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Feature: Seattle Hempfest Bigger Than Ever in 2009, But Gaining Critics

Somewhere around 300,000 people converged on the Seattle waterfront Saturday and Sunday to attend the 19th annual Seattle Hempfest, the world's largest marijuana "protestival," as organizers like to call it. While organizers and drug reform advocates were out in force to encourage attendees to get involved in changing the marijuana laws, for most of the crowd, Hempfest was one big pot party. And that has some movement critics unhappy.
Hempfest crowd
Last year's attendance was estimated at 310,000. While figures are not yet in for last weekend's event, given the huge crowds, it is likely this year's figure will be even higher.

With hundreds of vendors selling glass pipes, bongs, tie-dyes, and assorted other pot-related paraphernalia, as well as dozens of food vendors, with seven stages alternating musical acts with activist speakers, and with crowds so thick that people literally could not move at some points by mid-afternoon on both days, Hempfest seems more like a dense urban community than a festival. And like any urban community, Hempfest had a police presence, but as far as can be determined, police couldn't find anyone to arrest despite the ever-present scent of marijuana smoke in the air.

That's in part because Seattleites voted in 2003 to make adult marijuana offenses the lowest law enforcement priority. But it is also in part because, unlike some other police forces, the Seattle police actually acknowledge and heed the will of the voters. In all of last year, Seattle police arrested only 133 people for marijuana possession -- and those were all people who had already been detained on other charges.

It is that tolerant attitude toward marijuana that makes the massive law-breaking at Hempfest possible. In almost any other city in the US, such brazen defiance of the drug laws would almost certainly result in mass arrests. Even this weekend's Boston Freedom Rally, the second largest pro-marijuana event in the country, will see numerous arrests -- if police behavior in the past is any indicator.
Hempfest-targeted sky ad, pulled by helicopter
Drug reform organizations including NORML, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and (publisher of this newsletter) were present with booths or tables, as were numerous medical marijuana support groups. But those booths and tables had to compete with bong-sellers and pipe-makers, t-shirt vendors and hippie couture outlets, and the hundreds of other vendors cashing in on the crowds.

To really get the drug reform message out, Hempfest organizers and reform activists took to the various stages between acts to exhort audiences to make Hempfest a party with a purpose. Among the nationally known activists speechifying at Hempfest were "Radical Russ" Belville of NORML, Sandee Burbank of Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse, Mike and Valerie Corral of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM), Debbie Goldsberry of the Berkeley Patients Group, Washington state legislator and head of the Voluntary Committee of Lawyers Roger Goodman, medical marijuana specialist Dr. Frank Lucido, former medical marijuana prisoner Todd McCormick, cannabis scientist Dr. Robert Melamede, and NORML founder Keith Stroup and current executive director Allen St. Pierre. For a complete list of speakers, go here.

Activists also educated those interested in learning more about marijuana law reform and related topics at the Hemposium tent, which featured panels on "Human Rights for Cannabis Farmers, Dispensers and Consumers," "Global Hempenomics," "Cannabliss: An Entheogen for the Ages," "Cannabis and the Culture Wars: The Coming Truce," and "Cannabis Coverage: Reefer Sanity for the 21st Century." For a complete list of Hemposium panels, click here.

While Hempfest came off without any serious problems, it has sparked a couple of related controversies. This week, Criminal Justice Policy Foundation head Eric Sterling wrote a blog post, Hempfest is Huge, But is It Good Politics?, in which he answered his own question with a resounding "no." Hempfest and similar rallies are "a political fraud," he wrote. Even worse, they are "advertisements for irresponsible drug use."
''Hemposium,'' with speakers (l-r): Reason's David Nott, SAFER's Mason Tvert, journalist Fred Gardner and Chronicle editor Phil Smith
Similarly, former Hempfest organizer Dominic Holden stirred the pot the week before Hempfest with an article in the Seattle Stranger, A Few Words About Hempfest, in which he complained it was a "patchouli-scented ghetto" and overly countercultural. Like Sterling, Holden saw the hippiesque trappings of Hempfest as counterproductive. "Countercultural celebrations and drug legalization advocacy are mutually undermining ambitions," he wrote.

Hempfest organizers were not amused, and on Sunday, Holden was removed from the back of the Main Stage by unhappy erstwhile comrades. They explained why in an interview with Steve Bloom's Celebstoner, and Holden continued the spat with his own interview.

Perhaps the organizers of Hempfest and similar events will listen to Sterling and Holden, but probably not. Hempfest is a celebration of the pot-smoking counterculture, and it's not likely to go away or change its ways because a guy in a suit and a disaffected former friend are unhappy with how it operates. Straight-laced drug reformers will most likely just have to put up with Hempfest and its pot-happy ilk. They can treat it like the crazy aunt in the attic, but they can't get rid of it.

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Agree with Dom & Eric

It is hard enough for patients to get lawmakers to take them seriously, but the counterculture mentality and atmosphere certainly will not do it. We have to show the lawmakers we are responsible citizens when if we do choose to smoke marijuana.

Pehaps "Political Fraud" Is Used A Little Strongly Here

Last time I checked it didn't matter what you looked or smelled like to be a U.S. citizen. That's why I'm fighting this war. I think we should all be accepted for who we are. because in America there is a place for everyone. There is no dress code. In my onion these kind of demonstrations were born from and after the 60's. On the one hand, we can celebrate Woodstock, forty years later. And on the other hand many can find fault with this form of political expression today we call Hempfest. What disturbs me beyond the dismissal of my personal lifestyle, is an underlying tone that these tools, the right to gather and voice our grievances and the Constitution itself that guarantees these rights, are ineffectual tools in my hands. At least that's the impression I get when reading criticisms about these kind of events.
John Pylka

borden's picture

Hi, John! David Borden,

Hi, John!

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

Saw you in TP

love you Bro, so nice to see you in hood.

Political Fraud A Negative Connotation

Sure anything to discredit such an event would be beneficial to those who oppose reform; and due to the scope and concept of Hempfest, open use of the herb was inevitable. It would be a lot easier for them to just get over it, if they hadn't created the negative propaganda that caused the astigmatism about marijuana in the first place. Legalization or decriminalization is going to be a fact of life in the near future, and those who have resisted it for whatever stupid reason, will loose out in the long run. They already missed out on best part about Hempfest.

Eric Sterling has since changed his mind. See his blog.

August 22, 2009 blog post by Eric Sterling:
Regarding Hemp rallies, the many ways in which I am wrong!

It takes courage to admit when one is wrong. Some of the most powerful advocates for drug reform in my opinion are activist LEAP members. Eric Sterling had this exchange in an interview for the 1999 documentary "Snitch"on Frontline:

Interviewer: Do you feel guilty about your involvement in the development of these laws?

