Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Vigil In Seattle Protests Marijuana Laws; Smug Yuppies Object

Screen shot 2009-12-26 at 10.03.04 AM.png
"Anti-drug advocate"/ obnoxiously smug yuppie Steve Danishek spouts ignorance and intolerance on cue for reporter Eric Schudiske

For the past nine years on Christmas Day, 5th Avenue and James Street in Seattle has been at the crossroads of the controversy over marijuana legalization.

As they've done every year in the 21st Century, protesters outside King County Jail held a pro-marijuana vigil, maintaining non-violent drug offenders should be home for the holidays, reports Eric Schudiske of King 5 News.

"We just think that otherwise law-abiding Americans should find alternatives to incarceration for marijuana use," said Vivian McPeak, organizer of the vigil.

Nevertheless, vigil organizer McPeak remains optimistic about the prospects for positive change. "We believe very strongly that we're in the last decade of marijuana criminalization," McPeak said.

Reporter Schudiske, in an apparent attempt to bring "balance" to his story, was predictably able to find some obnoxious anti-drug zealots who defended the practice of locking people up for smoking pot. (Really not too surprising, since Schudiske has been known to smooch a few cop heinies in the past.)

Steve Danishek, some yuppie moron living in the Seattle waterfront, expressed little sympathy for those damn scofflaw pot-smokers.

"They broke the law, they knew the law, they're in jail," a smug Danishek, who seemed offended that protesting hippies were even allowed in his high-rent district, said. "I'm sorry; that's just a choice they made."

So, how does that compare with the "choice" Danishek made to be a highly visible public advocate for the kind of sickening, heartless barbarity that locks people in cages for choosing to use an herb? You make the call.

Danishek, 63, and another well-do-do Seattle waterfront resident at 2000 Alaskan Way, Dee Tezelli, whined about how "marijuana abuse divides their family" and how Seattle's annual Hempfest "disrupts their neighborhood."

Good idea, Steve and Dee. Maybe they should pass a law where only shallow, judgmental assholes like yourselves -- who'd throw someone out of the family, even at Christmas, for smoking pot -- should even be allowed in your part of town. (Steve and Dee seem to be a couple, and Holy God, do they ever richly deserve each other.)

Those who oppose jailing cannabis users should be sure never to use Danishek's travel agency, TMA Inc., located at 4626 NE 174th Place in Seattle.

And they definitely shouldn't call Danishek at (206) 363-2523 to make any reservations.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Reefer Song ~ Night Shift [1977]

Back in 1977, I was the drummer for a rock band called Night Shift.

Our very talented lead guitarist/vocalist, Ronnie McCarley, wrote most of our material at the time. One of the things he wrote was "The Reefer Song," which, with the help of my friend Bobby Jackson, I was able to rescue from an ancient, gnarled tape that was all but unsalvageable, had anyone but Bobby been working on it.

But salvage it he did, and I created a little slideshow video to go with it. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dope Of The Day: Police Chief Calls Marijuana Legalization 'Nonsense'

Calm down, Chief. It's just pot.
Port Orchard, Wash., Police Chief Al Townsend is against legalizing pot, and he's called a new bill to legalize marijuana in the state "ludicrous."

"If the goal of the bill is to legalize marijuana for the purpose of generating tax revenue, that's ridiculous," Townsend wrote in an email to Kitsap Sun crime reporter Josh Farley.

Chief Townsend calls into question the judgment of his fellow Kitsap Countian, Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo), one of the co-sponsors of HB 2401, which would legalize marijuana for persons 21 and older.

Police Chief: Legalization Would 'Encourage New Users'
"If [Appleton] isn't proposing that we encourage new users of marijuana, which is clearly debatable here, I'm fairly sure that those who are growing and using marijuana in violation of the laws right now won't have a problem continuing to do so while now avoiding any tax payments or tax laws," he wrote.

OK, chief, since you say it's "clearly debatable," I'm taking you up on your word and debating with you. So you believe legalization would "encourage new users of marijuana"?

We are all certainly entitled to our own opinions. But we are not, Chief, entitled to our own facts.

And the facts are, in countries such as the Netherlands where marijuana has been decriminalized, lifetime prevalence of marijuana use is less than half that of the United States (17 percent for the Netherlands vs. 37 percent for the U.S.). Clearly, American pot laws haven't stopped people from using marijuana -- and clearly, Dutch decrim hasn't encouraged more people to smoke pot.

So much for the "encourage new users" argument. You're going to have to do better than that.

The Tax Thing

​Chief, you point out that under the current system (of which you apparently approve), marijuana users and growers don't pay any taxes on pot, and under legalization, pot would be taxed.

