Friday, June 26, 2015

Could Rosie O'Donnell Lose Child Custody Rights Over Marijuana?

If you can believe Radaronline via the National Enquirer, Rosie O'Donnell is at risk of losing custody of her 2-year-old daughter Dakota after her ex-wife Michelle Rounds alleged "The View" star is excessively using marijuana and alcohol. She reportedly submitted to a hair follicle test, which came up positive for pot.

If true, this would make O'Donnell, 53, the highest (ha) profile person to face this rather common problem since, perhaps, Paul McCartney.

Although some say marijuana actually can make you a better parent when used wisely, and court rulings have upheld parental rights of medical marijuana users, battling parents often bring up their spouses' marijuana use in custody hearings. The type of testing O'Donnell reportedly underwent can pick up drug use for months after it was last used. 

Apparently the story stemmed from a TMZ report that was later denied by Rounds, who told the NY Daily News she is seeking full custody because O'Donnell is too distracted raising her other four children.

The Enquirer also reports that Susan Olsen, the actress who played little Cindy on "The Brady Bunch," spent years growing and selling marijuana.

“I was, I guess, technically a drug dealer – but I was really a [marijuana] grower,” said Susan, also 53, saying that she grew  the “green stuff” with one of her two ex-husbands.
Susan has apparently changed her Facebook profile picture to one taken in a marijuana garden (right).  This would make Olsen the highest profile actress to admit she grew pot since the Blair Witch Project's Heather Donahue, author of Growgirl.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Of Henrietta and Hemp

I picked up the new biography Irrepressible: The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham tonight. Its cover trumpets:

"Raised like a princess in one of the most powerful families in the American South, Henrietta Bingham was offered the helm of a publishing empire. Instead, she ripped through the Jazz Age like an F. Scott Fitzgerald character: intoxicating and intoxicated, selfish and shameless, seductive and brilliant, endearing and often terribly troubled. In New York, Louisville, and London, she drove both men and women wild with desire, and her youth blazed with sex."

Bingham's father was a Kentucky politician, judge, newspaper publisher and ambassador, serving as the US Ambassador to Great Britain in between Andrew Mellon and Joseph Kennedy. She took off to Europe like her possible paramour and Tokin Woman Tallulah Bankhead—the daughter of an Alabama Senator—and became part of the partying Bloomsbury crowd in London.

At the time, London was hip to the jive. In a review called “Light Up” at the Savoy Theatre in 1940, “The sensation of the evening was a dope fiend dance called ‘Marihuana’ which brought the house down.” Another piece called the ‘Hashish Hop’ was described as, “A frighteningly macabre dance which ought to sweep the town.” Source. Welch artist and writer Nina Hamnett, a fringe member of the Bloomsbury Group, "made a conscious effort to lose her virginity, and ended up doing so in the same rooms in Bloomsbury where Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud had lived in the 1870s. ...She met Ford Maddox Ford and Gertrude Stein, then smoked hashish with Cocteau and Raymond Radriguet." Source.

During World War II, Bingham returned to Kentucky and ran a farm. "Henrietta was patriotically growing 'marihuana,' as her Department of Agriculture permit called hemp, to help fill the Navy's demand for rope when hostilities interrupted imports...The hemp crop took up fields she needed for corn to feed the hogs...."

This would make Henrietta the first female farmer I'm aware of who participated in the US Government's "Hemp for Victory" program in the 1940s. She was part of the American Women's Voluntary Services (pictured right, holding a booklet titled, "Share Health and Victory with a War Garden").

By Your Leave, Sir, a wartime pulp romance aimed at recruiting women for service was set on a hemp farm overlooking the Ohio River and drew on Henrietta's life, according to Irrepressible.

I couldn't find anything about Bingham using the more potent form of hemp in the book, only alcohol and Seconal, prescribed by doctors for alcoholism. Her family rather disowned her for her wild ways and one psychoanalyst tried to "cure" her of her homosexual tendencies, contributing, her great niece and biographer concludes, to her death at age 67, "succumbing to a daily cocktail of amphetamines, sedatives, and alcohol."

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Simone de Beauvoir's Adventure with Marijuana

Simone de Beauvoir in Harlem, 1947
Simone de Beauvoir, the acclaimed French author whose book The Second Sex remains an influential feminist treatise, tried marijuana in New York City in 1947 and wrote about it in her book, America: Day by Day.

