Wednesday, December 7, 2022

2022 Tokey Awards


It's a bittersweet year when our top Tokin' Woman was sentenced to serve nine years in a Russian penal colony, despite international outcry about her arrest for the petty crime of having a couple of vape pens in her luggage at a Moscow airport.

Brittney Griner, 32, a seven-time WNBA All-Star center for the Phoenix Mercury, won Olympic gold medals with the U.S. women’s national basketball team in 2016 and 2021. She played for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg for several years, as do many WNBA stars who are not paid anything like their male counterparts in the US. 
President Biden announced on December 8 that Griner has been freed. She was exchanged for Viktor Bout, an arms dealer accused of supplying Al Qaeda, the Taliban and rebels in Rwanda. (Apparently, on the world stage, carrying a couple of vape pens is equated with arms dealing. But then, of course, the US is arguably the largest arms dealer in the world. Convicted arms smuggler Oliver North never did jail time and is a longtime Faux News host and commentator; he was briefly head of the NRA until he ousted for extortion in 2019.)
Many think Griner was taken as a political prisoner, just days before Russia invaded Ukraine in March. The announcement of her arrest came on the heels of a ruling whereby an Israeli court froze the Russian government ownership of a Jerusalem church, reportedly part of a deal struck in 2020 for the release of American-born Israeli citizen Naama Issachar, who was convicted for smuggling 10 grams of hashish through the Moscow airport. She had been sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison. 
Griner, who said she noticed an inordinate amount of customs agents at the airport the day she was arrested, never denied carrying the vape pens, only saying it was an oversight that she packed them. On the witness stand, she said that she used cannabis to deal with the pain from injuries she's suffered during her career. "The benefits from medical cannabis definitely outweigh the painkillers that they prescribe," she said. "The painkillers have really bad side effects. Medical cannabis, there are honestly no side effects that harm you." 
Very Important Pothead and top all-time NBA scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote in support of Griner (the day after we Tweeted him, asking him to). NBA champ Steph Curry gave a shout-out to Griner on her birthday at the Warriors Ring Ceremony in October.  He and Megan Rapinoe—the soccer star with a Portland-based CBD company—spoke of Griner's plight at the ESPY Awards in July, the same month that Rapinoe was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom wearing a blazer with the initials ‘BG’ and a flower embroidered onto the lapel in tribute to Griner. 

Biden called Griner "an incomparable athlete" who "endured mistreatment and a show trial in Russia with characteristic grit and incredible dignity" at the press conference. He mentioned US Marine Trevor Reed, who was brought home from Russia in April in exchange for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot convicted in the US in a cocaine trafficking conspiracy. Not mentioned was Marc Fogel, a Pittsburgh native who was sentenced to 14 years after airport workers found half an ounce of marijuana in his luggage when he went to Russia to teach in June. Free Marc Fogel

Last year's Tokin' Woman of the Year was Sha'Carri Richardson, another black woman screwed by our international drug laws. Other Top Tokin' Women are Kamala Harris (2020), Jane Fonda (2019), Michelle Obama (2018), Kathy Bates (2017), Whoopi Goldberg (2016) and Melissa Etheridge (2015). 

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Tokin' Women and Others We Lost in 2022

Anita Pointer (12/31)

Pointer was the last surviving member of the original Pointer Sisters trio that had a string of hits starting in 1973 with the Allen Toussaint funk anthem "Yes We Can Can" featuring Anita's lead vocal. With her brother Fritz she penned the 2020 book Fairytale: The Pointer Sisters' Family Story about the sisters' roots in the Oakland, CA Black Power movement and their rise to fame. Of their early days of success, she wrote, "We were having fun, but not what I'd call getting wild. We drank, smoked cigarettes, and occasionally had a little pot." But saddled with debt and a grueling touring schedule, both younger sisters June and Ruth succumbed to hard drug addiction (cocaine and crack), and Anita also lost her only child Jada to cancer in 2003. The Sisters, who started their career singing backup vocals for acts like Grace Slick and  Betty Davis, had a number two hit in Belgium in 2005, covering the Eurythmics/Aretha Franklin song "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves" with Belgian singer Natalia. In December 2017, Billboard ranked The Pointer Sisters as the 93rd most successful Hot 100 Artist of all-time and as the 32nd most successful Hot 100 Women Artist of all-time.

The lyrics Anita sang should inspire us all as we enter 2023:

Now's the time for all good menTo get together with one anotherWe got to iron out our problemsAnd iron out our quarrelsAnd try to live as brothers
And try to find peace withinWithout stepping on one anotherAnd do respect the women of the worldRemember, you all had mothers
We got to make this land a better landThan the world in which we liveAnd we got to help each man be a better manWith the kindness that we give
I know we can make itI know darn well, we can work it outOh, yes, we can, I know we can, canYes, we can, can, why can't we?If we wanna, yes, we can, can 

Barbara Walters (12/30)

A chapter in the new book, The Activist's Media Handbook by David Fenton is titled, "How Barbara Walters Saved Abbie [Hoffman] From a Long Prison Term" and describes how in 1980, Fenton was able to arrange an exclusive interview with Walters and the infamous Yippie! activist Hoffman, then underground after being arrested for selling three pounds of cocaine to undercover agents. Fenton convinced Walters to get into a plane without knowing where she was going, lest the FBI would be alerted, and describes how she interviewed Hoffman "like a Jewish mother meets her long-lost Jewish son" for a full hour, which aired on ABC's 20/20 (pictured.)  "As a result, a week later when [Hoffman] turned himself into the Manhattan district attorney, he served only fifty-four days in jail," writes Fenton. That's the kind of clout Walters had. Yes, she blazed many trials, broke many barriers, and started The View to give women a voice, but this—and the time she got Bing Crosby to say that he was for marijuana legalization, and asked President Obama about the topic after Colorado and Washington legalized in 2012—are my favorite stories about her.

