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PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 9:00 pm
by Gretzky
this is about as quick as quick gets in this thread.

long, long, long.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 11:06 pm
by Our Kid
I often wonder why The Pot Thread tends to become The Beatles Thread. But then I suppose Macca would get a big kick out of that...

I think I might need more time than "quick" allows to name my fave George tune. It would be easier if you gave me an "era" of the career to work on first, so I didn't have to weigh the breathy gentleness of "I Need You" against the sneering pointedness of "Taxman" or the nestliing warmth of "Something".

George never got (or gets) his true due. I daresay that even those who don't like Beatles could find most of the amazing "Anthology" DVD series fun to watch on the sole (or soul) basis of hearing George's never-ending nastiness regarding his life as a Fab. His honesty and humble self-examination are immense.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 11:26 pm
by Our Kid
Then again, I had just popped in to post this...

This is the truth on drugs ... any questions?
By David Sirota
The Denver Post
Saturday, April 4, 2009

Finally, a little honesty.

It started with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stating an embarrassingly obvious truth that politicians almost never discuss. In a speech about rising violence in Mexico, she said, "Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade," and then added that "we have co-responsibility" for the cartel-driven carnage plaguing our southern border.

She's right, of course. For all the Rambo-ish talk about waging a "War on Drugs" that interdicts the supply of narcotics, we have not diminished demand — specifically, demand for marijuana that cartels base their business on.

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Americans spend about $9 billion a year on Mexican pot.

Add that to the roughly $36 billion worth of domestically produced weed, and cannabis has become one of the continent's biggest cash crops. As any mob movie illustrates, mixing such "insatiable" demand for a product with statutes outlawing said product guarantees the emergence of a violent black market — in this case, one in which Mexican drug cartels reap 62 percent of their profits from U.S. marijuana sales.

That last stat, provided by the White House drug czar, is the silver lining. Every American concerned about Mexico's security problems should be thankful that the cartels are so dependent on marijuana, and not a genuinely hazardous substance like heroin. Why? Because that means through pot legalization, we can bring the marijuana trade out of the shadows and into the safety of the regulated economy, consequently eliminating the black market the cartels rely on. And here's the best part: We can do so without fearing any more negative consequences than we already tolerate in our keg-party culture.

Though President Obama childishly laughed at a question about legalization during his recent town hall meeting, his government implicitly admits that marijuana is safer than light beer. Indeed, as federal agencies acknowledge alcohol's key role in deadly illnesses and domestic violence, their latest anti-pot fear mongering is an ad campaign insisting — I kid you not — that marijuana is dangerous because it makes people zone out on their couches and diminishes video gaming skills.

(This is your government on drugs: Cirrhosis and angry tank-topped lushes beating their wives are more acceptable risks than stoners sitting in their basements ineptly playing Halo ... any questions?).

Despite this idiocy, despite polls showing most Americans support some form of legalization, and despite such legalization promising to generate billions of dollars in tax revenue, Clinton only acknowledged the uncomfortable reality about demand. That's certainly no small step, but she did not address drug policy reform. Confronting that taboo subject was left to Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va.

Last week, this first-term lawmaker proposed creating a federal commission to examine potential changes to the prison system, including a relaxation of marijuana statutes.

Webb hails from a conservative-leaning swing state whose criminal justice laws are among the nation's most draconian, so there's about as much personal political upside for him in this fight as there is for Clinton — that is to say, almost none. That isn't stopping him, though.

"The elephant in the bedroom in many discussions on the criminal justice system is the sharp increase in drug incarceration," he said in a speech, later telling the Huffington Post that pot legalization "should be on the table." Finally, a little honesty — and now, maybe, some action.

PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 12:54 pm
by joanna
This is just plain sad:


Marijuana Conviction Seals Life Behind Bars for Vietnam

March 28, 2004
The Birmingham News
Vietnam Veteran Douglas Lamar Gray had a roofing business in Moulton, a wife and a son. In 1989, he bought $900 worth of marijuana in a motel room and lost everything to prison.

Until then, the longest Gray had been locked up was a few months for a burglary in his teens, then two more burglaries in his early 20s. After the marijuana conviction, a Morgan County judge, working from Alabama's Habitual Felony Offender Law, sentenced Gray to life without parole for drug trafficking.

A police informant with a criminal record had lured Gray to the motel. Gray bought the marijuana, and drove away into a swarm of police cars. He ditched the pot before they arrested him. He thought he wouldn't be found guilty if the evidence was elsewhere, so he refused a plea bargain.

That no one was injured during his crimes doesn't matter. Gray, 49, will die behind bars.

Before the drug bust, he had not been arrested in 14 years.

