Monday, December 28, 2015

2015 Tokey Awards

TOKIN’ WOMAN OF THE YEAR – Melissa Etheridge
Since coming out as a medical marijuana user during her bout with breast cancer in 2005, Etheridge has gone further, advocating for full legalization, in part because
“I don’t want to look like a criminal to my kids anymore.” The singer and advocate has now joined the growing ranks of female potrepreneurs with her delicious cannabis-infused wine, announced in late 2014.

This year Etheridge opened the Americans for Safe Access conference in DC and keynoted the Cannabis World Conference in LA, and she rocked out the Concert for Social Justice in LA with renditions of Brandy Clark’s “Get High” and Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up.”

For her courage, her vision, and her creativity, Tokin’ Woman is proud to bestow this year’s Tokin' Woman of the Year award to Melissa Etheridge.


SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR
Mixed martial artist and former UFC bantamweight titleholder Ronda Rousey made headlines
this year when she questioned the suspension of fellow fighter Nick Diaz because he tested positive for pot. Rousey has since clarified that she is not against testing for performance-enhancing drugs, which she has undergone since her teens, before becoming the first US woman to win an Olympic medal in judo in 2008.

In 2015, Rousey was the third most searched person on Google and she had film roles in Entourage and Furious 7. After defending her UFC title in five different bouts, she lost of Holly Holm in November. A rematch with Holm is scheduled for July 9, 2016.


TOP POLITICIAN
Kirsten Gillibrand, the stellar senator from New York, is a co-soponsor of the CARERS act, the best medical marijuana bill in DC. She’s been a firebrand in favor of the availability of medical marijuana for patients in her state, and the country.

Honorable Mentions:
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown,who signed legislation in June allowing those with past marijuana possession convictions to have their criminal records expunged.


 

ACTIVISTS OF THE YEAR

Cristina Barbuto – fought for employment rights in Massachusetts

Yami Bolonos – campaigned for Organ Transplant Bill in California

Linda Horan – won patients rights in New Hampshire

Theresa Nightingale, Pittsburgh NORML – fought for decriminalization in her city

Lynnette Shaw - won court ruling against federal interference in medical marijuana

 
BEST REPORTING
Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes takes this prize for bringing to the mainstream a story that others have covered in the past few years: the US government recruiting undercover informants in the drug war over petty marijuana offenses, often with disastrous results. Stahl focused on college students, but this has been happening even in high schools.

Honorable mentions 
 
Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post 
 
Jacob Sullum, Forbes
 
Matt Ferner, Huffington Post
 
Jon Gettman, Pot Matters
 

BEST COMMENTARY 
Diane Goldstein, Ladybug
 
Amy Povah, CAN-DO Foundation
 
Lea Grover, Good Housekeeping
 
Ian Millhiser, Think Progress
 

BEST SPEECH
Mikki Norris on The Drug War at The Emerald Cup  

BEST AWARENESS CAMPAIGN
#comingoutgreen, Green Flower Media
 
Cannabis is Safer than CPS, The NACC Child Law Blog
  


MOVIE OF THE YEAR
Marijuana-using women showed up in a lot of films this year, with largely predictable results (the munchees, giggling); however the actresses playing them weren’t always so expected.

Accomplished actress (and mother of Gwynneth Paltrow) Blythe Danner starred in I’ll See You in My Dreams, featuring a pot party with June Squibb, Rhea Perlman and Mary Kay Place. Meryl Streep, playing a rock and roll mama, shared a joint with her family in Ricki and the Flash, and Lily Tomlin knew what to do with a baggie in Grandmother. Kristin Stewart played a pot-puffing girlfriend in American Ultra, and Amanda Seyfried fired up a bong while playing a lawyer in Ted 2.

But it was writer/director/star Helen Hunt’s movie Ride (pictured) that takes the top prize in 2015. In it, Hunt learns to surf, smoke pot, and enjoy life, while playing a high-powered editor and mother. Read more. 