You are absolutely correct sir, and on this point have a firm grip on the facts.

Too bad those facts are absolutely one of the best pro-legalization arguments.

Most marijuana users would love to pay taxes on their pot, if it meant they never, ever again had to worry about well-meaning but pot-hating cops, like, well, like you, Chief.

They'd gladly pay taxes if it meant they'd never again have to worry about you kicking in their doors, taking their children and their homes, and putting them in jail for nothing more than marijuana.

I'd wager you'll never see a happier bunch of folks about having to pay a new tax, as marijuana users will be when (when, not if) it is legalized.

We want to contribute to society and we'll be tickled to death when we're admitted to it as full, dues-paying members rather than viewed as outlaws.

Here's That Damn "Gateway" Again...
​Chief, I see by Josh's blog that you're also worried about marijuana as a "gateway" drug to other controlled substances.

Gateway drug? Please. If you really want us to be scared of marijuana, you're going to need to find something that hasn't been disproved.

"In the United States, the claim that marijuana acts as a gateway to the use of other drugs serves mainly as a rhetorical tool for frightening Americans into believing that winning the war against heroin and cocaine requires waging a battle against the casual use of marijuana," wrote John P. Morgan, M.D., and Lynn Zimmer, Ph.D., two of the foremost researchers in the field, who call the gateway claim "intellectually indefensible."

A 2002 Canadian Senate Committee report states that the gateway theory "has not been validated by empirical research and is considered outdated."

There... Is that the "debate" you were wanting to have?

Chief, next time, I'd suggest maybe you get your facts straight before making a public spectacle of yourself. (Isn't there a "public nuisance" law? Just sayin'.)

...And Those Dangerous Doped-Up Drivers

​Chief, I see that you believe that legalization would make our roadways more dangerous because more people would be high while driving.

First of all, legalizing marijuana would not make it legal to drive while impaired, any more than legalizing alcohol made it legal to drive while drinking.

But here's the thing: People who are inclined to get high and drive are already getting high and driving, and have been for decades. Risk takers take risks.

However, according to scientists, there is in fact "no compelling evidence that marijuana contributes substantially to traffic accidents and fatalities."

Nobody's suggesting that it's a great idea to take bong rips and hit the freeway. But you can bet your ass that if marijuana really did cause automobile accidents like, say, alcohol, that it would be obvious as hell.

And you think maybe that would get some major media attention if it happened, right? Well, it would. If marijuana caused half as many accidents as alcohol -- even a fourth or a tenth as many -- it would get enormous coverage, and pot would never stand a chance of being legalized.

You know the reason we're even having this conversation, Chief? Because people know pot's not that dangerous. They've stopped believing you, Chief. It's time to move on.

With estimates of current marijuana users in the United States varying between 40 and 100 million, you can bet that if weed really caused wrecks, it'd be a national tragedy on the level of drunk driving. It doesn't. It's not. Case closed.

Legalization 'Nonsense'?
"I was under the impression that Ms. Appleton was in the Legislature representing the best interests of the majority of her constituents," Chief Townsend wrote. "This obviously isn't the case here. The bill is ludicrous. And frankly its [sic] disappointing that a member of our Legislature that was elected by the majority of the people in her district is using our time and our tax dollars generating this kind of nonsense."

Hmm... Chief? Speaking of our time and tax dollars, I hope you weren't "on the clock" when you wrote this.

Because I really don't think it's a good idea for you to bring up "our time and our tax dollars" in a discussion about marijuana.

Do you really want to talk about "our tax dollars" and how they fund your futile fight against pot?

What sort of a return are we getting on that investment, Chief? What good does it do society, here in Kitsap County or anywhere else, to arrest marijuana smokers and put them in jail?

What you're doing is removing productive members of society and putting them in jail where they are a drain on taxpayer dollars instead of contributing. And all those arrests, all those jobs lost, homes lost, families lost -- do they make any difference?

Absolutely not, Chief. The most extensive study ever done on the subject shows that marijuana arrests have no impact on usage -- NO IMPACT.

The report further finds that current penalty structures act as a price support mechanism that boosts the illegal market. What do you think of that, Chief? Every day you spend enforcing the marijuana laws, you are doing a BIG favor to those who profit greatly from the black market -- and don't have to pay any taxes on it. I'm sure they'd tell you "thank you" if they could.

​Since you seem so concerned, Chief, about the tax dollars Rep. Appleton might spend in the course of doing her job (and the majority of Washingtonians and Kitsap County residents support her on the marijuana issue), maybe we should be concerned about the tax dollars you spend doing yours.