"Made real good money, owned my own house, my own land," he said. "Watched my little boy grow up, then they set me up and sold me a pound of pot."

Morgan County District Attorney Bob Burrell, who was a prosecutor at the time, declined comment, and the judge who sentenced Gray is dead.

The case is so old no one from the DA's office or the clerk's office could find out how much marijuana was involved. Gray says it was a pound. The indictment indicates it had to be at least 2.2 pounds to qualify for a "trafficking" charge, which does not mean he sold any but that he had more than what is considered "personal use" by Alabama's marijuana laws, some of the country's strictest.

The state has spent $150,000 to keep Gray locked up. So far.

Gray lives in St. Clair prison's medical dorm because a train accident took his right leg years ago. He relies on wooden crutches to get around. The prosthetic leg made in the prison is too painful to wear.

Before he was in prison, a specialist fitted Gray with prosthetic legs so comfortable Gray could scramble across roofs.

In prison, he makes clocks and jewelry boxes to sell to prison employees.

"You've got to have some sort of hustle in here or you bleed your family dry. My grandmother's 87. She can't afford to send me much," he said.

Gray's latest heartache is his 16-year-old son. The boy's been getting into scrapes with the law. "He said he was going to get into trouble and come to prison so he could be with me," Gray said.

His son lives with his ex-wife, LaVonda Dalton. The couple stayed married the first five years of his incarceration. She took a job at Dairy Queen to support her family. Eventually, the strain of separation broke them, and they divorced.

She has remarried. But his imprisonment still upsets her.

"I think there's something wrong with the law when there's child abusers and killers out here, and he's locked up for the rest of his life for what he done," she said.

© 2004 The Birmingham News

PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 1:04 pm
by joanna
Here's another example of how ridiculously harsh our marijuana laws are:

Alabama teen receives 26-year sentence for minor pot sales, sentence not unusual.
A half-century ago in a region of America known as the "Deep South," the state of Alabama was an official sponsor of racism, segregation, and violence directed against black Americans.
Decades of struggle erased the worst vestiges of Alabama's racial discrimination policies, but the state now sponsors official persecution of another minority culture ? the cannabis culture.

I recently traveled to Alabama to investigate the sorry state of affairs in one of the poorest Southern states.

Alabama's a place where a 37-year-old DARE officer named Ray Malone gets a 10-year sentence for seducing a 14-year-old girl and making videotapes of himself having sex with her ? but an 18-year-old student named Webster Alexander gets 26 years in prison for selling an ounce of pot to an undercover officer who begged him for weed.

307 West Hastings Street Vancouver BC
V6B 1H6 Canada

PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 10:24 pm
by Our Kid
Thanks for the posts, Joanna.

President Obama's snickering at his recent Town Hall meeting thingie when the pot issue came up has created quite a spark in the USA, if you pardon the pun, and I am thoroughly enjoying the mostly balanced responses in both the national and local press. I feel that the pro-pot crowd still tends to be too self-depricatingly sheepish - so as to not appear truly accepting of recreational use (a tactic that is counter-productive and in its own way dismissive of the issue) and the anti-pot crowd still sounds like some black and white "documentary" film shown in my 71 year old mother's high school health class in the mid-1950s. Regardless, the madness seems to finally be giving way to the middle on each side and it is long overdue.

Joe on Pot

Hendrik Hertzberg
The New Yorker
April 2, 2009

The distinguished Time political columnist, novelist, and former Washington correspondent for The New Yorker says something that needs saying, and says it crisply and well.

This is no longer a marginal position. As a onetime regular (and not especially apologetic about it) indulger who (unlike his immediate predecessor) has not made hypocrisy a way of life, Obama has very little excuse for running away from this—less excuse, certainly, than did The Man Who Didn’t Inhale (and was elected with only 43 per cent of the vote).

Will the Malia and Sasha generation look back on the bad old days of prohibition with simple horror or through a lens of Hollywood nostalgia, the way the three-martini-lunch generation looked back on the Roaring Twenties? I don’t know. What I do know is that for war babies like me and boomers like Joe Klein, time’s a-wastin’.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 8:38 pm
by joanna
I think it's totally screwed up that pot's illegal, and we have DRIVE-THRU liquor stores in some states. I think the worst thing I've ever done while stoned is drive under the speed limit on the interstate.....or eat too many snacks.....or get up and go in the kitchen only to find that I can't remember why I went in there in the first place.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 10:19 pm
by ScottG
I thought "Drive Thru" liquor stores were everywhere. But, I'm from Kentucky so my experience may be a bit skewed.

PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:16 pm
by Our Kid
Happy Labor Day! Hopefully, someday, we can rest from our labors in whatever way we like (as long as we don't harm others) without worrying about spending some time in the barbed wire hotel...

I liked this article from the L.A. Times quite a bit. The last lines are absolutely wonderful (yes - the ones about food concession sales at a Marijuana Expo in L.A.).

Marijuana's new high life
Cannabis is moving into the mainstream, with fashion, films, TV and politicians acknowledging it's here to stay.
The Los Angeles Times
By Adam Tschorn

August 30, 2009

In June, an estimated 25,000 people attended the inaugural THC Expo hemp and art show in downtown Los Angeles, an event that pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into the local economy -- including a $22,400 payment directly to the city of Los Angeles for use of its convention center.

Barneys New York in Beverly Hills is celebrating the Woodstock spirit by selling $78 "Hashish" candles in Jonathan Adler pots with bas-relief marijuana leaves; Hickey offers $75 linen pocket squares or $120 custom polo shirts bearing the five-part leaf; and French designer Lucien Pellat-Finet is serving up white-gold and diamond custom pot-leaf-emblazoned wristwatches for $49,000 and belt buckles for $56,000.

Earlier this year, Season 5 of Showtime's "Weeds" kicked off with promotional materials plastered on bus shelters, buses and billboards throughout the city. Last year, just across from the tourist-packed Farmers Market at 3rd Street and Fairfax Avenue, a "Pineapple Express" billboard belched faux pot smoke into the air. Even the '70s slacker-stoner comedy duo Cheech and Chong are back. After recently concluding an international tour, they say they are working on another movie, voicing an animated version of themselves and even batting around the idea of staging a Cheech and Chong Broadway musical.

After decades of bubbling up around the edges of so-called civilized society, marijuana seems to be marching mainstream at a fairly rapid pace. At least in urban areas such as Los Angeles, cannabis culture is coming out of the closet.

At fashion-insider parties, joints are passed nearly as freely as hors d'oeuvres. Traces of the acrid smoke waft from restaurant patios, car windows and passing pedestrians on the city streets -- in broad daylight. Even the art of name-dropping in casual conversation -- once limited to celebrity sightings and designer shoe purchases -- now includes the occasional boast of recently discovered weed strains such as "Strawberry Cough" and "Purple Kush."

Public sentiment is more than anecdotal; earlier this year, a California Field Poll found that 56% of California voters supported legalizing and taxing marijuana. Last month, voters in Oakland overwhelmingly approved a tax increase on medical marijuana sales, the first of its kind in the country, and Los Angeles Councilwoman Janice Hahn has proposed something similar for the City of Angels. "In this current economic crisis, we need to get creative about how we raise funds," Hahn said in a statement.

Smoking pot used to be the kind of personal conduct that could sink a U.S. Supreme Court nomination (Douglas H. Ginsburg in 1987) and embarrass a presidential candidate (Bill Clinton in 1992). Today, it seems to be a non-issue for the current inhabitant of the Oval Office; Barack Obama issued his marijuana mea culpa in a 1995 memoir.

Drug references in popular music have multiplied like, well, weeds in the last three decades. Marijuana's presence on TV and in the movies has moved from the harbinger of bad things including murderous rage ("Reefer Madness" in 1936) to full-scale hauntings ("Poltergeist" in 1982) and burger runs gone awry ("Harold & Kumar go to White Castle" in 2001) to being just another fixture in the pop-culture firmament. Cannabis crops up on shows such as "Entourage," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "True Blood" and "Desperate Housewives," and even on animated shows such as "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy."

To date, none is as pot-centric as Showtime's "Weeds," which follows the adventures of widowed soccer mom turned pot dealer Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker), though the show's creator, Jenji Kohan, says there are TV shows in development that are set against the backdrop of medical marijuana clinics.

Richard Laermer, a media and pop culture trend watcher and author of several books, including "2011: Trendspotting for the Next Decade," points to Bill Maher as a bellwether of change. "Ten years ago, he would have been taken off the air." ("Real Time With Bill Maher" airs on HBO.) Now, he's "a totally mainstream comic who consistently talks about how much pot he smokes."

Marijuana's role on TV and in the movies is no surprise, says Robert Thompson, a professor of television and pop culture at the University of Syracuse S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. "The people who are making movies and television shows, from the scriptwriters to the director and the producers -- a very large chunk of those are probably people who grew up not only much more comfortable with marijuana's presence in society, but probably as consumers themselves of it.

"As a result," Thompson said, "it's almost switched with alcohol. Think back to Dean Martin and Foster Brooks -- their whole comedy act was the fact that they were in the bag -- that now is seen a lot less often. The stoner is the new drunk."