OUTING OF THE YEAR 
When Oregon TV news anchor Cyd Maurer was fired this year after a post-fender-bender drug test revealed that she smoked marijuana, it highlighted the injustice of employment drug testing and of the prohibition on pot. Maurer, 25, released a video explaining how she was fired by a corporate attorney who never met her, coming out as a “normal and responsible marijuana user” whose only stereotyping has been as “an overachieving goody-goody.” She’s now started a website, http://askmeaboutmarijuana.com/ to keep the dialogue going.

Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart were interviewed for Culture magazine, and Joan Jett toked up for High Times photographers and spoke about the time Miley Cyrus came to her hotel room and she was smoking.

Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie Perez defended marijuana legalization on The View; Molly Ringwald and Kelly Clarkson came out for legalization, and Olivia Wilde spoke about "...that unfortunate semester in high school when I simultaneously discovered Krispy Kreme and pot" in People magazine.

Susan Sarandon told High Times “the world would be a better place” if marijuana were legal and Roseanne Barr said she is using marijuana to treat macular degeneration and glaucoma. Jane Fonda admitted at the age of 77 that she still enjoys pot “every now and then” and Chelsea Handler tweeted a picture of her medical marijuana card in February, writing: "I'm a legal marijuaner. Just in time for my 40th bday tomorrow. Now I just need to get a lighter." 



TV SHOW OF THE YEAR  

Honorable Mentions: 
  
Modern Family, The Big Guns

Broad City, Kelly Ripa Gets Ripped


BOOKS OF THE YEAR
Johann Hari, Chasing the Scream
 
Susan Cheever, Drinking in America



COMEDY MOMENT OF THE YEAR  
There were so many of these this year it’s hard to name them all. Jennifer Aniston did a funny “lipflip” with Jimmy Fallon in January, announcing she was backing the Seattle Seahawks
in the Superbowl because “We got the weed, man.” 

In March, President Obama joked at a Gridiron Club appearance, “I’m not saying I’m any funnier. 
I’m saying weed is now legal in DC.” Garrison Keillor chimed in from Seattle a few months later with, “They’ve legalized marijuana here…it doesn't cure a cold, but it gives you insight into it.” 

Lily Tomlin opened a mock medical marijuana dispensary on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Ellen Degeneres reported on a Yelp review of the Buds and Roses dispensary in LA.

But my top three moments were these: 

 

 

BEST CANNABIS RESEARCH STUDY 
Deborah Malka, MD - Cannabis Therapeutic Use in the Elderly 

Honorable mentions:  
 
 
 
 

NOTABLE GOVERNMENT NEWS 
The National Cancer Institute, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, finally updated its website to admit that cannabinoids have anti-tumor effects in pre-clinical studies. Read more.
 
 
 


BEST PRODUCT  
 

BEST EVENT
 
Honorable mentions: 
The Emerald Cup, Santa Rosa, CA


 

A FOND GOODBYE TO:  
Elizabeth Bing, Founder of Lamaze International

Cilla Black, singer 

Betsy Drake, actress and author


Cynthia Robinson, trumpeter and singer 

Oliver Sacks, scientist and author

John Trudell, activist and musician

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Stuck on "Stuck in Love"

Another gem discovered on Netflix: Stuck in Love, the 2012 debut by writer/director Josh Boone, starring Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Connelly as parents in a literary family that exchanges John Cheever books and Raymond Carver quotes as they navigate their own emotions.

Nat Wolff plays Rusty, the sensitive student who, when forced to read a poem he wrote called "High School" before his class, declares "it was written under the influence of cannabis":

In the sea of desks 
There's talk of bags and games
and long pipes that leak dreams
with the strike of a match
and there's a loudness to the whispers I hear.... 

When Rusty is accused of being stoned at Thanksgiving dinner, his mother takes him into the kitchen for a heart-to-heart where she tells him, "Pot, and nothing else, ever." When he says, "You don't have to worry about me," she correctly replies, "Yes, I do. It's my job." It's the most intelligent mother-son discussion about weed since Lily Tomlin's in 9-5.

