I Love Cannabis The Way I Used To Love Wine – Except It’s Waaaaaaaaay Better

I have experienced remarkable red wines and savored every moment I had with them. I have shivered cos my martini was so splendidly cold. I have sat over dinner and desert in a Bronxville, NY sun porch while the air inside it got heavy with the smell of apples from an open bottle of private stock calvados. I loved drinking. Loved alcohol. Loved the sheer craftsmanship that went into a bottle of good wine or a craft beer or a small batch gin. I get a lot of that when I light up a bowl of cannabis (I’m an old school flower guy; I like to buy whole flower and grind it myself).

For my money, the cannabis love experience beats the alcohol love experience because at least cannabis loves me back. Now – first off – everything I’m about to say is one hundred percent subjective. I can’t speak for anyone else’s experience of wine or cannabis; I can’t physically get inside anyone else’s head; I can only rely on their ability to accurately describe what they’re feeling – not an easy thing to do as every one of us knows. So, when I say that “cannabis loves me back”, I’m describing my perceptions. Cannabis users understand all this. I’m speaking to the unconverted who aren’t sitting with the choir. Everything about the cannabis experience is subjective – as it is with alcohol. But, cannabis does things to our brains – and our brain function – that alcohol doesn’t. Alcohol DOES impact our brains and how they work – and profoundly. Everything we know says alcohol isn’t particularly good for our brains in any noteworthy way. Though we laugh about “medicating” ourselves with alcohol, it would be a perverse joke if we actually wrote prescriptions for it. A ;prescription for cannabis however isn’t a joke. Nor is the considerable mountain of data that backs up cannabis’ beneficial qualities.

I’ve written extensively about why we think what we think about cannabis (I wrote a whole 13 part, 25,000 word series called “Blunt Truths” for WeedmapsNews back when there was a WeedmapsNews – about the whole remarkable story behind cannabis prohibition. The story sits somewhere between “forgotten” and “entirely unreported”. Now, here’s an irony (and this story abounds with irony, much of it painful): as destructive as alcohol prohibition was to American society (it criminalized a huge segment of ordinary Americans simply because they wanted a drink and gave organized crime a product Americans wanted that only they could provide – that very drink), it was based on the genuine concern for what alcohol itself was doing to American society. The temperance movement was actually very progressive in its goals; it wasn’t really being dowdy and judgmental, it was being proactive about curing a social ill America needed to cure: rampant alcoholism.

When Temperance Societies were active and abundant, they were championing the family – women and children – over the men who’d take the family’s money, spend it all on drink and then go home – drunk – and beat up on their families. If alcohol didn’t suppress the reasoning and inhibitions of those men, there would never have been a Temperance movement. Stick a pin in that – what alcohol does. We’ll arrive at a similar point in America’s relationship with cannabis – and what cannabis “does to people”. Something entirely different happened. Entirely.

The same people who took up temperance’s cause were also anti-slavery and pro women’s rights (especially women’s right to vote).

Now, the fact that legislators took up the temperance ideal and turned it into a cudgel that biblically-inclined moral police used against the rest of us (losing all sight of the original concern) – that’s what happens when too much monotheism gets into the self improvement calculus. I’m not saying that every monotheist confuses the voice of God they’ve imagined with their own voice – the one they use when speaking to themselves in private. But 1) the possibility is always there and 2) so many DO confuse the two that keeping count is pointless. Show me a televangelist (like the stoned-on-God Kenny Copeland) and I’ll show you a man who honestly believes HE is God. Think Kenny Copeland isn’t stoned on himself and his own God-ness? Then you’re probably sending him money.

The reason we now associate temperance with fun-hating “school marmery” and bible-pounding is because bible pounders saw an opening that alcohol genuinely provided. Alcohol is fun. Alcohol makes us feel good for a while. Alcohol is great for socializing. Alcohol is great business because humans like it so much. While there are some possible “health benefits” to alcohol – there’s data that says moderate alcohol consumption “can lower one’s chances of having a heart attack, stroke or hardened arteries by 25% to 40%” – heavy drinking, boosts the risk of heart disease (emphasis mine). In theory, everyone knows their cut-off where alcohol’s concerned. They “know their dose” is how we’d put it in cannabis world. And yet, any non drinker who’s sat and watched drinkers drink over the course of an evening can tell you: The only thing drinkers know about their dose is they haven’t had it yet. As much as we’ve turned away from it, there’s still plenty of “one for the road” in American culture.

We forgive alcohol the way we forgive abusive men. That’s not a good thing.

Alcohol is hard on our bodies in myriad ways. Especially when and if we binge it. While alcohol may inhibit heart disease, it’s tough on our livers and brains. And then there’s alcohol’s impact on human judgment. In vino veritas? Sort of. When soused, people do tend to say whatever comes into their heads. There’s no editor. That’s not the same thing though as “honesty”. In order to live successfully with each other, we must balance between feelings and facts. I may be angry at a friend, but if I need them for something important, I’m going to balance that angry feeling with practicality. With fact in other words. Just because I feel something in a moment of alcohol-fueled intensity doesn’t mean I feel it in moments not fueled by alcohol. “Veritas” needs to be a little more durable than that. Whatever “truths” alcohol uncovers aren’t worth what we think at the time no matter how loud, long or incoherently the drunk guy yammers it.

Now, I used to love drinking. Correction: Back when I drank, I really loved drinking. My dad started collecting wines in the early 70’s along with a few of his doctor friends (my dad was a general surgeon). He instilled not just a love of drinking (that, I can honestly say he didn’t) but a love for WHAT I was drinking. It wasn’t a matter of what any wine cost; it was all about what the wine tasted like. The whole point of the exercise was to enjoy the craftsmanship siting inside the bottle we just cracked – starting with the first tentative, “It still needs to breathe!” sips, all the way to the last “Damn, I wish we had another bottle of that” swallow. “Tell me about the wine” is how my father would start the conversation.

When, just after college, I took up martini drinking, my dad joined me on that voyage. We had many conversations about what gin made the perfect martini (provided it was served icy cold). I saw my dad fairly liquored up a few times (when he knew he didn’t have to go back to the hospital that night because someone else was covering) but no more than that. He really was a quality over quantity guy.

For various reasons (that I’ve written about here and here), I had to quit drinking. What actually happened was I had to start taking a mood stabilizer and the mood stabilizer gave all alcohol a terrible, grapefruit skin-like aftertaste that simply ruined all alcohol for me. Strangely, though I regularly drank to excess, from the instant I gave up drinking alcohol, I have never missed it.

As I settled deeper into the depression that ultimately resulted in me taking a mood stabilizer, sleep became harder to come by. By that I mean good, restful sleep where you wake up ready to face whatever the day throws at you. I’ve never been a great sleeper. Depression made me an even worse sleeper. For a decade, I relied on over the counter sleep meds (Simply Sleep mostly) to get me off to sleep and keep me there. These are repurposed antihistamines. They create a feeling of drowsiness but they never create a feeling of having slept deeply. Or restfully. I’ve always avoided drugs like Ambien for fear of what my mind would do under their influence. After years of struggling to get even a minimum of good sleep (I can and do manage quite well on just five hours a night) – and considering as I live in California where the stuff’s legal – when I finally decided I’d had enough, I took the cannabis plunge, I found a cannabis doctor nearby who wrote my prescription and a dispensary not too, too far away where I could fill that prescription.

I did not expect much from cannabis other than sleep. Maybe. It wasn’t my drug of choice in my youth. Alcohol was. Cocaine. Ecstasy. Shrooms one time (they were awesome!) But cannabis put me to sleep and I wasn’t looking for that. Until I was.

From that first night using Skywalker (almost seven years ago now) – sleep stopped being an issue. Literally. It just stopped. As I said, after five hours, my brain clicks on. That’s when sativas become appealing.

Alcohol and THC work very differently inside our brains. Ethanol (the alcohol in alcohol) is a depressant. It reduces communication between brain cells — a short-term effect responsible for many of the symptoms of being drunk. THC on the other hand does the literal opposite. It increases communication between brain cells.

We know for a fact how destructive alcohol is because we’ve got a ton of data from all the research we’ve done. The same isn’t true about cannabis. Oh, don’t get me wrong – there’s a ton of negative data concerning cannabis. But, the closer one looks at literally any of it, the narrower its findings become. An awful lot of cannabis research walked in the door looking for THC’s negative impacts. Even if they had to amplify them, they found them. Or amplified them to the point of relevance. We don’t know, really, how thoughts work. We don’t know much at all about consciousness in general. We don’t know where memories go when we’re not remembering them.

Where cannabis research is concerned, every one of us who uses cannabis is a walking-talking anecdote-driven data set on its impact and effects. Civilization did not collapse. Drug-related crime did not increase. Stoned people getting behind the wheel and causing mass mayhem has not happened. What little has, cannot in any way compare to the scourge of drunk driving.

What we do know about thought and thinking tells us that thoughts occur when electrical currents leap from synapse to synapse in our brain. Synapses are like digital circuits: they’re either opened or closed. When closed, information can’t leap across the synaptic void and travel from one part of our brains to another. When synapses are open, of course, the opposite happens: information flows. The more synapses that are open to the flow of information, the more information we process. This is why food tastes amazing when you’re stoned. It’s why songs feel more intense and jokes just seem funnier. In a sense, they are funnier because you’re processing what’s funny about them from more directions. This is the reason some people feel paranoid when stoned: they’re aware that they’re more aware and that’s disconcerting to them.

Whereas alcohol fogs one’s senses as it slurs one’s words, cannabis doesn’t. The Black musicians who invented jazz, gravitated to cannabis because of the way it worked inside their brains. Not only could they still hear clearly the music inside their heads, they could exactly reproduce it outside their heads, articulating it through their instruments. And then they did something drunk people can’t do – they played TOGETHER. The reason so many creative people use cannabis – and use it as part of their creative process is because cannabis enhances creative thought. Even indicas – before they ease you to sleep can get your mind going all sorts of rewarding creative places. I’ve been three indicas into my night time process (my THC tolerance is pretty high) – thinking I was ready for bed when an idea suddenly took up the next fifteen minutes as I hurriedly tried to write down every last bit of it. For the record – whereas many alcohol-fueled ideas are illegible come the morning light, most cannabis-fueled ideas fly perfectly fine. It’s not like I was drunk when I thought of them.

