Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Judge busted for purchasing pot

It's like I always say, cannabis consumers are responsible citizens. Take Judge Robert King for example. He was elected five times in 26 years to sit on the bench by the good citizens of Gold Hill Oregon. He didn't get busted because he did something wrong while he was smoking cannabis, he got bagged by a snitch trying to save his own skin, who after being busted himself, set the judge up on an 3 1/2 gram buy (enough for maybe four joints). Otherwise no one would have ever known.

This is misdemeanor personal use situation not some big felony, but the prohibition profiteers are so intent on protecting their cushy little positions that they sent the informant in wearing a wire. I wonder how much that cost? Meanwhile Sheriff Mike Winters, who appears to be intent on making a big deal out this small-time case, is rerouting all his department's court cases to other courts, leaving the good judge with nothing to do. Winters claims he made this move because he felt it was "an integrity issue." What a crock.

One might ask where the Sheriff's priorities are. Where is the integrity in attempting to turn a non-criminal charge into a federal case? It seems Mr. Winters prefers the spotlight for grandstanding rather than for doing his job and going out and solving real crimes.

The good news is despite Winter's over zealous tactics, the good judge will continue to draw his salary under state law until his elected term is up. One hopes he will run again. We bet he could win by a landslide on a pro-cannabis platform. I mean how is he different, except that now, everyone knows he takes an occassional toque? He's still the same guy everyone admired before.

Proof is in the pictures

For those of you who haven't believed me when I told you about the magnetic confluence in this happy valley, I have the photos to prove that not only does it exist but it's right over my front stoop. The first picture is how it starts.

And this is how it inevitably ends. A circle opens up in the clouds every time. The entire rest of the sky was black. These were the photos I took with the instacamera by the way. I'm surprised at how well they came out although as expected I didn't manage to get a shot of the lightning - which was pretty impressive in that storm.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

On the record - Smoker's rights

I was interviewed at Tully O'Reilly's tonight, by Sunshine DeWitt, the business and planning reporter for my local paper, about the impending statewide smoking ban due to take effect here in July. For myself, I just quit four months ago to the day, but I'm still squarely against the ban.

The smoking ban is just another aspect of the war on some drugs and some lifestyles. In the end the issue is personal sovereignty. I thought Republicans were supposed to be for small government; this is nanny-state at its worst. As I told her, this should be a market driven decision. The patrons vote with their dollars. No one is forced to spend money in a place that allows smoking, nor are they compelled to seek employment in an establishment that does. It should be up to the owner to decide policy in his own building.

Smokers are becoming a minority but they are citizens too and should not be legislated out of a hospitable commercial environment. The government should not be concerned with what we put in our own bodies, or how we run our own business, as long as it doesn't impinge on the well-being of others.

As Norman Solomon says, fascism will not arrive all at once, it will come in increments. I think this invasive legislation is just one more baby step in that direction.

Action alert - stop the arrests of medmar patients

The Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment is alive again in the U.S. House of Representatives. Due to be voted on in the next two weeks, this amendment would prevent the U.S. Department of Justice (which includes the DEA) from spending any money to raid medical marijuana patients in states where it's legal.

We spoke about this last year when it was defeated in a close vote. We have another chance to end the suffering of medical marijuana patients. Please visit the Marijuana Policy Project and take action today.

Hot fun in the summertime

For those of you who make your travel plans at the last minute , there's some upcoming festivals that would make a great destination. With construction on the waterfront park completed, the Seattle Hempfest on August 21 and 22 promises to be the most picture-perfect in history and admission is free.

On August 26-29 you can party deep in the woods of Northern Ontario at the always well organized Hempfest 2004. For $25 in advance or $35 at the gate you can enjoy what appears to be the "Woodstock" for Canadian cannabis consumers.

If you're closer to the east coast, Evolve 5 will be staged on August 27-29. It's billed as a music event but one expects that the local herb will be available. This one is pricey but they expect to sell out all 6000 tickets. You can still get in for $78 at this time but the price will rise to $95 for latecomers so book early.

And of course don't forget the third annual Drug War Vigil Memorial Group's Film Festival being held in Vancouver in September. There's still time to enter your drug war related video work. Contact

And finally, the Hempola Family Farm Festival will be held on a working industrial hemp farm on August 7 and 8 in the village of Dalston just north of Barrie, Ontario, Canada. Although this one is geared towards families and focuses on agricultural uses of the non-psychotropic hemp plant including supremely nutricious hemp food products, we bet that cannabis consumers will also be out in force at this one. For details call toll free at 1-800-240-9215 ext. 23 or email info@hempola.cominfo.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Activists add weight to pot proposal

The Bush administration, in the person of deputy drug czar Andrea Barthwell, is vehemently opposing a citizen's initiative in Oregon that is attempting to increase the amount of medical marijuana a patient may legally possess. It's reportedly a well organized effort but also a pretty ambitious proposal.

The expansion measure aimed at the Nov. 2 ballot would increase the possession limit from the current three ounces to a pound at any one time. It also would create state-regulated dispensaries authorized to supply up to six pounds of marijuana per year to qualified patients.

I assume the high end of the law would be for the terminally ill and households where multiple patients reside. Activists reasonably say the measure would keep the chronically ill from having to constantly scramble to get their medicine. Our drug czarina would disagree.

"These people will keep coming back with more expansive and more ridiculous propositions to eliminate all controls on drugs," said Barthwell.

You can't blame her for not wanting that. If they legalized the market, she wouldn't have a job with a royal title anymore.

Supremes to consider precedent setting cannabis case

We've spoken about this before, here and here.

The Justice department's Raich v. Ashcroft appeal came before the justices of the US Supreme Court in their last regularly scheduled conference of the term and they are expected to decide whether to review the case today. If they decline, the entirely sensible 9th Circuit ruling will stand and possession of home grown medical marijuana will no longer be able to be prosecuted under the Interstate Commerce Act.

One hopes the Supremes will take up the case and issue a decision that establishes once and for all that the feds cannot use the Act to persecute chronically ill people. However if they do not have the "gravitas" to stand up to Ashcroft and his thugs then we hope they at least decline to take the matter up and let the 9th Circuit's decision stand.

Update: It's a go. The Supreme Court has announced it will take up the matter in its next term. Arguments are expected to be heard sometime next winter. We hope however that the lower courts will continue to rely on the 9th Circuit's precedent setting decision in all cases heard in the interim.

[Thanks to Steven Couch for the update]

Give me your drugs and your life

It's that time again. As in years past, in the weeks prior to the UN's International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, China has sentenced dozens of dealers to death and one man was executed in Shanghai for smuggling in 1.8kg of heroin and other executions took place across the country.
Amnesty International made an expected appeal to Chinese government asking it to abandon the long standing practice of executing the smugglers since there is no statistical evidence it has any greater effect on drug trafficking than other methods of punishment. One expects their pleas for humane treatment will once again fall on deaf ears.

