Green Day Highlights Marijuana Issues

  Green Day Highlights Marijuana Issues

Posted by CN Staff on April 18, 2005 at 08:05:16 PT
By Steve Heisler, Correspondent 
Source: Herald-Tribune  

Florida -- Should you feel the urge to wander outside pinching a hand-rolled cigarette for a late-afternoon smoke break this Green Day -- that's at 4:20 p.m. on 4/20 for those in the know -- you'll be a part of a tongue-in-cheek observance meant to spotlight that official policy and public perception of marijuana use have never been more at odds.Evidence of a wider acceptance of the drug can be interpreted in the recent, popular remake of the cult-classic anti-pot film "Reefer Madness," which recently began showing on cable TV's Showtime.
And comedian Tommy Chong's "The Marijuana-Logues" was scheduled to play Wednesday at Sarasota's Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, but recently was postponed until late summer because of fears that Chong's appearance would violate his probation for marijuana possession.Wider acceptance of the drug is evidenced by a recent remake of the cult classic film "Reefer Madness," which recently began showing on cable TV's Showtime, and "The Marijuana-Logues," a comedy starring Tommy Chong that is scheduled to go on tour this summer.But on the street, pot smokers still receive the attention of Sarasota County Sheriff's special investigations unit Capt. Jim Lilly, whose undercover officers work with police in Venice and North Port.With an ounce of marijuana costing about $130, and many quarter-ounce bags going for $40, finding and breaking up a brisk trade in Sarasota isn't uncommon. Misdemeanor possession of 20 grams or less doesn't carry a severe penalty, although 20 grams with the intent to distribute bumps it to a felony. (One ounce equals 28.35 grams.)Often, Lilly said, marijuana users are perplexed about why they are arrested."Some of the problem we run into is just the public perception that marijuana is not a harmful drug," Lilly said. "People who take it will say, 'I don't do drugs. I smoke a little weed now and then.' It's been mainstream for so many years now, that becomes one of the battles."In contrast and on a national level, Ethan Nadelmann leads the Drug Policy Alliance, which is focused on offering alternatives to the war on drugs.The former Princeton University professor and radio commentator said the 1990s to the present has been a period of acknowledgment for many.A series of 11 state ballot initiatives legalizing marijuana for medical purposes has helped transform the image of the pot smoker in the public eye, he said."We showed at least two-thirds of Americans supported medical marijuana, so those were very significant (results)," said Nadelmann, who helped organize funding for many of the initiatives."They were the first time in over 20 years the drug-policy reformers had played ball and won in American politics. They were seen as a fringe group into the '80s and '90s, (but) when we won those ballot initiatives, it showed we were coming of age."Where we stand in 2005 is (at) a very interesting point," he said."The Bush administration has said the most dangerous drug in the U.S. is marijuana and people are just astounded by this stuff. Obviously, that's a ludicrous statement, when you have methamphetamines and heroin and alcohol."Aligned with Nadelmann in the war on the war on drugs is Allan F. St. Pierre.St. Pierre is the executive director of NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), the well-known lobby that helped institutionalize Green Day by frequently holding its national conference on that date.Reflecting on its late-1980s California college roots, St. Pierre said he doesn't take Green Day too seriously."Who can really celebrate 4/20 -- all the unemployed and undergrads and maybe some blue-collar workers who can arrange their schedules in order to do it. It's hard to imagine a stockbroker taking 4/20 off."St. Pierre is serious, however, about marijuana law reform and the inequities in the system.He said someone in the United States is arrested for marijuana every 42 seconds, and the number of pot busts has risen, even as officials suggest its use has decreased.The NORML Web site -- includes an arrest report (Florida doesn't report its statistics to the federal government) as well as information about subjective measures used during busts.Seventy-five percent of arrests are of people younger than 24, and 60 percent are male. Enforcement won't change, of course, until the law does, and St. Pierre pointed to the influence of the liquor industry lobby in fighting drugs.He laughed as he pointed out that former U.S. drug czar John Lawn accepted a post as the president of the Century Council, the nation's largest liquor lobby."They said, 'We congratulate Mr. Lawn. One reason we're so happy he's heading us up is he can make the distinction between legal and social and moral-based alcohol consumption and drug use,'" St. Pierre said. "To me, that is so twisted philosophically, it's funny."While alcohol's deleterious effects on reaction time and coordination are well documented, perception under the influence of marijuana is heightened, University of South Florida anthropology professor Elizabeth Bird said.And perception, apparently, is everything.At The Hemp Factory, a South Florida store, the environmentally friendly fiber's benefits are extolled even as the smell of incense complements the requisite poster of Bob Marley toking away. And on the store's back counter, a colorful assortment of bongs and other pipes are for sale with the admonishment that "Pipes are for traditional tobacco and herb blends; any other purpose is illegal."Right."It's propaganda that makes people think hemp has anything to do with marijuana," owner Ira Schneider insisted. "It only comes from the same family of cannabis. A green bean is not a brown bean is not a lima bean."At the same time, Schneider acknowledged that the pipes and gadgets sold in the store help keep it in business.If anyone chooses to use any of those pipes from area head shops for a purpose that is illegal, Sarasota's Capt. Lilly is on the job.His undercover officers go for both the buyer and the seller. But justifying the bust becomes tougher, he said, because society doesn't stigmatize pot smoking as it once did.It seems that marijuana, illegal for some 68 years, is in a transitional phase. The viewpoint of users is that a few puffs won't hurt you."They're not sticking a needle in their arm, they're not snorting something up their nose, it's not intrusive into the body is how they look at it," Lilly said."Marijuana -- from a standpoint of health there are some risks -- (but) very seldom do we get someone who smokes (himself) to death."Sidebar: It's The LawOn May 14, 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-0 against medicinal marijuana under federal law. Although nine states allow medicinal use of marijuana, U.S. federal law prohibits medicinal use of marijuana, according to U.S. v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative, No. 00-151.Hemp vs. Marijuana: Many people immediately think of marijuana when they see hemp products, and while the word "hemp" frequently pops up in marijuana-related debates, hemp and marijuana are not the same thing.Q -- What do hemp and marijuana have in common?A -- Hemp and marijuana are varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant.It is illegal to grow both hemp and marijuana in the United States (although it is not illegal to sell or purchase hemp products, hence the hemp bags and dresses you see in store windows).The two plants have similar aromas when in bloom.Q -- How are hemp and marijuana different?A -- Smoking marijuana will make the user high, and smoking hemp will not. Hemp contains less than 1 percent of the active ingredient THC, the substance that gives pot smokers a high. Marijuana plants, on the other hand, contain 10 to 20 percent THC.Marijuana plants and hemp plants have different appearances and are harvested differently. Marijuana plants tend to be short and bushy, while hemp plants can have stalks that are 25 feet tall.Unlike marijuana, hemp has many uses. Over 25,000 products can be manufactured from hemp, including hair conditioner, diapers, insulation, carpets, paper and perfume.The Great DebateThe hemp debate and the marijuana debate are often confused with each other. Proponents of legalizing hemp cultivation focus on the plant's many uses and the fact that it requires no pesticides to flourish. However, opponents express concern that permitting hemp cultivation would result in the legalization of marijuana cultivation because both hemp and marijuana come from different varieties of the same plant. Opponents also say that other raw materials are more economical than industrial hemp.Cultivating hemp is currently illegal in the United States, although hemp items are imported. Marijuana, on the other hand, is illegal in any form.SOURCES:The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, 1998 National Drug Control Strategy -- -- http://www.houseparent.netSource: Sarasota Herald-Tribune (FL)Author: Steve Heisler, CorrespondentPublished: April 18, 2005Copyright: 2005 Sarasota Herald-TribuneContact: editor.letters herald-trib.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives

