Wednesday, December 11, 2019

2019 Tokey Awards

All winners qualify for a copy of "Tokin' Women: A 4000-Year Herstory." Write here with your address to claim yours. 


Tokin' Woman of the Year


At the age of 81, Jane Fonda has been getting arrested weekly to protest a lack of action on climate change, so much so that she has had to enlist her fellow celebs to get arrested in her place so that she doesn't risk missing filming for the new season of her series "Grace and Frankie" on Netflix. That's right: Fonda is not only still politically active, she is still working. Take that, people who think potheads are lazy and don't care about anything.

"You don't mind if I turn on, do you?" Fonda asked Rex Reed before puffing pot on New Years Eve, 1969, the day she found out she won a much-deserved NY Film Critics Award for her performance in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? "Hey, it's no secret that I've smoked pot," Fonda wrote in her 2005 autobiography My Life So Far. She's been spotted (or smelled) in recent years taking a toke at Hollywood parties.

Fonda was the main force behind the 1980 film 9 to 5, where she plays an innocent office worker who finds her inner strength with the aid of weed and gal pals Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton. The film was a breakthrough in more ways than one: the first depiction on film of "an old-fashioned ladies pot party," it also lead to the formation of the SEIU (Service Employees International Union).

Fonda, Nicole Richie and Lily Tomlin share a joint in
a nice intergenerational moment on "Grace & Frankie"
I quibble with Fonda's Netflix character Grace, who denigrates co-star Tomlin's character Frankie for smoking weed while she herself downs alcohol and painkillers (and occasionally smokes pot herself). I liked Jane much better as another Grace, the hippie grandmother she embodied in the 2011 movie Peace, Love & Misunderstanding: her home reeks of pot, she deals a little on the side, and she introduces her grandkids (Elizabeth Olsen and Nat Wolff) to both protesting and the wonders of weed.

I recently listened to an interview Fonda gave at the San Francisco Film Festival in 1975. It was evident how thoughtful, intelligent and committed to both her art and her politics she is. She talked about how the Nixon administration tried to blackball her from the the movie industry due to her political activity, but she prevailed. It's nice to see prominent women now able to stand up for cannabis and causes, and stay in the public eye. And we all owe Jane a debt of gratitude for that.

At the 2019 PaleyFestLA panel with the cast of "Grace & Frankie," cast members remarked at their surprise that so many young people "really respond" to the show. "I think it's all the weed," actor Ethan Embry (Coyote) opined, to great laughter. Fonda was asked how she kept her energy up at her age. She replied that she sleeps nine hours a night, and then pantomimed taking a puff. Calming the applauding crowd down, she said, "It's called a Dosist. It's white, it has 200 hits, you can't smell it, and it works."

For being a true, pot-smoking warrior woman for the people and the planet who walks her walk and doesn't quit, we honor Jane Fonda as 2019's Tokin' Woman of the Year.

Read about our other Tokey winners:

Monday, December 9, 2019

Beauty Queens Support Marijuana Legalization

Reigning Miss USA Cheslie Kryst wowed the crowd at the Miss Universe pageant last night in Atlanta with a costume that gave homage to Lady Liberty, Lady Justice, Rosie the Riveter and Tokin' Woman Maya Angelou.

Kryst is a complex litigation attorney who supports marijuana legalization and has worked pro bono with clients who have served excessive time for low-level drug offenses. According to Insider.com, one such client was Alfred Rivera, who originally received a mandatory life sentence without parole for a low-level federal drug crime. Kryst noted how Rivera was sentenced to more time in prison than Brock Turner, the Stanford student who was convicted of raping a woman but only given 6 months in jail.

"Kryst said the criminalization of marijuana has also created a cycle in which people who have been convicted of low-level drug crimes can't reenter the job market," Insider reported. "I think there are many people who have just been pushed out of society," she said. "Now people won't hire them and so they don't have a job and now they have to do something, and maybe they turn to dealing marijuana because there's nothing else they can do. I just think there are so many other solutions that we have beside throwing people in jail for these low-level drug offenses."

Kryst has become a correspondent for Extra TV since moving to New York to become Miss USA. She made it to the top 10 of the 90-woman competition that was ultimately won by Miss South Africa Zozibini Tunzi.

Meanwhile, Miss Canada Alyssa Boston went all out last night, wearing a Vegas-style marijuana-themed costume in the competition. Boston told Vice,
"I think that's the biggest point, is to have somebody who's not in the industry talk about it and it could really open the eyes of a whole different group of people."

Last year’s Miss Universe winner, Catriona Gray of the Philippines, said she supported medical cannabis legalization. The country’s House of Representatives later passed a bill in favor of legal medical marijuana. In 2015, Miss Universe Australia Monika Radulovic said she supported legal weed in some circumstances; she was eliminated following that question round.

In 2011, Miss California Alyssa Campanella was given points for her answer in favor of medical marijuana on her way to being crowned Miss USA. She made it to the top 16 competing for Miss Universe.

The Miss Universe pageant was bought by Donald Trump in 1996; he sold it in 2015.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Elsie Sinclair: A Crusading Mother

Elsie Sinclair speaking at the 1971 John Sinclair
Freedom Rally in Michigan.
Poet, musician and activist John Sinclair has been in the news, as one of the first to purchase newly legal marijuana in his home state of Michigan.

Sinclair became a poster child for marijuana law reform when he was given a 10-year sentence for two joints, prompting Yippie! Jerry Rubin to organize an all-star Freedom Rally held on December 10, 1971 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

On the bill were Michigan natives Stevie Wonder, Bob Seeger, and Commander Cody (who did a soulful "Down to Seeds and Stems Again Blues"). Also appearing were VIP Allen Ginsberg, Phil Ochs, Steve Miller, Chicago Eight members David Dellinger, Renne Davis and Bobby Seale (ungagged), and, in his first American performance since the break up of the Beatles, John Lennon with Yoko Ono, who performed his composition "The Ballad of John Sinclair." Two days later, an appellate court freed Sinclair on bail.

