Monday, May 31, 2004
DEA in a dither

I'm not one to take pleasure in other's misfortune but I can't deny feeling some delight in this story. It appears as many as 100 Drug Enforcement Administration investigations around the country could be compromised because a laptop computer that contains sensitive data, including information about many informants, is missing.

The computer was first reported stolen three weeks ago by an auditor for the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General, which was conducting a routine review of DEA payments to informants.

The auditor at first said the computer which contained more than 4,000 pages of case-file data was stolen from his car but has since changed his story and said he disposed of it in a dumpster after he accidentally damaged it. Either way, DEA are reported to be livid.

The incident is a particular embarrassment for Inspector General Glenn Fine's office, which has taken on an expanded watchdog role under Attorney General John Ashcroft. Only two years ago, the IG issued a blistering report criticizing Justice agencies, including the DEA and the FBI, for failure to maintain adequate controls on sensitive items—including their laptop computers.

One official said, "This is a sin in our business."

I don't know, it kind of feels like an act of God to me.

[link via Drudge]

Selling War

The Department of Homeland Security spent 226 million in 2003 on an ad campaign designed to prepare the public for another possible terrorist attack. No one involved in the project appears to be able to explain why the campaign was in the works for over a year and didn't launch until February 2003, only one month before Bush invaded Iraq. I mean really, it took 17 months for them to decide to tell us to buy batteries and duct tape?

Dan Forbes, with his usual meticulous research, makes a credible case that the Bush administration used your tax dollars to promote their long planned attack on Iraq. It's certainly not the first time they have used public money to support a private political agenda.

There's the 69 million spent on the U.S. Army's "Operation Graduation" campaign. As Dan points out, although at first glance this may seem to be a politically neutral program, the person managing the campaign admits it aids recruitment efforts since the Army does not accept high school dropouts.

And of course there is the 65 million the ONDCP spent last year on those ineffective anti-marijuana ads -- much of which went to promoting prohibition profiteering groups affiliated with the privately held Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America. This is in addition to the regular federal grants these private agencies receive to protect prohibition policy. It is through these agencies that current drug czar John Walters uses your tax dollars to defeat drug policy reform initiatives brought forward by the taxpaying public.

Interestingly the Ad Council, a private non-profit in existence since 1942, invents the slogans and oversees 1.5 billion a year in advertising buys, but makes no mention of their three biggest clients on the website. You would think that since the CEO of the council serves on the board of directors of the Partnership for a Drug Free America they would at least mention the ONDCP campaign somewhere on the site.

Maybe they're afraid they will lose an account ultimately worth 2 billion dollars if the public does the math and comes to the same conclusion as Dan Forbes did. And after all they did invent the phrase, "Loose lips sink ships."

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Road trip

We'll be on the road for the next week but our traveling companions have a laptop so we expect to be checking in pretty often. Be back later.

Might as well face it...'re addicted to blogs. There's a lot of denial going on out there but I've admitted my "problem" months ago. Things haven't changed much since then except that I now also post regularly on the Detroit News blog. (Hey, at least it keeps me out of the bars.)

I did get better at returning phone calls but the rest of my life is still pretty much centered around this computer screen. I turn down invitations to parties regularly and the closest I've come to a having a date this year is flirting with Bubba. I keep waiting for him to ask me to dinner but he doesn't talk much.
Justice served

A federal jury showed some common sense in refusing to allow prosecutors to expand the "Len Bias law" to extend a drug dealer's liability to a user who did not die from an overdose, and refused to convict 24 year old Tomas Cubilette for causing bodily harm to a teenager who went into a coma for two days after taking an ecstasy tablet.

According to testimony, others who took the same drug suffered no bad reactions. Tomas, who was facing 20 years under mandatory minimums wept as the verdict was read.

Good for the jury for not ruining this young man's life over one consumer's unusual reaction and possibly irresponsible use of a mind altering substance.

Justice gets busted

It's simply human nature to alter our consciousness and no one is immune. Case in point, the Hon. W. John Brennan, 57, chief judge of state district court in Albuquerque, was arrested for drunk driving after attempting to flee a police checkpoint last week. He appeared to be "extremely intoxicated" and was carrying what appeared to be cocaine when he was stopped.

Brennan was booked on charges of possessing a controlled substance and evidence tampering, and was released on his own recognizance, according to jail records. A charge of drunken driving was pending results of a blood-alcohol test, Ahrensfield said.

A passenger, Patricia Ann Mattioli [who works for the state Commission on Higher Education], also was arrested on a charge of possession of a controlled substance, Ahrensfield said. Mattioli, 43, was released after posting a $2,500 bond midday Saturday, jail records show.

The judge claims he will take full responsibility for his actions, but one can't help but wonder why his passenger had to post bail and spend the night in jail when he didn't. Sounds to me like he sold her out.

His fellow jurist, Judge James Blackmer, describes him as "a truly outstanding judge and a fine, wonderful person." He goes on to say, ""I would hope that everyone keeps an open mind on this and all other investigations in general and not prejudge anything."

Tell it to the hundreds of thousands of inmates languishing in our prisons under mandatory minimums. One wonders if what's good for the public will also apply to the judge. We're predicting he won't do a day in jail but his passenger will not get off as lightly as he will.

Friday, May 28, 2004
DOJ report released

The US Department of Justice Statistics division released its Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2003 report late yesterday. Highlights of the report include:

Prison population increased by 40,983, the largest increase in 4 years.

At midyear 2003, a total of 3,006 State prisoners were under age 18. Adult jails held a total of 6,869 persons under age 18.

Local jails were operating 6% below their rated capacity. In contrast, at yearend 2002 State prisons were operating 1% and 17% above capacity, and Federal prisons were 33% about their rate capacity.

In the year ending June 30, 2003, the smaller State prison systems had the greatest percentage increase: Vermont (up 12.2%), Minnesota (up 9.4%), and Maine (up 9.1%).

A pdf version of the full report is available here.

Overall it adds up to 1 out of every 75 men in the United States are presently incarcerated, the majority being non-Caucasian.

[thanks to JackL and Vig Haufniensis for the links]

Anti-drug ads just don't work

There's a new study out once again proving that John Walters is wasting that $145 million he plans to spend this year on the ONDCP's anti-marijuana ads. The study proves the ads play favorably to parents but do not work on their target audience. Echoing the results of a previous study done in 2002, this study also found that in fact, these ads make drugs more enticing to teenagers.

A national survey conducted in 2002 by Westat Inc. and the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania for the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that most parents and youth surveyed recalled seeing the anti-drug ads, and that the ads had a favorable effect on parents.

But, the government-funded survey concluded, "There is little evidence of direct favorable campaign effects on youth." It went on to note, "For some ... analysis raises the possibility that those with more exposure to the (ads) ... had less favorable outcomes over the following 18 months."

