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Friday, October 24, 2008

This Week on Drugs

posted by on October 24 at 5:45 PM

Winning: Massachusetts initiative to decriminalize marijuana leading by 19-point margin.

Whining: Drug Czar--the one who claims he looooooves treatment--he's campaigning against treatment in California.

obesity_drug_guy.jpg Supersizing: This guy has a new anti-obesity drug.

Searching: Service rents out drug-sniffing dogs to find pot in your kid's bedroom.

Saving: Meth head saves fellow inmates life.

Harshing: Man sentenced to three and a half years in prison for smuggling cigarettes into the UK.

Grounded: Drunk pilot arrested at Heathrow.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Overheard in My Apartment

posted by on October 21 at 9:23 PM

“That’s probably the best game I ever invented: it’s called Give a Bum a Nug.”

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Re: The Morning News

posted by on October 15 at 9:10 AM

I have to disagree with your characterization of Paul Shukovsky's pot-bust story in this morning's PI, Erica.

While he's certainly been guilty of stupid fucking credulous hackery when covering grow-op busts in the past—filing pieces about grow-op busts that quoted only supporters of the war on pot, i.e. DEA agents, prosecutors, and cops—Shukovsky recently redeemed himself by including a quote from a board member from NORML in what was, when it was originally posted to the PI's website, just another standard-issue, SFCH piece about a pot bust. And in his piece today about grow-op busts in Kent, Federal Way, Seattle and Des Moines—all run by a large and enterprising family of Vietnamese immigrants—Shukovsky once again includes a quote from that NORML board member:

Jeff Steinborn, who represents one of the defendants in the second case, questions the use of scarce federal investigative resources to go after marijuana growers.

"Somewhere along the line in the federal criminal justice system, our priorities got capsized," said Steinborn, who is a member of the board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "Look at all the crime out there that needs to be investigated."

Shukovsky's piece still gives way more space to DEA talking point than we might (ahem), but at least it offers some balance, at least it lets PI readers know that there are people out there who think that what we're doing now—raiding grow-ops, arresting dealers, busting pot smokers—is a waste of time and money. And that's what we were after when we started calling out daily reporters by name on their stupid fucking credulous hackery. We weren't after anti-drug war screeds—we can run those—just the kind of objectivity and balance that daily paper editors and writers are always praising themselves for providing. From an earlier SFCH post:

The dailies do an awful lot of reporting on the War on Drugs. But they don’t cover it like they cover every other story—they refuse to. On this issue, and this issue alone, daily papers act as if there aren’t two sides to the story, as if there aren’t activists and organizations and politicians on the other side of this issue. There are activists and organizations and politicians out there who think what that we’re doing now—tearing up pot plants, arresting pot smokers—is futile and ridiculous and unjust and waste of money and lives. But they are never quoted in these pieces, they are never asked for comment, their existence isn’t even hinted at.

Paul Shukovsky is more than hinting at the existence of those people now—he's getting quotes from them—well, he's getting quotes from one of them. It's a start, and Shukovsky and his editors deserve some credit for making the effort.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

There Go My Golden Years

posted by on October 14 at 10:23 AM

Wine may get better with age but the wine drinkers won't.

The more alcohol you drink, the more your brain shrinks, a new study has found.

"The take-home message is that, if you drink a lot, you're going to hurt your brain," said Rajesh Miranda, an associate professor of neuroscience and experimental therapeutics at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. "This is something we knew, but this is a huge study that quantifies that." ...

[T]he more a person drank, the more their brain volume diminished. This relationship was somewhat more pronounced in women, although women tended to be lighter drinkers.

Friday, October 10, 2008

This Week on Drugs

posted by on October 10 at 6:23 PM

Joe Pony Keg: Frat boy found dead in a “pool of vomit.”

Jesus, That’s a Lot of Pot Smokers: October marks 20 millionth pot arrest since it was prohibited in 1937.

Too Bad: We don’t have much to show for it.

Rockefeller Horror: The push to overturn New York’s incomprehensibly fucked up Rockefeller drug laws.

Blow Away: Man freed after substance turns out to not be cocaine.

Not That Anyone Should Vote Based on This: Voters guide to drug reform.

Don't Vote Based on This, Either: Judge flips out over Michigan’s medical marijuana initiative.

The Tokenator: Vetoes employment bill for pot patients. He "always knew how to enjoy" pot, he says, and here’s a video of him enjoying it. But Arnold doesn’t want you employing people like him, okay?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

King County Refuses Medical Marijuana Cases, State Senator Seeks to Strengthen Law

posted by on October 9 at 4:30 PM

Ten years after Washington voters passed a medical marijuana law, patients in King County finally have a decree protecting them from prosecution. Under the law passed by voters in 1998, patients were allowed an ambiguous 60-day supply, which meant they could be arrested and prosecuted for any amount.

On Tuesday, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg wrote a memo to all county law-enforcement agencies, including city police and county sheriff’s deputies, which says the prosecutor’s office “will decline to prosecute legitimate patients who qualify under the law if they reasonably adhere to the dictates of the statute.” Patients with serious illnesses may possess a "24 ounces of usable marijuana and 15 plants."

The Department of Health set those plant and dried-weight amounts last week, as required by the legislature in 2007. But those amounts are technically only "presumptive quantity," meaning law enforcement officers may continue to arrest patients for any amount of marijuana and require the patients to make a defense in court.

Satterberg’s memo represents a generous interpretation of the law. By stating that he will not charge any person with a physician's authorization to possess marijuana, the medical marijuana law essentially carries protection from arrest.

But tacit arrest protection in one county is not enough for State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles. “I am really looking to what I might offer and introduce as legislation,” she says. She is considering a bill for the 2009 session that would offer total protection from arrest statewide and allow patients to grow in cooperatives. "We have some defense in the law now, but I think we could use more," she says.

Satterberg’s memo goes on to say that he will “look with a very lenient eye” toward patients who would qualify for medical marijuana but lack proper paperwork. It also says his prosecutors “do not wish to prosecute” co-operative gardens involving more than one patient.

Although 24 ounces and 15 plants may seem like an excessive quantity of pot, especially to people like me—for whom a bong hit causes a minor out-of-body experience—patients disagree. That amount covers the maximum quantity patients would possess at any time in the cultivation cycle, such as right after harvesting. Twenty-four ounces may have to last for five or six months of daily use, while a new crop of plants mature.

Friday, October 3, 2008

This Week on Drugs

posted by on October 3 at 6:02 PM

Joe Six Pack: Makes a dashing re-entrance into the American lexicon, thanks to Sarah Palin. The term suggests that average Americans go home every night and drink an entire fucking six pack. Or that they look like this guy...


