In a previous article, we told the story of Jeff Mizanskey, a 61 year old man from Sedalia, MO serving a life sentence for possession of marijuana. Jeff was a victim of the “three strikes” laws and their harsh mandatory minimum sentences, and has been behind bars since his third arrest in 1993.
That’s more than 20 years in prison. For pot.
But a breakthrough came for Jeff and his family yesterday, when Missouri governor Jay Nixon commuted his sentence, making him eligible for parole. By all accounts, Mizanskey has been a model prisoner, and his application for parole is expected to be approved. The hearing could be scheduled as soon as August.
Jeff has become something of a poster boy for legalization activists. The commutation of his sentence should be taken as a very encouraging sign that the times are changing, and that cannabis laws are changing with them.
Even in the conservative American Midwest.
Nixon also granted clemency to five other non-violent drug offenders: Michael Derrington (who was also convicted of pot possession), Bill Holt, Nicole Lowe, Doris Atchison, and Earl Wolf.
Yesterday, on May 17th 2015, a group of five people gathered for a religious ceremony at the Roger Williams National Monument in Providence, Rhode Island. Such a small crowd might have gone unnoticed and unreported, but for the fact that they were members of The Healing Church — and they were smoking weed.
The setting is most appropriate: Roger Williams was an early settler and Protestant Reformer who founded the town of Providence in 1636, after he was exiled from Salem, Massachusetts for preaching unpopular doctrines. Those ideas that were so demonized are sacred to us now, such as the separation of church and state, the abolition of slavery, and the rights of Native Americans. The monument that bears his name also enshrines the values of universal human rights and religious freedom.
So it’s only fitting that The Healing Church would choose it as a place of worship.
The religious ceremony was led by Anne Armstrong, ordained minister since 2002. She led the group in prayer, which included smoking marijuana and annointing members foreheads with cannabis oil. It didn’t take long for park officials to take notice, and soon enough a park ranger came to inquire. They told the church members that they could not violate the Controlled Substances Act on park grounds. Armstrong presented her ordination papers, as well as a permit that she had acquired to hold a church service of 100 people in the park on May 23rd, 2015. Park officials tried telling her that the group needed a permit for their gathering yesterday, but Armstrong defended the groups right to assemble, to pray, and to use cannabis as a religious sacrament, citing a 2010 free speech ruling (Boardley v. U.S. Dept. of Interior) that upholds the right of small groups to gather and express themselves in public parks.
The group then proceeded to smoke and pray for another hour, with being disturbed. On their way out of the park, they were questioned by the police, and that encounter was recorded and posted to YouTube:
As you can see, there were no fines, citations or tickets issued (personal use is decriminalized in Rhode Island; possession of less than an ounce warrants no arrests or jail time). It was a peaceful end to a peaceful gathering, and it sets a major precedent in the move toward cannabis legalization and decriminalization.
It may not seem like a big deal at first glance, but it is. A group of citizens were able to smoke pot on government property and walk away unmolested. Constitutional rights—freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion—triumphed over the federal ban on cannabis and controlled substances. That’s pretty big.
It clearly shows that there is indeed a seismic shift going on in the way the public, the government, and even law enforcement approaches marijuana. If it can happen in Providence, it could happen anywhere.
Cannabis smoking could be coming soon to a park near you 😉
statue of Roger Williams, photo from wikipedia
There’s no better way to spend an evening at home than to gather with the ones you love and watch a great movie… and being high just makes it that much better!
I’ve compiled a list of my favorite films to watch while under the influence, in no particular order. Some are classics, some you may never have heard of. There’s a little something here for everyone—some will make you stop and think, some will make you laugh out loud, and some of them might just blow your mind.
So grab some snacks, sit back, light up and enjoy…
1. The Big Lebowski
Have you ever been mistaken for someone else? In this classic, the Dude is mistaken for someone who owes the mob money. In the process of clearing his name, the mob ends up destroying the Dudes rug.
Hilarity ensues as he tries to get his rug fixed. Jeff Bridges and John Goldman are amazing as they deliver legendary one liners flawlessly and give their take on some of the cannabis world’s most common archetypes.
2. Pineapple Express
Dale Denton (Seth Rogan) is a process server that witnesses his dealers boss murder a guy. He flees the scene and turns to the only person he can; his weed dealer Saul Silver (James Franco). The bad guys figure out who they are because of the brand new and super rare weed.
Weed is the main focus of this comedy that can tackle surprisingly serious issues in a light-hearted way. These stoners can’t seem to get ahead and always seem to get themselves into more trouble. This one tugs at the feels.
3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Ever wish you could just forget about someone in your past? In this drama, Joel Barish (Jim Carey) struggles to find out who his dream girl is. He ends up going through a mind opening experience where he rediscovered the beauty of an imperfect life.