“As in all big cities, people use a lot of drugs in New York,” de Beauvoir wrote. “Cocaine, opium, and heroin have a specialized clientele, but there’s a mild stimulant that’s commonly used, even though it’s illegal—marijuana. Almost everywhere, especially in Harlem (their economic status leads many blacks into illegal drug trafficking), marijuana cigarettes are sold under the counter. Jazz musicians who need to maintain a high level of intensity for nights at a time use it readily. It hasn’t been found to cause any physiological problems; the effect is almost like that of Benzedrine, and this substance seems to be less harmful than alcohol.”

De Beauvoir says she was “less interested in tasting marijuana itself than in being at one of the gatherings where it’s smoked.” Her guide into this world was none other than Bernard Wolfe, the writer and jazz aficionado who co-wrote Really the Blues with Very Important Pothead Mezz Mezzrow. As she describes it, Wolfe took her to a pot party at a hotel, and advised her to try smoking herself. She found the taste bitter and unpleasant, and when told she wasn’t inhaling properly, she said it burned her throat. She valiantly tried smoking four cigarettes, she said, and failed to feel any effect. “It seems that I ought to feel lifted up by angels: the others are floating, they tell me—they’re flying.” During the next few days, “I live in a half-dream; perhaps the marijuana smoke insidiously slipped into my blood,” she wrote. While in America, De Beauvoir attended a Louis Armstrong concert with Mezzrow, who she had seen perform in Paris with Don Redman.

De Beauvoir was 39 years old when she first tried marijuana, by her own account. An interviewer asked her how it was possible, as she recounted in her memoir, that while writing The Second Sex at the age of 40, she "had not previously perceived the female condition you describe?" She answered that she had not been in a situation to notice the treatment of women, but I've got to wonder if somehow smoking marijuana altered her perception, as it seemed to do for Mark Twain, Pablo Picasso and others before they made their creative breakthroughs.

New research is finding that the brain necessarily clicks off our consciousness into a daydreaming state, in order to fully accomplish tasks. This has certain advantages. "[T]he daydreaming mind may make an association between bits of information that the person had never considered in that particular way. This accounts for creativity, insights of wisdom and oftentime the solutions to problems that the person had not considered," researcher Eugenio M. Rothe said in a National Geographic article. Writers have observed that cannabis enhances the imagination, and that this can have an evolutionary advantage. One study found that a moderate dose of alcohol increases the productive meta state, where your mind is wandering but you're not aware of it. Up until lately researchers have generally been funded only to study negative things about cannabis, like that it enhances "novelty seeking" or schizophrenia.

In a rare television appearance from 1975, de Beauvoir displays her intellectual prowess and grasp of herstory. She states (in translation): "In the Middle Ages, and in the Renaissance, the female physician had much power. They knew about remedies and herbs, the "old wives" remedies which were sometimes of great value. Then medicine was taken away from them by men. All of the witch hunts were basically a way for men to keep women away from medicine and the power it conferred. In the 18th and 19th centuries statutes were drafted by men that prevented women—who were imprisoned, fined, etc. —from practicing medicine unless they had attended certain schools, which did not admit them anyway. Women were relegated to the role of nurses, of Florence Nightingale, as aides and assistants."

In The Second Sex, de Beauvoir wrote, "[W]oman is both Eve and the Virgin Mary. She is an idol, a servant, source of life, power of darkness; she is the elementary silence of truth, she is artifice, gossip, and lied; she is the medicine woman and witch; she is man's prey; she is his downfall, she is everything he is not and wants to have, his negation and his raison d'etre....behind the sainted Mother crowds the coterie of white witches who provide man with herbal juices and stars' rays: grandmothers, old women with kind eyes, good-hearted servants, sisters of charity, nurses with magical hands...."

It's time to reclaim woman's healing power, and her healing herbs. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Asherah: The Tree of Life

 The Canaanite Earth and Mother Goddess, called "Creator of the Gods," is Asherah (also known as Athirat). Consort, sister or mother to the gods El and Baal, the first mention of Athirat is found in Babylonian texts dating to the first dynasty (1830–1531 B.C.). (Source: Judith M. Hadley, The Cult of Asherah in Ancient Israel and Judah).

She is often confused with Ashtart (Astarte), and is sometimes the mother of Astarte, or Ishtar. The Ashtoreth of the Hebrew Scriptures, worshipped along with Baal and reviled for their incense-burning practices in the Bible, may refer to Athirat the Mother Goddess, or to Ashtart. Polish anthropologist Sula Benet, whose 1936 doctoral thesis ''Hashish in Folk Customs and Beliefs'' won her a Warsaw Society of Sciences scholarship for graduate study at Columbia University, theorized that the biblical incense kaneh bosm was cannabis.

