Tuesday, February 24, 2009

From California: Hope

On Monday, California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano introduced a bill to legalize marijuana in the state.

From the LA Times:
Buoyed by the widely held belief that cannabis is California's biggest cash crop, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano contends it is time to reap some state revenue from that harvest while putting a damper on drug use by teens, cutting police costs and even helping Mother Nature. "I know the jokes are going to be coming, but this is not a frivolous issue," said Ammiano, a Democrat elected in November after more than a dozen years as a San Francisco supervisor. "California always takes the lead -- on gay marriage, the sanctuary movement, medical marijuana."


Ammiano's measure, AB 390, would essentially replicate the regulatory structure used for beer, wine and hard liquor, with taxed sales barred to anyone under 21.
He said it would actually boost public safety, keeping law enforcement focused on more serious crimes while keeping marijuana away from teenagers who can readily purchase black-market pot from peers. The natural world would benefit, too, from the uprooting of environmentally destructive backcountry pot plantations that denude fragile ecosystems, Ammiano said. But the biggest boon might be to the bottom line. By some estimates, California's pot crop is a $14-billion industry, putting it above vegetables ($5.7 billion) and grapes ($2.6 billion). If so, that could mean upward of $1 billion in tax revenue for the state each year.

Not only that but the New Jersey state senate just approved a bill approving of medical marijuana.

Rock On Contest Winner,

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Support for Legalization is Growing

From Gallup:

Since the late 1960s, Gallup has periodically asked Americans whether the use of marijuana should be made legal in the United States. Although a majority of Americans have consistently opposed the idea of legalizing marijuana, public support has slowly increased over the years

Coming from one of this biggest Polling companies on the planet, this is big news. Just last week, a Zogby poll, commissioned by California's NORML and Oaksterdam University, found that 44% of the country wants marijuana "taxed and regulated like alcohol and cigarettes."

It is interesting to point out that the difference between the two questions could explain some of the disparity. When people with no preconceptions are asked point blank about legalization, they say no. Given a question that implies taxation and regulation, many people change their choice to yes. This is why it is so damned important to bring back the legalization debate. We are in a state or absolute fear.

Breakdowns of the Gallup Poll by age and gender yield few surprises. Old Women hate weed and young men are in a near split. So in a worst case scenario, weed will be legal once the pre-hippy generations finally die.

Breakdown by region also gives expected results with the West split in a dead heat, the East close behind and the Midwest and South still very opposed.

The one worthwhile breakdown is that the political group with the most support for legalization is independents. Given that trends show support will only increase, support for marijuana legalization could wind up winning some tight races in 2010, 2012 and beyond.

This gives me hope.
By April 20, 2013, I'll be legally puffing a joint. Hopefully sooner.

Always remember there's beauty everywhere,

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Misdemeanor Pot Charge... Send SWAT

Remember how $4,000,000,000 of the bailout is going to go to police organizations.

Yeah, that's why this story scares the shit out of me. From an e-mail sent to Radley Balko:

I am a 45 year old mother of 3 boys ages 12, 18 and 22. I reside inn Carroll County, MD. I have been a federal employee for 17 years. My husband has been employed…with a local firm for over 27 years. Although my husband had some very minor law infractions back in the early 1980’s (traffic violations), since that time he has never been arrested for any criminal violation. I myself have never had any type of criminal violation and have had one traffic violation (driving 10 miles over) in over 20 years of driving.

On October 3, 2006 my oldest son was involved in a traffic stop and arrested on a misdemeanor marijuana charge. Just about a year later on September 30, 2007 my son was again stopped and arrested for a misdemeanor marijuana violation. I was present in court on January 4, 2008 when he plead guilty and paid a $350 fine. At about 3:30 a.m.on January 10, 2008 approximately 16 Swat Team Members of the Maryland State Police entered our home with force with M-16s at the ready. Please note that we are the only county in Maryland that does not have a county police department. While the M-16s were drawn they handcuffed four of us (my oldest son has been living with his girlfriend for sometime now) this includes my 12 year old son. After reviewing the search warrant I was horrified to realize these “hut-hut”men came in with M-16s in the middle of the night because my son had been arrested for a misdemeanor marijuana charge. The affidavit filed for the search warrant stated that” it had been the officer’s experience that persons who are arrested with illegal drugs continued to use, abuse and/or distribute illegal drugs”. This was the probable cause. The affidavit also indicated that other than my oldest son, no person living in our home had any prior criminal history.