Remember a little earlier when I stuck a pin in what cannabis does to people? America’s first drug czar was a guy named Harry Anslinger. A former prohibition cop and diplomat, when Anslinger got his assignment in 1930, he said repeatedly that marihuana (his spelling) was not a problem. But, by 1937 – when Anslinger helped push for creation of the “Marijuana Tax Stamp Act of 1937” – Anslinger had personally invented “reefer madness”. It’s true. Anslinger invented virtually every bit of our negative marijuana mythology out of whole cloth – how Black men especially would use marihuana and instantly become sex and violence crazed maniacs.

Being the Commissioner of Narcotics, Anslinger was respected. When he told things to the newspapers, the newspapers printed what he said as absolute truth. Why would Anslinger lie? But Anslinger was lying – and knew he was. He’d tell a local paper that Black people were selling marijuana to schoolyard kids (a lie). The newspaper would print the lie which Anslinger would then hold up: “See? what I’m saying must be true – it’s in the newspaper!”

The first big wave of cannabis use came across the southern border as the Mexican revolution raged. Mexicans fleeing the violence (a lot of it caused by American money and corruption) brought their culture with them. That included cannabis. White people – alcohol drinkers – didn’t understand cannabis. As something foreign, it scared them. As something foreign that brown people used, it scared them even more.

In time, marijuana use spread eastward. It found particular purchase in New Orleans – where those Black musicians were inventing jazz. Every now and then, New Orleans would crack down on all the musicians living within its city limits and they’d send them all fleeing northward. When it happened this time, the Black musicians heading up the Mississippi to Memphis and Nashville and Chicago (the last two not on the river but under its sphere of influence) also took cannabis with them. When curious white people began taking up the cannabis habit from these migrating Black people, that’s when Anslinger drew a line in the sand.

At no point in his 30 year tenure at the Bureau of Narcotics did Anslinger EVER even wonder aloud if cannabis was “bad for anyone’s health”. That was never the point for Anslinger. Anslinger hated Black people in general. He hated jazz music in particular. In addition to being a great bureaucrat and a profound racist, Anslinger also was something of a skilled classical pianist, too. He loved European music and hated Black music (in other words, jazz). If you stop to think about it – which you should – America prosecuted untold Americans (most of them Black or brown), put them in prison and ruined their lives because one man hated jazz.

My dad’s been gone for a bunch of years now. He stopped drinking a long time before he died out of necessity. My mom’s still alive. She doesn’t drink anymore either (except for a sip every now and then) but she uses a cannabis-related product – CBD – to deal with some pretty severe arthritis. Because cannabis has actual medical properties…

Just as my dad used to share wine with me, just as he tried to teach me how to appreciate this product he loved, I share my weed and my weed experience with my two kids (one’s 23, the other is about to turn 21). I started sharing cannabis with them while they were in high school. They were using it already; I focused their use. Personally, if I could, I’d get my kids to quit drinking alcohol entirely and just use cannabis. One can’t OD on it. One can’t get “poisoned” by THC like one can get alcohol poisoning.

I have a fond memory already of my kids and I smoking cannabis together here in Los Angeles on our front porch. It’s not an image I ever thought I’d see as I contemplated my life. But, it was a lovely moment, made lovelier by the cannabis-inspired conversation we were having and continued to have as the cannabis snuggled into our brains. Then – true story – the earth shook. A quick temblor – something in the high 3’s, if I remember. For a moment, we all stopped talking to acknowledge that the whole house was shaking around us.

Finally the earth stopped shaking. But the quaking hasn’t let up yet.

A Blanket Pardon For Non-Violent Cannabis Offenders Would Be An Easy, Huge, Do-Able Win For Joe Biden

Here’s a fact: Joe Biden could probably guarantee the Republicans DON’T take back the House or Senate in next year’s mid-terms in one executive order. The executive branch — Joe Biden — could, all by himself, remove cannabis from The Controlled Substances Act. He can “move to federally legalize cannabis without waiting for lawmakers to act.” Not only can President Biden do this, he’s already set this ship in motion by hiring and appointing people who all want this very thing to happen. In addition, Biden could issue an executive amnesty for every single non-violent cannabis offender in the entire country. This would free all those prisoners now doing time and expunge their and every other record of every single person EVER arrested for growing, buying, selling or just enjoying the myriad benefits of cannabis — a natural product that should NEVER have been prohibited in the first place.

As a move, it would transcend politics because two thirds of Americans — both Democrats and Republicans — want this to happen (but, of course, it could NEVER happen with a Republican in office since they still have to kneel before the evangelicals). Know who else would actually be super happy if Joe Biden did everything he could to de-criminalize cannabis ASAP? The banks. They’ll literally hurt themselves in the rush to cash in on cannabis the nano-second it exits Schedule One and they can begin to invest in it legally. The states also hear the “Ka-CHING!” of money landing in their coffers. “Just in 2020, taxes from adult recreational cannabis sales totaled $2.7 billion” and that’s just part of the EIGHT BILLION TAX COLLARS collected by the 18 states that have legalized cannabis in one way or another.

Know who doesn’t like the “legal cannabis” story? No one. Hey, by righting the cannabis story, Joe Biden also can make America come to terms a little more with its racist past — without it going nuts. Hopefully, America will have a good stone on. We’ll feel the calm. Our minds will open a little.

Best part? For two seconds, it might even get the news media to focus on the bigger picture.

Even as Joe Biden rescues America daily from the cataclysmic precipice Donald Trump drove us to, in the eyes of the news media (still perspective-free), Joe Biden is failing because “bad messaging”. They still pooh-pooh Team Biden’s failure to focus on what’s IN the BBB versus what it costs when it was ALWAYS the news media who blasted the number over anything else because that was an easier (though less accurate) story to tell — disagreement over a bunch of imaginary numbers. The Progressives have always advocated for a specific end result: the level-est playing field possible in America so that every American has a genuinely equal shot at achieving the American Dream. And, every time a Progressive policy actually makes it into practice (the Child Tax Credit or the UBI-like unemployment payments received by millions of Americans), it provides a data set of success. The Child Tax Credit literally cut poverty in half. The UBI kept our economy afloat when, otherwise, it would have slipped deeper into recession because of the pandemic.

Legalizing cannabis has always been a liberal — not a conservative — policy. Let’s be crystal clear: the ONLY reason cannabis was ever “illegalized” in this country was because of racism.

A little while back, I got hired by Weedmaps News (back when there was a Weedmaps News) to write a 13 part, 25,000 word series called “BLUNT TRUTHS” on the history of cannabis prohibition in America. I had pitched them this idea because I’ve always wanted to tell the true story of Harry Anslinger, America’s first “drug czar”, the inventor (for all intents and purposes) of “reefer madness” and the man who, almost single-handedly, created the mess we have today — not just in America but all over the world. Anslinger was a complex character, one we’ve too easily dismissed as an over-reaching cop. He was, but that’s not what made him tick. Anslinger was an out-and-out racist who favored European culture and hated Black culture. He also was a remarkably skilled bureaucrat. That’s the problem.

I recommend the whole series (I would, but then I’m biased) but here’s the thumbnail: At the time of his appointment as first Commissioner of America’s new Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1930, no drugs were in fact “illegal”. Aside from controlling the importation of opium, the FBN had little to do, little manpower and even less money. Anslinger was an excellent choice having spent a decade at that point mostly in Europe arranging agreements about opium between America and various other nations. “Marihuana” (as Anslinger called it) was of zero concern; at that point, to Anslinger’s knowledge, only Mexican laborers in America’s southwest even knew what it was. Mexicans fleeing the Mexican Revolution (1910) brought marijuana with them as they re-settled in America. In time, marijuana made it across the country to New Orleans where a group of Black musicians were creating a newfangled thing called “jazz”.

This is a key moment both in how cannabis use became popularized but also WHY Harry Anslinger put a target on marijuana and made prohibiting it his personal crusade. Cannabis use spread alongside jazz’s rising popularity. In part, that was because every now and then New Orleans would kick out all the musicians. They’d head north to Memphis, Nashville, Chicago — from Anslinger’s point of view, “spreading” jazz and marijuana to white people. That crossed a line.

In addition to being a very good bureaucrat, Anslinger fancied himself a very good pianist. He loved European classical music. Jazz affronted him like a two by four upside the head. He hated the musicians who created jazz (people like Louis Armstrong and King Oliver), hated the marijuana that seemed to inspire it, and hated that white Americans were taking both the music and the marijuana into their systems. Anslinger was damned clever. He’d take a racist trope — “Black marijuana use was leading to crazed sexual behavior directed at white women” — to a newspaper. They’d print it because Anslinger was the freakin’ Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics — would HE lie? Then Anslinger would hold up the newspaper headline and say “See? Didn’t I tell you that Black men were raping white women because of marijuana?”

Anslinger collected what became known as his “Gore Files”. To flip through them is to fully grasp where “reefer madness” came from. It’s absurd.

Ironically, Anslinger wasn’t allowed to actually make cannabis illegal — not, at first. For starters, there’s no Constitutional basis to make any drug illegal. Hemp, cannabis’ cousin, was a vital agricultural product when the founders were founding America. Back in the 1930’s, as Anslinger tried to get lawmakers interested, the AMA came to cannabis’ rescue. All the data, so said the AMA, argued for marijuana’s remaining legal. What the hell does the AMA know, demanded Anslinger. In the end, Anslinger was forced to do an end run around the Constitution to have his way. As with Al Capone, the government made it about taxes and not paying them.

The clever cruelty buried in the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 is the stamp itself. The Act decreed that a tax had to be paid every time marijuana either was bought or sold (ditto hemp). In order to prove the tax had been paid, both parties had to obtain a stamp. Except the stamp never existed — and never was going to. By design, everyone who bought or sold cannabis from that point forward was going to be a criminal — a TAX criminal.

