Thursday, December 13, 2012

Medicinal Cannabis freedom attacked by Sonoma County Board of Supervisors

2012-12-08 "Sonoma BOS Propose Changing Cannabis Guidelines This Tues. Dec 11" message from "":
 Join us at our "Cannabis in California: Ending the 100 Year War" conference in San Francisco January 26 & 27, 2013 Visit: []
Some were unable to use the URL for the petition below. Try []
 Dear SAMM supporters,
 The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will be  meeting next Tuesday,  December 11,  at 2:30 pm to vote on repealing the 2006 Resolution and  thereby revert back to the state guidelines of 6 mature plants/12  immature plants.  We would lose the right to cultivate in 100 square  feet and possess 3 pounds of dried bud.  We need YOUR HELP now as  never before to preserve our guidelines, which were hard won and  which have served as a model for other counties in California. We  cannot and must not go back!
We need to show up in force at the Board meeting on Tuesday and let  the Board know we are committed to standing up for our rights. They  cannot vote this through on such short notice.
Please SIGN the online petition below.  And write letters to the Supervisors---see link below to find their emails & phone numbers. You may also use the link below to access the County Staff Report.
The best way we can protest this is with our bodies.   Let's pack the Board with HUNDREDS of supporters!  The Board meets at 575 Administration Drive, Room 100A, Santa Rosa. We need to show that we are a force to be reckoned with.
The information below was written by Sarah Shrader of the Sonoma Chapter of Americans for Safe Access, ASA.  Please forward to all your friends to get folks out  to this important meeting next Tuesday and to sign the petition.
 Thanks for your support, Kumari Sivadas & Mary Pat Jacobs, Sonoma Alliance for Medical Marijuana
 Attention Sonoma County Patients!
 Act Now to STOP Your Medical Cannabis Rights from being VIOLATED!
 On December 6th, 2012, it was made public that the Board of Supervisors would be adding an item to their December 11th meeting agenda that would dramatically change the legal landscape of local medical cannabis patients' rights.  These recommendations have not been vetted by community members or industry stakeholders and five days is not enough time for the Board of Directors to elicit input from their constituents on this controversial public program.
 We need to attend this meeting IN FORCE to show our elected public officials that we DO NOT SUPPORT these actions!
 The Medicinal Marijuana Ad Hoc Committee recommends that the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
 (1) repeal their 2006 resolution allowing for local qualified patients to cultivate up to 30 plants, which would effectively reduce the allowable number to the state mandatory minimum of 6 plants,
 (2) to establish an ordinance prohibiting the cultivation of marijuana in unoccupied residential buildings and
 (3) direct staff to establish a Marijuana Task Force modeled on the Sonoma County Methamphetamine Task Force.
 To see the counties staff report check out: []
 We can create the effective and clearly united response by participating in ALL THREE of the following actions:
* ATTEND THE MEETING Tuesday December 11th we will be gathering at 2 PM at the Arlene Francis Center  (99 west 6th street in Santa Rosa) to carpool over to the meeting with fellow community members and activists.  We will get a chance to go over talking points & practice our speeches to Board of Supervisors.
* CONTACT YOUR SUPERVISORS at (707)565-2241 or reach out to them at their individual emails which are posted on the following page: []
* SIGN THE PETITION on []. It is imperative that we take action now to protect patients' rights, safe access and responsible public process in Sonoma County!
 For more information on participating in this community action please contact Sonoma ASA 707 595 0215 or