Speaking at the rally in support of her son was Sinclair's 59-year-old mother Elsie Sinclair (about 39 minutes in here). Elsie said, to cheers from the crowd, "I can tell you young people: you can teach more to your parents than your parents have ever taught you. I’m speaking from experience. I just read John's book Politics and Music and I didn’t dig the music but I dug the book. I’m beginning to dig the music."

Monday, December 2, 2019

"La Cucaracha" Was a Female Mexican Soldier

Most of us know the tune as one sung by Pancho Villa's soldiers:

La cucaracha, la cucaracha
ya no puede caminar
por que no tiene, porque le faltan 

marijuana que fumar

The cockroach, the cockroach
Cannot walk anymore
Because she hasn’t, because she lacks
marijuana to smoke


See a 13-year-old Judy Garland singing about "La Cucaracha" and marijuana in 1935:




La cucaracha was a nickname for a female Mexican soldier, and legend has it that "marijuana" too was named for such a woman, since they were also called juanas.

Sheet music dated  January 1918, from Antonio
Vanegas Arroyo Print shop in Mexico City
 
According to the book Soldaderas in the Mexican Military: Myth and History by Elizabeth Salas, soldiering has been a "traditional life experience for innumerable women in Mexico" since pre-Columbia times. "Women warriors, camp followers, coronelas, soldaderas, and Adelitas are just some of the names given to these women,” she writes. A footnote adds that Juanas and cucarachas were other names applied to women in the Mexican military, along with mociuaquetzque (valiant women), viejas (old ladies) and galletas (cookies).

Salas says "La cucaracha" is a corrido (Mexican folk song) that has its roots in nineteenth century Spain. Later, soldiers in Porfirio Diaz's army sang about "La cucaracha" to mock a soldadera that wanted money to go to the bullfights. "With the Villistas, 'La cucaracha' wanted money for alcohol and marijuana," writes Salas. "She was often so drunk or stoned that she could not walk straight."


Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Top 10 Rock & Reggae Marijuana Songs By Women


1. White Rabbit - Grace Slick
The bolero-inspired 60's anthem penned by Grace Slick brings back Alice in Wonderland with the lyric, "Tell 'em a hookah-smoking caterpillar has given you the call." The Great Society first recorded it with Grace's powerful vocals in November 1965, a year before the Jefferson Airplane version (also with Grace) hit the charts big time.



2.  Mary Jane - Janis Joplin
Slick's fellow rock goddess Janis Joplin wrote the blues-inspired "Mary Jane" and sang it in the style of her idol Bessie Smith. The song laments the high cost of pot: "When I bring home my hard earned pay / I spend my money all on Mary Jane." Sadly for Janis, heroin and Jack Daniels were cheaper.




3. Stoned Soul Picnic - Laura Nyro
Prolific songwriter and pot-smoker Laura Nyro penned this classic in 1968. It became a hit for The 5th Dimension and was also recorded by Barbra Streisand. "Let's not rush it, we'll take it slow."



4. One Draw - Rita Marley
Rita Marley's 1981 song remains avant garde even today: it features schoolchildren telling their teacher about smoking ganga on summer vacation. "Hey Rastaman, hey what you say / Give me some of your sensi."



5. Right Hand Man - Joan Osborne 
From Osborne's 1995 debut album Relish, which won multiple Grammy nominations, including best song for "One of Us" (parodied by Bob Rivers as, "What if God Smoked Cannabis.") "The sinsemilla salesman  / The cops on the block / They know what I been doin' / They see the way I walk."




6. If It Makes You Happy - Sheryl Crow 
This title track from Crow's 1996 album won Best Female Rock Vocal Performance at the 1997 Grammy Awards. “OK, I still get stoned / I’m not the kind of girl you take home.” Crow recently said at a concert that vinyl and weed would save the recording industry.




6. Legalise Me - Chrissie Hynde
This 1999 anthem by the righteous Ms. Hynde rocks out with Jeff Beck on guitar. "I'm just a farmer and I grow marijuana."




7. Stoned - Macy Gray 
In her uniquely wonderful voice, Gray produced a video where she smokes and watches Very Important Potheads on TV for this trippy 2014 track.



8. Flava - Megan Trainor / Tenelle - Flava 
Written by Megan "All About The Bass" Trainor and recorded in 2013 by Samoan/American singer-songwriter Tenelle, "Flava" celebrates marijuana's various strains. "I can take a taste of the Sour D / but you wake me up from that Blue Dream..."



9. New America - Halsey (2015)
"We are the New Americana / high on legal marijuana." The video is about witch burning, which shows Halsey gets it.




10. Faded by Design - Melissa Etheridge
"The legalization of plant medicine is ushering in a whole new era of understanding. 'Faded by Design' is a song celebrating that change," Etheridge told Rolling Stone.  "Don't call the doctor / the cure is in my mind."


HONORABLE MENTIONS

Sinsemilla - Joss Stone
Sinsemilla / Sending me love

Higher - Hirie 
"White smoke fills the air / you know I love the way you take me there."

High By the Beach - Lana Del Rey
This music video has 108 million YouTube views.

Rihanna - James Joint
"I'd rather be smoking weed / whenever we breathe."

I Love You More - Sarah Silverman 
"I love you more than my after-show monster bong hit."

You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome - Madeline Peroux
Cover of a Bob Dylan song I always thought was about pot. And don't get me started on those Rainy Day women.

What's Up - 4 Non Blondes (1991)
"And so I wake in the morning and I step outside and I take a deep breath and I get real high." This video, with dreadlocked leadsinger Linda Perry, comes in at 774 million views.

Pass That Dutch - Missy Elliott (2003)
"Come on, pass the dutch, baby! / Shake-shake shake ya stuff, ladies!"

Addicted - Amy Winehouse (2006)
"When you smoke all my weed man / You gots to call the green man."

"Why'd ya do it, she said, why'd you let that trash
Get a hold of your cock, get stoned on my hash?"

