out.
Today, I'm going to highlight Matthew Engel's "Why it's Time to End the War on Drugs" in the Financial Times.
For nearly 40 years, since the habits established in the 1960s took root in society, there has been a stand-off. Across the free world, and most of the unfree, anyone seriously interested in smoking, snorting, swallowing or injecting illegal substances can acquire the wherewithal with a little effort, and proceed without much fear of retribution, particularly if they are wealthy enough. Police and politicians say they are interested in punishing the suppliers and not the users. This is an intellectual nonsense, but it has suited everyone who matters. The drug users don’t care; governments have felt no pressure to attempt a politically dangerous reform; and above all it suits the international gangsters who control the drug business, which offers massive rewards and – for them – minimal risks.
It's worth reading through the whole thing but I'm just going to highlight one more part which I feel is important:
The case for legalisation is not about allowing baby-boom couples to enjoy a joint after a dinner party without drawing the curtains or being obliged to visit a dodgy bloke called Dave. Decriminalisation or even legalising cannabis on its own would achieve little. Something more radical is required. The crucial issue concerns the supply chain: the way prohibition has enriched and empowered gangsters, corrupt officials and indeed wholly corrupt narco-states across the planet. It was a point made eloquently by the Russian economist Lev Timofeev, when interviewed by Misha Glenny for his book about global organised crime, McMafia. “Prohibiting a market does not mean destroying it,” Timofeev said. What it means is placing a “dynamically developing market under the total control of criminal corporations”. He called the present situation a threat to world civilisation, which international public opinion had failed to grasp.
The more I see these articles, the more I smile and I've been smiling an awful lot lately.
Please pass this article along, every little bit of information helps.
Monday, July 27, 2009
As a Republican mother committed to legalizing marijuana, political life can be lonely. But while many in my party whisper about the Drug War's insanity, we should shout it from the rooftop: the time to legalize is now.
Calling for a new approach doesn't make me a pothead. In fact, while I freely admit to having previously smoked marijuana -- as do more than 95 million other Americans, including our last three presidents -- I choose not to be an active marijuana user today.
If history is any guide, the crucial female voting bloc, including many Republicans, will provide the political will essential to making this happen.
In 1929, it was the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform successfully leading the charge to end America's decade-long experiment with alcohol prohibition. While many of these same activists fought just years earlier to forbid booze, they quickly witnessed prohibition's devastating consequences, including increased violence.*
Just four years into the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform's repeal efforts, prohibition was over.
She is, of course, absolutely right. As I noted here, the biggest opposition to legalization comes in the form of women, particularly woman over 50. I also point out that Republicans, who are starting to claim again that they are the party of limited government, are 77% in favor of prohibition. As opposed to 59% of Democrats and only 52% of independents (figures that have surely since declined).
If the marijuana lobby all looked like Jessica Corry, this debate would have long since passed... because she can truly say she's doing it for the children.
Kudos Jessica and all the Republican Moms for Marijuana Across the country.
*This statement reminded me of one of my favorite statements on the topic so I'll share it. From The 1972 Consumer's Report of Licit and Illicit Substances: (chapter 33)
"Alcohol prohibition was not repealed because people decided that alcohol was a harmless drug. On the contrary, the United States learned during Prohibition, even more than in prior decades, the true horrors of the drug. What brought about Repeal was the slowly dawning awareness that alcohol prohibition wasn't working."
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Short blog post so I'll end with this picture as something to laugh at.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Drug war is a War on Families
By Walter Cronkite
Article Published: Sunday, August 08, 2004
In the midst of the soaring rhetoric of the recent Democratic National Convention, more than one speaker quoted Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address, invoking “the better angels of our nature.” Well, there is an especially appropriate task awaiting those heavenly creatures - a long-overdue reform of our disastrous war on drugs. We should begin by recognizing its costly and inhumane dimensions.
Much of the nation, in one way or another, is victimized by this failure - including, most notably, the innocents, whose exposure to drugs is greater than ever.
This despite the fact that there are, housed in federal and state prisons and local jails on drug offenses, more than 500,000 persons - half a million people! Clearly, no punishment could be too severe for that portion of them who were kingpins of the drug trade and who ruined so many lives. But by far, the majority of these prisoners are guilty of only minor offenses, such as possessing small amounts of marijuana. That includes people who used it only for medicinal purposes.
The cost to maintain this great horde of prisoners is more than $10 billion annually. And that’s just part of the cost of this war on drugs: The federal, state and local drug-control budgets last year added up to almost $40 billion.
These figures were amassed by the Drug Policy Alliance, one of the foremost national organizations seeking to bring reason to the war on drugs and reduce substantially those caught in the terrible web of addiction.
There are awful tales of tragedy and shocking injustice hidden in those figures - the product of an almost mindlessly draconian system called “mandatory sentencing,” in which even small offenses can draw years in prison.
Thousands of women, many of them mothers of young children, are included among those minor offenders. Those children left without motherly care are the most innocent victims of the drug war and the reason some call it a “war on families.”
Women are the fastest-growing segment of the prison population, with almost 80 percent of them incarcerated for drug offenses. The deep perversity of the system lies in the fact that women with the least culpability often get the harshest sentences.
Unlike the guilty drug dealer, they often have no information to trade for a better deal from prosecutors, and might end up with a harsher sentence than the dealer gets.