[Link via Vice Squad]

Sunday, June 27, 2004
Sunday Funnies

Cute Doonesbury yesterday. I hope Garry keeps this story line going. And Duke has the last word on the "Iraq handover" in today's strip. And is me or is Beetle Bailey starting to sound anti-war? Yesterday's panels sure had an anti-Bush slant.

Meanwhile the relentless search for naked pictures of Marcie Betts continues to drive a significant portion of my traffic. I figure you're probably about half tattoo people and half prison guards, and I hope both groups stay to see what else we have to say at Last One Speaks. I might mention that yes, I do have a photo of Marcie Betts at the link on this post, and you can enlarge it and see some of her tats but she's not naked in the photo.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Whole Lotta Love

I came home from work Thursday night and found a big fat love message on my sidewalk from Mark Herschler, the heart of my world in this happy valley. Mark and I shared an apartment for years and I used to love to come home from work and find him playing that very guitar on the back porch. He is the best singer writer I've ever known and I think maybe we've been connected for millenia. It's uncanny, I was thinking of him and the rest of the family the night before. I haven't seen them in months.

He left a flyer for what appeared to be an impromtu gig with his new band, Gross National Project at the place formerly known as the Baystate Hotel. I hadn't stepped across the threshold of the building in three years. Not since the new owners renamed the building. I loved the Baystate and I hated the so called restoration.

The note on the poster said, "Libby, if you can come check out this Rhythm section, we have something fun for you." It sure looked like a fun group. I recognized Peter Kim the bass player but I had no idea who the drummer was so I finally went into Bishop's and had a fabulous time.

It was a real love fest, I saw so many dear friends who I've neglected for far too long. I knew 90 percent of the people in the room. Mark and Molly Bode, Jane and Ed, Janet and Mitch, George and Greg and Evan who work there. Jamie showed up late without his gorgeous wife Maki who is not home from Japan yet but he promised she would be at the annual Fourth of July bash on the boat, which I would have forgotten to show up for if I hadn't seen everyone.

Valley readers, look for this band. The music is great and it's a fun crowd.
Cannabis martinis at 4:20?

Guess they will call that one a cannabini in the bartending guides. And how far behind can marijuanitas be?

A major manufacturer in Prague has introduced a marijuana flavored vodka. They say there is no THC in the product, however it does weigh in at 16% alcohol. I wonder what proof that would be in the US?

The liquor is being sold in supermarkets and restaurants and has so far elicited no complaints from the Czech anti-drug crowd. For myself, I can't imagine it would be that popular. I mean how good could it taste? As I recall, marijuana tea tasted pretty yucky.

Calling CSPAN - manners matter

I am not at all a morning person and I'm rarely awake in time to call in to the Washington Journal. However, it was early today when I flipped on CSPAN. The host is reading a piece on the UN report promoting the fiction that the eradication efforts in Colombia have actually had any effect on the availability of cocaine in the US, a story we covered here four days ago. I decide to call in on the listener line, as they repeatedly invite you to do. Keep in mind that I am so low tech, I don't even have a cordless phone much less a cell, so I can't hear or see the television while I'm using my only phone.

It's my first time calling. The only rule I know about is you're allowed one call in 30 days. It takes a long time but I get through. The guy answers the phone, "Good morning CSPAN, should the Greens nominate Ralph Nader?"

Not the greeting I expected but I answered without missing a beat, "Sure but what good would it do?"

I figured it might be some kind of competency test. After asking when my last call was, he muttered something I didn't catch about my TV set and told me I'd be on the air. I can now hear the program again, and sure enough they are talking about Nader.

Now I have a lot to say about Ralph Nader, and in retrospect I suppose I could have used his position on drug policy to segue into my point on the earlier piece but at that hour, I didn't think that quickly. I hung up so as not to be trapped into wasting my call on Ralph's ego problem.

I call back and get through again. I overhear the guy complaining to his co-worker about how crazy the morning has been as he's picking up the phone. When I tell him I don't want to talk about Nader, he tells me the open phone thing has ended and to try again in an hour. So I try to ask if I'll be able to talk about the story then because I think the UN report is dangerously inaccurate and it's the only issue I want to address. He hangs up on me in mid-sentence.

I don't care if he's disinterested, but he knew it was my first time and could have spent the extra 15 seconds to let me finish the sentence and tell me what their policy is on bringing up topics from earlier segments so I would know whether it was worth spending my time trying to get through. I found this unpleasant exchange so irritating that not only did I not try calling again, I switched off the program altogether.

It's this kind of rudeness that contributes to the overall deterioration of civil society. If CSPAN's phone screeners are too indifferent and/or too harassed to be polite, the least they could do is transfer you to a pre-recorded set of guidelines. Hanging up on inexperienced callers hardly seems a way to encourage a wide range of fresh viewpoints, nor a way to retain viewers.

Friday, June 25, 2004
What a drag it is getting up

Getting old sucks - I'm losing my party chops. Time was I could party till the proverbial cows come home for nights on end. Hell, in 1990 I averaged about 20 hours of sleep a week. I'm afraid those days are long gone. Jeeez. I stay out one night till 2:00am and I've been dragging myself around semi-comatose all morning. I figure it's going to a long afternoon too. Good thing it's busy today or I'd probably fall asleep in my chair at work.

All of which is a really long way of saying that I won't posting anything of substance until tonight, after the hair of the dog remedy. By then I'll be able to tell why it was worth giving up the sleep for the gig. Later.

Day Late and Dollar Short

Well the theme fits my life this week. Between the computer problems and tying up some loose ends, I didn't manage to get an entry into the Carnival of the Vanities, but as always it's worth the time to check out the posts. Something to amuse everyone at the carnival.

Sleepy head

I had a all too rare night out yesterday and slept in this morning. Fortunately Drug WarRant already covered the breaking news. Check out the ABA's statement against mandatory minimum sentencing and the status of student drug testing in California.

Thursday, June 24, 2004
Fear of Flying

When will these people ever learn. Despite the world wide condemnation of the shooting down of an innocent missionary and her infant son in Peru in 2001, Brazil is the final phase of enacting legislation authorizing their government to shoot down suspected drug running airplanes. They expect the US will cooperate in sharing information in order to ascertain which planes are actually engaged in this activity. The US of course is a little gun-shy after having been held equally responsible for the fiasco in Peru, so one expects that any such cooperation will happen behind closed doors.

Brazil claims to have safeguards in place to avoid shooting down innocents, however Peru also had safeguards and if memory serves, the missionary plane was shot down on account of a language barrier. The pilot didn't understand the military plane's communications.

Brazil alleges their airspace is being constantly violated by drug traffickers who make obscene gestures as they fly by, secure in the knowledge that they can't presently be intercepted. Interestingly, Brazil is negotiating the terms of the law with the US government which begs the question, since when do they need our permission to enact their own legislation?

Meanwhile, Colombia quietly resumed their policy of shooting down suspected courier planes in 2003 and the Washington, AP news agency reports almost a dozen planes have been down this year alone with intelligence assistance from the US government.