Ian Tyson (12/29)

Canadian folk music legend Tyson was, according to Suze Rotolo, the one who turned Bob Dylan onto marijuana. In her memoir A Freewheelin' Time, Rotolo writes, "I swear it was Ian Tyson who offered up the first taste of marijuana when Bob brought him to the flat one afternoon. Ian had a friend back home who had introduced him to their stuff you could smoke that would get you high. Bob didn't think I should try it until he had tested it, but later on I did." Writing about sitting around with Tyson and his partner Sylvia listening to records, Rotolo wrote, "We reveled in the joy of discovering something we had never heard before. And this wasn't just for music; it was about books and movies, too. We were a young and curious lot." Tyson wrote "Four Strong Winds" the day after he heard Dylan introduce his new song "Blowin' In the Wind" in 1962.   

Vivienne Westwood (12/29)

“I don’t think punk would have happened without Vivienne," said Tokin' Woman Chrissie Hynde, who before forming the Pretenders, was an assistant at Westwood's London shop. “I was about 36 when punk happened and I was upset about what was going on in the world,” the influential fashion designer and activist told Harper’s Bazaar in 2013. “It was the hippies who taught my generation about politics, and that’s what I cared about — the world being so corrupt and mismanaged, people suffering, wars, all these terrible things.” Westwood wardrobed The Sex Pistols and Boy George, and created Oscar gowns for Kate Winslet in 2006 and Zendaya in 2015, for a look (pictured right) that prompted Giuliana Rancic to comment, “She looks like she smells like patchouli oil and weed.” 

The grandson of Bob Marley was a recording artist and DJ who was aiming "to do something new with my roots," as he once told Rolling Stone. He began performing onstage at age 4 with Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers — his father Stephen, his uncle Ziggy, and his aunts Cedella and Sharon — during that group’s concert finales. He moved to Florida at age 11, where he studied studio engineering and observed his father and uncle Damian Marley working in Stephen’s Lion’s Den studio before starting to make his own music. He died at the age of 31, reportedly of an asthma attack.    

Franco Harris (12/20)

When he made the Immaculate Reception, his Italian mother was reportedly praying the Rosary and listening to Ave Maria. Harris died three days before the 50th anniversary of his most famous play, to commemorate which there is a statue in the Pittsburgh airport (pictured). Harris told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2017, "I feel in any state that has approved medical marijuana (as 28 states hosting 20 of the NFL’s 32 teams have), the league should remove medical marijuana from being a banned substance....I will tell you this, if it ever comes to a point where I do need pain management, I’d feel very lucky and happy now that we have medicinal marijuana in Pennsylvania.”

Friday, November 25, 2022

Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carrying It On

The new PBS American Masters documentary "Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On" is an illuminating and long overdue tribute to this amazing folk singer and songwriter, whose work was suppressed by the US government. 

Born in Saskatchewan and raised by adopted parents in Maine and Massachusetts, Sainte-Marie was an overnight success in the Greenwich Village coffeehouse scene of the 1960s. She wrote the anti-war song "Universal Soldier," which was recorded by Donovan and many others, unwittingly giving away her publishing rights to the song for $1 (and partially buying them back years later for $25K). Another early song was "Cod'ine" which she wrote in 1964 after a doctor got her addicted to the opiate drug, from which the young singer went into withdrawals when she stopped. 

Another hit was "Until It's Time for You to Go," a modern, feminist love song that asked for no commitment from a man. It was recorded 37 times by Elvis Presley and by 157 other artists. (This time she was smart enough not to relinquish her publishing rights, even when Elvis's manager tried to insist.) 

"Show business changed," she says in the documentary. "The drug went from coffee and a little pot to alcohol and a little cocaine, and a lot of coffeehouses went out of business. And it just went from a time of innocence to a time of, 'Goose it. Here's where the money is.'" 

"The First Lady" and Marijuana

The remarkable Showtime series "The First Lady," interweaving the stories of Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford, and Michelle Obama, illuminates how First Ladies have been able to advance progressive causes in the US, rocking the establishment boat and sometimes causing backlash. 

Marijuana is mentioned twice in the 10-part series.


Flashing back to 1975 in the series, Republican operatives Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney are depicted saying Betty Ford (Michelle Pfeiffer) needed to stop talking about progressive issues like abortion rights and marijuana, after she gave a candid 60 Minutes interview shortly after becoming First Lady. Asked by Morley Safer what she thought about her children possibly using marijuana, Betty replied, "I think if I were their age I probably would have been interested to see the effect." She compared the use of marijuana at the time to her generation's consumption of beer. 

Friday, October 28, 2022

On Witches and Weed

It's Halloween/Samhain season, and witchy images are everywhere, part of a centuries-long denigration of wise women and the powerful plants they used for healing and divination, including cannabis. 

