Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Amazing Grace Jones Caught on Film in "Bloodlight and Bami"

Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami, currently in theaters and on Amazon Prime, captures the extraordinary artist that Jones is. No staid talking head-style documentary, this film is a visual statement worthy of its inspiration.

Filmmaker Sophie Finnes followed Jones for a decade, to Jamaica visiting family, on tour in Paris and New York, and to the recording studio for her 2008 album Hurricane. Concert footage of Jones's always-remarkable performances illuminate her story, particularly her poignant autobiographical lyrics.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Trump Administration Officials Try To Thwart Breast-Feeding Resolution

A front-page New York Times exposé by Andrew Jacobs reveals that the US used thuggish tactics in an attempt to derail an international resolution supporting breast feeding in Geneva this spring, no doubt at the behest of infant formula manufacturers.

"A resolution to encourage breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered this spring in Geneva for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly," the article begins. "Based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother’s milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes."

"Then the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations. American officials sought to water down the resolution by removing language that called on governments to 'protect, promote and support breast-feeding' and another passage that called on policymakers to restrict the promotion of food products that many experts say can have deleterious effects on young children.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Candy Barr: Drug War Victim

The erotic dancer known as Candy Barr was born on this date in 1935 as Juanita Dale Slusher in Edna, Texas. After her mother died when she was nine, she was ignored by a new stepmother and sexually abused by a neighbor and a babysitter. She ran away and took various jobs, eventually developing her striptease act and trademark costume—10-gallon hat, pasties, "scanty panties," a pair of six-shooters and cowboy boots.

Barr tried stage acting, but her legitimate career was derailed in 1957, when she was arrested for having a little less than four-fifths of an ounce of marijuana concealed in her bra. She maintained that she was framed by police and was only holding the pot for a friend, possibly an informant.

"We think we can convince a jury that a woman with her reputation, a woman who has done the things she has done, should go to prison," Assistant Dallas County District Attorney Bill Alexander told the Dallas Morning News after Barr's arrest. "She may be cute," Alexander told the jury in his closing argument, "but under the evidence, she's soiled and dirty."

Barr was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison. "I always wanted a brick house of my own, and it looks like I am going to have one," she told an assembled crowd and news media when she walked into Goree Farm for Women in Huntsville, Texas, in December 1959.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

New Archeological Finds Point to Ancient Cannabis Use, Despite Prejudice of Some Scholars

“For as long as there has been civilization, there have been mind-altering drugs,” begins an article in the 4/20/18(!) edition of Science magazine.

Alcohol was fermented at least 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent, the article continues, and psychoactive drugs “were an important part of culture. But the Near East had seemed curiously drug-free—until recently. Now, new techniques for analyzing residues in excavated jars and identifying tiny amounts of plant material suggest that ancient Near Easterners indulged in a range of psychoactive substances."

Australian archeologist David Collard, who has found signs of ritual opium use on Cyprus dating back more than 3000 years, was interviewed for the article, and said that some senior researchers consider the topic “unworthy of scholarly attention.” He told Science, “The archeology of the ancient Near East is traditionally conservative.”

By Einsamer Schütze [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0
(https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
The Yamnaya people, who traveled from Central Asia around 3000 BCE “and left their genes in most living Europeans and South Asians,” appear to have carried cannabis, which originates in East and Central Asia, to Europe and the Middle East.” They also brought with them the wheel and possibly Indo-European languages.

The Yamnaya were part of the "corded ware culture," so named because of the cord patterns in their pottery, and possibly pointing to the use of hemp for rope.

In 2016, a team from the German Archeological Institute and the Free University, both in Berlin, found residues and botanical remains of cannabis at Yamnaya sites across Eurasia. Digs in the Caucasus have uncovered braziers containing seeds and charred remains of cannabis dating to about 3000 BCE.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Feds Squash Doctor Training on Cannabis for Pain

As reported by the Associated Press, The American Academy of Pain Medicine has cancelled its plans for a webinar in July aimed at training doctors on the use of cannabis instead of opiates for pain. The cancellation followed "a request from the U.S. government agency that provided the funding." The agency was the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“We cannot speak to the reason that SAMHSA has asked that we not proceed with this webinar, but the webinar will no longer take place,” AAPM spokeswoman Megan Drumm said in an email to AP.

