Sunday, March 12, 2023

More US Women Are Smoking Weed But They're Still Reluctant to Admit It

Multistate cannabis retailer MedMen decided to poll women for International Women's Day and Women's History Month this year. 

The survey, conducted online by The Harris Poll, found that more than one-third (37%) of American women aged 21+ consume cannabis, and more than one in four (28%) say they use cannabis once a month or more often. 

Two thirds (65%) of the women who answered that they use cannabis say there are people in their life that still do not know they use it, including their parents (26%), children (22%), and coworkers (21%). 

While 27% of female cannabis users cited "no concerns" regarding their cannabis use, 20% said their biggest concern is drug testing, which continues to happen nationwide by employers and doctors, despite some state laws protecting workers or medical marijuana patients. I don't know if the women were asked about concerns that their parental rights would also be interfered with for using cannabis. 

The top three reasons women said they use cannabis are to relieve anxiety (60%), to help them sleep (58%), and to relieve pain (53%). It's possible women still don't want to admit that they use cannabis recreationally.

“March is a meaningful time to celebrate women and create awareness around issues that matter to them,” said Karen Torres, Chief Product Officer at MedMen. “We know first-hand from our female-identifying employees and customers that women are increasingly turning to cannabis for their health and wellness needs. However, it’s clear that stigmas persist and inhibit us from sharing our experiences freely.” 

Friday, March 10, 2023

RIP Raphael Mechoulam, Discoverer of THC

Israeli scientist Raphael Mechoulam, who died on March 9 at the age of 92, was the perfect person to discover the main active component of cannabis—THC—in 1964. Small of stature, soft-spoken and plain-speaking, he was insatiably curious, with a little bit of a kindly, mischievous twinkle in his eye at all times. 

CBD (cannabidiol) had been isolated by Roger Adams in the 1930s and by Alexander Todd at about the same time, but the structure wasn’t known. A natural products chemist, Mechoulam and his team unraveled the structure of CBD, and isolated THC, along with several other cannabinoids. 

As illustrated in the film The Scientist, his first experiment with humans and cannabis involved his wife Dalia baking a cake containing THC, and a placebo cake without the special ingredient, which were fed to two groups of the couple's friends. All of the people who had the THC-laced cake were affected, in different ways: some got introspective, some got giggly, some anxious—effects that are familiar today but were then almost unknown. 

At the time, the mechanism of cannabinoid action in the body was not understood. After the cannabis receptor CB1 was discovered in the brain by (female) researcher Allyn Howlett in the 1980s, Mechoulam's team went looking for endogenous (natural in the body) compounds that activate those receptors, because, as he told an interviewer from the International League Against Epilepsy in 2019, "Receptors don’t exist because there’s a plant out there; receptors exist because we, through compounds made in our body, activate them." 

When his team identified an endogenous cannabinoid in 1992, they called it anandamide, based on the word “ananda” in Sanskrit, which means “supreme joy.” Author Michael Pollan, who describes the discovery of anandamide in his bestselling book The Botany of Desiresaid that Howlett and Mechoulam should be considered for the Nobel prize

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Women's History Month: Celebrating Tokin' Women Who Tell Our Stories

The theme of this year's Women's History Month is "Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories" and the photocollage of such women on the National Women's History Alliance website depicts at least two, and possibly three, Tokin' Women: Maya Angelou, Lillian Hellman, and Gertrude Stein

Maya Angelou, the first poet since Robert Frost to read a poem at a Presidential inauguration, wrote about her experiences with marijuana in Gather Together in My Name, the second installment of her autobiography after the acclaimed I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. She recounted that after smoking grifa"I lost myself in a haze of sensual pleasure....The shapes and forms melted until I felt I was in a charcoal sketch, or a sepia watercolor." 

Playwright and author Lillian Hellman was reportedly a bit of a cougar in her later years, enjoying the company of young single men in New York in the mid-1970s "with a leaning towards the sort of outrageousness that produced the hearty Hellman belly laugh," sometimes induced by smoking marijuana. "Lil said she used mj when she was around people who used it. As in 'Whenever I'd be at a dinner with Gene Krupa...'" said journalist/activist Fred Gardner, who used to supply her in the 60s. 

Gertrude Stein co-hostessed a salon in Paris that fostered artists like Picasso. She also was a stream-of-consciousness writer who wrote "The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas" about her longtime lover, whose cookbook features a recipe for hashish fudge, "which anyone could whip up on a rainy day." An interesting character by the name of Jenny Reefer appears in "The Mother of Us All," a 1947 opera about the life and career of suffragette Susan B. Anthony for which Stein wrote the libretto. 