Eric Sterling: The war on drugs is one of the great evils of our times. Drugs are a serious problem, but it's very hard to tease out where the problems of drugs and the problems of the war on drugs are not overlapping. Some day there probably will be war crimes trials in which those responsible for these crimes against the American people, and other peoples, may be brought to justice. ... We have federal judges who have resigned, federal judges who have wept on the bench. Senior federal judges who say, "We refuse as a matter of conscience any longer to take these kinds of cases." Those are people at least who have the opportunity to step out. I had the opportunity to step out by leaving my job in the government and [am] now working to help expose what I think are these problems. When I meet with the family members of people serving these sentences, it is very hard. At times I am moved to tears when I sit across from someone whose loved one is serving a 30-year sentence for something that I played a role in getting enacted. It's an awful feeling.

Let's make up & toke on it...

WOW - "Some day there probably will be war crimes trials in which those responsible for these crimes against the American people, and other peoples, may be brought to justice. ..." - That must be heavy to carry around!

One of those very brave judges is retired(?) Judge Gray from CA(?). I think he's where i heard, for the first time, the term 'testilying'... referring to cops that routinely committed perjury to prosecute the drug laws.

Barry Cooper at 'Never Get Busted' also shares the same level of remorse and is doing a great job making amends.

Whoever thought someone like barry (eric and others?) would come along and add so much ammunition to our arsenal!

Keep up the pressure and the universe will unfold as it should?

B.S. Watched 'Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle' last night for the first time. Hilarious. RIP Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks, and George Carlin... we miss your medicine!

Seattle Hempfest

I was at the Saturday 2009 Hempfest. I agree with this article about legalization advocates being worried about the implications of the fest losing its true focus: legalization and educating the non believers. It was way too crowded and by and large, people were there to just get stoned in front of the police without the threat of arrest, than to forward a noble cause. Some people were there to just act like an ass and have an audience to watch them perform.

It was more of a freak show than a political rally to forward legalization efforts. Just look the pictures released by the Seattle post Intellegencer online @

Seeing these photos is all the ammunition that the Marijuana haters need:

Marijuana equals freaks! If they allow legalization, this type of behavior will be everywhere, down main street USA, and not just confined to Myrtle Edwards Park in Seattle.

The really amazing thing to me was how mellow everybody was. Not one arrest with everybody cramped together shoulder to shoulder!!! You cant get that kind of cooperation in polite society!!!

The one MAJOR thing is, either they are going to have to start turning people away at the gate to avoid hyper overcrowding that DOES eventually cause violence OR the need to find a bigger park to have it at.....

Marijuana equals freaks?

Is the statement "Freaks are Mellow" somehow less important? Cramped, crowded conditions resulted in human cooperation, peaceful assembly, and bored police officers with nothing to do. This is your counterculture in action. Long live the Freaks! Oh, and by the way, getting high in the face of the police was not my purpose for being there. It was getting high in the noonday sun, lying on the grass and feeling safe, and communing with like-minded others in this annual ritual. Does that make me a freak? And, so what if it does?

I will admit that Myrtle Edwards Park is one long bottleneck. That problem is legitimate. Freakdom is not.

"Freaks are Mellow"

You are absolutely correct, and say it well...

Unfortunately, some people do not respect other people's choices, and we are defiantly effected by it. An aspect I am completely against.

The people want it to be a smokefest, it will...

Perhaps the event should pass out fliers, asking everyone to join dedicated areas of recreational enjoyment. Why they certainly will not enforce any rule of the sort, it would be only a suggestion.

This might, influence some to understand that the event is about more then just token.

And I am a happy TOKER.

Turn the clock back 40 years...

I saw nothing embarrassing about the photos or people being themselves. Turn the clock back 40 years and you might see your parents in those photos... of weirdos?

I find those in the 'medical advacacy' branch or the reform movement to be a funny bunch of conformists,,, arguably because they place some perceived right... above the rights that we all possess. Which is just another dangerous form of exceptionalism... which often stems from the dangerously false belief in christian exceptionalism.

God does not trump democracy!

We must constantly remind the religiously fundamentalist prohibitionist war mongers that nothing is 'freakier' than their brand of religion!

They can call us crazy... but remember... they are insane!

Luv & Peace

I saw nothing objectionable

in the pictures. So, has it come to this that we should consider what Eric Sterling says? The man used to be one of our most vicious enemies, and the evil laws that he goaded Congress into passing have done incredible damage to the cannabis community. For example, the militarization of the police into SWAT units to terrorize "drug houses" can to a great extent be laid at Sterling's feet.

And this fellow, who supposedly has "seen the light on the road to Damascus" now wants to direct the cannabis community? We don't need him, and never did. We didn't need him when he was a drug warrior, and we don't need him now that he is trying to inveigle himself into our community as some sort of indispensable spokesman and "advisor." Where was Sterling during the years that the police raged unchecked? We survived without him, and will do just fine without him in the future. Marijuana IS the counterculture, and it is nothing to be ashamed of.

We will rub it in their faces that we smoke pot, we like it a lot, and we will go on smoking it, no matter what they do and no matter what fiendish, miserable, unjust, and mean laws they pass against us. We have nothing to prove to anyone, certainly we don't need to prove that we are "respectable" because our enemies will never relent, no matter what. Accommodationist policies WILL NOT WORK because our enemies do not accept us as human but regard us with hostility as "druggies" in pretty much the same way as the German nazis viewed the Jews.

The only thing we can do is to overgrow them, to produce a flood of marijuana that is unstoppable so that everywhere our enemies turn there is marijuana and more marijuana, until they scream in frustration. Our enemies will never yield, but neither will we. The future holds the resolution of the cannabis question and Eric Sterling is not a part of our lives and activities.

borden's picture

truth instead please

This is a wildly distorted account of Eric's history. Eric happened to work in the House of Representatives at a time when members of Congress of both parties decided to do some bad things. He had no control over that, and if he had quit his job it wouldn't have made a bit of difference in how it came out. Unlike many others who were there, Eric has made it his mission to speak out and undo the harm, and the fact that he was there makes him more able to do that, not less. Eric has been working non-stop in the reform movement since the '80s, and if you're unaware of all his efforts to fix things these past 20+ years then it's because you haven't looked or maybe you just don't want to know.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

Tell the truth yourself.

The truth is that Sterling worked on the commission for *10* years doing "bad things," including militarizing the police and pressing for and devising mandatory sentences. That he now "regrets" what he did then and seeks a second life in the public eye does not make him acceptable to those who suffered from his activities.

