Archive for the ‘History’ Category

 

Rally in San Jose, CA after the CA Supreme Court upheld Prop 8 in 2009.

Rally in San Jose, CA after the CA Supreme Court upheld Prop 8 in 2009.

Like that sign said 6 years ago at a protest in San Jose, this is not over and we will win. In fact, right before Pride weekend, we did win and the US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in the case Obergefell v. Hodges, that, for the first time in America’s history, homosexual couples can get married in all fifty states and all states must recognize other state’s gay marriages.

While this is great news for all supporters of marriage equality, and it is time to celebrate as Chief Justice Roberts has said,  I fear it could be just a moment of celebration before a potential onslaught of adversity against gay and lesbian couples. While liberty and justice have gotten a win for the short term, this narrow victory will likely incense conservatives for years to come.

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Let me unpack Supreme Court voting a bit for anyone not familiar with it. While you only need a 5-person majority to make a decision and pass laws that is seen as something to avoid at all costs, especially when core civil liberties or civil rights are on the line. Usually, the majority strives for at least a 6-7 person vote in favor, ideally a unanimous vote if the issue is seen as very important and/or hotly contested.

The best analogies I can give to illustrate what I mean are the desegregation of schools and creation of abortion rights. When Brown v. Board of Education was decided in 1954, desegregation did not have wide support across the country like it did today, it was hotly contested because it dealt with highly important civil rights and civil liberty issues. Desegregation was so important that Chief Justice Warren did everything he could to get a unanimous 9-0 decision, including pulling a justice back to the bench for the vote, even though he had just suffered a heart attack and was on medical leave. Want to know why Brown v. Board of Education was never challenged? That is why.

Another core civil liberty is one’s right to be sovereign over their own body, including your right to an abortion should you choose to do so. When the issue first went before the Supreme Court back in 1973, they did not present the same united front that they had with Brown. When it came to abortion rights, the court could only muster up a 7-2 vote in Roe v. Wade, thus beginning more than a forty year onslaught on women’s reproductive rights that continues to this day. Notice the difference those two votes makes? Now ask yourself how confident you feel about Friday’s 5-4 decision. Then ask yourself how confident you feel about the fact that the legal precedent it builds on, Hollingsworth v. Perry, was decided not on the merits of the case but by standing alone. In Hollingsworth, the Court looked at who was the plaintiff in the case, felt they had no business to bring that suit, and said, effectively, ‘you can’t stand in this court room, get the hell out of here;’ without any care to the legality of marriage equality. That is being decided on standing.

Right now, marriage equality is legal because of a 5-4 decision that builds off a technical foul, and of course decades of other cases like Lawrence v. Texas, Bowers v. Hardwick, and the aptly named Loving v. Virginia. A 5-4 decision is better than a 4-5, it is better than nothing – but it is the next-best thing to nothing and historically in America that is a recipe for decades of legal battles.

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Well said, who is next?

I hope this explains why I may be celebrating less than other pride revelers. I worry about what is to come and the vitriol spawned by a divisive 5-4 decision. Still, 5-4 is the best we could hope for this with current court as it is the most conservative in US history. If that trend continues then I am *very* worried for the future of marriage equality.

 

 

This piece originally ran on April 21st, 2015, in The Leaf Online as, “Nip it in the Bud: Cannabis Farming Is Not Causing California’s Drought.” It was picked up and ran by AlterNet on April 22nd, with the title, “Weed and Water in California: Pot Isn’t The Problem.” All photos were taken by me, while visiting family in the Central Valley in 2009.

Nip in the bud” To break a bad habit before it forms.

There’s nothing new about bad cannabis science, but now in the days of cannabis policy reform it often seems that new examples are cropping up every day, hoping to mislead the public into believing the ‘virtue’ of prohibition.

Time to nip them in the bud.

Nip it In The Bud 2 - Drought - Dead Orchard Img 46

California has been in a drought for the past four years. Most of the state has received under 10 inches of rain, meeting the criteria to be labeled a desert. This conundrum has made California a testing ground for a battle over water rights, where cannabis growers are being unjustly scapegoated as the culprits behind the worst drought the state has seen in over a millennium.