This introspective mindbender will take you for a ride to places you may have never explored. Science still doesn’t have all the answers to how the brain works and this will get you really thinking.
4. Altered States
This imaginative and intelligent look at psychedelics is a real masterpiece. At times surreal and at others downright silly, somehow the campy nature of it adds to the overall feeling. While amazing high, even sober types will have something to say about this one.
5. Monty Python’s Life of Brian
We follow Brian (Graham Chapman), a somewhat unlucky man living during the birth of Christianity, literally. Brian spends his whole life getting mistaken for the messiah, but it isn’t as awesome as it may sound. But he won’t let the ridiculousness of life stop him or get him down.
We could only include one entry from this distinguished group and it was tough. We opted for this gem for how relevant it is to issues around the globe. Monty Python take their signature British style of humor and confront the difference between what people believe and what people actually experienced at the beginning of the first millennia.
6. Life is Beautiful
What happens when an idyllic life is interrupted by the holocaust? This Italian film follows Guido, a Jewish book keeper with a beautiful family. But Guido’s world is turned upside down when Nazi’s take over and send people to the camps. Somehow, surrounded by death and hopelessness, he is able to find the beauty in life.
7. 3 Idiots
We have all been in a situation where you have nothing to lose. We just haven’t all had the guts to do what we wanted to. Some people never get out of that stage but not this trio. This Bollywood tale follows three college friends as they attempt to settle an old bet and recall the trouble they got into at school. Perfect for rolling up a fatty and laughing your ass off.
8. Half Baked
Thurgood Jenkins (Dave Chappelle) just got a job as a custodian at a lab where they test copious amounts of weed. Unfortunately, his roommate ends up in jail standing murder charges. So it is up to Thurgood to use weed to get his friend out of jail. He just has to be careful that his new girlfriend Mary Jane Potman (Rachel True) doesn’t find out he smokes weed or she will dump him.
Half Baked is filled with interesting information (like horses can be diabetic) and some of the best examples of what black market dealers have to deal with (both with their clients and with their competition). It will take some creative thinking and some stellar weed for these stoners to get their friend out of jail before it’s too late.
9. Yellow Submarine
Have you ever felt high just being near someone? This movie inspired by and based on the Beatles legendary album takes you on one far out ride. The Beatles accompany Captain Fred in his Yellow Submarine and take us along for the acid induced trip. The story takes place in Pepperland where the Beatles use their melodies to free the land from the music hating Blue Meanies. Definitely best watched under the influence of something.
10. Animal House
This is the college movie that inspired everything from the American Pie series and beyond. The Dean of a 1962 college is determined to expel a fraternity made of the schools rejects and party animals. Unfortunately for him, there are rules.
You get everything from John Blutarski (John Belushi) downing a real fifth of whiskey in a single go to helping Chip Diller (Kevin Bacon) become a household name. This movie was responsible or at least marked a whole generation of actors and comedians rise to fame.
11. The Holy Mountain
The Holy Mountain is filled with Christian imagery and a mysterious and otherworldly experiences. Everything is more than it seems and goes as deep as you would like. Able to be viewed in several ways, this film seems to morph and adjust to represent whatever is going on in your life. The best part is that it is able to poke fun at religions and materialists alike.
12. Pan’s Labyrinth
This dark psychological thriller explores imagination and reality by introducing us to Ofilia in the falangist Spain of 1944. She meets a faun who tells her that she is a princess. But to prove herself a true heir and meet the King, she must complete three tasks.
The world of Pan’s Labyrinth is dark and unforgiving. Danger lurks just out of sight but is always present. The twisted and sometimes contradictory nature of life is explored in a fantastical setting and amazing visualization.
13. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
We can’t stop and talk about this for too long, it’s bat country! This film is the adaptation of a book written by one of the most unique journalists ever; Hunter S. Thompson. Seriously, look this guy up, he is a bad ass.
This movie explores the depths that someone can steep to when they binge on drugs in the desert. Raul Duke (Johnny Depp) and his lawyer (Benicio Del Toro) take a trip to Las Vegas to cover a motorcycle race. Since the trip is paid for and they have plenty of time to kill, why not try out every drug known to man? What follows is every use-related reason why it’s a bad idea.
14. Natural Born Killers
Probably most notable for being the movie that inspired the Columbine school massacre, this prison break movie shows that some people are just good at being bad guys. NBK is a startling look at what people are capable of when they have nothing left to lose.
Quentin Terantino has a reputation for delivering blood soaked masterpieces where the world feels real and the characters exist within it. The villains have depth and reason for their actions and the stellar acting pushes it over the edge. And the “good guys” are shown as real people, reacting to the crazy situations they find themselves in instead of some impossible paragon of virtue.