Anyone recall reading about the US sneaking this policy back into practice in the main stream US media? Me either.

Sentencing guidelines and drugging the public

Drug WarRant has several good posts up this morning. Pete alerts us to a new mandatory sentencing scheme. Senselessbrenner proposes horrible new sentencing bill gives the details on, "Defending America's Most Vulnerable: Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act of 2004 sponsored by House Judiciary Chair Jim Sensenbrenner." This is really evil folks and seeks to only to incarcerate more non-violent consumers without any chance of probation of sentencing based on judicial discretion.

He also posts on the Judge Young's courageous decision this week criticizing the federal sentencing guidelines that already exist. Now Judge Young sits in my jurisdiction and in fact has been the judge in many of my firm's cases. This man is a very conservative jurist and for him to make this kind of statement in a 174 page decision speaks volumes for the current sorry state of our legal system.

Also check out George Bush's latest scheme to screen the entire population of the US for mental illness. It wouldn't be such a bad idea, if he would demonstrate it's usefulness by having himself and his cabinet screened first, unfortunately Pete delivers the evidence that this is just another thinly veiled scheme to promote pharmaceutical drugs and facilitate the pharma companies obscene profits.

Meanwhile of course they plan to continue spending almost 40 billion of your tax dollars on their war on some drugs. Those would be the ones the pharmas don't make a profit on.
Vision quests protected by Utah high court

The use of peyote in Native American spiritual ceremonies is a centuries old tradition and has long been accorded legal status under federal law. Thanks to a decision this week by the Utah Supreme Court, that right has been extended to include all practitioners of Native American religions even if they are not members of a federally recognized tribe.

Attorneys for the state argued there is no exception in state law for the use of peyote by Indians and said that even if the court ruled there was such an exception, it could not be extended to cover non-Indians.

The high court ruled that state law incorporates the federal regulation but does not specify a restriction on peyote use only by members of federally recognized tribes. Use of the hallucinogenic drug is limited to bona fide religious ceremonies as part of the Native American Church, Justice Jill Parrish wrote.

The court rightly noted that, "permitting the exemption for some church members and not others would violate the equal-protection clause in the United States Constitution."

Thanks to CCLE, who made the decision available here.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Meme game revisited

Don't ask me how I ended up this deep in my own archives but I found this game that I really liked at the time. I still do, but this round I have a lot longer sentence to share since the closest book was a paperback Roget's Thesaurus.

"...bring together, assemble, muster, collect, gather; hold a meeting, convene, convoke; rake up, dredge, heap, mass, pile; pack, cram, lump together; compile, group, concentrate, unite, amass, accumulate, hoard, store."

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

It also kind of answered the question I had on my mind when I found it again. So sue me, I like those little cosmic moments.
Soup is good food

I love this one. You know how price wars work. One vendor drops their price on some commodity and before you know it every vendor is town is dropping theirs as well. In southwest China, the restaurant business upped the stakes and decided to add that little something to their soups and stews that will keep the patrons coming back -- opium.

Some 215 restaurants were shut down after narcotics officers discovered they were spiking the food with the poppies.

Dishes at the restaurants in Guizhou province contained varying degrees of the opium derivative morphine, the report said.

"Consuming soup or hot pots mixed with poppies for a long time will make you become addicted ... and eventually lead you to drug abuse in serious cases," Wei Tao, deputy chief of the Food Institute with Guizhou Provincial Center for Disease Control, was quoted as saying.

Nothing has been said about prosecutions but one wonders if there will be a protest raised by those patrons who got hooked on the food.

[Link via Jim at Vice Squad]

Meth clean-up costly

I've been wondering for a while now about all this press regarding the high price tag on cleaning up these clandestine meth labs they keep busting. It hasn't made sense to me.

I have to confess that in 1970 I snorted up a whole lot of crystal meth myself. We used to get it from some kid at MIT that brewed it up in the school labs or maybe his dorm room. So I'm thinking if they've been cooking this stuff up for at least the last 34 years -- why haven't we heard about all this toxic waste until recently? I put the question to the fine minds on my discussion list.

It turns out this is just another failure of prohibition policy. When the government made purchasing the precursor ingredients against the law, they made the "clean" method of cooking meth with safely manufactured chemicals impossible. The meth makers were then forced to find ways to make the precursor ingredients as well and I'm told that these are the culprits that cause the toxic waste. The laws didn't stop the manufacture of the drug, they merely made it more dangerous.

The devil of this failed prohibition is in this sort of unintended consequence. Whereas before, you had only the problem of meth addicts, now you also have the problem of properties contaminated from the unregulated processing of the substance.

Does your government take responsibility for this failure? Of course not, and since the busted meth cookers are largely the poor and disenfranchised, the prohibition profiteers simply pass the significant costs of cleaning up onto the innocent landlords.

Let me say this again, "You can't stop people from using drugs and as long as there is a market, there will be suppliers." If they had legalized and regulated this drug 30 years ago, landlords like 78 year old Clifton Moneymaker (who has never even heard of meth) would not be forced to clean up the mess the DEA left behind -- not to mention he would still be collecting the $500 rent he depends on to meet his expenses.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

UN claims Colombian coca production reduced

Touting it as a great success in the war on some drugs, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime recently released a report stating coca cultivation had declined by 20% in Colombia. However, coca eradication experts meeting in Peru, disputed that claim calling the drop in cultivated acres misleading. They report traffickers are simply developing new and more potent and higher yield strains, while growers are moving to smaller and more remote tracts that are harder to detect and more hazardous to spray.

The Colombia government, aided by the US, did manage to successfully poison 116,000 hectares of land in the Amazon Rain Basin, while displacing thousands of indigenous peasants, ruining legitimate crops and sickening the few local residents who would not or could not leave. However, despite all the damage, the Andes still managed to produce three times more cocaine than the US market consumes.

The Incomprehensible Lie of the Week award though goes to drug czar John Walters, who said in a statement that the report shows ``when democracy, stability and security flourish in drug-producing nations, progress can be made against the narco-terrorists who threaten our way of life.''

Meanwhile, the OAS blamed the Colombian paramilitary group AUC for colluding with FARC in killing 34 peasants on a coca farm this week, while FARC vehemently denied the allegations claiming the peasants were actually members of AUC. Keep in mind that your tax dollars are partly funding this atrocity.

If Walters calls this stability, one wonders what in his mind constitutes chaos?

Send in the clowns

Speaking of that fun loving prohibition profiteer Walters, he appears to have discovered the blogosphere and started a blog of his own. It's a lot better than you might expect. Check it out and be sure to leave him some comments.

Monday, June 21, 2004
Davies vow to stand their ground

I don't know how the prohibition profiteers sleep at night. In yet another example of forfeiture run amok, 81 year old David Davies, a WWII vet and his wife Florence had their life's worth of assets seized because their son was storing 19 kilos of cannabis in the ceiling. In an blatantly apparent miscarriage of justice, the couple received, "16-month suspended jail sentences last month after being convicted on two counts of possessing marijuana with intent to supply." I mean really, intent? Who on earth did the prosecution contend they were intending to supply it to?