Fun fact: The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 scored its first success within days! For real! Samuel Caldwell became cannabis’ first sacrificial lamb on October 3, two days after the law was enacted. His crime: selling three joints. Okay — he also had a couple of pounds of marijuana in his room, but it wasn’t illegal to possess, remember?

Team Biden ought to make a blanket pardon, full cannabis decriminalization and legalization as much of a reality as the tools available to him allow. Sure, sure, plenty of those who’ll benefit are and will remain Trump voters. Not to worry. When all those criminal records get expunged — and those good citizens return to the voting rolls — hundreds of thousands of people will be motivated or re-motivated to vote because voting got them or their loved ones out of jail. This will be one more law that Democrats made happen but that Republicans (who didn’t) ache to claim credit for. We can’t let them do that.

For one thing, ya just know, Republicans will Bogart the hell out of that joint and then hand it off all dripping with their germy spit. Geez, ya can’t even get high with these people without it being a hassle…

There Absolutely Is A “Culture War” Aflame In America — White Culture Versus Everyone Else

Both sides don’t have a “Newt Gingrich” on their bench (or in their past). Only the Republicans do. Remember Newtie (“The Man Who Broke [American] Politics”? Back when Bill Clinton was POTUS, Newt served as 50th Speaker of the House of Representatives and drove the “Impeach Bill Clinton Cos A Blow Job” train as hard as he could and for all that blow job was worth. Time Magazine made Gingrich their “Man of the Year in 1995, Gingrich, while Speaker (third in line to the presidency), “…he encouraged his fellow Republicans to refer to Democrats as ‘traitors’.” That’s “traitors” for wanting America to pursue a Progressive path instead of the conservative one Newt preferred. That is sooooooooo right wing — to declare all opposition “traitors”. They’ve been doing that since Viet Nam and Joe McCarthy. Calling other Americans traitors because they think differently — that’s how Right Wing Culture works. It must be — because that’s how it says it works.

For the record? Progressives call conservatives and Republicans “traitors” too. Except, when Democrats spit that word at Republicans now? It’s because Republicans have stood beside Donald Trump who even the Republicans agreed before the nominated Trump in 2016 was owned outright by Vladimir Putin. As current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy put it on June 25, 2016 as he entered a meeting of GOP leadership: “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” See how much more “treason-y” that is compared to, say, a policy difference?

But then, white culture isn’t about seeking any truths or trying to make America as fair as possible for as many Americans as possible. It’s about maintaining white culture’s hegemony. White culture is terrified of losing its grip on American political power (and thus the bulk of American wealth). Being staunch believers that all life is a zero sum game (if a Black person gets something from the political system, it’s because a white person lost something), white culture can’t imagine sharing political power; to them, that’s exactly the same as losing it completely.

Like Charlton Heston’s rifle, We The People will have to pry political power from white America’s cold, desiccating fingers. I, for one, am down for that fight.

Progressives have one, clear (and clearly stated) goal for America: make it live up to its ideals. Not just “E Pluribus Unum” — we’re doing well with that one. It’s “All men are created equal” that’s giving us conniptions. For starters, the white, Christian, land-owning men who either wrote it or stood by it didn’t mean it. You can’t honestly claim “All men are created equal” when, at the same time, you permit slavery within your borders (where slaves are only three-fifths of a white person). Slavery, at its most bottom line, is labor theft.

The whole point of enslaving someone is to get their work product for free (minus the cost of housing, feeding and clothing the slave). Take stolen labor off the table — in other words, if the agrarian Southern States had been forced to pay all the labor that sowed and harvested their cotton, tobacco and sugar cane a fair market wage, they would never have risen to the economic heights they did (though they might have become a worker’s paradise). The impetus to pay people as little as possible for their work is no different from wanting to enslave people. That is what corrupt, greedy scumbags like Newt think is “democracy”.

Whenever white people feel afraid of their fellow citizens, they jigger the laws so as to use the laws to undermine their fellow citizens. The whole history of cannabis prohibition in America is about racism triumphing over everything else. When America’s first drug czar, Harry Anslinger, first went to work in 1930, he thought of marijuana as at worst a minor nuisance. By 1937 however, Anslinger was warning America that “reefer madness” was stalking them. Anslinger didn’t care about cannabis when Mexicans — fleeing the violence of the Mexican Revolution after 1910 — or Black jazz musicians in New Orleans smoked it (though Anslinger despised jazz). When white people started using it — that’s where Anslinger drew the line and went on the offensive.

Anslinger didn’t care for two seconds whether or not marijuana actually was good or bad for anyone. Racist that he was, he thought marijuana was bad for him. Bad for white people especially if white people smoked a Black and brown peoples’ drug. Anslinger, in causing marijuana to be illegalized, gave legal credence to his own deep-seated racism. In so doing, Anslinger declared an unspoken culture war on everyone who wasn’t him.

Progressives, as their name says, want to see America progress into the future. Conservatives, as their name says, want to conserve. But, what do they want to conserve? Simple: as much of the past as still remains in the present. But, if they could really have their way? Conservatives would regress us collectively back to the past idealized inside their heads. In that past, white people had all the power and all the money. Everyone else was subservient to them. That’s the America conservatism really longs for — it’s why they gerrymander and suppress Democratic voters. Democracy itself poses the most imminent threat to conservatism and conservative values (such as they are).

Both sides did not declare a “culture war” on other Americans because both sides don’t see a “culture war”. Progressives are just trying to live their lives — and enjoy the exact same freedoms, benefits and responsibilities that every other American enjoys. Conservatives, on the other hand, have made limiting voting rights for everyone not them the entire thrust of their efforts. And, if they can’t stop Americans from voting — or stop votes from being counted — they’ll simply toss the results they don’t like (the ones where they lose, of course). That ain’t democracy.

It is fascism. Fascism needs to declare culture war against everyone else because that is its culture. To be at war with every other culture. Maybe white people are on to something. Of all the American tribes, the white tribe is the only one to oppress all the other tribes. If anything binds the rest of us to each other, it’s the fact that we’ve all been bullied by white people or white culture.

I’ve got bad news for America’s feckless fascists. Oh, they are every bit as dangerous as they seem. They’re every bit as prone to violence because — well, have you heard their “words”? But, a homogenous nation like Germany (mostly made up of Germans and the descendants of Germans going back a millennium) fell in line because even the “good Germans” were more German than good. It would have been “un-German” to stop what the “less good” Germans were doing (to groups — Jews, Roma people, gay men — that Germans hated anyway). But, here in America, white people are a shrinking majority (they’re 57% of non-Latino white people). Ironically, that “white people” includes Jews and other tribes that hard core white people DON’T think of as “white”. All the other tribes, for all their differences, have one big thing in common: they’ve all been bullied relentlessly by white people.

When a white minority, bent on seizing political power it does not have looks to the rest of America to march in goose step alongside them? They won’t find “Good Germans” staring back at them. They’ll find the rest of America with its diverse faces filling with rage — at them. It won’t be fun. It will be messy and violent. But the truth is, diverse America will not be cowed by white America no matter how violent they get. Hell, it’s America, isn’t it? Everyone has guns!

If history teaches one thing (that conservatives never learn), it’s that history moves on regardless of how much they try to stop it. They’re sand castles convinced they can resist the incoming tide. The tide will win. And fascism in America will lose if it ever gets the chance to subjugate us. My money’s on the DoJ coming through and prosecuting not just Donald Trump but pretty much the entire Republican Party for plotting against We The People. Prosecution is the only way to stop these people.

Prosecution and bankrupting them. Hey, at the end of the day, every conservative’s most vulnerable organ is their wallet. Hit them hard enough and often enough there? They’ll give up.

Cannabis Culture V Alcohol Culture

A Shift in Cannabis Culture

All self-medication is not created equal.

Alcohol culture and cannabis culture come from two distinctly different places. Their hold on Americans are both distinctly different. One has always been incredibly unhealthy (fun as hell — make no mistake — but damned unhealthy). The other is cannabis culture. Both inspired prohibition but cannabis’ prohibition endured long beyond alcohol’s. That wasn’t a coincidence. It had to do with who, in the early days, was using cannabis — which was why the nascent Federal Bureau of Narcotics under its first Commissioner Harry Anslinger flip-flopped on “marihuana”; the FBN stopped seeing it as a very minor, innocuous Mexican habit brought across the border by Mexicans fleeing the Mexican Revolution and, instead (almost overnight, in fact) started seeing it as an invented crisis with racism at its core: “reefer madness”.

The very reason Harry Anslinger hated marijuana and declared war on it was because white people started to smoke it. The vector between Mexicans smoking it and white people smoking it was Black people smoking it. And the Black people who drove marijuana’s growing popularization — as it literally travelled up the Mississippi from New Orleans — were the musicians who’d invented jazz, many of them while smoking marijuana. Anslinger was both a die hard racist and a brilliant bureaucrat. Turns out, he also fancied himself a good pianist with a passion for European classical music. Jazz was anathema to Anslinger. He hated the musicians who created jazz. He hated the Blackness of their music. He hated the marijuana they smoked before and during their playing. But, he especially hated the fact that this Mexican and now Black habit was spreading from non-white usage to white usage.

Harry Anslinger personally invented “reefer madness” — that bizarre way of seeing and thinking about cannabis, divorced from any sort of practical cannabis experience. But Harry had a problem. He may have hated marijuana because of the people he saw smoking it in his mind’s eye, but no one else did. The law didn’t hate marijuana, quite the contrary. The law was rather pro-hemp. It didn’t care whether or not anyone smoked it. And the Constitution gave Harry no openings either. Nothing in our Constitution supports marijuana prohibition whatsoever.

That’s what everyone told Harry as he tried to formulate a law that would give him the power to arrest and prosecute people he hated because of racism.