It all started when a recent study conducted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlifefound that illegal and unregulated cannabis growing could potentially be a threat to sensitive wildlife and their habitat. The researchers use many qualifying words in their study, because many of the facts aren’t sufficiently well-known to properly say how big of a threat cannabis growing could be to endangered species like the Coho salmon. Regrettably, most journalists reported on this uncertainty with headlines like “Pot is Making California’s Epic Drought Worse” and “California is in One of its Worst-Ever Droughts Because People Are Growing Too Much Weed.”

David Downs, with SFGate’s Smell the Truth, is one of the only journalists to get it right, properly recognizing that cannabis growing is a “tiny sliver of water use in the state.” The study estimates that the average cannabis plant takes 6 gallons of water every day. Chris Van Hook, founder of the Clean Green organic cannabis certification program, estimates that while plants begin taking about a gallon of water a month they can end up consuming nearly 15 gallons a day. Chris estimates that all the growing in Mendocino county consumes about 32 million gallons at the height of growing season.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife study found that,“In California, irrigated agriculture is the single largest consumer of water, taking 70–80% of stored surface water and pumping great volumes of groundwater.” Almonds alone consume 3 billion gallons per day, out of the 30 billion gallons used by agriculture every day in California; 10% of the total agricultural water use and 100 times as much water as Mendocino uses for cannabis growing.

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Notice the blue sign that says “Almonds.” This *was* an almond field, now it lays fallow.

California grows much more than just almonds. You may be wondering, just how much food does California grow? According to the California Department of Water Resources, California is the only state with the right climate to grow almonds, artichokes, dates, figs, raisins, kiwifruit, olives, persimmons, pistachios, prunes and walnuts. California also produces over 250 types of crops, leading the country in 75 of those.

With the current drought, it is hard to see California continuing to keep up its same rate of food production, which may further drive up prices. The drought has created a state of emergency and has led to state-wide water rationing. The April snowpack, which should be at its peak, is actually the lowest it has been recorded since 1950; a record low of 5% of average.  2014 was the third driest year in over a hundred years and the warmest year on record.

Before this current drought California saw another drought from 2009-2010. This previous drought wasn’t caused by natural causes or climate change so much as it was caused by short-sighted politics. A federal ruling to protect the endangered Delta Smelt caused water to be diverted from thousands of acres of farmland in the Central Valley. This led to entire orchards being left for dead or laid fallow, including precious almond trees like those shown above, which take over three years just to produce fruit.

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These may have been almond trees, before the ‘Congress created dust bowl’ came and turned off their water supply.

Unfortunately, almond trees are not cannabis plants and don’t have a three month growth cycle. When those trees were killed by politics five years ago, the new ones planted to replace them didn’t even begin to produce almonds until the current drought was in full swing and water rationing was imposed. While endangered species like the Delta Smelt and Coho Salmon need to be protected, preservation must be balanced against the humanity’s need for water. As water gets increasingly scarce the political calculus at play will need to be re-evaluated. If better decisions aren’t made during this natural drought than during the self-inflicted one, those almond trees may never get a chance to fruit.

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If better decisions aren’t made to confront the current drought then dead orchards like this will be an all too common sight.

In response to the Reefer Madness panic over the minuscule amount of water being used for cannabis growing the legislature has released two bills, AB 243 and a similar bill in the Senate,SB 165. Both laws would strengthen existing laws governing cannabis farming and other illicit activities on public and private lands. The patient advocacy group, Americans for Safe Access, opposes both bills as they currently stand and feel patients are being unfairly scapegoated. ASA makes a good point considering other groups, like Nestle, are allowed to skirt legality to bottle millions of gallons of groundwater every year to sell bottled water back to the same people they took it from.

The real culprit behind the California drought isn’t outdoor cannabis growers, as much as it is every person who drives a car, everyone who doesn’t buy local or sustainable products, or indoor cannabis growers. In short, everyone who has ever contributed to climate change in any way. Indoor growing has a massive carbon footprint and greatly contributes to greenhouse gas emissions; in California, it is “responsible for about 3% of all electricity use.” Outdoor growing can be done in a sustainable way that uses closed loop systems, creating minimal environmental harms with relatively little carbon footprint.