There's one hitch

General marijuana use is, of course, illegal. Under federal law, marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance (in the same category as LSD, heroin and peyote) and possession of it is punishable by up to one year in jail and a minimum fine of $1,000 for a first conviction. According to the FBI's annual Uniform Crime Report, in 2007 there were 872,721 arrests in the U.S. for marijuana violations. For Californians who are not otherwise covered under the state's medical marijuana law (which continues to engender controversy among those who believe it's abused by recreational users), possession of 28.5 grams or less is a misdemeanor punishable by a $100 fine. What's more, passing a drug-free urine test is still a prerequisite for many jobs across the country.

Nonetheless, some indulge. Marijuana reform groups say it's a $35.8-billion domestic cash crop. And today's cannabis consumers -- the state chapter of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws estimates the number of Californians who have smoked at least once in the last year is 3 million -- open their wallets for pot-themed movies, handbooks, calendars, fancy glass storage jars, energy drinks, hemp clothing and ganja-themed bus tours, all part of the ever-widening marijuana-adjacent economy.

How much do we spend?

"It's hard to say," says Brian Roberts, co-founder of the THC Expo. "Do you count 'Pineapple Express' that did $100 million at the box office? Do you add in Dr. Dre's '[The] Chronic' and '2001' albums that [together] sold over 10 million copies? What I can tell you is that [the expo] pumped over $400,000 into the local economy," he added, citing expenditures for security guards and other temporary staffers, banners, decorations, printing and advertising, and renting the South Hall of the L.A. Convention Center.

Roberts, who launched and later sold a now-dormant, pot-themed apparel line called THC Clothing before getting into the expo business, has seen pot culture consumers' buying power firsthand. "I used to own a smoke shop [2000 BC] over on Melrose and people would spend up to $400 for a piece of glass to use as a water pipe -- you're talking about an adult with extra money. That's like buying a power tool."

Did something happen between 2003, when Tommy Chong started a nine-month stint in federal prison for selling a mail-order water pipe, and the June THC Expo, when he stood signing autographs and shaking hands, barely a roach clip's throw from row upon row of swirling glass pipes, smoking devices with octopus-like tentacles, whirring motors and price tags as high as $800?

Some people point to the Obama administration as the biggest game-changer. "It was when [former President George W. Bush] and his boys were run out of office, that made the biggest difference," Chong said by phone near the end of the "Light Up America and Canada Tour" that reunited him with Cheech Marin.

Roberts cited the election as the tipping point as well. "The whole show teetered on who won the election," he said. "If McCain had won, I'd have never have put up my money. But Americans are no longer living in fear."

In addition, trend watcher Laermer points to a more subtle shift: aging baby boomers -- a generation famous for tuning in, turning on and dropping out -- who are keeping their party habits going into their golden years.

"It's hard to fathom that the fifty- and sixtysomethings would be against pot after all the pot they smoked," Laermer said, "Their kids would laugh them out of the room if they started telling them not to smoke pot."

The so-called marijuana movement has attracted some surprising names. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has spoken out about decreasing penalties for possession and protecting medical marijuana users. Earlier this year, Glenn Beck of Fox News announced on the air: "Look, I'm a libertarian. You want to legalize marijuana; you want to legalize drugs -- that's fine."

David Bienenstock, senior editor of New York-based marijuana magazine High Times and author of "The Official High Times Pot Smoker's Handbook," said: "Whether you're with the press or a politician, it's no longer a third rail. In the past it could have cost you your job. Now people are at least able to have those conversations."

Roberts, for one, is ready. He's already booked 50,000 square feet at the Los Angeles Convention Center for next year's THC Expo. It's going to happen April 23-25 -- right after the April 20 date that's become a kind of pot smokers' national holiday.

"They're happy to have us back," Roberts said. "They told me the food concessions sold $38,000 worth of food on the first day alone -- and that's more than they do in a whole week at the California Gift Show."

Copyright © 2009, The Los Angeles Times

PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 7:50 am
by Turk
Great read. Thanks for posting, Tim.

There is still hope.

Too bad Tommy Chong served time just for selling pipes.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2010 8:45 pm
by Our Kid
Since tomorrow is Election Day, and since I know that Proposition 19 will surely FAIL in California tomorrow, I offer this op-ed piece from the New York Times.

Take a minute to soak this one in. Then, if you wish, shake hands with the new Jim Crow. People on the legalization front have been talking about these points for years, but I suppose it is just easier to ignore them...

