Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Biography Calls Hillary An "Enthusiastic" Pothead

National Review's blog reports that Weekly Standard Online editor Daniel Halper's new book Clinton, Inc., which hits bookshelves today, quotes an unnamed friend and law-school classmate of Hillary Clinton who says: "If she hasn`t acknowledged it everybody else will tell you: She was an enthusiastic pot user."

According to the Washington Post, when asked by Halper how often Clinton smoked, the answer was, "I don't know, I'm not in the position to say that. But it was just, she was known to be one of the people. And please don't cite me on this by name ... if you talk to other people who knew her reasonably well in law school they will tell you that most people at that time, an undergraduate or in law school, would have been pot users, ranging from the casual and social to the enthusiastic. I think she would have been more enthusiastic, certainly more than Bill."

At least two earlier biographies of Clinton peg her as a pot smoker. Clinton denied ever smoking pot in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour last month.

Clinton did an interview with Larry Mantle of KPCC public radio in Southern California on July 22, where she said when asked about marijuana legalization:

"Honestly, I don't think we've done enough research yet to say what the effects are and what they could be on different people with different physical or psychological issues, different ages — yes, medical first and foremost, we ought to be doing more to make sure that we know how marijuana would interact with other prescription drugs and the like. But we also have to know how even medical marijuana impacts our kids and our communities.

"But the states are the laboratories of democracy, and we're seeing states pass laws that enable their citizens to have access to medical marijuana under certain conditions, so we have the opportunity to try to study those. And then Colorado and Washington have proceeded to permit recreational use. And at the same time, we're seeing the beginnings of important criminal justice reforms.

"So I'm a big believer in acquiring evidence, and I think we should see what kind of results we get, both from medical marijuana and from recreational marijuana before we make any far-reaching conclusions... I think the feds should be attuned to the way marijuana is still used as a gateway drug and how the drug cartels from Latin America use marijuana to get footholds in states, so there can't be a total absence of law enforcement, but what I want to see, and I think we should be much more focused on this, is really doing good research so we know what it is we're approving."

Sunday, July 20, 2014

RIP James Garner, Actor and Marijuana Lover

Ladies, if you're looking for the perfect man, you needn't go much further than James Garner. Tall, dark, and handsome with a sexy, soothing voice and a laid-back style, it turns out the actor, who has died at the age of 86, was "a life-long user of marijuana, celebrating its emotional support and physical help with his arthritis."

Know for his TV roles in The Rockford Files and Maverick, and for films like The Great Escape, Garner made an "explosive revelation" in his 2011 autobiography The Garner Files,  that he has smoked marijuana for much of his adult life.

Garner wrote:

“I started smoking it in my late teens. I drank to get drunk but ultimately didn’t like the effect. Not so with grass. It had the opposite effect from alcohol: it made me more tolerant and forgiving.

“I did a little bit of cocaine in the Eighties, courtesy of John Belushi, but fortunately I didn’t like it. But I smoked marijuana for 50 years and I don’t know where I’d be without it. It opened my mind and now it eases my arthritis. After decades of research I’ve concluded that marijuana should be legal and alcohol illegal.”

Still, he said: “I’ve had to work hard at that easy- going manner you see on screen.” I think the marijuana helped. He's also being called "witty," "wise cracking" and "understated" in his obits. Those are three more pothead traits, as was his political activism: in 1963 he participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom along with Paul Newman, Marlon Brando and Diahann Carroll (pictured).

On an interview with Charlie Rose, Garner talks about being a "card carrying liberal" and says he met his wife Lois Clarke while working on the Adlai Stevenson campaign. Rose concludes, "There is something uniquely and to-his-bone American about James Garner." (He was right: Garner's grandfather was a full-blood Cherokee.)

Actress Jean Simmons once said she wished her husband, a heavy drinker, was more like Robert Mitchum, another laid-back actor who was also a lifelong marijuana smoker and enthusiast. Like Mitchum, Garner—born James Bumgarner as the son of an Oklahoma carpet layer—was on his own at an early age, drifting through various jobs until he was discovered by an agent while working as a gas station attendant.

Garner was also a man's man: a three-time pace car driver at the Indianapolis 500, he served in the Army during the Korean War and earned two Purple Hearts. As an actor, he earned many more hearts.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Paul Mazursky, Who Brought Marijuana to The Movies

Before Easy Rider portrayed marijuana smoking on film, and long before American Beauty, Peter Sellers played an uptight Jewish lawyer whose life is pried open by Leigh-Taylor Young's pot brownies in 1968's I Love You, Alice B. Toklas!

It was the breakthrough film for Paul Mazursky, who wrote and nearly directed the cult classic. Mazursky died yesterday, and all his obituaries linked him with marijuana because of that film.

Growing up in New York, Mazursky worked as an actor, appearing in the seminal Blackboard Jungle (1955). Venturing into stand-up comedy and writing, he wrote for Danny Kaye before moving his office to the Sunset Strip, where the hippies he saw inspired his Toklas screenplay. He followed up with his directorial debut, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), based on experiences he had at Esalen. In that film, unlike Easy Rider, the women (Natalie Wood and Dyan Cannon) also get in on the pot-smoking fun.

