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  • Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times

    Turns out, our very own Jack Lessenberry knows the Grosse Pointer seeking to ban the MT: Ten years or so ago, a woman named Andrea Lavigne sat in on some media survey classes I was teaching at Wayne State University. She was in her late 30s or early 40s, and seemed to be searching for answers. She wanted to know how the media work, and told me she was a Maoist. This fascinated me, because I thought authentic Maoists were almost as rare as passenger pigeons. Chairman Mao, we now know, starved to death and slaughtered tens of millions of his own citizens, and kept China economically and intellectually backward. Intrigued, I got together one night before class with her and another Maoist, to find out what they were all about. Alas, they spouted a form of primitive, grade-school Marxism. They seemed to have very little historical knowledge of Communism or what it had actually been like. Yes. A Maoist. Read the full story at Michigan Radio here.

    The post Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’

    A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the owner of Detroit’s municipal solid waste incinerator Monday, accusing the company of nuisance and gross negligence violations According to the complaint filed by Detroit-based Liddle & Dubin P.C., “On occasions too numerous to list, Plaintiffs’ property including Plaintiffs’ neighborhood, residences and yards were physically invaded by noxious odors and contaminants … As a direct and proximate result of the Defendant’s’ negligence in operating and/or maintaining the facility, Plaintiffs’ property has been invaded by noxious odors.” The eight-page complaint charges that local property values have dropped due to the incinerator’s presence, “and has interfered with Plaintiffs’ use and enjoyment of their property.” The lawsuit, filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, seeks a financial award in excess of $25,000 and all costs and attorney fees related to the case. In an email, a spokesperson for the company says, “Detroit Renewable Power is reviewing the complaint filed today,” but declined further comment. The suit comes weeks after a Metro Times’ cover story earlier this month found a growing number of odor complaints from nearby residents since Detroit Renewable Power LLC (DRP) took control of the facility in 2010. The investigation found a spike in citations from the Michigan Department […]

    The post Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup

    The High Times Medical Cannabis Cup is more than just a celebration — although with the recent shift in attitudes toward marijuana legalization, there certainly is much to celebrate.  HT‘s Danny Danko described it as “just like any other harvest festival or a county fair where people bring their best produce, their best pigs and horses and cows, and they compete with each other for bragging rights, basically.” Here are a list of winners from this year’s Cannabis Cup, who did indeed walk home with some well-deserved bragging rights — if anyone knows their marijuana it’s High Times: Indica 1ST - Oasis Medical Seeds - Paris OG 2ND - Herbal Solutions - Alien Dawg F2 3RD - Herban Legendz, LLC - Grape OX Sativa 1ST - Arborside Compassion - CATFISH 2ND - Organibliss - Ghost Train Haze #1 3RD - We Grow Education and Collective Centers - MelonGum Hybrid 1ST - Herbal Solutions - Gorilla Glue 2ND - Pure West Compassion Club - Death Star 3RD - Kushman Veganics for Buds & Roses - Veganic Candyland Concentrate 1ST - Mr. B’s Extracts - Raskal’s Lemon 2ND - 710 Savant - Kosher Kush Dewaxed 3RD - Oasis Medical / Vader Extracts / Dab Vader - Candy Jack Shatter Non-Solvent Hash 1ST - NLG - Jedi Kush Ice Wax 2ND - Arborside Compassion - HeadCandy Kush Hash 3RD - New World Seeds Resource […]

    The post Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative

    So is the title of the press release we received this morning from The Satanic Temple. You may recall our interview with Doug Mesner from earlier this year. The Satanic Temple is, perhaps, best known for trying to build a child-friendly monument to satan in OKC: How Mesner and TST are rocking the Hobby Lobby ruling is interesting: The Satanic Temple Leverages Hobby Lobby Ruling to Claim Exemption From State Mandated ProLife Materials Reads the next line of the press release. And then their website: A number of states require that abortion providers give information to patients that maybe inaccurate or misleading. Demands that members of the Satanic Temple, or those who share our beliefs, be subjected against our will to anything but the best scientific understanding are a violation of our religious beliefs. Thanks to rulings such as Hobby Lobby, we can take a stand against these practices. Mesner points out how the Hobby Lobby ruling bolsters their position: While we feel we have a strong case for an exemption regardless of the Hobby Lobby ruling, the Supreme Court has decided that religious beliefs are so sacrosanct that they can even trump scientific fact. This was made clear when […]

    The post Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio

    On Saturday we set out to check out the High Times Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio, Mich. — High Times did hold a Cannabis Cup in the Motor City back in 2011, but Detroit police flexing their muscles and making arrests at that event may have been to blame, at least partially, for the choice of a new host city. The event was held this year at the Auto City Speedway, (also known as “B.F.E.” to Detroiters). Nevertheless, the prospect of stopping at the Torch for the best burger in the Genessee County was compelling — and anyway, this was the Cannabis Cup we were talking about. Was it really going to be “work?” It turned out, just a little bit. An inexplicable lack of an on-site ATM meant hiking quite a ways up the road to the nearest gas station, and then waiting for an attendant to restock the ATM with cash. We spoke with plenty of Cannabis Cup attendees at the gas station — everybody knows that the local gas station is a stoner’s best-friend. The two-day festival, for which one-day tickets were sold for $40, was divided into two sections — a general area and a medicating […]

    The post Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • ICYMI: Forbes rates Detroit #9 on its “America’s Most Creative Cities” list

    Yes, it’s true. Forbes says Detroit is one of America’s most creative cities: “We ranked these places based on four metrics: activity per capita on project-funding platforms Kickstarter and Indiegogo and music sites Bandcamp and ReverbNation. The goal was to capture organic creativity, since many artistic and musical types have “day jobs” outside of creative pursuits.” The Forbes list sandwiches #9 Detroit between #8 Seattle and #10 Oakland, Calif. If you are watching the art and culture explosion happening right now in Detroit, you probably think we should rank higher than #2 Boston and #1 San Francisco, if only for the fact that it’s actually affordable to create here and there is space for everyone to be creative. But hey, those metrics weren’t part of the equation. And there’s always next year.

