Pought thots


I read your article on The Trans High Corporate Conspiracy (CC#24) and want to respond as a member of the NORML board. I can’t speak on behalf of the board, but I hope these personal observations will be helpful.

As background, I’m a long-time marijuana reform activist. I ran Illinois NORML in the 1970’s and served on the NORML board in the 1980’s, rejoining in 1996. I also know the benefits of marijuana as medicine firsthand. My wife died after a long battle with breast cancer that included high dose chemo and a stem cell transplant. The legal anti-emetics didn’t work. Pot worked perfectly.

Additionally, I am leading the fundraising effort for NORML, so few people have more interest in NORML’s financial condition. None of us on the board would leave a stone unturned if we thought it would help NORML stop the war on marijuana users.

Therefore, I was excited when I heard NORML was the beneficiary of the THC Trust. Indeed, the trust document does designate NORML but it does not, as your article says, direct half the profits of High Times to NORML. Instead, it calls for NORML to receive half of the assets in the trust other than THC stock when the trust dissolved on 01/01/00.

Unfortunately, Tom For?ade never funded the trust with other assets before his death. So there is nothing in the trust for NORML to share.

Allegations to the contrary, however, surfaced prior to the Board meeting in February at which we addressed the issue. Before the meeting, I reviewed (again) the trust document and various Arizona state statutes governing the fiduciary responsibilities of trustees. The more I read and re-read the language, the clearer it was to me that NORML is not entitled to anything from the trust.

At the board meeting, we went over the details again. By conference call, the Trust’s attorney, Michael Kennedy, answered questions from the board, several of whom are lawyers-and all of whom, like me, wanted to find some reason, any reason, to believe NORML would receive a windfall.

We reluctantly concluded, almost unanimously, that there is no basis for that belief.

Over that last two decades, NORML has been the beneficiary of tens of thousands of dollars of free advertising, columns, publicity and other support from High Times. It would be foolhardy to destroy that relationship without strong evidence of wrongdoing. There is, in my judgment and that of almost all the board, no such evidence.

We in the marijuana reform movement face a powerful and dangerous enemy. Before we pick a fight among ourselves that distracts us from this important battle, we better have a good reason for it. In this case, I don’t believe we do.

I do believe the board of NORML had an obligation to examine the record and fulfill our responsibilities to our members and the movement. I’m satisfied we did.

Paul Kuhn

I appreciate your letter and comments, and wish that I had received this kind of response from Keith Stroup of NORML during out initial inquiries.

? Dana


Dear Mr Larsen,

This is the first time I have purchased Cannabis Culture, mstly because of favourable references to your magazine in High Times. I assumed, perhaps innocently, that HT & CC are “friends,” so I was stumped and surprised to read attacks against HT. I cannot speak for HT or NORML, but HT has always been involved with NORML, you can’t flip more than a few pages to find a reference to NORML or a NORML ad, urging you to get involved.

HT has always attempted to educate the counter-culture on the spiritual uses of marijuana, medicinal purposes, and how to help make it legalized! Your article was quite thought provoking, yet it seemed like you were trying to discredit HT’s 25 years of service to the counter-culture. Perhaps NORML is unwilling to publicly decry HT because they would prefer to work things out internally.

With regards to the Cannabis Cup being disorganized and possibly rigged, I will say that it seems like a hell of a lot of work goes into the planning of this event, and things can get confusing when there’s thousands of different people together in one place.

I don’t know if the Cup was rigged, but if it was, I’m sure HT will make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The information in your article might be factual, who can say until HT responds? But there were better ways for you to have gone about it. I realize you are in direct competition, but by lambasting HT you show yourselves to be the little guy.

Those at HT are being quite mature by not spreading vicious gossip and getting into a war of words.

Your magazine seems informative, but at first perusal I could see hatred and jealousy for all that High Times has accomplished. Can’t we all just get along?

Jillian, New Jersey

Despite appearances, I am not trying to “get” either High Times or NORML. We reported on the For?ade Trust and the Cannabis Cup voting irregularities because our readers were asking us about these stories. In both instances the principals involved refused to speak to us or offered only terse statements, while others insisted upon anonymity.

I find this sort of behaviour odd. If I or CC were accused of impropriety I would be the first to go on the record to explain and clarify the situation.