A disc depicting Enheduanna (second
from left) overseeing a ceremony.

Cannabis and storytelling have long been interwoven. Terence McKenna connects the expression "spinning a yarn" to hemp's dual purpose as a fiber and an intoxicant leading to flights of fancy in his book Food of the Gods. In Fitz Hugh Ludlow's influential 1857 book The Hasheesh Eater, he describes a hashish-induced vision of a crone knit of purple yarn. 

It's now come out that the first known storyteller was a priestess named Enheduanna, who was the subject of a "She Who Wrote" exhibition at the Morgan Library last year. Her poem, "The Exaltation of Inanna" was written around 2300 BCE to the goddess and "Queen of Heaven" known later as Ishtar.  

Below are more storytelling Tokin' Women we celebrate this month, by their era. Read more about these remarkable women by clicking on their names.  

Monday, February 27, 2023

No, Woody Harrelson Didn't Say He Gave Up Smoking Pot on SNL

In spite of some misreporting going around, Very Important Pothead Woody Harrelson didn't say he'd given up marijuana while hosting Saturday Night Live this weekend. 

It would be a strange thing to have happened, since Harrelson has just opened up a cannabis dispensary and consumption lounge in West Hollywood. He famously did give up pot for a time in 2017, but Bill Maher and Willie Nelson nudged him back to starting again.

What he said on SNL is this, while telling a story about what he did after he hosted the show three years earlier: 

I went walking the greatest part of this city, Central Park, leaning against a tree, and started to read the craziest script. Full disclosure, I smoked a joint first. 

The reason I like herb more than alcohol is because it makes me feel good, no hangover, and I never wake up covered in blood. But regardless, I have decided to quit smoking pot altogether, and I’m sticking with it...until after the show.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

President Jimmy Carter, Marijuana Decriminalization Advocate

The first president I got to vote for, after campaigning against Richard Nixon four years earlier at the age of 14, was Jimmy Carter. It's been announced that the 98-year-old Carter is in hospice, to spend his final days at home. 

On his second day in office in 1977, Carter pardoned all Vietnam War draft evaders. During his term, two new cabinet-level departments—the Department of Energy and the Department of Education—were established. 

During his presidential campaign, Carter responded to a candidate survey from NORML stating that he was in favor of decriminalization of cannabis. Six months into his administration, on August 2, 1977, he issued a Drug Abuse Message to Congress stating: 

Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself; and where they are, they should be changed. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against possession of marijuana in private for personal use. We can, and should, continue to discourage the use of marijuana, but this can be done without defining the smoker as a criminal. 

States which have already removed criminal penalties for marijuana use, like Oregon and California, have not noted any significant increase in marijuana smoking. The National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse concluded five years ago that marijuana use should be decriminalized, and I believe it is time to implement those basic recommendations. Therefore, I support legislation amending Federal law to eliminate all Federal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Tokin' Women and Others We Lost in 2023

Sadly, this page will be updated throughout 2023.

Israeli researcher Mechoulam was the first to discover the main active component of cannabis—THC—in 1964. He also isolated other cannabinoids, and worked our the structure of CBD (cannabidiol). After the cannabis receptor CB1 was discovered in the brain by (female) researcher Allyn Howlett in the 1980s, Mechoulam's team identified an endogenous cannabinoid that binds to it and called it anandamide, based on the word “ananda” in Sanskrit, which means “supreme joy.” Author Michael Pollan, who describes the discovery of anandamide in his bestselling book The Botany of Desirehas said that Howlett and Mechoulam should be considered for the Nobel prizeRead more. 


David Lindley (3/3)
Lindley was a founding member of the 1960s psychedelic band Kaleidoscope and also founded the rock band El Rayo-X. He scored and composed music for film, and worked as a musical director and instrumentalist with many other performers including Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Ry Cooder, Bonnie Raitt, Dolly Parton, Warren Zevon, David Grisman, and Curtis Mayfield. Lindley mastered such a wide variety of instruments that Acoustic Guitar magazine referred to him not as a multi-instrumentalist but instead as a "maxi-instrumentalist." On stage, Lindley was known for his humor, and for wearing garishly colored polyester shirts with clashing pants, gaining the nickname the Prince of Polyester. He often played in Humboldt County, CA, part of the pot-growing Emerald Triangle. May he cruise his Mercury straight to heaven. 