"Smoke and Horrors"
Charles M. Blow
The New York Times
Published: October 22, 2010

Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.’s recent chest-thumping against the California ballot initiative that seeks to legalize marijuana underscores how the war on drugs in this country has become a war focused on marijuana, one being waged primarily against minorities and promoted, fueled and financed primarily by Democratic politicians.

According to a report released Friday by the Marijuana Arrest Research Project for the Drug Policy Alliance and the N.A.A.C.P. and led by Prof. Harry Levine, a sociologist at the City University of New York: “In the last 20 years, California made 850,000 arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana, and half-a-million arrests in the last 10 years. The people arrested were disproportionately African-Americans and Latinos, overwhelmingly young people, especially men.”

For instance, the report says that the City of Los Angeles “arrested blacks for marijuana possession at seven times the rate of whites.”

This imbalance is not specific to California; it exists across the country.

One could justify this on some level if, in fact, young blacks and Hispanics were using marijuana more than young whites, but that isn’t the case. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, young white people consistently report higher marijuana use than blacks or Hispanics.

How can such a grotesquely race-biased pattern of arrests exist? Professor Levine paints a sordid picture: young police officers are funneled into low-income black and Hispanic neighborhoods where they are encouraged to aggressively stop and frisk young men. And if you look for something, you’ll find it. So they find some of these young people with small amounts of drugs. Then these young people are arrested. The officers will get experience processing arrests and will likely get to file overtime, he says, and the police chiefs will get a measure of productivity from their officers. The young men who were arrested are simply pawns.

Professor Levine has documented an even more devious practice in New York City, where possessing a small amount of marijuana is just a civil violation (so is a speeding ticket), but having it “open to public view” is a misdemeanor.

According to a report he issued in September 2009: “Police typically discovered the marijuana by stopping and searching people, often by tricking and intimidating them into revealing it. When people then took out the marijuana and handed it over, they were arrested and charged with the crime of having marijuana ‘open to public view.’ ”

And these arrests are no minor matter. They can have very serious, lifelong consequences.

For instance, in 1998, President Bill Clinton signed a provision that made people temporarily or permanently ineligible for federal financial aid depending on how many times they had been arrested and convicted of a drug offense. The law took effect in 2000, and since 2006 lawmakers have been working to soften it. But the effect was real and devastating: the people most in need of financial aid were also being the most targeted for marijuana arrests and were therefore the most at risk of being frozen out of higher education. Remember that the next time someone starts spouting statistics comparing the number of black men in prison with the number in college.

The arrests also have consequences for things like housing and employment. In fact, in her fascinating new book, “The New Jim Crow,” Michelle Alexander argues that the American justice system is being used to create a permanent “undercaste — a lower caste of individuals who are permanently barred by law and custom from mainstream society” and to discriminate against blacks and Hispanics in the same way that Jim Crow laws were once used to discriminate against blacks.

This wave of arrests is partially financed, either directly or indirectly, by federal programs like the Byrne Formula Grant Program, which was established by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 to rev up the war on drugs. Surprisingly, this program has become the pet project of Democrats, not Republicans.

Whatever his motives, President George W. Bush sought to eliminate the program. Conservative groups backed his proposal, saying the program “has proved to be an ineffective and inefficient use of resources.”

But Democrats would have none of it. In the last year of the Bush administration, financing had been reduced to $170 million. In March of that year, 56 senators signed onto a “bipartisan” letter to ranking members of the Senate Appropriations Committee urging them to restore nearly $500 million to the program. Only 15 Republicans signed the letter.

Even candidate Obama promised that he would restore funding to the program.

The 2009 stimulus package presented these Democrats with the opportunity, and they seized it. The legislation, designed by Democrats and signed by President Obama, included $2 billion for Byrne Grants to be awarded by the end of September 2010. That was nearly a 12-fold increase in financing. Whatever the merits of these programs, they are outweighed by the damage being done. Financing prevention is fine. Financing a race-based arrest epidemic is not.

Why would Democrats support a program that has such a deleterious effect on their most loyal constituencies? It is, in part, callous political calculus. It’s an easy and relatively cheap way for them to buy a tough-on-crime badge while simultaneously pleasing police unions. The fact that they are ruining the lives of hundreds of thousands of black and Hispanic men and, by extension, the communities they belong to barely seems to register.

This is outrageous and immoral and the Democrat’s complicity is unconscionable, particularly for a party that likes to promote its social justice bona fides.

No one knows all the repercussions of legalizing marijuana, but it is clear that criminalizing it has made it a life-ruining racial weapon. As Ms. Alexander told me, “Our failed war on drugs has done incalculable damage.”

When will politicians have the courage to stand up, acknowledge this fact and stop allowing young minority men to be collateral damage?