I would like to provide you with more details but the bottom line is that they did find small amount of marijuana in our downstairs basement and confiscated a shotgun that my husband had since he was 18 years old. The gun has never even been fired. The two of us, my husband and myself, were taken to the local barracks and held for over 8 hours without being read our rights or being granted a phone call.

We have since learned that over 100 of these warrants have been issued by the judges here in Carroll County during the past year. Apparently if your son or daughter is arrested with even a trace of marijuana in Carroll County, they will follow up and issue a warrant based on one officer’s belief that the person will abuse the drug again. We have now heard horror stories of other families just like ours that have also been traumatized in much the same way….

The state’s attorney has contacted our attorney….and indicated they will be dropping all charges against me and they would be willing to drop all charges against my husband if he agreed to an out patient type drug program. Please understand that acting as a father first my husband told the cops that anything they found in our home was his regardless of where it was found. We have decided not to agree to this because we believe this is no longer about us. This is about the next family that is terrorized in this way. This is about an innocent person that could be killed the next time for a misdemeanor pot charge. We go over and over what could have happened. We feel blessed that it didn’t. But we feel a duty to make sure our feelings are known.

I hope you look into what is going on here in Carroll County. I’m beginning to believe that we live in a police state.

Scared yet? I've been scared for a long time.

Love (because that's one thing they can't take from us),

Monday, February 16, 2009

An Open Letter To Barack Obama

My most recent column in the Tufts Observer:

Dear President Obama,

I know you probably get tons letter from journalists and bloggers offering advice on what to do now that you’re the President of the United States (or POTUS). But may I suggest you listen, just for a second to the suggestion of a cannabis columnist from the heart of American Academia.

As I’m sure you recall, the first time your transition website (Change.gov) asked your constituents for the questions that matters to them, the most voted for question was: “Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S?”

And they responded: “President-elect Obama is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana.”

With the mounting economic, medical and legal burden of reason on our side, cannabis users were left aghast. The brevity of that response, 85% shorter than your average, was a slap in the face and a dismissal of the important dialogue now decades overdue. As NORML deputy director, Paul Armentano, recently wrote, “Marijuana law reform should no longer be viewed by legislators a political liability. For the incoming administration and for Congress, it is a political opportunity.” And might I also remind you that, in every state in which propositions to loosen cannabis laws were on the ballot this year, every one of those propositions received a higher voter percentage that did you in presidential election.

Minutes after taking the oath for the presidency, you said, “The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works… Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account.”

I struggle to find a collection of government programs that work less and waste more money than the War on Drugs. Still, I’m not going to ask you, the president, to begin campaigning for changes in marijuana laws. That would be ridiculous; you have more than enough issues to contend with. I’m asking you to re-open discussion of drug laws, especially those concerning cannabis. After all, there was enough time and money to investigate steroid use in Major League baseball. If we have the resources to snoop pastimes and games, surely there is enough to give a thorough investigation

Recall that a conservative estimate for the annual budget of the War on Drugs is 50 billion dollars. That means there is a Bernie Madoff size loss every year; wasted on a never-ending war with ill-defined metrics for success, empty-worded goals and no end in sight. And just as the invasion of Iraq helped Americas enemies in Iran and Venezuela, so too has the American Drug was provided increased profits and subterranean power for organizations whose interests are inherently opposed to American interests like the Taliban, Mexican drug cartels, and the sinister Canadian pot growers. Surely this topic deserves a little congressional investigation. You may find, not an outcry of horror, but rather a sigh of relief, a flood of recovered funds when we need them most, and an end to hypocrisy.