Scientists have identified a new climate trend for California, and all other coastal areas like it, where they will get more erratic temperatures, less predictable seasons, and generally colder temperatures. This phenomenon is known as “Coastal Cooling;” it is even more intense in urban areas. Despite current warming, it appears that cooler and wetter weather could be in the future for California. As climate change intensifies, the West Coast will see more erratic weather and it is hard to say what it could mean for California’s farmers and everyone else who calls the Golden State home.

Today is April 20th, and it is now 4:20pm. Right at this moment people are lighting up joints, pipes, bongs, bowls, firing up vaporizers, eating edibles, and consuming cannabis in all manner of other ways. Today is the day and now is the time to get high. If you are wondering why the cannabis community chooses this particular day and time then you should check out my post from last 4/20 which tells the story of the Waldos and the birth of 420.
I am grateful to have an amazing job in the cannabis industry, the only downside is that I am working every April 20th from now into forever. While I used to have the day off to enjoy partying and smoking with friends, listening to great music and having a wonderful and relaxing time, I now help other people enjoy 420 by selling them what they need to properly partake in the holiday.
To help you properly experience this 4/20, and to let me reminisce on 420’s past, I have a great post for you on the history of the 420 celebration at the University of Santa Cruz. This smoke out has been happening for over a decade and had grown to such a size by 2004 that Rolling Stone ran an article about it with the headline, “The Most Stoned Students on the Most Stoned Day on the Most Stoned Campus on Earth.” The school retaliated with an op-ed in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, which rambles along attempting to discredit the Rolling Stone article before describing it as “accurate.”
April 20th, 2008: A Campus on Lock Down
In 2008, the University attempted to put the campus on lock-down for the day, and did not let any traffic onto campus, even buses. This is after 2007, when the university attempted to stop the smoke out by assembling a large group of police in Porter Meadow, only to have them driven off by an even larger crowd of protesters.
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Did the school even consider people needing the bus to get to class?

This did not stop determined throngs of students and other 420 aficionados from swarming onto campus by foot, walking for miles to get to Porter Meadow for the smoke out. The complete lock-down also did not stop the university from claiming they ‘permitted the 4/20 event to happen‘ and let some traffic onto campus.
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The student body responded to the lock-down by having a pre-420 protest on Earth Day, April 18th, 2008. UCSC has a very open campus, with more ways in than can possibly be locked up. Like in 2007, the people would not be stopped and found a way to make the event happen.

4:20pm on 4/20


After the fight to have 420 it’s time to disarm UCSC.

In 2009 the University didn’t even bother trying to lock the campus down, they realized it was a failed endeavor. All the administration did was send out a strongly worded email, wagging a finger at students who brought guests onto campus for 420. Despite all the official backlash, UCSC’s 420 celebration continues to grow every year. According to Bradley, at Santa Cruz IndyBay, “Porter Meadow at UCSC has traditionally been the largest 420 gathering point around.” And in 2009, what a mixed gathering it was. 2008-09 were my only years attending the UCSC smoke out, and the major change from one year to the next was the addition of fundamentalist Christian protesters.

Are YOU on the highway to Hell? I sure am, rocking out with ACDC.

A meeting of minds. A dreadlocked mind meets one in a hard-hat.

Glad I am just a Buddhist, not a Catholic, and can still get into Heaven…or am I a false religion?

I don't fear God, I do fear the fact that you are allowed to vote.

I don’t fear God, I do fear the fact that you are allowed to vote.

After five minutes of misogynistic comments, a dreadlocked man tackled him from off to the side. Not all stoners are passive, some smoke sativa and get all hyphy.

All the protesters and police in the world couldn't stop this man.

All the protesters and police in the world couldn’t stop this man. I think five blunts at once has to be a record.