Athirat is associated with the Tree of Life. A famous ivory box-lid of Mycenean workmanship found at Ugarit, dating from 1300 BCE, shows Her as symbolically representing the Tree (above) feeding a pair of goats. The Tree of Life, also known as the Tree of Knowledge, appears in the Biblical myth of the Garden of Eden, bearing the forbidden fruit that allows men to think like gods.

"In light of Ashera's recognition as a symbol of the sacred tree and her cult's use of cannabis (Emboden 1972), it is of interest to note that in medieval times, certain Moslem groups refered to cannabis by the name ashirah," wrote Chris Bennett and Neil McQueen in Sex, Drugs, Violence and the Bible.  "They saw it as an endearing term for their hempen girlfriend (Rosenthal 1971)."

Athirat is a key player in the Baal Cycle found at Ugarit (at its height from 1450 BCE to 1200 BCE). We first see her sitting by the sea using a spindle and doing laundry. The rites contained a sacred drink as an offering:

He [Ba’al] does get up, he makes ready a feast and gives him drink;
he places a cup into his hand(s), a flagon into both his two hands,
a large beaker, great to see, a holy cup such as/which should never woman behold,
a goblet such as/which should never Athirat set her eye on;
a thousand pitchers he takes of wine, ten thousand he mixes in....

Wine in ancient times is thought to have contained herbs or drugs as well as fermented fruits.

In two places the Baal Cycle alludes to anointing with sacred oil, once when the priestess undergoes a ritual shaving, and secondly when she is returned to her father's house. "Annointing is widely understood as a rite of purification," says Daniel E. Fleming in The Installation of Baal's High Priestesses at Emar. He adds: "The meaning and origin of the practice of anointing have been thoroughly discussed by biblical scholars because the rite is so prominent in account of selecting both kings and priests." In Ugarit times, women were also anointed during wedding rituals and during a ceremony that brought a woman out of slavery as a prostitute. Anointing oils may have contained cannabis, say some scholars.

In Biblical times, an Asherah meant a sacred tree or pole to honor the goddess. In the Bible, the Hebrews are repeatedly instructed to destroy all the Asherah poles, even though the goddess was considered a consort of Yahweh. But her sacred tree or pole in the temple at Jerusalem stood for about 240 years until the temple's final destruction in 70 CE.

A relief from the palace of Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 BC) showing an Asherah Tree is surrounded by male figures holding anointing oils. The tree's leaves have seven or nine points, and a large cola-like flower in the middle, like cannabis (see left). The winged figure over the tree might be a precursor to the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Christian trinity.

Some say Asherah is also sometimes shown curly haired, riding a lion, holding lilies and serpents in upraised hands, as Qadashu, as she was known in Egypt. Scholars think Ashoreh or Astarte and Baal were introduced in Egypt somewhere around 1450 BC, during the height of Ugarit. Ugarit had close connections to the Hittite Empire, sent tribute to Egypt at times, and maintained trade and diplomatic connections with Cyprus. 1350 BC Canaan was of significant geopolitical importance as the area where the spheres of interest of the Egyptian, Hittite, and Assyrian Empires converged.

UPDATE 11/15: This modern image of a cannabis harvest, from the Ludlow-Santo Domingo Library, is strikingly similar to the Asherah Tree:

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Top Tokin Women in Movies & TV

A list of women who smoke weed in the movies and TV:

1936 - Reefer Madness and Marihuana trumpet the dangers of women on weed.

1939 - Marjorie Main's character keeps exclaiming, "Smokin' Oakum!" in The Women. (Oakum is the short fibers of hemp.)

1949 - Lila Leeds, the starlet who was arrested with Robert Mitchum for marijuana, stars in She Shoulda Said No.

1958 - Holly Golightly tries pot in the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's (but only uses retail therapy in the 1971 movie).

1959 - Susan Hayward wins an Oscar for her portrayal of femme fatal Barbara Graham in I Want to Live. Jazz, and marijuana, are blamed.

1960 - Yvette Mimeux's character in Where the Boys Are utters lines like, "Mystic!" and "I must have been really smashed—stoned!" When the boys teach her to smoke, she assures her friends, "I don't inhale, though."

1962 - Paul Newman tries to blackmail Geraldine Page over her hashish habit in Sweet Bird of Youth.

