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Author Archives: riverlover

Summer is here calling us to go experience the lovely world around us. Feel free to call to see if we’re here, and we mostly will be on Wednesdays and Saturdays. When we’re in town, we’ll also be sitting Monday through Friday mornings. No more Sunday evenings for now.

Regular meditation times:

Wednesdays, 5:30 – 6:30 pm, with potluck to follow on the first Wednesday of the month.

Saturdays, 11:00 to noon, with light lunch to follow every week.

Monday through Friday, 8:00 – 9:00 am when we’re home.


I was heartened by the news that Nathan Cullen is for co-operation in the next election.

Of course, his scheme is simplistic and self-serving: some means of apportioning the candidates in a fair manner can be arrived at.

I am tired of being dictated to by a minority.  Let’s co-operate.

Lying awake last night, I was contemplating how thoroughly the government depends on our cooperation for the functioning of our country.

That’s one of the lessons of the drug war, after all.  The government created the drug war by making drugs illegal: the supposed purpose was to stop the use of certain drugs.  There is no evidence that the use of those certain drugs has been decreased, let alone stopped.  Approximately 6% – 10% of the population distributes and uses drugs freely under the noses of those who claim to control the situation.  When I say there is no evidence, I mean that anyone who wants drugs can get them, just about anywhere – as has been documented by many studies as well as personal observation.  My favorite evidence of our failure is a parliamentary committee recommending that we rid our jails of illicit drugs: if we can’t keep them out of prisons, for heaven’s sake, what would you have to do to open society to control drugs?  Run it with less freedom than we have in our prisons!  Do you want to live in a prison?   Do you think it worth protecting a junkie from heroin to turn your home into a prison?

Compare that to murder, for example: more than 99% of the population agrees that murder is wrong and actively helps the police when it occurs.  Regardless of the propagandistic nonsense that is shown on TV CSI shows, most crimes that are solved are solved because people tell the police who done it.  If even 1% of the population do not cooperate with a law, then forget about stopping them.

If 6% do not cooperate, then you have open drug markets (to those that want them) and the law becomes irrelevant except for two things:

  1. Some unlucky people are caught and punished – without any measurable effect of reducing the availability of drugs.  Those people are typically damaged by the catching.
  2. Most of the 6-10% of people who produce, distribute or consume drugs do not feel safe participating in politics since they do not want to get caught.
So it divides the population into us and them: the good people and the bad.

And that is one benefit of the war on drugs: choose an inconsequential scapegoat; separate them out and blame them for what is wrong in our world; make everyone else feel better (although afraid)!

Divide and conquer kept the British Empire going.  It works for our government, too.

I enjoyed the recent press on the UCSF study of marijuana and lung function – it repeats again the findings that marijuana, unlike tobacco, is not bad for your lungs. Unlike the bullshit regularly trotted out, moderate marijuana use actually improves lung function, strikingly similar to the way it actually appears to decrease cancer rates.  Of course, the authors don’t recommend marijuana for your health, but they could.

I have known heavy smokers of marijuana who cough the juiciest and unhealthiest coughs every day.  If you’re smoking that much, you’re not doing yourself a favor, but you are not risking anything major either – other than the waste of life and good dope that comes from smoking too much.  Moderate yourself!

The Liberals have once again affirmed that cannabis should be legalized.  They seem to do this regularly when out of office, and then forget the issue when elected or make lame attempts at “decriminalization” which means continued prohibition with parking tickets for users and jail time for producers and distributors.  Maybe this time will be different – but I doubt it.  It will take more than the Young Liberals when out of office to make the change.

Friends have told me that the Le Dain commissioners were pro-pot, too, and expected legalization to follow their report.  In doing a little research on Trudeau and pot, I got to read about Margaret Trudeau and found this fun website devoted to famous users.  Pierre, apparently, did not approve, but the site has many others who did.

Wiley is publishing a series titled “Philosophy for Everyone” and one of the series is devoted to marijuana. If you don’t know Wiley, they are a major publisher of scholarly materials, and the book is a series of essays that seem a lot like the conference proceedings that Wiley normally publishes. The tone, however, is decidedly popular and accessible, not wooden and impenetrable.

The first essay is by Lester Grinspoon, one of my personal heroes. He’s the Harvard professor geek who by a series of accidents discovered marijuana and has been for 40 years a courageous activist against what he has termed “Cannabinaphobia.”  If you don’t know of him and his work, I suggest you stop reading this and switch to his account of his personal discovery of marijuana. One of the highlights of my drug activism days was helping to organize an event where Dr. Grinspoon spoke by phone – so I got to ask him a couple of questions directly. He felt then like a grand old uncle – wise, secure, and pleasantly sensible.

