Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Backed by "Pothead Second Lady" Gisele, John Fetterman Wins Pennsylvania Primary for US Senate

John and Gisele Fetterman
Pennsylvania's pro-pot Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman has won the Democratic primary for a Senate seat by a resounding 59% of the vote against Conor Lamb, whose endorsements vastly outnumbered Fetterman's, and Malcolm Kenyatta, who did well with voters in Philadelphia.

Standing tall at 6-foot-8-inches, Fetterman jumped into the limelight as the forward-thinking mayor of Braddock, PA, a town once so grimy that when my father—who worked as an engineer for US Steel—did a plant visit there he would change his shirt the moment he hit the door to our home. 

Fetterman has flown a flag displaying cannabis leaves from the lieutenant governor’s office, alongside a rainbow-colored L.G.B.T.Q. banner. In 2019, he embarked on an adult-use cannabis listening tour in all 67 PA counties. In three months, the tour saw over 10,000 people turn out in person, mostly in favor of legalization. 

“John’s overwhelming victory in the primary should send a message to candidates of all political persuasions across the country. Legalization has the support of 7 in 10 Americans, including majorities of all political affiliations,” commented NORML PAC Executive Director Erik Altieri. "His victory sent a clear signal to the establishment: get on the right side of history or lose to someone with the courage of their convictions. ” 

Gisele in a NORML T-shirt,
with her son August. 
Fetterman's wife Gisele is a Brazilian beauty born in Rio de Janeiro who emigrated with her family as an undocumented immigrant at the age of 10 to escape violent crime in her community. A chronic pain sufferer due to a series of accidents, she has been a vocal medicinal marijuana patient who spoke about her journey with Montel Williams

Gisele wrote a fundraising pitch asking for $5 contributions on 4/19/22 with the headline "The 'Pothead Second Lady'" (something she is often called) saying: "John and I are deeply dedicated to the fight for full cannabis legalization. Legal cannabis has changed my life, and I know it can help so many others too. I hope my story of being helped by the plant can help other people understand it rather than fear it...In 2016, Pennsylvania legalized marijuana for medical use. I was one of the first people in line when the first dispensary opened. Today, legal cannabis is the medicine that keeps me pain-free."

Gisele with Jeff Riedy of Lehigh
Valley NORML at the 2021 PA
Cannabis Festival in Kutztown. 
She continued, "Cannabis should be legal, safe, and pure for medicinal and recreational use by adults in Pennsylvania and everywhere in the U.S. Legal cannabis will create tens of thousands of new jobs. It will help farmers, veterans, and people suffering from chronic pain. It will help us expunge all the senseless marijuana convictions. And it will be a big step forward toward racial justice." She finished with, "Also, let the people grow." (Medical marijuana patients still cannot grow their own medicine legally in Pennsylvania.) 

A post-victory NY Times oped titled, "Is John Fetterman the Future of the Democratic Party?" harkened to his "signature" issue of "legal weed." Indeed, you can buy this shirt on his site to support his Senate campaign (see Gisele wearing it at right).

Fetterman will attempt to flip PA's Senate Seat blue, facing either the Trump-endorsed Dr. Mehmet Oz or David McCormick—a hedge fund executive who worked in the G.W. Bush administration—in the November election. 

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Woody Harrelson Does Right By Cannabis Farmers in California

Activist Cara Cordoni with Harrelson. 
Today in Los Angeles, the Emerald Cup Awards will be held, recognizing the fine cannabis grown by small outdoor farmers of California. One of the judges of the awards is actor/activist Woody Harrelson, and the event kicked off with the opening of The Woods, Harrelson's new West Hollywood pot shop. My Facebook feed lit up last night with photos of Emerald Triangle farmers taken with the affable star, who wore a "Sun+Earth Certified" cap.  