You’ve made no secret of the fact that you inhaled (and snorted). It wasn’t even a major election issue that you took part in an activity that, if caught (especially as a black man), almost certainly would have gotten you arrested and prevented you from even beginning you tremendous rise to be our 44th president.

I hope you get to read this Mr. President. I hope you get to take a moment to look at the facts instead of the propaganda manufactured by the DEA, FDA, and other government agencies that profit off of the ongoing drug war. I hope you can see past the politics and the antiquated prejudices and see to it that this issue gets a fair look.

Best of luck running the country, you’ll need it.

Peace, Love, and Bowls,
Lonny Reginald “Reggie” Hubbard

Perhaps One Nice Benefit of Drug Prohibition

It turns out that maybe, just maybe, drug prohibition is good for the world. I, of course, don't mean that it is good at keeping people from drugs but rather it is good because it just might be the largest source of liquid capital keeping many banks afloat right now.

From Reuters:
The United Nations' crime and drug watchdog has indications that money made in illicit drug trade has been used to keep banks afloat in the global financial crisis, its head was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Vienna-based UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said in an interview released by Austrian weekly Profil that drug money often became the only available capital when the crisis spiralled out of control last year.

"In many instances, drug money is currently the only liquid investment capital," Costa was quoted as saying by Profil. "In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system's main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor."

Keep Reading Here

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Horror! The Terror! The Evil! Reefer Madness

An Older Article from the November 2008 Tufts Observer.

What’s the worst thing about the war on marijuana? It’s not that I can’t smoke because of it; I’m able to find weed pretty much everywhere I go without even looking too damn hard. The worst thing about the war on drugs, for me at least, is its creation of an unjust contempt for the legal system and the people who are a part of it.

I shouldn’t hate the police. I’m a white, upper-middle class student who obeys every law, except the occasional parking ticket… and the whole weed thing. Any decent society would probably embrace me as an example for the masses of how to abide by the rules.

Unfortunately, however, that’s obviously not the case. A lot of time and effort (and money, lots and lots of money) have been put in by law enforcement agencies to villify and eradicate my drug of choice. As a result, I’m scared of the police and have grown to feel nothing but disdain for them.

Of course my story is still a happy one (knock on wood for me). I have yet to have any serious confrontation with a police officer, aside from a minor brush in with a rather portly Somerville fuzz who told me that my disrespect was the reason he “was going to go home and choke [his] wife.”

I am the majority; the dope toker who has never been forced to grab his ankles by the system. But many have. The two cases I often point to are those of Cory Maye and Ryan Frederick.

On the surface, these men have little in common. Cory is a poor black single father from Mississippi who worked hard to get himself and his daughter out of the slum they were living in and into a better, safer neighborhood. Ryan is a white guy from Chesapeake, VA who was an avid gardener and worked for a soft drink merchandiser.

In early 2001, Cory Maye was at home with his infant daughter when a group of men burst through his front door. Maye rushed to his bedroom and loaded a legal, registered pistol he kept in the house for protection. He then ran into his daughter’s bedroom, were he hid with her in a corner. One of the men then kicked in the door to the room, and was shot by Maye.

The man who burst into the room was a police officer, and he died. He was serving a no-knock warrant on the wrong apartment in a duplex. Corey Maye was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. The death sentence was overturned, but he will rot for life in a Mississippi prison. His daughter was turned over to the state.

Ryan Fredrick was sleeping in the back of his house when a drug enforcement task force kicked in his door. A burglar broke into his house a few days ago; the criminal was later caught and made a deal with the police. He told them that Fredrick was growing marijuana plants in his home, and that he had seen them when he broke into the house.

As the SWAT team worked through the house, Fredrick shot one man through a door, killing the officer. The task force then found the grow-room. It was filled with Japanese ferns. Fredrick is being held without bail on first-degree murder charges. If guilty, he’ll clink in the stir for 25 to life, if they don’t course potassium chloride through his veins instead.

Anti-reefer advocates say that no-knock raids are necessary in order to prevent destruction of evidence. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a pound of marijuana (if you haven’t it’s beautiful and stinks up a room really nicely for hours), but it would be damn near impossible to get rid of a pound or even a couple ounces in a panicked rush. I can’t say the same thing of quantities of pills or powders which are small, scent-free and easily hidden or disposed, quite possibly a reason for their growing popularity with the youth these days.