Unsurprising, the ONDCP, (in an effort to protect their funding) as in 2002, claims the study is flawed and cites statistics they paid for suggesting teenage use is down. If that was true one wonders why law enforcement is so keen on also spending our tax dollars locking down schools and terrorizing our children with drug dogs.

[Link via Talk Left]

Thursday, May 27, 2004
Every vote counts.

To use my pal Harry McColgan's trademark expression, "Are you shitting me?" In the last 34 years I have failed to vote once, and that was on purpose to make a political statement. I was working at the polls that day.

Well, that is until last Tuesday. I worked late doing a ACLU training and got home ten minutes before the polls closed. I probably could have jumped in the car and still just made it but I was tired and thought, oh just this once, I'll skip it -- It's only an over-ride vote. I would voted for it of course.

Well wouldn't you know it, the over-ride lost by just one vote. Now I feel really guilty for shirking my civic duty. My vote would have made a real difference.
Madana Modaka

Following up on our previous post about the proposed legalization of marijuana in Sri Lanka, the estimated 16,000 Ayurvedic practitioners are watching developments with interest. There is no Bill pending in their legislature as yet. According to a government spokesman, "Our first step is to formulate a National Policy document for the indigenous medicine sector which will become part of the National Health Policy."

Presently, the locally registered Ayurvedic practitioners obtain cannabis by applying to the Ayurvedic Drugs Corporation, an agency that distributes cannabis seized from unauthorized consumers.

Cannabis is known by many names in the country and its medicinal and pain-relieving properties have long been touted in ancient Hindu literature and in the local Ayurvedic practice. Creating a reasonable policy on its use is a complicated proposition.

Going by the opinions of the Ayurvedic practitioners and officials of the Ayurvedic Drug Corporation as well as the National Dangerous Drugs Control Board, the effective way of dealing with cannabis seems to hang in the balance between defining its value in Ayurvedic medicinal preparation and its abuse as a "dangerous narcotic" in unauthorised productions.

Such products like Madana Modaka gulis (globlets), sold in "petti kades" (vendor huts) near schools, are known to be purchased by school boys for "kicks." On the other hand, Madana Modaka is a legitimate medicinal preparation in Ayurvedic practice and is sold by the Ayurvedic Corporation and other reputable Ayurvedic practitioners, while its preparation method is clearly stated in the Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of Sri Lanka - its ingredients being cannabis leaves and seeds fried in ghee, among other local herbs such as thipal, kottan, corriander, asamodagam and namal renu. Madana Modaka is usually recommended as a sexual stimulant and for flatulence and loss of appetite, among other things.

Among over 20 medicinal preparations mentioned in the Ayurvedic
Pharmacopoeia that contain cannabis, are Buddharaja kalka, Jathipalaadi choornaya, Hinguladhi rasaya (watee), Kameswara modakaya and Ranahansa rasayanaya (pindi).

Rural peasants and low-income people in urban areas were traditionally the major users of these medicines, however now that their use is being adopted by the upper classes, the Sri Lankan government seeks to consolidate the source.

He explains that the purpose of the proposed legislation is to allow only the Commissioner of Ayurveda of the Ayurvedic Department to grow cannabis in one central location, after estimating how many kilos would be needed by the country's Ayurvedic practitioners per year and how many acres could produce that amount, with due protection being accorded to the area. A parallel can be drawn with opium, which is imported by the Ministry of Health and issued to medical practitioners.

The US prohibition profiteers can deny it all they like, but history talks and thousands of years of medicinal use can't be wrong. Our own legislators would do well to take notice of this model.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Zero Tolerance run amok

This one is just beyond the pale. A 69-year-old woman may lose her government-subsidized studio apartment because of a federal policy punishing her for the actions of an uninvited guest.

Olive McKibben suffered severe back injuries resulting from an automobile accident nine years ago and her only income is the $800 she receives from Social Security. She's lived in her apartment at Marina Manor for about a year, having moved there to be closer to her family.

She took a two week trip out of town to visit another daughter and lost her home to our government's dunderheaded zero tolerance policies.

During the visit, she received a telephone call from an officer with the Marina Department of Public Safety informing her that her neighbors reported someone was in her apartment.

McKibben said she was shocked by the news and asked the officer to arrest the man.

It turned out the intruder was her home health aide, who agreed to come over and feed her pet and water her plants. He had taken up residence in her absence, without her permission and when police arrived they reportedly found the place in shambles and some undetermined amount of drugs belonging to the guy.

Under federal mandate, which apparently has no provisions for such extenuating circumstances, she will be tossed out on the street within a month.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that operators of public housing projects can legally evict families because of a family member's drug use. But McKibben said her home health-care worker was not a family member, not an invited guest and certainly not under her control.

Nonetheless, legal aid attorneys told her she should drop the matter and find another apartment.

This miscarriage of justice is what your government calls fighting the war on drugs. Looks to me like just another attack on the poor, disabled and otherwise disadvantaged members of our society and it's being underwritten with your tax dollars.

Castles made of sand

Here's an update on our story about Operation Sandshaker. Domingo "Chino" Gonzalez, 38, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lacey Collier to a 17-year, seven month federal prison sentence for supplying the so-called cocaine ring that consisted mainly of middle-aged, middle-income drug users.

Of the 53 arrests, ten were charged federally and received sentences from probation to the 15 years given to "Jackie" Seale III, the other alleged "king pin" while Linda Taylor Murphy, owner of the Sandshaker Lounge & Package Store for which the drug sting was named, remains to be sentenced.

The other 41 defendants are facing state charges. Six have pleaded no contest to possession and other charges and two have been sentenced, one to 60 days in jail and the other to 30 days on work release.

So essentially, the government ruined 53 lives, spent hundreds of thousands of your tax dollars to "protect" you from these small time recreational users and for what? Well there is this:

Gonzalez also has agreed to forfeit property used to facilitate the conspiracy, as well as all proceeds he derived from it.

The cops get a thousands of dollars in forfeited assets for their own benefit and the taxpayer foots the bill not only for the arrests but also the incarceration costs and in lost tax revenues from defendants who no doubt lost jobs as a result of being arrested.

Meanwhile, since your law enforcement officers are so busy busting small time consumers, your government wants to create a police state by using military personnel to fill civilian enforcement positions. This is how fascism begins...

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Carnival of the Vanities #88

Our host this week, the lovely Karol, of Spot On looks to be just about as politically on the right as I am on the left but she graciously presides over the festivities with great equanimity. I only have a minute left in my lunch hour to post, so I've only read Zero Tolerance who posts an infuriating story about a kid who was suspended from school for a toy bat locked in his trunk.

Otherwise it looks to be the same delicious mix of viewpoints as always. I'll go back later to read more of my favorite regs over there. Check it out.

Global Decrim sweeps the world!

Running late this morning so I'm just posting a link to this enlightening look at the "Reform Fever" that's sweeping the globe.