Monday, December 10, 2012

2012-12-10 "Raiding Consciousness: Why the War on Drugs Is a War on Human Nature"

by Lewis Lapham []:
[This essay will appear in "Intoxication," the Winter 2012 issue of Lapham's Quarterly. This slightly adapted version is posted at with the kind permission of that magazine.]
The question that tempts mankind to the use of substances controlled and uncontrolled is next of kin to Hamlet’s: to be, or not to be, someone or somewhere else. Escape from a grievous circumstance or the shambles of an unwanted self, the hope of finding at a higher altitude a new beginning or a better deal. Fly me to the moon, and let me play among the stars; give me leave to drown my sorrow in a quart of gin; wine, dear boy, and truth.
That the consummations of the wish to shuffle off the mortal coil are as old as the world itself was the message brought by Abraham Lincoln to an Illinois temperance society in 1842. “I have not inquired at what period of time the use of intoxicating liquors commenced,” he said, “nor is it important to know.” It is sufficient to know that on first opening our eyes “upon the stage of existence,” we found “intoxicating liquor recognized by everybody, used by everybody, repudiated by nobody.”
The state of intoxication is a house with many mansions. Fourteen centuries before the birth of Christ, the Rigveda finds Hindu priests chanting hymns to a “drop of soma,” the wise and wisdom-loving plant from which was drawn juices distilled in sheep’s wool that “make us see far; make us richer, better.” Philosophers in ancient Greece rejoiced in the literal meaning of the word symposium, a “drinking together.” The Roman Stoic Seneca recommends the judicious embrace of Bacchus as a liberation of the mind “from its slavery to cares, emancipates it, invigorates it, and emboldens it for all its undertakings.”
Omar Khayyam, twelfth-century Persian mathematician and astronomer, drinks wine “because it is my solace,” allowing him to “divorce absolutely reason and religion.” Martin Luther, early father of the Protestant Reformation, in 1530 exhorts the faithful to “drink, and right freely,” because it is the devil who tells them not to. “One must always do what Satan forbids. What other cause do you think that I have for drinking so much strong drink, talking so freely, and making merry so often, except that I wish to mock and harass the devil who is wont to mock and harass me.”
Dr. Samuel Johnson, child of the Enlightenment, requires wine only when alone, “to get rid of myself -- to send myself away.” The French poet Charles Baudelaire, prodigal son of the Industrial Revolution, is less careful with his time. “One should always be drunk. That’s the great thing, the only question. Drunk with what? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you please.”
My grandfather, Roger Lapham (1883–1966), was similarly disposed, his house in San Francisco the stage of existence upon which, at the age of seven in 1942, I first opened my eyes to the practice as old as the world itself. At the Christmas family gathering that year, Grandfather deemed any and all children present who were old enough to walk instead of toddle therefore old enough to sing a carol, recite a poem, and drink a cup of kindness made with brandy, cinnamon, and apples. To raise the spirit, welcome the arrival of our newborn Lord and Savior. Joy to the world, peace on earth, goodwill toward men.