To add insult to injury, the Australian government with obvious US inspired prosecutorial greed, took possession of the family home (because they could) and intend to charge them rent. The couple, who built the house with their own bare hands, will not go without a fight.

"They will have to drag us off," Mrs Davies said.

Meanwhile, the parties' lawyers are hashing it out and it appears the government might be willing to offer free rent. What a joke. They should be returning the Davies assets and offering an apology.

Communication Breakdown

Jeeez. Yahoo is still screwed up. I can't even get into the help menu to rag on the support guys this morning. I think I liked it better when I was stressing out about bouncing mail with the 4 meg storage. I mean really, I didn't ask for the upgrade and at the moment, after years of virtually trouble-free use, this does not feel like an improvement. If they don't fix it soon I'll have to start a new account somewhere else. I can't live like this.

Meanwhile, everything else seems to be working again, so before I forget let me say thanks to Jessica's Well for giving me such great placement on last week's updated COTV. I hope to hell it wasn't there the whole time after I did all that whining about being missed in the first round. Not impossible considering my current state of computer confusion. These are the times I really wish I was a technogeek instead of a technodope.

And finally, in an attempt to make amends for my self-absorbed wailing in the last week, I just checked Dispatches from the Culture Wars and let me say Ed Brayton is right, I probably need serious help. The hypochondria takes up enough of my time without adding paranoid delusions into the mix however, not to split hairs but I don't think it's impossible to instinctively dislike a person. Not to mention if the criteria for posting about someone is actually knowing them personally, then we had all better give up blogging. I mean for instance, how many bloggers actually "know" George Bush?

In any event, no one can accuse Ed of "knowing" me (as he clearly does not, since as my friends can attest -- to know me is to love me) but in my own defense, I was trying (and apparently failing) to be amusing. Believe it or not, a lot of people find me uproariously funny but my sense of humor is apparently an acquired taste and my jokes seem to lose a lot in translation without the voice inflections.

Meet at Tully O'Reilly's for a beer any week night at 6:00 though and I promise to make you laugh....

Sunday, June 20, 2004
Stardust gets in your eyes

My communication problems continue unabated. I can't find anything in my archives. My yahoo account is a mess. I can only access email intermittently and while I can publish, I can't link to graphics and I can't view the blog for some reason. Must be a residual effect from the Venus transit thing or maybe it's got something to do with this "Comet Wild 2".

They say it's a completely unexpected celestial object, unlike anything known. It was scanned by NASA's Stardust spacecraft in January and the data analysis has reportedly left astronomers astounded.

The mission also collected thousands of pristine bits of the comet that could yield answers to the origins of this universe. The lab scientists will be receiving comparative data as soon as July 4, 2005 when, "NASA's Deep Impact will slam a probe into comet Tempel 1."

Sounds a little ominous but very cool, doesn't it?

Microgram Bulletin

The DEA doesn't say where you can get these candy bars but I hear through the grapevine that they are really good.

The newsletter itself is fascinating reading. I don't know if anyone can subscribe for future updates, but, check out the entire April issue anyway. It covers everything smuggled from candy to cocaine to African yopo seeds. There's even a jobs section.

This is one for the archives.

Happy Father's Day

I'm sending my love out to my own "World's Best Dad" today. Unfortunately I won't get to see him for a few weeks but he knows how much I cherish him always. My Dad is not a fancy guy. He's not rich or famous but he can grow anything, tame wild animals and he's the most trustworthy person I've ever known.

Our physical resemblance is not strong but I'm clearly my father's daughter. I inherited his stubborn tenacity, tactless honesty and gruff kindness, not to mention a strong sense of adventure and a superior sense of direction. I'm so lucky to have been raised by this man.

However, as Pete Guither's moving post at Drug War Rant reminds us, not every child enjoys such good fortune, particularly under mandatory minimum sentencing for non-violent drug offenders. There's something wrong with a policy that creates more victims than it protects and today, hundreds of thousands of children will not see their Dads because the ill-advised war on some drugs imprisoned their parent for a victimless crime. My heart -- goes out to them.

Saturday, June 19, 2004
Nol Van Schaik lands in jail

We've spoken before about Nol Van Schaik and his Willie Wortel cannabis coffeeshops. Nol, who evaded arrest in France by literally jumping off a cliff, has been busy for these last fifteen years, what with advocating for sensible drug policy, running the coffeeshops and moving to Spain to become a became a public pot grower. (Information on all his enterprises can be found on his site,

But there's bad news. He's in a Spanish jail awaiting a decision on whether he will be extradited to France to satisfy the outstanding warrant for smuggling hash in 1989. With a Dutch decree prohibiting his extradition, he felt safe enough to travel. However he became a victim of heightened security when some panicked passport person had him arrested on the warrant. Spanish officials are now arguing about what to do with him.

As Nol's friends, family and admirers wait anxiously for the court's decision, long-time business associate Marcel de Worte suggests the best way to show support for Van Schaik is to, "visit Haarlem, Holland and enjoy the super Willie Wortels coffeeshops and the Dutch summer."

Or I guess you could just buy something from the Hempcity Webshop.

Friday, June 18, 2004
Rich and famous come out for cannabis

Some of the names won't surprise you. I mean, who wouldn't expect that Paul McCartney, Willie Nelson or Louis Armstrong smoked pot? But Newt Gingrich? World renowned anthropologist Margaret Mead? There's a sea change in the air these days around cannabis. Even as we poor and unknown folks are standing up to be counted in the ranks of responsible cannabis consumers, so are a wide spectrum of celebrities coming forward to say it's time to end the war on our plant.

Rodney Dangerfield has been a consumer for half a century. Montel Williams swears to its medicinal properties. Michelle Phillips, Bill Maher, Jesse Ventura, Dr. Andrew Weil, and former US Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders sit on the board of the Marijuana Policy Project. And putting the lie that cannabis use permanently impairs your intellectual processes to rest, noted scientists Richard Feynman and Carl Sagan admit their use. Sagan even said it inspired his work. New York City Mayor Bloomberg says he smoked it and enjoyed it.

These are only a few of those profiled on Very Important Potheads. Can this many accomplished citizens be wrong? Larry Hagman in his autobiography says it all.

Hagman writes, "Why that stuff should be illegal is beyond me. It's so benign compared to alcohol. When you come right down to it, alcohol destroys your body and makes you do violent things. With grass you sit back and enjoy life."

Amen. It's long past time for our government to stop stuffing our prisons with responsible cannabis consumers and show us all some respect.

Thursday, June 17, 2004
Mad Dad

Well, you can't really blame this Dad for being angry. He did trust his son to take care of his (no doubt lovingly restored) 69 Ford convertible, and he trusted him to keep his word and not drink and drive. Dad gave him the keys to this cool ride so he could arrive at his prom in style.