By 2013, with over 2,000 people it wasn’t just the size of the event that had grown, but the size of the joints too. Police confiscated a nearly 3-pound joint, the size of a baseball bat; estimated to be worth $15,000. This record-setting joint was big enough news to get UCSC’s 420 smoke out it’s first international press from the DailyMail UK. 2014 saw a return to Porter Meadow for another session and a return of the police presence, hoping to confiscate some huge nugs to go with their bat, to use as balls in a game of Buds-ketball.
Tomorrow will be the moment of truth. Will UCSC officials continue to unfairly punish cannabis patients and others who gather at Porter Meadow in peaceful protest of our country’s failed drug laws? Or will the administration embrace UCSC’s identity as a stoner school, like Chico and Humboldt? Time will tell.

Continuing from where my last post left off discussing the history and various uses of hemp, let me move on to discuss CBD-rich cannabis which is often branded today as being hemp for marketing purposes. This hemp is genetically identical to cannabis, as they are the same plant, and is being called hemp merely for convenience of marketing under the new definition of hemp created by Congress with the Farm Bill where any cannabis plant that tests under 0.3% THC is now hemp. This re-definition, while legalizing hemp farming and research in America, is also blind to the complex genetics of the cannabis plant and all cannabinoids other than THC that make it up. I advocate for a whole-plant solution that embraces all cannabinoids and terpenes as potential cures, and views both hemp and cannabis as one plant, rather than preserving an artificial layman’s distinction. Apparently, the only thing that separates hemp from cannabis now is 0.1% THC, is it that much of a jump to just view them as the same plant? In support of my view, that CBD/hemp legalization is not enough, I have written several articles which discuss the value of CBD-rich cannabis and how CBD only legalization may be a Red Herring for our movement.

Charlatan’s Web – A CBD Debacle

Baby Steps to Legalization – CBD Only Laws And Decriminalization

End Prohibition for Whole Plant Cannabis – Why CBD Only Isn’t Enough

My research on Charlotte’s Web and other CBD rich strains led me to interview Jason David, CBD expert and star of the Discovery Channel show Weed Wars.

Interview with CBD Expert Jason David

Please keep your eyes open for future coverage on Charlotte’s Web, CBD-rich cannabis, and hemp/cannabis legalization.

As many wonderful benefits as cannabis can confer to the human body, it pales in comparison to what hemp can do for humanity and our world. When I first began my research into cannabis legalization while I was a student at San Jose State I realized early on that talking only about cannabis missed half of the discussion, perhaps even the bigger half, While cannabis ability to cure cancer is miraculous, I think the idea of carbon-neutral biofuels made from hemp is far more phenomenal. We have had the technology to produce carbon neutral biofuels from cellulose for nearly half a decade now and hemp would be ideal candidate. It isn’t just biofuels; everything currently made from oil and many things made from trees could all be made from hemp, stronger and cheaper with less environmental impacts. I am not the only one who has long been enamored with hemp, colonial American farmers were required to grow this miracle plant by law; more recently the late and great Hemperor himself, Jack Herer, brought cannabis and hemp back into the vogue as solutions to humanities woes with his book The Emperor Wears No Clothes. Much of what I now know is thanks to Jack and his amazing research into the history of cannabis, may he rest forever in the highest of spirits.

 

I’ve ran a few pieces for The Leaf Online about hemp, beginning with a history lesson, moving on to discuss what separates cannabis from hemp, and finishing with a breakdown on how hemp biofuels can save the world.

History of Hemp in Colonial America

Cannabis or Hemp, What’s in A Name?

Hemp Biofuels to Save The World

This next article, while related to hemp, is more of a CBD-rich cannabis related article. I’ve included it because it would be national hemp legalization, but under the banner of Charlotte’s Web, CBD-rich cannabis, and the Stanley Brothers, rather than being full cannabis-hemp legalization, as we should be talking about. If this Charlotte’s Web Hemp Act were to pass it is unlikely to help even 30% of cannabis patients; on the other hand it would be a major boon to hemp farmers. That being said, hemp is pretty much already legal after the passage of the Farm Bill.