There is an almost pathological inclination of a segment of the drug policy community, mainly the leadership, to embrace former enemies who seek political resurrection after having become irrelevant. At the same time, the leadership is embarrassed by its own constituency which it finds insufficiently "respectable." If the leadership believes that we will attain our goals by mimicking our enemies in appearance and deportment they are mistaken. Rob Kampia and Mason Tvert, the two most consequential drug policy reform leaders, regularly show up in three-piece suits only to be relentlessly vilified by our enemies.

A glaring example of the accommodationist policy of the leadership is the fawning acceptance of Bob Barr, the notorious drug warrior who has caused us so much grief down the years. After Barr lost his seat in Congress he suddenly "discovered" the Bill of Rights and the injustice of cannabis prohibition, and the entire drug policy leadership fell all over themselves to accommodate this renegade, using the same argument: "the fact that he was there makes him more able to [undo the harm]." You win no friends by dumping on your constituency and you do not further our cause by embracing and kissing up to the enemy. The evil that Sterling, Barr, and others of their ilk have done is not forgotten nor forgiven, even though the reform leadership bends over backward to make excuses such as "[Sterling] had no control over that, and if he had quit his job it wouldn't have made a bit of difference in how it came out."

Tell the truth yourself, instead of keeping your eyes fixed on political expediency.

borden's picture

I don't want to belabor

I don't want to belabor points here, but having read this comment more closely now, I feel that I have to weigh in once more. It is a flat-out, total lie to claim as Richard has that Eric pressed for mandatory minimums or was involved in militarizing the policing. A lie, as plain and simple as it gets.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

Who lies?

From PBS Frontline:


Q:Looking back now, how do you measure the success of your work enacting mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses?

A (Sterling): The work that I was involved in in enacting these mandatory sentences is probably the greatest tragedy of my professional life.


From SourceWatch (

"Mr. Sterling was Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary from 1979 until 1989. On the staff of the Subcommittee on Crime, (Rep. William J. Hughes (D-NJ), Chairman), he was responsible for drug enforcement, gun control, money laundering, organized crime, pornography, terrorism, corrections, and military assistance to law enforcement, among many issues. He was a principal aide in developing the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, the Anti-Drug Abuse Acts of 1986 and 1988, and other laws. He has traveled to South America, Europe and many parts of the United States to examine the crime and drug problems first hand. In the 96th Congress, he worked on comprehensively rewriting the Federal Criminal Code. Mr. Sterling was honored by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service." (emphasis mine.)


From "Tales of a Recovering Drug Warrior" by Eric E. Sterling:


"By my rough estimate, my work has helped to send over one hundred thousand men and women to federal prison for terms much longer than they deserve, as a result of the politically inspired and hastily considered mandatory minimum sentences of 1986." (emphasis mine.)

Was there any other information that you needed, David? I can provide more if necessary.

borden's picture

sorry, no dice


It goes back to what I said in my response to your first post, distortion. Distortion is a form of lying.

Eric told Frontline that he was "involved" in the enactment of the mandatory minimums. You twisted that into "pressed for" mandatory minimums. These are different concepts. In this case the word "involved" means that he was employed by the Judiciary Committee in a capacity that included writing the text of legislation, at the time when the committee decided to enact mandatory minimums. But the meaning of the legislation was directed by the members of Congress -- much of it publicly for the cameras -- not by Eric or any other staffer. Eric did not advocate to the Congressmen that they pass mandatory minimums -- you certainly have not presented evidence for that -- and I doubt that any other staffer did either.

You made the same lie-level distortion with regard to Eric's quote from the book. "My work" in that context referred to the same thing as above, writing the legislation that he was assigned to write as counsel to the committee. This fails in the same way to back up the term "pressed for" that you tried to use against Eric.

As for "military assistance to law enforcement" appearing in the bio, every Congressional staffer has a set of issues that they are responsible for helping the Congressman deal with. The appearance of an issue in such a list says nothing about what the staffer did or what the Congressman did. For all you know, Eric used his position to make good suggestions to his boss that would have slowed down the militarization of law enforcement if they were adopted. The Ron Paul and Barney Frank staffers who dealt with their decrim and hemp and other good bills had "drug enforcement" in their list of responsibilities. That does not make them drug warriors, and it's the same thing.

Short of all of that, I suppose you're entitled to have whatever opinion you want to have about Eric being counsel to the House Judiciary Committee at that time. But that's not the topic at hand today, and you're not entitled to distort the record, and Glen Stark has laid out how objectionable and unconvincing your ad hominem attacks are.

Thanks for posting the Frontline link, though, it's an important interview and I hope everyone reads it to learn about the tragic and senseless way Congress did business at the expense of large numbers of drug drug war prisoners.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

Okay, I get it.

Eric Sterling earned his living for *ten years* writing legislation that eviscerated cannabis users, but he Vass Only Followink Orders, so he gets a pass on that. And his biography that said "he was responsible for drug enforcement, ... and military assistance to law enforcement ..." really means that he spent his time mitigating the evil things his bosses brained out. So "military assistance to law enforcement" is simply a throwaway phrase that doesn't mean what it says, at least not in the case of Eric Sterling? (Is that what Ron Paul and Barney Frank's staffers' bios say as well? Drug enforcement AND military assistance to law enforcement?)

What I find galling is how the drug policy reform leadership is tickled pink and furiously wag their tails each time an establishment figure, even an enemy, deigns to speak a decent word to us. Like beggars without pride, the drug policy leaders trip over their own feet in their haste to embrace the most recent power suit who has become irrelevant in his former role as drug warrior and who, having figured out that the drug reform winds are blowing strongly, wants to get in on the publicity that surrounds drug policy reform.

But I have seen all this before. I was one of the founders of Stichting Jeugdzaken ("Foundation for Youth Affairs") in Amsterdam in 1971. We negotiated with the City of Amsterdam to be allowed to use several large, empty buildings to create Sleep-Ins, big dormitories to accommodate the thousands of freaks that flooded in from the whole world to enjoy Amsterdam and its liberal drug policies. Each sleep-in had its own designated cannabis dealer whom we vetted because we did not allow the sale of hard drugs on the premises, although we generally supported responsible use of all drugs. As the sleep-in experiment was wildly successful (i.e. it kept the freaks from sleeping in the Vondelpark and disturbing the citizens) some of the founders got close, too close, to the city officials who supervised Jeugdzaken. The next thing we knew was that one faction of the founders has established an "attitude tribunal" that examined the other founders' attitude towards use of drugs other than cannabis. The transformation from freak founders to moralist inquisitors took exactly two years.