But, as I said, Harry was also a great bureaucrat. Instead of quitting, he went bureaucratic. Our federal government didn’t nail Al Capone for being a gangster. It nailed Capone for being a tax cheat. That was Harry’s tack.

First, he seeded the ground with racist bullshit. Harry would go to the press and tell them — with all the gravity and authority of the Commissioner of the FBN — that Black men were smoking marijuana and then getting sexed up and raping white women. Or getting white women to smoke marijuana themselves — and then getting so sexed up that they’d give themselves to these Black men! Oh, the horror! The press — and in their defense, why would they doubt Harry? — printed Harry’s bullshit in their newspapers which Harry would then hold up as proof that what he was saying was absolutely true.

This collection of clippings grew quickly into what Harry called his “Gore files”. Slowly, but surely, Harry’s racist magic worked its way through Congress. Now, the law was still the law; no one was going to indulge Harry by writing law that would get them laughed at. But, being a clever bureaucrat who understood how to catch a mobster, Harry proposed a tax instead. Every time anyone bought or sold cannabis — and, just to be safe, Harry through hemp into the mix, too — they would have to pay a tax. In order to prove they’d both paid the tax, both would have to get a stamp designed just for this purpose. Here’s where it got complicated. No organ was set up to collect any such tax — and none was going to be created. And (the cherry on top), no actual stamp was ever created either. The stamp was literally unattainable.

Any time anyone bought or sold marijuana or hemp, they were going to violate the tax code. The Marijuana Tax Stamp Act of 1937 sailed through Congress (despite considerable opposition to it by organizations like the AMA who were keenly aware of marijuana’s considerable positives as a medication). Interesting story? Within twenty four hours, the Stamp Act had its first criminals. In Denver.

Samuel Caldwell got arrested on October 2, 1937 for possessing marijuana for which he could not provide the stamp as evidence that he’d paid the tax in order to possess that marijuana. Now, to be fair, Caldwell was no prince; he was a criminal with a fair-sized rap sheet. But that simply made it easier to prosecute Caldwell and establish a precedent.

For the record — a Mexican man named Moses Baca would have been the first arrestee except his arrest happened two weeks before the Tax Law was enacted. It was only after the law was enacted — and Baca couldn’t produce a stamp to prove he’d paid the tax — that he became a “drug criminal”.

Everything — literally everything — about cannabis prohibition was based on racist bullshit. For contrast, as stupid and doomed to failure as alcohol prohibition was, at least it was based on reality. While we think of the teetotalers and Temperance Society wackos who drove prohibition as old fashioned and repressive, in fact, they were being very progressive about a very real social problem: drinking. Then, as now, alcohol addiction ruined lives. Ruined whole families. Whole communities. Prohibition’s misguided aim was a better society. It used a sledge hammer when micro-surgery was in order.

When prohibition finally met its well-deserved end, America made damned sure such a thing could never, would n ever happen again. They put the liquor manufacturers in charge. And the distributors. They began the process of indoctrinating Americans from a very young age into thinking that alcohol is a right of passage. It’s the organizing principle around which most socializing revolves. A restaurant will almost never be profitable without alcohol sales to make it profitable. Bars are built on selling alcohol. The more, the better. Being big, corporate businesses now, alcohol manufacturers think globally. And they dutifully invest in keeping America’s youth fixated on that key rite of passage — legal drinking. That’s why alcohol manufacturers invest so much in creating products that make alcohol seem innocuous, fun, and candy-flavored.

No one reads a warning label on a beer bottle (or a packet of cigs) and thinks “Oh, wait — I hadn’t thought of that!” A better warning would be to point out something practical: “After consuming this alcoholic beverage, please wait at least twenty minutes before deciding you need another because you probably won’t”. It’s one of the weird things about alcohol and drinking. It’s like drinkers forget (after drinking) how alcohol works inside their own bodies. They drink — and keep drinking — like they’ve never had a drink before. Like they’re surprised to find themselves as over-the-limit as they are.

That’s a big part of our collective problem with alcohol: it screws with our memory. Screwing with our memory screws with our perspective. We keep forgetting all the dumb things we do when alcohol is inside us. We get it into our heads that they’re all isolated incidents rather than tiles in a mosaic that says: your relationship with alcohol isn’t what you think it is and alcohol’s the alpha.

I stopped drinking alcohol in early 2017. The mood stabilizer I started taking to deal with a decade long depression that was literally killing me gave alcohol a terrible, grapefruit skin-like aftertaste. That was heartbreaking at first. I loved the taste of a perfect gin martini (depending on the gin). I loved every aspect of a glass of big, dark, inky red — from first tentative sniff to last, satisfying swallow. An aversion to alcohol wasn’t one ofA the possible side effects the literature warned about. Lamotrigine was developed as an anti-seizure medication; its mood stabilizing effects were a ridealong. From the first moment that grapefruit skin aftertaste hit, I turned away from alcohol and never, really, looked back.

I’ve felt better since I stopped drinking. I sleep better. I work better. Let’s be clear however — alcohol was never my problem; I was. Now — to be fair — have I merely swapped one self-destructive bad habit for another? Isn’t cannabis just as bad in its way as alcohol is in its?

I’d answer it this way: there’s a very good reason we actually think of cannabis as a medicine while we only jokingly think of alcohol that way. It’s just a stone cold fact — alcohol and THC are entirely different chemicals that act in entirely different ways inside our bodies and especially our brains. Alcohol depresses our inhibitions by uniformly suppressing our motor skills and our ability to process information. Our reaction times slow and then our vague motor skills fudge the rest. THC, on the other hand, isn’t a depressant. Our thoughts are caused by electrical impulses flowing across our synapses. THC causes more of those synapses to be open (they’re a lot like digital circuits).

The reason everything seems a little more intense (colors, tastes, smells) is because our brains are literally processing more information than we’d be processing without the THC. That’s what some people experience as paranoia. They’re conflating that awareness of more information with someone outside of them. Because of cannabis’s bad boy past, that “someone” is inherently threatening because they “know”. That negative aside, for most cannabis users — especially those who recognize the difference between sativas, hybrids and indicas — the whole point of using cannabis is to achieve a particular effect. For instance, when I wake and bake every morning, I light up from a collection of sativas that I know will focus my brain and get it ready to write coherent thoughts. When I get to the end of my writing day and it’s time to chill, I’ll break out my hybrid collection (though some hybrids –Trainwreck especially — are excellent for work). When the evening is coming to its end and bedtime approaches, out come my indicas. I know that not only will indicas put me to sleep, they’ll give me a good, solid, restful night’s sleep from which I’ll awake the next day ready for battle.

Once I wake n bake, of course.

Alcohol culture isn’t going anywhere. There’s way too much money in it. And humans really like alcohol. But cannabis culture is on the come. The moment our government removes cannabis from schedule one — and the banks can finally invest their money in it? The cannabis business will boom like nothing before it. This is not a terrible thing except for the corruption that will ride shotgun alongside it. And it will suck when Big Cannabis becomes the power vortex and all the mom n pop operations get run out of business.

But, I believe, the culture cannabis will slowly impress upon us will be much more civilized than alcohol culture ever could be — because of alcohol’s nature. Think about it: if we stopped serving beer at sporting events and sold cannabis instead (hybrids, let’s say), violence would NEVER break out at sporting events ever again. Instead of screaming at each other at game’s end, opposing sides would be hugging, telling each other how well they played (regardless of the final score). Some fans might be dozing peacefully. No one would spill out into the streets ready to rumble.

People who smoke cannabis do not go home and beat their loved ones. They don’t get argumentative. They don’t get belligerent or combative. They do get funny though. And they do get the munchies.

Harry Anslinger hated jazz because Black people invented it. But — here’s the key — guys like Louis Armstrong and King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton all used cannabis as part of their creative process. These musicians were attempting to draw an abstract idea — jazz — out of their heads and into the air via their instruments. And they did this while ON CANNABIS. They knew from experience that no one can create music or play it well with a drink inside you. Heroin? Forget about it. Heroin turned the amazingly talented, handsome Chet Baker into a hollow shell of himself. It did not make him better at anything other than self-destruction. If only he’d been exclusively a dope fiend, he may have come to a happier ending.

Long before Big Alcohol turned to Big Advertising to improve its image, people had it in their heads that “in vino veritas” — that alcohol would lead to truth. I can only speak from personal experience. Alcohol, at best, leads to angry truthiness. That’s baked into its culture.

If I want real veritas? I’m tapping some Durban Poison into my Genius pipe and sparking it to life!

At No Point Was America’s “War On Drugs” EVER About Drugs; It was Always About Racism


Remember Prohibition? That was America’s attempt to wage war on the “drug of choice” of most white people: alcohol. Prohibition failed miserably as we know. Not only didn’t it stop anyone from drinking, it made drinking sexier. And, because legitimate providers couldn’t provide during Prohibition, illegitimate providers filled in the vacuum. It was Prohibition that gave organized crime its first real foothold in America. Prohibition gave them a product to sell, a public anxious to buy and no one to regulate what anyone was doing. America put up with Prohibition for thirteen years. But, to be fair to the prohibitionists — judgmental as they were — they weren’t wrong about the harm alcohol abuse was doing to America, Americans and their families. The prohibitionists weren’t conservatives, they were progressives! Prohibition was an attempt to force a moral choice upon a population that wanted a drink instead. Being as the population was mostly white, in the end, that population had its way. Prohibition ended relatively quickly.

We cannot say the same for marijuana prohibition though — even as decriminalization spreads with remarkable speed across the country. Marijuana was effectively “illegalized” by the Marijuana Tax Stamp Act of 1937. The law didn’t make marijuana illegal because, as first drug czar Harry Anslinger found out, there is literally NOTHING in the Constitution that makes any substance illegal. In order to make opiates or cannabis illegal, lawmakers had to perform a whole Olympics worth of gymnastics. None them completed a single routine successfully — except for the fact that they did illegalize the drugs they were going after.