Then there are women like Kimba Smith, in California, who probably knew a few things but was so terrified of her abusive boyfriend that she refused to testify against him. (Those who agree to testify, by the way, frequently are murdered before they have a chance to do so.) Smith paid for her terrified silence with a 24-year sentence. Nonviolent first offenders, male and female, caught with only small amounts of a controlled substance frequently are given prison sentences of five to 10 years or more. As a result, the number of nonviolent offenders in the nation’s prisons is filling them to overflowing, literally. The resulting overcrowding is forcing violent felons onto the streets with early releases.
The Drug Policy Alliance also points out other important areas of injustice in the present enforcement system. For instance, people of color - African-Americans and Latinos - are far more likely to be jailed for drug offenses than others. And college students caught in possession of very small amounts of illegal substances are denied student loans and even food stamps.
The Alliance and other organizations are working to reform and reframe the war on drugs. And they are finding many judges on their side, who are rebelling against this cruel system. We can expect no federal action during the congressional hiatus in activity ahead of the November elections, but it would be of considerable help if, across the country, campaigning politicians put this high on their promises of legislative action, much sooner than later.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
My favorite is the story "We Bring Fear" which highlights the fleeing of Mexican reporter Emilio Gutiérrez Soto and his son from Mexico because the Mexican Army wanted him dead for writing a small story about an army troupe roughing up and stealing from a group of patrons to a restaurant. For 3 years, he lived in fear before hearing that the army was coming for him and went to plead for asylum in America
There are so many aspects of the story worth noting (Liberals should care he spent 8 months in a detention facility after throwing himself at the mercy of border guards). To me, as the anti-prohibitionist, the biggest part is the rise in violence and corruption in Mexican society thanks to the massive amounts of money and guns coming into Mexico thanks to the drug trade and the Mérida Initiative.
I'm a bit high now so I'm not going to describe these things very well but I definitely encourage you to check out "We Bring Fear" and also:
"The Patriot's Guide To Legalization" is just a great broad coverage of the anti-pot crowd from someone who never was a toker.
"The Drug War, By the Numbers" has some good graphics and highlights a lot of the genuine figures of this war.
I'd normally add in more detail and some segments from the article but I guess this just means you'll have to go to the issue website yourself and check it out.
Pot, Bud, and Bowls,
Monday, July 6, 2009
This bill needs to be getting more attention than it is already. It is the greatest weapon for those of us who want drug law reform simply because there is a United States Senator pushing for it. The Post notes (like myself) that the most attention grabbing part of Webb's legislation is about the reform of our drug laws and yet he refuses to discuss that aspect much, perhaps weary of the negative press that a legalize marijuana commision might face. They write:
it is commission duty No. 6 that keeps drawing attention, making Webb's proposal an eye-catcher in the sea of congressional proposals that might or might not go all the way: "Restructure the approach to criminalization of, and incarceration as the result of, the possession or use of illegal drugs, decreasing the demand for illicit drugs, and improving the treatment for addiction."
For once, Webb's mastery of the English language doesn't sound so masterful. This reads as arched-eyebrow intriguing, but gimme-a-break murky.
Is he saying that drugs should be decriminalized, or what?
In the Richmond interview, Webb clearly doesn't like where this line of questioning is going. (After our meeting, his press rep sends an e-mail, saying how uncomfortable they were and noting that the tension was "palpable.") Webb scans for tripwires, parsing each question tossed at him. Once, he says, a journalist tried to trick him into hoisting a grenade to get some color for a piece. He didn't fall for it.
The senator grumbles that no one should fall into the easy assumption that his interest in drug policy might be inspired in some way by his time in Vietnam, a war so often depicted on the big screen through a gauzy haze of pot smoke.
"I saw far more drugs at Georgetown Law Center than I ever saw in the military," says Webb, who earned a law degree at Georgetown in 1975.
But what about commission duty No. 6? This one looks like it could be big. Does this mean he'd support decriminalizing or legalizing drugs?
"Everything should be on the table," Webb says.
And there it is -- damn the consequences!
This is why, even as editorialists in the mainstream media applaud his efforts to reform the overall criminal justice system, he's also racking up headlines in High Times magazine and getting shout-outs from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws for his "candor and political courage."
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, better known by the acronym LEAP -- a group of current and former law enforcement officers -- is running a petition on its Internet site in support of Webb's commission. The petition and a video of Webb appear beneath the group's signature pitch: photos of Al Capone ("Alcohol Smuggler") and Pablo Escobar ("Drug Cartel"), accompanied by the line, "Same problem . . . same solution. Repeal Prohibition Now!"
LEAP's Norman Stamper, a former chief of police in Seattle, praises Webb as "a tough guy" and says "the hope is that an honest, very critical examination of drug laws will lead to the conclusion that prohibition doesn't work."I love reading this stuff.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
One of the awesome things about weed is how many different ways there are to consume it. Hell, today alone I’ve already smoked from a vaporizer, a small pipe, a $400 bong, and a one-hitter… but I’ve had a hard week. Each smoking apparatus has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages and as a toker, it’s your job to pick the one that appeals to you the most.
I never used to like pipes, I found them too harsh on my throat but recently I’ve taken a liking to them. Pipes are great for their convenience; you just pack the bowl and light it. Thanks to the harshness of a pipe, it’s hard to take massive hits at once so the high from a pipe is usually relaxed. Ideally a pipe should be shaped so that the smoke hits a bottleneck or other barrier before hitting your mouth. This has the dual function of giving the pipe a proper pull (think Bernoulli’s equation) and cooling the smoke slightly to reduce harshness. That in-pipe obstacle may also mean the difference between sucking down flaming asteroids, and, well, not.
