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The Budding Question

Philly.com’s surprisingly one-sided poll today:

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Man. Would those two narcs quit harshing everyone’s buzz?

Pot proposals: Calif. sees tax windfall, N.J. eyes medical use [Inquirer]

Medical Marijuana Advances In N.J.

022409mmj-protest.jpg Yesterday, the New Jersey Senate voted 22-16 to pass a bill legalizing the use of medical marijuana. Yes, after hearing testimony from sick people, 16 people managed to vote against the bill. Not surprising, of course.

First, some background: A lot of people in California buy their weed legally (under state law) in medical dispensaries; a sizable portion of these are people who just want to get high recreationally. But while the FDA would never approve marijuana as a medical drug — it’s smoked, for one reason — marijuana is most certainly the only or best remedy for a small but significant number of people. Generally, these people don’t get high. They use marijuana to ease pain when no conventional method works.

California’s law — passed in a 1996 referendum — is broadly-defined, and so there are storefront shops in certain places and legal tugs of war between the state and the feds and a moral panic from quite a few people. New Jersey’s law would allow patients up to six marijuana plants and an ounce of usable weed; they’d also have access to “alternative treatment centers” where they could get marijuana.

But enough of all that. Let’s get to the meat of the issue here. Over-the-top quotes from activists and politicians!

  • Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Bergen): “It’s the wrong thing for people in New Jersey and the wrong thing for our children.”
  • Joyce Nalepka, president, DrugFree Kids: “There is no therapeutic use of this, and this is a bill based on a lie.”
  • David Evans, executive director, Drug Free School Coalition: “This is dressed up as compassion but this bill is way, way too loose… It will be too easy to get marijuana.”
  • John Tomicki, executive director, League of American Families: “Parents are alarmed they’ve given the green light for marijuana use.”
  • Terrence Farley of the anti-medical marijuana law enforcement group Safe Approved Medicine for New Jersey: “Marijuana is not medicine.”

Sen. Jeff Van Drew, who voted for the bill, made sure to tell the newspaper this factoid: “People don’t formulate their own morphine.” Be sure to also note this story from The Express Times, which actually takes seriously this classification from the government: “[T]he federal government classifies as a Schedule I drug alongside heroin and GHB, the date-rape drug.”

Update: I kept searching — because that’s what I do when I’m done a post, I keep gathering information about it! — and learned more about Gerald Cardinale, my new favorite New Jersey senator:

“Moderate use of marijuana causes brain cells to die,” Cardinale said. “That’s why the federal government made marijuana forbidden.”

Hey! Somebody needs to head over to the “Why is marijuana illegal?” page at Drug WarRant and learn some fun historical facts. I can’t wait for the debate in the Assembly.

N.J. Senate approves bill allowing use of medical marijuana [The Star-Ledger]
State Senate passes medical marijuana legislation [Press of Atlantic City]
New Jersey Senate approves medical marijuana bill [The Express-Times]

Photo by Shay Sowden used under a Creative Commons license

CNN.com Editors Having Some Fun

Hooray! Michael Phelps will not face charges for his bong photo. Although, yes, Phelps broke the law, this is actually fair and just; if you walk into any police station in America with a photo of a guy taking a bong hit and try to get them to charge him with marijuana possession, you will be laughed out of the building. Right?

Anyway, CNN.com has since changed its lead story (at the time of this writing) to something about a fireball (I didn’t bother to look), but I really enjoyed the photo the website chose for the Phelps story:

“Should we run the bong photo again? Or maybe a photo of him winning his eighth gold medal?”
“Naw, let’s find one where he looks totally high!”

Well played, CNN.com editors. Well played.

Thanks, Joe

Internet Proven Useless Once Again

changegov2.png I’m all excited about the end of the Bush Administration, as I’m sure everyone except for comedians are. (Actually, I guess I’m pretty bummed about this, too.) But there is another source of nearly limitless amusement that won’t be leaving us anytime soon: The Internet!