Specifically, why don't we talk about the tax dollars wasted on marijuana enforcement -- again, having no impact on usage?

That big study we mentioned before, Chief, remember? It showed that we waste almost $170 million a year arresting people for marijuana in Washington.

How much of that tax money do we waste in Kitsap, Chief? How much do you waste in Port Orchard?

And why is it so important that you keep wasting it, again?

Talk about "nonsense"...

Crown This Man

Chief, for your complete disregard for the facts about marijuana, your cavalier dismissal of the will of the people, and especially your callow, unwarranted disrespect for our esteemed leader and legislator Sherry Appleton, Toke of the Town unreservedly, enthusiastically and wholeheartedly awards you the prestigious Dope of the Day Award!

Wear that crown proudly, Chief. You've earned it.


Editor's note: OK folks, I know you wanna email Chief Townsend to congratulate him on this "high" honor.

You can do so by clicking right here:


More Information About Wasted Tax Dollars


Read the original post at the new Village Voice Media cannabis blog, Toke of the Town:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dope Of The Day: Op-Ed Writer Says Pot 'Saps Initiative And Ambition'

By Steve Elliott in Toke of the Town
Here's what pot does to you. Just ask Jill Wellock!
Freelance writer Jill Wellock has a problem.

She really, really dislikes marijuana and, apparently, those who use it.

Wellock generously shares this extreme distaste with us in a guest op-ed piece in today's edition of The Olympian, the newspaper of Olympia, Washington, the state's capitol.

Jill gets right down to business with a real winner of a headline:

'Marijuana saps initiative, ambition and responsibility'

Headline aside, we know right off the bat we're in for a bumpy ride when Jill's piece starts off by confiding in us that she attended a "rough junior high." Apparently not really one for nostalgia, Wellock recalls "the stoner girls" carving "Joe Elliot" [sic] "into their forearms with wood screws to prove Def Leppard allegiance."

Oh, Jill. First of all, if they carved "Joe Elliot," they aren't done carving, because the rock star's named is spelled "Elliott." Maybe you should give those "stoner girls" a call and tell them they need to get back out the wood screws.

Secondly, if these had been real "stoner girls" during the time period mentioned, they wouldn't have been carving freakin' Def Leppard tributes on their arms; it would have been Marilyn Manson. Or maybe Jerry Garcia.

Pitcher Smokes Pot, Misses Practice, Gains Weight, Gets Greasy Hair And Makes Bad Grades

Photo: The Olympian
Jill Wellock thought we'd
be too lazy and
unmotivated to write this.
​Jill then mournfully remembers her promising, athletic friend who was the school's star softball pitcher. This poor girl started hanging out with the stoners, and before you knew it she was missing practice, "which didn't matter once her grades failed and she couldn't play softball."

"My friend and I attended different high schools, but I saw her at the end of freshman year at the mall, about 20 pounds heavier, with greasy hair and dirty clothes," Wellock recalls. "I asked a guy from her school what had happened, and he just said, 'Burn out.'"

Whoa. So in one year's time, from eighth grade to freshman year, she smoked some pot and went from a promising softball star to an overweight, greasy haired, dirty burnout.

I've been smoking pot 32 years, and observing others who smoke it, and the stuff we smoke doesn't do any of that shit. Could you maybe, like, hook us up with your friend's dealer?

All kidding aside, if your friend had weight, hygiene, and dependability issues, then she had something going on besides smoking a little weed. You're not going to scare anyone with ridiculous-ass stories like that -- at least not anyone who's ever smoked weed, or even known anyone who has.

'Gateway Drug'?

​Jill apparently built up a pretty good head of steam thinking about her unfortunate, unwashed, overweight pothead buddy who coulda been a contender, because five paragraphs in, she's foaming at the mouth.

"Gateway drug marijuana is now legal, used medicinally in Washington and 12 other states, with 15 states pending legislation for its medicinal use," she tells us.

Gateway drug? Please. If you are going to try to do a scare piece on marijuana, you think you could at least show us the respect of citing some research that hasn't been disproven?

"In the United States, the claim that marijuana acts as a gateway to the use of other drugs serves mainly as a rhetorical tool for frightening Americans into believing that winning the war against heroin and cocaine requires waging a battle against the casual use of marijuana," wrote John P. Morgan, M.D., and Lynn Zimmer, Ph.D., two of the foremost researchers in the field, who call the gateway claim "intellectually indefensible."

A 2002 Canadian Senate Committee report states that the gateway theory "has not been validated by empirical research and is considered outdated."

Jill, next time, I'd suggest maybe you get your facts straight before making a public spectacle of yourself.