“If You Meet, You Drink…” -
Thus introduced to intoxicating liquors under auspices both secular and sacred, the offering of alms for oblivion I took to be the custom of the country in which I had been born. In the 1940s as it was in the 1840s, as it had been ever since the Mayflower arrived at Plymouth laden with emboldening casks of wine and beer. The spirit of liberty is never far from the hope of metamorphosis or transformation, and the Americans from the beginning were drawn to the possibilities in the having of one more for the road. They formed their character in the settling of a fearful wilderness, and the history of the country could be written as a prolonged mocking and harassing of the devil by the drinking, “and right freely,” from whatever wise and wisdom-loving grain or grape came conveniently to hand.
The oceangoing Pilgrims in colonial Massachusetts and Rhode Island delighted in both the taste and trade in rum. The founders of the republic in Philadelphia in 1787 were in the habit of consuming prodigious quantities of liquor as an expression of their faith in their fellow men -- pots of ale or cider at midday, two or more bottles of claret at dinner followed by an amiable passing around the table of the Madeira.
Among the tobacco planters in Virginia, the moneychangers in New York, the stalwart yeomen in western Pennsylvania busy at the task of making whiskey, the maintaining of a high blood-alcohol level was the mark of civilized behavior. The lyrics of the Star-Spangled Banner were fitted to the melody of an eighteenth-century British tavern song. The excise taxes collected from the sale of liquor paid for the War of 1812, and by 1830 the tolling of the town bell (at 11 a.m., and again at 4 p.m.) announced the daily pauses for spirited refreshment.
Frederick Marryat, an English traveler to America in 1839, noted in his diary that the way the natives drank was “quite a caution... If you meet, you drink; if you part, you drink; if you make acquaintance, you drink; if you close a bargain, you drink; they quarrel in their drink, and they make it up with a drink. They drink, because it is hot; they drink, because it is cold.”
During what were known as the Gay Nineties, at the zenith of the country’s Gilded Age, Manhattan between the Battery and Forty-second Street glittered in the lights of 10,000 saloons issuing passports to the islands of the blessed and the rivers of forgetfulness. No travel plan or destination that couldn’t be accommodated, prices available on request. French champagne at Sherry’s Restaurant for the top-hatted Wall Street speculators celebrating the discoveries of El Dorado; shots of five-cent whiskey (said to taste “like a combination of kerosene oil, soft soap, alcohol, and the chemicals used in fire extinguishers”) for the unemployed foreign laborer sleeping in the gutters south of Canal Street. Who could say who was hoping to trade places with whom, the uptown swell intent upon becoming a noble savage, the downtown immigrant imagining himself dressed in fur and diamonds?
What else is America about if not the work of self-invention? Recognize the project as an always risky business, and it is the willingness to chance what dreams may come (west of the Alleghenies or on the further shores of consciousness) that gives to the American the distinguishing traits of character that the historian Daniel J. Boorstin, librarian of Congress from 1975 to 1987, identified as those of the chronic revolutionary and the ever hopeful pilgrim. Boorstin drew the conclusion from his study of the American colonial experience: “No prudent man dared be too certain of exactly who he was or what he was about; everyone had to be prepared to become someone else. To be ready for such perilous transmigrations was to become an American.”