Basically small bong-pipes. I am personally inclined away from these things since they are often overpriced and extremely difficult to clean. However, I sat across the circle from a guy who swore by his back home—a glass triple chamber brought back from Amsterdam that bestowed phat rips that wouldn’t make you cough if you tried.
There are more bong styles than I could describe in ten pages but if you’re ever interested, check out a head shop. Over the last two years I’ve seen a growing trend in bongs that I really like—clear, straight glass tubes with diffused downstems designed to pass smoke through water many times for a clean and cool hit. A great bong needs to be at least big enough to allow for really massive rips. You just can’t beat the bong when it comes to getting you really stoned, really quickly, really tastily, and really well.
The debate rages on about design. I prefer the straight shaft over the wide bottom beaker style for simple cleaning purposes. A clean bong allows for sweeter tasting hits and that’s important when you’ve got a big bowl of purp.
Everyone is going to tell you to “go glass!” and, for damn good reasons. Glass is pretty and clear, easy to clean and has the perfect thermal properties for a device filled with ice water and attacked by high people with fire. It doesn’t release any noxious fumes and even has its own artisan cult. That’s why next time you see somebody’s $400 bong-ash catcher setup, quickly count and stay in control of all your limbs because it’s fragile. I know it’s a challenge, especially after your face has been pleasantly obliterated by it.
This is no reason to scoff at a homis non-glass, though. The ceramic owner might give you some BS about being “from the earth, man” but he’s actually right. It too has great thermal diffusion properties. As for plastic/acrylic…look, it’s not the best, but you can’t deny that the convenience of being able to literally throw your bong at someone.
My father, Dwaye Hubbard, wouldn’t have a clue what I was talking about if I mentioned bongs or even glass pipes. Like most of the old folks, he smoked only joints. For some people, it’s hard to see why it’s worth it for people to smoke anything else. Joints are easy to roll, portable, adjustable by size, and require no more equipment than something you can pick up at any convenience store.
Everybody should be able to roll a joint, which means if you don’t know how, learn, which means you need to practice, which means “get high.” There is a silly number of rolling techniques and styles, so you only need to know how to roll what you’re smoking; for me that’s small little pin joints so I use smaller papers like Zig-Zag Kutkorners. If you prefer larger cone joints, you might want something bigger like EZ-Widers. Either way, if you don’t know how to roll already, pick up the appropriate papers and a bag of tobacco and spend a lazy afternoon practicing. You can give your efforts to the cig smokers near you, they’ll be appreciative.
Just like all things “weed,” there are tons of paraphernalia options when it comes to papers. Something of interest to the concerned joint-lover—being that inhaling paper may not be particularly desirable—is the cellulose paper. These clear papers are apparently lung friendly, but are a bitch to roll with. In the same vein, be aware that the gummy strip on papers is an adhesive usually made from horses. Maybe because you don’t want to kill horses, or maybe just because you don’t want to smoke them, papers are available without. Your joints won’t suffer a bit.
A special offshoot of the joint is the blunt. A blunt is basically a big-ass joint rolled in a tobacco leaf instead of a paper. Blunts are freaking awesome on occasion and taste delicious but they tend to leave you with a strong case of the Itis.
The honey dutch is a popular variety and nothing is more iconic than the guts of a cigar, discarded appropriately in your waste bin. Blunt wraps occupy a middle ground between joints and true Southern Blunts.
The newest of all smoking devices is a vaporizer. A vape is any device that you smoke—with no smoke! Instead of combusting the leafy plant, vapes have a heating element that warms the ganja to the specific vaporization temperature of THC etc (see last week’s column), around 390 degrees. This means that the good stuff is literally lifted off the unburnt leaf for you to inhale. It is great for health reasons since you don’t inhale burnt plant matter. I love the high I gets off my vaporizer; since there’s no smoke, the high is much clearer and enjoyable. They are also great dorm room alternatives. Be advised: they do smell strongly while in the act, but the pungent pot vapor will not permeate clothing and dissipates much faster than actual smoke.
Be advised, there are lots of ins and out to vapes. For instance, you may have a favorite vape temperature setting. But this setting is only vaporizes the ingredients at and below this temperature, and while the major ingredients like THC vaporize a good bit cooler than combustion point, there are some chemicals that do not (see my last article to remind yourself weed is more than just THC). One option is to collect all of your brownish, vaped weed and cook with it.
Don’t forget about the steamrollers, pin-holled Hurricanes, Hookah-bongs, glass cigarettes, and poly-joint adapted vape-bong hybrid. But this is a Tufts publication and not High Times, so I’ll cool it. Of course, I haven’t even mentioned edibles...
It really is amazing how devices can change the experience. All the rituals of the bong are completely different than those of the joint and the highs reflect this. Even with the same strain of sweet Mary Jane, how you treat her matters. But this is one of those rare times when it really is “all good.” Rip from your Roor like Phelps while your buddy puffs on the apple pipe. Then swap. Or don’t. If you and yours want health, pick up a communal vaporizer and roll fatty spliffs when you feel like blowing smoke.
It’s all beautiful, like most things.