Please Make a Note of It: Don’t call police to your house about a burglary if you’re growing pot inside.

Some Crazy Shit: Ecstasy smuggled under toilet paper.

Zogby: We’ve lost the drug war, voters say.

Three in four likely voters (76 percent) believe the U.S. war on drugs is failing, a sentiment that cuts across the political spectrum — including the vast majority of Democrats (86 percent), political independents (81 percent), and most Republicans (61 percent). There is also a strong belief that the anti-drug effort is failing among those who intend to vote for Obama (89 percent) for president, as well as most supporters of McCain (61 percent).

When asked what they believe is the single best way to combat international drug trafficking and illicit use, 27 percent of likely voters said legalizing some drugs would be the best approach — 34 percent of Obama supporters and 20 percent of McCain backers agreed.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

State Sets Medical Marijuana Limits; Attorney Plans Lawsuit

posted by on October 2 at 4:26 PM

The state set new rules today establishing the amount of marijuana an authorized patient can possess and grow. The law passed by voters in 1998 allowed a “60-day supply,” which was ambiguous. Under the new guidelines, set by the Washington State Department of Health, authorized patients may possess up to 24-ounces of usable marijuana and grow up to 15 plants.

That may seem like a lot of pot, but some patient advocates—who are just reacting to the news—disagree. They say many patients use more marijuana than recreational users because they eat the pot, smoke it throughout the day, or have a high tolerance.

“Patients are not going to have enough,” says Joanna McKee, director of the medical marijuana advocacy group Green Cross. She says that if someone starts with 15 seeds, only three to five will survive to maturity. That will leave sickest patients without enough harvestable marijuana to treat their conditions, which range from intractable pain to cancer. “They are going to have to go to the black market to get it,” she says.

Tim Church, a spokesman for the Department of Health, says, “We were trying to come up with a number [of plants] and an amount [of marijuana] that the majority of patients need to treat their illness, and we think they have hit that.” He says there was very little scientific research on which to base the decision. The DoH gathered input from numerous public meetings with patients, doctors and law enforcement. “There is always someone who needs more for a particular reason,” he says.

“This basically means it is open season on every medical patient that law enforcement encounters because nobody is in compliance with this rule,” says Douglas Hiatt, a Seattle attorney who defends medical marijuana patients. Hiatt worries the rule would set a “clear bright line” that encourages police to arrest medical marijuana patients who exceed the amount set under the rule.

“I am going to file for an injunction to stop the rule from taking effect,” says Hiatt. He says scientific reports show that many patients need more marijuana that the rule would allow. “Then I am going to file to overturn the rule based on them failing to follow science.”

The legislature tasked the DoH with establishing the guidelines to clarify the amount of pot a patient could possess, because, under the law passed a decade ago, police would routinely arrest medical marijuana patients for any amount and allow a court to decide whether or not the patient was in compliance with the law. Although the rule still does not provide patients protection from arrest if they are under the limit, it may help them being arrested. The patients still retain retain their legal defense in court if they exceed the limits. “It’s a good start,” says McKee. The rule is slated to take effect on November 1.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Extremely Free Speech

posted by on September 24 at 5:22 PM

This is so tragic. The ACLU’s infomercial about pot, which cost tens of thousands of dollars to produce, got booted from real TV and now the nonprofit is reduced to showing it on public access.

Using a panel format and clap-on-cue audience, the talk-show-style program encourages people to talk about pot. It is quite bland, really. Nonetheless, KOMO billed thousands of dollars in production costs for recording the show its studio, then refused to air it; KING and KONG would air the program only after 1:00 a.m.

Today, the Seattle Community Access Network, notable for the lowest production values and highest level of raunch in regional television, announced it will air the show at 6:30 p.m. and a live panel discussion at 7:00 p.m. on Comcast channel 77 and Broadstripe channel 23 throughout King County. Sounds… almost as dull as Brokeback Mountain. (You can also view the show online.)

But here’s the thing. People often deride advocates of controversial issues for marginal tactics, like marching or rallying or blogging--generally for not taking a more mainstream tack. Well, the ACLU tried to take the most mainstream approach of all—network television with high-end production values—but network television gave bullshit excuses to reject it. Maybe America’s just not ready for certain mainstream tactics until those rallies earn a bit more respect.

Friday, September 19, 2008

This Week on Drugs

posted by on September 19 at 5:05 PM

The US Government Announces This: Record for marijuana arrests.

The Same Week It Does This: Toasts the the 75th anniversary of the end of alcohol prohibition. Here is part of the House’s irony-free resolution:

Whereas throughout American history, alcohol has been consumed by its citizens and regulated by the Government;

Whereas prior to the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which established Prohibition in the United States, abuses and insufficient regulation resulted in irresponsible overconsumption of alcohol;

Whereas passage of the 18th Amendment, which prohibited `the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors' in the United States, resulted in a dramatic increase in illegal activity, including unsafe black market alcohol production, organized crime, and noncompliance with alcohol laws;

Whereas members of the licensed alcoholic beverage industry have created and supported a wide range of national, State, and community programs to address problems associated with alcohol abuse, including drunk driving and underage drinking: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress--

(1) celebrates 75 years of effective State-based alcohol regulation since the passage of the 21st Amendment; (2) recognizes State lawmakers, regulators, law enforcement officers, the public health community and industry members for creating a workable, legal, and successful system of alcoholic beverage regulation, distribution, and sale; and (3) continues to support policies that allow States to effectively regulate alcohol.

Government Officials in Massachusetts Said This:

An army of young drug addicts and dealers could flood the streets if voters don’t snub out a proposal to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, a cadre of Bay State officials said.

The Coalition for Safe Streets, a joint group of law enforcement, religious and community leaders backed by Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Attorney General Martha Coakley, warned yesterday the proposal would spark a crime wave and efforts to keep kids clean would go up in smoke.

In Harder News: FDA cracks down on online Viagra.

Down in Bolivia: Kicks out US ambassador, gets blacklisted by US for drugs.

Meanwhile, in Canada: Green Party leader says, “I apologise” for having “never used marijuana.”

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tracking Down Those Unicorns

posted by on September 18 at 2:15 PM


Last week White House appointee John Walters claimed on C-SPAN that finding people in jail for "first-time nonviolent possession of marijuana... is like finding a unicorn ... because it doesn’t exist." I had a hunch that some of the 775,138 people arrested for pot possession last year were actually unicorns...

But the drug czar probably assumed that it's a freebie to call people with criminal convictions anything he wants, because they're likely to be too ashamed to defend themselves. That's certainly true, but it didn't take me long to find credible people willing to vouch for the existence of first-time, non-violent marijuana offenders—excuse me, unicorns.

