Monday, March 8, 2021

Women to Celebrate this International Women's Day

More celebrated in other countries than in the US due to its socialist roots, International Women's Day is inspired by the 1909 ladies garment workers' strike and held on March 8 – the date of the 1917 Russian women's "Bread and Peace" strike. It is is now officially "a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women." 

Some women's achievements to celebrate this year are: 

Our Tokin' Woman of the Year for 2019, Jane Fonda, won the Cecil B. DeMille award at the Golden Globes, and gave a great speech about inclusion

Andra Day picked up a Globe for her portrayal of drug war victim Billie Holiday, and Catherine O'Hara won one for her role on "Schitt's Creek" wherein she tokes, and ruminates on taking ayahuasca with Al & Tipper in what will be known as The Performance of a Thousand Wigs). 

Dolly Parton, who had an "old fashioned ladies pot party" with Fonda in 9-5, donated $1 million to help pay for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and re-wrote her hit song "Jolene" to encourage people to get vaccinated. 

BeyoncĂ© gave a $10K grant to a black-owned cannabis company.  

Michelle Alexander's seminal book "The New Jim Crow" made a list of Top 10 greatest works of journalism in the last 10 Years. 

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms removed drug-testing requirements for city employees, citing equity concerns. 

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer granted clemency to four longtime marijuana prisoners. 

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly announced "we will combine common sense medical marijuana policy to pay for Medicaid expansion."

Miley Cyrus and Joan Jett, both pot lovers, crushed it at the TicToc Superbowl party for first responders. 

Lady Gaga lifted us up with her rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" at the inauguration and Chelsea Handler launched a an Inauguration Day-themed cannabis kit titled “America is Back” to benefit the nonprofit Cage-Free Repair. 

Oh yeah, and our Tokin' Woman of 2020 Kamala Devi Harris was sworn in a Vice President. (Devi is another name for the Goddess Parvati, one of the International Tokin' Women presented here.)

Saturday, February 27, 2021

The United States vs. Billie Holiday: How The Drug War Can Silence Political Speech

The United States vs. Billie Holiday, now showing on Hulu, depicts how Holiday was targeted by the US government for her drug use due to her politics, in particular because of her refusal to stop performing her song "Strange Fruit" about lynching.

Starring Andra Day in a powerhouse, Golden Globe–winning performance, the film has the questionable casting of the handsome Garrett Hedlund (who played Dean Moriarity / Neal Cassidy) as the hideous (inside and out) Harry Anslinger, the careerist anti-drug zealot and longtime head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics who took down Holiday over her heroin use.  Very Important Pothead Louis Armstrong makes an appearance or two in the movie, and Tokin Woman Tallulah Bankhead is also depicted, as being questioned by Anslinger about her relationship with Holiday.

Just after Holiday is shown singing Bessie Smith's song "Give me a Pigfoot/Reefer" we see Very Important Pothead Lester Young, her saxophonist, rolling and smoking a joint. But despite the fact that at the time, "Billie Holiday's name had become a kind of password among marijuana smokers," she is only shown buying and using heroin, after which a flashback scene reveals she was pressured into prostitution as a young girl by her mother. Reason enough for anyone to do heroin. 

The movie starring Queen Latifah as Smith and "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" were similarly disappointing for not depicting the women enjoying a toke, and for staying mostly dreary while focusing on the difficulties in the singers' lives, something hard to avoid in all three stories. It was true, for instance, that Holiday's manager Louis McKay beat her so hard that she had to tape her ribs in order to perform, something depicted in the film. McKay sought out Anslinger and met with him in DC, agreeing to set Billie up for a bust for which she went to trial, jail, and an even worse punishment: the loss of her cabaret license enabling her to sing in clubs. 

Johann Hari's excellent book Chasing the Scream was the basis for this movie. As Hari tells it, a BNE agent named Jimmy Fletcher, a black man, was assigned to bust her but instead became a fan because she was "the loving type." (In the movie, it was because he saw her naked.) Another agent of Anslinger's, George White, a CIA agent who was part of the MK-ULTRA experiments, possibly set her up for the bust at the Mark Twain hotel in San Francisco that lead to her death handcuffed to her bed in an SF hospital surrounded by cops at the age of 44. 

As told on the podcast "Great Moments in Weed History," Anslinger's plan to do a mass roundup of reefer-smoking jazz musicians in the manner of roundups of lefty labor activists was derailed by the community's commitment not to snitch each other out. So Anslinger's venom got shot at a single target: Billie Holiday. "We really do have a smoking gun, because almost after Holiday's first performance of 'Strange Fruit' in 1939, she is contacted by the FBN," noted Great Moments host and cannabis researcher/author David Bienenstock. 