I have a different hypothesis for the no-knock raid. Over 90% of cities with more than 50,000 people in them have a SWAT team, a SWAT team that requires training and funding that might all go to waste if it’s not used. Of course, these cops-with-slightly-better-guns would never go after dangerous gangs, but overblown raids on soft targets like pot-pushers seems like a nice way of justifying all that extra funding.

Of course, there’s never any punishment, at least not against the police who are on the raid and bust into the wrong houses, or the misinformed judges who sign off on warrants.

There are internal reviews, but they function as less of a check of power and more as a public relations stunt. A SWAT team raided the house of the mayor of Berwyn Heights, MD, Cheye Calvo, and shot his two black labs. Of course, the internal review concluded the officers had acted properly.

These incidents are normally reviewed internally and all too often all parties are found to have done their jobs properly despite some horrific outcomes. Even if someone was found to be at fault, there are comparative slaps on the wrist only reached after years of bureaucratic bullshit.

How is it that a judge who approves a warrant for a raid on an innocent man’s home is not held accountable? How can that judge be allowed to go back to work the next day to continue to make these decisions? Note that I only mentioned cop killers; there are dozens of 100% completely innocent people killed “accidentally” by police in their war (for the only story where justice has been even close to served, google Kathryn Johnston).

I bring these stories up to show the horrific incidences that happen to law-abiding citizens in the name of combating a weed in which the only argument ever given by any of the pathetic politicians, or district attornies or police officers is that it will send a bad message to children. Speaking of agents of the government benefiting from this worthless war, the group that donated the most money to oppose a California law that would have resulted in more rehabilitation programs instead of prison time for drug offenders was the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (i.e. prison guards).

All is not lost on the quiet front of the drug war. Hunkering down in the trenches with us is Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group with many thousands of current and former police officers who have seen and been on the front lines of the government’s war. They’ve got their heads on straight, but I’m off to get mine twisted.

A Zen quote courtesy of Jimmy Carter: “Penalties against drug use should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against the possession of marijuana in private for personal use.”

Love, or at least a pot-induced feeling of affection,

Thursday, February 12, 2009

If Only The People In Power Would Say These Things

From Bloomberg:
"Former presidents of Brazil, Mexico and Colombia said the U.S.-led war on drugs has failed and urged President
Barack Obama to consider new policies, including decriminalizing marijuana, and to treat drug use as a public health problem.

The recommendations by former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, along with Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and Cesar Gaviria of Colombia, were made in a report today by the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy."

Amazing Honesty from some of these former politicians:

“It makes no sense to continue a policy on moral grounds without getting the desired results,” said Gaviria, citing an October report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office showing drug reduction goals in Colombia have not been met. “Obama, being a pragmatist, should recognize these failures.”

“We need to break the taboo that’s blocking an honest debate,” Cardoso said at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro to present the report. “Numerous scientific studies show that the damage caused by marijuana is similar to that of alcohol or tobacco.”

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Lenny Bruce: Jury Deliberation - A Screenplay

From the book: The Almost Unpublish Lenny Bruce.

Lenny Bruce should be a hero to every fan of comedy and every pothead everywhere. An inspiration to George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Tommy Chong, and just about every decent comedian since.

Lenny was one of the first advocates of marijuana legalization and one of the great unrecognized martyrs in the fight for free speech. He often spoke out about the absurdity of keeping marijuana illegal in his shows. For his views on reefer and other anti-government opinions, along with his incredible use of profanity, Lenny was continuous tormented by government authorities for years, pushing him to harder drugs to cope. Lenny died of an overdose in 1966. Playboy ran an obituary: "One last four-letter word for Lenny: Dead. At forty. That's obscene."

This skit, written sometime before his death, points to the hypocrisy of banning pot while at the same time allowing and even encouraging mind-altering pills as long as they are recommended or prescribed by a doctor... the man was forty years ahead of all of us.

Note: This was copied directly from the book without permission and for that, I apologize. 