The Internet, too, has the added bonus of not being able to start wars. Or, perhaps, do anything: Barack Obama’s Change.gov, which allowed citizens — actual people, like you and me! — to submit ideas to the president before the new election. As one might have expected, the ideas have been pretty much what people who spend a ton of time on the Internet (i.e., upper middle class kids) care about.

The top vote-getter in the first round of voting was marijuana legalization. Obama responded with a one-sentence reply that he was not in favor of it. Considering before the election Obama couldn’t even really come out against >baggy pants laws, this isn’t much of a surprise1.

But no matter. Stuck with a ton of questions about things like marijuana legalization, Obama punted and instituted a new round of voting. Later, Change.gov instituted a new feature, the Citizens Briefing Book, which is essentially the same thing has before but features Tom Daschle confirming in a video that yes, indeed, children learn better when they’re healthy.

Anyway, the new list is just like the rest of them, which means I can pull out a hilarious collection of ideas (some awesome, some nonsensical, all of them never to be taken seriously by the president) at “random” from the top 30: Ending marijuana prohibition, “Commit to becoming the ‘Greenest’ country in the world”, ending DEA raids on medical marijuana clinics, bullet trains (which would make it easier to get to places carrying our newly-legal pot), “Revoke the Tax Exempt Status of the Church of Scientology”, “Boost America’s Economy with Legal Onine Poker”, ending the drug war, another marijuana legalization one, “Change.gov: Group similar submissions better” and, of course, “End the Truth Embargo on Extraterrestrials (UFO Disclosure).”

Mr. President – Tell us the Truth about the extraterrestrial presence on this planet and release as much relevant information to the American people as possible within reasonable constraints of national security. It is time for the people of the world to know the truth about the universe they inhabit. [...] Until this “Truth Embargo” is ended there will be no public access to technologies derived from extraterrestrial vehicles in this critical time of mounting economic and environmental challenges.

And there’s this one, which is my favorite:

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Fortunately, the online populace is just not that into hanging all white people. Phew! I can rest easy. I think I’ll relax by playing some online poker.

1 I linked that New York Post story because it had the headline I was looking for; however, Googling Obama baggy pants laws gives a bunch of stories with widely conflicting headlines. Most, though, say Obama denounced baggy pants laws. Yes, Obama said that baggy (sagging? saggy?) pants laws were a waste of time, but spent most of his answer telling black men to dress better. “Brothers should pull up their pants,” Obama said. “Now get off my lawn! And it’s the White House lawn, too, so what the hell, how did you kids even get in here anyway?” He didn’t say those last two sentences. I kind of felt they were implied.

That Google search keeps on giving, too: It also gives us a story from November’s New York Times titled, “Can Obama Help Kill Baggy Pants Look?.

High Times In North Jersey

120208hsh.jpg Yes, this story is North Jersey, but it’s so good it needs attention: 10 busted smoking pot at 25th reunion.

Ten high school classmates were arrested on marijuana charges while celebrating their 25th reunion.

Police were called to the Hanover Marriott Friday at 7:18 p.m. on a report of possible drug activity, police said.

Officers found adjoining rooms with the hall doors propped open and a strong odor of burning marijuana coming from one of them, police said.

Upon knocking they were invited in to room occupied by 6 men and 4 women. All those present were 43 years old and were attending their 25th anniversary high school reunion.

What’s great is there is absolutely no common sense involved from any of the actors in this story. For example, the person who called the cops for smelling weed (gasp!) or the police officers who thought it was a good use of time to bust 10 forty-somethings for smoking marijuana.

But, really, the winners here are the high school reunion attendees, who are smart enough to (1) leave their hall doors open while using an illegal drug and (2) invite the police officers in after they knocked.

Anyway, the world is a lot safer now that these 10 have been arrested. What, haven’t you guys ever seen a billboard?

Seems like old times: 10 busted smoking pot at 25th reunion [Daily Record]

Atlantic City & Other Bummers

Oh, let’s just start with one last great summer story. Two women in their 20s were down in Atlantic City, minding their own business and attempting to buy a little weed.