The war on weed is failing worldwide, and some states and countries are seeking new alternatives. Russia, Venezuela, Canada and the US state of Alaska are the latest to jump on the reform bandwagon.

The model throughout seems to be to allow possession of small amounts for personal use while increasing penalties for trafficking. Not entirely a practical solution in my mind, since someone has to provide the herb to those who can't grow their own and often these proposed measures don't even allow for cultivation so essentially decrim allows use while keeping the supply illegal.

The truth of decriminalization is that it is an absurd answer to an unsolvable problem. Governments around the world are starting to realize that the drug war cannot be won. Prohibition's only function now is to criminalize marginalized cultures and feed economies based on prison-slavery, but still our rulers don't know how to let it die gracefully.

And what to do all those who depend on the prohibition for their livelihood? Reverend Damuzi has a suggestion.

In Nebraska, based on a law against children belching in church, there could be a war on burps. In New Hampshire, based on a law against keeping time to music, there could be a war on foot tapping. In New Jersey, based on a law against men knitting during fishing season, there could be a war on homemade sweaters and socks. In Ohio, based on a law against getting fish drunk, there could be a war on boozing aquarium owners. In New York, based on a law against looking at women lustfully, there could be a war on flirting. In North Carolina, based on a law against having sex in anything but the missionary position, there could be a war on doing it "doggie style".

Sound silly to you? It is. It makes as little sense as this fruitless and unnecessary war on some drugs.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Happy Valley

One of the things I love about the Valley in the summer is the musicians I know who travel, come home for a while. The Drunk Stuntmen are here for longer this year because they're preparing for a European tour in September. Thus it was that I had the good fortune to run into Scott twice yesterday and Alex Johnson again today. Al, who as I recall was the one who inspired the name for the band after he fell down some stairs without spilling his beer, tells me yesterday's party at Harry's (aka 11s) was fun and blurry. In Noho that translates to a good time was had by all.

The Eurotour will start in Rotterdam for several days where they will open for the Young at Heart Chorus, (a group that needs a separate post to explain), then they're off to Portugal, Poland and perhaps another country.

Local readers should catch a gig before they leave. Around here you never know when a local band will get so famous that they don't come home again. Which reminds me, I still haven't run into Chris Collingwood in a really long time.

Michael and Irma

The big news this weekend was in the backyard. Mike and Irma are having a garden together. Well, mostly Michael is having a garden. He's very excited about it.

He worked hard all afternoon digging up the soil and planting his 10 packages of bean seeds in a 3 x 8 foot patch. This week we taught him that a plastic leaf rake will not work on raking out soil. Fortunately we had an iron rake with which to demonstrate. I think next week a lesson in thinning will be in order but one guesses it will be a hard sell. He's already imagining eating the beans and is attached to the mere idea of the plants.

His transplanting left a little to be desired, (the basil and cilantro will be coming up in one big chunk) but the beauty of their spot is no matter what you do, it seems to grow. Morning sun is everything back there and they get a lot of it.

Meanwhile, my own little plot struggles to find the afternoon sun through the tree and never does as well as the others even though I work twice as hard at it. Still I found a heartening number of volunteers from last year's perennial experiments and have high hopes for the weekend's transplant operation since we just had the perfect rain to keep the little buggers happy.

We'll be photoblogging this as the summer progresses.

Beautiful days in the neighborhood

Big changes in the hood, the gorgeous weather brought everyone out to the stoops and I met a lot of the new neighbors and a lot of my old ones are moving away. I'm sorry to see Jonathan go, he's been great and was incredibly quiet. His tag sale was a great success, perhaps because Steve was out there playing those exquisite licks on his acoustic guitar.

David, was holding court all weekend on his stoop and introduced me to the girls from Holland staying in July's apartment. Why are Dutch people always so beautiful and healthy looking? Marianna is quite young, she can't be more than mid 20s and Teanna is a little older and pregnant. And to debunk the idea that legalization of marijuana will corrupt our youth, I asked them how they felt about the herb. Both of them tried it once, didn't like it but don't think allowing its use is any big deal. As Marianna said, "It's always been there, I don't even think about it."

I also got to meet Mark, the owner of the Buddha truck that I want to get a picture of when I finally get a digital camera, (which I hope to do in the next couple of weeks.) I don't think you can do it justice in a few words but it's very colorful and looks kind of like a rolling Buddhist temple with a really nice Buddha statute for a hood ornament.

Also in this group was our neighborhood celebrity (who knew we even had one), Hugh, who co-owns the new coffee shop around the corner. By the way, to dispel any mistaken notions from the press accounts, these guys are from Great Barrington and not Pittsfield.

Best of all I ran into the Drunk Stuntmen again this weekend. They are my favorite local group and also my favorite kids from my days bartending at the Baystate Hotel. I've come to think of them as part of my chosen family.

I didn't get to see them play last night. They were doing a private bachelor party for Roger's friend. It was treat to see Roger though(my old favorite bartender at City) who came back from Oakland for the wedding. He and Umni are starting a catering business out there and he tells me they are loving the California lifestyle.

I did get to see the Stuntmen play last weekend however. It was a small miracle. I was awake enough at midnight to go out, I remembered they were playing and the gig was remarkably uncrowded so I actually snagged a table right up front. Those boys get better every time I see them and Al's guitar work especially continues to impress and astound. Fabulous gig. How lucky is that?

I was also really glad to see Terry Flood's partner, Tall Girl at the gig, who I always felt especially close to. I came to consider her as kind of a daughter and of course she looked as gorgeous as ever. I was also happy to finally congratulate Steve on his marriage - almost a year after the fact. I have got to get out of the house more.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

POT-TV's Toker's Corner

Relentless reformer Tim Meehan is as busy as ever in the North Country organizing NDP events and this video forum to be debuted early this week in Oakville, Ontario. According to the press release, POT TV will be uploading the comments on a regular basis.

And don't forget Fill the Hill coming up on June 5. Unfortunately I'll be heading in another direction on that week, but if you're free, this march is an opportunity to meet some nice people and make a cross-border political statement that could resonate around the world.

I hear the weather is gorgeous there this time of year.
Abu Ghraib USA

I been thinking since the prison abuse story broke that the real tragedy is these same abuses and worse occur in our own US prisons every day. Loretta Nall is way ahead of me. She just posted the first of her three part series on this issue on Pot TV.

I watched this excellent video last night -- take the warning seriously -- it's extremely graphic and disturbing. More distressing is the fact this is not an isolated incident. It's happening to non-violent offenders system wide, including political dissenters of every kind. The problem is bigger than just this illogical War On some Drugs. It's not comfortable viewing but I urge you to sit through the 35 minutes if you can.

Loretta is right. Where is the outrage for own citizens being mistreated by the same thugs running the privatized prisons here?

