Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Women, and others, less safe under Federal policy

Diane Sands, a democratic lawmaker from Montana who has championed the rights of medical marijuana patients in her state, has become the object of an inquiry by the DEA.

According to an article in The Missoulan, "A possible witness in a federal drug investigation was asked whether Sands might be part of a conspiracy to sell medical marijuana. The questions came from Drug Enforcement Administration agents from Billings who were investigating medical marijuana businesses, and Sands learned about the inquiry from the witness' attorney."

Sands compared the tactic to McCarthism and the article states, "At least one other legislator declined comment regarding DEA questions about the legislator's duties out of concern over 'additional harassment.'"

The news is particularly troubling because the drug war hinges on the testimony of often-unreliable witnesses who can't be trusted to tell the truth. DEA chief Michelle Leonhart, a Bush holdover activists were disappointed to see reappointed by Obama, is no stranger these strange tactics. Leonhart made her name through her association with a big-time informant who was discredited, but continued to be praised by Leonhart. Two young women have recently been murdered after serving as drug-war informants.

Apparently it's business as usual. I was just reading a NORML press release from 1995 when the DEA threatened Colorado legislators with reprisals should they vote for legalized hemp in the state.

California NORML has had a recent report of undercover FBI agents pretending to be opening a medical marijuana dispensary, and visiting an Orange County attorney's office, hoping the attorney would incriminate himself. And an Arcata, CA woman was arrested at her home for marijuana cultivation after a "narcotics courier sting on passenger trains" found cash on her boyfriend in Reno. Last year, when Berkeley was considering a medical marijuana dispensary permit, someone who objected turned out to be posing as a Berkeley resident and is a suspected undercover agent.

Last March 15, one day after the Montana Senate Judiciary Committee voted to kill a bill that would have repealed the state's voter-approved medical marijuana law, the federal government served more than 25 search warrants on medical marijuana businesses across the state.

Obama appointee Benjamin Wagner, the US attorney from the Eastern District in California, has lead the charge against medical marijuana collectives in that state. Wagner used to work white collar crimes and hate crimes, but has apparently been reassigned to easier and less harmful prey. Why? The easy cash they pull in in their "smash and grab" operations? Courting campaign contributions from cops?

Since a recent RAND study and other reports have found that crime actually increases after collectives are closed, it's arguable that the current federal policy is making US states less safe. (RAND pulled their study under pressure from the LA city attorney's office.) Meanwhile, President Obama has declined to address a question about marijuana legalization from a former police officer, despite the fact that the question won twice as many votes as any other in a YouTube poll.

And they call it Democracy.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Performing Potheads Party Down at Golden Globes

In a moment reminiscent of Jane Fonda at last years Oscar party, Cameron Diaz was spotted by the New York Post "smoking something more fragrant-smeling than a cigarette" on a terrace at a Golden Globes afterparty.

Diaz called weed "awesome" on Jimmy Fallon's show and was awesome herself in "Bad Teacher". She's joked about buying pot from Snoop Dogg in high school and was photographed passing a joint to Drew Barrymore.

At the ceremony, Meryl Streep took home Best Actress in a Drama and gave a heartfelt acceptance speech. Streep smoked pot on film in 2009's "It's Complicated" and in "Silkwood" (1983). She brought her prodigious acting skills to "Adaptation" (2002), in which she gets high off some plant material. In 1985 she played VIP Isak Dinesen in Out of Africa.

Michelle Williams won Best Actress in the Comedy or Musical category for portraying Marilyn Monroe. A home movie released in 2009 purports to be Monroe smoking a marijuana cigarette, and her friend Jeanne Carmen's biographer confirms the two smoked together.

Skipping the latest Republican debate debacle, I instead caught Monroe in "The Prince and the Showgirl" (1957) on TCM: she's superb in this underrated film.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rihanna Caught by Pot-Parazzi

Barbados-born singing sensation Rhianna was caught by the pot-parazzi smoking what looked like a blunt at a hotel in Hawaii on Sunday.

That morning, the star tweeted to her 12 million followers, "Waken...Baken...Good morning." Later she wrote, "Kush rolled, glass full... I prefer the better things," a lyric from Drake's song, 'Up All Night'. On January 11 she tweeted, "4:20... Hi."

Rhianna's collaborator Jay-Z is so associated with marijuana that days after his and Beyonce's daughter Blue Ivy was born, a strain named for the infant began appearing in LA cannabis clubs. Last year, Jay-Z said he thought marijuana had mellowed out rappers.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Harry Pothead Makes Brief Appearance on SNL

Actor Daniel Radcliffe went so far as to appear nude onstage in Eqqus to shed his his wholesome image as Harry Potter. Now, fresh from his Broadway role in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Radcliffe showed some acting chops as Saturday Night Live's host on Saturday, notably in a sketch where he played a dancing caligrapher. Other unfunny sketches had him dressed as Casey Anthony's dog, playing a stock boy at a Target store, and kissing bums in a spin the bottle game.