Witch hunts took place in Europe and Colonial America from about 1450 to 1750, resulting in an estimated 35,000 to 50,000 executions. "All of the witch hunts were basically a way for men to keep women away from medicine and the power it conferred," said Simone de Beauvoir. According to For Her Own Good: 150 Years of the Experts' Advice to Women by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deidre English, "In Europe the conflict between female lay healing and the medical profession had taken a particularly savage form: centuries-long witch hunts....the target of the witch hunts were, almost exclusively, peasant women, and among them female lay healers were singled out for persecution." 

Along with devouring babies and seducing priests, the use of "witches medicines" was a charge often leveled against women accused of witchcraft at the time when healers used ergot (the mold that grows on grains from which LSD is made) for the pain of labor, belladonna to inhibit uterine contractions and prevent miscarriages, and other plant-derived medicines. In 1527, Paracelsus, considered the "father of modern medicine," confessed that he "had learned from the Sorceress all he knew." 

Brian Muraresku's 2020 book The Immortality Key unveils "a vast knowledge of drugs that was kept alive through the Dark Ages by pagans and heretics. Until the witches of the world were hunted down for centuries, erasing all memory of the longest-running religion the planet has ever known." 

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Jackie Kennedy and Mahjoun in Morocco

A new book by secret service agent Clint Hill, My Travels with Mrs. Kennedy, describes a night when—while First Lady of the US—Jackie Kennedy apparently took some marijuana edibles, and laughed and danced the night away. 

Jackie had been depressed following the death of her son Patrick, who was born prematurely in August 1963 and died two days later of respiratory distress. She was invited by Aristotle Onassis for a trip on his yacht to recuperate. From there traveled to Morocco where she and her sister Lee Radziwill attended a dinner party with King Hassan's brother. 

Hill writes: 

After dinner, they passed around tea trays of desserts. "What are these?" I asked, as I picked up one of the round confectionary treats off a tray and took a bite. 

"Mahjoun. Moroccan specialty," the server answered. Everyone was laughing and dancing. It had been a long time since I'd seen Mrs. Kennedy really let her guard down like that. Mahjoun, it turned out, was the Moroccan version of hash brownies. 

They had an official Moroccan photographer there, but by the end of the evening I realized there could be some pictures that might not be flattering to Mrs. Kennedy. I explained to the photographer that this was meant to be a purely private visit, and that I would need to take his film so we could preview the photographs. 

First Lady Jackie Kennedy dancing at an October 1963
dinner party in Morocco at which Mahjoun was served.
Apparently one photo made it through, found at

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Weed Gummies on "The Kardashians" and Bong Hits on "The White Lotus"

New TV shows are featuring females using cannabis. 

In Episode 3 of Season 2 of "The Kardashians" on Hulu, Mama Bear Kris goes shopping for cannabis to treat her hip pain, spending over $700 on edibles, infused lube and other products at "The Leaf" cannabis boutique in Palm Springs. 

She and daughter Khloe then partake and go to get some tacos, with Kris overordering on food and giggling uncontrollably throughout dinner (pictured). Kris expresses that Khloe has been unhappy over her messy marital break up with NBA player Tristan Thompson, and she hoped for a fun night out. 

"Your gummy definitely kicked in, you just ordered five things," Khloe tells Kris during dinner, adding, "I need to give you one of these every day." She tells the camera, "I love when my family is silly and lighthearted, and they can laugh at themselves....the fun, relaxed nature of it. This is my happy place." 

"I can tell you one thing for sure," Kris says. "I'm not feeling any pain in my hip right now. Not a (bleep)ing thing." The following day, she muses, "I really did have a great night with no pain. Thank God security was driving," meaning their driver/security guard Corey who joined them for dinner.  

"Being able to laugh the night away has been the best sort of medicine for my spirits," said Khloe, who claimed to feel no effect from the gummies she ate. "I really needed this trip to Palm Springs I think more than I realized....If my mom comes back, so will I. And I will always have gummies on hand."

Saturday, September 17, 2022

How Lauren Bacall Lit the "Joint" that Humphrey Bogarted

Lauren Bacall's birthday this week got me thinking about my theory that the famous line "Don't Bogart that Joint" came from the movie she did with Humphrey Bogart, The Big Sleep, in which she lights a cigarette for him while he is tied up, forcing him to say his lines through the rest of the scene with the cigarette dangling from his lips. 

I found an interview with "The Fraternity of Man" bandmember Lawrence "Stash" Wagner in "It's Psychedelic Baby" magazine that confirms my theory. Wagner said he "got down on my knees and begged" their ABC record label to put their song "Don't Bogart That Joint" on a single, agreeing to change the title to "Don't Bogart Me." When Peter Fonda put the song on the Easy Rider soundtrack, "Bogart" became a classic, later recorded by Little Feat and others.

On the origin on the song, Wagner said, "The band was smoking some pot in our rehearsal house up in Laurel Canyon, when Elliot [Ingber, the band's guitarist] turned to me and said, 'Hey man, don’t bogart that thing.' Elliot was always coming up with hypsterisms from the 1950’s and I loved adopting them. I asked him, what does ‘bogart’ mean? He said, 'You know, like Humphrey Bogart always had a cigarette in his hand or hanging from his lips when talking. Well, you were hanging onto that joint while your lips were flapping.' I said, 'Cool, we should write a song using Bogart.'" Three minutes later, the band had written the song.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Long Live King Charles and His Environmentalist / Pro-Pot Stances?

