Friday, April 16, 2021

Jocelyn Elders Co-Authors Oped Slamming AMA's Position on Marijuana

Elders depicted at the 2016 Oakland Museum "Altered State" exhibit

Former US Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders has co-authored an oped on  blasting the AMA's policy on marijuana as racist and out of step with the times. It states:

The AMA actively supports cannabis prohibition, a cornerstone of the drug war, even as it hypocritically condemns systemic racism for creating inequity and limiting access to health care among communities of color. The organization fails to appreciate or chooses to ignore the fact that the uneven application of laws on cannabis prohibition contributes to poverty, which is one of the largest obstacles to health care access in communities of color. 

Cannabis is demonstrably safer for the vast majority of adults than alcohol, but the AMA doesn't call for a return to alcohol prohibition. Cannabis is far less harmful to adults than tobacco, but the AMA advocates tighter regulation rather than the prohibition of tobacco products. While the medical community offers an evidence-based, nuanced assessment of the health effects of cannabis, the AMA hyperbolically asserts that "without question, the public health risks (of legalization) are immense." 

Cannabis use is not the "immense" public health threat that the AMA claims, but its prohibition is a powerful weapon of racially biased policing. In 2019, US law enforcement made over 500,000 arrests for simple cannabis possession alone. An American Civil Liberties Union report from 2018 found that Black people in America are nearly four times more likely than Whites to be arrested for cannabis possession, despite similar usage rates between the two groups.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

RIP Ramsey Clark, Mary Jeanne Kreek and Jean Langenheim

Recently portrayed as the man of uncommon integrity he was by Michael Keaton in the Aaron Sorkin/Netflix movie "The Trial of the Chicago 7, former US Attorney General and government official Ramsey Clark has died. 

Clark supervised the drafting of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and as AG opposed the death penalty and enforced antitrust laws. He "tussled with J. Edgar Hoover, settled land claims with Native American groups and accompanied Martin Luther King Jr. on his march to Selma."  He also helped start NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). 

Keith Stroup, who was a young lawyer when he started NORML, recalled in a New York Magazine article that he'd read Clark's book Crime in America. "I was amazed because here was this former Attorney General arguing that marijuana should be legalized. I’d never heard that from such a prominent public figure before," Stroup said. He met with Clark who reaffirmed his mission and helped make it happen, serving on the advisory board for NORML.

"It was terribly sad to learn of Ramsey Clark’s death," Stroup wrote to me in an email. "He was a friend and a personal political hero of mine, and someone who helped me get NORML off the ground in the early 1970’s. When I was uncertain, he reassured me that it was the right thing to do and he introduced me to Hugh Hefner and the Playboy Foundation, that largely funded NORML for our first decade. He was a brilliant man who fought every day for the common man. Ramsey Clark for my generation was the icon that we looked to to tell us how to move forward. He helped us end the Viet Nam War and to seek racial justice." 

Two prominent women scientists and unsung heroines have also recently passed and been added to Tokin' Woman's yearly In Memoriam post: Mary Jeanne Kreek and Jean Langenheim.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Women to Celebrate this International Women's Day

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

Some women's achievements to celebrate this year are: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, February 27, 2021

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

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

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

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

Friday, February 26, 2021

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Hemp Wins the Superbowl

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

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

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

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Nabataean Incense and the Goddess Al-Uzza

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

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

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