Dooo It - Miley Cyrus (2015)
"Feel like I am part of the universe / And it's part of me."

Lady Gaga - A-Yo (2016)
I don't really get it, but it has 22 million YouTube views.

Smoke the Weed - Sister Carol (2017)
From her weed-inspired CD, The Healing Cure.

Ooh LaLaLA - Hempress Sativa
The Real Thing

Dance Real Close - Jessie Payo (2019)
I first saw Payo perform this hauntingly beautiful tune as a busker in the 2019 movie The Last Laugh, in which Andie McDowell turns Chevy Chase onto pot, and shrooms. "Nobody's perfect / I know that I'm high as a kite."

Also see: Top 10 Marijuana Jazz Songs by Women 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Top 10 Marijuana Jazz Tunes by Women



 

 1. Gimmie a Reefer
Seminal blues singer Besse Smith was "a living symbol of personal freedom" and "smoked 'reefers' throughout her career." (Buzzy Jackson, A Bad Woman Feeling Good.) In 1933 she recorded the Kid Wilson song "Gimme a Pigfoot" and in the last verse she belts out, "Gimme a Reefer," as only Bessie could.



2. Sweet Marihuana
Written by Arthur Johnston and Sam Conslow, this classic was originally sung by Gertrude Michael in the 1934 movie "Murder at the Vanities" in an elaborate dance number. Later, the lyric was often changed to "Sweet Lotus Blossom," (Julia Lee recorded it both ways in the 40s). The original lyric was brought back in the 1970s by Bette Midler, accompanied by her music director Barry Manilow on piano. She recorded it on her "Songs for a New Depression" album and performed it during her 1999 Divine Miss Millenium tour.



3. When I Get Low, I Get High
Written by vaudevillian actress and songwriter Marion Sunshine, this song was recorded in 1936 by Ella Fitzgerald, whose musical phrasing on the song's title alone is a knockout (as is all of Ella's singing). A music video cover of the song by The Speakeasy Three wearing shimmering green gowns has 15 million YouTube views.



4. Why Don't You Do Right?
Originally recorded as "Weed Smoker's Dream" in 1936 by the Harlem Hamfats, the original lyrics are about a man enjoining his girlfriend to sell weed. It was recorded by the sultry soprano Lil Green in 1941, and brought success to Peggy Lee when she sang it in the 1943 film "Stage Door Canteen," in an arrangement by Very Important Pothead Benny Goodman. The song was sung by Amy Irving as Jessica Rabbit in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," and Lana Del Rey covered it during her Endless Summer Tour.




5. Roll 'em
Jazz composer and Tokin' Woman Mary Lou Williams wrote this tune for Goodman's 1937 album "When Buddha Smiles." Williams "found marijuana calming, useful for reflecting and relaxing at times" and liked to smoke backstage with Billie Holiday.




6. If You're a Viper
This Stuff Smith song made famous by Fats Waller in 1943 was recorded by blues singer Rosetta Howard with the Hamfats in 1937. A "viper" was slang for a marijuana smoker, as chronicled by VIP Mezz Mezzrow in Really the Blues.




7. Jack I'm Mellow
Blues singer and actress Trixie Smith recorded this Gundy & House tune in 1938 with Sidney Bechet on soprano sax. Smith also recorded under the name Trixie Smith and her Down Home Syncopators, which was often Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra (where Louis Armstrong got turned on). In 2017, "Jack I'm Mellow" became the theme song for the comedy series Disjointed with Kathy Bates.




8. Knock Myself Out
In 1937, the hammer came down on gage, and this tune from 1941, recorded by Lil Green, takes a more moralistic tone than earlier, more celebratory recordings. After Peggy Lee's more uptempo, sweetened up version of "Do Right" eclipsed her own, Green tried to re-invent herself in a Billie Holiday style. She was signed by Atlantic Records in 1951 but died of pneumonia, at the (estimated) age of 35, three years later.



9. Twisted
British jazz singer Annie Ross penned the lyrics to "Twisted" in the bohemian year of 1952, and liked blowing gage with Sarah Vaughan. Ross dated Lenny Bruce and is shown here singing her song on Hugh Hefner's swingin' TV show. Joni Mitchell put the song on her "Court and Spark" album, complete with a cameo from Cheech & Chong).



10. Tea for Two
Jazz singer and convicted marijuana smoker Anita O'Day caused a sensation when she scatted her way through this classic at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958, dressed like she was going to a tea party. As "tea" was slang for marijuana, one wonders what kind she was drinking. "You can swing, you'd better come with us," Goodman's drummer Gene Krupa told her when he asked her to join his band. He was so right.

Also see: Top 10 Rock & Reggae Marijuana Songs By Women

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Country Music and Cannabis

"Met a trucker out of Philly, had a nice long toke."  -Wagon Wheel, the opening song for the series. 


Rosanne Cash: She Remembers Everything
Episode 6 of Ken Burns's remarkable Country Music series for PBS connects country music with the turbulent 60s. The soldiers who fought the Vietnam War largely came from the rural, working-class demographic and the soldiers were serenaded by political songs from Loretta Lynn and other country stars.

Kris Kristofferson is presented as the awesome poet that he is, elevating country lyrics to a whole new level. A Rhodes Scholar and fan of William Blake (he of the "Doors of Perception"), Kristofferson strayed from his Army career path after seeing Johnny Cash perform.

After breaking through with Tokin' Woman Janis Joplin's version of his song "Me and Bobby McGee," Kristofferson convinced Johnny Cash to record his song, "Sunday Morning Coming Down." Rosanne Cash tells the story of how her father sang the song's lyric as written on TV (in defiance of the censors): 

On a Sunday Morning Sidewalk 
I'm wishin' Lord that I was stoned....


As to Merle Haggard's famous song, "Oakie from Muskogee," which begins:

We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee
We don't take our trips on LSD....