Now I’ve got Kush to vape. Hopefully you can fill in that mad lib too,
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Hi, I’m a pothead. It’s an odd thing to say, to admit and take responsibility for a drug habit, but I am one. I originally approached the editor with a pitch for this column because I think marijuana and the culture that surrounds it is no longer at the fringes of our society. It is no longer in jazz-dens and hippie communes. It’s in our homes, our schools, our lives.
The majority of Americans have tried it, and it’s easily available. Campus cops turn a blind eye to its use on certain days and many professors puff. Still, it is the white elephant in the room, a taboo that lead to the construction of a still expanding and, in my opinion, soon the be majority counter-culture.
Some consider my use, knowledge, and defense of marijuana despicable. Even the word ‘Tufts’ on my diploma wouldn’t get me a job with a respectable background-checking company. Because of this, many intelligent reefer-smokers have not come out and freely admitted to consuming a substance that has, historically, been present in almost every culture.
I’m going to avoid making claims like pot is less harmful than alcohol (it is) or throw out wild claims that elements of the drug war were being used as a cover for organized racism (they are and always have been).
Rather, I’m going to try in this column, to offer a window into a lot of the more intimate details that the members of the community who don’t consume illicit substances, or even those who don’t do them frequently, aren’t exposed to.
In later installments I will detail the campus culture surrounding the drug, and how the people for a large metropolitan area interact with it and one another. Instead, I will know tell you more about myself and my habit.
To qualify myself as a trustworthy source on such matters, let me describe my career as a drug user. I didn’t try smoking grass until 11th grade, and didn’t really begin using it with any frequency until the end of 12th grade and the summer before Tufts. I was always predisposed to it, a neurotic Woody Allen-esque child who thought too much for his own good (sound familiar, Tufts student body?).
As of now, I’ve probably smoked pot every day, except for a few days on vacation (when I couldn’t get it) and of course, Yom Kipur. I’ve toked with well over 300 other students since I came to Tufts, as well as two faculty members and the coach of a sports team.
I first began smoking consistently as a freshman. It was a social drug, perfect for the cool nights of late Fall. I was living within a mile radius of thousands of students who, just like me, were looking for a good time. Pockets of students tokin’ dotted campus every night, and I was amongst them. I made new friends and caught a buzz.
Pot quickly became more than just an icebreaker. It became a way to cope with the all of the day’s tedious peccadilloes towards me. Living in a tiny, cinderblock-walled dorm room can drive even the soberest of stoics to sparking one up. Pot relaxed me. It was, and still is, the main reason I smoke.
As the work and stress mounted during my first semester, so too did the smoke intake. I still did all the things that I would usually do: exercise, socialize, try to get laid, fail to get laid, and plan what to do in the future, but I smoked.
Here I am, a few years later, technically a criminal and working my way towards s degree from one of the best academic institutions in the world. Not too bad for a pothead.
My story is just one strand in a long strain of hybrids. Each member of the marijuana community, whether knowingly apart of it or not, has his or her own story. There are a lot of us here on campus, some smoke more, more smoke less, but we are here.
I think marijuana and its tag-along culture can harmoniously exist with the Tufts community. Look no further than the library roof for proof that it is becoming a drug of the masses, a new brand of cool made cool solely by the fact that there are squares that oppose it. We at Tufts are a strange bunch—we get our rocks off racking our brains over issues most people our age don’t care about. We ponder philosophy, program code, solve equations, analyze policy—and I think we’ve earned the right to spark.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
You can get empty vitamin gelcaps at a GNC or whole foods and some grocery stores/pharmacies. A turkey baster or pipet works well to fill them, or a small funnel. Another way to fill them is to freeze the butter in a shallow container, stick a pill-half open-side down in the butter, pull it out, and cap it; this method is messier but works if you don't have a baster/pipet. The butter/oil-filled pills freeze well and take up a lot less space in the freezer. They're also very discrete to carry around and eat. And you avoid the taste. Don't leave them in a hot car though because if they melt it's a mess. The only "downside" is you might have to take a handful to get effects (but that might just be my "cooking skills").
Or if you're super lazy, just freezing the butter and break off a chunk of whatever size you want to eat. You can't taste it much when it's frozen.
My first experience with butter was awful, which might bias me just a bit. The green was actually moldy (which was why I didn't want to inhale it. I know it was probably just penecillium, since it originated from an orange slice I put in my stash and left there for too long, but I didn't want to take the chance). We cooked it in the microwave in the communal kitchen at 3am. The next morning we put it on carmichael waffles with lots of chocolate pudding and maple syrup to hide the disgusting flavor -- it didn't work. It was so bad we were gagging and almost threw up. We had to pinch our noses shut it to keep it down, it tasted so awful. I've never had butter taste quite as bad as that first time, but I've never really enjoyed the taste either, even when disguised in baked goods (except for some top quality cupcakes I had in Amsterdam), which is why I started making pills. I bet if you mixed it with the right herbs it would be delicious though. And the flavor of hash on its own is actually quite good -- just pop a chunk in your mouth and suck, delish!
Monday, June 29, 2009
The first thing everyone needs to know about edibles is that you will only get as high as the weed you put in. I fucking hate when people complain about edibles, saying they didn't feel much. Then, when you ask them about it, they figure there might have been .1 or .2 grams in the brownie. If you want to be fucked up for a long time, put in at least a gram per serving. The only measure of how potent a brownie should be how much weed is in it.
The first step to any edible is to extract the active ingredients. For me, this means butter. Since I just made a batch using about 10 grams, my notes will be in reference that that, please scale accordingly.