? Dana


In issue #25 we printed a letter from a Russian who wanted us to send him some cannabis information and books, which he intended on translating into Russian. We sent him a set of CC backissues and books, and he responded with further news from Russia:

Hello dear Dana!

We were so glad to receive a letter and package of books from you. Our thanks!

You wanted to know about the situation with cannabis in Russia? Well, there is an ecstasy hysteria in St Petersburg press. There is marijuana hysteria too.

There are several Rastafarian music groups in our country, such as Jah Division from Moscow, Marxschinder Kunst from St Petersburg, The Warmth Guard Committee from Kalningrad and Umelie-Sunelic from Perm. Life is hard for nonconformistic artistic and musicians in Russia, especially in the small towns, like mine.

People who smoke ganja in small towns like mine don’t buy it in grams, they bring it in themselves, secretly from big cities like Moscow or St Petersburg. Many of the young gangsters and Azerbaijanians in the bazaars are informers for the police. Some of the young policemen are also smoking and dealing confiscated marijuana. But I know one young policeman who smokes marijuana because he likes it very much and votes for legalization. He’s my age and we smoke ganja together.

Young people in Russia are unaware of the profitable agrarian aspects of cannabis. They are afraid of prohibition politics and penalties. A long time ago the Slavonics grew cannabis for making clothes, fibre, food, oil and other items, like people all over the world.

To buy marijuana in St Petersburg costs 50 Rubles ($2US) for a four gram paper packet ? actually four big “Belomorcanal” cigarettes full of grass. But in our town it costs 120-150 Rubles ($5-6US) for a packet – this is the so-called “crime tax” for transporting risk.

Our laws equate cannabis to heroin, and if police arrest you, you are sure to get 2 or 3 years of cage, and maybe more like 7 years, for your four gram paper packet of grass.

Growing indoors here is a rare thing. In the big cities some do, but most people do not know about the technologies, and they are inert and prefer to drink beer and vodka. Also they have stupid parents, friends, or lovers who could tell wrong words about their homegrown to the wrong person. And they have no access to high-quality seeds.

Last Autumn I went to one of our lovely fields near the town, where psilocybe semilancenta mushrooms grow, and saw that it had been burned by the Petrozavodski “Fighting on Drugs Committee.” Stupid darned policemen!

One more thing, there’s a great Russian-language Internet site at www.high.ru. It’s prohibited in Russia but the people who make this webpage have gone to America.

Thank you very much,

Roman Churkin
Petrozavodsk, Russia

I visited that website and although I couldn’t penetrate the Russian text, I entered the live chat page and met a few interesting Russians. The first response I got to my inquiries were “yankee go home!” but after some reassurance as to my pot-friendly, anti-imperialist nature, they opened up to me. We’ll be taking a closer look at the pot-scene in Russia in a future issue.

Also, when considering that 4 grams of Russian pot costs only $2US, remember that this might represent a day or two of wages for a typical Russian.

? Dana


Your assertions that the timer featured in Pot for Pennies is dangerous is completely ungrounded in truth. Any plastic timer purchased anywhere in the world will not have a grounding plug. And they, at least in the US, are UL approved.

As far as fire danger from a short circuit goes, if you look at the illustration you’ll see it plugged into a power strip with a circuit breaker clearly indicated. True, the wires are not taped up in the picture, but anyone capable of making one of these timers will know to tape up the bare wires? guaranteed! The book is for novice growers, not idiots as your Hans Wright appears to be.

By not reviewing the rest of the book you’ve done a great disservice to the whole movement. You’ve once again started people thinking that they can’t grow a simple weed without a lot of expensive equipment or organic know-how. Bravo!

Pat, MUD
Author, Pot for Pennies

I have never seen a timer that did not use a 3-prong grounded plug.

Publisher John Holmstrom told me he had taken Pot for Pennies off the market to investigate these concerns. So it seems that we’re not the only ones who noticed these problems in the book.

Any wiring advice aimed at “novice” growers should indeed be idiot-proof, as electricity can be very dangerous. The changes needed to the text and diagrams to make the instructions “idiot-proof” are relatively minor. All that would have been needed to make the book safer is a stamp or insert correcting the problems.

Growing pot is indeed easy, but setting up electricity for indoor grow-shows is trcky, and can be very dangerous. Any responsible grow-book should recognize this, and provide clear and accurate instructions.

? Dana