This Bud’s For You


 Firing up some high grade bud in the Land of the Flowers


It’s Time to End the Anti-Marajuana Laws

Anti-Marijuana laws are a tyranny of the majority!  Hence the announcement by Attorney General Eric Holder that the federal government will no longer prosecute providers and users of marijuana for medicinal purposes, in states where such use is legal, comes as welcome news indeed.  However it is at best an awkward half step in reaching a final solution to the problem of marijuana use as a law enforcement issue.

 To put it succinctly, it is like applying a band aid to a cancerous sore.   The devil here really is in the details.   First of all trying to distinguish who is smoking marijuana for medical reasons and who is smoking because it enriches their spiritual life – like Rastafarians for instance – or who is smoking for the pure pleasure of it, will certainly prove an impossible nightmare!

 The seeds of failure are embedded in this approach.  For instance the Feds have stated that vigorous prosecutions will continue to be directed against those who deal marijuana for profit, because they are the main source of income for the murderous Mexican cartels.  This is true, hence the tragedy here is that this policy will fuel the cartel’s enterprises in the US: The more dangerous the traffic becomes the higher the price of the product, thus the greater the profits.  That’s the way the market works.

The only way to end this is to legalize marijuana completely with no more controls than those on tobacco – a really deadly vice!  Anything short of this will not end the horrendous street crime and official corruption associated with the illegal trafficking in this euphoria inducing plant.  And there isn’t enough jail cells in America to imprison everybody who will continue to smoke this wondrous weed not matter what the law says!

 I am no novice on the drug issue; I have given much thought to the question of recreational drug use and once won an award for accuracy and honesty in drug reporting when I was a columnist at the Daily News.  The Tom Focade Award is presented by “High Times” magazine, the preeminent authority on recreational drug use.

My  opinions on the matter are grounded in serious research among scientists and medical professionals devoted to treatment and cures for drug addiction – but a great deal of my research was conducted employing a time honored anthropological method: The participant observer.

No one understands better than the Times editors how much hypocritical nonsense surrounds the issue of recreational drug use: Especially marijuana smoking!  And they agreed with the analysis and conclusions of my News columns: Anti-Marijuana laws are anti-democratic and represent a tyranny of the majority that Alexis de Tocqueville warned us would happen if the rights of minorities are not protected.

The Marajuana laws are the source of the violent crimes associated with drug use, thus they cannot be the solution, and Marijuana is far less dangerous to our health and spiritual well being than alcohol and tobacco consumption.  The legalization of marijuana would address two of these problems immediately, and contribute to a solution for the destructive practice of alcohol consumption by providing a safer way to get high!


Some High grade bud!

  “Cannabis Sativa,” as the botanist call it, has a long and honorable history. As near as I have been able to discover after years of detective work, Marijuana was first cultivated by ancient Hindu sages over three thousand years ago.  Their towering wisdom is verified by the names they gave it: “The Poor Man’s Heaven” and “The Heavenly Guide.”  The Jamaicans, who have a flourishing Marijuana cultivating and smoking culture, call the herb “Ganga,” a word of obvious Indian origin.

And from my years of investigating the affects of smoking this marvelous weed – the “joy weed” that the prophet Abraham is said to have smoked before he had his transcendental experiences that produced prophetic visions – I’d say the Hindu wise men were never wiser than when they named the Ganga.  It is a little noted fact – both by the mainstream media as well as the anti-marijuana fanatics – that some of the most brilliant personalities of our times have been avid herb smokers.

 Astronomer and Television Star Carl Sagan


 A Brilliant Scientist and Avid Herb Smoker

Among the self-confessed pot heads are the great astronomer Carl Sagan.  Writing in the 1969 book, Marijuana Reconsidered, under the alias “Mr. X”, Sagan wrote the following testimony on his experience smoking herb:

When I’m high I can penetrate into the past, recall childhood memories, friends, relatives, playthings, streets, smells, sounds, and tastes from a vanished era. I can reconstruct the actual occurrences in childhood events only half understood at the time. Many but not all my cannabis trips have somewhere in them a symbolism significant to me which I won’t attempt to describe here, a kind of mandala embossed on the high. Free-associating to this mandala, both visually and as plays on words, has produced a very rich array of insights.”  We know that Mr. X was actually Carl Sagan because he later confessed it, after his stature in the scientific world had grown beyond reproach.

The brilliant novelist Norman Mailer, one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century often turned to the  “Heavenly Guide” for inspiration.  I know this because he told me so.  From our first encounter we fired up some bush.  It was the day of the second Ali Norton fight and I was dabbling in the boxing business at the time.  Driving uptown on  the Avenue of The America’s I was caught by the red light at 50th Street.

I was driving a classic car – a white Duisenberg in fact, and I had just got it hand washed causing the silver chrome piping that ran into the engine to glisten in the mid-afternoon sun.  All of a sudden I saw this short graying white man in a trench coat stop in front of the car as he was crossing the street and bow down as if genuflecting before the golden calf of Mammon.  Had he not performed such a dramatic gesture I probably would never have looked at him closely enough to notice who he was – what with all the beautiful stylish ladies all about, eye candy galore.

