High Minded: Blow This Joint

This is where I stop writing about pot, hand the vaporizer over to you fine dudes, and start writing about other things.

Enter High Minded, where Tess Lynch revisits previously forgotten epiphanies, drags her lazy, leaden body on adventures and—whoa. I think this pudding's texture might improve if I added a handful of popcorn and some, like, canned blueberries:

About a week ago, I read an article in The New York Times by Ethan Nadelmann about the tension between the federal authorities and states that permit the use of medical marijuana (states whose residents make up almost a third of the U.S. population, by the way). This legal disagreement isn’t new; it’s what defines our current marijuana landscape, after all, but recently it seems that things have reached a spookily unpleasant pitch, like a forgotten Halloween sound machine that makes the noise of two entangled gnats.

On Tuesday, federal agents raided medical marijuana storefronts across Washington State; the day before, a Colorado Springs dispensary was robbed. This fall, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives came to the conclusion that medical marijuana patients can’t purchase firearms (Fine! I didn’t want any anyway!). The disappointment potheads feel upon hearing this kind of news is sort of like the depression that sinks in on a late-February day in the northeast: It’s not that you expected it to be 80 degrees and sunny, but enough already.

When I pretend that someone asked me the question, “Who is your favorite fictional character?” I respond (to myself), “Randy Marsh.” South Park’s Randy Marsh, father to Stan and owner of a great mustache, is not only a stoner (he microwaved his testicles to get a prescription). He’s also a fan of cooking shows (cartoons: they’re just like us) and celebrated Obama’s election much like many of us did. He let his joy overtake him so much that, in retrospect, perhaps he made kind of an ass of himself. Without focusing on the presidency as a whole, let’s assume that one of the thoughts that spurred Randy to sing “Celebrate good Obama come on, it’s Obama bama” was that this might be a president who would end the war on drugs. He admitted to inhaling. He admitted that inhaling was the whole point! We never expected, nor wanted, to legalize the Quentin Tarantino movie drugs, the exploding-chemical-tray drugs, the Intervention drugs: just the not-really-a-drug-drug. The drug that Randy took before he ate all the crème fraiche he heard about on Iron Chef.

Last month, federal prosecutors sent out letters to California dispensaries warning landlords that if they continue to allow medical marijuana to be sold in their properties, they could be sent to prison. If you use medical marijuana for insomnia, it sucks to think that you may be without it soon. If you use medical marijuana for something more serious, like fibromyalgia, or to ease the side effects of chemo, it may even qualify as something that fucking sucks. It seems like it should be the springtime of marijuana acceptance. What’s up with this wintry mix?

I imagine what Randy Marsh would do if he was arrested because of his medical marijuana card. He’s a dad, after all. Probably not the best dad—I remember him once being addicted to filming everything, which is awfully annoying—and he doesn’t seem to have the steeliness to do well in a prison setting. He’s a serious hypochondriac who just wants to play Guitar Hero. He has a prescription for the pot, unless he’s let it expire, and thinks, like so many of us do, that he’s not doing anything wrong because he’s adhering to the laws his state grants him. He might try to explain that to the South Park officers, but they’d pack him into crudely-drawn police cruiser and haul him off. And he’d be clinking a metal cup against the bars of his cell, singing every song from Les Miserables. He would not be singing the "Obama bama" song. The "Obama bama" song is now in all minor keys for potheads, or, if you’re really high and getting a little nervous, it sounds like the static mewls of the Emergency Broadcast System.

What is the point of continuing to talk about marijuana, its benefits and mysterious medical properties (which wouldn’t be so mysterious if we invested more in exploring them), when what so many of us take comfort in is met by this tone-deaf use of force to halt any progress we make on the road to legality? I believe it’s important because, like Randy Marsh, I’m an idealist. Words just kind of come out of my mouth when I believe something to be true. I hope that these essays have made some of you more confident in joining the discussion about medical marijuana, since the people who represent pot users are by no means indicative of the huge array of people who do so. There are reasons to keep mum, unfortunately. But it feels good to take a page from the book of Randy, to expressively embrace the things you enjoy and believe in, the things that define you even when they make you into sort of a cartoon to some of the population. It’s also important, as a human being instead of a cartoon, to know when to put a sock in it.

And so this is where I stop writing about pot, hand the vaporizer over to you fine dudes, and start writing about other things. I will always believe marijuana to be a beneficial herb, a powerful medicinal tool, and an awesome time. I look forward to seeing it in another life, when we are all cats.

Collage, as always, by Beth Hoeckel.

via Collection of the New-York Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. At the age of 10 he was given to the Auld family.

As a child, he worked as a house slave and was able to learn to read and write, and he attempted to teach his fellow slaves the same skills.

At the age of 15, he was given to Thomas Auld, a cruel man who beat and starved his slaves and thwarted any opportunity for them to practice their faith or to learn to read or write.

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via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

RELATED: He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

RELATED: 'High Castle' producers destroyed every swastika used on the show and the video is oh-so satisfying

In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

RELATED: Alan Turing will appear on the 50-pound note nearly 70 years after being persecuted for his sexuality

Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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