Pining for "respectability," our current crop of drug policy reform leaders strike heroic poses in front of institutional marble pillars, attired like government apparatchiks, and tell us not to be so goddam loud and not to wear those goddam colors for fear of disturbing middle America. If we all look and act like Republicans we will attain the goal of cannabis legalization sooner than otherwise, supposedly. Or is it the case that the drug policy reform leadership is grooming itself for political careers once cannabis is legalized? I suspect it is, and it explains a whole lot.

borden's picture

Richard, you are still

Richard, you are still evading the matter at hand, which is that you have massively distorted language, to the point of lying, in order to engage in ad hominem attacks against drug reformers who have simply expressed opinions with which you disagree -- instead of actually debating the issues, which you've done none of. And you continue to try to dress it up and deflect it by leveling the same distorted attacks. Well I'm not going to let you get away with it, not on our site, so I'm telling it like it is. We are trying to change the world and help people by working to stop the drug war, and we don't have time for the circular firing squad you are trying to build.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC


I don't know you, and I don't know anything about Sterling or Bob Barr. But your post as written inspires absolutely no confidence in your claims. Why?

  1. you don't argue against Sterling's opinions or ideas, rather you engage in ad-hominen attacks "he used to be a dick, therefore his ideas are worthless!". This doesn't work. No one is wrong all the time, so whether Sterling is a jerk or not is irrelevant, he might be a jerk with a good point.
  2. your claims are subjective opinions and you provide no verifiable facts to justify your opinions. You call sterling a jerk, but you provide no concrete justification for these claims.
  3. you adopt a combative tone, and when someone provides a counterpoint, you simply make your original claim in a more emotional, strongly phrased manner, rather than providing any facts, evidence, or references to justify your opinions.
  4. rather than discuss concretely what you object to in Sterlings actions or opinions, you accuse your critics of being dishonest, and go on to discuss a completely different individual (Bob Barr), and go on to making the claim that if Bob Barr is bad, so too is Sterling. This leads me to conclude that you have arrived at your opinions not through a process of informed reason, but simply through uninformed emotionalism.

This kind of uninformed, emotional reaction weakens democratic processes, and decreases the likelihood of successful, wise outcomes (which should be our goal). May I encourage you to suck down your pride and bile, and attempt to engage in reasoned discourse? Let's face it, we have far too many emotional nut-jobs polluting America's political debates.

Coming back to the actual issue: I'm a long haired hippy freak myself, and I think society benefits heavily from loosening social norms. On the other hand, I am convinced that what the anti-prohibitionist movement needs is more people in suits, more doctors, more teachers, more people my 65 year old aunt can relate to, saying "look these laws don't work, it's time to try something different".

With Cannabis in particular, the bad rep that Cannabis has causes so much societal harm. Not only through prohibition, but through denying ill people a natural, and essentially free, medicine. That should be our focus. Curtailing our own excesses and desires to accomplish a desired political goal is certainly expedient. But I would claim that a certain amount of impulse control, and a certain ability to defer pleasure, is a mark of a well balanced, mature individual. I would go so far as to say it is a necessity for a well functioning society.

So I don't see anything wrong with asking people to please think of the event as a party with a purpose, and try to focus peoples energies in a certain direction. This is not the first time we've found ourselves on the cusp of cannabis legalisation. I'm hoping that this time our movement won't implode or dissipate, as it has in the past.

Good Post but I don't agree with all of it...

1st if you have a 65 year old aunt you care about it's your responsibility to make sure she gets the right/relevant information... and there's plenty of videos etc out there featuring folks her age to help...check out MPP's site. We should strive to take care of our own family and let the heavy hitters in the reform movement concentrate on the religiously & politically inspired/impaired power brokers and prohibitionists that are goose-stepping on our democracy.

The previous posters examples of sterlings comments seem fairly compelling to me. He admits/confesses to violating the rights of 100,000+ people? My thor he's lucky to be alive. I find it hard to believe that someone smart enough to get elected 2x(?) was just another unwitting stooge. Sounds to me he actively 'punished' potheads for their sins and immorlality... or was it public health reasons? Disgusting & criminal... and you can tell him i said so... but keep working on that penance and clearing that conscience.

Sterling & Barr are relavent because they were peas in the same prohibitionist pod and now seek penance and favor from a community that they seriously punished for a decade or more. Like I said this isn't the freaky catholic church giving away penances for a prayer and a good deed.These are now people claiming to have seen the light... to what... civil libertarianism. No, in Barrs case he's still more conservative then 'libertarian' and untrustworthy. Barr struggled to embrace the 10th amendment and blazed right past the more important 4th and 8th amendments? That, my freind, is far more relavent then you seem to understand. He's also from georgia and may have subconscious fundamentalist motives & influences tha are hazardous to a lawful secular society. Cognitve Dissonance doesn't vanish just because pardons are granted by peaceful people.

Like I said before if you want to please everyone including the newer more conservative/conformist mmj folks riding hempfests coattails then everyone should wear a monkey suit and march like you're in a macys parade on sunday... while we're at it, since it's god's day, we should pretent to believe that b.s too and repent our wicked ways... that should make someone else happy. If i'm gonna blow conformist smoke up me butt i'd rather do it all at once... makes laughing off our pretensions that much easier and less embarrassing when shared. But Saturday should be for the vast majority that just wants to be themselves, relax, and enjoy the culture... in whatever freaky way that makes them happy?

That is what 'working for the weekend' is all about after-all... pursuing happiness!

And yes i will object to the things i disagree with and the tone I adopt is usually 'proportional' to the conversation and previous commentors. While always striving to fight fears & fictions with facts & reason.

Talk about your emotional, combative, opinions... you seem pretty good at leading that charge. Facts were provided so you are overlooking a lot of truthes, realities, and statements made by the 'punisher' himself... in favor of conformity and Kumbaya!

Please feel free to itemize what exactly I said that you feel is uninformed, emotional, or that you otherwise disagree with and I'll be happy to respond to all of them. When you're ready I'll be here... till then keep fighting the best way you know how.


B.S. Here's a question for you, sterling, anyone: 'What rights does 'joe six-pack' or 'black-out bob' have that 'Tony the Toker' doesn't'? Be sure to remind them that 'social acceptability' and what 'the bible, god, or jc thinks' are not rights... just opinions! The failure to rationally and legally answer that question is all we should legally need to end this fraudulent war! We should be demanding that a special prosecutor look into all aspects of the drug war - especially its illegality and the law makers like joe biden responsible.

borden's picture

Appreciate your post. See

Appreciate your post. See above for more explanation of why I think the attacks on Eric are dishonest and not valid.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC


I think what you guys don't realize is that the issues of drug policy and conformity are largely orthogonal. They are neither mutually exclusive (opposite direction on a line), nor are they heavily coupled. It's entirely possible to desire, and work towards, a sane drug policy, without being a counter culture freak (I use the word freak as it has been used earlier in the conversation, not in any pejorative sense).