The Press of Atlantic City notes the two “approached a black man in his early 20s wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans and a black bandana.” Our two smart vacationers got into his car, where he drove them to a dirt road near the Atlantic City airport.

Then, of course, he made them strip, emptied out their purse and drove away. And the girls apparently didn’t even get any marijuana. This is truly the most depressing story in the history of this site.

I’d wager to guess most people stripped and robbed when attempting to buy weed don’t report it to the police, so who knows how long this has been going on. But it’s not like the cops don’t have their hands full with pot: According to just-released government statistics, almost 873,000 were arrested for marijuana law violations in 2007, 89 percent for simple possession.

The news isn’t all bad, though, as one can see from this YouTube video titled “WORLD’S LARGEST JOINT.” Watch it before Google takes it down!

Would-be drug buyers stripped, robbed in Atlantic City, police say [Press of AC]
Photo by Alejandro Forero Cuervo, Creative Commons License

Ninja Warriors Fail In Plan To Fight Weed

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POTSCREAM

There is more news today about the two kids who dressed up as ninjas in an attempt to stop drug users. The pair — clearly future DARE officers — say they were just attempting to deliver a few anti-drug missives to an ex-girlfriend and her friends.

But — whoops! — at the first house they went to, they caught the eye of the cops, probably because they were dressed up as “Shinobi warriors” from an old Sega Genesis game. (Maybe they should have dressed up like Sonic the Hedgehog or John Madden instead.) Then one of the ninjas talked to the Newark Star-Ledger and things got awesome:

Pertkiewicz was released from jail yesterday on $20,000 bail. He faces weapons charges and a charge of harassment for targeting the home of his ex-girlfriend, a charge he flatly denies.

“I want to be very clear, there was no intent of harassment at all,” said Pertkiewicz, a Bergen Community College anthropology student and volunteer karate instructor for Clifton children. “It’s not because she was my ex-girlfriend; it was because of what she was doing.” He said she was allowing others to use her home to smoke pot.

The letters stated “Shinobi will stop your cruel and sadistic intentions with justified, yet merciful force.” The correspondence accused pot smokers and drug dealers of having “committed sin of passing impurity” to others. It also said the “wind guides us to those of impure heart and intent.”

But Trojaniak, a self-taught martial artist, said they never intended to physically harm the letter recipients, including one purported drug dealer on the list to receive a letter. He said the pair had considered throwing smoke bombs into the dealer’s home and calling emergency workers who would later discover the drugs.

Ha ha, a “self-taught” “martial artist.” Who was going to stop people from smoking pot! I’d make the joke that maybe these kids need a bong hit or two to calm down, but I think injecting some methamphetamine would calm these kids down instead.

Oh, the article also notes the details for the smoke bombs came from a YouTube video. That’s the place where all ninja warriors learn to fight drugs.

Plan goes awry for anti-drug ‘ninjas’ [The Star-Ledger]

Famed Blogger Interviews Tommy Chong

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Digphilly’s Teresa Masterson — it’s been a while! — recently interviewed Tommy Chong, apparently. The interview is six minutes and forty-seven seconds; one can only imagine Dr. Chong had to be high to get through this. (Rimshot!)

Tommy Chong on Cheech, Tours, and of Course, Weed [Digphilly]

Philly.com Is On Drugs — Really

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Be still my heart. It’s like my two worlds (drug column and blog where I have made fun of Philly.com for almost three years) have collided! The current Philly.com front page is about stoner comedies. Yes, the paper that wrote about the area’s “marijuana overdoses” last November has its film critic writing about movies that essentially have weed as the main character.

As you may have also noticed, the other big story tonight is: OMG the giant fat cat is going to be on Regis tomorrow everybody celebrate like gangbusters!!!

Smoking the funny stuff [Inquirer]

Washington Pot Party

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Hey, look at that! Right on the front page of CNN.com, a big story about decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level. I wrote a column about this a while back.

Update: Hey, look, the government sent three people to the presser to complain!