More news from the UK: just after the country's second female Prime Minister took office, Queen Elizabeth has died after 70 years of her reign, and her son Prince Charles, 73, is the new King. He will presumably be coronated using the holy anointing oil, as his mother was. 

In December 1998, Charles surprised a Multiple Sclerosis sufferer by suggesting she try medical marijuana. Karen Drake, 36, said: "He said he had heard it was the best thing for relief from MS." 

Rita Marley with Charles in 2000. 
In February 2000, he visited Trench Town, Jamaica, the neighborhood of late reggae legend Bob Marley, and was greeted by Marley's widow and Tokin' Woman Rita Marley, who gave Charles a red, yellow and green Rastafarian knit hat with false dreadlocks. The prince put it on, and said, "I'll tell you who would really love that—my children." Marley said her husband would have been amazed by the royal visit to the neighborhood. "Boy, he'd burn a spliff to this - a big, big spliff,'' she said, "Rastafari lives!''*

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

New UK PM Liz Truss U-Turned on Marijuana

UPDATE 10/20: Truss has announced she will resign her post. Boris Johnson is expected to stand in the Tory leadership contest to replace his successor Truss. Others are calling for a general election.

You knew she was in trouble when, entering the Queen's funeral, she was misidentified as a minor Royal. 

Former UK Environment and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has been appointed as the UK's new prime minister after winning the Conservative Party leadership election that followed Boris Johnson's ouster. 

Truss was criticized during her campaign for flip-flopping politically, since while at Oxford University, she was president of the university branch of the Liberal Democratic Party. According to ABC News, "The economically centrist Lib Dems back constitutional reform and civil liberties, and Truss was an enthusiastic member, putting up 'Free the Weed' posters that called for decriminalization of marijuana and arguing in a speech for the abolition of the monarchy."  

After graduating college, Truss went to work for Shell Oil and became a conservative. Of late, she's been modeling herself after Britain's first female prime minister Margaret Thatcher, down to imitating her hairstyle and dress. 

In a 2001 interview with NME magazine Truss was asked for her opinion on marijuana legalization and replied, "I don't agree with it. Where do you stop?" (In the same interview, Truss confirmed Macy Gray to be a favorite musician. Perhaps she hasn't heard Gray's song, "Stoned.")

Truss balked when UK territory Bermuda voted to legalize cannabis in May 2022. After Governor Rena Lalgie blocked the law and asked for approval from the foreign secretary, talks were held but no decision was announced. (See update.)

Thursday, September 1, 2022

The "Bebop Baroness" Who Took a Pot Rap for Thelonious Monk

Baroness Pannonica "Nica" Rothschild was born in 1913 into one of the wealthiest families in the world. In 1935 she married a French diplomat/Baron Jules de Koenigswarter with whom she had five children. An aviation enthusiast and an accomplished pilot, Nica worked for Charles de Gaulle's Free French Army during WWII, serving in various functions such as ambulance driver and ending the war as a decorated lieutenant. Her husband’s extended family, as well as her Hungarian-born mother’s, were nearly all killed in the Holocaust.

Nica and her husband separated in 1951, and she left him to move to New York City, causing her to be disinherited by her family. In the 2009 BBC documentary "The Jazz Baroness," produced by her grandniece Hannah Rothschild and narrated by Helen Mirren, Nica is quoted saying, "My husband liked military drum music; he hated jazz. He used to break my records when I was late for dinner. I was frequently late for dinner." 

In New York, Nica became a serious jazz aficionado, befriending and patronizing leading musicians like Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk, to whom she was introduced by Tokin' Woman Mary Lou Williams in 1954. "I never sorted out the role of 'freedom fighter,'" she said. "But once I got here, I did see that an awful lot of help was needed. I couldn't just stand by and watch."

When Parker died in Nica's hotel room after a heroin-related illness that she and her daughter nursed him through, the salacious headlines screamed, "The Bird and the Baronesses's Boudoir" and one paper wrote, "Blinded and bedazzled by this luscious, slinky, black-haired, jet-eyed Circe of high society, the Yardbird was a fallen sparrow." Walter Winchell, the powerful columnist who inspired Burt Lancaster's character in Sweet Smell of Success, pursued and persecuted her in his column as a dealer of drugs.

Nica and Thelonious
She and Monk became inseparable, despite the fact that he was a married man. She enthused, "If there were seven wonders of the world, then I think Thelonious was the eighth. He helped you see the music inside the music. And his music itself made me see possibilities in life and ways of living that I never dreamed of." In 1957, she bought a new piano for the famous Five Spot club because she thought the existing one was not good enough for Monk's performances there. He wrote songs like "Pannonica" for her.

In October 1958, Monk was experiencing "periods of mania and psychological withdrawal" when Nica drove him and fellow musician Charlie Rouse to a Delaware gig in her Bentley. According to Nica's Dream: The Life and Legend of the Jazz Baroness by David Kastin, accounts vary as to what happened after Monk entered the segregated Park Plaza Motel in New Castle along the way looking for a bar, but the police were called and he was escorted to Nica's car in the parking lot. The threesome was permitted to drive away, but soon afterwards the Bentley was pulled over and Monk, who refused to leave the car, was forcibly removed and thrown to the ground, with one cop beating on his hands with a billy club while Nica screamed for them to stop. When he was handcuffed and driven away in a patrol car, "I feared they would take him off and kill him," she said. 