Jury Deliberation

(The State requestsmaximum sentence for the accused, charged with possession of marijuana.)


Your Honor, I make a motion that the Prosecutor’s statement, “Was involved and did encourage others to partake in this immoral, degenrate practice” be stricken from the record. The word “immoral” is entirely subjective and not specific.


Objection Overrules. Existing statutes give this word in the context used, legal credence. Can counsellor refer to an existing statute that labels marijuana users moralists?


Which moralist are we using as criteria – Sherman Adams, Bernard Goldfine, Earl Long, Mayor Jimmy Walker, Huey Long, William O’Dwyer? Or does Court refer to moralists that violated Federal law: segregationists, traitorous anarchists who have given ambiguity to the aphorism “Of the people, for the people, by the people”? … or the moralists that flouted Federal law; the bootleg coffers flowing with billions, illegal whiskey drunk by millions… A moral standard that gives mass criminal rebellion absolution? And in the realm of the subject, the Defense requests that the six men on this jury be disqualified on the grounds of unfitness.


Can the Public Defender qualify this charge?


The Defense submmits these qualitative and quantitative documents in answer to the Court’s query.

reads the documents aloud)

“…And these six jurors have sworn in the presence of a Notary that their daily alcoholic consummation, martinis for lunch and Manhattans before dinner, totals and average of a half pint per day. Jurists also stated motivation for drinking: ‘Gives me a lift.’ ‘Need a boost once in a while.’ ‘After a frustrating day at the office a couple of belts lifts me out of the dumps.’” I fail to see the merit in your plea to disqualify. What is your point, succinctly?


“The Mount of Olives” has disappeared in the moral martini. One cannot cast the first stone… if already stoned.



You know, I was thinking, that Public Defender was right. A crutch is a crutch, no matter if it is made of wood or aluminum.


A couple of those jurors gave me the creeps anyway. The one with the thick fingers looked like a real moron.


And the other one with those sneaky eyes…  I can always tell a person’s character by their eyes.


To serve on a juy in a civil case is easy but when you’re dealing with drug addicts, it’s rough. This damn jury duty has me a nervous wreck. I had to take five sleeping pills to get some rest last night. You build up a tolerance to the damn things so quick. I feel miserably today… I’m really draggin’.


Here, take one of these Dexies.


What are they for?


They’re amphetamine, Dexedrine spansules. My doctor gave the to me for depression and fatigue. They really give you a lift. I take them all the time, except when it’s “my time,” then I take Demerol.

rummaging through her purse and producing a handful of pills: )

Do you know what these red and white ones are? My neighbor’s doctor gave them to her to try out. They’re supposed to be for nerves. Better than Miltowns.


Oh, these are Deprol. Umm, no… wait a minute… I think they’re Phenobarbs.

(An ELDERLY WOMAN JUROR, silent until now, turns and speaks: )


Come on, Ladies. We need a verdict. What are we going t do with this man?


Oh, yes… the dope addict. How does a person sink that low?

Love, always love,


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Kellogg to Drop Phelps

It appears that I'm going to need to find a new cereal to eat when I get high other than Fruit Loops and Mini Wheats.

From the Washington Post:

"Cereal and snack maker Kellogg Co. said it won't renew its sponsorship contract with Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps because of a photo that showed him inhaling from a marijuana pipe.

The Battle Creek, Mich.-based company said Thursday that Phelps's behavior caught on camera and published Sunday in the British tabloid News of the World is "not consistent with the image of Kellogg."

I love the smell of horseshit in the morning.

Considering that Kellogg makes millions fattening kids up with sugary cereals, it's nice to see them taking a moral stand. Oh well, they just lost me as a customer. Fuck it, I love Honey Nut Cheerios too. Even better is Honey Nut Cheerios with honey dripped on top... but now I'm indulging in stoned food fantasies... time to get stoned and eat some cheerios. Congrats General Mills.

Spill the wine, take that girl,
Spill the wine, take that bowl,

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Best Summary of Marijuana Policy in One Sentence

From Reddit user slabgorb:

"Any law that if immediately fully enforced (everyone that broke the law magically all went to jail) would cause society to immediately break down may need to be rethought."