Put 1 Stick of butter (1/2 cup) and a 1/2 cup of water in a pot and put it on simmer then add your weed. I don't like using more than a half ounce per stick of butter for the sake of space in the mixture. The pot should be ground as finely as possible; I use a coffee grinder. You want to leave the mixture simmering very lightly in the pot for about 2 hours. Make sure the water has all evaporated. At this point you can strain the mixture but I just leave the bud in there.
As a lazy stoner who doesn't want more than one pot to clean, I just add in the rest of my brownie ingredients into the same pot I used to make the butter. While it is still melted, add 1 cup of sugar and a splash of vanilla. Mix that together and then mix in 2 eggs. Sift together a half-cup of flour, a quarter to half a cup of cocoa powder (depending on how chocolate-y you want them), and a half teaspoon of baking powder. Stir everything together and add chopped nuts or bits of chocolate if you so desire.
That's it. Now just put them in a greased baking pan and let go for 25-35 minutes. Use less time if you're going to eat them right away and want a fudgie brownie. Use more time if you plan on storing them.
I let my brownies cook completely and once out of the over and cooled, I cut them and individually wrap them in foil before putting them all in a big freezer bag and putting that in the freezer. A pot brownie will keep in the freezer for a couple of months without losing potency. I like cutting them quite small so I can decide if I just want a little pick-me-up with one brownie or to be mega-stoned and take 2 or 6.
I hope this helps you out in your quest to make some baked goods and become baked yourself.
Peace, Love, and Brownies,
Thursday, June 25, 2009
He also makes a IV:XX shirt that's pretty solid. They're only $15 and can be purchased on the myspace page.
Peace, Love, and Bowls,
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009, introduced by Senator Jim Webb on March 26, 2009, will create a blue-ribbon commission charged with undertaking an 18-month, top-to-bottom review of our entire criminal justice system. Its task will be to propose concrete, wide ranging reforms designed to responsibly reduce the overall incarceration rate; improve federal and local responses to international and domestic gang violence; restructure our approach to drug policy; improve the treatment of mental illness; improve prison administration; and establish a system for reintegrating ex-offenders.
While I am wholly convinced that this commission will no doubt endorse marijuana's legalization, in most discussions pertaining to this bill, the legalization of marijuana has been carefully left out of the discussion, in fact, in the bill itself, marijuana is only mentioned once. Sec 2.10:
Despite high incarceration rates for drug-related offenses, illicit drug availability remains consistent. 86 percent of high school students report that it is `very easy' or `fairly easy' to obtain marijuana. 47 percent report the same for cocaine, 39 percent for crack, and 27 percent for heroin.
Instead the focus is on finding better ways to deal with non-violent offenders and cracking down on gangs. It doesn't take an anti-prohibitionist to realize that this is a roundabout way of ending the War on Drugs and replacing it with a sensible alternative. I'll be following this as it moves along.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
As much as I can piece it together from the various news stories, Justin Cosby, a 21 year-old from Cambridge was bringing a pound of weed to Kirkland House, a Harvard dorm, when he was allegedly ambushed by Jabrai Copney, Blayn Jiggetts, and a possible third assailant, all non-Harvard students from new York City. Copney's girlfriend, Brittany Smith, and her friend Chanequa Campbell, both seniors from NYC, were kicked off of campus the next day and Harvard has refused to allow either of them to graduate, claiming that both had a connection with the event.
There are many angles to look at this story from. I look back to my cover story from the Tufts Observer where I noted that five to ten pounds of weed came to Tufts every week. Assuming that Harvard consumes at about the same rate as Tufts, that's a marijuana market worth over 2 million dollars annually. It's not fucking pennies and it leaves easy opportunities for poorer students to make a bit of cash and party a bit like their wealthy friends do. It really is amazing that things like this shooting don't happen more often given the amount of money and drugs that are out there.... Oh wait, they do happen... all the time.... just not normally in a Harvard dorm.
Poor black kid dies so future world leaders can get high. Maybe that's a bit dramatic but I've been watching too much cable news.
Time to get high. My dealer's not dead,
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Houston is an incredible guy and I'm encouraged that he is the direct voice to elected officials of the marijuana legalization movement. I think everyone should take Houston's advice and contact your federal representative. Please, this is more important than you'd think.
Monday, June 1, 2009
There are around 17,000 deaths from illegal drugs each year. With less than half of 2008 over, over 22 billion dollars has already been spent in the War on Drugs. Now I’m stupid, but based on my calculations we’ve already spent more than a million dollars for every person who will die this year because of illicit drug use.
Anyways, now that I've lazily updated this blog, I'm gonna go smoke a bit of a pot-hash salad out a Toro.
Friday, May 22, 2009
I sent a thank you message to Steve Cohen, you can do the same here. Please do this, if politicians begin to see a ton of positive responses to anything they do opposing the drug war, it'll be over a lot sooner.
Don't Stop Believing,
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
COED Magazine has just come out with a pretty funny article on 24 types of pot smokers. I found most of the descriptions, allowing for journalistic hyperbole, to be pretty accurate. My favorites were:
The ADHD Kid
Signature smoking method: Steamroller
He stopped taking his Ritalin a long time ago because it made him feel dead inside. But then he was a total spaz. So to keep himself from jumping around like a psychotic banshee, he started smoking weed. After a few hits, the smoke calms him down to a level of energy just above the average person. Which is good, because if it didn’t, he’d have no friends.
