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Out-Of-State Winies, The LCB, And God

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In the beginning, God created man and the ethyl alcohol molecule. Later, man discovered the ethyl alcohol molecule was psychoactive. In other words, he discovered how to get drunk.

Alcohol is officially endorsed by both God and Jesus, and as such it’s one of the most popular drugs in the world. But even though God and Jesus both love alcohol, some people thought it shouldn’t exist. So the U.S. banned alcohol and everything was fine except for the flagrant violation of the alcohol laws and the gang wars and the deaths from contaminated alcohol and (most importantly) the loss of tax revenue. America got rid of Prohibition and Pennsylvania founded the Liquor Control Board.

Officially, Pennsylvania hoped for the return of Prohibition, if only to shut down the saloons in Philadelphia (see, in some ways this Prohibition wasn’t about alcohol at all!). But soon the state did discover the value of the tax revenue of drunks, and now it restricts the sale of “wine and spirits” to state-owned stores that usually suck.

The most-famous alcohol tax in Pennsylvania is the Johnstown Flood Tax, originally levied at 10 percent to help the Western Pa. town recover from a 1936 flood. Now the money goes to the general fund. As you might have guessed, the rate is now 18 percent, having been raised for reasons not related to flooding in Johnstown.

Yes, the state loves alcohol revenue. It gets better: The state once banned out-of-state wineries from shipping directly to consumers in Pennsylvania, because that makes sense. But a bunch of court rulings eventually made that law unconstitutional, so now somehow the state is going to make a new law that will do the same thing and (I guess, you never know) be constitutional.

All of this is being done to “protect the children,” because allowing wineries to ship alcohol to Pennsylvania residents would make it easier for kids to get booze. They, apparently, do not have access to it now.

For more information, consult your local anti-Pennsylvania LCB bloq.

Pa. Lawmakers May Restrict Wine Shipments [AP/NBC 10]
Photo by RobotSkirts, Creative Commons license

N.J. Takes Candy From Babies

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New Jersey Assemblyman Ralph Caputo is is drafting legislation to ban minors from buying energy drinks.

Caputo says he is worried about caffeine’s effect on children. I assume energy drink prohibition for minors will be a lot like alcohol prohibition, with Red Bull speakeasies and armies of Protestant women destroying cases of Monster with axes.

There is no word if Caputo knows children can get the same effect from drinking, say, three cans of soda as they can from drinking a Red Bull. And with how expensive that disgusting stuff is, I have to assume it might even be cheaper.

State May Ban Minors From Energy Drinks [AP/NBC 10]

Beer! Cheese! The End Of Prohibition!

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Joe “Don Russell” Sixpack reminds us today that it’s the 75th anniversary of the end of Prohibition April 7. Personally, I’d like to celebrate it by arresting some marijuana smokers, but perhaps you’re a little more of a beer-and-cheese kinda guy.

And, hey, here we go: Suzy (a board certified Friend of D-Mac™) is holding a beer and cheese party tonight with Sly Fox’s Brian O’Reilly and “cheese monger extraordinare” Hunter Fike. Ha ha, cheese monger! It’s at DiBruno Bros. and starts at 6, and costs $45. They will have Pikeland Pils, the current greatest beer in the world, naturally.

After the jump, more beer fun with a recent 6 ABC segment on Joe Sixpack’s book and Philly’s status as the best beer-drinking city in the world, helpfully shown on April 1, a while after the end of Philly Beer Week.

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In Which I Write About The War On Drugs Again

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I don’t like to be serious here, you know, ever. But forgive me for a second while I pontificate.

Let’s get the event out of the way: Saturday at 4, a group will meet at Broad and South for a march to Headhouse Square to protest the criminalization of marijuana. Yes, I’m writing about drug legalization again. But it’s in the guise of an event preview, so, really, I’m doing two annoying things: Getting serious about drugs and previewing an event I have an interest in. Hooray!

Thing is, though, marijuana should be legal. It’s a drug that has never killed anyone — it’s impossible to overdose — is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco and, uh, a drug many American citizens enjoy recreationally. You can die from drinking too much alcohol. You can die from taking too many Aspirin. But you can’t die from smoking (or eating, or whatever) marijuana. People with extreme pain can ease it by smoking marijuana. People on drugs that make it hard to eat can regain their appetite by smoking marijuana. (Uh, duh.) But the federal government continues to rely on faulty science to prevent people from getting the relief they need.

But, actually, the government did approve of marijuana. Thirty-five years ago a Nixon commission on drugs recommended marijuana be legalized. Nixon shelved the report.

Is marijuana a “safe” drug? No. No drugs are. But, to lock people up for smoking weed? To arrest 16.5 million people for marijuana-related charges? To spend $20 billion attacking a plant people enjoy using simply because Mexicans smoked it when they immigrated to the United States?

Pardon me if my arguments aren’t very strong. But, to me, it seems like a no-brainer. Save money! Make tax money! Allow dying people to feel better! What, exactly, is the issue here? It’s not like making marijuana illegal makes it any harder to get.

Anyway, since I’m apparently incapable of making a decent argument, I asked Derek Rosenzweig, co-chair of the Philadelphia chapter of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, a few questions about marijuana legalization and the Global Cannabis March on Saturday. And by “asked a few questions,” I mean “asked a few softballs.” Hey, I already told you how I feel about this.