When Harry Anslinger became the first Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1930, he brought a couple of things with him. First was his skill as a bureaucrat. Whatever else Anslinger was (and we’ll get to what he really was momentarily), he was exceptionally skilled at working the bureaucracy to get what he wanted (even when the law wasn’t on his side — as the law wasn’t when Anslinger put a target on marijuana’s back). Anslinger began as a railroad cop for the Pennsylvania Railroad (where his father also worked). During World War I, Anslinger turned that success into a burgeoning diplomatic career. Working for the US government, Anslinger became deeply involved in the battle against international drug trafficking. Now, let’s be clear about something: in 1920, the “international drug trade” consisted of opium. That’s it.

But, if we dig a little into even that — our battle with the international opium trade — we find racism lurking. The opium wars of the 1840’s were fought because China (knowing opium smoking was problematic to peoples health and productivity), had made opium illegal while the British wanted to be able to trade in opium (in part to make up the massive trade balance they were experiencing with China). China wanted to end the trade in opium while Europe wanted it to continue — because it was enriching Europe. Jump forward a few years. When America wanted cheap (bordering on slave) labor after slavery was finally illegalized, we brought in thousands of Chinese men. We made them keep their families at home because heaven forbid we ever treat workers like human beings — especially when they’re “different”.

Had Europe not insisted on keeping the opium trade open, there wouldn’t have been anything for American racists to worry over when they saw communities of Chinese men — perhaps using opium, perhaps not — who would blame them; we left them with little to do in their off hours other than eat and sleep. The first anti-drug law in American popped up in San Francisco in 1875. It made smoking opium in opium dens illegal. Was that for a reason associated with anyone’s health? No. The law itself is pretty specific about WHY it exists because: “”Many women and young girls, as well as young men of a respectable family, were being induced to visit the Chinese opium-smoking dens, where they were ruined morally and otherwise.”

“Ruined morally or otherwise”. That’s the LEGAL underpinning. When Harry Anslinger started setting up shop in 1930 at the FBN, most drug laws (if there were any) were local not national. Though opium use was being limited at the local level, there was no national law giving Anslinger any comparable power. To go along with his minimal enforcement power, he had a small work force of bureaucrats and an even smaller one of field agents. He was competing at the time with J. Edgar Hoover who was much better at public relations at first than Anslinger was.

Anslinger didn’t care about marijuana when he started working at the FBN. Prior to 1910, marijuana doesn’t really register. It scores some notoriety after Hugh Ludlow publishes The Hashish Eater in 1857 but the whole experience is exotic and foreign. In 1910, the Mexican Revolution sends a gush of people fleeing the war Many settle north of the border and begin new lives in America. They bring with them their food, their religion, their cannabis. As they know culturally, at the end of a work day — or even going into one — cannabis is awesome.

So long as marijuana remained something Mexicans did among Mexicans, Anslinger didn’t care about it. Eventually, marijuana made it over to New Orleans where a bunch of Black musicians were in the process of inventing jazz. Guys like Jelly Roll Morton and King Oliver and Louis Armstrong knew (perhaps from experience) that you couldn’t invent anything on opium. You couldn’t make music with heroin in your head. Ditto alcohol. That didn’t mean plenty of musicians (jazz or otherwise) didn’t try to combine music an alcohol. But, as the rest of us know, the person hopped up on hops has lost all perspective. In vino veritas? Not really. In vino lack of candor. In vino lack of judgment. In vino crap motor skills. That’s not the case with marijuana.

The Black musical artists who invented jazz loved cannabis because it opened up their creativity like nothing else. It allowed them to bridge all kinds of jumps they were making in their brains while creating jazz — while inventing music on the fly. Jazz was the first authentically American musical idiom. It couldn’t have come from anywhere else or have been produced by anyone other than the people who made it. And they made it, many of them, while using marijuana.

Among the people who hated jazz — and there were people who despised it because of who created it — was America’s first drug czar, Harry Anslinger. In addition to being a very skilled bureaucrat, apparently Anslinger was a skilled musician, too. He played piano. Loved European classical music. Hated jazz and every single jazz musician for having helped create it But, even so, it wasn’t Anslinger’s hatred for jazz and jazz musicians that spurred him to finally go after marijuana.

When Anslinger heard reports of white people using dope? THAT was the bridge too far for Anslinger. White people using a drug that Black and brown people use? That’s white people being “perverted” by people of color. That, to a racist like Harry Anslinger, could not happen. It’s precisely why Anslinger decided that marijuana was a far worse threat to America than heroin.

For a very thorough telling of Harry Anslinger’s story, I suggest a few of the Blunt Truths pieces I wrote for Weedmaps News (when there was a Weedmaps News). Though a few chapters are missing (one got purloined by one of my editors at Weedmaps News — Nicolas Juarez — that effing scumbag!), the thirteen chapters and 25,000 words tell the only story one can truthfully tell about marijuana prohibition. It happened because of who, early on, was using it. No one ever cared about whether it was good or bad for anyone’s health. No research was ever commissioned to prove such a thing because health was never a factor.

One of the nicest things to experience is the slow, chillin’ demise of “Reefer Madness” as an idea of how people are when using cannabis. Think of how many more millions of Americans across the country are now using cannabis on a regular basis — integrating it into their lives — without their lives falling apart. Or Wester Civilization collapsing.

Frankly, if my young adult daughter quit drinking tomorrow and used cannabis exclusively for recreation and self-medicating? I’d be thrilled. I quit drinking because my mood stabilizer gives all alcohol a terrible, grapefruit skin-like aftertaste. As I was already using cannabis for sleeping, I upped my cannabis use — and discovered almost immediately that just by quitting alcohol, the quality of my sleep improved even more than it had when I quit over-the-counter sleeping meds for nightly indica. If sporting events sold cannabis instead of Budweiser, there would never be another drunken brawl at a soccer game that spills out into the streets. Instead, a crowd that just watched a sporting event while stoned would end up hugging each other even if they supported the other side. It’s just hard to feel that shitty with THC sprinkling you gently with euphoria.

Let’s Play “Desert Island Cannabis Strain”! I’ll Go First…

In the style of that great BBC radio show “Desert Island Discs” — where each week’s guest “is asked to choose eight recordings (usually, but not always, music), a book and a luxury item that they would take if they were to be cast away on a deserted island” — I propose a show where, each week, a cannabis aficionado — imagining themselves cast away on a similar tropical paradise — have to chose three strains that will have to sustain them. I’m still undecided how firm we should make the “one-from-each-type” mandate — wherein the guest must pick one sativa, one indica and one hybrid; there’s so much blurring of many strains already, their genetics a tossup. One could as easily suggest we divvy them a morning strain, an afternoon strain and an evening strain — which is kind of how I see all cannabis anyway. I use particular strains at particular times of the day because I want the expected effects from that strain.

Part of the un-learning we all have to do about cannabis is the idea that it does only one thing — get you high. Yes, absolutely — if you sit down and smoke yourself silly with pretty much any strain, you’ll end up silly — or asleep. But there are remarkable differences between a sativa like The Fork (well, 70% sativa according to Wikileaf) and an indica like Northern Lights. The Fork is not for casual users; but then, I’m not a casual user. It’s great for when you’ve got five thing to do or think of at the exact same time because it brings not only focus (as any good sativa should) but a real capacity for multi-faceted thinking. Northern Lights, on the other hand, is a classic indica strain with crazy high THC, usually well north of 30%. A few hits of Norther Lights plus about fifteen minutes (indicas tend to come on more slowly than sativas) should produce a gentle, warm buzz that eventually evolves into an exquisite wooziness and full on sleepiness. From the day I first swapped my OTC sleep meds for cannabis — about six years ago now — I have slept wonderfully. So, a strain that delivers quality sleep is a strain I’m interested in sampling or even buying.

So — if I was going to be stuck on a desert island (and, hopefully my reading matter and other entertainments was accounted for) — with only three cannabis strains to see me through, which three would I choose?

As waking & baking would be the one thing on my schedule each day, I need my day-time strain — my sativa — here on the island to be not only the breakfast of champions but its lunch, too. DURBAN POISON is a classic; each of my Desert Island strains is. One of my criteria for inclusion is availability. I’ve had some great strains that, it turned out, were one-and-done at whatever dispensary or delivery service I found it. Lucid Blue, Jack The Ripper, Casey Jones, Clementine — I keep the empty vials I use to store my cannabis — each with its own home made label — in the hope of one day finding it again because my experience with it was so extraordinary. Durban Poison isn’t as everywhere as Blue Dream or Jack Herer but it’s around.

Durban Poison… Not merely a good sativa, a great one!

DP delivers a lovely, wide beam of even mental focus that you can turn on anything and increase your productivity. Not only do I use DP as one of my regular go-to workday strains, I also use it when I play tennis (which I do at least twice a week). The DP helps my focus on the court the same as it does when I stare at my computer monitor. On the one hand, everything simply slows down. It’s easier to find my timing with a hit of DP in me. I see the ball clearly. I can even see its spin if I’m really dialed in. My game improves perceptibly because my timing becomes more precise. On the other hand, I become more “coachable”. The cannabis’ euphoric effects prevent me from ever beating myself up. The coaching reinforcement rather is entirely positive.

When it’s quittin’ time, I turn to my hybrid collection. One wants to be chill but not at all asleep. If a movie’s one, the strain should make it even better than you remembered or better than you expected it to be. Food should taste amazing — and the strain itself should make you want to leap into a pile of snack food. If people are around, the strain needs to be highly social. Great for loving and laughing. My go-to here is GG4. Formerly known as Gorilla Glue, this strain is ubiquitous but deserving of its ubiquity. The high is big and euphoric; I’ve used it often in the past as the basis for a “platform” — a strain that I start a session with. Smoking Durban Poison atop GG4 gives a real boost to the already boostful Durban Poison. By the same “toke-en” (sorry, couldn’t help myself), GG4, in addition to being a great strain to spend an entire evening with, also partners well with other hybrids and also with indicas to start one’s evening off perfectly.