In his 1999 book Show Me the Magic, Mazursky describes going to the jungle to take Ayahuasca, and mentions that a shamanic healer used tobacco smoke, "not weed," during the journey. Although he describes himself as a "Greenwich Village hipster" (and his mother as "a hipster, a gypsy, a beantik, a hippie"), he doesn't mention that he smoked marijuana himself. Perhaps it went without saying.  Or maybe he preferred psychedelics.

In the book, he describes a very interesting exchange with famed director Federico Fellini, when Mazursky was planning a trip to Italy and wanted to know whether to visit Florence or Venice. "Do you want marijuana or LSD?" Fellini asked. "Firenze is like marijuana. You will be very happy there. Venezia is not like any place you have ever experienced. She is like an acid trip." "I think I'll take Venice," Mazursky replied.

In his feminist-minded An Unmarried Woman (1978), a 15-year-old girl matter-of-factly states, "I smoke pot sometimes" upon meeting her mother's new boyfriend, played by Alan Bates. "I do too," he responds. "Got any?" she asks.

Among the remarkable films Paul Mazursky left us are: Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Moscow on the Hudson, Harry and Tonto, Enemies: A Love Story and Moon Over Parador. He even took a stab at Shakespeare in Tempest  (1982).

Mazursky's voice opens the movie Antz (1999), playing the psychiatrist who diagnoses the dissatisfied ant Z (Woody Allen) as the insignificant creature he is. But Paul Mazursky was more like what Z becomes, the little guy who broke the mold. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Julie Christie Joins Fellow Brits in Calling for Drug Peace

Actress Julie Christie, who portrayed the iconic Lara in Dr. Zhivago (1965) and was once Warren Beatty's favorite leading lady, has signed an open letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron calling for his administration to review their drug policy in advance of a special UN meeting in 2016 on the topic. 

The letter's June 26 release coincided with a worldwide protest in 100 cities.

Baroness Molly Meacher, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform, said in the press release from the human rights group Release that organized the effort: “The UN Office on Drugs and Crime recognizes that drug addiction is a health problem and not a crime. I urge the UK Government to heed the UN position and to decriminalise the possession and use of drugs. This policy has been shown to work and to reduce drug addiction among young people.”

Other prominent women adding their signature to the letter are:

• Green Party leader Caroline Lucas

• Franstine Jones, the first woman to head the UK's National Black Police Association

• Welsh-born actress Carys Eleri Evans, who's been active in advocating granting the Welsh language official status in the UK

• Baroness Afshar of Heslington, a Muslim activist and professor

• Baroness Lister of Burtersett (CBE), a prominent member of Parliament and Professor of Social Policy.

• BBC Journalist and HIV activist Louise Hulland

• Professor of Comparative Politics Julia Buxton

• Prosecutor Nicola Hill, President of the London Criminal Courts Soliticors' Assn.

• Barrister Kathryn Cronin, Joint Head of Garden Court Chambers

• Barrister Amber Marks, who has conducted research about the use of sniffer dogs in criminal cases and is the daughter of notorious ex-smuggler Howard Marks

• Solicitor Karen Todner, managing director of one of the the largest criminal defense firms in the country

• Author and journalist Candida Lycett Green

• Dr. Polly Taylor, one of several academics who quit her government post in protest in 2010 when Prof. David Nutt was  fired from his chairmanship of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, after he published data about the relative harms of cannabis, alcohol and other drugs. Nutt also signed the letter, as did Sting, Russell Brand, and Richard Branson

Not all of UK's women are so enlightened. In February 2009 Nutt was criticised by then-Home Secretary Jacqui Smith for stating Ecstasy was statistically no more dangerous than an addiction to horse-riding. Smith has admitted to a youthful dalliance with pot.

Actress Jean Simmons (OBE) was a signatory on a similar 2005 letter addressed to Tony Blair. American women and men sent a letter to President Obama in 2013 calling for an end to the War on Drugs.

Pussy Riot bravely joined the protest in Russia

Read more.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Feds Drag Feet on Cannabis Studies While States Legalize It and Comics Joke About It

I just caught a 2006 Saturday Night Live episode in which Seth Myers reads a story about a study finding cell phones don't cause cancer.

"Yee haw!" shouts a giggling Amy Poehler, who proceeds to put her cell phone in her mouth, attempting to light it with a cigarette lighter.

In case there was any question about which non-cancer-causing substance Poehler was celebrating, the story that followed was about a 125-year-old Indian woman named Fulla Nayak, who claimed that smoking cannabis every day was her secret to long life.

A headline on the latest NORML press release might have been, "Yet Another Study Shows Marijuana Smoking Not Associated With Increased Risk Of Lung Cancer." NORML 's Paul Armentano reports that an international team of investigators from Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States recently analyzed data from six case-control studies involving over 5,000 subjects from around the world. Authors concluded, “Results from our pooled analyses provide little evidence for an increased risk of lung cancer among habitual or long-term cannabis smokers.”