Orrin Bolton (3/2)
I petitioned for the 1992 Colorado Hemp Initiative at a Michael Bolton concert; it was a bust (everyone was drunk and rude, in sharp contrast to the Steve Miller concert the week before where everyone signed with pleasure). Apparently, I had the wrong Bolton. I learn now from CelebStoner that Orrin was a marijuana legalization advocate, a board member of Connecticut NORML, and a musician as well. His more famous sibling tweeted, "My brother, my mentor, my introduction to my love of music. We've shared songs, sports, long hair and the stage. Forever the traveler, I know your music guides you into your next journey. RIP." Here Orrin sings his song "Freedom" about the weed. 

Richard Belzer (2/19)
In a 2010 interview with AARP Magazine, Belzer described his character Munch on Law & Order as “Lenny Bruce with a badge.” Belzer served in the army, and worked as a truck driver, salesman, dockworker, reporter, and drug dealer before turning to stand-up comedy, doing his signature crowd-work warm-up for Saturday Night Live. An advocate for medical marijuana after using it to counteract the effects of radiation treatments for testicular cancer in 1985, Belzer was featured in High Times magazine in the '80s and '90s, where he said, "For God's sake, it's a plant. It's been around for thousands of years and been used in many forms. It's heartbreaking that anyone would deny someone the use of such a harmless substance." Interviewed by Hemp Times magazine in 1998, he sported a black hemp sweater and jacket, and shades, for his cover photo. In this video Munch signs off, after teaching his grandson an important lesson. 

Raquel Welch (2/15)
When Playboy in 1998 named the 100 sexiest female stars of the 20th century, Welch came in third — right after Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield. This iconic poster of her in a deerskin bikini from One Million Years B.C. (1966) adorned at least a million teenagers' walls in the 60s and 70s. She won a Golden Globe for her comedic role in the 1973 adaptation of The Three Musketeers, written by Very Important Pothead Alexandre Dumas. I loved her for her inspiring and encouraging book Raquel: The Raquel Welch Total Beauty and Fitness Program (1984) which details in photographs her 28-pose yoga routine, which she teaches in this video

Huey "Piano" Smith (2/13)
Born in the Central City neighborhood of New Orleans, he was influenced by the innovative Professor Longhair and became known for his shuffling right-handed break on the piano that influenced other players. In 1955, Smith became the piano player with Little Richard's first band in sessions for Specialty Records. In 1957, his band Huey "Piano" Smith and His Clowns recorded "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu," a song that's been covered by artists from Johnny Rivers to Deep Purple. "Li'l Liza Jane," a folk song Smith's band recorded in 1959, was performed by Nina Simone at Newport in 1960; Alison Krauss won a best-country-instrumental performance Grammy for her recording of it in 1989. Steve Huey of AllMusic noted that, "At the peak of his game, Smith epitomized New Orleans R&B at its most infectious and rollicking, as showcased on his classic signature tune, 'Don't You Just Know It.'"

Burt Bacharach (2/8)
Bacharach became Marlene Dietrich’s musical director in 1958 and toured with her for two years in the United States and Europe. He discovered Dionne Warwick, a gifted young gospel-trained singer from East Orange, N.J., singing backup at a recording session for the Drifters. A string of hits followed, among them “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” “Walk On By,” “Alfie,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” and “I'll Never Fall In Love Again.” Among the other artists who had hits with Bacharach's songs written with lyricist Hal David were Jackie DeShannon (“What the World Needs Now Is Love”), Dusty Springfield (“Wishin’ and Hopin’,” “The Look of Love”), Tom Jones (“What’s New Pussycat?”), The Carpenters ("Close to You), and B.J. Thomas ("Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head.") “The Songs of Bacharach & Costello,” a boxed set including Elvis Costello’s recordings of Bacharach songs and songs they collaborated on, is scheduled for release next month.