The name of this site is, and it's stated purpose is drug policy reform. Likewise, the stated purpose of hempfest is the reform or marijuana laws. For a former hempfest organizer (Dominic Holden) and a serious reform advocate (Eric Sterling) to attempt to guide and focus the direction of the event, is certainly their right, and their thoughts deserve to be heard on their own merits.

Your posts, whether you realize this or not, attempt to tightly couple drug policy reform and other counter-cultural movements. This is dangerous, because virtually any idea which differs from social norms can be labelled counter culture, regardless of what merits or faults that idea might have. Your posts are extremely exclusionary. They boil down to saying "if you're a conformist, we don't want you in our movement". Well, conformity and conformism are poorly defined. Adopting that strategy is a good way to marginalize the movement and make it ineffective. I believe this is the concern that Holden and Stirling are voicing.

Now, I happen to agree with them. But rather than having a discussion about that issue, you have distracted us with a discussion about Eric Sterling's character, and whether he is worth listening to. Your attacks are pretty rediculous. You ask me to itemize what I think is emotional and non factual... Pick one. Pick any single claim you have made and justify it. They are all emotional and non factual

For example: "He admits to having violated the rights of 100,000+ people...". Can you give me a link to where makes such an admission? And more to the point, why should I care? Perhaps he has done something in the past which he regrets. Does that make him unqualified to work to repair the damage he's done? I think not. I have some 40 years of regrets, but processing these regrets and attempting to correct them have made me a better person.l

Before this discussion, I'd never heard of the guy. But I decided to do a little research, to see if perhaps you were correct, but just communicating inchorently (reasoned debate is often missing in America). Here's what I found out about the guy... He was Counsel to the U.S. House of Reps on the Judiciary from 1979 to 1989. He was principle aid in developing the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, the Anti Drug Abuse Acts of 1986 and 1988. I assume this is the period of service which you object to.

In 1991 He helped found FAMM, families against mandatory minimums, FEAR, Forfeiture Eandangers American Rights in 1993, the MPP in 1995, the Voluntary Committee of Lawyers in 1997, the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative and he serves on the board of the Partnership for Responsible Drug Information, the board of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and the Andean Information Network. Apparently he also serves on the advisory boards for LEAP, DrugSense, DRCNet, Flex Your Rights Foundation and the Sex Workers Outreach project.

Never having met the guy, his CV tells me the following story: Here's a talented, highly intelligent lawyer, who had significant success within the system at the beginning of his career. Whether he just went along to get along, or whether he really believed in the work he was doing can't be told from the naked facts. But apparently at some time he realized the harm that drug policy was doing, and began to work very hard to make things better. Looking at the huge amount of work he's done, and at the accomplishments of the groups he helped to found, it's clear to me that he's a tremendous asset to the movement.

Far from negating his credibility (as you claim), his time as part of the establishment no doubt gives him unique insight into the mechanism of government. The sheer amount of effort and time he invests in the movement are proof enough of the sincerity of his convictions, and the successes he has taken part in are testament to his value to the movement. That doesn't mean he's always right time, and you have every right to disagree with him or debate his ideas. But I find it poor form to attack the man. Furthermore, whether your attacks have any merit or not, they are irrelevant to the question of the merits of the mans ideas.

If you want to debate the pros and cons of tightly coupling the counter culture movement to the drug reform movement, I am happy to engage in that debate with you. But please leave the ad-hominem attacks out of it.

The 100,000 number was itemized & linked in an earlier post!

Thanks for daring to disagree... it's a good sign.

I've also stated before that my style of writing leans towards satire & irreverance and sounds harsher then sometime intended... but i stand by alll the statements you seem to condider ad-hominem.

So, funny how you claim everything I say including religions seepage into our laws is untrue or unfounded... and yes I get emotional about the violation of the seperation of church and state by extremist fundamentalist.

Reasoned people, including many reasoned conservatives that follow jc examples, are at risk too... it's a big reason christianity and the notion that deities solve problems is on the wane.

We are here, illegal prohibiton against a plant, in large part because of the religious views, judgements, and disproportional power of a small group of extremeists... in part because other christians just cringe and won't speak up against other christians... no matter how whacky (relative) the rant.

What do you think about those that 'speak in tongues'? Should they be allowed anywhere near any form of lawmaking power... state or federal? What if someone said 'AND' when bush said he didn't speak to his dad he spoke to a higher authority or something. AND how did that conversation go mr. president? Depending on his answer he might have been carted off for a brain MRI? Imagine how that could have changed the world? Do you honestly think someones relgious beliefs can be seperated entirely when 'law making' and representing their constitutents? Scares the crap outta me mate! What say you?

You need to read some books on the temperance movement(s) and harry anslinger for starters... then/or read 'The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power' by Jeff Sharlet.

Again I challenge you to stop using blanket ad-hominem accusations and tell me which of my dozens of statements is in error! Feel free to quote them in some order of your own choice and as i've said before constructive criticism is always welcome and I will respond?

I never heard of these guys either and have pondered that it is better to have them, former prohibitionists, on our side if they want to undo wrongdoings... for the right reasons. Sterling seems to be doing that and I stated that b. barr wasn't... i believe b.b. is just another seeker of favors and doesn't deserve my vote/penance... not yet anyway.. who knows...someday maybe? If only we can get past populism in politics... in favor of understanding cause and effect.. and the rule of law!

Funny thing about ad-hominem attacks... when it comes to our current status as 'criminals' that IS the result of religiously motived drug warriors and their ad-hominem attacks/proganda... duh! The religiously motived drug warrior that markets the 'de-facto monkey' and 'reefer madness' theories are as ad-hominem as it gets.

Here's what 'poor form' really looks like: creating laws that result in the arrest of 800,000 people a year for mostly non-violent activity by responible individuals & consenting adults. Then stealing 'patrons' rights, including legally acquired property, to persecute what is essentially a victimless crime. Not to mention our flawed drug laws that get dumped into our foreign policies & literally affects the rights of billions world-wide! But I'm sure this is ad-hominem and you and others require more clarity?

So 'forgive and forget' if you want... I prefer studying 'cause & effect' (east vs west)... and following the rule of law... free from religious judgements and moral influences... it is the law after-all... so everyone should stop savouring the smelling stuff 'liarticians' (neologism) pull outta their butts becasue it's expedient to do so!

A mmj & recreational partaker for over 30 yrs I'm not intersted in coupling or kumbaya. I am in favor of a fully informed society that understands and follows the rule of law... not moral opinions & judgements handed down in the form of dictates.

I find it hard to believe so many folks think that we are doing ourselves or our republic any good when we knowing 'go along to get along' with unjust laws because someone gets 'imaginary' special rights and a 'stay outta jail law'. Like alcohol exceptionalism for christians because they claim to represent 80% of americans?