The story is told about how the song was written as a joke, but to Haggard's surprise it got adopted as an anthem by rural, anti-marijuana folks. Ray Benson from the pot-loving band Asleep at the Wheel is interviewed saying how shocked he was when the song came out, because, "Everybody in country music knew that Merle smoked marijuana."

Kristofferson joined Haggard to sing his own tongue-in-cheek lyrics to the song at the 2011 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco:

We don't shoot that deadly marijuana  
We get drunk like God wants us to do...

Also presented in the series is the amusing anecdote that when Willie Nelson's farmhouse burned down outside Nashville in 1969, all he saved was his guitar Trigger and a guitar case full of marijuana. This fact was confirmed by the Twitter feed from Nelson's cannabis brand Willie's Reserve: 

Nelson's broadening of the country music, working from his home state of Texas, is presented: his recording of Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust" is included, and he is credited with starting the long-running show "Austin City Limits." 

Nelson's collaboration with Haggard on The Outlaws record, whereby artists took control of their recording destiny outside the traditional Nashville system, is also covered. That album included Shel Silversten's song "Put Another Log on the Fire." Silverstein also penned Cash's #1 hit "A Boy Named Sue" and his other compositions included, "The Great Smoke-Off" and "The Perfect High." 

Guy Clark is shown in the episode singing his song L.A. Freeway:

If I can just get off of that L.A. Freeway
Without gettin' killed or caught
I'd be down that road in a cloud of smoke
For some land that I ain't bought bought bought...

Kacey Musgraves tweeted in 2016, after Clark died,




Even though many of the musicians interviewed were from Texas and cited Mexican music as an influence, few Latinx artists were included. One was Freddy Fender, whose career stalled after he was arrested for pot. A singer/songwriter not included in the series is Hoyt Axtonwho was also arrested for pot and wrote songs about it.

Graham Parsons is shown in his pot-leaf-adorned Nudie Cohn suit, and the contributions made by his singing partner Emmylou Harris, who he converted from folk to country music, are stunning: Among them, she recorded an album in the Ryman Auditorium, which had been long closed but soon re-opened as the home of the Grand Ole Opry. These days, singer Jenny Lewis appears in a costume inspired by Parsons's suit.

Dolly Parton is given her due in the series. Finally releasing herself from her seven-year stint as Porter Wagner's "girl singer" by writing "I Will Always Love You" for him (and allowing him to produce the recording), Parton went on to a huge crossover career that included acting smoking pot in the movie 9-5 with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. (I rather doubt Parton smokes it outside of the movies though; when she sang lead on Neil Young's "After Gold Rush" in trio with Emmylou and Linda Ronstadt, she changed the lyric "I felt like getting high" to "I felt like I could cry.")

Carlene Carter is also interviewed, revealing that her grandmother Maybelle wanted to sing "One Toke Over the Line," thinking it was a spiritual. She wasn't the only one: Lawrence Welk aired a version of the song, and called it "a modern spiritual." (Too bad then-VP Spiro Agnew went on a rampage against it, essentially killing its radio airplay and halting the success of hard-working midwest band Brewer & Shipley.) Comedic country musician Jim Stafford did a parody of the Carter Family's song "Wildwood Flower" called "Wildwood Weed" in 1974.

These days, country music's women are starting to feel freer to use marijuana, and sing about it. Not falling far from the tree, Willie's daughter Paula Nelson was arrested for pot herself on 4/20/2014. Margo Price, who's been hailed as country's new star, is co-branding a strain of cannabis with Willie's Reserve and female farmer Moon Made Farms.



Kacey Musgraves says one of the first songs she wrote after she moved to Nashville was "Burn One With John Prine." She broke through to radio airplay with her song, co-written with Brandy Clark, "Follow Your Arrow":

Make lots of noise
Kiss lots of boys
Or kiss lots of girls If that’s something you’re into
When the straight and narrow
Gets a little too straight
Roll up a joint or don't (I would)
Just follow your arrow wherever it points. 


I also really like Clark's "Get High," in which she sings about a housewife who, "when the to-dos have all been done," sits down at the kitchen table and "rolls herself a fat one."

You know life will let you down
Love will leave you lonely
Sometimes to only way to get by
Is to get high 


But the song that really (country) rocks me out is from Ashley Monroe:

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Kate Chopin and An Egyptian Cigarette

American author Kate Chopin (1850–1904) wrote two published novels and about a hundred short stories in the 1890s. Her stories were well received, and appeared in Vogue and The Atlantic Monthly, among others.

In 1897, Chopin wrote a story titled, "An Egyptian Cigarette," which was first published in Vogue on April 19, 1902.

The story begins:

Friday, August 16, 2019

So Long, Peter. Ride Easy.

Peter Fonda, who taught Jack Nicholson how to smoke pot (and smoked it himself) onscreen in Easy Riderhas passed away at the age of 79.

Fonda shared a screenwriting Oscar with Dennis Hopper and Terry Southern for the breakthrough 1969 film, which is listed on the American Film Institute’s ranking of the top 100 American films, and included in the US National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Rip Torn and His Hashish Connection

This week we lost Rip Torn, the versatile actor who during his career played three roles in "Sweet Bird of Youth," including (pictured) the role of Chance, the young gigiolo who tries to blackmail aging actress Alexandra del Lago over her hashish habit in one of the earliest mentions of marijuana on film. 

I found online this screen test of Torn, who portrayed the evil Tom Finley Jr. in the 1962 movie, playing Chance against Geraldine Page, the lead actress to whom Torn was married.

Tennessee Williams wrote the play for actress Tallulah Bankhead, and she performed readings of it before its production. Bankhead was the subject of scandal in 1951 when her former personal secretary claimed his job included procuring pot and rolling joints for her.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Women's Visionary Congress 2019

After a three-year hiatus, the Women's Visionary Congress held a gathering in Oakland, CA over the weekend, hostessing 23 activists, researchers, healers and artists as presenters. The eye-opening event was held just after the city of Oakland passed an ordinance decriminalizing "nature," and speakers from across the county and Canada addressed various aspects of psychedelic and cannabis law, research, and more.