Brooke Baldwin of CNN, who so fully exposed Nancy Grace's mania about marijuana, has posted another good interview, this time with Sanjay Gupta focusing on why research isn't being done on medical cannabis in the US. The issue came to the forefront on Friday when NIDA chief Nora Volkow admitted to a congressional committee that it was easier to study heroin in this country than it is to get an approved protocol for marijuana. However headlines that the FDA is considering rescheduling cannabis at the behest of the DEA are rather overblown, since they are only doing so as required by yet another rescheduling lawsuit.

Now that 23 states have legalized medical marijuana, and Washington state is about to follow Colorado with legal recreational pot stores on July 8, few seem to be waiting for more government studies before they indulge. Case in point: Actress Aubrey Plaza from Poehler's new show Parks and Recreation appeared on Getting Doug with High in March. The show, in which comic Doug Benson brings people on to get high with him, held a special live event at Largo in LA last night with Tokin Woman Sarah Silverman, Ngaio Bealum and others. Benson's 2007 film Super High Me rather proved the point that marijuana's purported harms are overblown.

Meanwhile, it's no laughing matter that Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres has died at the age of 54 from salivary gland cancer, brought on by chewing tobacco (a legal substance).

Monday, June 23, 2014

Jack Benny's Mary: Living Stoned

Mary Livingstone in 1940.
Jack Benny's beloved wife Mary Livingstone (née Sadie Marks), who he often mentioned in his act, was apparently a fan of Mary Jane.

According to Henry Bushkin's biography of his friend Johnny Carson, Livingstone attended Ronald Reagan's first inauguration in 1981, where she lit up "a joint of marijuana" and passed the "fat doobie" to Janet De Cordova, wife of NBC executive Fred De Cordova.

The story lends some credence to the tale told in Kitty Kelley's biography of Nancy Reagan in which Alfred Bloomingdale passed around a joint at a dinner party attended by "the Jack Bennys and the George Burnses" as well as then-Governor Reagan and Nancy. Kelley tried twenty years later to verify the story with Janet DeCordova, but she said it hadn't happened at any dinner party she attended. She and Mary were at a second pot dinner party, according to Joan Benny, Jack and Mary's daughter.

Born June 23, 1905 in Seattle and raised in Vancouver, Sadie Marks's father was a Jewish immigrant from Romania whose family name had been Markovich (Wikipedia). She first met Benny (né Benjamin Kubelsky) when Zeppo Marx invited him to a Passover seder at her home when she was 14. At the age of 17, she moved to Los Angeles and took a job at the May Company department store, where Benny courted her (as replayed on Benny's TV show years later). She married him in 1927 and appeared with him on the vaudeville stage, proving to be a natural comedienne.

After Benny started performing on radio in 1932, Sadie was brought in as a last-minute replacement to play a character named Mary Livingstone for a single episode. As legend has it, NBC received so much fan mail that the character became a regular feature on the Benny show. "Livingstone soon displayed her own sharp wit and pinpoint comic timing, often used to puncture Benny's on-air ego, and she became a major part of the show." (Wiki). She became so well known as Mary that she legally changed her name to match her character's.

It makes you wish that Mary had co-starred with Benny in the original movie To Be or Not to Be, as Anne Bancroft did with husband Mel Brooks in the 1983 remake.

Like Bob Hope, Benny reportedly told a few pot jokes and admitted to trying it. True to the racist nature of our drug laws, it was the son of the actor who played Benny's black valet Rochester who was popped for pot in 1952.

Mary Livingstone died on June 30, 1983 at the age of 78, hours after receiving a visit from Nancy Reagan.

BTW, the Pope is no Nancy Reagan, says the Seattle Times.

Thanks to the well-read Louisa May All-Pot for this tip.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Susan Sarandon On "Ancient Herbal Tripping Drugs"

I just got a dream assignment: writing a profile of Susan Sarandon for CelebStoner, where she has been voted Top Stoner. 

There was much to include, from Sarandon's impressive career, her activism, and her honesty about her own drug use. She was celebrated here on International Women's Day for her contributions to a safer and saner policy for all. 

Below she speaks of taking "ancient herbal tripping drugs, vines and things" on Letterman of late:  

Saradon's new movie Tammy came in #2 in the box office over the 4th of July weekend at $21.2M, behind Transformers at $36.4M. Sarandon plays a drunk in this one, instead of a pothead, as did Barbra Streisand in the movie she made with Seth Rogen (The Guilt Trip). Seems when pot smokers step out of their type casting, they like to play drunks. Jeff "The Dude" Bridges even got an Oscar (and nearly every other award) for his walk on the watery side in Crazy Heart

When will a pothead role win an Oscar again? (It hasn't happened since Annie Hall I don't think...and that movie got Best Picture, Writing and Directing too.)