Imaginary? Wonder where that tradition comes from? And how can society ever expect to be free when so many believe in an 'all knowing & all seeing' 'Big Eyeball in the Sky'?

Thinking of religious bigotry: who & when was the last free-thinker to be publicly elected to state or federal gov't? How many deists (and other non-christians) do christians hold up as 'founders' and 'patrons'... then deny they were atheists/heretics in the sense that they did not believe in a all knowing or all seeing god OR the theory of christs resurrection?

Hate having to keep qualifying my opinions because it looks like a religious debate and this is supposed to be about 'drug law' reform.
Can't we understand how extremism helped get us here and recognize deities won't get us out... the rule of law should!

Choosing Legality,
Pastafarian Knight

B.S. In addition to answering your questions I'll be happy to show you mine... if you show me yours... booklist of recommended reading mat'l that is? Read-On!

Maybe, but he still failed to follow the rule of law...

And the fact that he wants to undo the harm that he apparently 'passively went along with' is a good thing... I would think his conscious would demand it.

I know nothing about Eric, pro or con, but he took an oath to protect the constitution NOT to 'go along to get along'.

Committing evil for a percieved good is still evil and I'm glad he's seen the light? Or has he?

I didn't read his articles but the 'freak' accusations clearly puts him at odds with millions of the hippies among us. If we can't fly our freak flags at hempfest where & when the hell should we. More importantly why should we care or conform to their norms... anyone ever watch one of the freak shows the pope puts on in the vatican for thors sake... talk about a freak show!

I guess until Eric, and the properly dressed, makes the world right again we should stay underground 24/365.

Dave I luv u like a brother but sometimes you miss the bigger picture... we all have exactly the same, tax-free, coercion-free, rights.. regardless of how we look or may act on any given sunday.

The real freaks are the ones that continue to violate the rule of law in the name god and democracy!

Peace & Luv!


I think the whole issue here is that most of these people dont understand or want to understand politics. They just want to get high and not care about the mission at hand.

It is not an issue of the ends justify the means, they just want it to be legalized without any effort on their part, to take their share the responsibility in getting the job at hand, legalization, done.

On the other hand, I do understand the issues at hand and would like to volunteer for the cause. Do you have any offices in the Seattle area, so I can do my part?

Greg Jablonski
[email protected]

Glad you want to volunteer but...

Glad you want to volunteer but... pleaz don't blame 'most people' for not understanding politics. Politicians don't even understand politics... since it isn't based on the rule of law but political and cultural power.

Besides most of us have no problems understanding our self-evident inalienable rights. I DO NOT need a congressman, senator, or judge to explain the meaning of Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness (and Legally Acquired Property) to me.

We know that marijuana prohibition is fraudulent and therefore illegal... and we should act accordingly... holding those responsible for this gross injustice to task.

No one should have to be political to exercise their rights!

Luv & Peace

Forget lawmakers doing it 4 you

You have 2 do it yourself.
forget lawmakers (most are spineless)
initiatives are the best way 2 get the laws you want
and with the computer age easier than ever
to get your wishes on the ballot in front of the people. for a vote.

Freedom for All... if they look & act right... and conform?

Quote: "Countercultural celebrations and drug legalization advocacy are mutually undermining ambitions".
Answer: WTF? What exactly is the purpose of 'Hempfest'? Advancing hemp agriculture and clothing? Fighting the criminal injustice of illegal marijuana prohibition? Celebrating our culture and uniqueness? All of the above and more if you ask me!

I did not read the articles mentioned above and I'm sure they have merit and good points. I too don't like seeing young adults running around high with pants around their knees either... but at the end of the day they are no different then we are/were. Now 50, and smokin' since '75, I can still remember how embarrassing the tail-end of the hippy movement was to observe and the horrible images it created. Hippies and vietnam vet drug abuse after-all lead to Nixon's drug war escalation. Wanna have a great time? Get ur buzz on and watch an old hippy movie! You'll laugh ur head off while wondering wtf were they thinking.

I hate having to constantly remind our liberal brothers and sisters that everybody has the exact same rights. Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness (and Legally Acquired Property).

Personally I think our democratic allies remain bitchy about the huge advances in several libertarian principles such as: an 'ownership society', the principle of 'personal sovereignty,' and laws being based on 'the rule of law'... not the smelly stuff that comes out of the butts of religious and political authoritarians. Something the worshippers of gods & gov'ts can't wrap their heads around!

Question to all conservatives & liberals: "What rights do 'joe six-pack', 'black-out bob', or the 'medical marijuana smoker' have that 'tony the toker' doesn't?"


I guess the day and mantra of 'Getting Your Freak On' is now limited to the properly atired liberal gov't conformists in the privacy of their own homes... and the majority be damned!

Daring to Disagree but constructive criticism always welcome?

I can't believe what I'm hearing

I'm amazed at how persuasive the brainwashing has become. Even MJ reform advocates would apparently prefer some sort of totalitarian conformist state!

Every white person reading this should realize that our pagan ancestors in Europes spent millenia rolling around in the fields having orgies on hallucinogenic drugs for every solstice celebration.

Some of the cultures would have family gatherings around the fire at Christmas to eat magic mushrooms!

Only because the Roman empire came it and imposed its hierarchical society and Christianity did the Puritan fretting begin, and apparently it's continued to this day.

RELAX people. Not everyone wants to be a boring, conformist like you, in your Dockers and Banana Republic shirt.

And I"m surprised that we're supposed to feel sympathy for a guy who attacks his friends' project publicly in the media and then expects to be welcomed backstage by them? He looks like the one who's putting his own self-aggrandizement above someone else's attempt at activism work.

Well said!

I agree completely. It's the seeping invasion of "respectability" by people who believe they have a monopoly on it.

people choose drugs

I tend to think that a certain type of person is attracted to the drug not that the drug makes a person into a hippie. Now this may not always follow in this exact fashion but from my personal experience people like some drugs and dont like some drugs. They tend to pick a drug that fits there personality, maybe one that fits in there lack of some thing internally, and I think it also follows that these people are drawn together by there like interests maybe there music, personality, temperament etc.. If you understand the idea behind this movement its that if drugs are "legal" it will generally just make it easier for people who would already be using or want to use legal access to them not make people into" hippie potheads ". I think that part of this movement needs to be aware of our selling out the people we represent. These people are considered freaks due to the closed minds of the same people who will never understand that legalizing will not make people into addicts. Its also a part of the capitalist system we live in to have vendors at this venue and we are appealing to this capitalist system with things like tax revenue when trying to get our argument across and they show that while this is still a prohibited substance it is a lucrative one and that should be included in the discussion as a positive not frowned upon. Thanks Heather

Can't argue with Hempfest success. Polls support marijuana.