The Gen-X Parents
Signature smoking method: Brownies
Deep down, these people are cynical and pissed off. In their spare time, they do yoga and attend wellness seminars and have the worst children on the planet – I mean real sh!theads. They work at ad agencies and have time shares and generally suck to hang out with. But you know what the perfect cure for all that is, don’t you? Yep, it’s weed. High five!
Signature smoking method: Dutchie, peach/grape blunt
No matter the The Ghetto Kid’s race or where he’s from, when he gets high, nine times out of ten, he’ll throw on a beat and start freestyling for hours, until it’s so boring you can’t even have fun smoking pot anymore. And when he’s not doing that, he complains about anything that’s pissed him off within the previous 36 hours, then shrugs it off like it’s nothing. And after all that, he’s still one of the best people to smoke with, ever.
Signature smoking method: Anything that works
The first way to know that weed is not a real drug is by seeing someone who’s taken real drugs after a real binger. And since coming down off of drugs like heroin, meth, etc is about as fun as trying to screw a pillow case filled with broken beer bottles, the only good thing to stave off the nausea, headaches and all-around suckitude, is a few quick hits and a room without light. Now, when has anyone ever had to do that with weed?…
Check out the article for the rest. I'd like to think I'm a mix of the connoisseur, the professional, and the true stoner (there was no activist one, but to be perfectly honest, most of the activists I've met are more often 'true stoners' and rarely eloquent writers and orators, which I, of course, am.)
Monday, May 4, 2009
I've made it no secret that my favorite source of information and opinion for the War on Drugs is Radley Balko, who writes The Agitator blog. His latest post (Talking about a Cato Institute study on Portugal's Decriminalization which is on it's own an amazing read) contained three paragraphs that mirror my ideas and are written so much better than anything I could spew out, that I had to to share them.
"Generally speaking, anyone who claims to know for certain what would happen if America were to legalize drugs tomorrow is spewing nonsense. We’ve had some form of prohibition in this country for 100 years. No one knows exactly what will happen.
"That’s why I favor a federalist approach. There are sound Ninth Amendment arguments for finding an actual constitutional right to control what you put into your body. That’s never going to happen. And even if it did, I’d be afraid the change would be too sudden and drastic for much of the country. Instead, just end the drug war at the federal level. A federalist approach would let states and, preferably, localities formulate their own policies. You’d have little Amsterdams, Portugals, and Switzerlands, and you’d also have little Utahs, Louisianas, and Georgias. You’d probably have some cities that completely legalize. And you’d have places, probably entire states, that don’t change a thing.
"We’d then have lots of models to look at and analyze. And people for whom this is an important issue could then vote with their feet, and move to jurisdictions with drug laws that reflect their own values."
Saturday, May 2, 2009
"I would hope it would send a message to students that if you are selling drugs, there is a good chance you're going to get caught," Acree said. He said officers had investigated campus drug dealing, through undercover purchases and other methods, since the fall semester.
Police seized 180 grams of marijuana, traces of cocaine, anti-anxiety pills, $3,100, two vehicles, three flat-screen televisions and two laptop computers, Acree said.
Most of the arrests were on suspicion of manufacturing and delivering marijuana, Acree said. The students could face disciplinary action, including possible expulsion from the university, said U. of I. spokeswoman Robin Kaler.
180 grams of marijuana... That's about 6 ounces... That is what a dozen decent pot smokers could put away in a week. That's about the amount of marijuana that got onto the cover page of the 4/20 Tufts Observer.
Note: This is the full version of the image on page 3, I don't have the cover on my computer.
I think cops are just trying to justify their existence. This lengthy investigation (I wonder how much that cost the school?) benefits nobody. Trust of police and administration will go significantly down amongst the pot smoking students (which is probably between a third and half of them). With this bust, new dealers will swoop in next year to fill the demand as always happens, making them criminals and potentially giving them the means to become addicts.
I hope most of these kids can get off without a criminal record. I also hope all the students who are friends with these kids, or bought weed off of them, or are just offended that the university spent a year investigating this NEVER give money to the school because that's where the schools feel it.
Anyways, I got my finals to work on. Hopefully I can get through it without dealing with bullshit like this.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Tufts: Clearing the Smoke Surrounding the Cannabis Economy
Editors’ Note: Reggie Hubbard is a pseudonym employed by Tufts students and marijuana users who, in order to protect their identity, request to remain anonymous. Reggie writes a weekly alternative culture column that explores and reports on issues and stories concerning marijuana.
BY “REGGIE HUBBARD”
Many of the facts presented in this article were gleaned from interviews with regular marijuana users and sellers on this campus. Due to the illegal nature of what is contained, every effort has been made to protect the identities of everyone involved. Many people will object to the way that I have presented information. In order to address such objections and to facilitate dialogue, I will answer all questions e-mailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and posted on my blog: http://reggiehubbard.blogspot.com. Please be aware that responses will be posted on the blog.
Depending on whom you ask, there are five to ten pounds of marijuana smoked at Tufts every week. At an average of $60 per eighth (3.5g), that’s somewhere between $38,400 and $76,800 of retail-priced marijuana consumed on this campus every week. At a price ranging from $300-$400 per ounce when brought onto the campus, this leaves around $15,000 or over two pounds of marijuana in profits to those who sell cannabis on or around campus.
Over the last two months, I have been gathering this and other data. I’ve met and interviewed all manner of people involved in the Tufts marijuana market, from the freshman consumers to small-time dealers, all the way up to three individuals who were once or are currently responsible for the importation of pounds into the campus sphere. These people agreed to talk to me because they trust me.