End Prohibition for Whole Plant Cannabis – Why CBD Only Isn’t Enough

 

Keep you eyes peeled for more of my coverage on hemp, CBD-rich cannabis, and Charlotte’s Web.

Hey readers, here is the next round of my articles from the Leaf Online.

 

I did a four part series about efforts to legalize cannabis in 2016, and what I feel they should keep in mind to be successful. As a student of history, I draw heavily from the lessons I learned as a regional director for the Proposition 19 campaign, which came 4% away from legalizing cannabis in California in 2010. This four part series is what began my writing for The Leaf Online back in April of last year. While they are my first articles with TLO they are just as worth reading now as they were when I wrote them, perhaps even more poignant as we move closer to 2016.

 

1. Part One: Unity

2. Part Two: Funding

3. Part Three: Education

4. Part Four: Allies

 

Expect more coverage on 2016 from me as we move closer to the election, and until then I will have plenty of other fascinating posts for you to read,

As stressed in previous posts on the topic, Burning Man is whatever you make of it. It is a place to lose yourself and find new selves amongst the dust and ashes. Some people go for the music and dancing, a few brave souls are there to fight in the Thunderdome, others go for spiritual reasons. I go for a mixture of the above and the below. This post is going to be about finding spirituality in the dust of the Black Rock playa. This year’s Caravansary is going to be ripe with opportunities for growth, as long as you are open to them. To begin I would like to borrow from Ron Feldman, Ph.D., a religious scholar and writer I met at a previous Burning Man. Quoting from his piece Sleeping in the Dust at Burning Man,

“The Talmud says, ‘Three things are a foretaste of the world-that-is-coming: Sabbath, sunshine, and sexual intercourse’ (Talmud Berakhot 57b). In various ways, all three of these tastes of the messianic era are to be had at Burning Man, the weeklong festival that takes place in late August near Reno, Nevada.”

Burning Man definitely has the sunshine covered. Not just the sun, but also the moon. Both sun and moonrise are very dramatic on the playa due to the natural geographic features, it tends to extend twilight a bit and give things and otherworldly light. The surreal feeling is only made more intense by the ritualistic howling at the moon upon nightfall, a time honored Burning Man tradition increasingly forgotten. As the sun and moon are both important symbol for numerous faiths and spiritual practices this is a major plus no matter what your beliefs are. Sexual intercourse has its own important role in spirituality, most notably in tantric meditation and yoga practices. It would seem, after reading Ron’s piece, that all of Burning Man itself is a Sabbath, a separate place in time and space for the sacred to happen, outside of the everyday world. The Playa isn’t just a Sabbath for Jews and other followers of the Abrahamic faiths, it’s a sacred place for everyone of all faiths or lack there of (it can also be a great place to find your faith, in self or something higher than).

I was raised as a Nichiren Buddhist, but now I primarily identify as someone poly-spiritual, embracing many faiths. A major component of my current spirituality is the belief that spontaneity and serendipity work together to bring us omens and gifts from the universe (possibly through quantum entanglement on the sub-atomic level…a topic for another post). My first burn I camped with a coffee camp, one morning while serving coffee I happened to meet three people from a Nichiren Buddhist camp. Burning Man is a crucible for serendipity, it loves to bring people together who need to meet. Last Burn I met two brothers I grew up with from my time as a Nichiren Buddhist, we haven’t talked in years and  they just happened to camp across the road from my friends. That small thing, a choice in a camp site, has now rekindled a friendship.

Another major component of my spirituality these days is alchemy, and there is a whole village dedicated to it, Sacred Spaces. This camp hosts classes on alchemy, yoga, tantra, sacred dance, and more. The alchemy village also has some pretty awesome music going on every night, generally with a bit more of a tribal sound than the generic wubwub dubstep you hear broadly across the Burn.  I am definitely a fan.