What matters is what works. Progressive pragmatism. Seattle deprioritized cannabis arrests. Spain, Portugal, and now Mexico have decriminalized personal cannabis use. They all have big cannabis marches and events yearly in many cities. Open activism of all kinds is what works. It doesn't matter what you wear. It takes all kinds. Just get out there.

Polls after 10 years of Global Marijuana Marches, Hempfests, open activism.

Portugal vs. Spain: Which is better for cannabis consumers?

Click the photo just below to enlarge it, and for more info.

Madrid, Spain. May 8, 2004. Million Joint March
(La Marcha del Millón de Porros en Madrid, Mayo 2004). More info and photos: [2] [3] [4]. Part of the Million Marijuana March (MMM).

Depends on your definition of 'decriminalization' I guess

Not sure i totally agree with 'what matters is what works' but it's catchy and I generally agree with progressive pragmatism... within the rule of law.

And yes more people marching and speaking up for themselves is always a good thing... it's what 'patrons' are supposed to do.

Not sure what the 'deprioritized' deal(s) are in Spain or Portugal but i wouldn't consider Mexicos 2 joints (5 grams) for personal use 'decriminalization'... sounds more like a ridicules allowance for many... and another way of forcing consumers to pay high prices by buying overpriced 1/8 sacks!

To put 'decriminalization' into context let's use the drug of choice for most prohibitionists - alcohol - for an example.

By federal law an 'alcohol drinking marijuana prohibitionist' (he he he) can 'homebrew' 5 gals per month per adult per household... tax free. That's 1.25 gals per month per adult which would exceed the religious rehabbers definition of alcohol abuse/alcoholism (2 standard drinks per day OR 6 drinks per week).

Not sure how anyone could legally grow just 2 joints a day... tax free! Thank God for that black market... doesn't sound like it's going anywhere!

But it's a crack in the levee that we should continue to pick at... until it drowns them if necessary.

Overgrow the Government

Hempfest Should Make Drug Reform Dollars for Stop the Drug War

If they charged just $5 at the door, they could donate $1,550,000 to Stop the Drug War every year! Let's say the worst case scenario is 50,000 people can't afford the $5 (and you know there is no way that's for real), well they'd still be able to donate $1,300,000 to Stop the Drug War. It's just crazy they don't do this! Wake up guys and gals...

This is the same discussion that happens in the gay community

Gay people have been disagreeing since before Stonewall about the more "flamboyant" among us: don't dress in drag for the gay pride march because that's the picture that will be in the paper and straight people will think we're all like that and not that we are...just like them.

And the drag queens and the butch dykes and the leathermen and women and the trans people argue back and say, "we're not just like them. We don't want to be just like them. We want to be ourselves and be left alone."

The same argument, exactly.

Let your freak flags fly, brothers and sisters. It's the job of the button-downs to come out about their marijuana use and let people see them, if that's what they want the image of a pot smoker to be in the minds of "regular" people.

Agreed! 'Gay' and 'Pothead' are interchangeable...

Agreed! 'Gay' and 'Pothead' are interchangeable... and why civil libertarians like myself have been marching with you for decades!

Our common enemy remains fundamentalist religion and nobody is freakier then they.

Wanna really freak a fundamentalist out? The next time they ask you something stupid or go 'reefer mad' on you? Start talking 'in tongues' making sure you roll your head around on your shoulders while rolling your eyes back! Then when you can't stand it anymore tell them: 'this is your brain... this is your brain on fundamentalist religion'! He He He

Always fly your freak flag high & dare to disagree!

A relevant posting

Here is an interesting post by Stace Newman on
that speaks to the issue of gay history. I am including the entire post:

1 Thursday, 20 August 2009 13:42
Stace Newman
Dominic Holden follows the model of his mentor Dan Savage: pretend to be advocating for a cause when your only goal is self-promotion. Don't be fooled by the tone he uses here. His articles about Hempfest have been excessively nasty, and very successful in pleasing the bigots in his audience: go to The Stranger site and read the dozens of adoring comments Holden elicits every time he trashes hippies. He knows people love to hate hippies, and he indulges them. Like his boss and editor Dan Savage, Holden models his approach consciously on that used by Rush Limbaugh. Attack, attack, attack and people will pay attention. It is depressing that, as a gay man, Holden is so ignorant about gay history that he believes the Mattachine society, which told gays that they should all cut their hair and were suits to win the approval of straights, failed completely. So did the modern gay rights movement when it puts all its eggs in the "we're all completely conventional" marriage basket. Holden INSISTS on the Mattachine approach. He screams about it. Dominic, your straight hipster friends that laugh at your hippie jokes? They laugh at other people's fag jokes and make fun of you behind your back. Promise. Anyone who celebrates bigotry, like Holden does, is an asshole. Anyone who attacks others and then whines when they don't give him star treatment, is a mega asshole.

borden's picture

some needed perspective

This is so lacking in basic perspective. I haven't followed Dominic's writing closely, so I don't know whether he's been fair to hippies, hempfest, gays who don't wear suits, etc. I'll stay out of that one.

What I do know is that Dominic is one of the people who made Seattle's lowest priority initiative happen, and is one of the people who helped ensure the law was implemented and that marijuana arrests in the city would actually decrease. Even in Seattle that's a large number of people who have been spared from having their lives changed for the worse -- maybe even some of the people who go to Hempfest. So I think Dominic is entitled to have some opinions about marijuana activism!

Others are entitled to their opinions too. But when they take the form of this intolerance toward anyone seeing things a different way, by people who don't have that level of achievement actually helping people to their names, that's pathetic.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

Perspective? Sounds like borderline hate speech to me...

Dear Dave,

I've heard these guys act like juveniles before and it sure sounds like hate speech to me! I stopped listening to them years ago because they too often reminded me of drunken adolescent frat boys.

They do sound homophobic and antagonistic towards a group of citizens trying to exercise the same rights the rest of us have.

Glad this guy helped make things better for tokers but have to suspect their motives if they don't understand the gay community is no different then the marijuana community.

In fact 'gay' and 'stoner' are interchangeable as far as religious fundamentalists are concerned... we are equally evil to them!

Dominic does have the right to express his opinion(s) about everything... but childish religious sounding hate speech sullies him... and our society!

Just this straight guys, civil libertarian, humble opinion.


borden's picture

I've read Dominic's piece now and I don't get the reactions.

Okay, I've read Dominic's Hempfest piece now, and I'm a little floored by the reactions it's gotten. Not only do I not see anything that in my opinion even remotely resembles hate speech, I see now that he doesn't even come out against Hempfest! Nor does he attack hippies or the counterculture as people have claimed here. A quote from the piece: "There's nothing wrong with hippies, mind you, and Hempfest itself is wonderful." How is this "borderline hate speech"?