Christine Stenquist of Truce Utah at the WVC
Christine Stenquist of TRUCE in Utah gave a powerful presentation that earned a standing ovation, and a few tears, from the audience.  She began with her own journey of how, as a 24-year-old mother, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor that left her bedridden for 16 years.

In desperation she tried Marinol, then whole-plant cannabis, after her 19-year-old daughter steered her away from "Spice," a dangerous substance then advertised as legal marijuana, and her narcotics officer–father advised her she could probably find a stray bag of the still-illegal weed. Within moments free of her nausea, within weeks she was walking again, and soon driving to Capitol Hill "because I would be damned if any other patient in my state would suffer like I did."

Stenquist formed a broad, nonpartisan coalition of MS patients, pain management groups, and cannabis activists called TRUCE (Together for Responsible Use & Cannabis Education). She gave members reading lists on the history, policy, and science of cannabis, which propped up TRUCE's 4th pillar: patients. In 2014 the group ran into opposition from epilepsy moms who were lobbying for a CBD-only bill. "But that was fracturing a movement by demonizing part of the plant," Stenquist countered. Silenced and told to wait their turn, the group saw Utah pass the first CBD-only law in the country, which protects patients with only two types of epilepsy, and allows for no procurement of cannabis.

So TRUCE went to the ballot, gathering the needed 113K signatures to put Prop. 2 to the voters. After the LDS (not LSD) church came out against the measure, the group lost half of its executive board, but the measure still carried with 53% of the vote. Immediately, the state legislature passed an LDS-backed measure severely limiting the law, allowing only seven dispensaries confined to the most populated regions of the state, and requiring others to mail order their medicine from health departments, stripping away their right to grow for themselves. TRUCE has engaged former Salt Lake City Mayor and drug reformer Rocky Anderson to file a lawsuit "to win our vote back." Read more about TRUCE and support the lawsuit. 

Eleonora Molnar, a Canadian psychotherapist, gave a strong presentation on the ethical and legally defensible way to conduct psychedelic-assisted therapy in Canada.

She identified patients for whom therapy can be done: those in dire need, due to chronic, serious & debilitating diseases and for whom traditional therapy has proved unhelpful; and those at the end of their lives, for whom possible long-term risks are irrelevant.

Therapists may not procure psychedelic substances for their patients, or administer them, but can attend and provide psychotherapy during and after a psychedelic session, provided the proper messaging is given and attested to beforehand regarding the benefits and risks of the therapy and the legalities of the therapeutic situation.

Molnar recommended therapists get training, through places like MAPS and CIIS, and recommended Stanislav Grof's book LSD Psychotherapy and Janice Phelps’ paper, “Developing Guidelines and Competencies for the Training of Psychedelic Therapists" (2017).

The legal footing for assisting a patient doing an illegal drug starts in the emergency room, where physicians may treat a patient who is under the influence, and the rights to personal freedom, autonomy, and health contained in the Canadian Charter.

Molnar cited three cannabis court cases that pertain, if one takes the stance that psychedelics are also medicine necessary for some patients: R v. Parker (Ontario Court of Appeal 2000), a medical necessity case; R v. Smith (Supreme Court Canada 2015), which ruled that prohibition “limits the liberty of medical users by foreclosing reasonable medical choices through the threat of criminal prosecution," and Allard v. Canada (Canada Federal Court 2016), upholding a patient’s right to produce their own medicine.

Attorney and activist Madalyn McElwain of DanceSafe also gave a powerful presentation entitled, "From Underground to Mainstream: How Drug Checking has Become a Vital Tool to Combat the Consequences of the War on Drugs."

Her group, whose motto is "Test It Before You Ingest It" provides onsite education and testing of party drugs at events.  McElwain had only to remind the crowd of the Fentanyl overdose crisis to give her talk gravitas. DanceSafe has Fentanyl test strips available by mail-order. On psychedelics, McElwain reminded us, "As we open up access, we need to provide safety."

She also discussed the legal aspects of her organization's work in a world where under most states' paraphernalia laws, testing kits are illegal. The states of CO, MD, MN, IL, and RI have passed laws to reform this sad and dangerous situation, as has Washington, DC. DanceSafe is also working to amend the federal "RAVE Act" to make harm reduction services more available to nightlife participants including distribution of free water, cool down spaces, peer education, and drug checking. And they're conducting a fundraising campaign to upgrade their onsite testing to a portable infrared spectroscopy machine, while keeping their library up-to-date so that they can identify all the substances out there. They've raised $15K of the $50K needed; interested donors can write here

A special treat was the appearance of Ann Shulgin, the 88-year-old widow of MDMA chemist Alexander Shulgin, who co-wrote PIKHAL and TIKHAL with him. Shulgin spoke about "The Shadow," the "dark side" of ourselves that often must be confronted during psychedelic experiences. Shulgin stressed that we must come to terms with the feelings & impulses that we have denied and repressed in our shadow selves in order to become whole. A skilled therapist can use psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy and hypnosis to "take a person to step inside their monster and see out its eyes," enabling a person to transform. She stressed that the therapist who attempts this practice must have completed it themselves first.

Raquel Bennett, a Berkeley-based psychologist, spoke about her work with Ketamine therapy, which she said "helps people open up to a window of relational re-learning." Working with patients with severe depression, there are several alternative dosages and modes of treatment which must be "spiritually and psychologically safe," including follow-up treatment.

On March 5, the FDA approved Spratavo, a pharmaceutical preparation of S-Ketamine for use under strict regulations. FDA approved ketamine (Ketalar) in 1970. Pharmaceutical S-Ketamine costs upwards of $850 per dose, but is available in generic form for $1.59. Bennett will give a talk on Ketamine therapy as part of the UC Berkeley "Pleasure, Poison, Prescription, Prayer" exhibit, and also mentioned the coming KRIYA Conference this November in SF.