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Poll: Americans (Especially Women) Think Marijuana Is Less Harmful Than Alcohol

Jeany smokes a joint at the Berner’s on Haight dispensary in San Francisco in 2020.
 Jessica Christian/The Chronicle 
A new Gallup poll finds that Americans, especially women, find alcohol much more of a danger to individuals and society than marijuana, even though fewer of them say they use it than do men. 

The pollsters write: 

The poll found that Americans are evenly split in their views about marijuana's effect on society, with 49% considering it positive and 50% negative. They are slightly more positive about the drug's effect on people who use it, with 53% [including 55% of women] saying it's positive and 45% negative.

The same poll found that three in four adults [including 80% of women] believe that alcohol negatively affects society, and 71% [including 76% of women] think it is harmful to drinkers.  Yet, these perceived negative effects of alcohol are not enough to discourage Americans from imbibing, as two in three say they personally have the occasion to drink alcoholic beverages.

Amy Heckerling's "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" Turns 40

Amy Heckerling, a filmmaker fresh out of college, was given the chance to direct a film based on Cameron Crowe’s 1981 book, Fast Times at Ridgemont High: A True Story, which he wrote after spending a year undercover as a high school student. The resulting film is a funny, tender and true account of high school life at the time, focused on Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a sophomore just beginning to date.

Most known to marijuana fans for Sean Penn's portrayal of surfer/stoner Jeff Spicoli, the film also helped launch the careers of Leigh as well as Forest Whitaker,  Phoebe Cates, Judge Reinhold, Nicolas Cage (credited as Nicolas Coppola in a small role for his first film), and others. Heckerling's gift for casting included choosing Penn after being "overwhelmed by his intensity, even though all he had done was look up at her." 

The film was selected for re-release in May by The Criterion Collection,  featuring a restored 4K digital transfer, deleted and alternate scenes, a conversation with Heckerling and Crowe moderated by Olivia Wilde, and more. An essay by film critic Dana Stevens to introduce the release says, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High was the beneficiary of an improvisational, DIY freedom its director would never quite enjoy again, and that was fast disappearing from the studio system itself. Each new viewing makes you notice a different well-thought-through detail (the Peanuts-style near absence of visible parents! the dandyish New Wave touch of Damone’s piano-keyboard scarf!)."  

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Finnish Prime Minister Voluntarily Drug Tests After Party Video Released

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin has voluntarily taken a drug test after a video surfaced of the 36-year-old dancing at a party.

"For my own legal protection -- although I consider the demand for a drug test unreasonable -- in order to erase such doubts, I have today taken a drug test," Marin told reporters. The call that she be tested came via a tweet from Mikko Karna, an opposition MP. 

“I wish we lived in a society where my word could be trusted. But when suspicions like this are raised here, that’s why I took these tests,” Marin said. She says she never took illegal drugs, and does admit to drinking alcohol at the party, saying, “I trust that people understand that leisure time and work time can be separated.” 

Marin, the world's youngest sitting Prime Minister, was Finland's transport minister and supports making the country carbon neutral by 2035. With her election, all five of Finland's major political parties are run by women, four of them in their 30s.  

Monday, August 8, 2022

Olivia Newton-John Opens Up About Cannabis

UPDATE 8/8/2022: Newton-John died at her ranch home in California on August 8, 2022 at the age of 73, after battling metastatic cancer for over 30 years. An angel on Earth, she earned her wings just three days after her fellow Australian songbird Judith Durham of The Seekers.

ONJ goes bad in Grease
September 4, 2017 - In news that went 'round the world in places as far-flung as the Kansas City Star, singer Olivia Newton-John told Australia's The Sunday Telegraph that she is using "legal and easily obtained" medical marijuana in her home state of California to treat cancer.

“I use medicinal cannabis, which is really important for pain and healing,” she says. “It’s a plant that has been maligned for so long, and has so many abilities to heal."

“I will do what I can to encourage it,” she added. “It’s an important part of treatment, and it should be available. I use it for the pain and it’s also a medicinal thing to do — the research shows it’s really helpful.”

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Survey Looks at Cannabis Use in Perimenopausal and Menopausal Women, Calls More Research "Critically Needed"

A new survey conducted by researchers at Boston's Mass General Brigham (MGB) healthcare system found that perimenopausal and postmenopausal women had similar patterns of use for cannabis to treat their menopausal symptoms.

The paper, published in published in Menopause, the journal of the The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), had this to say (with full citations) about the potential for cannabinoid treatments for menopause symptoms: 

The endocannabinoid system is involved in a variety of physiological and psychological processes (e.g., regulating body temperature, mood, anxiety, sleep), and evidence suggests that this system significantly impacts fertility and reproduction. Specifically, the human ovary produces the endogenous cannabinoid anandamide with peak plasma levels occurring at ovulation and correlating with estrogen levels, suggesting that anandamide production may be controlled by this hormone.

In addition, cannabinoid treatments, including administration of anandamide, as well as antagonists of cannabinoid degradative enzymes, improve postovariectomy complications and reduce anxiety. Further, administration of cannabinoids typically results in vasorelaxation [reduction in tension of the blood vessel walls], suggesting that cannabinoid-based therapies may be particularly salient for treating vasomotor symptoms of menopause [hot flashes and night sweats].