 Norman Mailer



Even after I got a good look at him I still couldn’t believe it was him – although I have since learned that when you see somebody in Manhattan who looks like somebody famous they usually are. I got so excited without thinking I jumped out of the car and blurted out:” Dam if you don’t look just like Norman Mailer!”   He smiled his slightly devilish smile and said “I should look like Norman mailer because I am Norman Mailer.”

I proceeded to tell him what an unexpected honor it was to meet him because I considered him one of the great writers in the English language.  He seemed genuinely surprised that I knew who he was because I didn’t look like the literary type at the moment.  I asked him where he was going and if I could give him a ride, and he said “Really, well I was heading over to the Upper East  Side.”  I bade him hop into my dream machine and away we went.

My Fly Ride 

And Away We Went!

Since I had recently see him in a television interview where he talked about how smoking reefer fired his imagination, and his love for boxing was well known – he had even gone to the gym and trained with the World Light-Heavy Weight Champion Jose Torres – I engaged him in a conversation about the much anticipated Ali-Norton rematch and then offered him a joint of some El Primo High Grade Sensemillah  bud straight out of Humboldt County in Northern California.

I told him that I saw the TV interview and he relaxed and fired up.  I ducked into Central Park at 59th street and we cruised uptown.  The conversation soon turned to politics and literature, after a while he got high and was just staring at me as I was discussing Shakespeare’s use of color symbolism – A topic I later published an extensive essay on titled: “Did Shakespeare Intend Othello

To Be Black?  A Meditation on Blacks and the Bard,” which can be read in the Anthology “Othello: New Essays By Black Writers” edited by the distinguished Indian Shakespeare scholar Dr. Mathili Kaul, and published by Howard University Press.  Suddenly Mailer said to me, who are you? It’s confusing: You talk like a professor but you look like a gangster!”  It was a funny question, because he was obviously smashed from the dynamite weed.

The father of Jazz – America’s great contribution to world culture – Louis “Pops” Armstrong, was also an herbalist. And George Washington, the father of our Republic – smoked herb too, only he referred to it as “smoking hemp.”   One would be hard put, in fact it would be a fool’s errand, to try and find a more impressive group of men anywhere in the modern world!


Pop’s Armstrong: Longtime Pothead


 He Invented and Art Form that Captured the World!

It is no wonder the Rastafarians – a Jamaican religious order who use Cannabis Sativa as a holy sacrament – call it “Wisdom Weed!”    


Wisdom Weed

 Wisdom weed II

Simply Heavenly!

My attitude toward anti-marijuana statutes is conditioned more than any thing else by the fact that I strongly believe the laws against smoking wisdom Weed to be a misuse of the police power of the state that could be better utilized fighting serious crimes; and the legal doctrine that justifies it is a perversion of the ideal of democracy.

In the world famous two volume treatise Democracy in America, written by the brilliant French social philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville in 1830,  the author predicts that American style democracy was ever in danger of degenerating into a mere “tyranny of the majority” if the rights of unpopular minorities were not protected in the laws.

As a black person in America I and my ancestors have always lived under the tyranny of the majority; we were living under a tyranny of the majority when de Tocqueville wrote his great work.  After all, most black Americans were held in chattel slavery in the south, and the perceptive Frenchman noted that: “Hatred of the black race seems strongest in the northern states that have abolished slavery.”

Hence, having lived under the tyranny of the majority due to my race, I now refuse to bow down to a tyranny of the ridiculous old fools who abuse their power by outlawing the smoking of Wisdom Weed – and who may now be the majority only in power and influence.

Aside from the sheer pleasure of it all – it’s no coincidence that medical doctors specializing in sexual dysfunction, whose minds are not fettered by false doctrines,  routinely prescribe this wonderful weed to help stimulate desire.  And there are proven medical benefits for people suffering from serious afflictions such as: Cancer, Muscular dystrophy, Aids, glaucoma, etc.

However aside from polemics about personal liberty and the medicinal properties of Cannabis Sativa, I return to the the undeniable fact that the main reason for the drug wars in Mexico, which are increasingly spilling over in the towns and cities of the US, is the anti-marijuana laws.

 Yet from the talk emanating from our newly minted Secretary of Homeland Defense, Janet Napolitano, the rum drinkers just don’t get it!  No amount of police power – short of turning the country into a fascist police state – will successfully suppress the marijuana trade.

All repressive measures do, aside from raising the price of weed, is attract a more ruthless element to the trade as risk increases and the commodity becomes more valuable.  It is the ultimate folly, as that term is defined by historian Barbara Tuchman in her thoughtful and learned book, The March of Folly – which a concept she employs to describe the behavior of leaders who pursue a policy that all the observable facts suggests is against the nation’s interest!

Hence for all these reasons and more, I shall smoke the Wisdom Weed until my dying day.  In fact, I intend to take a toke of the high grade just before I dance and join the ancestors.  So to those who would profane their high office and subvert the quest for a true democracy by abusing the power of the state passing repressive laws designed to prevent me from taking a toke, I have some parting words.

I have purposely chosen doggerel because I think such scurrilous scoundrels unworthy of poetry.  Low verse is their just dessert: “The winds may blow / the trees on high / The bees may kiss the butterflies / The sparkling Champaign may kiss the glass /but all you silly mother fuckers can kiss my ass!




 Playthell G. Benjamin

Commentaries On the Times

Harlem, New York 

Friday the 13th, March 2009


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