On the movement fractionating subject, Elise Szabo of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) had an interesting point: She noted that the Alameda County sheriff testified that only 15 people had been arrested in the previous year for psychedelics, but significantly more were arrested for more stigmatized drugs like heroin, and many of those were people of color. Lanese Martin of The Hood Incubator pointed out that 25% of deportations are drug related, and insightfully noted that, "The discipline of self-empowerment is harder than following a sociopathic leader."

All this and much more highlighted an enlightening weekend, full of wonderful food and fellowship. The all-woman Brazilian dance and drumming troupe Mulhercatu was a special treat.

Conference organizer Annie Oak spoke about forming the Women's Visionary Council (WVC) after attending a 2017 GAIA conference in Switzerland where 80 of the speakers were male and only 4 were female. Following the logic, "If you want to change the world, make a better party," she started inviting women to speak at events and now has seen women's voices amplified at other conferences as well.

OG WVC Board President Carolyn "Mountain Girl" Garcia wrapped things up saying of the event, "It makes my heart sing...there are a thousand strategies to make a better society, to be a different kind of light, to continue to become better people." She encouraged everyone to "connect, connect, connect."

Since 2008, the Women's Visionary Council has been sustained by supporters and members. All donations to the WVC are tax-deductible. A donation of $75 makes you a member of the WVC, eligible for discounts on WVC events, the WVC newsletter, and the ability to nominate people for WVC grants. Donations of any size can be made via PayPal, or by mailing a check to POB 5305, Berkeley CA 94705.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Pleasure, Poison, Prescription, Prayer: The Worlds of Mind-Altering Substances Exhibit in Berkeley

I stopped to see the Pleasure, Poison, Prescription, Prayer: The Worlds of Mind-Altering Substances exhibit at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology on UC Berkeley Campus. The introduction states, "The objects in this exhibit illustrate just a few of the changing meanings of substances and the people who use them. With the legal and cultural landscape of mind-altering drugs rapidly changing here in California and around the world, the Hearst Museum invites you to question your assumptions and alter your perspective on the origins and contents of these diverse substances.” 

The exhibition is nicely mounted, with brief descriptive sections, along with art and artifacts for peyote, kava, coca, opium, coffee, sugar, tobacco etc., pinning each substance to a part of the world where it has been used. Cannabis rates only a small section with a description tracing it back only 6000 years (in Western use) and displaying a few nice hookahs from India. It concludes, “Across ten of the United States, cannabis is now regulated as a controlled substance like alcohol and tobacco.”

It’s a bit Western and male dominated, with no mention in the extensive alcohol section of the possibility that ancient wines contained other substances, and nothing about psychedelic compounds in native tobacco (harmalines in Nicotiana rusticum). Women are depicted only in photos of the well-known Minoan Poppy Goddess found in Crete, and “L’Exalation de la Fleur” stone fragment from Greece, plus a description of a drunken ritual to the Hathor, the Egyptian goddess of "joy, celebration, kindness, and love, who people associated with drunkenness and music.” (They skipped the myrrh and incense, also associated with Hathor, who was later conflated with Isis and Asherah/Ishtar.) Also pictured in the exhibit is a red-toothed areca-chewing woman from Papua New Guinea, accompanied by an interesting story of “political suicide” committed in 2015 when the governor of the capital at Port Moresby tried to ban the popular plant, which is important in commerce for the area.

The exhibit is interactive in the way the recent Oakland Museum exhibit on cannabis was: viewers can leave a record of their experiences with the various drugs depicted, starting with “This is a story of…” for which most circled “pleasure” rather than the other three options. One wrote about a psilocybin experience, “The colors of the trees and all surroundings were enhanced so that I felt like I had been seeing the world through dirty glasses before.” Another wrote of the same substance, “I had a profound experience of complete contentment, like everything in life was as it should be.” Strangely, though, there were no mushrooms of any kind in the exhibit. One person circled both “pleasure” and “prayer” for their cannabis experience, “I had lost my inner voice….the first time I smoked I was able to hear her again.” Another who’d overdosed on an edible called weed “poison.”

It's easy to get to at the corner of Bancroft and College, the entry fee is only $6 (less for students and seniors) and the exhibit is on view during various hours, Weds.-Sun. through December 15. It's being held in conjunction with several events around the topic, including intoxicating plant garden tours, an Ethiopian coffee ceremony, a talk on Ketamine from Berkeley psychotherapist Raquel Bennett, a lecture on Maria Sabina, and family-friendly events exploring how to fashion medicine pouches, Maya medicine cups, and hemp bracelets.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Marilyn Monroe and Marijuana

Monroe in River of No Return. The green dress
she wore sold for $500K at auction in 2011. 
It's no surprise that modern screen Goddess Marilyn Monroe was born in June 1, the first day of the month named for the goddess Hera/Juno.

A talented singer and dancer, Monroe exuded sex as no one before, or since. Just see her cameo in the Marx BrothersLove Happy, or her opening number in There's No Business Like Show Business. Or her songs in River of No Return with Robert Mitchum. Or her powerhouse performance in a movie she produced, The Prince and the Showgirl. And yes, that was her playing ukulele in Some Like It Hot. 

A foster child quite probably abused by both men and women in her youth, Norma Jeane Mortenson worked her way to the top of the entertainment business, no easy feat. She was the first actress since Mary Pickford to form her own production company and (literally) call her own shots.

Having married the top athlete perhaps ever (Joe DiMaggio), she surprised everyone by next marrying playwright Arthur Miller, who soon was called before the HUAC committee during the shameful Red Scare of the 1950s. Monroe stood by her man, drawing cameras to her as she bravely appeared with her husband.

Around this time, in a home movie released in 2009, Marilyn apparently smoked marijuana at a party in New Jersey. According to Keya Morgan, who purchased the film for $275,000, the filmmaker (named Gretchen), told him she "rolled up the joint and handed it over to Marilyn."