In particular, estrogen deficiency results in downregulation of systems involved in hemodynamic regulation and is associated with vasomotor symptoms; 2 weeks of treatment with anandamide has been shown to reverse this downregulation in ovariectomized rats. Taken together, research indicates that medical cannabis (MC) may be a nonhormone treatment option with the potential to alleviate menopause-related symptoms with greater efficacy and possibly fewer side effects relative to existing treatments. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Mrs. Hunter Biden Shops for Pot While Brittney Griner Faces 10 Years for It


Cohen and (apparently) her Secret Service agent enter the 99 High Tide dispensary in Malibu on 7/13. 

Cohen exits the dispensary
carrying a small package.
UPDATE 8/15/22: 
Griner's attorneys have appealed her conviction, and there's official talk of swapping her and other Russian prisoners for arms dealer Victor Bout, and idea has been criticized by former president and coup-inciter Donald Drumpf. I guess the US doesn't want the competition; war toys are some of our biggest exports.

It's been reported that Hunter Biden's wife Melissa Cohen was escorted by a Secret Service agent while she went grocery shopping and stopped at a cannabis club to make a purchase in Malibu, CA. (Marijuana Moment was unable to confirm that it was a Secret Service agent who accompanied her. The First Family does receive SS protection.)

It made me sad to think of Brittney Griner facing 10 years in a Russian prison for a similar act, despite public outcry and US diplomatic efforts to free her. Soccer star/CBD entrepreneur Megan Rapinoe and Warriors champion Steph Curry were among the star athletes pleading for Griner’s freedom at The ESPYs on July 20. 

On Twitter, I nudged Very Important Pothead Kareem Abdul Jabbar to write about his fellow Arizonan Griner after it came out in court that she had a doctor's recommendation to use marijuana.  I included a video of Kareem teaching Griner the sky hook when she came to play for the Phoenix Mercury. 

"Broads Behind Bars" and "The Spinach Song"

The things you find noodling around the internet. It began by looking up the actress /strongwoman Hope Emerson—best known for lifting Spencer Tracy off the ground in court in the 1949 movie Adam's Ribafter I watched her exclaim "Smokin' Oakum!" throughout Westward the Women (1952). Oakum is the short fibers of hemp; generally it is not smoked.  (It's possible she was saying, "smoke and oakum.")

Emerson, who made her Broadway debut playing an Amazon woman in Lysistrata in 1930, was nominated for an Oscar for her role as a sadistic matron at a women's prison in Caged (1950), for which the author Virginia Kellogg served time in four American prisons under false charges, as research. 

Caged and anti-marijuana propaganda films were parodied in the 1977 SCTV skit, "Broads Behind Bars," in which Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy of TV's "Schitt's Creek" smoke pot, leading to her imprisonment and defiant downfall "from just one small stick of the stuff." Emerson's role was handled by John Candy in drag in the skit, which a title card mockingly says was "produced in cooperation with the anti-marijuana league of North America."

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Gene Krupa, Sal Mineo, and "The Green Girl"

Dorissa (Susan Oliver) turns on Gene (Sal Mineo) 
in "The Gene Krupa Story." 

Having just seen the new "Elvis" biopic, I decided it was time to watch "The Gene Krupa Story" (1959) starring Sal Mineo in a fantastic performance playing the drums much as Krupa did. 

In the film, Krupa is turned on to marijuana by a fictional vixen named Dorissa Dinell, much as Eve lead Adam astray with the Forbidden Fruit (dubbed "the world's first controlled substance" by Timothy Leary). 

After handing him a joint, Dorissa (played by Susan Oliver) watches him take a puff. Immediately, the music turns ominous and discordant. "Don't diddle it," she admonishes him, encouraging him by example to inhale fully. "Put your miseries out to pasture and nobody gets you," she tells him.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

"Elvis" and Marijuana

The new Baz Lurman movie “Elvis” gives inklings into what the star might have become without the influence of his manipulative manager “Colonel Tom Parker” (not his real name or rank), and the forces that demonized the singer for moving his body too freely onstage to the music he made. 

Marijuana is mentioned in the film as Presley (Austin Butler in a pitch-perfect, career-making performance) begins to gain fame, and becomes controversial for his too-exciting performances. “The press says I smoke marijuana,” he says, implying it's untrue. 

Just before that line is uttered, a still photo is shown of the real Elvis from a July 1, 1956 interview he did on the show "Hy Gardner Calling." On that program, New York Herald Tribune columnist Gardner asked Presley about his appearance that night on the Steve Allen show, something alluded to in the movie, with Allen requiring him to appear in a tuxedo and serenade a basset hound with “Hound Dog.” 

Gardner asked Presley if he'd ever performed in a tuxedo before, to which he replied, “It's the first time I've had one on.” During the interview where he denied a connection between rock and roll and juvenile delinquency, Elvis was asked about the rumor that he had once shot his mother. “That one takes the cake,” was the reply. 

Gardner then addressed another rumor, saying, “Several newspapers say that you smoke marijuana in order to work yourself into a frenzy while singing.” Elvis just laughed and said, “I don't know.” “You won't even bother answering that?” Gardner asked. No response, or denial. 

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Monterey Pop, Michelle Phillips, and Marijuana

Phillips performing at Monterey Pop.
This is the 55th Anniversary of the Monterey Pop festival, which preceded Woodstock by two years as an epic rock and roll and counterculture event. Marking the first major American appearances by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Who, and Ravi Shankar, it was also the first large-scale public appearance of Janis Joplin and the introduction of Otis Redding to a mass American audience. Also playing at the three-day charity event were The Mamas and the Papas, Jefferson AirplaneSimon and Garfunkel,  The Grateful Dead, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Canned Heat, Steve Miller and Laura Nyro, among others. 