So whether you are out there for the music, out there for the Sabbath, or just to talk to people about God Burning Man has a place for you. The Playa is a big enough desert for everyone to coexist without even needing a bumper sticker to tell them so. And really, we’re better off for it. The world could do with less Priuses driving around sporting more bumper stickers than the number failed Nader presidential campaigns. Burning Man is certainly great for the lack of cars, which also adds to the spiritual element. Everywhere you go out there feels like a pilgrimage, especially in a bad dust storm. You are living in the present, in the scene, without barriers like cars or cellphones to keep you distracted. Nothing cultivates a deep sense of spirituality faster than dwelling in these Zen moments where you are connected to what is happening around you.

For many westerners that may be as close as we ever get to meditating in our daily lives. Burning Man can be a time to meditate on life in very active ways, it all is a matter of what you welcome and allow into you while there. You will certainly be welcoming a barrage of dust onto your person and into your being; otherwise it will be a rough Burn. Speaking as someone very OCD about dirt, it is easier than you think to be at one with the dust. Embrace it, do a dust angel in it, do whatever you need to be okay with it. Like in Dune, know that the dust permeates all things out there, you will sleep in it, eat it, and breath it.

You will become the dust. The phrase “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” comes to mind. We all will become dust together, Burning Man just serves to bring the transient nature of all things to the surface of our consciousness through the physical act of burning things. Once Burned the Man, Temple, and other art pieces are gone forever; just like the artists who made them will be gone to dust in time. Just like the cities they hailed from, and our very planet on a long enough time scale. Like mediation, this idea of all things coming to an end may be hard for westerners to handle. Many of them come from a religion that tells them their soul is eternal and will live on in Heaven, or they may embrace a materialistic culture that teaches them to ignore death to consume more in the present. The Sabbath at Burning Man helps undo these wrongs that have been done to the collective human conscious.

Stay tuned for another upcoming post on spirituality at Burning Man, reviewing the book The Electric Jesus.

Me at the 4/20 Celebration at the University of Santa Cruz, 2009.

Me at the 4/20 Celebration at the University of Santa Cruz, 2009. Note the pendant and T-Shirt.

I would have got this up on 4/20 itself but I was busy working a ten day week at the world’s largest dispensary, making sure our festivities went off successfully (they did). Now I am back with the facts on this unique American holiday.

Growing up in California, specifically in Marin county and San Francisco, I have been steeped in cannabis culture all my life. This makes sense since San Francisco is where the hippie movement originated. So it is no surprise that I have known the significance of 420 and the myths behind its origins from a tender age, since before I knew the significance of 666 (one of those side effects of being raised as a Buddhist hippie). Over my twenty six years in the Bay Area I have heard all manner of stories about why 420 is associated with cannabis, ranging from the plausible to the ridiculous. I’ll be profiling and debunking the most prevalent ones then giving you the real low down on how 4:20 became the time to smoke and April 20th became the day.

I’m going to start with the most ridiculous then move to the most plausible.

Bob Marley’s Birthday/Death: April 20th is not either Bob Marley‘s birthday or the day of his death.

April 20th is the Best Day to Plant Cannabis: Any experienced grower will tell you this is a load of bull. The best time to plant depends on where you live, current climatic conditions, whether you are planting indoor or out, and numerous other contextual factors. Many people choose this day as a day to begin planting but there is no real reason other than a personal choice.

The Number of Chemical Compounds in Cannabis: While more plausible still wrong, there are currently 315 identified chemicals in the cannabis plant. We still don’t have the full chemical profile of cannabis, and we knew even less back in the 70’s when 420 was started.

Police Code for Cannabis: Police codes change from one country to another and from one region to another, but to my knowledge 420 is not a police code for cannabis related activities anywhere for any agency. 420 does happen to be the code for a homicide in Las Vegas though (in many area’s it is 187).

The Number of the Congressional Bill to Legalize Cannabis: Unfortunately no, there is no bill currently introduced that would legalize cannabis this session, usually there is and there is bipartisan support for it. 420 is the number for Senate Bill 420 which expanded California’s medical cannabis program in 2003.

That’s it for the major rumors and myths in need of debunking. You may now be left wondering, if that is all bogus then what’s the real story?