A couple of Lester’s toking buddies were Carl Sagan and Sagan’s author wife Ann Druyan.  Unlike Dr. Grinspoon, Sagan was unwilling to go public with his smoking – not wanting to compromise his career as an eminent astronomer, but he did anonymously pen a chapter for one of Grinspoon’s books describing how valuable he personally found marijuana.  If you haven’t read it, you should probably run right out and buy a copy of Marihuana Reconsidered (note the unusual spelling, more formal at the time, and Amazon’s misspelling of the book title), or just read the essay (if this is an accurate posting).

It was nice to come across Dr. Grinspoon again, but I really have to wonder how long, oh cosmos, will they continue to arrest roughly a million Americans a year for marijuana related offenses.  The home of the free?  Yeah, right.  Would that Canada were any better!

So Copenhagen has voted for legal marijuana, and that is a good thing, I suppose.

Copenhagen has voted for legal marijuana is because it has been unable to shut down Christiana’s marijuana market.  Now they will legalize the trade, but only through “state-run” production and distribution.

Here’s what I say to Denmark:

Look, if you’re going to make marijuana legal, then make it legal like oregano.  Make it so anybody can do anything they want to with it – but they won’t, or if they do, they will for a while and then stop.  Making something legal does not mean promoting it.  Marijuana is very much a personal decision, and the government only muddies the waters by getting involved.

Social norms will develop without government intervention.  It is extremely likely that the use among children and young adults will fall dramatically.

Personal responsibility is the key to a healthy society, not government enforced punishment.

So do it, Denmark!  Go all the way.  Let anybody who wants to grow and sell marijuana the same way you allow people to grow hops.  We’ll figure it out for ourselves, thank you.

Or vice-versa, Copenhagen: you’ve said your peace.  Now why don’t you leave Christiana alone.

The Star Phoenix reports that we in Saskatoon have enjoyed weather on average 8 degrees warmer than average for December – in a time when the forecasters were predicting colder weather than normal.  Our average December has temperatures averaging 14 degrees C below zero and our average last month was 6 below.

This is a La Niña year which has made us colder and drier in the past, but doesn’t seem to be having the cooling effect yet and that got me to wondering: the global warming skeptics typically argue with the models predicting warming saying the models are inaccurate.  What if they are inaccurate, but the inaccuracy misses the full magnitude of the warming?  Predicting the weather is hard – is predicting the warming any easier?

Get ready for a roller coaster ride – and may we all survive.


Reverend John Spong said that about gay rights.  Would he say it about the end of prohibition?

You’ve got to love Philip Owen, former mayor of Vancouver, B.C. and harm reduction champion in and out of office.  You can hear him argue for the legalization of marijuana on CBC’s The Current, the latest podcast on their webpage.

Unfortunately, the extended last word is given to retired BC RCMP officer and apparent lobbyist for prohibition, Chuck Ducette, who works for the Drug Prevention Network of Canada.    Ducette gets to rattle off a series of prejudices masquerading as fact with no challenges from the host of the show.

Listening to that crap made me a little ill until I remembered Spong.

May the day come when smoking a joint does not nullify basic human rights, like privacy and freedom.  For thousands of years, marijuana was legal and used hardly used.  Can you name that society or civilization before 1920 that was brought low by marijuana use?  No?  Because marijuana use never caused any  measureable harm.

Yet idiots like that paid hack Ducette gets national air-time to spew his crap.

We’ve got to win this one.

My beloved wife Jan is going car and plane free for a year: she will not travel by either, and although she will ride on a bus or the train, to my knowledge she hasn’t since September 1.

Several of her friends gave her a hard time about this vow since it meant they wouldn’t see her, and they saw it as unfairly judgmental of people who live in the countryside and have no option other than car to live their lives – but how do we start making a change if we all go along with what is wrong, and cars are very wrong.

You can read about her exploits via the Saskatchewan Environmental Society’s blogs.  In particular, her latest blog entry goes right to the heart of the matter: our successes are killing us, and nobody is talking about it because we don’t want to think about it.

But we wear the chains we forge in life, as Marley told Scrooge, and heaven help us, our chains are heavy, very heavy.  What can we do?  Reduce your consumption now – but you know that already if you’ve been paying attention.

P.S. I’ve been fortunate to be visiting in Montreal (by train!) and while here ran right down to see the Burtynsky exhibit at the McCord Museum.  It’s called Oil and it is powerful to see his lovely and frightening images, often blown up to 6’x6′ size.  You can smaller and less startling versions of the images if you go to his website.  The printed and hung photos are the real thing: go see it if Oil comes to a gallery near you.