Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Rita Coolidge, Doobie Lady

Singer Rita Coolidge, known for her 1977 hit "Higher and Higher," has just, at the age of 70, published an autobiography called Delta Lady.

In it, Coolidge recounts her adventures touring as a musician in the swinging 1970s, when she dated Leon Russell, Graham Nash and Steven Stills, and married Kris Kristofferson.  

She also had adventures with marijuana, starting as an art student at Florida State. "We always had a lot of weed," she writes, "which we’d decided was vital to the creative process, thanks to this guy who came through Tallahassee every year, like Johnny Appleseed, to plant pot and would tell a couple of people on campus – in the art department, of course – where it was planted."

She also writes about going to Disneyland with Willie and Connie Nelson after, "As it happened, I had just baked a really nice batch of marijuana brownies...."

Later she noticed that in LA, "the drug menu was shifting from pot and LSD, which put people in a sharing mood" to coke, after which, "People just lost their moral base. It made criminals and liars and thieves out of people who previously loved and trusted one another."

Of Kristofferson, she wrote, "He was a heavy drinker and he loved to smoke pot." Indeed, Kristofferson was probably the original hippie outlaw country musician





 

Friday, April 1, 2016

The New Americana, High on Legal Marijuana

Coached by Tokin' Woman Miley Cyrus, ex-medical student Moushumi survived a knockout round on NBC's The Voice this week by belting out Halsey's song "New Americana" with the lyric:

We are The New Americana
High on Legal Marijuana...

The wildly popular song is from Halsey's debut studio album, Badlands, released last year via Astralwerks, Universal's electronic and dance label. The artist formerly known as Ashley Frangipane cultivated her huge following with parodies of Taylor Swift songs posted on YouTube, and by uploading her song "Ghost" to Cloud. 

Halsey, who has used the term "tri-bi" (biracial, bisexual and bipolar) to identify herself, sings she was "raised on Biggie and Nirvana," and she's been compared to Lourdes and Luna del Rey.

In the song's dystopian video, Halsey smokes joints at the appropriate lyric (shown), and is soon hauled away by gun-toting thugs who try to (literally) burn her at the stake. Pot-puffing hippies look on passively, then save her with the help of a well-timed smoke bomb. It's a pretty bold statement from one so young. Did she connect that the witch burnings kept both women and herbal medicine suppressed in the West for centuries?

Here's something really radical: the city of Coalinga in conservative Fresno County, California is taking steps to convert a prison into a medical marijuana facility. Now, that's the New Americana.




Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Highly Recommended: 15 Biographies of Tokin' Women

To celebrate International Women's Day, here is a list of 15 books referenced in Tokin' Women: A 4000-Year Herstory. Celebrate the day by learning more about these prominent women who are also cannabis consumers.

 1. Woman as Healer - Jeanne Achterberg
This groundbreaking work examines the role of women in the Western healing traditions starting with ancient cultures in which women worked as independent and honored healers, and goddesses like Ishtar, who is associated with cannabis.

2. Women's Orients - Billie Melman
Melman tracks European womens' travels to the East in the mid 1800s, including their partaking of the chiboque pipe in the harems. One was Princess Kate's great great great great grandmother, sociologist Harriet Martineau.
 
3. Louisa May Alcott: A Personal Biography - Susan Cheever 
Alcott, the beloved author of "Little Women," wrote two stories with a hashish theme at a time when cannabis formulations were available in pharmacies. Cheever illuminates her life with a fresh perspective on the transcendentalist movement in the US.

3. Lucky Eyes and a High Heart: The Life of Maud Gonne - Nancy Cardozo
In Downton Abbey Lady Sybil and her Irish revolutionary boyfriend get into trouble, over which her father pulls strings to get them off the lam. "They're afraid with Sybil they'll have another Maud Gonne on their hands," he says. This intriguing character was loved by William Butler Yeats, and tried hashish with him.

5. Isabelle: The Life of Isabelle Eberhardt - Annette Kobak
Sometimes compared to Rimbeau, novelist Isabelle Eberhardt left France for Algeria at the age of 20, embraced Islam and picked up a sword to join a revolt in March 1898. Tokin' Woman Patti Smith mentions reading Eberhardt in her bestselling book Just Kids.

6. Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations - Georgina Howell
Gertrude Bell was a mountaineer and a self-styled diplomat, later a spy, who was instrumental in drawing the current borders of Iraq and establishing the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. "She began to take her turn with the narghileh that was passed around as they talked, the bubble-pipe in which tobacco, marijuana, or opium was smoked," writes her biographer.

7. Rainbow Picnic: Portrait of Iris Tree - Daphne Fielding
Bohemian poet and actress Iris Tree enjoyed hashish jam with a dinner party companion when "we were both simultaneously seized with uncontrollable laughter about nothing at all." She appears in a cameo, reading poetry as herself, in Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita.

8. Isak Dinesen, The Life of a Storyteller - Judith Thurman
This comprehensive account of the life of Danish writer Isak Dinesen brings to life the fascinating woman portrayed by Meryl Streep in Out of Africa. She "liked to experiment with the sensations hashish" could give her. 

9. A Bad Woman Feeling Good - Buzzy Jackson
In this lively book, Jackson tells stories about Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday and others who brought jazz and personal freedom to the forefront in the 1920s and beyond.

10. Morning Glory: A Biography of Mary Lou Williams - Linda Dahl
This biography loving presents Mary Lou Williams, an accomplished pianist and composer who wrote "Roll 'em" for Benny Goodman in 1937 and enjoyed marijuana.

11. High Times, Hard Times - Anita O'Day with George Eells
 “You can swing, you’d better come with us,” drummer Gene Krupa told her when he hired singer Anita O'Day. She'd starting smoking marijuana cigarettes when you could still buy them in drug stores. “One day weed had been harmless, booze outlawed; the next, alcohol was in and weed led to ‘living death,’" she wrote in her autobiography. "They didn’t fool me. I kept on using it, but I was just a little more cautious.”

12. Irrepressible: The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham - Emily Bingham
This eclectic woman profiled by here by her niece patriotically grew hemp on her farm in Kentucky as part of the "Hemp for Victory" program during World War II, even though "the hemp crop took up fields she needed for corn to feed the hogs."

13. Dream a Little Dream of Me: The Life of Cass Elliot - Eddi Fiegel
This affectionate look at Ellen Cohen, the woman who became "Mama" Cass Elliot, is filled with anecdotes about this intelligent, brash and beautiful singer, such as the time she fashioned a marijuana pipe from aluminum foil in the recording studio.

14. Gather Together in My Name - Maya Angelou
This sequel to Angelou's I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings talks about her use of marijuana and how it enhanced her appreciation of food, dancing, and parenting.

15. Living With a Wild God - Barbara Ehrenreich
Author and NORML board member Ehrenreich—a well-known scientist, atheist and feminist—describes in this book mystical experiences she had in her adolescence. Also Highly Recommended by Ehrenreich: Witches, Midwives, & Nurses: A History of Women Healers.

Monday, December 28, 2015

2015 Tokey Awards

TOKIN’ WOMAN OF THE YEAR – Melissa Etheridge
Since coming out as a medical marijuana user during her bout with breast cancer in 2005, Etheridge has gone further, advocating for full legalization, in part because
“I don’t want to look like a criminal to my kids anymore.” The singer and advocate has now joined the growing ranks of female potrepreneurs with her delicious cannabis-infused wine, announced in late 2014.

This year Etheridge opened the Americans for Safe Access conference in DC and keynoted the Cannabis World Conference in LA, and she rocked out the Concert for Social Justice in LA with renditions of Brandy Clark’s “Get High” and Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up.”

For her courage, her vision, and her creativity, Tokin’ Woman is proud to bestow this year’s Tokin' Woman of the Year award to Melissa Etheridge.


SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR
Mixed martial artist and former UFC bantamweight titleholder Ronda Rousey made headlines
this year when she questioned the suspension of fellow fighter Nick Diaz because he tested positive for pot. Rousey has since clarified that she is not against testing for performance-enhancing drugs, which she has undergone since her teens, before becoming the first US woman to win an Olympic medal in judo in 2008.

In 2015, Rousey was the third most searched person on Google and she had film roles in Entourage and Furious 7. After defending her UFC title in five different bouts, she lost of Holly Holm in November. A rematch with Holm is scheduled for July 9, 2016.