The Waldos

The real story on how 420 became the magic number for everything marijuana related is the story of a group of kids from San Rafael High School in the early 1970’s. This group was known as the Waldos because they would gather and smoke around a wall after school at 4:20pm. Or at least that is how the Waldos’ legendary story was first passed on to me many years ago, when I was a highschool student myself, smoking near a wall at 4:20pm after school. But here is the full story of the Waldos and how 420 originated in the words of Waldo Steve himself.

One day in the Fall of 1971 – harvest time – the Waldos got word of a Coast Guard service member who could no longer tend his plot of marijuana plants near the Point Reyes Peninsula Coast Guard station. A treasure map in hand, the Waldos decided to pluck some of this free bud.

The Waldos were all athletes and agreed to meet at the statue of Loius Pasteur outside the school at 4:20, after practice, to begin the hunt.

“We would remind each other in the hallways we were supposed to meet up at 4:20. It originally started out 4:20-Louis and we eventually dropped the Louis,” Waldo Steve tells the Huffington Post.

The first forays out were unsuccessful, but the group kept looking for the hidden crop. “We’d meet at 4:20 and get in my old ’66 Chevy Impala and, of course, we’d smoke instantly and smoke all the way out to Pt. Reyes and smoke the entire time we were out there. We did it week after week,” says Steve. “We never actually found the patch.”

But they did find a useful codeword. “I could say to one of my friends, I’d go, 420, and it was telepathic. He would know if I was saying, ‘Hey, do you wanna go smoke some?’ Or, ‘Do you have any?’ Or, ‘Are you stoned right now?’ It was kind of telepathic just from the way you said it,” Steve says. “Our teachers didn’t know what we were talking about. Our parents didn’t know what we were talking about.”

You may be wondering how something that began 40 years ago as an inside joke to keep things discreet in front of teachers has since become a world-wide phenomenon spawning any army of “genuine 420” Made in China swag. The rest, they say, is history. The Waldos weren’t just ‘some kids’ they were some kids who had connections to people like Phil Lesh, David Crosby, Wavy Gravy, and The Grateful Dead. 420 spread out along the same vectors as Tim Leary‘s acid trip and the hippie movement, spilling out to touch every corner of the globe.

In 1990, Steve Bloom of High Times was given a 420 flier at a Grateful Dead show and High Times began to incorporate 420 into their magazine. Rick Pfrommer, former Director of Education at Harborside Health Center, was working for the Cannabis Action Network at the time and they used their access to Kinko’s to print thousands of copies of the original 420 flier that Bloom saw. Thanks to Pfrommer and Bloom 420 went viral in a very short period of time and soon April 20th became a day for smoke outs and concerts everywhere.

Unfortunately, not everyone is okay with the spread of cannabis culture and the mass acceptance of this utterly harmless drug (seriously, less harmful then potatoes).

I take comfort that it was only angry white men with signs. Soon they will die out from a lack of mates as crazy as they are.

I take comfort that it was only angry white men with signs. Soon they will die out from a lack of mates as crazy as they are.

Back from a brief hiatus from blogging to focus on other projects I’m back to fill your inboxes and thought-boxes with new blog updates. Today will just be a brief guide for my fellow Californians on how to conserve water. While this will be a short post it may be one of the most important things I post given that California is in its worse drought in 500 years. If it wasn’t bad enough it not appears to be getting worse. Things are so bad that the Governor and many cities are calling for voluntary rationing. The life or death question is – why the bloody hell hasn’t anyone made rationing mandatory? Hellooooo guys, worst drought ever, what about that isn’t scaring you into imposing mandatory rationing? My current city and hometown of San Francisco leads the state, using 49 gallons per person per day on average  versus 100.

1. If it is yellow leave it mellow, if it is brown flush it down. We probably all heard this as kids from environmentally conscious parents, I know I heard it enough were it became rote. I would imagine that is a result of growing up in California and dealing with near constant droughts all my life. We Californians should be used to drought conditions by now. This is a major one since your average toilet flush uses over 2.5 gallons of water and is flushed over 5 times a day. That’s over 12 gallons a day for most toilets.

