CANNABIS CULTURE – Stoners everywhere are celebrating that one of their own, Michael Phelps, just won more Olympic medals than any other athlete, ever. For those who are counting, that number is 19, including 15 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze. He has three races yet to come in the London Olympic games.
Phelps is playing the reluctant hero these days, and certainly hasn’t advocated for legal marijuana or anything like it. He has called being caught in a photo smoking a bong after winning 8 gold medals in 8 races at the Beijing games “not a good time” in his life. Asked about it by CNN’s Piers Morgan, Phelps winced, and talked about making “a boatload of mistakes” and said, “you have to pay for the consequences.”
If anything, Phelps has proven that smoking pot isn’t a road to ruin, coming back after the incident to show he’s still a world-class, and classy, competitor. When he lost the Gold in the 200-meter butterfly, he admitted that he came to the wall “sort of lazy” and seemed to rejoice in his opponent’s win. Because, really, wouldn’t a stoner think silver was good enough, and be happy to share the wealth?
Phelps came in a medal-free fourth in his first race in the London games, losing the gold to fellow American Ryan Lochte, who, if the San Francisco Chronicle is to be believed, might be more of a stoner than Phelps ever was:
Lochte’s phone rang loudly, a Lil Wayne ring tone, and he did what any grade-school boy would do: He blushed, grinned goofily and made silly guilty-kid faces.
If they remake “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” Lochte is Spicoli.
Hey, his favorite movie is Cheech and Chong’s “Up in Smoke.”
Pot smokers have a right to be proud of their compadres’ accomplishments. In 2009, when Phelps admitted he’d hit a bong, the MVP of the Superbowl; baseball’s rookie of the year, and the NBA’s reigning MVP all admitted they’d hit the peace pipe. It’s possible Phelps’s childhood ADHD was helped by his marijuana use, although the champion isn’t saying so (yet).
The repression continues for some. US Women’s Wrestler Stephany Lee, a legal medical marijuana patient in Colorado, was disqualified from the Olympic team after a positive drug test, forcing the US to send its second-best wrestler instead. And Matt Giblin, the 38th place finisher in the 2012 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, was disqualified after he tested positive for THC. Racers pushed for the testing after Lance Mackey, a cancer survivor and medical marijuana user, won the race for the fourth time in 2010.
Speaking of heros, Londoners may be interested to know that scientist Robert Hooke, who is widely credited with rebuilding London after the fire of 1666, gave a discourse on cannabis to the Royal Society in the 1689. Hooke tried the “banque” himself and recorded in his diary the plant was “accounted very wholsome. though for a time it takes away the memory & understanding.”
He told the Royal Society:
The Vertues, or Quality thereof, are [in India]very well known; and the Use thereof (tho’ the Effects are very strange, and, at first hearing, frightful enough) is very general and frequent: and the Person, from whom I received it, hath made very many Trials of it, on himself, with very good Effect.
But it seems the US Government is more interested in squelching information than with uncovering it. I speak of the now-revealed plea bargain of Bryan Epis, who is serving a 10-year sentence in federal prison for operating a medical marijuana collective in Chico. Epis’s trial was a farce, with the young father sentenced not on the marijuana he possessed or cultivated, but rather on the amount he calculated he might possibly produce in documents seized by the government. Rather than rule of the charges of prosecutorial misconduct raised in the sentencing appeal, a judge lessened Epis’s sentence, meaning he will now get out in late 2013 or early 2014 rather than 2016.
Epis’s attorney is quoted in the Sacramento Bee saying Bryan agreed in his plea bargain not to “advocate or in any way be involved with marijuana” for 10 years after he is released from prison. Similarly, the US is preventing Silver Tour author Robert Platshorn from attending events to speak in favor of marijuana legalization, even though his parole for smuggling pot in the 1980s has long been served. Those enraged by this squelching of free speech are encouraged to write to the US Parole Commission.
Michael Phelps has said he will not compete in the 2016 Olympics and looks forward to being able to live his life as he sees fit. Let’s hope we can all do that, very soon.