Morgan says it was the FBI who tipped him off to the film's existence. "They felt that Marilyn Monroe posed a security threat to the presidency because she was under the influence of marijuana and under the influence of alcohol, and could be a danger not only to herself but also to the presidency," he said. The plot sickens. 

Tony Curtis, Monroe's co-star in Some Like It Hot, was brilliant as a swarmy PR flack who tries to smear a jazz guitarist as a pot-smoking commie in Sweet Smell of Success (1957). Curtis was caught with marijuana at London's Heathrow Airport in 1971, when he flew to London for an anti-tobacco appearance.

Monroe's friend Jeanne Carmen's son and biographer confirmed to me that both she and Monroe smoked pot. An actress, pin-up girl, and trick-shot golfer, Carmen lived next door to Monroe in the years before she died in 1962. The apartments were owned by Frank Sinatra, as described in valet George Jacobs' book Mr. S.: My Life with Frank Sinatra.

Carmen died in 2007, but her son Brandon James writes, "My mom was not a 'pot smoker' but she did smoke pot on occasion. Marilyn was the same way." James traveled with his mother to events in the 1990s, and gathered her experiences in Jeanne Carmen: My Wild Wild Life (2006).

One of tales told in the book happened in 1961 or 1962 when Marilyn and Jeanne were invited to a "boat party" with B-movie actor/ladies' man Steve Cochran, who fancied himself a new Errol Flynn. Cochran pulled out some weed but when he tried to turn the party into an orgy, Marilyn and Jeanne jumped ship. (Alchibiades lives, but it's the Goddesses we still worship.)

Blonde pot-puffing love interests appear in two seminal Hollywood novels, The Day of the Locust and The Last Tycoon, see Can L.A. Solve Its Mexican Marijuana Problem? Not Until It Confronts Its Past.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice Turn 50

Alice (Dyan Cannon) & Ted (Elliott Gould) & Bob
(Robert Culp) & Carol (Natalie Wood) have a pot party. 
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, the first modern movie that depicted women smoking pot.

The film was written and directed by Paul Mazursky (who also wrote 1968's I Love You Alice B. Toklas, in which pot brownies are imbibed). It begins with married couple Bob (Robert Stack) and Carol (Natalie Wood) participating in an encounter group, based on Mazursky's experiences at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA.

Having opened up to new experiences, Bob has a fling with a colleague on a business trip, and confesses his infidelity to Carol. She is surprisingly accepting of Bob's experimentation, and soon tries some of her own.

Child star/actress Natalie Wood (Miracle on 34th Street,
Rebel Without a Cause, West Side Story
) puffs pot.
The couple's experiments include smoking pot with their friends, another married couple Ted (Elliot Gould) and Alice (Dyan Cannon). Wood as Carol daintily takes a few little hits, after filling the pipe and lighting it for her husband.

She then pronounces herself "totally and completely zonked out of my skull" but doesn't really act like it, except for amusing herself by talking about doing things "groovily and peacefully."

Cannon, despite her character's name being Alice (as in Wonderland or B. Toklas), insists that she "never gets high," while puffing and coughing away. Her revelation is that she's too fearful of "getting into a potful of trouble," especially because Bob & Ted are lawyers. Ted tells her he loves her anyway, calling her "my sweet unstoned mother of my only son."

Friday, May 24, 2019

When Margot Fonteyn Got Caught at a Pot Party in San Francisco

Fonteyn and Nureyev dance in 1967, the year they were arrested for pot.
British Ballerina Margot Fonteyn was 42 years old in 1961 when 23-year-old Rudolf Nureyev defected from Russia and became her dance partner.

By then Fonteyn had long been the top dancer in the world, as told in the documentary Margot, now on Amazon Prime. A vision of grace and beauty with a brilliant smile and perfect proportions, her flawless technique and "miraculous" balance allowed her to stay on pointe for a breathtaking length of time, all the while keeping her crowds enthralled with the emotion she emitted. 

Always well dressed in designer clothes, Fonteyn nonetheless had a fascination with hippies, as told in the biography Margot Fonteyn: A Life by Meredith Daneman, who writes that she "did raise her hem well above her fairly sturdy knees, and was photographed at a nightclub wearing an African-style dress of grass fringing and wooden beads....with a psychedelic dot on her tummy." When someone said he found the hippy culture "scruffy and irksome," Fonteyn replied, "Oh no! I think it's fascinating. I can't take my eyes off those people."  She was also described as a bit of a "party animal" who liked to keep up with Nureyev's curiosity about everything. 

On July 10, 1967, as Daneman tells it, a bearded hippy named Paul Wesley stood outside the stage door after Margot's performance in San Francisco, and invited her to a "freak-out." She took the address and, wearing a white fur coat, brought Nureyev along to what turned out to be a pot party at 42 Belvedere Street in the Haight district.

Monday, May 13, 2019

RIP To the Marvelous Doris Day

Day in Love Me or Leave Me (1955)
RIP to Doris Day, a wonderful singer, dancer and actress who was hipper than most knew: Groucho Marx once joked, "I'm so old I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin." Bob Hope's nickname for her was "jigglebutt." 

Day was too marvelous for words in films like Man with a Horn, The Pajama Game, and It Happened to Jane, where she fights for her rights in a small New England town. As part of her well marketed wholesome image, Day plays a character shocked by marijuana in Lover Come Back (1961), one of several films she made with Rock Hudson.

The rather convoluted plot goes something like this: 

Advertising executives Carol Templeton (Doris) and Jerry Webster (Rock) work for competing ad agencies. Angered by Jerry’s method of nabbing clients using alcohol and women, Carol brings his behavior up before the Advertising Council. But Jerry bribes Carol’s star witness by filming her in a TV commercial for an imaginary product named VIP. When the ads are accidentally broadcast, Jerry pays a scientist to invent something he can call VIP. Meanwhile, Carol goes after the VIP account and mistakes Jerry, whom she has never met, for the scientist. Rock goes along, pretending to be an inexperienced and marriageable academic instead of the rogue his character truly is, a ruse that was a good cover for Hudson’s homosexuality.