In just one hour, I've found five people who have seen the Drug Czar's unicorns with their own eyes. Here are Slog’s exclusive unicorn reports:

Andy Robertson, criminal defense attorney for 10 years at the Rosen Law Firm in Seattle.

I have had it happen where [my client] goes to jail where they have one joint on them, and they have never gone to jail before. This is their first and only brush with the law. I don’t think that I have ever had a case where the person charged for marijuana is anything but the most peaceful person you can imagine.

A judge who I spoke to recently said that about every afternoon, he’ll put at least one person a day in jail for possession of marijuana or paraphernalia. He’s bee pro tem-ing for at least five years.

Sunil Abraham, public defender for the King County Defender Association. When asked how many people he has personally encountered with no prior record who have served time in jail for a nonviolent marijuana-possession charge, here's what he said:

I’d say 50 people and they have all done time in jail. I’d guess that if you obtained the booking history for the last 100 marijuana arrests for somebody who has no criminal history, 80 percent of them do time in jail. It may be one day, but they serve time in jail. [Police] don’t commonly arrest for marijuana and release; you are going to go to jail.

Alison Holcomb, drug policy director of the ACLU of Washington.

According to data compiled by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs and requested by the ACLU of Washington, Washington police agencies reported 11,553 arrests for possession of marijuana in 2007. Misdemeanor possession of marijuana carries a mandatory day in jail, and up to ninety. Data obtained from the Washington State Patrol's Identification and Criminal History Section reveals that 3,588 convictions for misdemeanor marijuana possession were entered in Washington courts in 2007.

Muraco Kyashana-tocha, works in the law offices of Jeffrey Steinborn and Douglas Hiatt, the city’s leading marijuana-defense attorneys.

I know of two cases that were handled … in the last year. They were both over in Redmond. I know both of them by name. One gram [possessed] by one of them, and 12 grams by the other one. They were squeaky clean: no record no juvenile record. I know a lot of people who went to jail while their case was processing. They may be in jail over the weekend for three days. A lot of the people charged with misdemeanor [possession] cannot afford $3000-5000 for legal representation, so they are doing time.

Jeffrey Steinborn, the city’s leading marijuana defense attorney.

Walters is either shamefully ignorant, or intentionally lying to us. Sometimes we get lucky because a big shot in white shirt shows up. Sometimes the prosecutor will say the statute is mandatory, so they say, “Fuck you, your client’s going to jail.” Sometimes the judge will convert that to community service but the law says they can’t. To avoid that day in jail is the exception rather than the rule.

Surely, more of these magical animals walk among us. Have you seen a unicorn? Are you a unicorn? Put your unicorn-sighting story in comments or send me an email.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Democrats Call Lies “Lies” and Republicans Call the Truth “Lies”

posted by on September 17 at 3:36 PM

Just when you thought you’d heard the biggest whopper from a Republican official—e.g., John McCain, Thomas Edison of the BlackBerry—the White House’s Drug Czar shoves his hoof in his mouth and spits out a unicorn.

At a press conference last week, an activist pressed the Bush appointee to explain why Holland, which allows pot smoking, has lower use rates than the U.S., which arrests over a quarter-million pot smokers a year. And this is what happened:

“We didn’t arrest 800,000 marijuana users,” Walters says about 1:35 minutes into the video. That’s a “lie.”

But not only did law-enforcement agencies report over 800,000 pot arrests last year, they reported five percent more this year. That’s 872,721 arrests for pot. But Walters wasn’t done. He went on to equate people arrested for pot possession as fanciful creatures that don’t exist.

“The fact is today, people don’t go to jail for possession of marijuana. I know you like to pretend it does, and there’s a lot of misinformation about that. But finding someone in jail or prison for a first-time nonviolent possession of marijuana is like finding a unicorn. You find one, you will make a big story, because it doesn’t exist.”

Granted, he gets selective by describing these fantasy beasts as nonviolent first-time offenders. But out of the 775,138 people busted for possession last year, hundreds of thousands of them meet his criteria. For instance, the Seattle City Attorney's Office prosecuted 109 people for marijuana possession in 2007; 40 of them--unicorns, each one of them--were charged only for possession. And I’m not in a position to name manes here, but I’ve spoken to several unicorns.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Winning the War on Drugs

posted by on September 15 at 2:58 PM

In sunny Mississippi.

Jackson Police spokesman Lt. Jeffery Scott said Ronnie Burton, 26, of Jackson, was shot once in the shoulder Friday when police and Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics agents attempted to serve a search warrant.

Scott could not discuss many details of the 8:30 p.m. raid at the house in the 6000 block of Lyndon B. Johnson Drive, except to say it was a “high risk” narcotics search.

Burton is charged with four counts of aggravated assault on police and one count of shooting into an occupied police vehicle. No other arrests were made and no other injuries were reported.

Absent from this report is mention of any drugs found. Who’da thunk? Sober people flip out and start shooting when police break down their doors.


Arresting More Pot Smokers Lowering Violent Crime

posted by on September 15 at 12:54 PM

That’s one way to read the Crime in the United States Report released today by the FBI. In 2007, the FBI says violent crime went "down" and showcases a nifty graphic.


Meanwhile, law enforcement made more arrests for drugs than for any other offense in 2007, the FBI reports in un-flashy text. The largest category of drug offenses is an all-time record for pot busts. Law enforcement arrested 872,720 people for pot (775,138 just for possession), up about 42,000 pot busts from 2006.

Can we take this to mean that cracking down on pot smokers—instigators of violent crime nationwide—has thus protected the citizenry from assault? Well, nobody’s saying that, of course, because most pot smokers would forgo assault for table salt.

But how many actual criminals are out there to be arrested? According to the federal drug survey released earlier this month, about 19.9 million people had used a drug within the last month when they were surveyed in 2007. This is more than all of the people arrested for anything at all: “In 2007... 14,209,365 arrests occurred nationwide for all offenses,” the FBI estimates.

There are more drug users than law enforcement's capacity for arresting them. So, rather then suggesting busting more people for pot smoking decreases violent crime, it would it be less ridiculous—perhaps even disgustingly plausible—that more people are getting away with assault, robbery, and theft because the cops are our busting record numbers of pot smokers.

Friday, September 12, 2008

This Week on Drugs

posted by on September 12 at 12:40 PM

The Worst Trip: Teacher on mushrooms stabs himself to death with shards of a broken bottle.

Whiner: Colombian drug lord requests a bigger cell because he’s "claustrophobic."

Stoner: Man reeking of pot flags down police in the U-District. Cops take the dope and release the dopehead.

Popper: Cindy McCain the pill maven.