The sizeable margin of error in my estimate comes from the secrecy and uncertainty that inherently accompanies any black market good. A similar uncertainty obscures national marijuana figures too, which are made on the highly questionable assumption that the government stops five to ten percent of all cannabis before it can reach users, resulting in an estimated 500 thousand to one million pounds per week of US habit. You can doubt the words of dealers, but it’s bound to be better than the government’s estimation of its own efficiency. The ability to guess the size of what many consider to be America’s largest cash crop is so imprecise that the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) 2009 National Drug Threat Assessment admits, “No reliable estimates are available regarding the amount of domestically-cultivated or processed marijuana.”
Still, the Tufts campus numbers may seem a little high, but considering that we are a top-tier, New England university with a sizeable concentration of wealthy students in a state that just reduced cannabis possession to the severity of a parking ticket, that half gram of herb per undergrad per week seems a lot more reasonable.
The marijuana community is really a collection of overlapping social groups, within which there is plenty of marijuana smoking and, when you really think about it, a lot of trust. In almost every social group, whether based on a sports team, fraternity or sorority, club, dorm, acting troupe, or just an assemblage of friends, there are bound to be a fair amount of pot smokers, and, like anybody who shares a habit, they bond and form cliques. It’s no different than the way in which the heaviest drinkers, gamers, or cyclists find one another in the midst of a larger social milieu.
No stoner is an island—every extended stoner group knows a “guy” or two. Regardless of whether you help a buddy obtain the phone number of said “guy,” or you pick up O’s to split amongst friends, this is drug trafficking. In the college bubble however, the lines between helping out a friend, distributing, and dealing get blurred and forgotten. Eddie Einbinder, author of How To Have Fun And Not Die, notes, “It’s always the kid starts dealing pot because he’s buying too many eighths a week, realizes why aren’t we buying an ounce and just smoke for free and maybe make some cash.”
Of course, sometimes people plan on selling drugs.
Frank had an ambitious plan of making $50,000 by selling weed all throughout college. Jake wanted to pay off his own toking habit that he picked up senior year in high school and if the alcohol bills got covered too, all the better. Frank told me that that he estimates at least 15 lbs. per week were coming in back then; he was responsible for distributing five of them. Weed then was markedly worse, selling for $35 or $40 per eighth, which probably explains the hike in the amount circulating. Jake stopped selling when he came back for his sophomore year and made the decision to stop smoking; when he tokes up these days, he pays with clean money. Frank made $20,000 his freshman year. Things got sketchy and he called it quits while he was (way) ahead.
The obvious question for people like Frank—students bringing enormous quantities of cannabis onto campus—is, where do they get it and whom do they get it from? It comforts me that there is no single answer to this question. Marijuana seems to sprout from just about everywhere: ex-hippies who have sold to Tufts kids since the 1970’s, young townies, people in Vermont, Maine, New York, Western Mass. And various people associated with serious Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs as the DOJ calls them).
The wide range of sources for marijuana is one of the facets of the trade that interests me personally. Today, the majority of crops originate from a handful of operations that disseminate via standardized shipping routes. In fact, the five plants per person limit in place in the Netherlands coupled with the majority of consumption by tourists has resulted in an illegal international trade of highest-grade herb from North Africa. Even in Amsterdam, reefer has illegal roots.
The fertility of the pot market is one of the main reasons Pat Buchanan is now a fan of legalization. “There are two sure ways to end this war swiftly: Milton’s way and Mao’s way,” he comments, “Americans are never going to adopt the Maoist solution. For the users of drugs are all too often classmates, colleagues, friends, even family. Indeed, our last three presidents did not deny using drugs.”
“I make money because I have a connection.”
Anyone interested in selling marijuana needs three things: capital, a scale, and somebody who trusts them enough to sell them some grass.
I might point out that not a single person I spoke to has sold marijuana consistently for two years straight. One might assume this trend is due to high-risk stresses on cats like Frank, but small-timers fluctuate in and out of the market depending on schedules, availability, social situation, and the need for weed. At another point on the spectrum is Hank, a junior who is friends with someone who sells ounces. Once every week or two Hank will pick up a bag and weigh out six eighths that he gets rid of over that time period.
Still, the market for pot faces natural shocks like any other, most often at the beginning of semesters. This January, as often happens, many of the big distributors decided to stop dealing without passing on their connections to the next generation. This left a void in supply and high demand. Within weeks, many entrepreneurs, freshmen and sophomores especially, were arranging to bring in small amounts ranging from an ounce to a quarter pound. This recent shock also had the effect of escalating the acceptable price range towards a very heady $60 to $70 an eighth.
I have witnessed the distribution of three pounds in twelve hours following atwo-day drought. The pot market is a well connected, grassroots network.
This is why part-time smokers can transition into big-time sellers overnight when they run into special, one-time deals. In February, in the midst of the high-quality headies-only market, Jim—a sophomore who doesn’t normally sell marijuana was offered a half-pound of mid-grade marijuana from a local friend for $1000 ($15.63/eighth). In no time, Jim had nothing but a thousand dollars profit and a batch of weed brownies to show for it.