Home    Comment    Email    Register    Recent Comments    Help


Comment #6 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on April 19, 2005 at 13:47:29 PT

Sirs,  In your article, you quote Police Captain Jim Lilly regarding marijuana, saying "marijuana -- from a standpoint of health there are some risks -- (but) very seldom do we get someone who smokes (himself) to death." This is an interesting assertion. If smoking oneself to death happens "very seldom", then it must have happened at least once. If it has happened - once, ever - then Captain Lilly can earn $100,000 from drug-law reform activist Jack Herer, who has offered the sum in return for concrete evidence of anyone dying from a marijuana overdose. He has offered this money for many years now, and nobody has yet claimed it, because in all recorded history, nobody has ever died from a marijuana overdose. Why, then, is marijuana illegal while alcohol kills 150,000 per year and tobacco claims another 400,000? The only people that die over marijuana have lost their lives not to the plant, but the social policy surrounding it. Prohibition kills innocents while reaping vast profits for organized crime. Isn't that why we passed the 21st Amendment? It's time to end the war on marijuana - it's done more harm than the plant itself ever could.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #5 posted by warhater on April 19, 2005 at 12:21:18 PT:

The Hemp vs. Marijuana bit... laughable:"Q -- How are hemp and marijuana different?A -- Smoking marijuana will make the user high, and smoking hemp will not. Hemp contains less than 1 percent of the active ingredient THC, the substance that gives pot smokers a high. Marijuana plants, on the other hand, contain 10 to 20 percent THC."This smacks of DEA propaganda. Certain high quality kind bud might contain 10-20% THC, but most kind is probably about 5-7% THC by dry weight. To say that the whole plant contains 10-20% THC is incorrect. Sun leaves, branches, and stems dilute the THC in the buds."Unlike marijuana, hemp has many uses. Over 25,000 products can be manufactured from hemp, including hair conditioner, diapers, insulation, carpets, paper and perfume."The author seems to be trying to paint hemp as a different species than cannabis. They can cross pollinate and produce viable seeds. They are different varieties of the same species. Perhaps the author should do some research of his own instead of blindly accepting the green bean-lima bean argument of head shop owner Ira Schneider, but technical accuracy is not my beef. This comment implies that marijuana is not useful. For many years THC (trade name Marinol) has been legally available as medicine in the United States. Several states have legalized medical marijuana. For many years anti-drug crusaders used to loved to say "Marijuana has no legitimate medical uses." Time has proven them wrong, but instead of pointing this out, Steve Heisler finds a way to weasel this old meme into his piece. The uses of hemp that he sites are also uses for marijuana. They are the same plant. 
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #4 posted by Dankhank on April 18, 2005 at 11:06:16 PT

Hemp is food
We need to talk about Hemp food moreIt is important to highlight Hempfood and Hemphealth in discussions. What could be more important?"Mormons ate Hemp for decades" Hemp Traders Alliance:
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #3 posted by CorvallisEric on April 18, 2005 at 10:07:10 PT

No prediction, but ...
... wouldn't it be interesting if the Supreme Court announcement (perhaps together with the other Commerce Clause case) came out just after the new Pope is announced so it can be completely drowned-out in the news?
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #2 posted by Druid on April 18, 2005 at 09:40:11 PT

"Marijuana -- from a standpoint of health there are some risks -- (but) very seldom do we get someone who smokes (himself) to death."Very seldom? How about never.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #1 posted by Dave in Florida on April 18, 2005 at 09:09:39 PT

My Prediction
My hometown paper..But on to the subject.. The Supreme court will announce its decision (raich v ashcroft) on wednesday 4/20/05.. just to screw with us.
[ Post Comment ]

  Post Comment