“There Are More Kicks to Be Had in a Good Case of Paralytic Polio” -
So too in the 1960s, the prudent becoming of an American involved perilous transmigrations, psychic, spiritual, and political. By no means certain who I was at the age of 24, I was prepared to make adjustments, but my one experiment with psychedelics in 1959 was a rub that promptly gave me pause.
Employed at the time as a reporter at the San Francisco Examiner, I was assigned to go with the poet Allen Ginsberg to the Stanford Research Institute there to take a trip on LSD. Social scientists opening the doors of perception at the behest of Aldous Huxley wished to compare the flight patterns of a Bohemian artist and a bourgeois philistine, and they had asked the paper’s literary editor to furnish one of each. We were placed in adjacent soundproofed rooms, both of us under the observation of men in white coats equipped with clipboards, the idea being that we would relay messages from the higher consciousness to the air-traffic controllers on the ground.
Liftoff was a blue pill taken on an empty stomach at 9 a.m., the trajectory a bell curve plotted over a distance of seven hours. By way of traveling companions we had been encouraged to bring music, in those days on vinyl LPs, of whatever kind moved us while on earth to register emotions approaching the sublime.
Together with Johann Sebastian Bach and the Modern Jazz Quartet, I attained what I’d been informed would be cruising altitude at noon. I neglected to bring a willing suspension of disbelief, and because I stubbornly resisted the sales pitch for the drug -- if you, O Wizard, can work wonders, prove to me the where and when and how and why -- I encountered heavy turbulence. Images inchoate and nonsensical, my arms and legs seemingly elongated and embalmed in grease, the sense of utter isolation while being gnawed by rats.
To the men in white I had nothing to report, not one word on either the going up and out or the coming back and down. I never learned what Ginsberg had to say. Whatever it was, I wasn’t interested, and I left the building before he had returned from what by then I knew to be a dead-end sleep.
My long-standing acquaintance with alcohol was for the most part cordial. Usually when I drank too much, I could guess why I did so, the objective being to murder a state of consciousness that I didn’t have the courage to sustain -- a fear of heights, which sometimes during the carnival of the 1960s accompanied my attempts to transform the bourgeois journalist into an avant-garde novelist. The stepped-up ambition was a commonplace among the would-be William Faulkners of my generation; nearly always it resulted in commercial failure and literary embarrassment.
I didn’t grow a beard or move to Vermont, but every now and then I hit upon a run of words that I could mistake for art, and I would find myself intoxicated by what Emily Dickinson knew to be “a liquor never brewed/from Tankards scooped in Pearl.” The neuroscientists understand the encounter with the ineffable as an “endorphin high,” the outrageously fortunate mixing of the chemicals in the brain when it is being put to imaginative and creative use.
On being surprised by a joy so astonishingly sweet, I assumed that it must be forbidden, and if by the light of day I’d come too close to leaning against the sun with seraphs swinging snowy hats, by nightfall I felt bound to check into the nearest cage, drunkenness being the one most conveniently at hand. Around midnight at Elaine’s, a saloon on Second Avenue in Manhattan that in those days catered to a clientele of actors, writers, and other assorted con artists playing characters of their own invention, I could count on the company of fellow travelers outward or inward bound on the roads of perilous transmigration. No matter what their reason for a timely departure -- whether to obliterate the fear of failure, delete the thought of wife and home, reconfigure a mistaken identity, project into the future the birth of an imaginary self -- all present were engaged in some sort of struggle between the force of life and the will to death. Thanatos and Eros seated across from each other over the backgammon board on table four, the onlookers suspending the judgment of ridicule and extending the courtesy of tolerance.
Alcohol serves at the pleasure of the players on both sides of the game, its virtues those indicated by Seneca and Martin Luther, its vices those that the novelist Marguerite Duras likens, as did Hamlet, to the sleep of death: “Drinking isn’t necessarily the same as wanting to die. But you can’t drink without thinking you’re killing yourself.” Alcohol’s job is to replace creation with an illusion that is barren. “The words a man speaks in the night of drunkenness fade like the darkness itself at the coming of day.”
The observation is in the same despairing minor key as Billie Holiday’s riff on heroin: “If you think dope is for kicks and thrills you’re out of your mind. There are more kicks to be had in a good case of paralytic polio and living in an iron lung. If you think you need stuff to play music or sing, you’re crazy. It can fix you so you can’t play nothing or sing nothing.” She goes on to say that in Britain the authorities at least have the decency to treat addiction as a public-health problem, but in America, “if you go to the doctor, he’s liable to slam the door in your face and call the cops.”
Humankind’s thirst for intoxicants is unquenchable, but to criminalize it, as Lincoln reminded the Illinois temperance society, reinforces the clinging to the addiction; to think otherwise would be “to expect a reversal of human nature, which is God’s decree and never can be reversed.” The injuries inflicted by alcohol don’t follow “from the use of a bad thing, but from the abuse of a very good thing.” The victims are “to be pitied and compassionated,” their failings treated “as a misfortune, and not as a crime or even as a disgrace.”