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Temple Cops Focusing On Serious Crimes Only

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You may have noticed today is April 20, the international holiday for marijuana smokers. (As you can tell from the graphic at right, other famous things happened on 4/20, too.)

The graphic is from the Temple News, which also reports today is 4/20, the pot-smokin’ day and also reports today is “the blurriest day of the year.”

Of course, rather than let Temple students enjoy their day by eating an entire bag of Oreos in under five minutes, the brass at TU is going to be cracking down on people just trying to enjoy a drug that is impossible to overdose on.

But for Campus Safety Services, it’s a day when 85 of its officers will be on duty and patrolling the campus for signs of drug use.

“We are being very observant of students’ behavior; this includes signs of blood shot eyes, nausea and staggering when walking,” officer Marquis Robinson said. “Overall, we are looking at the well being of a person”

However, smoking students should not only be on the lookout for officers on Main Campus. “It will be more community police officers,” Philadelphia Police officer Derrick Taylor said. “Like undercover cops, bike units and beat officers. Foot beat is very crucial in trying to keep the students and the community safe and intact.”

While the cops are cracking down on pot smokers at Temple, criminals will be looting and robbing the surrounding areas. But, hey, at least the Wawas will be safe from hungry hungry stoners!

Want to help legalize marijuana? Join NORML, a group which fights for medical marijuana and reform of marijuana laws for only $4.20 today. Also check out the Marijuana Policy Project, Drug War Rant’s 420 open thread and the excellent Philadelphia chapter of NOMRL.

A day to forget, 4/20 has police on the lookout [Temple News via Philebrity]

Upstanding Citizen As Much Of A Liar As Rest Of Us

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Anthony James Zasa Jr., a former high school wrestler who handed Shute his first loss and got the hot older babe, worked at national youth rehabilitation org VisionQuest, helping kids get off the drugs for 25 years.

Well, it turns out he was doing something else, too: Working for a Mexican drug cartel smuggling cocaine and crystal meth into the country. Of course!

Federal authorities said Zasa and his brother attempted to send $4 million of cocaine across the country in a motor home. (Oddly enough, this was the original plot of the Robin Williams family comedy RV.) His brother was caught during a routine traffic stop and then decided to rat on Zasa and other partners in the drug smuggling scheme.

Much like the gay naked meth-dealin’ principal, Zasa isn’t alleged to have used his connections with VisionQuest to sell any drugs to kids. All the people in the organization are shocked and confused.

DEA Special Agent Douglas Collier chimed in:

“You don’t normally start a business with 466 pounds of cocaine and 75 pounds of methamphetamine.”

Ha, Special Agent Collier, clearly you’re forgetting a little website called Amazon.com.

Life of caring was a cover, officials say [Inquirer]

Milton Street, Fake Candidate With Real Drug Policy

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Today’s Philadelphia Weekly has a big ol’ feature on America’s #1 politician, Milton Street. In addition to revealing how he got all the signatures for his now-City Council At-Large run — “I was out there last night at some of the homeless shelters, and those brothers are ready to do things” — and his stance on marijuana:

“We don’t take advantage of all our natural resources,” he says sincerely, passionately. “Marijuana is the largest cash crop in America.”

The 67-year-old unemployed former hot dog vendor—who wanted to replace his brother as mayor despite the fact he’s facing federal charges for corruption and tax evasion—wants to decriminalize marijuana.

“Yeah, and sell it through the state stores, just like they sell liquor,” Street says with conviction, as though debating the point would be ludicrous. “It’s not as detrimental to your health as alcohol.”

The man who may or may not live in Moorestown, N.J., thinks legalizing marijuana could be a way of alleviating property taxes, funding schools and adding police officers. He says he tried to get legislation passed in 1982 when he served as a state senator in Harrisburg, but he couldn’t rally support.

“It’s all about money,” he concedes. “It’s all about economics.”

Isn’t it amazing? The thing Milton Street is most lucid on is drug policy.

Milton’s Paradise Lost [PW]

Bush To AIDS Patients: Drop Dead

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An article in this morning’s Washington Post details a recent study about a drug that can greatly reduce pain in AIDS patients. There were no side effects Great, huh? It’s not a panacea, but anything to make the lives of very sick people better is an advancement.

The Bush Administration’s reaction to the study was to, of course, cheer and urge the FDA to approve this drug as soon as possible. Ha ha! Just kidding. Instead the administration attacked the researchers who did the study, insinuating (quoting the WaPo here) “it is likely that those who received the real pot were aware of that, introducing a bias of expected efficacy” and vowed to block the drug from ever reaching the market.

The drug, of course, is marijuana. (So I guess it’s not exactly new.) And it can make chronically ill patients feel better. And marijuana is arguably less dangerous than alcohol, tobacco, Vioxx, that acne drug that fucks up your liver, aspirin, Tylenol, etc. And, as you may have read 17 times, smoking it helps chronically ill patients to feel much better.

But the White House’s message, Republican or Democrat, has been: “Just say no.” David Murray, chief scientist at the ONDCP lied: “We’re very much supportive of any effort to ameliorate the suffering of AIDS patients,” unless apparently it’s some sort of relatively safe drug that the AMA opposed the criminalization of.

Prohibition is one of the most harmful policies our country has toward its own citizens. But prohibition isn’t going to end anytime soon, if ever. But to deny chronically ill patients medical marijuana and to attack the authors of the study without cause just means you’re a human being who doesn’t care about other people.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

Research Supports Medicinal Marijuana [Washington Post]