Jeff Blackburn (2/7)
Blackburn began practicing law in 1983 and spent his decades-long legal career representing underserved people, often for free, in criminal and civil rights cases around Texas. He was a major player in significant criminal justice reform after taking on the cases of 38 people in 2001 who were arrested on drug-related charges in Tulia. Over the next few years, during which he formed and led a national coalition of lawyers, his clients were exonerated in the largest mass pardon in US history. Blackburn went on to contribute to developing subsequent criminal justice reform legislation, and co-founded The Innocence Project of Texas

David Harris (2/6) 

Harris was a Vietnam War protester who was elected student body president on a platform focused on righting the unequal status of women at Stanford, and made national news when a group of pro-war Stanford students grabbed him and shaved him bald as punishment for his activism. A gifted orator, he toured with Joan Baez, and did 20 months in prison for refusing the draft, just after marrying her. In prison he led hunger strikes to improve conditions for inmates. When he got out in 1970, he began writing for Rolling Stone, starting with a profile of Ron Kovic, whose story was told in the movie Born on the Fourth of July. He also contributed to The New York Times Magazine and wrote several books, including, Our War: What We Did in Vietnam and What It Did to Us (1996) and My Country ’Tis of Thee: Reporting, Sallies and Other Confessions (2020), a collection of his newspaper and magazine articles. His son with Baez, Gabriel Harris, is a percussionist who studied with Baba Olatunji and his daughter Sophie Harris is a filmmaker. Source

Lisa Loring (1/28)
At the age of 6, Loring originated the role of Wednesday Addams on TV's The Addams Family (1964–1966). Afterwards, she joined the cast of the ABC sitcom The Pruitts of Southampton with Phyllis Diller. In the 1980s she played the character Cricket Montgomery on the soap opera As the World Turns and appeared in a few B slasher movies. In 1987, she married an adult film actor after meeting him on the set of the 1987 film Traci's Big Trick, on which she was a make-up artist and uncredited writer. Christina Ricci played the role of Wednesday in two movies in the '90s, and Jenna Ortega said she paid homage to Loring's groovy dance moves (above) while playing the role on the new smash Netflix series "Wednesday."

Cindy Williams (1/25)
Williams appeared as an American girl who turns on a staid British bank manager to pot in Travels With My Aunt, just before she played the quintessential American girl in American Graffiti. She went on to be paired with Penny Marshall as a writing partner, leading to a guest shot on "Happy Days" and their spin-off "Laverne and Shirley" (1976-1983). The show has a 1981 "lost episode" titled "I Do, I Do" in which the girls get stoned on pot brownies. David Lander, who played Squiggy on the show, was an MS sufferer and advocate for medical marijuana who told producer Garry Marshall that instead of patrolling the halls during the show he ought to put marijuana in the budget.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Tokin' Woman Rihanna Smokes the Super Bowl

Rihanna is the name on everyone's lips these days after her sheroic performance at the Super Bowl, balancing in mid air while dressed as a pregnant vulva with an army of sperm dancing around her, just like the woman/goddess she is. I mean, even Gladys Knight only had three pips. 

The billionaire singer and fashion icon rose from modest beginnings in Barbados, where she sold clothes from a street stall, to sell 250 million records worldwide. She is the second-best-selling female music artist of all time (second to her fellow Tokin' Woman Madonna, someone she admires and emulates, along with Bob Marley). She has branched into successful fragrance, fashion, and beauty products businesses, and launched several charitable foundations

The singing sensation was caught by the pot-parazzi smoking a blunt at a hotel in Hawaii in 2012. That morning, she tweeted to her 12 million followers, "Waken...Baken...Good morning." Later she wrote, "Kush rolled, glass full... I prefer the better things," a lyric from Drake's song, 'Up All Night'. A week earlier she tweeted, "4:20... Hi." That year, she dressed as a pot fairy for Halloween and rolled a joint on the bald head of her bodyguard at Coachella. For her single "Diamonds," she used imagery of diamonds being rolled into a joint

A 2013 article in USA Today titled, "Marijuana's celebrity stigma goes up in smoke" was adorned with a photo of her wearing a pot-leaf shirt at a concert in Berlin to represent a new generation of celebrity stoner. "And then there's Rihanna, who readily flaunts her affection for the illegal flora, posting pictures of her Valentine's present (a bouquet of weed), 25th birthday cake (adorned with a gilded marijuana leaf) and Christmastime tush tattoo (yep, another leaf of weed)," the article stated. Rumors that she founded a brand of marijuana called MaRihanna in 2015 at the High Times Cannabis Cup in Jamaica turned out not to be true. 

Friday, February 3, 2023

When Rita Moreno Slapped Cops Trying to Search Her Purse for Marijuana

UPDATE 2/06: Moreno is Star of the Month on Turner Classic Movies. Her films are being featured on Thursday evenings throughout February, including The King and I and The Vagabond King (2/9), West Side Story and Popi (2/16), and The Ritz and The Four Seasons (2/23).

Rita Moreno at age 91 remains the talented and sexy star she always was. Her movie wherein she co-stars with Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Sally Field as octogenarians who travel to the Superbowl, 80 for Brady, opens today. 