"It's a war on drugs, not on you lady," says an interviewer in the film. "Yeah, that's what they want you to believe," replied Holiday. A good reminder that the so-called War on Drugs is actually a war on the people who use them, and an often convenient one for political purposes. 

Anslinger's final legacy was the 1962 UN Treaty outlawing marijuana worldwide, while linking pot use to communism. He finally retired under JFK and died dosed with morphine. His grave in Hollidaysburg, PA has become a sort of pilgrimage for peaceful pothead protestors to his gruesome legacy. I have an idea: let's dedicate Hollidaysburg to Billie Holiday. (The town has another dubious connection: Hedda Hopper was also born there.)

Friday, February 26, 2021

New Film Explores Canada's 1970s Experiment with Women and Weed

"The Marijuana Conspiracy" cast 
Coming to the US on 4/20 is a Canadian film titled "The Marijuana Conspiracy" about a bizarre experiment that happened in 1972 in which 20 women were confined in a Toronto hospital for 98 days while they were supplied with increasingly potent marijuana to smoke. 

Then-Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's government was reportedly considering legalizing pot, and the experiment sought to discover whether smoking it would make workers unproductive. The women were paid to weave belts or assemble stools with sea grass seats, as a measure of their motivation. According to an article in The Toronto Star, when their wage increase from $2 per stool to $2.75, the women's output increased. “Evidence shows that the inability or unwillingness to earn following high cannabis consumption can be overcome by an economic incentive,” researcher C.G. Miles wrote. 

Women from Canada's 1972 pot experiment
Filmmaker Craig Pryce interviewed several of the women who took part in the experiment for the film. Expecting a sort of fun "hippie camp" where they were paid to smoke marijuana, the subjects' isolation and the effects of too-potent weed they were required to smoke (or else not be paid at the end of the experiment) reportedly had a detrimental effect on some of the women.  Many were disturbed by the fact that the results of the experiment were buried, apparently due to political reasons. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Hemp Wins the Superbowl

An Inside Edition story reveals that 43-year-old quarterback Tom Brady's health regimen includes a daily blueberry breakfast shake with two key ingredients: hemp milk and hemp seeds. Hemp seeds (and the milk from which they're made) are complete proteins, containing all the essential amino acids with the perfect proportion of omega-3 and omega-6 oils, plus hard-to-find ones too.  

Brady and his wife Giselle speak about their commitment to regenerative agriculture in the the documentary "Kiss the Ground," narrated by pot-lover Woody Harrelson

Unstoppable receiver Rob Gronkowski, who followed Brady from the Patriots to Tampa Bay and scored the first two touchdowns in Sunday's game, announced in 2019 he was investing in a CBD company. Gronk said at the time, “I am here today to appeal to the sports governing bodies of the world to update their positions on CBD.” 

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Nabataean Incense and the Goddess Al-Uzza

Watching the series Sacred Sites of the World, I learned of the city of Petra in modern-day Jordan with its Nabataean Temple of the Winged Lions where the goddess Al-Uzza and the Egyptian goddess Isis were likely worshipped. This would make it yet another ancient site where incense was burned ceremonially to the goddess.  

The Nabateans (300 BCE to 106 CE) were Arabian nomads from the Negev Desert who "amassed their wealth first as traders on the Incense Routes which wound from Qataban (modern-day Yemen) through neighboring Saba (a powerful trade hub) and on toward Gaza on the Mediterranean Sea." 

Some archaeologists think the Queen of Sheba was a Sabaean.  I was informed by a DJ in Jamaica that the Rastas sing about the Queen of Sheba bringing ganja to King Solomon. 

Monday, February 1, 2021

Tokin' Women And Others We Lost in 2021

Sadly, this page will be updated throughout 2021.

Tanya Roberts (1/4)
One of Charlie's Angels and a Bond Girl (opposite Roger Moore and Grace Jones), Roberts dove into a pan of pot brownies in her comedic role as Donna's mom in That 70s Show. As Sheena, Queen of the Jungle (pictured), she tamed lions, like the ancient goddesses

Hal Holbrook
Holbrook, who was wonderful in films like All The President's Men and Lillian Hellman's Julia, is best remembered for his Tony-award-winning portrayal of Very Important Pothead Mark Twain onstage in a one-man show he developed as a college student, Mark Twain Tonight!

Cloris Leachman (1/26)
The uniquely talented actress was known for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Malcolm in the Middle and Young Frankenstein. Leachman has a blast smoking cannabis with her granddaughter (Mickey Sumner) in the 2015 film This Is Happening, a role she played at the age of 89.

Cicely Tyson (1/28)
Tyson shone in Roots (1977),  played Harriet Tubman in A Woman Called Moses (1978), and was wonderful in The Help (2011, pictured). Her death came just after it was announced that the Biden/Harris administration would be fast-tracking the Tubman $20. I guess at the age of 96 her work was done. 