TOP POLITICIAN
Kirsten Gillibrand, the stellar senator from New York, is a co-soponsor of the CARERS act, the best medical marijuana bill in DC. She’s been a firebrand in favor of the availability of medical marijuana for patients in her state, and the country.

Honorable Mentions:
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown,who signed legislation in June allowing those with past marijuana possession convictions to have their criminal records expunged.


 

ACTIVISTS OF THE YEAR

Cristina Barbuto – fought for employment rights in Massachusetts

Yami Bolonos – campaigned for Organ Transplant Bill in California

Linda Horan – won patients rights in New Hampshire

Theresa Nightingale, Pittsburgh NORML – fought for decriminalization in her city

Lynnette Shaw - won court ruling against federal interference in medical marijuana

 
BEST REPORTING
Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes takes this prize for bringing to the mainstream a story that others have covered in the past few years: the US government recruiting undercover informants in the drug war over petty marijuana offenses, often with disastrous results. Stahl focused on college students, but this has been happening even in high schools.

Honorable mentions 
 
Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post 
 
Jacob Sullum, Forbes
 
Matt Ferner, Huffington Post
 
Jon Gettman, Pot Matters
 

BEST COMMENTARY 
Diane Goldstein, Ladybug
 
Amy Povah, CAN-DO Foundation
 
Lea Grover, Good Housekeeping
 
Ian Millhiser, Think Progress
 

BEST SPEECH
Mikki Norris on The Drug War at The Emerald Cup  

BEST AWARENESS CAMPAIGN
#comingoutgreen, Green Flower Media
 
Cannabis is Safer than CPS, The NACC Child Law Blog
  


MOVIE OF THE YEAR
Marijuana-using women showed up in a lot of films this year, with largely predictable results (the munchees, giggling); however the actresses playing them weren’t always so expected.

Accomplished actress (and mother of Gwynneth Paltrow) Blythe Danner starred in I’ll See You in My Dreams, featuring a pot party with June Squibb, Rhea Perlman and Mary Kay Place. Meryl Streep, playing a rock and roll mama, shared a joint with her family in Ricki and the Flash, and Lily Tomlin knew what to do with a baggie in Grandmother. Kristin Stewart played a pot-puffing girlfriend in American Ultra, and Amanda Seyfried fired up a bong while playing a lawyer in Ted 2.

But it was writer/director/star Helen Hunt’s movie Ride (pictured) that takes the top prize in 2015. In it, Hunt learns to surf, smoke pot, and enjoy life, while playing a high-powered editor and mother. Read more. 

OUTING OF THE YEAR 
When Oregon TV news anchor Cyd Maurer was fired this year after a post-fender-bender drug test revealed that she smoked marijuana, it highlighted the injustice of employment drug testing and of the prohibition on pot. Maurer, 25, released a video explaining how she was fired by a corporate attorney who never met her, coming out as a “normal and responsible marijuana user” whose only stereotyping has been as “an overachieving goody-goody.” She’s now started a website, http://askmeaboutmarijuana.com/ to keep the dialogue going.

Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart were interviewed for Culture magazine, and Joan Jett toked up for High Times photographers and spoke about the time Miley Cyrus came to her hotel room and she was smoking.

Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie Perez defended marijuana legalization on The View; Molly Ringwald and Kelly Clarkson came out for legalization, and Olivia Wilde spoke about "...that unfortunate semester in high school when I simultaneously discovered Krispy Kreme and pot" in People magazine.

Susan Sarandon told High Times “the world would be a better place” if marijuana were legal and Roseanne Barr said she is using marijuana to treat macular degeneration and glaucoma. Jane Fonda admitted at the age of 77 that she still enjoys pot “every now and then” and Chelsea Handler tweeted a picture of her medical marijuana card in February, writing: "I'm a legal marijuaner. Just in time for my 40th bday tomorrow. Now I just need to get a lighter." 



TV SHOW OF THE YEAR  

Honorable Mentions: 
  
Modern Family, The Big Guns

Broad City, Kelly Ripa Gets Ripped


BOOKS OF THE YEAR
Johann Hari, Chasing the Scream
 
Susan Cheever, Drinking in America



COMEDY MOMENT OF THE YEAR  
There were so many of these this year it’s hard to name them all. Jennifer Aniston did a funny “lipflip” with Jimmy Fallon in January, announcing she was backing the Seattle Seahawks
in the Superbowl because “We got the weed, man.” 

