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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

Hemp on the ropes

Efforts to liberalize hemp growing could offer jobs and revenues

Back in the 1970s, a friend of mine was headed to Missouri on a motorbike. Due to the low horsepower and speed of his vehicle, he stuck to the back roads. As he cruised through rural Indiana he looked over and gosh-a-mighty there was a field of marijuana as far as the eye could see. Feeling like he'd hit the jackpot on a one-armed bandit he grabbed as much as he could carry and headed on down the road.

When he finally got around to smoking it, imagine his surprise when it didn't get him high. It was probably a wild hemp field left over from World War II, when it was widely grown as part of the war effort. Back then, the U.S. government produced and distributed Hemp for Victory, a film encouraging farmers to grow hemp because industrial fiber was in short supply.

Hemp is the non-psychoactive cousin of marijuana. It has about a 0.3 percent level of THC, the part of marijuana that gets you high, while marijuana's level is more like 5 percent to 10 percent. There are some 25,000 products made from hemp or with hemp ingredients or parts, from textiles to soap to cooking oil to cars. Yet almost all of them come from outside of the United States, because the hemp plant is lumped in with marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug along with the likes of heroin and cocaine. Even during World War II, farmers who grew it needed a special permit.

"The United States has sweeping anti-marijuana laws that don't recognize that hemp is not the same as marijuana," says LaMar Lemmons Jr., a former state representative who introduced three bills supporting hemp in Lansing last year.

"The Chinese make a massive amount of hemp products, everything from foodstuffs to bricks. There's a biodegradable plastic that's made from hemp, there's a brick that's stronger than concrete. It's all part of the new green economy."

Lemmons' bills — one called for Congress to reschedule industrial hemp and remove barriers to farming it, another for a feasibility study on growing hemp in the state, a third to allow hemp farming here without DEA permits — went to the Committee on Agriculture and died when the new legislative body came in on Jan. 1. Lemmons, who retired due to term limits, says the main problem around hemp is "ignorance."

"For lack of a better word, people are unfamiliar with the difference between psychoactive and non-psychoactive," Lemmons says. "They see no upside and they're hesitant to do anything courageous or think outside of the box."

Maybe a little education would help. That's certainly the goal of the Michigan Industrial Hemp Education and Marketing Project that is, according to its website, "working to expand hemp as a natural resource for industrial and private enterprise." MIHEMP is holding an Industrial Hemp Education Bazaar Feb. 19, at the Atlanta Senior Center in Atlanta, in northern Michigan. The event will feature hemp products for sale, speakers on hemp farming, workshops connecting retailers with producers of hemp products, video presentations and hemp history. There will be an auction too — though I'm not sure what folks will be bidding on.

"We'll have a hemp block that is a mixture of hemp and lime. They built a house out of it in Asheville, N.C.," says Everett Swift, director of MIHEMP. "We import $350 million of raw hemp materials each year. It's used in Dr. Bronner's soap; Johnson Controls uses it to make switches. Importing drives the cost up. It could create a new crop for farmers, and it's better for the environment than many crops."

Swift's most immediate legislative goal is to get Montmorency County — Atlanta is the county seat — to pass a resolution in favor of industrial hemp farming in order to push the state Legislature to act on the issue. In an "up North" area where agriculture is a frontline reality, that seems to make sense.

That's also the case in tiny Benzie County, population 15,998, just south of the Traverse City area.

"Two of our main farmers, they're just waiting for hemp to become legal so they can start growing it," says the Rev. Steven B. Thompson, director of Michigan NORML. "If our agricultural community were allowed to grow hemp, it would create jobs. Companies are now buying hemp, but bringing it in from other countries. It would help our farmers. Farms in this area are suffering greatly."

Hemp is the flip side of the cannabis coin. While medical marijuana activists tout the economic benefits of the medical marijuana industry, and those fighting to outright legalize the weed tout the potential revenues of a regulate-and-tax approach, hemp itself may be good medicine for the economy.

There is a page on the MIHEMP website ( that displays an amazing number of products that can be made from hemp. The seed itself seems to be a trove of plenty, used in the making of such edible products as bread, ice cream, protein powder, salad oil, margarine and granola. The seed also contributes ingredients for shampoos, cosmetics, diesel fuel, printing ink and pet foods. The fibrous stalk accounts for numerous textile products, fiberboard, insulation, paper products and ethanol. That's a short list. Note that the leaves and flowers aren't used, although in marijuana those are the main source of THC.

At last year's Electric Vehicle trade show in Vancouver, Canada's Motive Industries debuted the Kestrel, a four-seat car with an outer shell made of a hemp-based composite. Production is to kick off this year. But that's in Canada, where regulated hemp agriculture was legalized in 1998. It's a wonder Canadians have enough hemp for manufacturing; U.S. companies buy up about 90 percent of Canada's hemp harvest.

Hemp has a venerable history in the United States. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were hemp farmers, and early drafts of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were written on hemp paper (which reportedly does not yellow with age). For those concerned with the environment, one acre of hemp is said to yield four times the pulp used for paper-making than an acre of trees.

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