[Links via Talk Left and Pot-TV]

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Your privacy at risk

It's a perfect afternoon to transplant in the garden so I won't be posting much until later but I ran across this item last night on the Total Information Awareness program in MATRIX clothing that deserves some attention. There are 120,000 people on just this one list. The Florida company that created it, Seisint, said in government documents, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, that the "High Terrorism Factor" list had led to scores of arrests.

Congress refused to fund this program because of privacy concerns, however, the Department of Homeland Security gave these guys 8 million of your tax dollars to spy on you anyway. If you live in Florida, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Michigan and Ohio, you are part of the 20% of US citizens currently subject to this MATRIX database.

It's not a stretch to see this administration using this data to pursue political dissenters as well as terrorists. Protect yourself -- Click here to learn more.

Friday, May 21, 2004
Officer, test thyself

This is interesting. In a case of turnabout is fair play, up to 600 officers in the UK who handle drugs, firearms, emergency vehicles, or sensitive information are now liable to be drug tested at any time. So far about ten were required to undergo random testing. Urine samples were analysed for alcohol, cannabis, barbiturates, amphetamines, cocaine and hallucigens.

A department spokesperson says the testing was instituted to give their law enforcers an opportunity to deal with addiction problems. I doubt if the intent is that altruistic but it's not a bad idea to test them if they're going to run around arresting people for the very same behavior. Good for the goose and all that...

In fact I would love to see this instituted at the DEA and the Justice Department. One wonders how Walters and Ashcroft would like having someone watch them pee in a cup and while they're at it maybe they could get a drug dog to sniff Andrea Barthwell while they do a canine sweep of their offices.

As a matter of fact someone should suggest they volunteer just to set a good example.
Bordering on insanity

I have a couple of items this morning. This first story would not be particularly notable except that the alleged "crime" was committed by a Canadian border guard who was caught attempting to smuggle 22 kilos of cannabis over the border. For the metrically challenged that's about 45 pounds of pot. Not much in comparison to say this bust, where they found almost half a ton in a truck bound for Costco.

The penalties for being caught are almost equally severe. The guy with half a ton is facing up to 20 years in prison and a $4 million fine. The border guard with 45 pounds faces up to 20 years in prison and up to $1 million US in fines and his accomplice who was to receive the cannabis on this side of the border could receive 25 years in prison and up to $500,000 US in fines.

The hapless border guard was bagged as a result of "a bi-national investigation involving several county, state and federal agencies that spanned several months." Think about how much the investigation alone cost you as a taxpayer. Add to that the cost of prosecution and incarceration and once again (the fines nothwithstanding) you're spending obscene amounts of money to chase down people who supply a natural unadulterated herb to non-violent consumers, when you could be enjoying the financial benefits of a legally regulated market.

Meanwhile the most dangerous mind-altering substance, alcohol remains legal and is abused by law enforcement officials as well as ordinary citizens. Looking at the lead article at the second link, a St. Clair County Sheriff Deputy and his wife are charged with lying to police about a drunk driving accident, where the husband rolled their car over in downtown Port Huron and his wife claimed to be driving. He's looking at 93 days in jail and a $300 fine, she could receive up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.

This incident truly did endanger the public safety and the disparity in the penalties compared to cannabis, (which has not actually ever been proven to cause an accident based solely on its use), is just crazy.

Thursday, May 20, 2004
Mary Janes

When I was a little kid, my favorite shoes were called Mary Jane, and there was a candy called Mary Jane and then there was an herb with the same name that I rather liked.

It's been a long time since I wore the shoes or chewed the candy, I think it was taffy and peanut butter, but the plant I loved is back in vogue. How heartening to hear that it's cool to get high again. The Boomers are remembering their roots.

According to U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 10.725 million Americans – roughly 1 in 20 – have used marijuana in the past month.

..."There's something in the ether. It does feel suddenly hip to roll a joint," says Anne Nocenti, High Times' editor-at-large, who believes perceptions about smokers have altered. "If you smoke pot you're not necessarily considered a stoner anymore."

...This sentiment is echoed by Richard Stratton, High Times' editor in chief...."So many (media) executives are outing themselves as smoking it," he says, a definite case in point. Stratton was sent down eight years for his exploits – which are now funneled into the show's plot. "They were smoking pot 30 years ago and they're smoking it now. They don't see it as a plant with roots in hell that leads directly to injecting heroin."

No doubt because not many of us ended up taking heroin. Hard to sell the gateway theory to the Woodstock generation. We were there and yeah we lost some friends to the bad white drugs, but mostly we were just young idealists ingesting plants.

"When I was a kid, we were told marijuana was the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind and made users hopelessly insane," says David R. Ford, a former CBS journalist and ad man, who published "Good Medicine, Great Sex," last year. In his book, Ford, who smoked dope for decades, insists that cannabis "fed his creativity, furthered his success, and led him into adventures both warmly amorous and fearfully dangerous." "But over the years," says Ford, who now lives in Sonoma, California, "many people began to question that as it just didn't happen. The misrepresentation by the federal government was pure propaganda."

That hasn't changed, the feds still lie and feed on prohibition but all of sudden it feels like the sixties all over again. Artists arise to counter the disinformation and the public responds. Case in point, the Marijuana-Logues that we told you about when they hit the Big Apple are, as we hoped, still in town and going strong. The meme grows and we haven't yet missed our chance to see the show.

Hope springs eternal.

Closing the book on Tulia

U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson finally signed an order dismissing a federal civil rights lawsuit following the negotiation of a $6 million settlement by all parties involved. Although the suit was brought forward by only two of the victims of the lying undercover cop, Tom Coleman and the Panhandle Regional Narcotics Trafficking Task Force, which oversaw the operation, all 46 of the wrongfully arrested will be compensated in the settlement.

The Task Force has already been disbanded while the perpetrators of this injustice still await trial.

Coleman is facing prosecution on three counts of aggravated perjury for allegedly lying under oath in evidentiary hearings. His trial was set for this month, but it has been delayed as prosecutors seek a change of venue.

District Attorney Terry McEachern also will be facing a court date where he will answer a complaint filed by the State Bar of Texas alleging prosecutorial misconduct. McEachern, who lost his bid for re-election in March, could lose his law license if he loses at the trial, which should happen later this year.

One hopes that under the scrutiny of the press and the public, these two will get what they deserve and not skip off with a slap on the wrist.

Medical marijuana case moves forward

As expected, US District Court judge Martin Jenkins issued an injunction in response to the recent ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, preventing the federal government from harassing or arresting medical marijuana patients Angel Raich and Diane Monson.

We've heard from their attorney, David M. Michael, who outlined the procedural schedule on the case. He advises the government had previously petitioned the Supreme Court last month to review the Ninth Circuit's decision that concluded that Congress had exceeded its Commerce Clause authority in applying the Controlled Substances Act to justify prosecuting Raich and Monson.