When Carol shows up at Webster’s apartment to confront him she is surprised when Jerry, who she thinks is the scientist, opens the door. Jerry feigns confusion, implying he was partying with the dastardly Webster the night before and his memory is fuzzy.

Rock: “I was dizzy after that cigarette he gave me.”

Doris: “Oh, that depraved monster! What kind of cigarette?”

Rock: “I don’t know. It didn’t have any printing on it.”


Sunday, May 12, 2019

Film Review: "Wine County" and RIP Peggy Lipton

Ana Gasteyer whips out the Molly in "Wine Country"

"Wine Country," now in theaters and on Netflix, is directed by Amy Poehler, who co-stars as the insecure control freak Abby on a weekend getaway with gal pals played by fellow SNLers Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph, Ana Gasteyer, Paula Pell and Emily Spivey.

Of course throughout the movie the characters compulsively slurp wine, our socially acceptable but not very interesting inebriant. The group talks about microdosing Molly, but doesn't do it, mainly because they don't know how it will react with all the prescription drugs they're taking, including Wellbutrin, Xanax, Zoloft, and "WhoYaGonnaCallTrex."  Zoloft, being a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) arguably already works as a microdose of psychedelics, since those substances flood the brain's serotonin receptors. Usually people taking SSRIs don’t feel the affect of psychedelics.

"Apparently we're just not that interested in doing drugs," Abby announces, to which Spivey's character astutely responds, "Except for the thousands of drugs we just listed." Instead, the 50-year-old birthday girl Rebecca (Dratch) lays on the floor all night in back pain to have her needed revelation (which sounds a lot less pleasant than taking a little MDMA).

"Toking" is also only mentioned, as a means of coping alongside soaking in a tub, by an amusingly butchy character played by Tina Fey. Then the script makes her a cokehead. Poehler recently pronounced herself unproductive on pot and had a bad time the day after she tried Molly (she wasn't asked about wine). Maybe someday like Chelsea Handler she'll figure out that cannabis can enhance creativity, and it's safer than alcohol. SNL was certainly funnier when its writers and actors smoked weed.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Tokin' Woman Does Chelsea (Lately)

Chelsea gives a thumbs up upon
receiving her copy of Tokin' Women
Chelsea Handler, whose new book Life Will Be the Death of Me debuted as the #1 New York Times bestseller last month, appeared yesterday at The Hall of Flowers, a "B2B Premium Cannabis Trade Show" in Santa Rosa, California.

Interviewed by "Dr. Dina" for a conversation titled "Changing Stigmas: Hollywood's Opportunity with Cannabis," Handler looked great in a "Feminized" T-shirt, pencil jeans and purple pumps, and exhibited wit, wisdom, and lots of humor.

To the first question, "What is your relationship with cannabis?" Handler replied unequivocally, "It's strong." Saying that she tried marijuana a few times in high school but got "too stoned" and paranoid, she thought, "Why don't I just stick with alcohol?"

But in her new book she relates how after the Trump election she found that her rage at the political situation was overly exacerbated by alcohol, and so she began learning more about marijuana as a substitute, starting as an aid to meditation. "It's changed my life," she announced. "It's cut my drinking in half, which is a sentence I never thought I'd say."

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Resurrecting Jezebel

Shirley Jones playing a Jezebel
with Burt Lancaster in "Elmer Gantry." 
In the bible, Jezebel was a Phoenician princess who married King Ahab of Israel in the 9th century. Queen Jezebel and her followers were defeated by the prophet Elijah, and to this day “a Jezebel” is a term applied to a fallen woman not to be trusted.

Jezebel's parents were the high priestess and priest of Asthoreth and Baal in the Caananite city of Sidon. Throughout the Old Testament, prophet after prophet warns the children of Israel that God will bring misery upon them unless they cease to burn incense to worship the god Baal. Baal was depicted, in some regions, as a horned god, and his horns were adopted for the Christian concept of the Devil.

When Ahab erected a temple to Baal for Jezebel, he made an "Asherah" for it (1 Kings 16-33). That was a tree or pole to worship Baal's (and later Yahweh's) consort Ashtoreth/Asherah, "The Queen of Heaven." Some scholars think that the “burnt offerings” that were made to Asherah were cannabis, mistranslated as “calamus” from kaneh bosm ("aromatic cane") in scripture. If so, the first known prohibition of cannabis was a Judeo-Christian one.

Baal was also called Bel, a descendant of Belili, the Sumerian White Goddess. Jezebel, who's name means "where is Bel?" was a follower of Bel, and therefore probably an incense inhaler herself. Athaliah, the daughter of Jezebel and Ahab, was the only woman to rule Israel solo, for about six years, during which time she re-instituted the worship of Bel. In Jeremiah 44, the women tell the prophet that they will continue to secretly burn incense to the Queen of Heaven.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Sula Benet, Kaneh Bosm, and the Amazon Women

Polish anthropologist Dr. Sula Benet (aka Sara Benetowa), 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, meaning "aromatic cane" was cannabis, mistranslated as "calamus" in the modern bibles.

Benet proposes that the term cannabis is derived from Semitic languages and that both its name and forms of its use were borrowed by the Scythians from the peoples of the Near East. This predated by at least 1000 years hemp's mention by the Greek historian Herodotus, who in the fifth century B.C., observed that the Scythians used the plant in funeral rituals, thowing hemp seeds on the fire and "inhaling the smoke and becoming intoxicated, just as the Greeks become inebriated with wine."

"Tracing the history of hemp in terms of cultural contacts, the Old Testament must not be overlooked since it provides one of the oldest and most important written source materials," Benet writes. "In the original Hebrew text of the Old Testament there are references to hemp, both as incense, which was an integral part of religious celebration, and as an intoxicant. Cannabis as an incense was also used in the temples of Assyria and Babylon 'because its aroma was pleasing to the Gods." (Meissner 1925 (II): 84)."