Rusty bribes his way into a cool kids' party with a bag of weed, where he's possibly saved from hard drugs by his mother's admonishment.  His sister Samantha (Lily Collins) is much more self-destructive with her drug of choice (meaningless sex, the theory of which she tempers after sneaking out to the roof to share a bowl her brother). Rusty's smoking is woven seamlessly into the story, with his father only reigning him in when he's partying (with alcohol) nightly.

Stephen King, who once declared pot should be legal so that Maine could benefit from a legal cottage industry, figures in the plot.











Monday, December 7, 2015

What "Trumbo" Doesn't Tell You

Helen Mirren and Bryan Cranston in Trumbo
I just saw Trumbo, the new film about blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, and it's as remarkable as everyone's been saying it is. However there are a few things about it that would, I think, bother Dalton.

Steve Martin wrote in an October 2007 article in the New Yorker that he saw Trumbo “sorting the seeds and stems from a brick of pot” during the 1970s while he was dating Trumbo's daughter Mitzi. However, although it's acceptable for Bryan Cranston to play a meth manufacturer (in "Breaking Bad"), and pop benzedrines playing Trumbo in the film, for some reason it was deemed necessary to omit Trumbo's time in Mexico and the marijuana he smoked there, and afterwards.

It seems likely Trumbo came up with the concept for the film that won him his second Oscar (under a pseudonym), The Brave One, while in Mexico. With this achievement, Trumbo began to break the blacklist using only his mightier-than-the-sword pen.

Marijuana and communism were, in Trumbo's time, linked in the public's mind, and in popular culture. Hollywood touched on it in 1957's Sweet Smell of Success, in which Tony Curtis plays a swarmy PR flack who tries to smear a jazz guitarist as a pot-smoking commie. Curtis was notable as a slave/bard in Spartacus, the Trumbo film that broke the blacklist for good, fittingly so, since it's the story of a Thracian slave who takes on the Roman Empire. (Thrace was next to Scythia, where people ritualistically inhaled cannabis fumes, as recorded by Herodotus.)

Moments in Trumbo pay homage to Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Gregory Peck, Lucille Ball, and Tokin' Man James Garner, all of whom stood up for the Hollywood 10. It's cool that Kirk Douglas is a hero in the film, since it's Hanukkah and he appears in Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song (something else that's been censored, changing the line, "smoke your marijuanikka" to "don't smoke marijuanikka" in mainstream media. His newest version #4 of the song, however, shows Sandler's still smokin.)

The composite character played by Louis C.K. in Trumbo seems to steal a line from Tokin' Woman Lillian Hellman, who was blacklisted after telling the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1950: "To hurt innocent people whom I knew many years ago in order to save myself is, to me, inhuman and indecent and dishonorable. I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions."

John Wayne, who's featured in Trumbo as a flack for HUAC, produced a film about the controversial committee called Big Jim McClain that was released under the title Marijuana in Europe (the plot having been changed from Wayne fighting communism to knocking out marijuana instead). Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and of course Joseph McCarthy are the other villains. But it's Helen Mirren as Hedda Hopper who stands out. Hopper was accused of "pocketbook morality" when she took a fairly mild stand against Robert Mitchum after he was arrested for marijuana in 1948. At the time, the studios had $5 million invested in Mitchum.

In the film, when Trumbo's daughter asks her father if she is a Communist too, he asks her what she would do if her mother packed her favorite lunch and a classmate was without something to eat. "Share," was the reply. "You little Commie," he says. That kind of empathy, which seems a lot more "Christian" than what passes for it today in this country, is often reported after smoking marijuana.

"I've learned that total adjustment to society is as bad as maladjustment," Trumbo wrote in The Sandpiper (with Tokin' Woman Elizabeth Taylor). "That principled disobedience of unjust law is more Christian, more truly law-abiding, than unprincipled respect. That only freedom can tame the wild, rebellious, palpitating heart of man."

Read more about VIP Dalton Trumbo.