McCain's addiction also embroiled her with one of her charity's former employees, Tom Gosinski, who reported her drug use to the DEA and provided prosecutors with a contemporaneous journal that detailed the effects of her drug problems. He was later accused by a lawyer for McCain of trying to extort money from the McCain family.

Hired Help: FDA brings on 1300 employees to recoup from staff exodus.

Double Dutch: Tobacco ban getting pot smokers more stoned than ever.

Cannabis Camera: Police may post photos of folks busted in drug raids.

Winning the War on Drugs: In Nigeria.

A Nigerian was shot dead by police during a raid on suspected drug traffickers in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, police said Friday….

"In line with our procedures, they resisted and endangered police so they were shot," he said. Police found "hundreds of grams" of heroin in the raid, [police spokesman] Yoga Ana said. The Jakarta Post daily reported that both men were unarmed when they were shot by police.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


posted by on September 11 at 11:45 AM

By a 5-4 vote, the Washington Supreme Court has rejected an attempt to dodge the state smoking ban, which prohibits smoking in workplaces. The challenge was filed by the American Legion Post 149, a veterans group in Bremerton, to allow smoking in private clubs that have employees—specificaly, its lounge. The majority ruling is here, but the concurrence by Justice Barbara Madsen really nails it.

I agree with the majority opinion and write separately only because I do not want the obvious to be lost: RCW 70.160.030 prohibits smoking "in a public place or in any place of employment." … The dissenters say that "private facilities" are excluded from the law, regardless of whether people are employed within the facility. If they are correct, then, as the majority points out, an office building that is not open to the public, i.e., a "private facility," will be excluded from the ban, despite the fact that the building may house hundreds of employees. This defies the "common sense" which the dissenters so liberally call upon, as well as the plain reading of the statute.

Not sure what this means for private clubs where servers and bartenders claim to be “volunteers.”

Ace Reporter of the Day: Paul Shukovsky

posted by on September 11 at 9:47 AM

And they said it couldn't be done: The PI's Paul Shukovsky went and got a quote from someone on the other side of the pot issue—someone who thinks grow-op busts are a waste of time and police resources—and added that quote to what had been, when it originally appeared online yesterday, a rote piece of drug-war propaganda masquerading as journalism.

Shukovsky's revised piece isn't an anti-drug-war screed and it isn't advocacy journalism calling for the legalization of pot. Instead it's the kind of journalism daily papers take pride in delivering on other issues but typically fail to deliver when it comes to stories about drug busts. With the addition of a quote from a board member of NORML—Seattle defense attorney Jeff Steinborn—the PI and Shukovsky finally acknowledge the fact that there are two sides to this issue. By including Steinborn's comments, the PI let its readers know that not just police officers, federal prosecutors, and DEA agents have valid opinions about pot and the war on drugs.

Now was that so hard?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Re: No Longer the Stupid Fucking Credulous Hack of the Day: Paul Shukovsky

posted by on September 10 at 6:40 PM

UPDATE: All these posts asking reporters for both sides of the story on pot enforcement, insight into whether or not breaking down pot growers' doors actually makes a dent in the pot market, a quote from someone in a group that disagrees with our war on pot... it just may be working. Or maybe it's a fluke. Either way, as wisepunk points out in comments, Paul Shukovsky's article has been updated:

Seattle defense attorney Jeff Steinborn, who frequently takes drug cases, said Wednesday: "Is there no real crime out there? By golly, I guess we'll be safe from the giggles and the munchies for a while."

Steinborn, who is a member of the national board of the marijuana legalization group NORML, decried the "amount of resources they've expended to enforce a law that every government study for the last 160 years says should not be."

Keep it, Paul Shukovsky!

You'd think that since the PI's Paul Shukovsky reported how agents "swooped down" on pot growers for “Operation Green Reaper" in April, he'd attempt to figure out what the impact of the first set of busts were. You know, why are we doing this? Is it working so far?

But, of course, if he'd even asked the agents what they sought to achieve then, he'd be forced to answer those question now. But he did neither, because he’s a stupid fucking credulous hack.

The mistake Shukovsky and other SFCHs make is to argue that this is a regular crime-n’-punishment story. Someone gets busted so outline the offense and talk to the authorities. But this isn’t like other crimes. It’s not like murder, rape, or theft—crimes with victims. The victims of pot growing, in the relatively rare cases when they exist, are people who dunnit to themselves (we don’t lock up people who eat their way to a coronary), or people got hurt because pot is illegal (when it's sold on the dangerous black market). The latter problem is one that we created—it can go away—but crime reporters take this approach more arrests are the solution. Otherwise they’d ask, “Why are we doing this? Is it working so far?”


posted by on September 10 at 4:16 PM

The Department of Justice was nice enough to drop a rah-rah press release about Operation Green Reaper into my inbox this afternoon:

Law enforcement officials...announced that early this morning, federal agents and local authorities executed 13 search warrants on indoor marijuana grow operations in King County. Today’s activities are part of the collaborative effort by law enforcement in ‘Operation Green Reaper’, targeting the command and control components of the Puget Sound’s indoor marijuana grow organizations.

Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) David Dongilli stated, “It is important for the public to know how dangerous indoor marijuana cultivation is to our community. These drug trafficking organizations are concealing their illegal activities in the very heart of many of our neighborhoods.

ASAC Dongilli further stated, “These homes are more readily prone to fires and the mold contamination produced from the cultivation process poses significant health and safety concerns to the community. The unfortunate end result is that these drug dealers collect huge illicit profits and our community banks and other mortgage holders are left with virtually uninhabitable and foreclosed homes.”

In conjunction with these raids, law enforcement seized 4,578 marijuana plants, three weapons to include an assault rifle and a shotgun, approximately $50,000.00 in United States Currency, 20 vehicles and have taken 20 subjects into custody.

Just to prove how dangerous pot growers are, the DOJ provided some visual aids:




Thank Christ we've got the DEA to save us from moldy, burny pot farmers.

Of course, people wouldn't need to set up jury-rigged grow ops in basements if pot was, y'know, legal.

But whatever.

Just Say No to Abstinence-Only Education

posted by on September 10 at 3:19 PM

Last week I was chided in comments for suggesting that drug education, like sex education, shouldn’t use the abstinence-only formula. Sarah Palin and her baby-making-baby machine is sufficient proof that it’s a failure. But, folks said, I was equating two completely separate issues; because drugs aren’t sex. Today Marsha Rosenbaum, PhD, author of Safety First: A Reality-Based Approach to Teens, Drugs and Drug Education, writes on Alternet.

Look at abstinence-only drug education and you get the same disappointing results as with sex education.

Over two decades ago, as part of the escalating war on drugs and Nancy Reagan's "just say no" campaign, Congress implemented the 1986 Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Act. Federally-funded drug prevention education for teens was mandated to adhere to a strict abstinence-only message….