15. Groundhog Day
Have you ever wished you could go back and have another chance at something? How about a whole day? In this romantic comedy, Phil (Bill Murray) is a reporter who has to cover the groundhog celebrations around Punxsutawney. But when Phil wakes up the next morning, it’s still groundhog day.
Phil slowly realizes that he is in a time loop, endlessly repeating the same day. It isn’t until he learns some hard but important lessons about what he can and can’t change that he has a chance to live for tomorrow.
16. Kung Fu Hustle
A comedic take on a part of film history known for low budgets and serious dialogue. If you are into Kung Fu classics, you will get more of the nuanced Easter eggs and pop culture references. There is beautiful music, great martial arts choreography, virtuous heroes, devious villains and plenty of interesting side characters.
This movie pokes fun at many of the ideas that have come to dominate martial arts movies. But, that doesn’t mean it sacrifices on story. The film world is populated with all sorts of people from all walks of life. Even the most intellectually challenged characters are endearing and multidimensional.
17. Dead Man
This is the story of William Blake. A traveler of the extreme western American frontiers during the late 19th century. Lost and badly wounded, he encounters a Native American named Nobody. This movie explores how society and circumstance can conspire to transform even the gentlest and kindest of souls into hardened killers. It holds up a mirror and asks us if we would do any different.
Pi is a mathematical constant. It includes every sequence possible which means that it holds every answer to every question possible. When a math genius creates a computer that can decode the secrets of the universe, powerful people find out and want it for themselves. Shot in grainy and gritty black and white, it sets the mood perfectly for the conflict between cabalists and Wall Street attempting to control everything.
19. A Scanner Darkly
Do you trust the government? In this visually striking film, a future cop ends up dealing with the dark side of a new illicit drug. As the drug takes hold, the distinction between fantasy and reality begin to blur.
This film asks us a question. What makes you, you? Is it memories, perception or a slurry of chemical reactions? The answer may not be as clear as we once thought it was.
20. 2001: A Space Odyssey
What happens when computers get to control things instead of man? In this visionary movie that came out during the 1960’s, we explore the consequences of alien and artificial intelligence.
When mankind discovers an alien artifact on the moon, we send our best to go investigate the mystery of who placed it. But when the next stage of evolution is up for grabs, machines prove that they want it just as much.
What are some of your favorite movies to watch while high? Tell us in the comments below!
One of marijuana’s most famous effects, apart from mild euphoria, is that inevitably it has you cleaning out your fridge and cupboards, or running to the nearest store for smacks. The tremendous surge in appetite that cannabis gives us, commonly known as “the munchies,” is actually one of it’s most important medicinal properties. For people on chemo, or struggling with eating disorders, it can literally be a life-saver.
But why is it that smoking weed makes you so hungry?
You probably know that the effects of marijuana are primarily caused by molecules called cannabinoids, especially tetrahydrocannabidol, or THC. These molecules interact with naturally occurring receptors in the brain called the endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate mood, memory, sensitivity to pain, and—you guessed it—appetite.
Smoking marijuana stimulates appetite in multiple ways. A study done last year at the University of Bordeaux found that THC affects the olfactory bulb of lab mice, making them more sensitive to odors. it would seem that smoking pot makes us smell and taste food more intensely, which would naturally tend to make us eat more. But this doesn’t fully explain the intense, ravenous, and seemingly insatiable hunger cannabis can induce.
Back in 2005, a team from the London Medical School published a study showing that cannabinoids stimulate appetite by activating the hypothalamus, and interacting with a compound called ghrelin which acts as a regulator of appetite and metabolism. A study released earlier this year delves even deeper into the mystery…
An international team of scientists led by Tamas Horvath found that cannabis effectively “flips a switch” in the hypothalamus, specifically a cluster of neurons called the POMC. Normally, these POMC neurons are responsible for signaling when we are full, and shutting down the appetite. But when we are high that effect is reversed, and these neurons, when activated, actually stimulate hunger.
Hence the bottomless pit in your stomach that can’t be filled.
Even this is probably just a part of the picture. The chemical cocktail found in the cannabis plant is extremely complex, and the effects that it has on the human brain and body even more so. But one thing is certain: cannabis does stimulate the appetite, especially in those who haven’t built up a tolerance. In fact, it does it so well that no other medication can even compare, and even the radically anti-pot pharmaceutical industry had no choice but to embrace it. The synthetic THC known as Marinol is the go-to appetite booster for chemo patients and others who are wasting away due to loss of appetite.
But why should we pay Big Pharma to synthesize something that we could all grow in our own backyard?
Whether you are a medical patient who needs to restore your lost appetite, or a casual smoker who just wants to take dinner up another notch, cannabis will do the trick. So grab some snacks, light up, and enjoy.
photo from abcnews.com