GG4
Northern Lights

NORTHERN LIGHTS would be my indica. It could almost just as easily be Kosher Kush, King Louie XIII, LA Confidential, White Empress, Diamond or Suicide Girl. But, Northern Lights — the last batch I bought said it’s THC level was 33% — always manages to squeeze that last bit of compis mentis from my brain. About twice a week, after I’ve taken my second or third indica (I usually do three different ones when it’s time for bed), right when I expect a blanket of wooziness to slowly settle over me, inspiring me to go the hell to bed, I get a sudden burst of creative energy. Suddenly the idea I was struggling with all day, presents a simple and elegant answer. I have found myself a half hour later, pages deep into something I didn’t know I was ready to write but apparently was.

The good thing about writing on cannabis — as opposed to writing on, say, alcohol — is that the work product is almost always what you expected it to be. There’s a reason Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton and all the musicians who invented jazz invented jazz while smoking cannabis. They were trying to reproduce something complex that was inside their heads on a musical instrument. One simply can’t do that with alcohol or coke or heroin. One certainly could create without using drugs; but, as anyone who’s smoked dope and then sat down to be creative knows, there’s simply nothing like it.

Some day — sooner than any of us expected, it turns out — we will all finally get to step out of Harry Anslinger’s long shadow. America’s first drug czar, Anslinger almost singlehandedly created the “reefer madness” mythology that became our drug policy. When that day happens, we may finally get to see cannabis as a remarkable adjunct to living a happy, successful life. Which it is — and always has been.

If you’ve gotten this far — thank you! More to the point, please let me know what YOUR Desert Island Strains would be. Someone oughta start a damned podcast!

In Cannabis Veritas

In vino veritas is how the original goes: in wine there is truth. Actually, the original original goes in libris veritas: in books there is truth. Books has it right. Wine… not so much. Oh, the occasional drunk may spew out how they really feel about you or the world in that instant, but the truth is, they’re not “in touch” with themselves. They can’t be with all that alcohol in them. I’m kind of a “control group” on the topic. I used to drink. To excess (if I’m honest with myself). I used to think I was just getting “truthful” by cracking the next bottle. My personal experience says “in vino veritas” is bullshit.

I stopped drinking four years ago, just after I started taking a mood stabilizer to help moderate the deep, dark depression I was in. The personal depression I’d been working on for ten years got subsumed inside the national depression that began when Donald Trump stole election 2016. After coming within literal inches of offing myself, I took the plunge into mood stabilizers (having feared that plunge as much as my depression). Fortunately for me, I leveled almost immediately at the minimum dose. Bullseye. Lamotrigine — at the minimum dose — kept my darkness at bay; it could no longer “get at” me. The bad news: the lamotrigine gave all alcohol a terrible, grapefruit skin-like aftertaste that just ruined the whole experience.

I became like Alex in A Clockwork Orange —

When “dosed”, the violent criminal suddenly couldn’t abide violence — to his own peril. In my case, this lover-of-all-things-alcohol suddenly couldn’t abide the taste of alcohol. Well, the aftertaste. Even a great, structured red wine, its tannins as supple as its fruit was dense suddenly became… grapefruit skin. Just… unbearable.

Good thing my one remaining vice was cannabis. And good thing I lived in California where cannabis is legal. Because in cannabis veritas.

I’ve told my story here about how I morphed from a guy who didn’t really care much about cannabis (sure, it should be completely legal!) into a guy who loudly and shamelessly advocates for the stuff because it’s become such an important part of my quotidian life. Yeah, yeah, yeah — it’s not everyone’s answer (thank goodness we got THAT out of the way). But, for those who cannabis can help? There are myriad ways it can help you. Myriad ways it can improve the quality of your life. I truly use cannabis from the start of my day to the very end.

In addition to being depressed, it turns out I’m bi-polar. My darkness is matched by hypomania. Thoughts don’t just fly around inside my head, they explode into life constantly. I don’t mind that. My only problem is it’s distracting. They’re all squirrels and I’m just a dog. I can chase one or two; I can’t chase them all. Cannabis — sativas during the day time — slows the mania down. My brain is like a black box theater — think of a shoebox, painted black inside, turned upside down. It’s a simple black space inside which anything can happen. At any one time, a dozen or so things are being projected onto the walls, the floor, the ceiling. Some are in technicolor, some black-and-white. A few are even in sepia. Music plays. All kinds. And there are smells and sounds and did I mention the comedians sprinkled through the crowd? Those guys kill.

A sativa like Durban Poison acts like a scrim. It falls gently — quieting most of the projections and noise — allowing me to focus on just one or two. And suddenly — another benefit of the cannabis — I can see or hear or smell or taste whatever I’m focusing on with remarkable clarity. Food really does taste better on weed. Smells are more distinct. Music deeper and more soulful. Or fun. Things “seem” funnier, in part, because you’re appreciating them from a deeper place. It really is funnier than you realized — and the fact that you just realized how much funnier it is? THAT’S effin’ hilarious!

I wrote “straight” most of my professional life. I know what that is. Having written with cannabis in my system now for a half dozen years, I can honestly say — I’m better on cannabis. Maybe that’s because I enjoy writing more on cannabis. Cannabis makes writing easier — because the thoughts come easier. I feel more in tune with where the thoughts are coming from.

As I wrote about in Blunt Truths, the series about cannabis prohibition I wrote for Weedmaps News (back when that was a “thing”), marijuana played a big part in the invention of jazz. When the mostly Black musicians gathering in New Orleans in the first decade of the 20th century tried to get at the music inside their heads, they didn’t turn to alcohol to help get at it. Alcohol dulls. Opioids? Are you kidding? They dull creativity worse than alcohol. Marijuana, on the other hand, takes your creativity in hand and lets it soar.

Louis Armstrong, like the rest of the amazing musicians around him, were imaging what classical European music would sound like if you larded it with African music. What if you filled in all those spaces European music left with more music? What if the musician was allowed to improvise and build on what the music’s composer wrote? What if you tried using diminished keys and odd beat structures?

As I wrote in Blunt Truths, the worst thing Harry Anslinger ever did was invent the whole “Reefer Madness” myth that cannabis is the “Assassin of Youth”. He didn’t care about “marihuana” (his spelling) when he first became America’s first Commissioner of the now defunct Federal Bureau of Narcotics because, at the time, only Mexicans and Black people used it. It wasn’t until marijuana headed up the Mississippi along with the musicians heading north — and suddenly white people were smoking it. White people using something black and brown people used? That was wholly unacceptable to raging racist Harry Anslinger.

It’s a stone cold fact: the reason marijuana was made illegal is racism. Racism, racism and more racism. Not for two seconds did anyone legislating to illegalize cannabis EVER ask “But, is it bad for you?” Anslinger succeeded in making marijuana illegal (actually, the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 makes not paying the hefty tax on the sale and purchase of marijuana illegal) over the objections of the American Medical Association.

We have lived in Harry Anslinger’s shadow all this time, thinking marijuana was something that it isn’t.

Yes, I write with loads and loads of cannabis in me. I do everything with loads of cannabis in me. Tennis, for instance. The same Durban Poison that delivers a smooth, focused “high” (ask my wife — I’m never ever “high”; I’m either focused or asleep) that makes writing a pleasure also takes my tennis game up a few notches. With a hit or two of DP in me, the ball slows down. I listen better to my own inner coaching. I spot the ball better off my opponent’s racket and — with everything slowed down inside my head — go through the step-by-step needed to successfully put the ball back across the net where and how I want it.

As my working ends and my evening begins, I turn again to cannabis. I’m not interested in being insensate. But — again — a hybrid like GG4 or Dutch Treat mitigates the cacophony. The feeling of mild euphoria that settles over you — it doesn’t disconnect you from the world, instead, it fuses you to everything.

As we speak, various members of my immediate and extended family are all either turned on to the benefits of cannabis already or becoming aware of them. My mom uses CBD oil to deal with an arthritic knee. CBD was her last stop before opioids. The CBD works great — and she feels better overall and sleeps better too.

If we see a product from the point of view of its benefits versus its detriments, cannabis (in all its various forms) is sliced bread. Why the hell wouldn’t you want it (if you want bread)?

This morning, I tried, for the first time, a sativa called The Fork. Where Durban Poison delivers a stead flow of very even-feeling focus, The Fork delivered strong free-associative thought. My mind went plenty of places — and burrowed into each of those places. This blog post popped into my mind.

And then onto the page.

I’ve written stuff on alcohol and cocaine that, as I was madly typing it, I was sure was genius. When I went back to look at it afterwards, it wasn’t even good typing.

Hey, for all I know, what The Fork inspired in me was pure crap. You’ll be the judge. But (and you’ll have to trust me on this) the typing’s sheer genius.

Why Did We Ever Criminalize Drug Use To Begin With? Because Judging People Is Easier Than Helping Them…

The “war on drugs” was never a war on “drugs”. Like the drug laws it was meant to epitomize, the drug war was always entirely focused on drug users. And not just the users because they were using, but on their race.

First Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics Harry Anslinger spells it out: our drug laws are all about racism, racism & more racism.

The first drug law in America was written in 1875 in San Francisco — aimed at stopping the spread of opium dens. A noble idea. No one wants to live near an opium den. And, it’s a fact, opium is highly addictive. It needs to be approached with care; even doctor’s get prescribing it horribly wrong. But the law itself — as written — wasn’t concerned with anyone’s neighborhood getting ruined. It wasn’t concerned with anyone getting addicted. In fact, it had no data on hand to justify any concerns it might have about opium’s impact on its users’ health — if it had had any such concerns which it didn’t.

This is from the Schaffer Library of Drug Policy via Wikipedia

The reason cited was “many women and young girls, as well as young men of respectable family, were being induced to visit the Chinese opium-smoking dens, where they were ruined morally and otherwise.”

This law and virtually every opium law that followed drew an important distinction that would ripple through history.

“Though the laws affected the use and distribution of opium by Chinese immigrants, no action was taken against the producers of such products as laudanum, a tincture of opium and alcohol, commonly taken as a panacea by white Americans. The distinction between its use by white Americans and Chinese immigrants was thus based on the form in which it was ingested: Chinese immigrants tended to smoke it, while it was often included in various kinds of generally liquid medicines often (but not exclusively) used by people of European descent. The laws targeted opium smoking, but not other methods of ingestion.

Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Sound familiar? Depending on whether you snorted cocaine as most white people did or smoked it as crack as lots of black people did, the drug laws treated you differently. The laws punished smoking coke far more harshly than snorting it. Same drug, same basic impact on the user — but different law and (especially) different, harsher penalty. And still not a single concern for the user him or herself and the drug’s impact on their well-being.

The very illegalization of drugs has always been about judging the drugs’ users. Let’s face it — white Europeans are the biggest bullies on the planet. They’re professional hegemonists — spreading their culture and “true faith” like an STD. But, even when the Europeans weren’t judging others because they were “others”, they were judging other Europeans for being “weak” and punishing them for their weakness.

In America, prior to enactment of the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act, there were no federal laws regulating drugs of any kind. The very real health concerns about opioids aside, the drug laws simply didn’t consider them or even refer to them in its legislation. It wasn’t the point. Here’s the key to the Harrison act: “The courts interpreted [it] to mean that physicians could prescribe narcotics to patients in the course of normal treatment, but not for the treatment of addiction.”

What that means for this highly addictive drug — doctors could prescribe it to relieve pain but once the cause of the pain stopped (and who is to say whether another person is feeling pain or not?), so did the opioid — regardless of what cutting it off did to the user. The law willfully condemned people to suffer. It denied their physical pain — and then wanted to punish them for ever experiencing pain to begin with.

Where does that come from?

Look to your bible. America has always had a strange love for religion — especially a twisted form of Christianity that perverts “Do unto others” to “Do what we say”. The Puritans may have been seeking religious freedom in the Massachusetts Colony, but that was only for themselves. There were reasons no one back in England liked them (and so made them feel despised): they were judgmental. And, while the Salem witch trials were an anomaly, they did reflect Puritanism’s witchcraft-fearing id running wild.

The witchcraft trials were to women what drug laws would later be to black and brown people.

Jesus taught simply “Do Unto Others”. He didn’t say “judge them” or “force your way on them”. The meek, Jesus said, shall inherit the earth. He didn’t say they’d have to do it drug-free. Just as well, as drugs go, there are few as terrible as religion.

Marx got it wrong. Religion isn’t the opiate of the people. If all it did was sedate them, that would be bad enough. It incites them — like angel dust or meth — to mean, dangerous, soulless behavior. Religion (vs spirituality — a very different thing) doesn’t care about what’s hurting them, what’s causing them pain. It’s got its own rules and regs to push. It’s followers are there to do what they’re told not be attended to. They’re a flock of sheep after all. And no one wants an “uppity” sheep.

The painful irony is that alcohol prohibition sprang from a very progressive ideal. It was Europeans judging how Europeans behaved when effected by a European-approved intoxicant: alcohol. And alcohol was a very real problem for a lot of Americans in the latter part of the 19th century when support for prohibition began to grow. But, as we know, in the whole history of human beings, prohibition has never worked — not as intended.

In America, alcohol prohibition criminalized virtually the entire adult population and turned organized crime from a local problem to a national one. Criminal syndicates suddenly had a product to sell — alcohol — that everyone wanted but only they had. We’re still dealing with the mess.

Prohibition may stop people from using a substance because getting it is hard — but it won’t stop them from wanting it. It won’t stop them from gerryrigging ways to either get it or craft a replacement of dubious safety. In general, prohibition wants a grey world to be black & white regardless of how grey it’s always been and always will be.

In America, there was a twist: prohibition wanted the world to be white only. The opium laws (first written in San Francisco) were meant to punish Chinese people brought to America to work — who dared relax in the way they liked. Using the same racist playbook, the first marijuana laws were written to first punish “Hindoos” who “…started quite a demand for cannabis indica; they are a very undesirable lot and the habit is growing in California very fast; the fear is now that it is not being confined to the Hindoos alone but that they are initiating our whites into this habit.”

“Initiating our whites into this habit”. There you have it. No one cared about the Hindoos as people — just as later laws wouldn’t care about individual Mexicans or blacks using marijuana. The laws cared about the white people — about white people doing something “black” or “brown” or “yellow” did. And that was entirely unacceptable.

America’s drug laws have never, ever, EVER been about anyone’s health and always about racism with a side of hatred for “the weak”. Our drug laws mirror something demented in our religious fervor. They speak for it.

Racism is fear. Drug laws are that fear’s manifestation in the law. They’re legalized forms of institutional racism. Period.

In America, Christianity was used more as a cudgel than as a sanctuary. Slavers pointed to the bible to justify their cruelty. Bible thumpers continued pointing at their “good book” to justify miscegenation laws that prevented black people from marrying white people. They used their book to justify all sorts of racist claptrap.

Imagine the audacity of judging love. It’s as stupid and heartless as judging another person’s pain.

No wonder everyone fleeing religion needs a drink.

Blunt Truth — Marijuana Prohibition Was ALWAYS About RACISM And Nothing But

From the get-go, every impulse to regulate cannabis has been based on racism.

When the California Pharmacy Board amended the state’s Poison Act in 1913 to include marijuana in the “poisons” under its control, they were simply piling onto the racist legislation that began in 1875 when California passed America’s first anti-narcotics laws to “combat” opium dens. Translation: to legalize anti-Chinese racism and bigotry. Up until 1910, no one had an issue with marijuana because no one in America knew what it was.

But, a keen-eyed California racist named Henry J. Finger — a prominent member of the Pharmacy Board — saw something that needed to be stamped out quickly.

I wrote a series — Blunt Truths — for Weedmaps News (back when they were a going concern) about this very subject. I’m biased but I recommend it. At the time, Weedmaps News was being run by journalists including the former LA Times journalist who hired me to write for them — so long as I adhered to journalistic standards. In other words — I couldn’t rely on bullshit to tell the story I wanted to tell. Among the sources I relied on because of their reliability was Dale Gieringer, PhD., a NORML board member. I highly recommend his The Forgotten Origins Of Cannabis Prohibition In California. It’s loaded with fascinating information that will change the way you think about cannabis.

Considering the radical shift in how we see race relations in America that’s happening right this second — Gieringer’s insights take on greater resonance.

For a taste. Here’s Gieringer citing a correspondence between Henry Finger and Hamilton Wright (in 1911 when Wright is the chief architect of US narcotics policy) —

“Within the last year we in California have been getting a large influx of Hindoos and they have in turn started quite a demand for cannabis indica; they are a very undesirable lot and the habit is growing in California very fast…the fear is now that they are initiating our whites into this habit…”

Gieringer notes: “The “Hindoos,” actually East Indian immigrant of Sikh religion and Punjabi origin, had become a popular target of anti-immigrant sentiment after several boatloads arrived in San Francisco in 1910. Their arrival sparked an uproar of protest from Asian exclusionists, who pronounced them to be even more unfit for American civilization than the Chinese.” Immigration authorities quickly cut off the flow. The roughly 2000 “Hindoos” apparently became a threat. They were “widely denounced for their outlandish customs, dirty clothes, strange food, suspect morals, and especially their propensity to work for low wages… no one complained about their use of cannabis. To the contrary, their defenders portrayed them as hard-working and sober. “The taking of drugs as a habit scarcely exists among them,” wrote one observer.”

Henry Finger persisted. “By this time, another menace had appeared on the horizon: “marihuana” had begun to penetrate north of the border from Mexico, carried by immigrants and soldiers during the revolutionary disorders of 1910 – 1920 [aka The Mexican Revolution]. Though hardly known to the American public, marihuana or “loco-weed” was noticed by the pharmacy journals.”

And there you have it. The Pharmacy Board — a supposedly scientific body — was crafting legislation without an ounce of science in it. But there sure was plenty of racism.

Thus marijuana prohibition began. The legislation that followed — most of it with actual “Reefer Madness” in its heart — was driven by America’s first Commissioner of the Federal Narcotics Bureau Harry J. Anslinger — our first “drug czar”. And Anslinger behaved like a drug CZAR. Anslinger — once he came around to the “marihuana is a scourge” point of view (he started out insisting it was harmless) — invented most of what we still think about cannabis. He literally pulled it out of his ass.

His very RACIST ass.

Let’s be clear. Harry Anslinger is a villain not just because he was a racist. He’s a villain because he was also an excellent bureaucrat who knew how to manipulate the system to get what he wanted. Anslinger knew how to go to the press — as the respected, trustworthy Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics — with lies (Mexicans and blacks are selling marihuana to our children) that the press would then print — which Anslinger would then hold up as proof that Mexicans and blacks were selling marihuana to our children.

Neat trick, huh?

It’s important to understand what turned Anslinger. What convinced him that cannabis was more dangerous than opium? It was the exact same thing that bothered Henry Finger — not the what, the WHO. WHO was using marijuana. So long as Mexicans and black jazz musicians kept marijuana to themselves, racists like Anslinger might have been able to tolerate it to a degree.

The trouble was white people started taking up the habit — and that was totally unacceptable to Anslinger. Cannabis was illegalized in America to keep white people from using it and to punish black and brown people for “poisoning Americans” with it.

In the 1950’s, after 20 years of selling marijuana prohibition with racism, Anslinger expanded the franchise. World War Two caused profound physical pain to a staggering number of people. In response, opioids exploded in availability. So did opioid addiction. With fear of “Reefer Madness” waning, Anslinger invented “the gateway theory” to reinvigorate the public’s passion for prohibition.

The “gateway theory” — that cannabis is a gateway drug to heroin — is based on zero research. It’s an abuse of statistics and nothing more. But, when the Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics says it, so the public thinks, it must be so! The gateway theory gained traction and acceptance. And, racist bully that he was, Anslinger used the occasion to increase the punishments for drug-related crimes — knowing full well on whose backs these new, even more cruel punishments would fall most: black people and brown people.