These strategies have proven just as unsuccessful as abstinence-only sexuality education. Studies of Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.), still the most popular school-based prevention program in the United States, have consistently shown that there is no difference in terms of drug use between students who had D.A.R.E. and those who did not. … As for the drug czar's billion-dollar anti-drug media campaign -- several researchers, as well as the Government Accountability Office, have shown that the ads are ineffective and sometimes actually counterproductive in convincing teens to abstain.

The difference between drugs and sex, of course, is that almost everybody tries sex—and folks keep up that nasty habit, if they can—but only about half of people try drugs. Then most of 'em stop. But some people, no matter whatcha do or say, are going to get high. But pretending that we craft some silver-bullet prevention ad for television and 100 percent of will the population will resist the temptation is shamefully naïve. If nothing more, telling kids to “just say no” makes the forbidden fruit all the more appealing.

More Good News for Obama

posted by on September 10 at 1:59 PM

WASHINGTON — As Congress prepares to debate expansion of drilling in taxpayer-owned coastal waters, the Interior Department agency that collects oil and gas royalties has been caught up in a wide-ranging ethics scandal--including allegations of financial self-dealing, accepting gifts from energy companies, cocaine use and sexual misconduct...

The reports portray a dysfunctional organization that has been riddled with conflicts of interest, unprofessional behavior and a free-for-all atmosphere for much of the Bush administration’s watch.

Nothing sounds better on a TV attack ad than "cocaine use" and "sexual misconduct"--along with "President Bush," "Republican party," and "corruption."

Stupid Fucking Credulous Hack of the Day: Paul Shukovsky

posted by on September 10 at 1:54 PM

This post is no longer operative. Paul Shukovsky is no longer a SFCH. Please see Dominic Holden's update here.

Comrades! Another heroic victory in our Great Patriotic War on Drugs! Thousands of pot plants seized in King County! And the PI's Paul Shukovsky is there to bravely take dictation!

Remember comrades: When it comes to the Great Patriotic War on Drugs, there is only one side to the story! There is no need for reporters to get a quote from someone—anyone—on the other side of this issue! There is need to get a comment from someone believes that our never-ending war on pot is a waste of money, police resources, and lives! There is no need to quote from someone who believes that the quickest way—the only way—to put a stop to illegal grow-ops is to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana! Because those people don't exist!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Eat Until I Can Crush You

posted by on September 8 at 12:13 PM

Here’s the only sport where marijuana might be considered a performance-enhancing drug:

Two popular Russian sumo wrestlers were slapped with lifetime bans from Japan's ancient national sport for allegedly using marijuana and the head of the Japan Sumo Association resigned Monday to take responsibility for the scandal, officials said.

The wrestlers, brothers Roho and Hakurozan, tested positive for the drug when the sport conducted its first drug tests following the arrest last month of another Russian wrestler, Wakanoho, for marijuana possession.

Is there any other sport where the competitor with munchies has the upper hand by consuming 34 breakfast chickens?

Friday, September 5, 2008

This Week on Drugs

posted by on September 5 at 6:22 PM

Torture Flights: A plane found with kilos of cocaine last year, records say, "flew several times to Guantanamo, Cuba, presumably to transfer terrorism suspects."

Most Caffeinated Cities: Chicago and Tampa.

Line Snackers: Conservative member of British parliament forced to eat Coffeemate to prove it wasn’t cocaine.

Linebackers: Is the NFL driving players to drink?

FDA: Reveals 20 drugs under investigation for dangerous side effects.

The Brilliance of Martin Sheen: Opposes rehab measure because it doesn’t use abstinence-only model. And we know how well that works.

Junk in the Trunk: Heroin-addicted elephant released after completing treatment program.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Do It for the Seniors

posted by on September 4 at 3:52 PM

Results from last year's national drug-use survey, released today by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, have an unexpected twist.

As a caveat, the results are self-reported and thus a little skewed (This is a call from the federal government--have you been using drugs? Well, golly, no...), but it’s the best measure we have of who is smoking what. As in previous years, the White House is pouncing on the opportunity to show that current anti-drug programs are a smashing success—cheers for prisons and weird ads on TV. As Drug Czar John Walters famously said, “When we push back against the drug problem, it gets smaller.” So on his blog, Pushing Back, he posts nifty diagrams that show drug-use rates dropped over the last five years.

Unimpressed, the Marijuana Policy Project hits back with another graph, showing that the number of new adolescent users hasn’t changed over the same time period. So if we’re “doing it for the children,” we’re not “doing it” very well. But nobody's talking about another part of the report. What about the parents? And what about the parent's parents? They're "doing it." Graphic 2.7 shows drug use has nearly doubled among pentegenarians.


Among adults aged 50 to 59, the rate of current illicit drug use showed an irregular increasing trend between 2002 and 2007... These patterns and trends may partially reflect the aging into these age groups of the baby boom cohort, whose lifetime rates of illicit drug use are higher than those of older cohorts.

Very irregular indeed. Baby boomers are growing up and getting stoned. But why are they still getting high? I'd bet older women are getting stoned—and getting their husbands stoned—because pot makes sex better. And at 50, they're not "doing it" for the children.

Friday, August 29, 2008

This Week on Drugs

posted by on August 29 at 1:25 PM

Mass Money: Soros behind a measure to decriminalize pot this November; a poll finds voters favor the initiative by 72 percent.

Arkansas: Town submitting petition signatures to make pot lowest enforcement priority.

Bolivia: Takes US anti-drug money while declaring, “Long live coca, death to the yanquis!”

Bacteria: Killed by pot.

Suit: Doctor sues after undercover agents pose as patients trying to get marijuana authorization.

Brute: Twelve headless corpses found in Mexico.

Mute: A new treatment for autism.

Tool: Martin Sheen, a former alcoholic, campaigns against drug rehab.

Kool: Man faces charges for 400,000 contraband cigarettes.

Mule: Man ingests 91 heroin pellets, faces 25 years in prison.

Burners: Washington pot patients want more pot.

Juicers: Three minor league pitchers suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs.

Coffee Makers: Recalled for risk of turning into flaming plastic blobs.

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Vineyards, and Now This?

posted by on August 25 at 1:18 PM

Last week we polled Slog readers for the next, most unbelievably shocking place pot growers would grow pot. Because it doesn’t matter where the Seattle Times discovers pot growing—whether it’s a house or a field—it’s always the most shocking place it’s ever been growing. The winners tied—the Fun Forest and Joni Balter’s asscrack—at 21 percent. Dude ranches earned a disappointing 4 percent.

The survey was, of course, all in jest (cheers, Joni). But the yuks are on us. No sooner had we published the poll, believing we’d outdone ourselves with unlikely pot-growing locations, than even we were shocked by where pot was found next.