In the film's trailer, Moreno is shown to consume a "high dose" (presumably cannabis) drink, after which she has a bizarre "Being John Malkovich" moment wherein she wears a cat mask and imagines she is Guy Fieri. (Those are some pretty strong edibles.) 

The actress also consumed an edible in the rebooted series "One Day At a Time," as comic relief in Episode 5: "Nip It in the Bud," with a thoughtful script that addressed vaping, youth use, opiate addiction, and racism in the drug war. 

Turns out Moreno may have more than a passing acquaintance with marijuana. 

Monday, January 30, 2023

Hearst Newspapers Attempt to Undo the Damage They Did to Marijuana?

"Hashish Goads Users to Bloodlust!" was a typical headline seen in Hearst newspapers in the 1930s when the "yellow journalism" outlet pushed to make marijuana illegal, possibly because Pancho Villa, whose army favored the weed, seized Hearst's property in Mexico. Next thing you knew, the Marijuana Tax Act had passed, effectively making cannabis hemp—newly known by the scary word "marijuana"—illegal in the US. 

Now Hearst has teamed with the cannabis industry and other groups under the umbrella of the Cannabis Media Council to publish ads that seek to mainstream the use of cannabis in the media. 

According to Adweek, the work—under the trademarked tagline “I’m High Right Now”— aims to be the “Got Milk” of the cannabis industry, targeting boomers and Gen X as the demo “most affected by previous propaganda” about cannabis, according to Allison Disney, a CMC board member who spearheaded the creative via Chicago-based agency Receptor Brands with an assist from Sister Merci.

"Given the restrictions on cannabis marketing—brands can’t buy ads from tech giants like Meta, Instagram or TikTok and are shut out of most traditional outlets—the sales-free pitch for weed wants to build awareness and rebrand the space," Adweek continues. The campaign is launching first in the Connecticut Post as a print piece, given that the state recently kicked off its adult-use cannabis sales. “I’m High Right Now” will appear in more "legacy media" via a relationship between the CMC and Hearst Newspapers and its in-house ad marketing agency 46 Mile.

Hearst now publishes Greenstate, a channel dedicated to the topic to “provide accurate information about the plant, dispel myths and to help readers understand its health benefits and lifestyle options,” according to Rose Fulton, principal of 46 Mile, part of the San Francisco Chronicle. Programmatic ads are coming shortly via the data-driven company Surfside, mostly in California markets. 

Friday, January 20, 2023

David Crosby (The Croz) Flies Away at 81

David Crosby, the impish hippie with the golden voice that caressed many of us into activism and awareness in the '60s all the way to today, has apparently flown to rock 'n' roll heaven to keep Janis Joplin company on her 80th birthday. 

Said to be the inspiration for Dennis Hopper's character in Easy Rider—the film that taught Jack Nicholson and the world how to smoke pot—Crosby (aka "The Croz") was emblematic of the generation he helped inspire. 

I got to meet David in November 2018 before a concert he did with The Lighthouse Band in Monterey, CA and interview him for CannabisNow magazine about joining the NORML board of directors and (attempting to) launch a cannabis brand. 

Sitting in his bus (but not smoking, since it was before his show), I got to ask him about the scene in Almost Famous where a roadie pulls out a joint to share. “I know this is good,” he says. “It’s from Crosby.” We also chatted about how it came to be that Tokin' Woman Melissa Etheridge chose him as her sperm donor: turns out, his wife Jan suggested it when Melissa admired their children. Crosby sang "Guinnevere" at the concert with a sweet nod to his wife of 35 years, for whom he said he washed dishes every night (doubtlessly the key to a happy marriage). 

In Stand and Be Counted (Harper San Francisco, 2000), Crosby's book documenting his participation in many of the landmark events of the 1960s and beyond, he writes, "At the risk of calling into question my own current choice of staying straight, I still believe we were right about acid and we were right about pot. They did blow us loose from the past and they did give us a new perspective, a way of setting ourselves apart from the rest of straight society.…Unfortunately, marijuana was illegal and you had to go to illegal people to get it. Those people would then hand you a gram of cocaine and say, ‘If you think that's fun, try this.’" 

After going to prison on drugs charges, Crosby was 14 ½ years sober, until he felt he could go back to smoking pot. "I don’t smoke it in the daytime; I vape buds at night," he told me. "In particular I don’t it before I play. I do it after. I have a lot more fun if I do it before I play, but I think I do better if I work straight and get loaded afterwards.”