The Devils Weed

The Devil's Weed?

One Christian Minister's Viewpoint on Cannabis

I was once asked by a Christian man I respect very much, "As a Christian, how can you advocate for the legalization of marijuana when it is so clearly an evil drug?"

To which I replied, "How can you, as a follower of Christ, not advocate for its legalization? This perfectly and wondrously made God-given plant - a gift from Our Father - and you call it evil?" Little did he know I had been dying for him to ask me that question. It was going to be a long lunch!

The opportunity for a Christian to discuss the benefits of cannabis doesn't come up very often in church conversation, as I am sure you can imagine. So I jumped on it.

As I explained that cannabis contains cannabinoids, the same ones our bodies produce, and that these little miracles hold the answer to the treatment and possible cure for so many human inflicted diseases, for so many self-imposed maladies - that this plant that God made is what we need to fight off many of the syndromes and diseases that humans made - I saw his eyes glazing over. I could almost hear his thoughts, 'this can't be true, we'd have heard about it'.

As I explained that the Cancer industry is a multi-billion dollar a year business, that drug companies are some of the staunchest opponents of the legalization of marijuana for a reason, that it would not benefit the medical industry in the least to have such a readily available, inexpensive solution to such an epidemically proportioned problem - I saw his eyes go wide. They went wider still when I related the history of marijuana prohibition to him. How it was made illegal in 1942 because those 'horrible Negro Jazz musicians' obviously used it just to seduce all us 'good white women'. I knew was getting through - this man happens to have a black father and a white mother. Thank you, Jesus. Time to up the ante. I pulled out the Bible.

Now, my friend is a Biblical scholar. He is my mentor in all things Biblical. He knows every verse of the Bible by memory, I am fairly certain. He also has an annoying habit of having just exactly the right scripture readily available for literally any scenario. Seriously - any situation - he doesn't even need an app for that. So if I am going to use Scripture, I had better be certain. Fortunately, I do have an app for that.

I asked him what the word 'Christ' translates to in Hebrew. 'Anointed One', he says. "Right!" (I ignored his condescending grin) "and what was Christ anointed with?" "A special oil...but..." So I pointed him to Exodus 30:22-23 - naturally he knew that was where it gave the instructions for making anointing oil. "I see where you are going with this, but it does not say marijuana was used!"

So I asked him to tell me what was in it - Myrrh, Cinnamon, and the most prominent ingredient about six pounds of sweet cane, or Kaneh-bosem in Hebrew, all extracted into about six quarts of olive oil. And what is sweet cane? He said it was likely aromatic weeds that grew in the region - and then he grinned. I showed him where kaneh-bosem has been identified by respected etymologists, linguists, anthropologists, botanists and other researchers as cannabis. And he laughed right out loud. But I could tell he wasn't convinced quite yet. So I pulled out the big guns. I shamelessly played the parent card.

My friend has three of the loveliest daughters I have ever seen - so this was probably hitting below the belt - but I had an important point to make! His youngest, I will call her 'Emma', has Down-Syndrome and has her Daddy wrapped around her little finger.

I said to him that I knew, that if there was anything in this world he could do to help Emma, he would do it. Any medicine, any therapy, anything. He agreed, of course. Then I showed him pictures of the medical refugee children whose families have had to flee their home states and move to Colorado to get the medicine they need to survive. We debated 'conventional' treatments and I showed him the pictures of Alexis, and Greta, and countless others when they were on those 'conventional' drugs versus cannabis. The difference was undeniable.

I asked him, if Emma had cancer or seizure disorder, and there were two choices for her treatment - one all natural, very low non-threatening side effects, and very high success rate; the other a man-made chemical compound, with severe adverse side effects, and a medium to low success rate - which one would you choose for her? The God-made one, made illegal by man - or the manmade one? Are we saying then, that we are better than God!? That He didn't get it right so we need to improve on His handiwork?

And if you believe in an all powerful, all caring God of Love - how can you do anything less than advocate for the perfect medicine He provides for us? If we believe He loves us even more than we love our own children, why would we doubt His gift?

What if you were the sick one? What do you think Jesus would do?

Read James 5:16 - He tells you exactly what He would do. ~


A Class Assignment


Vickie Smith is studying for her Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling. She and her husband are very new to the legalization movement. Recently she wrote the below responses to 5 questions for a class assignment. I hope you enjoy as much as I did and I know you will appreciate hearing how her perspective has changed.