The Drug Enforcement Administration discovered something unexpected in the Mall of the Americas.

DEA agents found a hydroponics lab with more than 200 marijuana plants, standing 3 to 6 feet tall in the air and worth millions of dollars, in a storage area on the second floor of the mall.

By the way, that’s the Mall of the Americas in Miami—not the bloated Mall of America near Minneapolis-St. Paul. But they’re growing pot in malls! Take note, Seattle Times; one sprout at Northgate could mark a troubling trend.


posted by on August 25 at 10:06 AM

The "lol-cats" meme gets international and druggy at lol-qats, where Pakistani-English blogger Mr. Moo replaces goofy cat antics with goofy qat addicts.

lolqat.jpgI was first introduced to the concept of ‘qat’ on my first visit to Yemen. We were travelling with family, and my father was approached by a rather enthusiastic taxi driver. As he drove around at fantastic speeds, he explained he was chewing qat and he hadn’t slept for two days. I was quite worried.

Locally, in Birmingham, the habit has been picked up again. My understanding is that the socialising habits of choice are now to chew qat, have shisha and strong coffee all at the same time. It is Halaaaaal, they proclaim, as they are off their heads.

Qat has a horrendous social impact, like any drug. Wikipedia says that 17% of income on average could be spent on Qat.

For more on qat/khat, check out Charles Mudede's Stranger feature on its Seattle impact here.

(And thanks for the heads-up, MetaFilter.)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Winning the War on Drugs

posted by on August 24 at 5:32 PM

Another bang-up job in the fight against drugs. This time, in Houston:

Police tell us a suspect who was shot during a drug raid Friday afternoon by an HPD officer did not have a weapon.

Police also did not find any drugs in the southeast Houston home.

A narcotics tactical unit says the suspect had his hands behind his back and made a threatening move. An officer then shot him in the chest with an assault rifle.

The man was in critical condition Friday night.

This is the only story I've found on the incident two days after the fact--it's a whopping 73 words long. But how many articles would have been written and how much longer those articles would have been if--instead of an innocent man being shot in his home--the innocent man had shot the intruder, not realizing it was a cop? Would the article be as indifferent as this one?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Letter of the Day

posted by on August 22 at 5:08 PM

I live in a pretty conservative city, and I enjoy reading Slog every day. I have found your posts on the drug war and the way it is reported to be very enlightening. Recently, I talked to my boyfriend about it; he's a news producer for one of the local tv stations here. I asked if he would be "allowed" to produce a story which questioned the effictiveness of drug raids. (All of his stories have to be approved by the news director.) Without pause, he said no. Apparently, one of the major considerations in what is considered newsworthy is whether something could be considered "offensive," and to suggest that drugs are not evil and that the DEA is not doing God's Work would definitely be offensive. (Murder and child rape, however, are not offensive; they're usually the lead stories.)

Not to lose focus of what this e-mail is about, but he's also rarely allowed to run stories about gay rights issues. My boyfriend said that anytime he has included such a story in his newscast, the station receives "record numbers" of angry phone calls.

"Isn't that a good thing?" I asked. "Doesn't that mean you're provoking discussion?"

My boyfriend agrees. His news director does not.

So, unfortunately, real journalism ain't easy, especially in a conservative city. After a lot of prodding from me every time I read one of your "stupid fucking credulous hack" posts, my boyfriend finally agreed to pitch a story about the (lack of) effectiveness of the drug war to run during sweeps; apparently sweeps months are the only time that it may be okay to be controversial. Who knows? Maybe it'll get on the air.

Oh, and by the way: more than half of the people working in the newsroom regularly smoke pot. At the station, even.

Thanks for the thought-provoking blogging, Dan. Have a great weekend.

Behold the Power of "Stupid Fucking Credulous Hack of the Day!"

posted by on August 22 at 4:04 PM

This piece got the PI's Vanessa Ho tagged "Stupid Fucking Credulous Hack of the Day" last Saturday. And now when you Google "Vanessa Ho"...


Lordy! "Stupid Fucking Credulous Hack" is the top hit for the PI's Vanessa Ho. Her appearance in SFCH ranks higher on Google than her own archives! (I'm not sure who that other Vanessa Ho is, the one whose photo sites come in first and third on the search.)

Journalists! Don't let this happen to you! Staying out of "Stupid Fucking Credulous Hack of the Day" is easy! Just make sure your next piece about a grow-op bust includes a quote from someone other than a DEA agent, a federal prosecutor, or a local law enforcement official. Bury at least one brief quote from a critic of the war on pot, someone who can comment on the efficacy of drug interdiction efforts—rarely is the question asked, is our grow-op busts working?—and you won't be named "Stupid Fucking Credulous Hack of the Day" on Slog! It's that easy!

Can You Believe They’re Growing Pot in the __________?

posted by on August 22 at 1:07 PM

Can you believe they’re growing pot in fucking vineyards? Can you? We can’t. And our colleagues at the Seattle Times, they can’t either. They were shocked by this news two weeks ago, a week later, a day after that, and today, the shock has consumed nearly the entire front page. Isn't it amazing how the same story can shock over and over and over again?


Vineyards are, as of today, the most shocking place to find pot growing. But it doesn’t matter where pot is found next—even if it's an expanse of tilled irrigated soil made for growing plants—the next place pot is found growing is always the most shocking place it's ever been found growing. The lengths pot growers will go to in order to grow pot! It's amazing! So the Seattle Times breathlessly reports that pot has been found in such unlikely places as a house, a neighborhood, a suburb, King County, Lewis County, British Columbia, inside, online, and underground. The Times is in a tizzy about marijuana in the mountains, the woods, the wood shavings, the reservation, and a plantation.

Where will pot growers grow pot NEXT? Let's help the Seattle Times out, Sloggers, so that the next big discovery—or the next news release from the federal government's press desks—doesn't catch the Seattle Times by surprise again.

Where will the presence of pot plants scandalize us next?

Stupid Fucking Credulous Hacks of the Day: Tom Banse and Erik Lacitis

posted by on August 22 at 12:13 PM

I was sitting in bed and listening to KUOW and scratching my balls—Derek Wong's voice always makes my sack itch—when I caught a short report from crack local public radio reporter Tom Banse. It was all about Our Glorious War on Drugs! Here's Banse:

An Oregon drug task force director says 2008 is shaping up to be a “banner year” for busting outdoor marijuana farms. In Washington State, marijuana plant seizures are running “way ahead” of last year. Lt. Rich Wiley heads the Washington State Patrol narcotics section. He credits the help of low-flying helicopters on loan from the National Guard and federal DEA.