2. Shower less. No really, shower less. If you currently shower daily, shower ever other day, if you already shower less often than daily cut back to less. I’m showering twice a week now and no one has said a peep, it’s amazing what deodorant and changing your shirt daily can do. At Burning Man I went a solid ten days without a shower, that is pretty close to my maximum limit in the dusty context of the Playa. No shower for ten days does not mean not bathing, you can do wonders wiping yourself down with baby wipes (even your hair). Showers account for 17% of residential water use. Most showers average 7-10 gallons a minute, but there are ways to reduce that. Think about that next time you extend that morning shower just because it ‘feels nice.’ BTW, despite that ten days of dusty no-showers I still consider myself a clean freak, just less OCD than I used to be.

3. Develop a system for washing dishes. I’m working on implementing a system in my house with a soaking tub to reuse water for soaking and minimize the use of new water for rinsing. Using cast iron is also immensely helpful since you hardly ever use water to clean cast iron.

4. Cook things that use less water. I love making soup, but soup is half water. Now is not the best time to be making soup if you can opt for cooking things that use less water. Rice and pasta are also pretty water intense. You can always use cooked in pasta water as grey-water for watering plants once it has cooled!

5. Use your grey water. Whenever possible find ways to reuse your water. One thing I often do is use the same water to rinse out multiple bottles to put in the recycling. Oh yea, did you know you’re supposed to wash out your recycling and not leave it filled with food remains? Common courtesy folks and it makes the somewhat inefficient recycling process slightly more cost effective. You can use any water without chemicals in it to water plants; I would not recommend using dish water unless you are using a totally biodegradable/organic/all natural soap. The food waste could be an issue, or compost?

6. Set up a rain capture system. There are various ways to do this but most are variants on a barrel design. You can even pull water out of thin air using a fog capture system, something I am considering for my home in San Francisco.

7. Let your lawn die. Just stop watering it, let it go fallow, then plough that crap under and make a garden. If you are going to use water to maintain plants at least make sure they are drought resistant plants or useful things like food-baring plants/herbs.

8. Stop washing your car. I don’t even have a car anymore so I stopped this years ago. Thankfully cleaning a bike is much more water efficient than washing a car too. At the least create a more efficient system to wash your car, efficiency is the name of the game.

9. Gamify saving water, especially with kids. I like to use gamification to turn mundane things into fun games I can play with myself and the world. One game I am big on right now is “how little water can I use today?” For children you can try rewarding them for positive behavior, such as praise for taking a shorter shower or remembering to leave yellow mellow. I leave the games up to the individual as only the individual will know what properly motivates them to right action.

10. Group showers? What happens in San Francisco stays in San Francisco…

[EDIT]11. Transform sewer water into drinking water. Yep, it’s possible and here is the DIY guide on how to make what you need to do it. I’m ready for the apocalypse.

Hey readers, just wanted to give you a heads up that I am on vacation till the 28th and will likely be posting a lot less until then. Presently I am trying to stay alive in the coldest colds I have ever felt. It’s not the -50 it was before I got out here, it’s been in the positives and today is the first day of snow since I arrived on the 18th. While I had some anxiety that nothing I owned would be warm enough and went to the lengths of buying thermal underwear, yet I’ve been quite comfy even without the thermals. Though they have not been used yet I am sure they will and I would still fully advise bringing some with you if you step into the polar vortex. Thankfully the polar vortex has passed for now and I have lucked out, but it seems that another freezing arctic blast is on the way.

Not too much to post so far, haven’t done much sight-seeing yet other than the EAA museum. While I came to Oshkosh to visit a friend and lover, knowing little about the local history, apparently  this town has been known across the world for generations because of their rich history of flight. The EAA got its start in Oshkosh after WWII when Paul Howard Poberezny came back home from the war and channeled his life-love of flight with his wartime skills into the new Experimental Aircraft Association. If you ever get the chance to come to Oshkosh I highly recommend checking out the EAA museum, or if you are here at the end of July check out the AirVenture air show.

Today I’ll be going to check out a fancy charcuterie shop to try some real local cheeses. I’ll probably update this later on with some cheese reviews. For now the point of this post is merely to alert my readers to a brief absence.