In March, President Obama joked at a Gridiron Club appearance, “I’m not saying I’m any funnier. 
I’m saying weed is now legal in DC.” Garrison Keillor chimed in from Seattle a few months later with, “They’ve legalized marijuana here…it doesn't cure a cold, but it gives you insight into it.” 

Lily Tomlin opened a mock medical marijuana dispensary on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Ellen Degeneres reported on a Yelp review of the Buds and Roses dispensary in LA.

But my top three moments were these: 

 

 

BEST CANNABIS RESEARCH STUDY 
Deborah Malka, MD - Cannabis Therapeutic Use in the Elderly 

Honorable mentions:  
 
 
 
 

NOTABLE GOVERNMENT NEWS 
The National Cancer Institute, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, finally updated its website to admit that cannabinoids have anti-tumor effects in pre-clinical studies. Read more.
 
 
 


BEST PRODUCT  
 

BEST EVENT
 
Honorable mentions: 
The Emerald Cup, Santa Rosa, CA


 

A FOND GOODBYE TO:  
Elizabeth Bing, Founder of Lamaze International

Cilla Black, singer 

Betsy Drake, actress and author


Cynthia Robinson, trumpeter and singer 

Oliver Sacks, scientist and author

John Trudell, activist and musician

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Stuck on "Stuck in Love"

Another gem discovered on Netflix: Stuck in Love, the 2012 debut by writer/director Josh Boone, starring Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Connelly as parents in a literary family that exchanges John Cheever books and Raymond Carver quotes as they navigate their own emotions.

Nat Wolff plays Rusty, the sensitive student who, when forced to read a poem he wrote called "High School" before his class, declares "it was written under the influence of cannabis":

In the sea of desks 
There's talk of bags and games
and long pipes that leak dreams
with the strike of a match
and there's a loudness to the whispers I hear.... 

When Rusty is accused of being stoned at Thanksgiving dinner, his mother takes him into the kitchen for a heart-to-heart where she tells him, "Pot, and nothing else, ever." When he says, "You don't have to worry about me," she correctly replies, "Yes, I do. It's my job." It's the most intelligent mother-son discussion about weed since Lily Tomlin's in 9-5.

Rusty bribes his way into a cool kids' party with a bag of weed, where he's possibly saved from hard drugs by his mother's admonishment.  His sister Samantha (Lily Collins) is much more self-destructive with her drug of choice (meaningless sex, the theory of which she tempers after sneaking out to the roof to share a bowl her brother). Rusty's smoking is woven seamlessly into the story, with his father only reigning him in when he's partying (with alcohol) nightly.

Stephen King, who once declared pot should be legal so that Maine could benefit from a legal cottage industry, figures in the plot.











Monday, December 7, 2015

What "Trumbo" Doesn't Tell You

Helen Mirren and Bryan Cranston in Trumbo
I just saw Trumbo, the new film about blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, and it's as remarkable as everyone's been saying it is. However there are a few things about it that would, I think, bother Dalton.

Steve Martin wrote in an October 2007 article in the New Yorker that he saw Trumbo “sorting the seeds and stems from a brick of pot” during the 1970s while he was dating Trumbo's daughter Mitzi. However, although it's acceptable for Bryan Cranston to play a meth manufacturer (in "Breaking Bad"), and pop benzedrines playing Trumbo in the film, for some reason it was deemed necessary to omit Trumbo's time in Mexico and the marijuana he smoked there, and afterwards.

It seems likely Trumbo came up with the concept for the film that won him his second Oscar (under a pseudonym), The Brave One, while in Mexico. With this achievement, Trumbo began to break the blacklist using only his mightier-than-the-sword pen.

Marijuana and communism were, in Trumbo's time, linked in the public's mind, and in popular culture. Hollywood touched on it in 1957's Sweet Smell of Success, in which Tony Curtis plays a swarmy PR flack who tries to smear a jazz guitarist as a pot-smoking commie. Curtis was notable as a slave/bard in Spartacus, the Trumbo film that broke the blacklist for good, fittingly so, since it's the story of a Thracian slave who takes on the Roman Empire. (Thrace was next to Scythia, where people ritualistically inhaled cannabis fumes, as recorded by Herodotus.)