Meet Our Old Friend, The 'Amotivational Syndrome'

​Not only does cannabis make you carve rock stars' names on your arms, wear dirty clothes, have greasy hair, and gain weight (OK, maybe I can believe that last one, especially since trying Snow Cap), but it also steals your ambition, folks!

Or, at least, that's what Jill would have us believe. How does she know? Well, apparently she used to live next door to a woman of whose housekeeping Jill disapproved, and the lady smoked pot. So there you have it! Proof! Or not...

But since Wellock says, flat-out: "Marijuana saps initiative, ambition and responsibility from its smokers," that demands some sort response, at least if you're into responding to idiotic statements.

For well more than quarter-century, government-funded and private researchers have searched and searched for a pot-induced amotivational syndrome -- and they've failed to find it. But it's certainly not for lack of trying!

Laboratory studies, in fact, have shown that subjects given high doses of potent marijuana for several days -- or even several weeks -- exhibit no decrease in work motivation or productivity.

Sorry to burst your bubble, Jill. I know you must have enjoyed looking down on those "lazy potheads" and feeling such a delicious shiver of superiority to them -- but it just ain't so.

Among working adults, marijuana users tend to earn higher wages than non-users! College students who use marijuana have the same grades as non-users.

The biggest study ever done on marijuana use and its effect on worker productivity was performed by Dr. Vera Rubin back in the 1970s, in Jamaica. The results were published with co-author Lambros Comitas in 1975 as Ganja In Jamaica: A Medical Anthropological Study of Chronic Marijuana Use.

And what did those results show? The marijuana smokers studied by Dr. Rubin had no differences in work records, adjustment, or productivity than non-users.

In fact, Dr. Rubin found: "Ganja, in the cultural setting of rural Jamaica, rather than hindering, permits its users to face, start and carry through the most difficult and distasteful manual labor."

Impaired Drivers?

Hey, watch where you're going!
​Jill also claims that we should all be frightened to death of the specter of stoned drivers hurtling around the highways high as hell.

There is in fact "no compelling evidence that marijuana contributes substantially to traffic accidents and fatalities."

Now, I'm not recommending you take a few bong rips and then hit the freeway. In fact, it'd probably be best for everyone if you'd stay your stoned ass home on the couch. There's a reason God invented pizza delivery.

But you can bet that if marijuana really did cause automobile accidents like, say alcohol, that it would be obvious as hell. With estimates of current marijuana users in the United States varying between 40 and 100 million, you can bet that if weed really caused wrecks, it'd be a national tragedy on the level of drunk driving. It's not. It doesn't.

"The overall rate of highway accidents appears not be significantly affected by marijuana's widespread use in society," according to the Drug Policy Foundation.

According to the federal Department of Transportation (DOT), "THC is not a profoundly impairing drug... It apparently affects controlled information processing in a variety of laboratory tests, but not to the extent which is beyond the individual's ability to control when he is motivated and permitted to do so in driving." That's from the report "Marijuana and Actual Performance," DOT-HS-808-078.

In layman's terms, when you know you're high and you have to drive, you compensate by driving like a little old lady. You know it's true.

In fact, two lawyers in California are arguing that the state's DUI laws shouldn't even apply at all to marijuana.

By Damn, She's An Award Winner!

For her stellar accomplishment into packing an incredible amount of misinformation, ugly prejudice, and outright ignorance into her woefully misguided op-ed piece, Toke of the Town enthusiastically awards Jill Wellock of Olympia, Washington, our coveted Dope of the Day Award.

Hey, Jill, you're on notice: When you tell lies and repeat myths about marijuana, there are some of us weed-addled reprobates out here who have somehow miraculously retained enough initiative to call you out on your bullshit.

Carve that in your arm with a wood screw, you.

Read the original article at Village Voice Media's new pot blog, Toke of the Town:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Congress Ends Ban On Medical Marijuana In D.C.

By Steve Elliott in Toke of the Town

Congress respecting the will of the people? What's next, democracy?
Eleven years later, it's about time: The U.S. Senate today passed historic legislation to end the decade long ban on implementation of the medical marijuana law Washington, D.C., voters passed with 69 percent of the vote in 1998.

"This marks the first time in history that Congress has changed a marijuana law for the better," said Aaron Houston, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), based in D.C.

The "Barr Amendment," a rider attached to appropriations for the District of Columbia, has forbidden D.C. from extending the legal protection of Initiative 59, the "Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1998," to qualified medical marijuana patients.

The amendment has long been derided as an unconscionable intrusion by the federal government into the District's affairs, according to MPP.