Most dealers are motivated by the prospect of free marijuana. John, asenior, claims that he doesn’t make a dollar from selling weed, although he manages to provide up to a quarter pound a week. John smokes weed for free. But, being the philanthropist that Tufts expects him to be, he estimates that he inhales no more than a third of his personal ganja since he shares generously with friends and visitors to his merry abode. Perhaps unsurprisingly, of all the dealers I spoke to, John seemed the happiest to be selling weed. He truly loves it and being an upperclassman, doesn’t live with the fear of repercussions that often come from being involved with freshmen or other loose-lipped souls. John began dealing only this past year during a lull in October when he had a friend who moved to the area. John’s lack of business motivations is driven by his love for the good herb and his humble understanding that he, too, can only “smoke everyday for free because [he] knows somebody.”
Others who sell larger amounts are inspired by the need to pay for other drugs or alcohol. As Jake put it, “the black market is incestuous.” Most of the profits from the pot trade pay for marijuana, but, for thosewho can make greater profits, marijuana sales can pay for more expensive drugs like cocaine, opiates, and all sorts of prescription pills I never bothered to learn about.
Some people sell marijuana as a full time job; Bryan sells between a QP (quarter pound) and HP (half pound) a week in eighths and quarters to maximize profit. Hepays for the rent of his off-campus apartment with the proceeds and is still left with some spending money. But dedicated involvement takes up time. “You gotta answer phone calls, and you gotta be available,” Bryan told me, “Stoners have no loyalty, they’ll go to whoever can get them weed.” Still, that work ethic pays off; the day before I interviewed him, Bryan made an easy $100 in an hour by walking down College Ave.
One motivation that is not usually noticed by dealers until they have been actively selling for a long time is the improved sense of business acumen. Running any business is tough, but running one in which you must negotiate marketability with privacy, profit with friendship, and potiquette with The Law, is as tough as it gets. Without question, I would trust an ex-reefer jockey as my banker over some quantitative economics major who might just cause the 2037 interplanetary financial meltdown.
What I call pot dealers, Jack Cole, a 26- year veteran officer who spent years as an undercover narcotics agent before becoming founder and Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), calls “accommodating friends.” Still, for participating in the market, if caught, they could face prison time or at the very least expulsion, a permanent note on any school records, and a news story outing them on the eternal Google machine.
Jack Cole and the others at LEAP have a saying: “You can get over an addiction but you can’t get over a conviction.” What former Lt. Cole is saying is that it is possible to get over an awful addiction, but, once the legal system has you at all, they have you by the short and curlies. It’s why most schools already know better than to turn over students to the actual police for drug offenses. In school, it is much cleaner and easier to deal with such situations than if lawyers get involved and a student is left with a criminal record that might prevent them from getting a job (and eventually donating money back to their alma matter). It’s also a lot easier for a school to not have to defend a possibly illegal search if the only punishment is expulsion.
Even if Johnny Q. Law doesn’t get involved, punishment in the drug market can affect a student irrevocably. Even for very minor dealing, most schools will expel a student. But an equal or greater danger is campus media coverage and, as I have mentioned, Google. The Daily, reporting on an incident in September, printed the names of three students. Those three people, barring a change in name, will forever turn up on the Internet as drug dealers. For allegedly providing a commonly traded and appreciated good and due to journalistic indiscretion, these three have been branded.
The probability of getting caught grows with time as more and more people smoke the original dealer’s weed and as his name become casually (and mythically) associated. Bryan notes, “You can’t get your name out of people’s mouths 100%.” This is why any time Bryan takes on a new client, he asks: “If you’re caught and the cops say ‘just tell us where you got it and you can go.’ What do you say?” A wrong answer means you might not even get to know Bryan’s name (hint: it’s not Bryan.) Bryan also doesn’t sell to girls most of the time because, sadly, “girls talk too much.”
As mentioned briefly above, marijuana sales often fund “harder” drug habits. Aaron Houston, the only full-time marijuana lobbyist in Washington comments, “When you have the black market, there’s encouragement to engage in other black market activities.” Eddie Einbinder adds to this, noting, “College kids can get rich and that could possibly lead to other problems with drug abuse.”
This happens at Tufts. One dealer, who funds his Oxycontin habit with pot sales, confided in me that, like himself, some dealers fund and nurture harder drug habits. Even barring new experimentation, the ability to be high 24/7 for free allows many dealer to go through college in a stoned haze.
What I have described happens on every college campus in this country (perhaps barring military academies and a dozen special cases). Those who fear for the well-being of the Tufts student body should console themselves with the knowledge that what transpires here is more muted and less dangerous than the goings on at many schools. Also, for most students here, drug use gets no more extreme than reefer or maybe the once-a-year psychedelic.
The demand for marijuana by students will continue to drive massive amounts of the population towards drug dealing. By DEA estimates, 900,000 teenagers in America are selling drugs (so juniors and seniors aren’t included).
This article comes out on April 20th, 4/20: the unofficial holiday that we stoners have claimed as our own. Today, at least half of the undergrads here and at schools across the nations will spend the day smoking weed and hanging out in massive, extended acts of illegal protest. All this pot came from somewhere in the US, Canada, or Mexico, from loving home growers and industrial scale grow “ops.” For most of us, the sack in hand will have gone through five or six intermediaries, the last two of which were probably fellow students.
The government is, in their own words, at “War” with you. No one is benefitting, and a vanishingly small few continue to support such as war. Still, the pot you might smoke to celebrate 4/20 is illegal.
If you are so inclined, go out today, smoke some civil disobedience and keep supporting change we can breathe in.
Peace, Love, and Bowls,