Continue reading "Stupid Fucking Credulous Hacks of the Day: Tom Banse and Erik Lacitis" »

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Allison, I Know This World Is Killing You

posted by on August 21 at 2:01 PM

I've noted my obsession with A&E's Intervention before, but the episode from Monday, August 11 is haunting my dreams.

You only need to watch the first minute or so to get the gist, but if you're like me, you won't be able to stop watching it ever.

Also, minutes before posting this, I heard Charles Mudede dust his computer keyboard. It was terrifying.

UPDATE: For those who need to follow Allison's episode to the end, here are parts 2, 3, 4, and 5. (The last chunk features not one but two hunky cops, who Allison of course tries to kick in the face. Having survived Hurricane Allison, I propose these two cops celebrate by making a porno together.)

Stupid Fucking Credulous Hack of the Day: Gary Chittim

posted by on August 21 at 1:12 PM

KING 5 Television’s Gary Chittim wants you to know that federal agents destroyed a field of marijuana in Eastern Washington. That crop was “bad news for public land and public safety,” he says. But, it turns out, the bust was reported earlier this month there’s no actual “news” here. Chittim’s "news" is exhumed and rehashed from his old story to inform you that pot is scary, pot growers are scary, and the feds are doing a better job than ever before at rounding up this scary, scary menace.

Pray tell, Gary, where have we heard this before? The White House Drug Czar John Walters.

“And these aren't your peaceful, old school growers,” writes Chittim to express his completely original idea. Really, how does he know?

"This is not the old hippy growing a few pot plants for personal use. These guys are in the business to make a lot of money," says Mike Cenci, deputy chief of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Well, case closed--law enforcement says the criminals are dangerous. Does Chittim talk to someone who doesn't represent the government?

No. But Chittim does continue with his independently minded report…

Millions of dollars worth of pot are produced in single operations and the growers are willing to protect it from the unsuspecting hiker or fisherman who stumbles upon it.

Did he get any type of confirmation from locals that there is some danger in them hills? Any botanists to confirm the “dangers to the environment” or someone who might explain why this is happening, respond to what the law-enforcement mouthpiece is saying, or if the busts are having any effect? Nope, because Gary Chittim is a stupid fucking credulous hack.

Continue reading "Stupid Fucking Credulous Hack of the Day: Gary Chittim" »

Monday, August 18, 2008

Winning the War on Drugs

posted by on August 18 at 4:44 PM

In Buffalo:

Armed with a battering ram and shotguns, Buffalo police looking for heroin broke down the door and stormed the lower apartment of a West Side family of eight. The problem is that the Wednesday evening raid should have occurred at an apartment upstairs.

And, that’s only the tip of the iceberg, according to Schavon Pennyamon, who lives at the mistakenly raided apartment on Sherwood Street with her husband, Terrell, and six children.

Pennyamon alleges that after wrongly breaking into her apartment, police proceeded to strike her epileptic husband in the head with the butt end of a shotgun and point shotguns at her young children before admitting their mistake and then raiding the right apartment....

“We wouldn’t be comfortable discussing the internal investigation,” [detective Dennis] Richards said. “We can say comfortably that over 1,100 search warrants were executed last year and 580 to date this year and that, with such a high volume and such a fast-paced environment, it is understandable that mistakes could happen.”

She says she’s left with a broken door, an injured husband, jittery children and — what bothers her most — still no apology from police....

“My 12-year-old and 6-year-old don’t want to be home at all,” she said, adding that her younger children cower or run to the back of the house when they hear anyone approaching. Police said no arrests were made in the subsequent raid at the upstairs apartment.

Re: Last Weekend on Drugs

posted by on August 18 at 2:43 PM

I totally agree with Dom: Hempfest is a good—no, great—thing. We should be proud that every year 100,000 people gather in the middle of this city, right under the windows of a newspaper overseen by the DEA's useful idiots, to openly smoke pot, and that thousands of joints are distributed—free—to the crowd while the police look on. It is a giant challenge—an enormous fuck you, actually—to our idiotic drug laws and, again, to the useful idiots that do so much to preserve the status quo. The folks openly smoking pot at Hempfest call to mind the folks that marched for gay rights way back when gay people could still be arrested for declaring their homosexuality publicly. The pot smokers at Hempfest are brave and necessary and sometimes a little embarrassing, yes, just like some of the folks at the gay rights marches were (and are) embarrassing. But they're gonna change things—hell, they already have.

But I also agree with Brendan, in as much as I go out of my way to avoid Hempfest. But it's not the dirty hippies that bother me—and you do realize, hippy-bashers, that the hippies were right about pretty much everything?—it's the... smoke. Being at Hempfest means moving through a cloud of second-hand pot smoke all day long. And guess what? Pot smoke isn't pleasant. It stinks. It's nasty. Inhaling other people's pot smoke may be a little less unpleasant, I suppose, than inhaling other people's cigarette smoke. But not by a lot. So I prefer to smoke pot in places that immediately revert to a smoke-free environments just as soon as I'm high. I'd rather not get high in a crowd of folks creating a constant cloud of second-hand pot smoke (and cigarette smoke too), thanks.

Another Hempfest disconnect: I've always gotten the feeling—induced or enhanced by the pot perhaps—that Hempfest isn't an entirely safe place for a gay person to let down his guard. There's are just too many punchy, stoned, agro teenage boys from Bremerburibotheltan in the crowd for me to relax. Oh, and the music is too loud, I don't enjoy being in big crowds, and I hate having to stand in line for food, water, and toilets.

But as a pot smoker who supports Hempfest's goals while pretty much loathing the Hempfest experience, I have to say that I absolutely love Brendan's idea about a little Hempfest counter-programming—but instead of thinking of counter-programming as anti-Hempfest, we should view it—and promote it—as way for those of us who believe in Hempfest's goals but don't enjoy the Hempfest experience to show our support. I love the idea of a bunch of people gathering at SAM—or Alki or the Pacific Science Center or Pike Place Market or the Downtown Library or all of the above—and, at a prearranged time, smoking up in solidarity with the throngs at Hempfest. Then, once everyone is good and baked we can put away the pot, the air will quickly clear, and we can proceed to enjoy the art—or the beach or the laser light show or the food stalls or the stacks—in our stoned states, making our pro-stoner statement.

We could think of this counter-programming as Hempfest satellites, mini Hempfest actions taking place all over town, and create them specifically to target the folks turned off by sun- and pot-baked teenagers, marijuana-leaf leis, tie-dye, and reggae.

It's a great idea, Brendan, let's do it.

Re: Last Weekend on Drugs

posted by on August 18 at 12:56 PM

Last weekend at Smoke Farm, several people smoked marijuana and sat around talking about why they weren't at Hempfest—they were for exactly the reasons you've enumerated, Dominic.