1968 - Leigh French debuts her "Share a Little Tea with Goldie" sketch on the Smothers Brothers TV show, and Leigh Taylor-Young bakes Peter Sellers on brownies in I Love You Alice B. Toklas. Actresses Jo Van Fleet and Joyce Van Patten inadvertently get in on the brownie action.

1969 - Natalie Wood and Dyan Cannon get in on the pot-smoking fun in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. 

1970 - Ruth Gordon plays an 80-year-old woman who opens up her young, troubled friend with the aid of a hookah in Harold and Maude.  And Shirley MacLaine gets a beatific smile on her face after she smokes while playing a nun in Two Mules for Sister Sara.

1971 - Bunny O'Hare (1971) stars Bette Davis as a widow who motorcycles to Mexico with Ernest Borgnine while the two pose as hippies to pull off a string of bank robberies. Borgnine puffs in the movie and Davis's character refuses when offered, but asks some intelligent questions about it.  

1977 - Annie Hall, starring Diane Keaton as a pot-smoking heroine, sweeps the Oscars.

1978 - Karen Allen puffs with her college professor in Animal House and Jamie Lee Curtis shares a joint with Nancy Kyes in Halloween.

1980 - Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton have an "old fashioned ladies pot party" in 9-5 and Helen Hunt plays a schoolgirl who smokes pot and is unable to write a book review (ironically, of Moby Dick) on the TV sitcom "The Facts of Life."

1982 - Keaton sings a Beatles song as she smokes in the bathtub in Shoot the Moon. JoBeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson smoke and yuk it up in Poltergeist (then they pay).

1983 - Debra Winger as Emma and pal Patsy (Lisa Hart Carroll) toke up the night before Emma's wedding in Terms of Endearment. JoBeth is back toking along with Mary Kay Place and Gwen Close in The Big Chill, and Meryl Streep as Karen Silkwood passes a joint to Cher in Silkwood

1984 - Kathleen Turner tells Michael Douglas she "went to college" in Romancing the Stone.

1985 - Molly Ringwald bonds with The Breakfast Club gang with the aid of a joint and Madonna turns on a New Jersey spa salesman in Desperately Seeking Susan.

1986 - Turner goes back in time to high school in Peggy Sue Got Married and smokes reefer with the town beatnik.

1988 - Susan Sarandon plays the philosophical pot smoker Annie Savoy in Bull Durham and Karen Allen returns, this time puffing in a bathtub in Scrooged and helping Bill Murray find his soul. 

1993 - Milla Jovovich plays with a lighter in the dopey Dazed and Confused and on TV's Roseanne, she and her husband enjoy "A Stash from the Past."

1995 - Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn and Winona Ryder share a joint on the front porch in How to Make an American Quilt, and TV's Friends" starts a series of running gags involving Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) and marijuana.

1996 - Liv Tyler and Rachel Weisz toke in Stealing Beauty, and Keaton (again), along with Goldie Hahn and Bette Midler smoke pot plot revenge against their ex-husbands in First Wives' Club.

1997 - Candice Bergen as Murphy Brown uses medical marijuana on TV, and Bridget Fonda tokes (but isn't exactly a role model) in Jackie Brown.

1999 - Nicole Kidman tries pot (and everything else) in Eyes Wide Shut. On TV, Linda Cardellini gets self aware (for a second) in Freaks and Geeks, and Donna (Laura Prepon) moves into "The Circle" in the basement in "That 70s Show." Jackie (Mila Kunis) soon joins in too, and even Mrs. Forman (Debra Jo Rupp) has some fun with brownies.

2000 - Brenda Blethyn grows weed to save the farm in Saving Grace, Midler inhales onscreen as Mel Gibson’s psychotherapist in What Women Want, Jennifer Lopez gets trippy in The Cell, and there's a Honey Bear bong in Swimming.

2002 - Susan Sarandon loosens up with Goldie Hawn in The Banger Sisters and Frances McDormand and Kate Beckinsale smoke in the dreary Laurel Canyon.

2003 - Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) gets caught puffing pot on a NYC street in HBO's “Sex and the City”

2004 - Sandra Oh passes a joint to Virginia Madsen in Sideways.

2005 - Showtime’s “Weeds,” with Mary-Louise Parker as a pot-peddling widow in suburbia, premieres, Anne Hathaway takes a walk on the wild weed side in Havoc,  and Sarah Silverman takes a bong hit after the show in Jesus is Magic.