The War on Drugs as a War Against Human Nature -
Whether declared by church or state, the war against human nature is by definition lost. The Puritan inspectors of souls in seventeenth-century New England deplored even the tentative embrace of Bacchus as “great licentiousness,” the faithful “pouring out themselves in all profaneness,” but the record doesn’t show a falling off of attendance at Boston’s eighteenth-century inns and taverns. The laws prohibiting the sale and manufacture of alcohol in the 1920s discovered in the mark of sin the evidence of crime, but the attempt to sustain the allegation proved to be as ineffectual as it was destructive of the country’s life and liberty.
Instead of resurrecting from the pit a body politic of newly risen saints, Prohibition guaranteed the health and welfare of society’s avowed enemies. The organized-crime syndicates established on the delivery of bootleg whiskey evolved into multinational trade associations commanding the respect that comes with revenues estimated at $2 billion per annum. In 1930 alone, Al Capone’s ill-gotten gains amounted to $100 million.
So again with the war that America has been waging for the last 100 years against the use of drugs deemed to be illegal. The war cannot be won, but in the meantime, at a cost of $20 billion a year, it facilitates the transformation of what was once a freedom-loving republic into a freedom-fearing national security state.
The policies of zero tolerance equip local and federal law-enforcement with increasingly autocratic powers of coercion and surveillance (the right to invade anybody’s privacy, bend the rules of evidence, search barns, stop motorists, inspect bank records, tap phones) and spread the stain of moral pestilence to ever larger numbers of people assumed to be infected with reefer madness -- anarchists and cheap Chinese labor at the turn of the twentieth century, known homosexuals and suspected Communists in the 1920s, hippies and anti-Vietnam War protestors in the 1960s, nowadays young black men sentenced to long-term imprisonment for possession of a few grams of short-term disembodiment.
If what was at issue was a concern for people trapped in the jail cells of addiction, the keepers of the nation’s conscience would be better advised to address the conditions -- poverty, lack of opportunity and education, racial discrimination -- from which drugs provide an illusory means of escape. That they are not so advised stands as proven by their fond endorsement of the more expensive ventures into the realms of virtual reality. Our pharmaceutical industries produce a cornucopia of prescription drugs -- eye-opening, stupefying, mood-swinging, game-changing, anxiety-alleviating, performance-enhancing -- currently at a global market-value of more than $300 billion.
Add the time-honored demand for alcohol, the modernist taste for cocaine, and the uses, as both stimulant and narcotic, of tobacco, coffee, sugar, and pornography, and the annual mustering of consummations devoutly to be wished comes to the cost of more than $1.5 trillion. The taking arms against a sea of troubles is an expenditure that dwarfs the appropriation for the military budget.
Given the American antecedents both metaphysical and commercial -- Thomas Paine drank, “and right freely”; in 1910, the federal government received 71% of its internal revenue from taxes paid on the sale and manufacture of alcohol -- it is little wonder that the sons of liberty now lead the world in the consumption of better living through chemistry. The new and improved forms of self-invention fit the question -- to be, or not to be -- to any and all occasions.
For the aging Wall Street speculator stepping out for an evening to squander his investment in Viagra. For the damsel in distress shopping around for a nose like the one seen advertised in a painting by Botticelli. For the distracted child depending on a therapeutic jolt of Adderall to learn to read the Constitution. For the stationary herds of industrial-strength cows so heavily doped with bovine growth hormone that they require massive infusions of antibiotic to survive the otherwise lethal atmospheres of their breeding pens. Visionary risk-takers, one and all, willing to chance what dreams may come on the way West to an all-night pharmacy.
The war against human nature strengthens the fear of one’s fellow man. The red, white, and blue pills sell the hope of heaven made with artificial sweeteners.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Chia seeds

Chia seeds are more or less flavorless, and can be added to yogurts, wholesome-food bars and fruit salads.

