Starting June 11, several billion of this world's inhabitants will watch the 2010 FIFA World Cup international soccer tournament, held for the first time on the continent of Africa, in South Africa. What many might not know is that South Africa has a major cannabis claim to fame: the legendary, ultra-potent dagga dubbed "Durban Poison." According to Bill Weinberg, a former High Times editor and author of the new book Cannabis Trips, South Africa's port city Durban is smack dab in the middle of KwaZulu-Natal, "the garden province," home to the mystical "Durban Poison."
"It's something like a holy grail — a legendary strain going back 25 to 30 years that's been lost to hybridizing," Weinberg said. "Lots of places on the web will sell seeds for Durban Poison but whether it's the same stuff that people were smoking in the Seventies and the Eighties is another question."
Tourists can still get fifteen years in jail for possession of even a small quantity of the stuff in South Africa, Weinberg cautions. Tourists usually get a small fine, but it's all up to the judge's discretion, making for potential Midnight Express scenarios. Cannabis remains among the most prohibited substances on the planet, Weinberg notes, which earned him the title of "Mr. Buzzkill" during his tenure at High Times.
"That's sort of why I lost my job," Weinberg explained. "I was considered 'Mr. Buzzkill' and people don't want to read about going to jail and losing their homes and wars going on over drugs in Mexico and the Andes. They just want to get high. I don't buy that. If you're using a substance you should have some awareness of the political realities surrounding it."
Cannabis Trips contains a "Heavy Trips" section on tourism in Colombia, Mexico, Afghanistan, Kenya, and Indonesia, where drug users face firing squads, heavy imprisonment, and a healthy dose of flogging. South Africa, with its fifteen-year maximum prison sentence for possession, didn't make the cut.
With 26 high-profile destinations, the 127-page, full-color, glossy book is the third in an Ivy Press culture series that includes the Cannabis Companion and the Cannabis Cookbook. Weinberg proved perfect for the global tourism book, since he obsessively covered international narcotics news first for High Times and currently for his new Global Ganja Report.
Schwarzenegger Kills Bong Bill
Medical cannabis is somewhat legal in California, but that three-foot skull bong sticking out of your convertible can earn you a trip to the slammer. Existing law makes it a crime to possess, deliver, furnish, or transfer drug paraphernalia, whether it be pipes, bongs, chillums, roach clips, papers — or anything else you can buy on Haight Street, Telegraph Avenue, and elsewhere. It's confusing. San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano wanted to end the charade and make pipes legal with Assembly Bill 1811, but California marijuana reform group NORML reports that the Governor's office has effectively killed the bill.
This week Schwarzenegger's office announced its opposition to drug paraphernalia reform bill AB 1811, meaning that even if it passes, the governor would veto it. California NORML spokesperson Dale Gieringer said Schwarzenegger's opposition effectively kills it this session.
A little backstory: A) Arnold used to love smoking weed with Tommy Chong. So it's obviously not a moral thing. B) Ammiano publicly told the governor to "kiss my gay ass" when the Republican leader crashed a Democratic event last year. Since then, Ammiano's effectiveness as a legislator has encountered significant executive roadblocks, like the incident where the governor stymied Ammiano's legislation and appeared to include an acrostic that read "I FUCK YOU."
Sounds like both sides need to chill out like Mr. Freeze and hit the reset button on their relationship. Until then, keep those "tobacco water pipes" out of plain sight, folks.
Facebook Snuffs Pot Ads
Facebook's FarmVille variation "Pot Farm" has more than 500,000 farmers, but the Bay Area's own cultivation legend Ed Rosenthal is having trouble placing ads for his books on the site. On Wednesday, Rosenthal went public with his Facebook spat, proving freedom of the press means the freedom to make your own damn social-networking site.
Seeds & Stems
The Oakland Tribune reports that the City of Oakland may allow four large-scale cannabis farms in the city, and is considering raising the number of medical cannabis dispensary permits from four to six. The Tribune's Cecilia Burt also reports that Oakland police discovered 28 grow operations in 2009. Growing operations were responsible for about 10 fires per year in the city over the last three years. Oakland police could not quantify the amount of growing-related crime, but Burt detailed five incidents of growing-related violence in three years. ... East Bay NORML and Oaksterdam University will hold its monthly marijuana activists' meeting on Thursday, June 17, at 7:30 p.m. at OU Student Union (1915 Broadway, Oakland). ... Upcoming: New Directions California: Free one-day conference sponsored by The Drug Policy Alliance and the California Society of Addiction Medicine on Thursday, July 8, all day, in Los Angeles. CSAM-ASAM.org