Ryan Frederick Guilty of Voluntary Manslaughter

He was also convicted of posession of Marijuana.

Check out the coverage from Radley Balko and The Virginia Pilot.

This sentence carries a maximum of 10 years plus a max of one year for a possession of marijuana charge.

I'll talk more about this later. Right now I'm just sad.

My prayers are with you Ryan.

Love always,

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sheriff Wants Phelps Arrested

From The State:

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says he will charge Michael Phelps with a crime if he determines the Olympics hero smoked marijuana in Richland County...

..."This case is no different than any other case,” Lott said Monday. “This one might be a lot easier since we have photographs of someone using drugs and a partial confession. It’s a relatively easy case once we can determine where the crime occurred.”

I would really, really love to see Phelps arrested for this. Then he'll have two choices:

1) Continue to cower and apologize for taking a fuckin' bong hit and accept his humiliation across the country. And if he does that, he's a coward and deserves the fate he gets by having pictures of him in handcuffs across the media spectrum and possibly spending time in jail.

2) Stop and yell that this has gone too far. Maybe he could say something the way Radley Balko wanted him to.

Even if Phelps decides to go to coward's route, I still would love to see this arrest happen because if Phelps won't shout out in protest, half of America will. The more and more we see our heroes and athletes (like Super Bowl hero Santonio Holmes) smoking weed, the more we will be forced to acknowledge that marijuana is not going away and to keep it illegal just to arrest our greatest athletes (along with over 800,000 other Americans anually) is stupid, just stupid.

Be well, be happy

Monday, February 2, 2009

Phelps Takes Back his Apology

...or rather, Radley Balko does it for him.

A Letter I’d Like To See (But Won’t)

Dear America,

I take it back. I don’t apologize.

Because you know what? It’s none of your goddamned business. I work my ass off 10 months per year. It’s that hard work that gave you all those gooey feelings of patriotism last summer. If during my brief window of down time I want to relax, enjoy myself, and partake of a substance that’s a hell of a lot less bad for me than alcohol, tobacco, or, frankly, most of the prescription drugs most of you are taking, well, you can spare me the lecture.

I put myself through hell. I make my body do things nature never really intended us to endure. All world-class athletes do. We do it because you love to watch us push ourselves as far as we can possibly go. Some of us get hurt. Sometimes permanently. You’re watching the Super Bowl tonight. You’re watching 300 pound men smash each while running at full speed, in full pads. You know what the average life expectancy of an NFL player is? Fifty-five. That’s about 20 years shorter than your average non-NFL player. Yet you watch. And cheer. And you jump up spill your beer when a linebacker lays out a wide receiver on a crossing route across the middle. The harder he gets hit, the louder and more enthusiastically you scream....

... Go ahead and tear me down if you like. But let’s see you rationalize in your next lame ONDCP commercial how the greatest motherfucking swimmer the world has ever seen . . . is also a proud pot smoker.


Michael Phelps

To finish reading the middle of the rant, please go to Balko's site and while you're there, check out the rest of his articles. If it wasn't obvious, Balko is one my favorite writers and I am a great fan of his and his ideas.

Most likely, there will be an update in the Ryan Frederick case later today from the site.

Wishing you Happiness,


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Google Marijuana

Actually, use Google News to search marijuana. Any time I go ahead and do it, its the same thing: One or two stories about a random celebrity getting high and then dozens of stories each day about people getting busted; sometimes for a few joints, sometimes for a few hundred pounds.

The DEA and other gov't groups look at this as winning, that they are beating their enemy. Fortunately, for every pound that is caught, dozens more make it through. Unfortunately, those individuals caught still face prison time and the process through which they were caught continues to cost the country billions. Just like Iraq, money that the public could be using is continuously shoved at fighting marijuana just so people like this can present results like this:

Why do I just feel like I'm beating a dead horse?

Fuck it, I've been hitting my vape (filled with strawberry cough) while I've been writing this so it's not all bad.

Love and laughter,