The D.A. Pennebaker documentary Monterey Pop is currently viewable on HBO Max and other platforms. In 2018, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

Instrumental in planning Monterey Pop were Cheech and Chong producer Lou Adler and Tokin' Woman Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas, who has never shied away from controversy and speaking her mind about drug taking. 

Asked on Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect in 1996 during a program on which Timothy Leary was scheduled to appear near the end of his life, "What was wrong with the brown acid at Woodstock?" she sweetly replied, "I don't know, but I was at Monterey Pop, and there we had Sunshine Owsley acid, and there was nothing wrong with that at all." (Owsley was the famous LSD chemist nicknamed "Bear" and the reason for bear imagery on Grateful Dead posters.) Phillips mentioned Tokin' Woman Candy Barr as also going to prison for a joint, as did Leary. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

The Tonys Take a Toke

The (somewhat) gender-reversed Broadway revival of “Company” (shown) has won the 2022 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. Marianne Elliott also won for directing the show, and Patti LuPone and Matt Doyle took home acting Tonys for their roles in the play, which was the final Broadway production the legendary composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim worked on before he died in November.

Sondheim's lyrics for "Gee, Officer Krupke" in 1957's West Side Story include the lines: "My grandma pushes tea," and "Dear kindly judge your honor / my parents treat me rough / with all the marijuana / they won't give me a puff." In "I'm Still Here" for the musical "Follies" he penned, "Reefers and vino, rest cures, religion and pills. And I'm here." 

Larry Kert, George Coe and Terri Ralston
in the original "Company"
The original 1970 production of "Company," a series of vignettes revolving around Bobby—a single character—and five couples who are his friends, contains a scene where Bobby gets his friends Jenny and David high. Stay-at-home wife Jenny (the angel-voiced Teri Ralston), who has never tried marijuana before, asks for another joint. She is discouraged by David, who tells Bobby that Jenny does not like marijuana, but partook it to show her love for him. (Bobby was played by Larry Kert, who first got Sally Kellerman high.) 

In the revival, Bobby is now the female Bobbie, and in her scene smoking marijuana with David and Jenny (Christopher Fitzgerald and Nikki Renee Daniels), "it’s now David (not Jenny) who is the 'registered square' who’s getting high for the first time – and thank god for that, because Christopher Fitzgerald’s physical comedy while his reality adjusts on Maui Wowie makes this one of the most memorable stage moments of the year," writes reviewer Jonathan Mandell. It's a sign of progress that women can now be depicted as experienced marijuana smokers, but it's kind of too bad that the male actor got the juicier role. 

Saturday, June 11, 2022

James Joyce's "Ulysses" at 100: Was Leopold Bloom a Stoner?

Joyce's sketch of Leopold Bloom, wth the line from Homer,
"Tell me, Muse, of that manyminded man, who wandered far and wide."

This year is the 100th anniversary of the publication of James Joyce's epic modern novel Ulysses, which was published in Paris by Sylvia Beach on February 2, 1922—Joyce's 40th birthday. 

Ulysses chronicles a day in the life—June 16, 1904—of the Dublin-based character Leopold Bloom, with parallels to the Homeric tale of the same name. "The novel's stream of consciousness technique, careful structuring, and experimental prose—replete with puns, parodies, and allusions—as well as its rich characterisation and broad humour have led it to be regarded as one of the greatest literary works in history; Joyce fans worldwide now celebrate 16 June as Bloomsday." According to Declan Kiberd, "Before Joyce, no writer of fiction had so foregrounded the process of thinking." [Wikipedia]

José Francisco Batiste Moreno in his astonishing paper Leopold Bloom's Tea-Pot presents evidence for Bloom, and Joyce, being influenced by hashish. In 1902, Joyce hung out with hashish-taking authors William Butler Yeats  and Arthur Symons in Paris, "a city once again overcome by the deliquescence of hemp; especially the colorful artistic life of Montmartre, that around the turn of the century was experiencing a new cycle of a true psychotropic revolution based on the green hempen pill."

In 1902, Joyce went to Paris with an introduction from hashish-taking author William Butler Yeatssome say to follow in the footsteps of Verlaine and Baudelaire (who also took hashish). Joyce reportedly spent time with Yeat’s party buddy Arthur Symons in "a city once again overcome by the deliquescence of hemp; especially the colorful artistic life of Montmartre, that around the turn of the century was experiencing a new cycle of a true psychotropic revolution based on the green hempen pill." The “Circe” chapter of Ulysses is said to "rework the visionary literature of Gérard de Nerval and Rimbaud," two more French hashish-takers. In Homer, the goddess/enchantress Circe turns men into pigs with a drug. Of nepenthe, the drug used in Homer by Helen to make soldiers banish the grief of battle, Joyce seems to have borrowed from Shelly's interpretation of it as a love potion. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Murdoch Media Blames Marijuana for Mass Shootings

In 2012 after the Sandy Hook school shooting, media mogul Rupert Murdoch tweeted, "When will politicians find courage to ban automatic weapons?" But now, ten years later, Murdoch's media outlets are busy pointing fingers of blame for the Uvalde, TX school shooting not on the AR-15-style guns the killer purchased legally days after he turned 18, but on marijuana. 