The kid really screwed up. He didn't go to the prom. He and his girlfriend got shit-faced drunk, went joyriding down some backwoods roads (no doubt to fool around - hey weren't you a teenager once?) and smashed the car into a tree.

Meanwhile the Dad had put a couple of Phish tickets on his credit card for the kid. The kid was supposed to pay him back out of his paycheck on his summer job. He won't be keeping that job now that he's grounded so Dad decided to recoup his losses by selling the tickets on EBay.

This is where it gets a little weird. The Dad posts the whole sordid story on the auction site. He calls the kid a son-of-a bitch, repeatedly. He figures to make a profit on the commiseration factor I guess, but it didn't quite work out that way. Instead he was bombarded with emails scolding him for calling his wife a bitch and advising that scalping tickets is against the law. He revised the terms and pledged to donate anything over the ticket price to MADD (his wife's choice) and Phish's charitable organization called the Mockingbird Foundation.

He has since closed the auction early and there is no indication what happened with the bidding. Fortunately, Last One Speaks has an inside track at Mockingbird and we hope to deliver the details on how much the auction made for them later.
Free Richard Connors

Here's another example of the price of prohibitions. Richard Connors, an attorney who formerly worked as a public defender, is facing a three-year jail sentence, a $60,000 fine and three years probation for importing certain plant-based products from the Caribbean.

What drug could warrant that kind of sentence? Oh it's worse than cocaine or opium folks -- he was caught attempting to smuggle 1,150 Cuban cigars across the Canadian border. He apparently had a thriving little business making surrepitious trips to Cuba for the contraband and was making a tidy profit selling $60 boxes of cigars for $400. If you've ever smoked one, you would understand why people are willing to pay that kind of markup.

Okay so he was violating the increasing meaningless US embargo on Cuba, but as Steve Sebekius points out:

In case anyone hasn't noticed, our Kennedy-era embargo on Cuba hasn't exactly brought dictator Fidel Castro to his knees. And the notion that American citizens can be punished simply for touring a nation that the government doesn't really like is ridiculous. It's fine for the State Department to issue travel advisories, warning Americans that they won't have U.S. government protection in hostile nations. But Foggy Bottom shouldn't be telling us where we can and can't go, as if they were our national collective parents.

Shouldn't our border patrols be concentrating on intercepting terrorists? I mean really, do you want to spend your tax dollars on keeping Connors in jail for having good taste in cigars?
Oakland pulls the plug on "Oaksterdam"

The city of Oakland apparently doesn't know a good thing when it sees it as city officials decided last week not to issue permits to several "compassion clubs." Only three of the dozen clubs that offered a safe source for medical marijuana patients will be licensed to operate.

Granted, some of the clubs were also selling to recreational users who did not possess patient ID cards but there is no report that even these clubs or their patrons created trouble for law enforcement. It appears the city, although legitimately concerned about regulating the market, is mostly concerned about appearances.

Meanwhile certified patients are suddenly left without a safe source for their medicine.

"All that you see around us will be gone,'' Jeff Jones, executive director of Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative, said Monday. "They're shutting almost everyone down, and I don't think that's good for the patients. I'm glad the city is involved in regulation, but it's also driving away businesses that could be paying revenue" to the city.

Councilwoman Nancy Nadel, whose district includes Oaksterdam, vows to work on getting more permits issued. One would think the council would appreciate the clubs' role in revitalizing an formerly fading downtown and consider well their actions before forcing thriving businesses to close.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Chance encounters

It's funny. Every time I meet sort of famous musicians that I don't recognize, they give me an assumed name. I met Sean Danielson from the band Smile Empty Soul at the bar formerly known as City Cafe after work last night. He changed his hair cut from the photo and he told me his real name was David and that his stage name was "My son is my music." (He wrote it down for me on the back of a Keno form. Really.) He shouldn't have been worried. I actually did lose track of big label contemporary artists in 1976 so I only recognize dead people, defunct bands and local musicians.

That being said, we had a very interesting conversation and I found him to be a surprisingly thoughtful young man. He had some great stories about meeting his heros and how it feels to meet someone that holds him up as one. I liked his take on his life and luck and his sense of responsibility to warn the upcoming generations. After hearing his story I understood how his words could resonate with a bewildered peer group.

"I tell them," he said "you have a choice. Don't become an asshole."

After that I didn't even have to read the lyrics to his songs to believe he was -- as he modestly claimed he might be -- a poet.
Say what?

It must be the planets. My world has been fraught with communication breakdowns in the last 24 hours. To begin with the Detroit News site is completely off line. I'm a little concerned about my new friends in the Motor City. I hope it's not some disgruntled conservatives waging a DNS attack on account of my posts. (Yeah, I know it's probably just a server meltdown. So sue me, I'm not being self-important, I'm just sort of an alarmist.)

The discussion between my usually even-tempered (though opinionated) cohorts on the newsroom discussion list has devolved into nearly a screaming match about fundamentalist religions and the myth of the liberal press and of course there was the small matter of being omitted from the Carnival this morning.

Not to mention that Yahoo (in response to Google's threat of Gmail) changed my world by upgrading my free account from 4 to 100 megs of storage space. I went from my perpetual red (you about to start bouncing mail) alert to using 4% of my space overnight. Now this is sort of a good thing. I mean I don't have to do mad purges to save space anymore but being a deadline driven person who only really functions well under pressure, this means my email will accumulate for way too long. Very dangerous for a procrastinator like me. This will definitely take some getting used to.

The bright spot in all this however, is that Pete at Drug War Rant is back from New York and posting again and Talk Left seems to be equally unaffected by the current confusion and has put up a long list of great posts in the last couple of days. They both have a lot worth scrolling for up on their blogs. Check them out while I try to instill some order into my personal chaos here.

Oh, and belated congratulations to Jerilyn for Talk Left's second blogiversary which occurred yesterday.
This is funny - Carnival #91

Snubbed by the COTV? I clearly sent my entry in time. COTV entry Mon 06/14 2k

When I first started submitting to the Carnival I was pretty sure this would happen every week. Then I figured out that there was obviously some rule that requires the host to post all entries, but I didn't take advantage of that. I try to send in my more non-partisan posts rather than offend the right-wing sensibilities of the regs at this party.

Interestingly, although I disagree with her politics, I like Jessica's dry sense of humor. However, I guess that she's probably one of those few people out there that just doesn't like me. Come to think of it, I think she and Ed Brayton are friends.

Speaking of Ed, I see he left a comment on my link to his Carnival post. Sorry for the late reply Ed, my comment section is so underused that I rarely check to see if anyone has actually said anything but whether you say our politics are the same or not, I know the chill of a cold shoulder when I feel it. No hard feelings though. I don't take it personally, even if it is.

Actually I know our politics are not that far apart, I figured it was just a personality clash. And my apologies to John Scalzi for getting his name wrong. Chalk that up to dyslexia I guess.

Anyway folks, I've resubmitted my entry to Jessica and await with interest to see what she does with it. Details to follow.