2006 - Blanca Portillo uses medical marijuana in Volver (Penelope Cruz refuses), Jennifer Aniston smokes in bed in Friends with Money, and Cardellini is the life of the party in Grandma's Boy, where Shirley Jones and Doris Roberts drink some interesting tea. On TV, Angelica Houston passes a joint to her fellow psychotherapist Hank Azaria in "Huff."

2007 - Polly Bergen plays a mom who bakes marijuana brownies for her cancer-stricken daughter on "Desperate Housewives" and on daytime drama "General Hospital," attorney Alexis Davis (Nancy Lee Grahn) tries "Cannabis excellantus" procured by her daughter for relief from chemotherapy. On the big screen, Anna Faris stumbles superstoned through the worst script ever in Smiley Face.

2008 - Danneel Harris helps Kumar with his stress levels in Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. Meg Ryan puffs pot proffered by Midler in the Marjorie Main role in The Women remake, and subsequently finds her way to her bliss. Charlotte Rae—who played the housemother TV’s "The Facts of Life"—accidentally doses the "ER" cast at their Christmas party with her medicinal brownies, and In Four Christmases Sissy Spacek warns her grandson against grandma's "special" brownies.

2009 - Meryl Streep and Steve Martin “poke smot” in the movie It’s Complicated, Kristen Stewart has an adventure in Adventureland, and Catherine Zeta-Jones is the hottest MILF ever shotgunning her young date in The Rebound. On TV, secretary-turned-copywriter Peggy Olson (Elizabeth Moss) partakes on TV’s "Mad Men"

2011 - Cameron Diaz is the Bad Teacher and Anna Paquin loosens up with Ryan Phillipe in Straight A's. Jane Fonda shines as a hippie pot-smoking grandmother in Peace, Love and Misunderstanding. 

2012 Halle Berry tokes with Tom Hanks in Cloud Atlas and Kristina Braverman uses it medicinally in TV's Parenthood

2013 - Amanda Seyfried smokes a joint in Lovelace and Aniston's character tokes and transforms in Life of Crime. On TV, Carol Burnett tries to score medical marijuana at a Hawaiian dispensary in an episode of "Hawaii 5-0" and Martha Stewart tells Andy Cohen that "of course" she knows how to roll a joint on Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live." Bette Midler triumphs on Broadway in the role of pot-loving super agent Sue Mengers in "I’ll Eat You Last."

2014 - Helen Hunt takes us for a Ride, Aniston gets kidnapped and smokes pot in Life of CrimeElizabeth Moss plays a pothead in love in the trippy The One I Love, and Vera Farmiga takes a big bong hit and gets giggly with Andy Garcia in At Middleton. On TV, Comedy Central's "Broad City" debuts, and Kim Cattrall takes an elegant toke in the Canadian series "Sensitive Skin."

2015 - Streep stars in Ricki and the Flash and opens up communication with her estranged family with the aid of some pot she finds in the freezer, and Seyfried plays a bong-smoking lawyer in Ted 2. Blythe Danner, Rhea Perlman, Mary Kay Place and June Squibb have a pot party followed by a munchie run in I’ll See You in My Dreams. Lily Tomlin runs a faux medical marijuana dispensary backstage on the Jimmy Kimmel show; she grabs an Emmy nomination for playing a pot-puffing grandma on the Netflix series "Grace and Frankie."

2106 - Pauline Collins makes some Dough, the Bad Moms are, and Melissa McCarthy decides to start a "brownie empire" in The Boss. Blake Lively pronounces in CafĂ© Society: "Muggles made me feel sexy."

2017 - Kathy Bates plays a medical marijuana dispensary owner on Netflix's "Disjointed," and Kathryn Hahn wakes & bakes in "I Love Dick." Collins was back smoking a joint "for her arthritis" with Franco Nero in The Time of Our Lives, and British actresses Celia Imrie and Imelda Staunton also use it "medicinally" in Finding Your Feet.  The Bad Moms were back with a Christmas movie and in the final scene of Girls Trip, the girls (Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish, and Jada Pinkett Smith) break out the ganja.

2018 - Lady Bird wins Greta Gerwig a scriptwriting Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for best director. In it, Saoirse Ronan and Beanie Feldstein smoke, have fun, get the munchees, and giggle. Rihanna smokes in more ways than one in Oceans 8, in which she plays a Rasta computer hacker.

2019 - Rita Moreno enjoys some cannabis edibles (accidentally) on the Netflix series One Day at a Time and Andie McDowell turns Chevy Chase onto marijuana and more in The Last Laugh, also on Netflix.

More on Tokin' Women and TV.