Michael's opposition brief is due within the next three weeks. After it's filed the matter will go to a judicial conference, where the vote of 4 Justices are necessary to grant certiorari. If granted, oral argument is likely to occur in late 2004 or early in 2005.

Attorney Michael also expects the government to appeal Judge Jenkins preliminary injunction, however the matters would most likely be joined to the original appeal and would not affect the oral argument schedule.

Meanwhile Angel Raich expressed happiness that the ruling had
arrived, "I want the public to know what the federal government has been doing after 9/11," she said.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Small Blogosphere - Carnival 87

Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars is hosting the COTV this week. I thought the name sounded familiar, it turns out Ed was a fellow guest blogger at the Detroit News last month.

We never really connected. I'm sure this will come as a shock to all of who know and love me dearly, but not everyone likes me and I always got the feeling that Ed is one of those people. I think I'm just too liberal for him. He sure is fond of our other fellow blogger Ed Scalzi though. He talks about him a lot.

Anyway, there's no theme to the carnival but the entries as always are a delicious mix of all things mostly right wing and then there's me, the token leftie that JUST WON'T GO AWAY, no matter how cold a shoulder she receives. Check it out.
Cash Crops

It is of course the time of year when the outdoor grow-ops get busted every day. Now I think the authorities consistently overestimate the worth of these fields but taking it at face value for the moment, here's another 40 million dollars that didn't get pumped into the economy of Fresno County.

When you look at the damage the war on drugs does, it's not just the irresponsible waste of your tax dollars on eradicating a beneficial plant you must consider. It's not only about the obscene amount of your money that's being spent on incarcerating non-violent consumers. It's not even just lost tax revenues from the regulated sale of the product. It's the money and employment opportunities that could be generated by a legal cannabis industry that would alleviate some of the current losses stemming from outsourced manufacturing jobs.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004
How many more times?

I've taken to searching cannabis stories lately and I'm struck by the amount of pot that is busted in any given week. Just in today's reports, almost a ton was seized twice in Tuscon, in two different locations. A business owner was busted for 100 pounds in Mississippi and Miami Dophins running back Ricky Williams was accused of consuming it. Then there are the US grow-ops like this little outdoor plot in Georgia and this pretty big one in North Carolina.

You know what? These small time busts that go unreported even in the activist newsletters, happen every week, especially in an election year and they don't amount to spit in a rainstorm. Our government spends billions of our tax dollars on these interdictions and they're lucky to be getting 15-20% of the cannabis that reaches the market.

Who do you think is buying the other 80% that gets through? Chances are someone you know and like smokes cannabis at least occassionally. Think about what 11 million dollars would have done for the local economy of Fayetteville, North Carolina. And that's just one bust and one field.

What makes more sense? Paying out millions to rip up plants and house the non-violent consumers that currently fill the US gulag or to be collecting taxes on regulated business transactions of an ecologically beneficial agricultural product that would not require government subsidies to be profitable?
Drug sniffing dogs in the UK

How interesting that the influence of our George Bush's personal army of prohibition profiteers extends across the globe now. The use of what they call in the UK "sniffer dogs" was unheard of three years ago and now over 100 schools use them routinely to search children for drugs. They're even taking them into primary schools for demonstrations of the kind of privacy invasions the tots can expect when they grow up.

Unlike the US program, the parents are at least asked to sign consent forms although it seems a moot point since the child will be "searched by hand" if they refuse to give permission. They also eschew the lock down model and instead gather the children into an assembly hall while their bags are sniffed in the classroom and then are personally sniffed as they exit the hall.

Also unlike the US, "A child found with cannabis or other soft drugs would not be arrested, but generally put on a course to learn about the risks of drug abuse. Those found with Class A drugs are handed over to the police."

Harry Shapiro, the editor of Druglink, said he was alarmed by the spread of sniffer dogs. "All parents, especially those with teenage children, worry about drugs, but this seems to be unhelpful to me.
"It causes distress and distrust amongst the children. Parents might think it is a good thing, but there is no evidence to support that. It may be well-meaning but it is not really going to solve any problems."

Indeed, the lesson the child will learn is not to trust adults because adults don't trust them.

Monday, May 17, 2004


It was a pretty big weekend. I spoke to my favorite Aunt yesterday. She only uses the one name, otherwise we're a lot alike. She's a real artist and I'm just sort of artistic but we're both the black sheep of our generation in the family and have lived life on our own terms without apology.

I believe she'll be reading this, so big hug Auntie. This is what I've been doing. Hope you like it. XX
Get me to the church on time

Today was the day for same sex couples in the Commonwealth when the long awaited right to legally marry was finally granted by law. Cambridge reported hundreds of couples waiting to sign the paperwork but here in lovely downtown Northampton, there were about 50 lined up outside of the clerk's office this morning.

Accompanied by great fanfare, first to sign were two of the plaintiff's from the suit that made it all possible, Heidi Norton and Gina Smith who were there with their young sons. They immediately went to the courthouse to apply for a waiver to the three day wait period and will be married in a private ceremony later this evening.

For any gays or lesbians that are planning to come to the Commonwealth to also apply for licenses you should be aware that Governor Romney has evoked a little used provision barring out of state couples from being married here, however many clerks have indicated they would not refuse a license to anyone who is willing to simply say they plan to move to Massachusetts.

Congratulations for this long overdue victory to all my gay and lesbian readers and friends.
Judge Judy to the rescue

Here's a cheery little item that just arrived in the inbox. It appears that Judge Judy, in a show taped yesterday, invited the parties in a marijuana dispute onto the program.

The result was all that plaintiff Rick Buck could hope for when the Honorable Judge ruled against the defendant, Gordon Westfall who had been paid $425.00 to provide medical marijuana as Rick's caregiver and had not only failed to deliver any of the medicinal herb in five months but had also reneged on his certified caregiving obligation.

We hope this serves as a lesson to all so-called caregivers who would be so callous as to attempt to rip off their patients. We'll be watching for the show's air date.

Another victim of the War on Drugs

This is a sad story to start the week but it's important to look at the myriad ways this war on some drugs and especially in the context of it's attack on teenagers in the name of prevention does more harm than good. All the school drug raids in the world would not have saved 15 year old Jillian Cleary's life.

Julian was from a large and loving family and was according to her father, "a good kid." Of all five children in the family, she was the one they worried about the least. Now she's dead from an apparent methamphetamine overdose because she and her friends were afraid to admit they were experimenting with the drug and thus didn't ask for help when she got sick. She died from aspirating her own vomit.

In my day, she would have tried cannabis and been none the worse for it, but the unintended consequence of the Bush administration's war on our plant has caused meth to be more easily available than weed. As her father points out, all teenagers, no matter how exemplary their conduct, will experiment
with substances even if it's only beer. Meth was probably easier to get than beer for these kids as well.

Honest education and sensible drug policy could have prevented her death. How many more children will die as a result of an unregulated black market for drugs before the electorate demands an end to this failed war?