In the requisite Harry Potter knockoff, SNL's cast did admirable imitations of the movie's cast, but then went nowhere much with the sketch, in which Radcliffe portrayed Potter as a pathetic, too-old hanger on at his old school.

Too bad he nixed a better parody idea in the opening monologue: Hairy Pothead. Maybe because that's the actual name of more than one comic book. Harry Pothead T-shirts have been seen with "and the Philopher's Stoned" on the back.

Seriously, SNL was much better when it was staffed by potheads.

Another actor from Radcliffe's generation, Elijah Wood (Frodo in Lord of the Rings) stars in the more interesting show Wilfred, where a talking dog gets him stoned and shows him the meaning of life. (Hint: it's not in a ring, a wand, or a broomstick.)

Where's the female connection? Rachel Dratch is widely acknowledged to be the top portrayer of Harry Potter on SNL, beating out Hugh Jackman and, it seems, Radcliffe as well.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Young Women Used as Drug-War Informants Are Murdered

Drug Policy Alliance's Tony Newman has a piece at Alternet today about Shelley Hilliard, a 19-year-old woman from Detroit, who was killed after working as a police informant to clear a petty marijuana bust. Her story is reminiscent of Rachel Hoffman, the 23-year-old Florida State graduate from Tallahassee who was also murdered after she served as a drug-war informant.

"These two women should still be with us on this earth, but were instead pawns in an unwinnable drug war that led to their violent deaths," writes Newman. "There are so many sick aspects of the failed drug war, but law enforcement’s forcing people with a drug arrest to choose between draconian prison sentences or becoming an informant is one of the most nauseating."

I'm sickened.

Heather's Happening

Heather Donahue, blogged of here for making the journey from actress (The Blair Witch Project) to activist (a self-outed medical marijuana grower and author of the new book GrowGirl) has been getting lots of press as her book hits the stores.

She was cartooned in The New Yorker (shown right) and appeared yesterday on The View, where members of the audience received her book. People magazine ran a profile too.

“I have really mixed feelings about the hippie lifestyle,” she told The Daily Beast. “Part of me feels the intention is so right; of course we should be taking responsibility for what we eat and take care of each other. But because of the ‘pot wife’ element and ‘man’s world’ side of it, that’s what kept The Community out of balance. Women were not sharing power."

“Right now, it’s the only multibillion-dollar industry whose wealth is distributed at the mom-and-pop level, so it actually supports middle-class families,” said Donahue. “I would hate to see this business that’s been developed by the people and for the people be taken over. If legalization happened without a great deal of care, that would happen quickly and the people who built the business would end up being sharecroppers for big agro companies.”

Now doing more writing, Donahue is glad her "right intention" meditation practice lead her to growing medical pot. “I wanted to create something that I thought was good, positive, and helpful,” she said.

You Go, Grow Girl!!

Heather will be reading from her book at the following events:

Burbank, CA
Dark Delicacies
Time: 2:00pm. Admission: Free.
Address: 3512 West Magnolia Boulevard. Venue phone: (818) 556-6660.

Book Soup
Time: 7:00pm. Admission: Free.
Address: 8818 Sunset Blvd. Venue phone: (310) 659-3110.

Oakland, CA
A Great Good Place for Books
Time: 7:00pm. Admission: Free.
Address: 6120 La Salle Avenue. Venue phone: (510) 339-8210.

Corte Madera, CA
Book Passage
Time: 7:00pm. Admission: Free.
Address: 51 Tamal Vista Blvd.

San Francisco
The Booksmith
Time: 7:30pm. Admission: Free.
Address: 1644 Haight Street. Venue phone: (415) 863-8688.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Colorado Women Lead Legalization Charge (But Denver Post Thinks They Just Stood There)

An article by John Ingold of The Denver Post published on January 5 is titled, "Colorado Effort to Legalize Marijuana Turns in Signatures, Tackles Skepticism From Female Voters."

It begins, "If a campaign to legalize limited possession of marijuana in Colorado is to succeed, it will have to make inroads into skepticism by women, according to a recent poll. Perhaps that's why supporters of the campaign put more than a dozen women front and center at a news conference Wednesday as they turned in about 160,000 signatures to put the legalization initiative on the ballot."

Read full article.

So, it's not possible that these women actually lead the campaign? They were just figureheads for the signature turn in, propped up by other "supporters"? Really, John? Way to strike a blow for equality.

In the article, Wanda James — owner of the medical-marijuana-infused- food company Simply Pure — said the showing was intended to counter "a misconception that young men are driving the legalization of marijuana and the cannabis movement."

"It's time for this change," James said. ". . . And it's time for women to lead the fight." The Denver-based Women's Marijuana Movement is part of the coalition that gathered signatures.

But it seems to some women will always be mere spokesmodels.