Meanwhile, check out the bloggers that got into Jessica's party. It's always interesting.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Witness for peace

Sanho Tree, in conjunction with Witness for Peace, will be leading a drug policy delegation to Colombia on August 15-27. The program will be based in Bogota and include field trips to the coca fields and meetings with representatives of the various players in Colombia's war on some drugs. The trip is designed for safety, fluency in Spanish is not necessary and the cost of $1,400 includes all ground services but not airfare. Looking at the photos of last year, I wish I could I go myself. More info is available here.

Friends at the court

If you're reading this in the San Francisco area tonight, please turn out to support Brian Epis at his hearing before the 9th Circuit tomorrow. Currently serving a ten year sentence for growing medical marijuana, he's arguing for release based on the court's landmark decision in Raich v. Ashcroft.

The case will be heard at The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Courtroom 3, Third Floor, 95 Seventh St (at Mission), San Francisco, California.

For interviews or more information, contact William Dolphin at (510)919-1498 or check the ASA website.
New neighbor in the Bloggerhood

I guess I have Pete at Drug War Rant to blame, 'um I mean thank, for introducing us. Goddess help me, I have no free time but I've added the Vice Squad to my list of daily reads. I had to do it, Jim and the VS team are doing some great posting over there. For instance, you can find out how slot machines are regulated in Las Vegas. Let me tell you if voting machines were as well monitored as slots, we wouldn't have to be worried about the Bush brothers finding a way to queer the next election with those Diebolds.

I also particularly enjoyed (well enjoyed is not quite right but I found it interesting) reading about Alcohol Prohibition Deaths in Iran. Jim notes that as alcohol was prohibited in 1979 there, so was a black market created and since it's unregulated, (not unlike the current prohibition against some drugs in this country), the quality and the safety of the product is uneven at best.

At least 19 have died and 60 have been poisoned from drinking bootleg booze distilled from methanol (an ingredient in anti-freeze). And as fabled in the history of alcohol prohibition in the US, several have gone blind in Iran from drinking this poison.

It's not unlike the unregulated chemical drugs that flood the underground markets in our own inner cities. Take Anchorage - a place I wouldn't expect to have a heroin problem - where they had 5 overdose deaths in the month of May alone. Whether it's because the dope is tainted or simply too pure, either way people are dying unnecessarily.

As Anchorage Police Lt. Caroline Stevens puts it, "This is not a product that's controlled by the FDA. This is a product that you have no idea what is going into it. It's made on the street, there's toxins in it." And you the taxpayer, are footing the bill for the social costs, the medical costs and the related crime costs that come with an unregulated industry.

You might as well face it, they're addicted to drugs out there. You can't force them to stop with threats of incarceration (or in some countries, even death.) Why not try to help them instead by providing a safe and legal environment and health counseling?
Putting on the hits

I don't know why I waited so long to install the Sitemeter as my hit counter but now that I finally have done it, I can now figure out to some extent where you folks are coming from and how you got here. I was surprised to find how many of you arrived by search queries -- a whole lot of you are trying to find those nude photos of Marcie Betts, the tattooed prison guard. I leave to draw your own conclusions about that.

Many of you arrive by referral from other sites though and I just want take a moment to offer a long-overdue thanks to the bloggers who have been kind enough to link to me. Pete at Drug War Rant and Jerilyn at Talk Left have been my biggest supporters since the beginning of course. I can never thank them enough for helping me get started but I didn't realize how many others of you have sent me readers.

So thanks a bunch to Jim and the rest of the Vice Squad and welcome to your many friends that regularly come to visit here. Also thanks to Mike Kantor at the Calico Cat, Jed at Freedom Sight, Annie's Annuals, Alec at Purple States, Chip Taylor, Dr. Beeper, Dratfink, Dr. Menlo at Abuddha memes, The Frank, Matthew Holt at Are You Outraged, Crescat Sententia, and Silflay Hraka and all the hosts of Carnival of the Vanities for sending readers over. Also thanks to Pardon My English for all that hate mail a couple of months ago.

I know I've missed at least a couple of more of you because I've lost the links somehow but thanks again to all of you for the mention and welcome to all your readers. I hope you all like what you see and please come back again.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Euro 2004 - Soccer Update

Following up on this story, England lost to arch rival France in a dramatic injury time finale (whatever that means. Drunken fans rampaged throughout England frightening the remaining patrons and staff at the local pubs. In Boston two police cars were overturned and set on fire.

However, in Lisbon where they instituted the alcohol intolerant/ cannabis friendly entrance policy at the stadium, there were no reported incidents of violence except for one lone England fan who was deported after attacking a French supporter on the day before the match.

Proving once again that cannabis consumers are more fun.

We get (hate) mail

Now I don't hate Ronald Reagan. I always thought of him as kind of a hapless dupe being manipulated by his handlers but that's not to say that I liked him or his policies either. I might have just kept my mouth shut if the media had not turned his funeral into such a vapid love-fest but I couldn't stand the hypocrisy in the end and I posted this at the Detroit News blog.

That's show biz - The Reagan Years

I've been trying to wait to weigh in on Ron Reagan until a respectable amount of time after his funeral -- it was a long wait. The extravanganza is finally over and by the way it cost 400 million of your tax dollars to deify the man, which I guess is appropriate for a guy who invented "trickle-down" economics. He and his cronies got the money and we working stiffs got the shaft.

Ron Reagan presided over a Cabinet filled with thugs. More members were criminally indicted out of those ranks than in any other in the history of the presidency. He illegally fomented a war in Nicaragua that is said to have been partly funded by a CIA drug dealing operation. He fired the air traffic controllers, he contended ketchup should count as a vegetable in fulfilling the nation's commitment to feeding hungry children and he refused to release funding for AIDS research because at the time it was mainly occuring only within the gay community. As for ending the Cold War - baloney - Harvey Wasserman explains.

They rightly called him the great communicator. He was an actor and he played the press like a virtuoso. He was the first to perfect the concept of governing by soundbite. But Reagan wasn't really a great president - he just played one on TV.

As you can imagine this generated a few responses from my readers. I don't why but I always like the hate mail best. Makes me feel like I'm doing my job. This was my favorite.

Posted: Sun. 06/13/04 12:51 PM
From: Alex
City: Commerce twp, USA
Subject: Weblog: Libby Spencer
Comments: Its sad that the Detroit News employs such a raging nutcase like Libby Spencer.

You gotta love it.

They Filled the Hill

I was really sorry to miss this event while I was on my little road trip but thanks to Richard Lake of Media Awareness Project for sending in the line-up on Pot-TV's coverage of Fill the Hill. I haven't watched the video yet myself but I hear it's great and you can see it here.

The roster of speakers boasts some of the best minds in the reform movement including, Philippe Lucas, from Canadians for Safe Access, the Vancouver Island Compassion Society and DrugSense, Eugene Oscapella, director of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy, Judith Ann Newbergher-Renaud, director of Educators For Sensible Drug Policy, Loretta Nall, president of the U.S. Marijuana Party, Jack Cole, executive director of LEAP and of course Marc Emery.