2012-12-02 "Are Chia Seeds a Superfood?" by Jan Cho[]:
A staple of the pre-Columbian Mayan and Aztec diets, chia seeds are making a comeback as the latest so-called superfood.
Loaded with omega-3′s, antioxidants, fiber, calcium, protein and a number of other vitamins and minerals, chia seeds are about as nutrient-dense as you can imagine a food to be. They’re said to be able to aid with weight loss, control blood sugar and reduce the risk of heart disease, though none of these claims have been backed up by scientific evidence.
In “Born to Run,” author Christopher McDougall attests to the seeds’ ability to boost stamina and energy, describing how ancient Aztecs chomped on the seeds as they made their conquests and how the Tarahumara Indians today use the seeds to fuel long-distance runs barefoot. “Among Wall Street’s trading desks and bullpens,” Bloomberg Businessweek adds [], “chia seeds are becoming the stimulant of choice” — “healthier than coffee, cheaper (and obviously more legal) than cocaine, and less juvenile than a 5-hour Energy drink.”
So the trend has set in and the craze will ensue. Whole and ground chia seeds are being added to smoothies, puddings, soups, cereals and a variety of baked goods. It was only a matter of time before they were co-opted by the food industry. Dole, according to a recent New York Times article [], “chose chia as the first ingredient it would promote in its new Nutrition Plus line of products, which aim to provide a functional benefit to consumers.” The seeds have entered the broader market and can now be found in many mainstream grocery stores. Demand for chia products has grown fivefold this past year, says John Roulac, founder of Nutiva, which sells organic chia seeds.
But are chia seeds really a superfood? Are they any more “super” than the blueberries, almonds and acai berries of yesteryear? The truth of it is, as Michael P. Hirsch, vice president of the company that sells Chia Pets, said, “Everybody is looking at this because everybody is always looking for something new.”
In reality, the hype over chia seeds as a superfood isn’t about health. It’s about marketing and about marketers having found the next nutritional “it” product to peddle. Consider acai, which “became one of the fastest-growing foods in history, billed as a miracle cure for, among other things, obesity, attention-deficit disorder, autism, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and erectile dysfunction,” as reported in the New Yorker last year. But these claims now seem farfetched, and acai has lost a lot of its luster. The fruit hovers in an “uneasy limbo,” wrote John Colapinto for the New Yorker — “not quite written off as yesterday’s news but perilously close.” It’s telling that the leading acai juice company in the U.S. hired a former Coca-Cola executive as its new marketing director to revive demand for the fruit.
In short, “superfoods” are a marketing conceit. Choosing what to eat for health entails simply choosing food that’s real and whole. In fact, I can’t think of any real food that couldn’t also be or hasn’t already been touted as a superfood — whether it’s broccoli or apples or salmon or spinach or walnuts or beans or tofu. Today it just happens to be chia seeds. They’re new, they’re exotic, they have a good back story and they’re extremely versatile. They’re a marketer’s dream.

2012-05-24 "Chia Seeds, Wall Street's Stimulant of Choice" by David Sax
Christine Kenney, a triathlete who works the equity capital markets execution desk at Citigroup (C) in Manhattan, starts every morning at work with a bowl of low-fat yogurt, honey, and a heap of chia seeds. Throughout the day she subsists on chia snack bars. “It’s better for my job because I’m not supposed to be off the desk very much,” she says, noting how she’s gotten most of the co-workers from her desk hooked on the seeds. “There’s other seeds out there that are nutritious, but this is the best. It’s the alpha seed.”
Among Wall Street’s trading desks and bullpens, chia seeds are becoming the stimulant of choice. Healthier than coffee, cheaper (and obviously more legal) than cocaine, and less juvenile than a 5-hour Energy drink, chia has undergone a total metamorphosis from 1980s punchline (Chia Pet’s “ch-ch-ch-chia” jingle still haunts Gen Xers) to superfood.
Credit for chia’s second coming belongs partly to the 2009 bestselling book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, about a remote Mexican tribe of marathon-running Tarahumara Indians who have been bullish on chia since Aztec days—eating it ground, mixed into drinks, or raw. After reading it, Dan Gluck and Nick Morris, a manager and trader at a New York hedge fund, began supplementing their post-workout breakfasts with chia seeds, rich in protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. They spread the chia gospel to friends in finance and soon had a following. In 2011 they launched Health Warrior, which markets chia seeds and snack bars boasting chia’s purported benefits, from sustained energy to enhanced focus and better digestion.
While research on those benefits is relatively sparse, Wall Street chia heads aren’t waiting for further studies. “Instead of snacking on the trading desk, I will make a chia smoothie or grab one of their Health Warrior Chia Bars,” says Jason Feinberg, managing director of U.S. equity trading at Barclays Capital (BCS). Shane Emmett, Health Warrior’s chief executive officer, says an investment bank and a hedge fund have begun buying in bulk. “I’m sure the ‘warrior’ speaks a little bit to the aggressive nature of folks on the Street,” he says.