Moments in Trumbo pay homage to Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Gregory Peck, Lucille Ball, and Tokin' Man James Garner, all of whom stood up for the Hollywood 10. It's cool that Kirk Douglas is a hero in the film, since it's Hanukkah and he appears in Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song (something else that's been censored, changing the line, "smoke your marijuanikka" to "don't smoke marijuanikka" in mainstream media. His newest version #4 of the song, however, shows Sandler's still smokin.)

The composite character played by Louis C.K. in Trumbo seems to steal a line from Tokin' Woman Lillian Hellman, who was blacklisted after telling the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1950: "To hurt innocent people whom I knew many years ago in order to save myself is, to me, inhuman and indecent and dishonorable. I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions."

John Wayne, who's featured in Trumbo as a flack for HUAC, produced a film about the controversial committee called Big Jim McClain that was released under the title Marijuana in Europe (the plot having been changed from Wayne fighting communism to knocking out marijuana instead). Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and of course Joseph McCarthy are the other villains. But it's Helen Mirren as Hedda Hopper who stands out. Hopper was accused of "pocketbook morality" when she took a fairly mild stand against Robert Mitchum after he was arrested for marijuana in 1948. At the time, the studios had $5 million invested in Mitchum.

In the film, when Trumbo's daughter asks her father if she is a Communist too, he asks her what she would do if her mother packed her favorite lunch and a classmate was without something to eat. "Share it," was the reply. That kind of empathy, which seems a lot more "Christian" than what passes for it today in this country, is often reported after smoking marijuana.

"I've learned that total adjustment to society is as bad as maladjustment," Trumbo wrote in The Sandpiper. "That principled disobedience of unjust law is more Christian, more truly law-abiding, than unprincipled respect. That only freedom can tame the wild, rebellious, palpitating heart of man."

Read more about VIP Dalton Trumbo.




Monday, November 30, 2015

Ben Franklin's Hempen Kite String

It seems that among hemp's many benefits to mankind, it helped Ben Franklin prove that there is electricity in the atmosphere.

For in his famous experiment where he flew a kite in a 1752 lightning storm, Franklin fashioned the kite's string from hemp twine, since he knew that when wet, hemp conducts electricity. He added a nonconducting silk string to serve as a ground, but by one account couldn't resist touching the hemp string himself and getting a shock after he "watched the lightning raise the hairs on the hemp kite string."  

In Poor Richard’s Almanac, Franklin wrote in 1742:

"As honest Hodge the Farmer, sow’d his Field,
Chear’d with the Hope of future Gain ’twould yield,
Two upstart Jacks in Office, proud and vain,
Come riding by, and thus insult the Swain.
You drudge, and sweat, and labour here, Old Boy,
But we the Fruit of your hard Toil enjoy.
Belike you may, quoth Hodge, and but your Due,
For, Gentlemen, ’tis Hemp I’m sowing now."

Which may have meant that Hodge would also enjoy the fruits of his labor because it was smokeable hemp, but more probably just meant it was a profitable crop. Our Founding Fathers were much concerned with the profitability of the hemp crop, grown mainly for fiber.

Franklin also wrote in 1739:
"Hemp will grow faster than the Children of this Age, and some will find there’s but too much on’t."

Peter Collinson (1694–1768), who "was one of the most important persons" in Franklin's life, was a English horticulturalist who "urged his American correspondents to cultivate flax, hemp, silk, and grapes."

There’s an early hemp processing machine idea in a 1763 letter to Franklin from Alexander Small. But as late as 1837, both the US and the UK were relying on slaves to do the back-breaking work of processing hemp, as in this 1837 UK cartoon, wherein slaves lament, "Beating this here hemp is worser than breaking stones. Lord ha’ mercy on us poor."

Under the UK's New Poor Laws, paupers were required to work from 4 in the morning until 10 at night, and ironically could told to “go to the hemp” (be hanged, though not around the neck).

Oliver Twist was also published in 1837. In it, one of Oliver’s jobs is to pick hemp oakum.