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Zero Tolerance Zone

Mitch Daniels, Republican candidate for governor of Indiana, is an all American success story -- a geeky but popular kid who grew up to become a multimillionaire. I could like him for honestly admitting his 1971 conviction for marijuana possession and I would, except that he uses the experience to call for stiffer penalties for its use and I just don't like hypocrites.

His intelligence is legendary, so ignorance is no excuse for his failure to admit cannabis had no appreciable negative effect on his life or his mental capacity and that the draconian penalties for its use are unwarranted.

Daniels attended Princeton on scholarships. Under the penalties he supports, he would have become a victim of zero tolerance like 19-year-old Adam Gutin who was expelled from a public high school for the same infraction and as a consequence has already lost two years of educational opportunities. And of course, under the ill conceived HEA Act, Adam will also be barred from major sources of scholarship monies for an even lesser "crime" than Mitch committed. After all, Adam simply tested positive for past use whereas Daniels was actually caught using marijuana.

I think it stinks that Mitch would support such an inhumane and ridiculously severe level of punishment for the same youthful experimentation that he indulged in without serious consequence. I certainly wouldn't elect him as a governor but then again, Indiana keeps re-electing that prohibition profiteer Souder.

What's up with the Hoosier State anyway? I've never been there but I can't believe over 3 million voters could be so easily fooled by such self serving politicians.

Responsible cannabis consumers are good citizens and zero tolerance doesn't solve the problem of substance abusers, it only pads the pockets of those who profit by the ill-advised enforcement of prohibition.

Quote of the political season

I love Vonnegut's work and I like this quote so much I'm posting it everywhere.

Kurt Vonnegut at a recent speech at some college.

"I have never smoked anything but Pall Malls since I was 11 years old. On the package for several years now, they promised to kill me, but I'm still alive. I'm 84 years old....The last thing I ever wanted was to be alive when the three most powerful people on the face of the earth were named Bush, Dick, and Colin."

[Thanks to Richard Lake at Media Awareness Project]

Saturday, May 15, 2004
Big news in a small town

A grow-op was busted in Deland Florida this week when police arrived in response to a 911 call about a home invasion. Police called the haul huge, however the reported 45 plants hardly qualify for that designation. Barrie was huge. These folks basically had a garage full of plants.

The two women living in the home endured a terrifying ordeal, being tied up and threatened with knives and guns by the intruders that came of course to steal the cannabis. It's yet another illustration of the harms of our government's war on this plant. If it was legal to grow, it wouldn't worth more than gold and it would not be worth stealing.

Now, I spent several days skydiving in Deland in 1990. It's a quiet and charming town with an airport and a drop zone where I jumped a Twin Otter. It's not unlike my own Northampton. The neighbors were suprised to learn of the grow-op right in their upscale backyards, proving once again that cannabis consumers make good neighbors.
Big news in a small town

A grow-op was busted in Deland Florida this week when police arrived in response to a 911 call about a home invasion. Police called the haul huge, however the reported 45 plants hardly qualify for that designation. Barrie was huge. These folks basically had a garage full of plants.

The two women living in the home endured a terrifying ordeal, being tied up and threatened with knives and guns by the intruders that came of course to steal the cannabis. It's yet another illustration of the harms of our government's war on this plant. If it was legal to grow, it wouldn't worth more than gold and it would not be worth stealing.

Now, I spent several days skydiving in Deland in 1990. It's a quiet and charming town with an airport and a drop zone where I jumped a Twin Otter. It's not unlike my own Northampton. The neighbors were suprised to learn of the grow-op right in their upscale backyards, proving once again that cannabis consumers make good neighbors.

Marijuana doesn't kill, drug raids do

This is choice. Two men are dead and two deputies are wounded after prohibition enforcers confronted three suspects who were loading marijuana into a SUV. The bust was reportedly triggered by an 8 year old allegedly calling 911. There's no indication why the child called but one suspect was killed at the scene and another died this week.

Meanwhile, the remaining living defendant is being charged with felony murder because his two friends were killed by the police during the course of this felony bust.

Just another illustration of how the war on cannabis does more harm than the consumption of it.

One Night Only

For those of you who live in the Happy Valley, All Souls Church in Greenfield is presenting The Work of the Weavers tonight. According to the program notes:

This very special evening will showcase Work o' the Weavers, a tribute to the pioneering folk quartet of the 40s and 50s founded by Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman. The new group — James Durst, David Bernz, Martha Sandefer and Mark Murphy — performs a glorious show that is part concert and part narration as it tells the Weavers story through song and story. Juanita Nelson, activist and long time devotee of social justice issues, will introduce the concert. Before, during intermission and after the performance, concertgoers can enjoy refreshments and learn about the work of peace and social justice groups in the Pioneer Valley, who will have tables set up downstairs in the Parish Hall of the church.

I'll be there manning the ACLU information table so stop by and pick up some free stuff.

Friday, May 14, 2004
Summer in the city

It looks like it's going to be a pleasant summer in the hood this year. I was just sitting down at the computer when I heard the most beautiful guitar playing outside. It turns out my neighbor Steve owns a guitar with a gorgeous tone and plays it really well. We had a nice chat through the window.

Yesterday I ran into my neighbor Nikolai who was planting a garden with plants he started himself. We had a nice chat in the back yard. This afternoon the pinks started blooming in my own little plot and I had a nice chat after work at the bar formerly known as City with Pat Fennesey.

I met him when he worked on our building. This was the first time we really talked. He's taproot Hamp. I'm Noho, I'm surface roots. His family founded this place. His grandmother was rescued from the big flood when she was thirteen years old and his own mom is now eighty. Irish Catholics I think because he's not that old. I didn't ask, but I'd bet fifty cents he was the baby of the family but he's a good man. I wish I had taken his picture...

And speaking of music, the Drunk Stuntmen are spending the summer in town so I'm certain to actually catch a gig at the Elevens on some sultry night soon. I was happy to run into Al Johnson on his kickbutt bike a week or so ago. He tells me I alarmed someone in North Carolina by reporting Bow was leaving the band to become an Christian Evangelist. I swear - that's what I thought I heard him say, but he doesn't remember (as if he would have - it was at the end of the last set.) I was sober but then again my hearing is not what it once was. I think it's a draw.
Marijuana is Ayurvedic Medicine

Following the world wide trend of sensible drug policy reform outside of the US, Sri Lanka is latest country to embrace the beneficial aspects of cannabis and intends to legalize it.

Indigenous Medicine Minister Tissa Karaliyadde said he hoped to introduce a bill in parliament to allow practitioners of herbal medicine known as ayurveda to grow at least five plants each.

Further, although cannabis is said to be, "easily available on the clandestine market both for traditional healers and smokers," the Sri Lankan government has already set aside its own land for legal cultivation.