"We were surrounded by our friends from Humboldt and Mendocino including Tina from @moonmadefarms, @chrystalortiz, Aiyana of @humboldt_synchronicitrees, to name a few, activist and educator @luna_stower from the SF Bay, as well as wonderful LA movers and shakers, long time friends of Woody’s from the earliest days of his career, to his collaborators and enablers of his lifelong environmental activism. The room was buzzing with vitality," wrote activist Cara Cordoni. Also on hand was Nancy Birnbaum of Sensi Magazine, Tim Blake of The Emerald Cup, and Bill Maher, one of Harrelson's partners in The Woods who seems to have talked him into going back to smoking pot after he gave it up a few years back. 

Maher and Harrelson with his wife Laura Louie
at The Woods. Photo by Luna Stower.
“The bulk of what people want is indoor chem weed,” Harrelson told LA Weekly in April. “Now, we’re gonna carry that at The Woods because I don’t want to, certainly in the beginning, alienate any potential customers. But my dream is to promote and to help people see the sensibility in sun-drenched herb, because I feel like you want that sun energy.... Outdoor organic is amazing. That’s where all of us should be putting our sights. The outdoor organic herb should be the crème de la crème." 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

75 Years Ago: When Simone de Beauvoir Tried Marijuana in New York City

We are approaching the 75th anniversary the day when French author and feminist icon Simone de Beauvoir was taken to a party in New York City, at her request, to experience smoking marijuana. Beauvoir’s experiences in America lead directly to her writing The Second Sexan "eight-hundred-page encyclopedia of the folklore, customs, laws, history, religion, philosophy, anthropology, literature, economic systems, and received ideas," which remains an influential feminist treatise to this day. 

Beauvoir appears in a dream to Lisa Simpson in "Smoke on the Daughter" 

Born in 1908 and educated in a Catholic convent school in Paris, Simone de Beauvoir showed a high intelligence early in life. “Simone thinks like a man,” her father would boast. 

She was greatly influenced as a child by Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, and the March sisters. “They were poor and plainly dressed, just as she was. Like her, they were taught that the life of the mind was of higher value than rich food, dress and decoration," wrote Deidre Bair in Simone de Beauvoir: A Biography. George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss, where the tragic heroine Maggie Tulliver is “torn between her own happiness and what she perceived as her duty to others,” was also an influence. Both Alcott and Eliot wrote stories in which hashish was mentioned, as did Rudyard Kipling, another author whose books were widely available in French translation at the time. 

Beauvoir also witnessed her school friend ZaZa so constrained by her wealthy family's expectations for her to marry well that she mutilated herself in the leg with an axe rather than face another round of staid society parties. Meanwhile, ZaZa's cousin Jacques, a suitor to Simone, was free to visit the bohemian regions of the city, introducing her to a world at a time when, "not many bookish virgins with a particle in their surname got drunk with the hookers and drug addicts at Le Styx," wrote Judith Thurman in the introduction to a 2010 translation of The Second Sex. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

"Weed's Come a Long Way, Baby" Campaign to Premiere on 4/20

"Flower by Edie Parker" is launching an ad campaign on 4/20 based on the famous "You've Come a Long Way, Baby" ads for Virginia Slims cigarettes in the late 1960s and '70s. The ads are going up in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Boston and include the brand’s nickname, Weedie Parker, and models posting with twin packs of pre-rolls called Best Buds.

“These ads were so groundbreaking—the Virginia Slims woman was stylish and independent and bold. But in 2022, she doesn’t smoke cigarettes. She smokes flower,” Brett Heyman, founder of handbag-maker-turned-cannabis-company Edie Parker told Adweek

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Yes, Women Can Be "Hysterical" (In a Good Way)

With so much emphasis on comedy and comedians in the wake of the Chris Rock and Louis C.K. flaps, I decided to watch the HBO documentary Hysterical, following a group young female stand-up comedians, with cameos from established comics. The title is doubly apt: "Hysterical" can mean "very funny" but has also been used to denigrate women as having uncontrollable emotions (the root comes from the Greek hystera meaning uterus).  

I didn't understand why Chris Rock was needed at the Oscars, since comediennes Wanda Sykes and Amy Schumer were both hosts. Hysterical proves that women stand-ups can hold their on on the stage. The film is full of funny (dare I say, hysterical) stand-up moments from the women, who also tell amazing, and amusing, stories of the hurdles they still must jump to be heard. 