The trial balloon was a letter to the editor that was published in the Wall Street Journal on May 31:

Your editorial fails to mention one important factor: cannabis use. Cannabis, psychosis and violence are intimately related. With the legalization of cannabis, you can expect violent incidents to increase, regardless of the weapon of choice.

Gabe Syme, Phoenix

No Gabe Syme + Phoenix shows up in a Google search. Gabriel Syme is the name of the anarchist hero of the 1908 G.K. Chesterton novel The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare. The 2000 video game Deus Ex features several excerpts from the book. A Twitter account from "Hitler, North Dakota" @gabrielsyme08 has weird (mock?) White Supremacy posts and another with a bodybuilder and the line, "Time for another 200 mg of caffeine."

The same day as Syme's letter appeared in the WSJ, Laura Ingraham, who broadcasts on Fox News, asked on her show, "Why are people not talking about the pot psychosis / violent behavior connection?" Ingraham drew from a book by disgraced anti-vaxxer Alex Berenson to draw a connection between marijuana, mental illness and violence. She repeated a claim by Berenson that the New York Times had removed a reference to Uvalde shooter Salvadore Ramos being angry at his mother and grandmother for not letting him smoke weed. (The claim, supported by screenshots, seems to be true; the story had 13 different contributors and probably got updated as breaking news; I have not seen a response from NYT.)

The following day, Whoopi Goldberg called out conservatives' latest lame attempt to claim something other than assault weapons are to blame on The View. "It's not that people are smoking too much weed. You know that, Laura," Goldberg said. "People who smoke weed are not carrying AR-15s. They don't even know where they put them."

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Families Continue to Be "Torn Apart" By Parents' Marijuana Use

"The child welfare system operates surprisingly like its criminal counterpart. It is a $10 billion apparatus that monitors, controls and punishes families in the same Black communities systematically subjugated by police and prisons," writes Professor Dorothy Roberts in an In These Times excerpt of her new book, Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families—and How Abolition Can Build a Safer World. 

Prof. Roberts continues: 

State-level child protective services agencies investigate the families of 3.5 million children every year, with one in three children nationwide subject to investigation by the time they reach 18. Most Black children (54%) experience an investigation from child protective services (CPS) at some point while growing up. [For white children, it's 28.2%.]

Every year, CPS removes about 500,000 children from their homes—half though judicial proceedings and half through informal "safety plans." More than one in 10 Black and Native children in America will be forcibly separated from their parents and placed in foster care by their 18th birthday. 

In California, a pending bill, AB 2595 by Los Angeles Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer, would require CPS to update its directives to instruct case workers to treat marijuana use by parents in the same way they do alcohol or prescription drugs. It is sponsored by the LA Dependency Lawyers, who represent approximately 20,000 parents on a daily basis. Attorney Brooke Huley of LADL, who testified for AB 2595, roughly estimates based on her 10 years' experience that at least 40% of those parents have had their custodial rights abridged in some form as a result of mere use of cannabis. 

"That would mean that about 8,000 of our current clients on any given day have been negatively impacted," Huley said, adding, "Approximately 20% of our clients have had their children removed or kept from their care as a result of cannabis use." (It's hard to pinpoint data due to confidentiality requirements for family courts.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Biden Administration Prefers Fatigued Truck Drivers Carrying Baby Formula to Off-The-Job Marijuana Smokers

Media outlets like High Times and Reason magazines are picking up on something I've been noticing: that the trucker shortage and all the supply chain problems it is causing happened just after the US instituted a National Clearinghouse on drug testing results for drivers, forcing thousands of drivers out of the profession due to off-the-job marijuana use. As the situation is affecting the baby formula supplies, the Biden administration's answer is to exempt drivers from safety requirements over how long they can drive or how much they must rest before getting on the road. 

Sunday, May 22, 2022

George Carlin's American Dream Featured Marijuana

The new documentary series "George Carlin's American Dream" on HBO tells us much about the comedian, including his love for marijuana.  

Carlin's mother Mary fled his violent, alcoholic father with his older brother Patrick when George was just a baby. He grew up a latchkey kid with a single working mother in what he calls "White Harlem" (Morningside Heights) in New York City, spending a lot of time alone. He watched Danny Kaye, Bob Hope and Red Skelton movies and emulated Kaye's facile facial and vocal expressions, while listening to comedians like Jack E. Leonard on the radio and deciding he wanted to be one. 

It could be said of Carlin, and our society, that the Catholic Church no longer letting the wheat in communion wafers go moldy with ergot (my theory, confirmed by others) led to seeking the promised transformative experience of First Communion in other drugs. When he didn't transform in church, he began to question all authority. "I think I saw religion as the first big betrayal," Carlin said. At Corpus Christi school he was told, "You will be in the state of grace, and you will feel God's presence. When none of that happened, I began to see that they were lying to me."  

Carlin began smoking pot when he was 13 and says he smoked daily from the age of 15, including before all his TV appearances. He quit school in 9th grade and left home at the age of 17, joining the Air Force and working as a DJ until being discharged for "showing a certain amount of disrespect for an NCO."

Lenny Bruce was an influence, and Carlin was in the audience when Bruce was arrested for obscenity, also going to jail when he refused to show his ID. He began his comedy career with a partner wearing a suit and tie and playing goofy characters, already telling stoner jokes. He went solo with characters like the stoned Hippie Dippie Weatherman. "Tomorrow's high is whenever I get up," was one of his lines. 

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."