So when are our own political leaders going to wake up to the public's acceptance of this plant?

Souder wants NIH to skew the truth to protect his position

One of America's biggest prohibition profiteers, Mark Souder is at it again. He's asking the National Institutes of Health to spend your tax dollars proving his latest dunderheaded theory that needle exchange and harm reduction programs are more dangerous than allowing addicts to shoot up on the street.

He has no scientific or medical background but does have a clear agenda and requests that agency come up with some research that specifically prove his hypothesis rather than asking for an impartial and scientifically based study.

Of course, as Dr Alex Wodak points out in a rebuttal letter to the agency, seven studies disproving Souder's contentions have already been funded by the taxpayers.

Souder is so desperate to protect the political power he enjoys under the prohibition that he's willing to waste your money and risk the lives of US citizens with bad science to do so. Don't let him get away with it. Visit Drug Policy Alliance, and take action against this folly.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Google rules the bench

CNet reports that search engines are becoming increasingly utilized in evidentiary rulings of the courts. They contributed to Manuel Rodriguez's exoneration in federal court when Judge Frank Maas ruled in his favor based partly on, "looking up jurors' names in Google, had revealed that the assistant district attorney had 'improperly' removed Hispanics."

The decision came too late to benefit Manuel but illustrates a growing trend in the courts to use the internet in their considerations. Many legal pundits and even fellow jurists are not pleased.

In the United States and abroad, judges are turning to search engines such as Google to check facts, to look up information about companies embroiled in litigation, and to challenge statistics presented by attorneys in court. Dozens of judges have penned opinions describing Google as a valuable--and sometimes crucial--source of knowledge.

Although other engines have been cited in case law, google is the cybersearcher of choice. However, not to be outdone, Yahoo has taken number one slot in another arena of public opinion - CNN while Dogpile remains the esoteric choice.

Pot Pilgrimage to Bangladesh

The city of Mahastangarh is 2,375 years old and is said to hosted many saints and other holy persons of the Hindus, Buddha and Muslims -- making it a shrine of sorts of all religions of the region. It has also hosted a ganja-ganza every last Thursday of the Bangla month of Boishakh for the last 100 years that draws both male and female pot aficionados.

Despite an increased police presence in the last few years, thousands are expected to once again congregate for what usually turns out to be a three day festival.

Many come here with specially designed kalki or pot, which is part of the tradition and the smokers will chain themselves to draw others' attention.

Those sit in shades with tridents will draw religious devotees who call them 'Baba'. Devotees will seek blessings of the Baba and in return, give them chickens and other homage.

The locals have put up 5,000 temporary stalls to capitalize on the crowds (some of whom reportedly only come to watch) and in these troubled times we might take note of how cannabis consumption fosters peace.

Religious or racial differences hold no bar for these ganja-lovers who will dance holding each other's hands after stuffing their lungs with marijuana smoke.

Brings new meaning to the phrase peace pipe, doesn't it?

Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Might as well be walking on the sun

I went on a long road trip today and miraculously on the way home, the traffic on the Mass Pike was so light it was fun to drive and the weather had that New England spookiness where it would pour rain in 10 mile intervals and then nothing between, so it went from rain to dry pavement to this leftover atmospheric steaminess where the rain had already passed. I saw an astounding sunset at the place (I think it's exit seven) where the mountains end and Springfield appears in the distance. The sun was so big it looked like it had fallen out of the sky and was landing on the city and the air was so wet that you could look right into the very center of it and the entire 360 degrees of ambient light was of that same value of radiant pink.

It was a brilliant end to a gorgeous day spent with those I love dearly.
Truth or Dare?

Officer Michael Horan is having a bad couple of years. According to court documents, "Horan was "receiving a reduced paycheck due to court ordered child support payments, that he carried at least seven loans with the Chelmsford Credit Union, was gambling heavily, and purchased a $35,000 truck" during the two years he was assigned to oversee DARE." Then he got caught stealing.

...Horan is accused of embezzling at least $8,000 in funds that were held at the Police Station on Olde North Road.

...Horan took charitable donations totaling thousands of dollars entrusted to him as the town's Drug Awareness Resistance Officer. He also allegedly took a laptop computer from the Police Department and raffle money from high school sports games.

You have to wonder what lesson the fifth graders in his DARE class are taking from that.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Hemp is health food

This press release on the status of nutritional hemp foods just arrived. In February the purveyors of agricultural hemp products won a victory in the US 9th Circuit Court. All eyes have been on the DEA since to see if the agency would appeal the ruling that US citizens be allowed to consume these extraordinarily healthful products.

Well the wait is over, the solicitor general asked the Supremes to extend the now passed May 6th deadline to file and the Court has granted an extension of time to June 5th. If they fail to file with SCOTUS by that time "the Ninth Circuit's landmark decision will stand - protecting sales of nutritious foods made with hemp seed in the U.S."

Hemp food producers are confident they will prevail even if the case goes forward. The trace amounts of THC in the foods wouldn't even register in a drug screen and the benefits of the seeds have been well established.

Hemp seed is one of the most perfect nutritional resources in all of nature. In addition to its excellent flavor profile, the seed meat protein supplies all essential amino acids in an easily digestible form and with a high protein efficiency ratio. But most importantly, hemp seed and oil offer high concentrations of the two essential fatty acids (EFAs) in a perfect ratio of the omega-3/omega-6 acids. EFA's are the "good fats" that doctors recommend as part of a healthy, balanced diet. This superior nutritional profile makes hemp nut (shelled seed) and oil ideal for a wide range of functional food applications and as an effective fatty acid supplement. Not surprisingly, hemp nut and oil are increasingly used in natural food products, such as breads, frozen waffles, cereals, nutrition bars, meatless burgers and salad dressings.

The entire case has been a criminal waste of your tax dollars from the beginning. The DEA has spent hundreds of thousands on this folly that has absolutely nothing to do drug abuse and everything to do with protecting their prohibition profiteering.

Do we really need the DEA to tell us what to eat?

MK's for marijuana

One of these days I'm going to ask Pete Guither from Drug War Rant to marry me. Every time I have a question, he has an immediate answer and this post is no exception. An MK is a member of the Knesset of course.

The Knesset is Israel's legislature. The Knesset took its name and fixed its membership at 120 from the Knesset Hagedolah (Great Assembly), the representative Jewish council convened in Jerusalem by Ezra and Nehemiah in the 5th century B.C.E.

Members of Knesset (MKs) are elected every four years within the framework of parties that compete for the electorate's votes. Each party chooses its own Knesset candidates as it sees fit. A new Knesset begins to function after general elections, which determine its composition.

In the first session, Knesset members declare their allegiance, and the Knesset speaker and deputy speakers are elected. The Knesset usually serves for four years, but may dissolve itself or be dissolved by the prime minister any time during its term. Until a new Knesset is formally constituted following elections, full authority remains with
the outgoing one.