Filmmaker Andrea Nevins said some comics refused to appear in the documentary if a comment made by Jerry Lewis about women not being funny would be brought up. Lewis's statement, that he couldn't watch a woman "diminish her qualities" by doing stand up, is similar to arguments used to keep women out of politics, or even grant us the right to vote.

Margaret Cho for Cho-G
Nikki Glaser stood out to me in the film. She's been open about her marijuana use and how it helps her cope; she recently had a conversation about it with Chelsea Handler, also a pot fan. Margaret Cho, who loves pot so much she developed a strain called Cho-G, tells a tale in Hysterical about getting a call from the producer of her TV show telling her she was overweight. She manages to make funny the fact that she lost 30 pounds in two weeks, leading to an attack of kidney failure on the set. Crazy when you think about how it was rumored that Melissa McCarthy's sitcom was cancelled because she lost too much weight. 

Looking up Cho, I saw she has pinned a tweet about Rolling Stone putting her on their 2017 list of Top 50 Stand-Up Comedians. I checked out the list: there are only 11 women on it, and only one (Joan Rivers) in the top 30. Cho comes in at #48, with Sykes at #50, and Schumer at #43, just behind Phyllis Diller way down at #42. 

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Top 10 Quotes and Moments from the Oscars

1. "President Biden, bring Brittney Griner home." - Ben Proudfoot, director of The Queen of Basketball, holding up his Oscar for best short documentary film.  

2. "I'm the only sober one up here. Some things haven't changed in 30 years. You guys should have hooked me up." - Rosie Perez on her presenting reunion with White Men Can't Jump co-stars Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes, who joked about taking bong rips in the car on the way to the show.

3. "Documentaries make you feel smart, like you read a book or something, when all you really did was get high and watch Netflix." 
- Chris Rock before handing the Best Documentary award to Questlove for Summer of Soul. But not before Will Smith thought his wife needed a Big Strong Man to defend her against one of Chris's jokes, and responded with violence and profanity (censored from the feed I watched) in the low point of the night. No wonder Smith cried through his acceptance speech; he could use more getting high, watching Netflix and chilling in his life. Apparently the ayahuasca he tried in 2021 didn't last, or wasn't properly integrated. 

Saturday, March 26, 2022

"Garcia Hand Picked" Pot from Carolyn and Jerry's Daughters Goes on the Road

The daughters of cannabis queen Carolyn "Mountain Girl" Garcia and their progeny are traveling by trailer around the country with their brand, named "Garcia Hand Picked," featuring images of their famous father (or stepfather), Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia. The brand was created by the daughters Carolyn had with Jerry, Trixie and Annabelle, and her daughter Sunshine by another famous pot pioneer, Merry Prankster Ken Kesey. 

Carolyn "Mountain Girl" Garcia
with her daughters
When Kesey was arrested for pot in 1965, Carolyn told news reporters, “I’m not weeping with remorse.” (This was a rather radical statement for the time.) Soon afterwards, she was gifted with four marijuana seeds brought back from Vietnam by a veteran, and grew them so well that the resulting buds were considered too strong by some. Trained in science and interested in the then-unknown field of organic gardening, she began growing several other cannabis strains from seed, again doing so well that she was inundated with requests to share her secrets. 

Garcia decided to write what became a seminal book on marijuana cultivation, Primo Plant:Growing Sinsemilla Marijuana, first published in 1976. The book quickly became a bestseller, selling 50,000 copies in two years’ time and helping to start the trend of quality home-grown, seedless sinsemilla among the back-to-landers of her generation. 

“It has now become like the wine or brandy industry,” Garcia told in 2014. “There are a lot of very hip, smart, thoughtful people who have gotten into the production.” Among her leadership roles, she served on the advisory board to the Marijuana Policy Project, and helped shape the Women’s Visionary Council, a group that holds events across the country to highlight women’s research in entheogenics.