Pot-TV has come a long way in the last year. The production values on the latest videos are really quite professional so if you've been put off in the past by jumpy footage, give them another try.

Sunday, June 13, 2004
Science Fictions

Oh please spare me these fiction disguised as science articles. Let's see -- they want you to believe that contrary to 5000 years of use, all of a sudden young people are becoming addicted to smoking pot? And citing US Bush-funded figures to boot?

Yeah, these kids are addicted all right. Addicted to laziness and evading responsibility. I've addressed the reasons that the reported numbers of teenage users have increased before. It's our court system that allows a teenager to either take rehab or face the legal consequences for small time busts. Of course they are going to plead dependency to avoid jail. For some kids, it also becomes a convenient catch-all excuse for acting out but that doesn't mean they really couldn't stop.

And although it's certainly possible that depressed and schizophrenic people may have been self-medicating with the herb, the theory that cannabis use is causing psychosis was debunked a long time ago. Shame on the Guardian for publishing bad science as if it were fact. It's precisely this kind of shoddy reporting that causes young people to disbelieve warnings about the drugs that really are dangerous.

Sending out an S.O.S

If you're reading this in the eastern parts of Massachusetts, please help Mass Cann collect signatures to put cannabis initatives on our state ballots this year. Time is running out but it's not too late to make a difference. Help is needed in First Suffolk and First Essex counties.

Assistance is especially needed for staffing tables. They will have a table at the Northshore Mall in Peabody on Sunday June 13 from 11am to 6 pm, and from 10 am to 10 am on Tuesday, June 15, Thursday, June 17, Saturday, June 19, Monday, June 21 and Wednesday, June 23.

Contact if you can lend a hand.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

ACLU fights for student's civil rights

It's funny how all these little cosmic connections are happening between my life here in lovely downtown Noho and my cyberlife in Detroit. A couple of days ago, Detroit joined the growing list of communities with anti-Patriot Act resolutions. That movement started here.

I'm an integral part of the ACLU here in WMass. Now, the Michigan chapter of the ACLU filed suit against the City of Detroit over illegal searches of the students during random drug sweeps. The school claims they are searching for weapons but the results of the sweeps belie that notion and do not justify the mass violation of civil rights.

Conducting commando style SWAT team raids in public schools is the single most dunderheaded tactic in the war on some drugs. I have long maintained that treating school children like criminals without any probable cause makes them less safe - not more. It may nominally keep them from bringing drugs to school but it will not stop them from experimenting with mood-altering substances and it will stop them from asking for help. Not to mention that a child will live up (or down) to your expectations. A teenager who is unjustly treated with suspicion will see no reason to later behave in a trustworthy manner.

Drug War Vigil Film Festival

The Drug War Vigil Memorial Group is looking for entries for its 3rd Annual Film Festival. Registration is free and the entries are not due until September but you need to email your intent to enter immediately. Send videos of 30 minutes or less on the topic of any aspect of cannabis and/or the war on some drugs in VHS, high-8 or digital-8 format. Prizes range from $2,000 to $500 US dollars. Details are available here.

This year's festival will be held in conjuction with the Toker's Bowl on September 24-25 in Vancouver. It should be fun to attend even if you don't enter a video.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Beautiful dreamers

My dear friend Mark Bode was interviewed by the NYTimes this week. He's publishing a book this month done in tribute to his father, the late Vaughn Bode. Those of you my age will remember his dad's underground comics but anyone will be able to appreciate Mark's unique interpretation of his Dad's style.

Mark and his lovely wife Molly are two of my favorite people in the world and it's nice to see him get some recognition for his work. The article is already archived so I can only give you excerpts:

... When Vaughn Bode, the maverick cartoonist and graffiti guru, died in 1975 at 33, he left behind a son and some of the most original and influential cartoon art done in the 1960's and 70's.

[Mark] Bode, ...peered over his Ray-Bans ... and spoke about his father and the forthcoming book. "That's about where we dropped Dad's ashes from the Cessna," he recalled with a laugh. "I
ripped the bag open at exactly 2:22 p.m., just like he wanted." But when 12-year-old Mark looked down, he saw a big yacht passing below, filled with half-naked women sunbathing on the deck. "I figured it was Vaughn's last joke."

At the age of 41, Mark has continued to fullfil his dad's legacy and has taken it full circle to complete Vaughn's last unfinished work.

Kim Thompson, vice president of Fantagraphics, said, "We told Mark, `When you complete it, we'll publish it.' " Over the course of 15 years, he added, the company has published 15 volumes of Vaughn Bode's work, and the books have been very popular among graffiti and tattoo artists.

Vaughn Bode's characters have had a seminal influence, and it was often a rite of passage for graffiti artists to do a Bode character... "My father never even heard of graffiti," Mr. Bode said, shaking his head.

Mark should know. His father's spirit is never far from his art or his dreams.

"Vaughn was still one of the most creative forces I've ever met," Mr. Bode said. "To this day I've never had a religion. But my father represents a sanctuary, waiting for me."
Can't keep a good woman down

Loretta Nall's marijuana case is back in the news. With her arrest based on an investigation fraught with misconduct, misinformation and manufactured evidence, Loretta is appealing her conviction on two misdemeanor drug charges.

I think she should also file child endangerment charges against the police officers, one of whom was the husband of her 5 year old daughter's schoolteacher, for luring her child into remote areas of the schoolyard and attempting to elicit testimony from her. Believe it or not, a search warrant was issued based on the child's alleged statements. The irony is that if the child had accused the cop of molesting her, the court would most likely have discounted her statements based on her tender age.

We wish Loretta a successful appeal on these bogus charges. Meanwhile she's been in touch with Last One Speaks and sends this link to Part II of her hard-hitting series on prison abuse right here in the US. If you haven't seen Part I yet, we suggest you watch them in order. It's 75 minutes well spent, but once again the material is graphic and will leave you outraged at the inhumane treatment of our own citizens at the hands of private prison guards.
Tokers welcome here

I love this one. Police in Portugal, showing extraordinary good sense, have instituted a “Here We Blow” policy for an upcoming soccer game they are hosting between rivals England and France. In an effort to head off the ubitiquous violence that accompanies these games, cannabis consumers will not be hassled or arrested but anyone intoxicated on alcohol will be refused entry to the stadium.

Dutch police used a similar policy in Euro 2000 and England’s hooligan element were too stoned to fight.

A Lisbon police spokeswoman said: “If people cause a problem through drugs and become a menace then police will take action. But when this doesn’t happen why should the police be the ones making the fuss?”

So much for the theory of Reefer madness.

Thursday, June 10, 2004
Carnival's over

The show went on without me at Ambient Irony this week since I was on the road with nothing poetic to post but as always, it's worth cruising through to see the latest attractions.

Athena is not a drug sniffer

My apologies to Anthony Citrano and his pup for inadvertently implying that Athena was a drug dog by using her picture at this post. She's obviously a fine dog but she is not, nor will she ever be involved in law enforcement and if you check his blog you can see that Anthony clearly does not support the war on some drugs either.