Read the rest at the new Village Voice Media cannabis blog, Toke of the Town:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bill To Legalize Marijuana Introduced In Washington Legislature

By Steve Elliott in Toke of the Town

Photo: Public Domain
Federal government pot farm at the University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS. Under Washington state's proposed legalization bill, pot would be grown by state-licensed farmers and sold only through state liquor stores.
Washington state pot advocates who thought they had to choose between a marijuana decrim bill ($100 fine for under 40 grams) and the status quo (including a mandatory night in jail for possessing any amount) just got another choice. A state lawmaker introduced a bill Monday to legalize marijuana in the state.

Under the bill, introduced by Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson (D-Seattle), marijuana would be legal for persons 21 and older to use and possess, subject to regulations similar to those controlling alcohol.

Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson: Making the Evergreen State a little greener
Dickerson said she doesn't expect the bill the bill to pass. "I'm happy to start the conversation," she told Seattle political site PubliCola. "If more states start talking about [legalizing marijuana] it will get the attention of Congress."

Dickerson wants the legal pot to be grown by Washington farmers and sold in state liquor stores. Revenue from marijuana sales would pay for drug and alcohol treatment programs.

Cannabis revenues will probably be comparable to those for alcohol, Dickerson said, which are at about $330 million yearly in Washington.

Rep. Dickerson has five co-sponsors for the legislation so far: Reps. Scott White, Roger Goodman, Dave Upthegrove, Sherry Appleton and Mary Roberts, all Democrats.

HB 2401 was introduced Monday in advance of the next legislative session in January.

"This bill is a wonderful step forward for health, human rights, and social justice," marijuana researcher Dr. Sunil Aggarwal of Seattle told Toke of the Town. "No one should be criminalized for using marijuana, when far more dangerous drugs such as malt liquor are legally consumed. There should be equal rights for those who choose to consume cannabis."

"With the likes of Roger Goodman and the work that he's done over the years with the King County Bar Association Drug Policy Project, this bill really has a chance," said local activist Allison Bigelow.

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Photo: Joe Mabel
Patient/activist Vivian McPeak: The conversion to a mainstream commodity is going to be awkward
​But longtime marijuana patient/activist and Seattle Hempfest organizer Vivian McPeak expressed mixed feelings about the prospect of legalization. "The conversion from an illicit, underground substance to a mainstream commodity is going to be an awkward transition for many who have been involved with the cannabis culture for some time," he told Toke of the Town.

"It is going to be difficult for many pot scene old timers to let go of the cultural hold so many of us have on our old friend, the herb," McPeak told us.

Is The Perfect The Enemy Of The Good?

With just about any piece of legislation, it's not hard to find areas of concern once you start examining the wording, and HB 2401 is no exception.

One worrisome aspect of the bill is that nobody, with the exception of farmers licensed to sell pot to the state, would be allowed to grow their own. The language of the bill seems to outlaw all personal grows, keeping it illegal to grow, keep or transfer marijuana outside of liquor control board rules and licensing.

Cultivation of any amount for personal use, then, would apparently be prohibited. And the way I read it, your house or property could be seized if you had five or more plants -- which is not how I had pictured "legalization."

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Marijuana is safer. Why are we supposed to pretend it isn't?
​There's also the quibble, minor though it may seem at this stage of the game, that treating marijuana almost exactly like alcohol errs because the potential for abuse, addiction and accidents are so much greater with booze. No arguing with that -- just ask Mason Tvert over at SAFER; he'll tell you.

"It is very hard for me to embrace the idea of treating cannabis as alcohol, because there is just no comparison between the two substances as far as impairment, health effects, and addiction," McPeak told Toke of the Town.

"Perhaps this is the model we must use to change the dominant paradigm, but I feel we should fight tooth and nail to have cannabis put into its own unique classification," McPeak told us. "Simply compare death rates associated with the two substances and you'll see they do not belong in the same category."

"The bill does remove all current civil and criminal penalties regarding marijuana. And the bill regulates marijuana like we regulate alcohol -- which, it so happens, introduces a myriad of new crimes," one frustrated Seattle activist said.

But there's also the plausible argument that legalization, even of the sort in HB 2401 with its state monopoly on pot, could be a quantum leap over the deeply fucked up situation on the ground now in Washington: Recreational (as in non-medical) users unlucky enough to be arrested are presently subjected to a mandatory night in jail, possible additional jail or prison time, steep fines, and other indignities.

So would it be a deal with the devil to, for now, pretend marijuana is as harmful as alcohol, in order to get the law to treat marijuana as leniently as it does alcohol? That's the Gordian knot being faced by wary cannabis users in Washington.