Anne Feeney (2/3)
Songwriter and activist Feeney's song "Have You Been to Jail for Justice?" was recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary and she performed with Pete Seeger, Loretta Lynn, John Prine, and the Indigo Girls. She served on the executive board of the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Organization for Women and co-founded Pittsburgh Action Against Rape. She died of COVID-related pneumonia at age 69.


Christopher Plummer (2/5) 
A Shakespearean actor best known for his role as Captain von Trapp in "The Sound of Music," Plummer had a long and illustrious career, including playing VIP Rudyard Kipling in "The Man Who Would Be King" and a pot dealer in the 2018 film "Boundaries" where he shared a Pax with Peter Fonda


Mary Wilson (2/8)

Wilson's 1986 memoir, “Dreamgirl: My Life As a Supreme" describes meeting the Beatles in New York in 1965 and, "The first thing I noticed was that the room reeked of marijuana smoke." The Supremes had a  R&B No. 1 hit in 1970 with, “Stoned Love,” featuring lead singer Jean Tyrell (Mary's in the middle in this video).

Lawrence Ferlinghetti (2/22)
Poet, publisher and bookstore founder Ferlinghetti published beat poets like Very Important Pothead Alan Ginsberg and Tokin’ Woman Isabelle Eberhardt. He also published an edition of Fitz Hugh Ludlow’s “The Hasheesh Eater” and was a trustee of the Fitz Hugh Ludlow library. He stood up to censorship when Ginsberg's "Howl" was declared obscene and he was arrested for publishing it. 

Marvin Scott III (3/16)
Twenty-six year old Marvin Scott III died in Allen, TX after he was arrested for marijuana possession and taken to a hospital and then jail where he was pepper sprayed and placed in a hood over his head. Seven detention cops have been fired and one resigned after the tragic incident. Read more.

George Segal (3/23)
One of the first American film actors to rise to leading man status with an unchanged Jewish surname, Segal played a nerdy bookseller who gets turned onto pot (and more) by Barbra Streisand in "The Owl and the Pussycat" (1970).

Mary Jeanne Kreek (3/27)

A neurobiologist specializing in reserarch into the biology of drug and alcohol addiction, Kreek developed the first laboratory techniques for measuring methadone and similar drugs in blood and tissues in the early 1970s. She was also involved in developing buprenorphine for heroin addiction, and was critical of the tight regulation of both methodone and buprenorphine in the US. 

Jean Langenheim (3/28)

A plant ecologist and ethnobotanist, Langenheim was the first female faculty member in the natural sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz and became Chair of UCSC's biology department in 1973. Her early research helped determine the plant origins of amber and her book Plant Resins: Chemistry, Evolution, Ecology, and Ethnobotany, won the 2004 Mary W. Klinger Book Award from the Society for Economic Botany. 

Anne Beatts (4/7)

One of Saturday Night Live's original writers, Beatts authored Titters: The First Collection of Humor By Women. She was also creatress of TV's "Square Pegs" and a professor at Chapman College in CA. Here she is in a rare, hilarious on-screen appearance.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Women of New Administration To Lead on Marijuana Reform?

Tokin' Women Lady Gaga and Kamala Harris greet each other at the inauguration.

As Kamala Devi Harris,  our reigning Tokin' Woman of the Year, was sworn in as our first female Vice President, it was a banner week for progressive females. 

Pennsylvania's top health official Dr. Rachel Levine was announced as the Biden/Harris administration's pick for assistant secretary of health. Levine, a pediatrician, would become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Levine has earned praise for her handling of the COVID crisis, and for managing the roll out of legal medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh NORML director Patrick Nightingale commented, "Dr. Levine has worked hard to implement and steward Pennsylvania's highly regulated medical cannabis program. She readily accepted the recommendations of the Advisory Board, adding flower and multiple qualifying conditions resulting in greater product choices for patients and expanding PA's patient population. Dr. Levine made sure that Pennsylvania adapted to the challenges posed by the pandemic by expanding the monthly purchase amount allowed under PA law, allowing telemed for new patients and recertifications, authorizing curbside delivery for dispensaries and eliminating the five-patient limit for caregivers."

Levine has also been open to the notion, supported by science, that cannabis could play a role in alleviating the opioid epidemic. This is in sharp contrast to former Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Elinore McCance-Katz, who resigned her post on January 7. In 2018, McCance-Katz called research showing medical marijuana states have fewer opioid overdoses "flawed." Instead, she touted her agency’s success in promoting MAT (medically assisted treatment, meaning methadone, naltrexone, or buprenorphine) for opioid abuse, something also advanced by our new Acting Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Regina LaBelle. (No word on LaBelle's opinion of marijuana. NORML lobbied for the Biden/Harris administration to eliminate the ONDCP.)