Anslinger retired in 1962 — on his 70th birthday. But the racism Anslinger had instilled remained. In the late 1960’s, with American soldiers returning from Vietnam with cannabis in their duffel bags, Richard Nixon declared a “War On Drugs”. Nixon — a drinker — didn’t declare a war on alcohol (though he abused it). He declared a war on everyone else’s medication — marijuana especially.

The War on Drugs was (and remains) a war on People Of Color. When Anslinger went to legislate marijuana prohibition, he bumped into a problem: there’s no constitutional basis for making marijuana illegal. The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 does not, in fact, make marijuana illegal (because it couldn’t). Instead, the act imposes a very steep (in fact onerous) tax every time one bought or sold marijuana or hemp. In order to prove you’d paid the tax, you needed a stamp.

Problem was — the stamp was not available. By design. Everyone who bought or sold marijuana (or hemp) would therefore break the rule 1) by not paying the tax (who were you supposed to pay it to anyway?) and 2) by not getting the stamp. The first two arrests for “tax evasion” — occurred within 24 hours of the act’s signing — two men from Denver (Sam Caldwell and Moses Baca) were caught, one for selling, the other for buying. They both went to prison.

Our drug laws are morally wrong because they’ve got nothing to do with drugs — and never ever have.

Musings On Marijuana

I didn’t start out a pot guy.

When I was in high school back in the 70’s, marijuana was around. A guy I was friendly with was a hard core stoner; he stank of weed in class and watched us all with a strange, pleased detachment I now recognize as euphoria. On the occasions when I was in the same place and time as a lit joint, the stuff put me right to sleep.

In college, my friend Drew convinced me to use a big chunk of my semester’s money (the money my parents put into my bank account to pay for books and other incidentals) to buy a pound of marijuana that, he said, we’d sell, making both of us lots of money. I knew Drew was a fan of marijuana. I didn’t realize his fandom would cost us our profits. I made back my “investment”. Barely.

When I was in college — and in the years afterwards — coke was more appealing. It kicked things into a higher gear. That’s what we told ourselves. Frankly, considering how much that powder we were snorting was stepped on, I’d be shocked if there was anything stronger than aspirin in it. Ecstasy also was appealing. I had lots of great ecstasy trips. And one awesome experience with shrooms and a U2 concert at LA’s Colliseum.

Oh, and I drank. Wine mostly. And gin martinis. And beer. And single malt scotch. Yeah, I drank. Throw a decade-long depression into the mix and daily use of (utterly useless!) over-the-counter sleeping meds and it was probably no wonder that I couldn’t sleep for shit. I was asking too much of my poor brain.

This was about five years ago. I was beside myself for a number of reasons. Lack of sleep wasn’t helping any. I did not want to take anything pharmaceutical. That wouldn’t solve my problem; it would only exacerbate it. Living in California, where pot is legal — pot that always put me to sleep in the past — I figured, what the hell?

Long story short. From the first night where I used marijuana as my sleep aid, my life changed. I began sleeping. Now, I still don’t sleep a ton. If I can do five hours — I’m good for the day (with a couple of brief naps along the way). The mood stabilizer I started using five years ago — that helped cage my darkness, keeping it at bay — has an un-noted side effect: it gives all alcohol an unpleasant aftertaste — like grapefruit skin.

My first visit to my first dispensary put Skywalker in my hand (and in the little glass pipe I bought; I can’t roll a joint to save my or anyone’s life). On my return, I wanted to know what was in all the other glass jars filled to the brim with weed? It turned out the thing I now used every day to sleep was called “indica”. But there was also “sativas” and “hybrids”.

As I wrote about myself in Blunt Truths (the 13 part series I did for Weedmaps News), we were and remain bamboozled by a totally bullshit mythology about marijuana that was invented out of whole cloth by America’s first “drug czar”, Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics Harry Anslinger. We — as a culture — are still almost entirely misinformed about cannabis — what it does to us, how it does to us, why it does to us. The law still treats cannabis like its effects on our brains was the exact same as alcohol’s.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

As I’ve learned from experience — and what a wonderful experience it’s been — cannabis can be part of your whole day if you want it to be. And I’m talking about highly productive days. Yeah, if I did nothing but smoke Skywalker or King Louis XII or Northern Lights or 9 Lb Hammer (or any of the other indicas in my collection — I like to keep a dozen or so on hand — I really, really like having choices if I can afford to), I would get very little done.

But not nothing. Funny thing about indicas. Yeah, they put me to sleep. Eventually. But I’ve gotten used to a sudden creative blast — usually after I’ve taken my second or third hit. Whatever creative problem I was working on when I quit for the day? Suddenly the answer is there.

I wrote the whole logline and concept premise for the TV show I’m about to take out a few weeks ago moments before I thought I was about to slip into bed. The wooziness was wonderful. And then the idea dropped. I walked calmly to my desk, sat down and wrote the whole thing.

Now, with alcohol, when one returns to the “genius” alcohol inspired the night before, it’s never genius. It’s barely legible ffs. With cannabis it’s the exact opposite. As I also wrote about in Blunt Truths, marijuana use spread slowly in the early 20th century. It started out mostly in the south west (California especially following the surge of people that entered the state fleeing the Mexican Revolution — 1910). By the 1920’s use had reached New Orleans where it was taken up by the mostly black musicians who were creating a new musical form called “jazz”.

Guys like Louis Armstrong (a self-avowed fan who was punished for being a fan) recognized that while you couldn’t create music or play music on booze or opium, you absolutely could on marijuana. Whereas alcohol dulled the senses and opium obliterated them, cannabis “excited” them. While it makes you feel calm and euphoric, marijuana also makes the senses more acute. You can smell more intensely, hear with more clarity and see more detail. Nuance does not get lost to a mind happily soaking in THC. If anything, a mind soaking in THC can get a little too absorbed in nuance.

If you’re creating things — a story, a song, an idea — nuance is everything. Creativity and cannabis go together brilliantly.

What scared Harry Anslinger into declaring war on marijuana (he insisted it wasn’t worth worrying about previously) was white people starting to use it.

The story of marijuna in America is another story about racism. The only reason cannabis was ever illegalized was racism. Not for two seconds did Harry Anslinger or any other moral scold determined to prohibit cannabis use ever research cannabis to prove its negative effects. They never cared about what it did to people (positive or negative). They only cared who was using it (originally).

As my wife recently told a friend who wondered what it’s like being married to a guy who’s stoned all the time, “I’ve never seen him ‘high’.”

That’s true. I know what’s meant by “high”. It’s the very real feeling of euphoria just before I fall asleep. In that sense, I get do get high every day. But, until that point, I have no interest in being “high”. I’m only interested in being productive. When I wake & bake, that baking needs to produce product. My creative day starts around 5 am with a cup of joe (I like it take-no-prisoners dark) and a bowl of sativa. In the mix this morning: Durban Poison (always!) Casey Jones, Ghost Train Haze, Willy Wonka & Alaskan Thunderfuck.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of your mind focusing in on something as the first waves of THC roll across your brain. When I really want to focus on the stuff I’m focusing on, I haul out the Trainwreck. Trainwreck’s a hybrid but there’s nothing quite like it.

Before I tried it the first time, I read somewhere that Trainwreck made you feel like cleaning your house. I thought that was funny. It’s goddamned true! Something about Trainwreck makes you super-focused and, yeah, you do get a sudden jones to clean the house. With a toothbrush (someone else’s).

It’s even better when used to write.

At the end of the day, since I no longer drink, the call goes out again to cannabis. It ain’t Miller Time, it’s Hybrids Time. Dutch Treat… Pineapple Express… Bruce Banner… Snowcap… White Widow. A friend gave me some home-grown Apple Fritter that’s awesome! Good hybrids produce feelings of calm. Of perspective.

A friend and I went to ss, LA’s first cannabis cafe not long after it opened. The line to get in was huge (this was pre-pandemic). So, interestingly, was the line to get a job there.

They didn’t serve alcohol then (don’t know if they did when they shut for the pandemic) but it wasn’t needed. The whole vibe inside the cafe was unlike anything I’d experienced before. Because there’s no alcohol, there’s less glass moving around. People aren’t there to drink (though staying hydrated is important). Consequently, there isn’t the constant clinking of glasses. Also missing — that manic edge that alcohol slowly asserts on a room.

Since I stopped drinking I have witnessed rooms filled with my friends (and rooms filled with strangers) as they devolved from easy-going coherence to alcohol-fueled testiness. The laughing gets louder and a little more crazed, uninhibited. There’s plenty of laughter in a room filled with cannabis users. Even more laughter than there is in a room filled with drinkers.

But the sound is different. Whether they were leaning forward or sitting back, everyone in that room was relaxed. Mellow. Their conversations — and their laughter — reflected the mellow more than anything. Being in a room filled with stoned people is nothing like being in a room with drunks.

Then, of course, everyone in that room (being as we were all given a 90 minute time limit after which we were vacating our table by rule), went out to the parking lot, got their keys back from the valet and drove home (or back to the office). If those people had all been drinking, there would have been the constant sound of cars smashing into each other right there where their parking lot met the street.

No such thing happened. I walked back to my car (I parked on the street), my friend walked to his car and we both drove home.

As I’ve also written about, the actual data — there IS data — says cannabis doesn’t effect how we drive under its influence the same way alcohol does. That fact befuddles researchers determined that cannabis does impact our brains the same way. As plenty of athletes already know, cannabis improves focus — which, in turn, improves performance. I smoke Durban Poison before I play tennis. It slows my thoughts down. Gives me time to process them. With DP in my head, my timing improves considerably. Seeing the ball (my bugaboo) becomes easier.

There’s a reason, once the opposition to cannabis started cracking, that the opposition fell to pieces quickly. It’s the same reason LGBTQ rights became viabe so quickly. And the same reason Black Lives suddenly Matter. The Truth has always been apparent.

Like the show X Files used to tell us, the Truth is “out there”.

The Truth also rests inside the bowl of Strawberry Durban Diesel I’m about to smoke. The one thing I know for a fact the Durban Diesel and its truth will do? They will set me free!