Scheduled speakers for the course, titled "Opioid Prescribing Amidst Changing Cannabis Laws,” were pain doctors from the University of Texas and the University of California, San Diego. They planned to cover how to select patients for medical cannabis, appropriate products and doses, and how to “wean opioids in patients on chronic opioid therapy,” according to the course description.

A study released in March concluded that only 9% of medical schools are teaching students about cannabis as a medicine.  “I’m not surprised by the findings,” commented Mark Steven Wallace, MD, chair of the Division of Pain Medicine at UC San Diego Health and one of the speakers scheduled for the now-cancelled webinar. Dr. Wallace said there is an opportunity for experiential learning on the topic at pain clinics like his, where medical cannabis is recommended “every day.”

Dr. Wallace has observed that some chronic pain patients arrive at the clinic after having tried and responded negatively to medical marijuana. “Quite often that’s because they have not been using the right formulation or have been using too high a dose,” he said. “We find that a low dose of a strain that combines THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] with CBD [cannabidiol] is most effective, but you won’t find that mentioned in the literature or taught in the classroom.” 

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Juno/Hera and the Asterion Plant

Juno by Rembrandt (1665)
The month of June is named for the Roman Goddess Juno, known as Hera in Greek mythology.

Hera's devotees wove garlands made from the asterion plant to adorn her statues, according to the historian Pausanias. Asterion ("little star") was one of the ancient names for cannabis, according to the first century C.E. Greek physician Dioscorides, writes scholar Maugerite Rigoglioso in The Cult of Divine Birth in Ancient Greece. 

While others (Kerenyi) have identified the asterion as "a sort of aster," Rigoglioso counters that the aster's dominant feature, the flower, is not mentioned by Pausanias in describing the asterion plant. Also, the asterion was "twined to create garlands in accord with the widespread use of cannabis for rope-making in the Greek and Roman worlds." (Butrica 2002, "The Medical use of cannabis among the Greeks and Romans," Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics 2(2): 51-70).

Writings at least as early as the 5th century BCE indicate that the Greeks knew cannabis to be a substance capable of engendering a non-ordinary state of consciousness. The Greek god Dionysis is known today as an alcoholic, but some modern scholars (e.g. Jonathon Ott) think what we call Greek wines used alcohol mainly to make tinctures of psychoactive plants. Some of these infusions are thought to contain hemp, dubbed "potammaugis" by Democritus (c.a. 460 b.c.) and possibly why we call it "pot" to this day.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Will Roseanne Try Medical Marijuana on Her Comeback Season Finale?

UPDATE 5/29 - The series has been cancelled by ABC after Barr sent an offensive tweet. She now says she was "Ambien tweeting" and didn't know the target of her tweet was African-American.

The FDA-approved language on bottles of Ambien says it can cause "Abnormal thinking, behavioral changes and complex behaviors: May include 'sleep-driving' and hallucinations." Too bad she didn't use Ambien like Tiger Woods did. At least she didn't crash her car on Ambien, like Patrick Kennedy did (yes, the same one who is now an anti-marijuana campaigner).

UPDATE 5/22 - The episode didn't touch medical marijuana; instead Roseanne is saved, Forrest Gump style, by a flood and federal disaster money. But TV guide predicts her pain problems will be part of the plot next season.

An AARP Magazine interview with Roseanne Barr and John Goodman, who play the TV couple Roseanne and Dan Connor again in this year's wildly watched comeback season, says that the show will have them "making sense of selfies, medical marijuana, rising health care costs and the growing divide between the superrich and the rest of us."

If the show does address cannabis this season, it must do so in its season finale, scheduled for this Tuesday at 8 PM on ABC. Last week's episode set it up perfectly, revealing that Roseanne has been stashing pain pills in secret to deal with a knee problem, for which she hopes to avoid expensive surgery.