Hempfest does pot smokers a goddamned disservice. It makes us look like idiots. (And reminds me of this classic from the Onion: "Gay-Pride Parade Sets Mainstream Acceptance Of Gays Back 50 Years.")

So let's quit the bitching and get right to it: What kind of counter-programming should we plan for next year?

Someone at Smoke Farm suggested assembling 100 people to get high on the sidewalk in front of SAM and then wander around the museum. Someone else suggested we rent a bunch of hotel rooms downtown for a variety of highfalutin, not-dumb entertainments: movies, history and science lectures, string quartets. (Or at least cellist Paul Rucker, who's a kind of one-man quartet.)

Maybe we should hold a "math-in"—get stoned in the park and take refresher courses in geometry and algebra.

Anything would be better than what Hempfest is now.

Stupid Fucking Credulous Hack of the Day: Vanessa Ho

posted by on August 18 at 9:53 AM

This was originally posted Saturday, August 16, but it's been moved up for the reading pleasure of those that were outside enjoying the sun and the pot this weekend.

A grow-op gets busted and the usual shit's in the PI. Here's Vanessa Ho's lead in this morning's paper:

A park service pilot on a routine flight over the North Cascades National Park service area helped discover a large marijuana farm worth nearly $48 million—the first such grow operation found in a national park site in the state.

Officials said the farm, which law enforcement officials raided this week, contained more than 16,700 plants. It was well established and resembled the elaborate grow sites run by Mexican drug traffickers plaguing national parks in California, authorities said.

In addition to suggesting that dangerous and dirty foreigners are somehow involved—no one has been arrested, so we don't know if those damn Mexicans are to blame—a truly stupid fucking credulous hack would suggest that this grow-op endangers our children somehow. Vanessa doesn't disappoint. Here's her third paragraph:

Continue reading "Stupid Fucking Credulous Hack of the Day: Vanessa Ho" »

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Stranger's Official Sunday Morning ColumnTM (Apologies for the Delay)

posted by on August 17 at 1:18 PM

He--for there could be no doubt of his sex, though certain of his proclivities did something (in the mind of the military wing of his family) to complicate it--was in the act of watching a slackliner on a slackline strung from opposing trees. It was hard not to think of Man on Wire (if you haven't seen it, go, go, go). The branches above the slackline, heavy with leaves, which the slackliner walked in and out of and occasionally ripped out of his way, made the whole sight kind of circus-y. Passersby stopped to watch. The stoner watched the slackliner (this guy) and then watched the sky, on his back, next to a girl he'd just met (bottle-orange hair, candy-striped top, also stoned). The leaves and the sky. A small airplane shot out of the leaves.

The stoner thought about all the people who'd given him a hard time about going to Hempfest: the friends going to Smoke Farm who blinked in disbelief when the stoner chose Hempfest (close to home, by the water) over the possibility of bad outdoor theater in a remote location; the actress/singer/Joni Mitchell fan who, when the stoner intimated that he was going to Hempfest by texting that he was "was being a hippie" today, texted back "the first step is admitting u have a problem"; Dan Savage, who declaimed over after-work drinks on Friday that every other weekend of the year is more ideal for getting stoned in Myrtle Edwards Park because there's no one else there; the stoner's young friend from New Orleans, another stoner, who nonetheless texted, "Hempfest is just a celebration of everything that's not fun about pot"; and so on and so forth). You get a lot of heat for going to Hempfest. It's easy to be intimidated by the disdain. By the unfashionable-ness of it. Dan Savage, of all people, is giving his friends a hard time for going to Hempfest?

Whatever with those people. Hempfest is fantastic. It helps to show up in the afternoon, around 2 or 3, and to go with friends, and to sit in the shade with a view the water and the sky and the barely clothed people in the ripeness of their youth walking by. It's true that you hear the stupidest shit from the people who are given microphones and access to a stage, but (satisfyingly) the people you are sitting with aren't falling for it either. "We are here and now!" an officially sanctioned Hempfest speaker was shouting into a microphone in the distance. The girl with the bottle-orange hair smiled and said, "Man, that's some motivational speaker. No wonder we can't band together. These are our motivational speakers."

Nevertheless, from those very unmotivational stages, or at least from the northernmost one, comes the most amazing sort of rain when the clock strikes 4:20 pm: free joints. Raining down. Hundreds (thousands?) of them. Onto the crowd. This year there was such a crush of people on the path in the minutes before 4:20 pm struck--perhaps the joints-raining-down-from-the-sky thing has been too well publicized--that the stoner and the slackliner and the girl with the bottle-orange hair couldn't get to the northernmost stage (does it happen at all the stages?) until about 4:22 pm, by which point the sea of bodies was already obscured in a haze, battlefield-like. The stoner asked a random girl for a hit of hers and she reached in her bag and gave him a fresh one, adding, "They handed them out."

This will happen again today, by the way.

If nothing else, the stoner thought, Hempfest is an answer to the dominant American culture--the suburban, generic, corporate-controlled mainstream. It's the embodiment of an alternative. That this alternative seems so drastic, that it causes so many of your friends to bristle, is only evidence of how well the conservative line has been sold to us. This alternative isn't drastic. It is not some lawless primal orgy. Hempfest is crawling with police officers and security personnel, watching everything: 100,000 people smoking pot outdoors on a nice day, laughing, relaxing, reading, buying stuff, listening to music, eating noodles, eating ice cream, walking on slacklines between trees, sitting on the rocks, watching the trains groan by, etc., etc.

The only hippie-riffic conversation the stoner got into occurred in one of the VIP areas, behind one of the stages, where a man in what looked like a utilikilt, except it was made out of black lace, sat down and smiled. This man in lace and leggings and some serious facial hair was walking with the assistance of a light-wood cane topped with a brass knob. The rest of the man's ensemble was more than dubious, but it was a handsome cane. The stoner complimented it. The man in lace replied, "It used to be Jefferson Airplane's manager's."

The stoner replied with an expression that must have looked like awe.

"Yeah, Jefferson Airplane's manager's cane. His son gave it to me."

The stoner was trying to think of a Jefferson Airplane song. He said, "What was one of their big songs?"

The man in lace shook his head and said he had no idea. Then he added, "If you ask me about psychedelic trance or something, I can probably tell you." Then there was a long silence.

The stoner went and got his bike and rode out to Elliott Avenue, and then up the west side of Queen Anne Hill to watch firemen march uphill into brush fire. He took a photo of the fire engines with his cell phone. Then he rode back down to Elliott Avenue and, hungry for ice cream, stopped into a Baskin Robbins. For there one was. He ate it outside on the sidewalk, next to his bike, staring into cars waiting at the light.