Dominic does say he thinks it's a mistake for the organizers to primarily target the hippie/counterculture crowd in its design of venue, choice of music, etc. He thinks it's strategically and demographically misplaced. But nowhere in the piece does he suggest that people who identify as hippies should be pushed away or not welcomed. He goes on to make several suggestions for how to make Hempfest more effective. Basically his message is that the counterculture is one part of the movement but not all of it.

I understand why some have reacted to the column the way they have, and I understand that those who identify with the counterculture may justifiably feel that society disses them on a regular basis and be sensitive to that. But I also hope that everyone involved or concerned with this takes another look with the heat of the moment now past. For my part I do not see anything in Dominic's column that objectively looks like an insult to anyone. Hence my view that the attacks on Dominic here and elsewhere just represent thin-skinned-ness and an attempt to shut down debate on some important questions.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

I was referring to their general tone & tenor towards gays...


I was referring to the general tone and tenor that Dan Savage and Dominic have towrds gay people... not the article - which i haven't read but apparently is about hippies?

I was agreeing with the general assessment of the previous poster that their tolerance is often in the form of ridiculed acceptance... wink wink smirk smirk... which is not a form of tolerance i'm fond of ... so i don't give them the benefit of my heterosexual time anymore.

Skins too scarred to be thin dave... must have been burned at the stake in a previous life! He He He

Keep up the good work,
Luv & Peace

B.S. I also agree with another poster. This isn't the catholic church and we shouldn't be so quick to give penance to former prohibitionists. I read bob barrs pathetic confession. The best he could do is get behind the 10th amendment defense... and he struggled for that... what a joke to think barr is a civil libertarian! I'm sure the rest of us know about the 4th and 8th amendments and why they matter?

borden's picture

they are both openly gay

Dominic is openly gay, and Dan Savage is an openly gay celebrity. I don't know Savage, but he did not seem like a self-hater when I saw him on TV. I do know, Dominic, and he did not sound like a self-hater either. So I still don't get what the hate speech accusation is based on.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

I may have to man up and apologize.....?

I was again agreeing with the general assessment of a previous poster that took offense to the suggestions and tone of the 'normalization' of 'freaky' gay people because it freaked some people out.

I was objecting to the 'conform to get along' theory which is just as flawed and dangerous as the 'go along to get along' theory of some former prohibitionists that 'seek penance before seeking favor'. Which arguably is better then having them oppose us or remain neutral. This is a 'forgive and forget' nation after-all and we all need to eat, and get on with improving our lives, etc...

I also continue to humbly disagree that 'control and appeasement' thru 'taxation and regulation' is the 'best' type of reform because it does not address the deeper socio/economic disorders, quite frankly - the lawlessness of our western civilization - and many of its leaders. And, I fully understand why the path of least resistance and greatest acceptance is pragmatic & frequently pursued by all reformers... a lot to do with human nature & expediency... me thinks?

I've served with lots of sailors & soldiers that proudly marched in the annual gay pride events in S.F, Long Beach, and elsewhere... and I would never suggest they not be and act like themselves. Just don't show me the cruder photos... unless of course... it's the ladies... He He He!

If the 2 named individuals are not who i or the previous poster thought they were then that's my bad and I apologize. If they are gay then they probably aren't and i have them confused with someone else... could be becasue there are more conservative radio stations on the 5 of 7 seas i've sailed on?

Thanks for clarifying...trying to stay 'cognitive dissonance' free!

Choose Legality,
Pastarian Knight

B.S. Didn't some stoner dude named shakespeare say something like 'above all else... be true to thyself'?

borden's picture

we all have cognitive dissonance

P.K., we all have cognitive dissonance to rid ourselves of, I'm afraid. :) Nice to have you here.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

Actually dave this is '3B'...' not P.K but understand...

Actually Dave this is '3B' not P.K but understand... how security minded anonymous postings can get confusing.

I'm very glad to be here in your important and much needed forum and appreciate your tolerance of sloppy intercourse! We can't all be 'real studs'... w/o practicing anyway?

We should all strive to: "Free ourselves from all cognitive dissonances". Otherwise our ambivalences threaten to tear us, and the movement apart, because it's hard to think and act reasoned with conflicting information pin-balling about in our heads!

Never heard back on your personal assessment of Big Buck Bunny:

Will you post it?

Eric Sterling


I know that most of the posts are negative towards Dominic Holden. I read through it and I dont see whats got them fired up either...failed synapses?

But Eric Sterling's post is excellent!!! It is clear, concise, and covered all the bases. I think that he would greatly help the cause, if we had the courage to follow his ideas....


How can that be?

How can debating something be an attempt at shutting down debate? It would seem that the only way to do that is if someone *does not* debate. David, you do not sound clear in your thinking.

And yes, these are important questions. It is good that they are brought to light to be debated in the community. After all, these are the realities of the legalization movement.

(On a more personal note, your attire could benefit from a small splash of color. Even the people in government realized that the austere office-monk habit could do with a little garnish, and adopted the flag pin. For you, I suggest a discreet (but not too discreet) cloisonne marijuana leaf on a decorated background. That would provide a color point on your black suit that would immediately attract the eye. A good idea, don't you think?)

borden's picture

Richard, Most of the


Most of the comments posted here I would simply classify as debating these issues, and that's good. But a number of the comments, including some of yours, crossed the line into tearing down and trashing the people who were making the arguments you disagreed with, and in my opinion using distortions of the facts to do so. That kind of tactic does not constitute debating the issues, and it definitely does not deserve to be dignified in that way. That kind of tactic is an attempt to shut down the debate by discrediting your debating opponents. And in this case the victims of that happen to be anti-prohibitionist activists, your allies!

Regarding the leaf button, thanks for the suggestion. However, I don't wear leaf imagery and DRCNet doesn't use it. We don't judge it and we have no problem with it, but it's not our approach. Our view is that wearing leaf imagery tends to get the issue typecast as being about marijuana use, and the wearer's driving interest in the issue as being about marijuana. Whereas for us the issues are freedom and good public policy, and for all drugs. Of course marijuana activists are for freedom and good public policy too, but that's not what the leaf image often evokes. Also, it tends to suggest that the wearer is a marijuana user, who comes to the issue as a marijuana user, and that drives others away from getting involved.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Trying to stay out of the fray as much as possible…

I added a "Favorite" to my list of videos at

At the very end of the video is an excellent line.

"Entheogens are beautiful, but not everyone who does them is."

But please don't think I'm taking any sides here, like the subject line says, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and far be it from me to force my sense of beauty on others.

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Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, Vaping, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School