Meanwhile, I'm running too late to post but Pete's back from hiatus so check out his stuff this morning. As always he has great analysis of the week's news.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Flash Bash

Flash is 80 years old today. I always forget her real name. I think it might be something like Arlene but Flash really fits her better. She is one kick ass old lady and I want to be just like her when I get old. I was on my out of Tully O'Reillys when she showed up. I said, "Is it really your birthday?"

"Let me put it this way," she replied in that inimitable Hadley farmer cadence. "I was born on May 10th, 1924." I could hardly leave her in a nearly empty bar after that statement so I ran home to get this photo I took three weeks ago, to give her for a birthday gift and stayed to celebrate her life.

Flash and I have the same work ethic and the same sense of adventure. She's traveled as widely as I have although we went to different places. She told me tonight she took her wheelchair bound husband (when he was alive) to Hawaii, something like seven times. Once she told me about the night they were there and Don Ho brought her on stage. She rocked the house.

Flash is part of my chosen family in this valley. Although we're not blood related, we have the same joie de vive. She's been from Caracas to Alaska to the Panama Canal - I've been from Amsterdam to Sagres to the Manuel Antonio National Beach but we both love Mexico and have been there numerous times. And we both love this crazy valley.

Please send her a celebratory thought for a life a well lived, no matter when you might be reading this.

Flash Bash

Flash is 80 years old today. I always forget her real name. I think it might be something like Arlene but Flash really fits her better. She is one kick ass old lady though and I want to be just like her when I get old. I was on my out of Tully O'Reillys when she showed up. I said, "Is it really your birthday?"

"Let me put it this way," she replied in that inimitable Hadley farmer cadence. "I was born on May 10th, 1924." I could hardly leave her in a nearly empty bar after that statement so I ran home to get this photo I took three weeks ago, to give her for a birthday gift and stayed to celebrate her life.

Flash and I have the same work ethic and the same sense of adventure. She's traveled as widely as I have although we went to different places. She told me tonight she took her wheelchair bound husband (when he was alive) to Hawaii, something like seven times. Once she told me about the night they were there and Don Ho brought her on stage. She rocked the house.

Flash is part of my chosen family in this valley. Although we're not blood related, we have the same joie de vive. She's been from Caracas to Alaska to the Panama Canal - I've been from Amsterdam to Sagres to the Manuel Antonio National Beach but we both love Mexico and have been there numerous times. And we both love this crazy valley.

Please send her a celebratory thought for a life a well lived, no matter when you might be reading this.

Israelis for Cannabis

Here's a late report on the Million Marijuana March event in Israel. There's no attendance figures but some 30 people were arrested for possession. Police claim to have seized large amounts of drugs, "including a chocolate cake filled with Marijuana." At that point the police went from undercover efforts to simply shutting the event down, confiscating the sound system and detaining organizer Boaz Wachtel, for "questioning." He was later arrested. "I am not sure what I'm being arrested for," he said.

MK Roman Bronfman who arrived at the scene attempted to convince police officers to let the event continue. "It is a mistake to end the entire event because of a few smokers", he said.

Bronfman also said he believed the event was disrupted in order to prevent him from talking in favor of the legalization of soft drugs. "The police is attempting to prevent an MK from expressing his opinion in a legitimate manner", he told reporters.

I'm not sure what a MK is but I assume it's some kind of government official. Meanwhile, Israeli reformers vow to continue the fight for legalization of our plant.

Everything Changes

Wow this is spooky. You wake up one day and your old familiar Blogger has upgraded and changed everything. This may take a little while to get used to. It appears all the buttons are still there, just in different places but the navigation feels very strange. There do seem to be a whole lot more features and it appears I can now actually put in some extra pages here once I figure out what all the new instructions mean. Looks like hours of fun.

Meanwhile, I've had some complaints that I haven't been posting anything about my personal life lately. That's mainly because I no longer have one. I have about an hour of free time on any given day and lately I've been using it to clean this joint up. I have to stay ahead of the mess before this place is condemned by the Board of Health.

The weather is improving here in lovely downtown Noho though so I have managed to get outside and walk to the store at least. It's the best time of year to live in New England. I walked clear across town on Saturday and except for the spring flowers shouting with new colors, it was eerily quiet. The streets had empty parking spaces and there were almost no pedestrians around. The birds are mostly back and they kept landing in front of me and looking at me so quizzically I swear they were wondering what was up as well. For myself, I kind of liked the silence.

Yesterday's morning rain morphed into a gorgeous sunny afternoon and I cruised the 'hood meeting the new neighbors. There's always new neighbors on this block. The smell of BBQs drifted over from the condos and made me wish I had a grill myself - although I know I'd never fire it up.

I met Rufus the bunny and although I neglected to get his owner's name, Rufus is very cool. She had him in a harness and leash and they had just come from a day in the park. Remarkably he has violet eyes - unusual for a white rabbit - and didn't mind having his ears scratched by a stranger.

I also met Steve and his friend Aileen who was visiting from out of town. Steve has been here since October, but you never really talk to anyone on the block until it's warm enough to be sitting on the stoop. We finally exchanged names - although I'm likely to forget by the next time I run into him. We get a lot of turnover on this block and frankly all the young folks start to look alike after a while.

By the way, this morning's (not so great) photo is of Shannon and Aric who are getting married this weekend. Look for them at the Red Sox game next week. Shannon will be wearing a Red Sox hat with a wedding veil attached to it.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Nevada court rules in favor of reformers

In response to a petition by Marijuana Policy Project the Nevada Supreme Court ordered state Attorney General Dean Heller to explain why he allowed drug czar John Walters to get away with political campaigning using the taxpayer's money against them.

The Marijuana Policy Project complained to Heller's office in 2002 about Walters' conduct during that election season, saying he traveled to Nevada "with security detail in tow" to challenge a citizen's marijuana initiative and contended he should file a campaign report or be subject to a fine of up to $5,000.

Heller refused to act, caving in to Walters' lawyer who argued that the drug czar is exempt from following the election laws of the United States. Now Heller has until early June to justify his decision to the high court. We await his excuse with interest.

Meanwhile, MPP is fielding another less ambitious initiative in the state. The bill would legalize possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana by adults but also would increase penalties for providing marijuana to minors or for causing a fatal accident while driving under the influence of the substance. Sale of marijuana would be taxed, and revenue would be earmarked for drug and alcohol treatment and education programs.

Sounds like a very sensible approach to me.
Happy Mother's Day

It's a good time to remember why this holiday was created. Julia Ward Howe (who also wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic) first articulated it in the original Mother's Day Proclamation issued in 1870 after the close of the Civil War. The words still resonate in these troubled times.

"Arise then, women of this day! ... We women of one country will be too tender to those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own, it says "Disarm! Disarm!" The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.'

"In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

A United Nations of Mothers. Why not?