Surprise Visit

No time to post this afternoon. An old dear friend was unexpectedly coming through town so I actually had a lunch date. Will be back later tonight.
Update on Colombia

It's been a while since we looked south of the border. Unfortunately not much has changed in Colombia, certainly no changes for the better.

Uribe has managed to railroad legislation through his Congress allowing him to run for re-election in 2006 while the decades-old civil war continues unabated causing the ongoing displacement of thousands of indigenous Colombians every month. The U.S. Committee for Refugees reports 250,000 people were displaced last year, down from the record 400,000 in 2002, but still an obscene number of refugees caused by a war already being underwritten in part by millions of your tax dollars.

Meanwhile, our government has just pledged 50 million more to pay for military radar equipment to help Colombia track aircraft smuggling cocaine and weapons. Interestingly, in light of the Bush administration's dislike of Hugo Chavez and his democratically elected government, one of the two U.S.-funded radars will be set up next year near the northwestern border with Venezuela, which is not really a popular smuggling route.

More disturbing is the Colombia government's approval of an "antiterror" bill that allows wiretapping without a warrant and gives the military many policing powers. Am I the only one who notices that the destruction of our own civil rights at home under the auspices of the Patriot Act has emboldened foreign governments world wide to also enact similarly intrusive and undemocratic laws against their own populations?

You have to admire the Latino spirit though. I can't quite read this article (it's in Spanish) but it appears that protesters in Ecuador staged a mock fumigation at Colombia's embassy in Quito to protest aerial spraying of drug crops along the border. Brave move as they don't use rubber bullets to quell demonstrations in these countries. We in the US could take a lesson in courage from them.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004
Thunder / Lightning

We're having a wonderful little thunderstorm here in lovely downtown Northampton this evening. Just the right ration of rain to save me from having to lug the watering cans out tomorrow and it turned the sunset into a black and white film of clouds and light. I took some photos with the instacamera that I'm trying to shoot out but I doubt if it captured the magic of the moment. It will be a miracle if I actually caught those great forks of lightning.

There were no colors except for where the roiling green of the trees and the dull red brick of the building across the parking lot was illuminated by a single sodium light and you can just about smell the sea off the river this time of year. For just a moment it felt like I was at the beach.

Now that I'm thinking of leaving it, I realize that this is what I'd miss about New England.

New poll - Vote now
I love these things even though I know they're unscientific and have no effect on public policy, I like to think they have some on public perceptions.

There's a poll up today at asking if the use of marijuana should be legalised and taxed, decriminalised but not taxed, or, remain an offence under the criminal code?

I'm sure no one will be surprised that I voted for the first choice which is currently ahead but not by much. It only takes a few seconds to click in here and cast your vote at the upper right corner of the page.
Pot Politics

Unlike the US where the candidates do their best to avoid taking a stand, cannabis is a real issue in the Canandian parlimentary elections this year. Thanks to the relentless efforts of Marc Emery, this is an issue that just won't go away north of our border.

Ever the pragmatist, Emery is promoting the most electable candidates who have the courage to come out solidly behind sensible cannabis policy, no matter what their party affliation. Thus his organization is supporting NDP candidates in some ridings, while backing Green Party candidates in others.

It appears however, that the rift between the Marijuana Party and Emery's forces continues unabated as Marc is calling on party leader Boris St. Maurice to resign on the basis of ineffective leadership. And all is apparently not rosy in the alliance between the NDP and Emery either as it's reported that NDP Federal Secretary is threatening to sue Marc for promoting the party's pro-pot position without their express permission.

We'll be watching with interest to see if the NDP keeps its word to reform current Canandian policy on our plant and if Emery can deliver the votes to elect the cannabis friendly candidates.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Revenue lost

I'm back from my trip and while slogging through my email I ran across this brief item that once again demonstrates the potential for tax relief in a legal cannabis market.

Seventeen people were arrested in what authorities are calling the largest drug bust ever seen in their area. They are charged with running an operation dealing in hydroponic cannabis that spanned both the US and Canada, and is alleged to have generated one million dollars a month for several years.

Arrests have been made in Toronto, Michigan, Mississippi, Maryland and California. Law enforcement agents say they seized $5 million in cash, 1,700 pounds of marijuana and 3,000 ecstasy tablets.

A one shot seizure of cash goes only to the prohibition enforcers, not to your public treasuries. A million dollars every month on the other hand could provide for a lot of education, health care and municipal services. Doesn't it really make more sense to allow the market to operate legally than to spend hundreds of thousands on arrests and incarcerations?

Would you like to swing on a star?

Just got home to find that tonight's the night that Venus will cross the face of the sun. Here's the live feeds to all the celestial action. They say it's a six hour show.

Not to be missed. This is once in your lifetime folks. The last occurrence was 122 years ago.

Link thanks to What Really Happened via Talk Left.

Monday, June 07, 2004

On our way home

The wifi was installed here a couple of days ago but there was heavy competition for the laptop and believe it or not there are actually one or two things more important than blogging to other people so I didn't get to post as much as I had hoped. However I did have a lovely time here and I'll be flying home tonight so we'll be back on our usual blogging schedule by tomorrow afternoon.

If I haven't answered your email in the last week, it's nothing personal - it just got lost in the 200 messages I haven't been able to wade through yet but I'll be looking at it all in the next couple of days.

Meanwhile, I'm off for one last day of sightseeing and enjoying the company of my friends and the warm and sunny weather.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Let's review

I'll be back blogging regularly on Tuesday but I'm about out of time for the moment so I'm going to leave you with this week's DRC newsletter which is always worth reading in full.

Check out their interview with the Grand Old Man of drug policy reform, Arnold Trebach, a nice tribute to another long time drug policy reformer, the late Sam Dash and their corrupt cop of the week feature. This week they report on Louisiana sheriff's deputies arrested for selling the prescription drug Vicodin and payroll fraud.

I might remind you that the DEA justifies it's insupportable war on pain management doctors on the basis of black market abuse and sales of these legal medications. It seems to us the black market is more driven by this kind of police corruption rather than career criminals or people obtaining the drug by "doctor shopping." You would think the DEA would take note of the repeated instances of arrests within the ranks of law enforcement and start investigating the real illegal purveyors of these drugs and keep their nose out of the legitimate practice of medicine.

Changing the Climate

I'm still on the road and have had some access problems so I'm behind on the news. I'm sure by now everyone knows about this but I just want to offer my congratulations to Joe White and Change the Climate, the ACLU and the rest of the legal team for their recent victory in federal court against the Tranportation Department and Washington Metro's censorship of political speech.

Judge Paul Friedman noted in his decision that, "just as Congress could not permit advertisements calling for the recall of a sitting mayor or governor while prohibiting advertisements supporting retention, it cannot prohibit advertisements supporting legalization of a controlled substance while permitting those that support tougher sentences."

Rather well said don't you think?