    The post ICYMI: Forbes rates Detroit #9 on its “America’s Most Creative Cities” list appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Higher Ground

Getting NORML

A brief history of the movement to legalize marijuana

Looking ahead to next month's long-anticipated popular vote to legalize recreational use of marijuana in California, it seems like a million years ago when I went to the West Coast in 1972 to campaign for the original Proposition 19 — the first California Marijuana Initiative.

Out of prison for only a few months and still celebrating the reversal on appeal of my conviction for possessing two joints that had forced me to serve 29 months of a 9-1/2-to-10-year sentence in the Michigan prison system, I had been recruited by my friend Mike Aldrich to join him on the board of directors of a pioneering marijuana legalization organization called Amorphia: The Cannabis Cooperative.

Amorphia was spearheading the campaign to repeal the state's laws against adult use, possession and cultivation of marijuana, and Aldrich was assembling a team of activists to tour the state's college campuses, give press conferences, and speak publicly on behalf of Proposition 19.

So, at his behest, I joined Keith Stroup, a young lawyer from Washington, D.C., who headed another fledgling organization called NORML — the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws — and a number of local luminaries to drum up support for CMI. As I recall, Keith and I went on to make appearances in Phoenix, Ariz., and Santa Fe, N.M., on the same legalization tour, had a ball, and became fast friends for many years to come.

Amorphia had been established in 1970 by Blair Newman to manufacture and sell Acapulco Gold brand rolling papers to raise money for a marijuana legalization movement that would include a media campaign, a news service, a speakers' bureau, court tests of pot laws, and funding expert witnesses to appear before state legislatures to lobby for legalization.

Further, Newman was convinced that when marijuana was legalized (by 1980, he projected), Amorphia could produce high-quality marijuana on communal farms and import the best foreign marijuana, then market its products under the Acapulco Gold trademark and use the expanded profits for social change.

Newman "estimated that the legal marijuana market would be about $3 billion a year," Patrick Anderson points out in High in America: The True Story Behind NORML and the Politics of Marijuana. "If Amorphia could control one sixth of that, it would gross $500 million a year and should have a profit of $30 million a year to put into social action."

"Let It Grow!" was Amorphia's battle cry as the Cannabis Cooperative took its first steps under the banner of "free legal backyard marijuana," and soon Newman brought in Dr. Michael Aldrich, head of Buffalo LEMAR and publisher of Marijuana Review, to join him in San Francisco as co-director of the ambitious little organization.

Already known as Dr. Dope and shortly to become founder of the FitzHugh Ludlow Memorial Library, Aldrich quickly teamed up with law professors Leo Paoli and John Kaplan to organize the 1972 California Marijuana Initiative as the first full-scale attack on America's insane drug laws. Their efforts led to placing Proposition 19 on the ballot by means of a genuine grassroots, all-volunteer organizing drive, and the initiative attracted a remarkable 33 percent of the vote — more than twice the predicted size. The movement was greatly encouraged by the election results and looked forward to fighting on to ultimate victory.

But Amorphia was already starting to stagger under the weight of what had turned out to be a very bad business decision: trying to develop the first hemp rolling papers for U.S. distribution, a proposition that eventually swallowed up all available funds and sent Amorphia's legalization activities into a tailspin.

The momentum generated by the surprising level of public support for Proposition 19 was picked up by Stroup and NORML, whose concept of correct strategy differed fundamentally from the approach adopted by Newman and Aldrich and their associates at Amorphia.

The groups had attempted to co-exist and work together during the CMI campaign and thereafter — Blair Newman had even moved to Washington, worked out of Stroup's basement office, and called himself co-director of Amorphia and deputy director of NORML — but Amorphia's business problems drove the legalization organization farther and farther from its chosen course of action in the political arena.

In the end, NORML prevailed and, finally, in 1974, Amorphia was folded into the NORML structure and reconstituted as the California branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

The next year, California NORML successfully lobbied the state legislature to pass the Moscone Act of 1975, which "decriminalized" marijuana possession from a felony to a misdemeanor, with a maximum $100 fine for 1 ounce or less. At this point, spirits were at an all-time high among the proponents of legalization, and the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976 after the eight long years of darkness drawn down over America by Richard M. Nixon and Gerald Ford raised our hopes even higher.

Stroup became intimate with the Carter administration and its drug policy director, Peter Bourne, and it seemed that NORML would lead the nation into a bright new future where the recreational use of drugs would no longer be a criminal matter.

But the legalization movement foundered on the shoals of a major scandal when Bourne, Stroup and their pals were exposed in media reports as snorters of cocaine at White House parties, and the carefully cultivated image of marijuana as a harmless, even benevolent recreational substance deserving of decriminalization at least was smeared with the brush of "hard" drug use. People in the government who had been leaning toward legalization began to back away from the issue, and the prospect of progressive marijuana legislation now being passed was effectively dead in the water.

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