Assignment - Choose a cultural identity/lifestyle that you don't know much about or do not agree with. Inform yourself about it by attending an event, watching a documentary, reading an autobiography or non-fiction work, or do research regarding the culture, its traditions, and values, then address the following:

Question #1: Which activity did you choose from the above options? Be sure to identify the cultural identity you chose. (note, this topic was not listed. Vickie requested permission to write on the subject, which was granted and encouraged)

"I chose to do research on the use of Cannabis. I researched the use of cannabis on the internet, watched several documentaries, read a book called Emerging Clinical Applications for Cannabis and Cannabinoids: A Review of the Recent Scientific Literature 2000-2010, and attended several meetings with a group called Texas NORML, and spoke with several people within this organization."

Q#2: Prior to your activity, what was your perspective of the chosen cultural identity (What were your biases, stereotypes, etc.)?

"Prior to my activities, my perspective of the use of cannabis was the mental picture of hippies sharing a pipe, living in vans and happy to be where they were or a young man sitting on the couch playing video games with no ambition to work and provide for his family. These stereotype perspectives were from media coverage I have seen all my life and from a personal perspective of experience with a family member, feeling sadness and anxiety about their future, or the lack thereof because of their use of marijuana."

Q#3: Based on your experience and/or information gained what did you learn about the chosen culture?

"I learned that cannabis is a plant used for medicinal purposes for hundreds if not thousands of years. I learned that educated, highly educated, law abiding (except for this I guess) citizens use cannabis to help them with symptoms of many kinds of illnesses. I learned that they go to school, work full time respectable jobs, and provide for their families. I learned they are compassionate caring individuals who are very passionate about what they believe. I learned they are not “pot heads” who want to get high but they are well-behaved people who actually do have a “grasp” on reality and are trying hard to be the voice of reason and stand up against the stigma associated with cannabis. I learned that the majority, if not all, of the stigma that comes with the mention of cannabis is political. I learned that because there are individuals who are not afraid to step outside the accepted lines of society, we now know the great many benefits of the use of cannabis. I learned that it was actually used in America as medicine until the early 1900’s and was banned in the 1930’s against the advice of the American Medical Association."

Q#4: How did your experience and/or information impact your previous perspectives?

"My experience has made me a “freak of nature” so to speak. I do not look, act, promote, nor am I, a “pot head”, a term so easily used when referring to someone who uses marijuana. I am not even a “user” of what I believe should be legal for adults to use if they so choose. I am a person that will slam the brakes on at a yellow light (much to the dismay of my husband) for fear of getting a ticket. However, do not doubt I would stand up to any and everyone necessary to say on behalf of my dear Vietnam veteran husband, who suffers from chronic pain and PTSD, “Take your morphine, (you know what to do with it), give my husband marijuana and LET HIM LIVE AND LIVE IN PEACE! Oh, and while you are at it, let ME live in peace." My experience has opened my eyes to what I hope will become legal in this state and I will do my part to help make it happen. I care much more about the health of my husband than what “society” thinks of me endorsing the use of marijuana. Synthetic medicine kills people. It makes them sicker and causes them to take other medications to counteract the side effects of the medicine they take for something else. It is a never-ending cycle and it’s time someone, MANY someone's, stand up and say, enough is enough, at least let me choose what I want to put into my body to help me; a plant that grows in the ground, or chemicals put together in a capsule inside a lab."

Q#5: How will your experience and/or information help you better serve your clients who identify with that cultural identity?

"I no longer have a preconceived idea about the use of cannabis and cannabinoids. I see people as people, not potheads. When I choose a group of people and attach a label to them, I am giving permission to the rest of the world to label me. Myself, I trust what comes from the Earth more than I trust what comes from humans." ~




Every year since 2005, the weekend following Labor Day, the communities surrounding Portland, Oregon become ablaze, not with fire, ablaze with the passion for fun, music, and Hemp and Cannabis activism. Lawyer and former Texan, Paul Stanford, the visionary behind The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation (THCF), along with a community of sponsors, supporters, and volunteers convert Kelley Point Park on the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, into a virtual village of education, understanding and love. This year the local media estimated 70-80 thousand attended the two day event.

As the many attendees made their way into the event, I recalled Friday (the day prior) as I drove the beautiful 29’ rented RV up the narrow winding trail into the area which would become known as the VIP area, and “Hempstalk Central”. For the next few days I watched the “Jack Herer Memorial Stage” being erected, generators and electrical outlets being positioned, vendor spots being marked, recycling and trash containers placed in strategic areas, and of course the always needed Port-A-Potty’s being stationed in the large open field surrounded by trees. With the help of the Hempstalk support staff and volunteers, Kelly Point Park was morphing into HempStalk 2013! While most see the two day event, I was a spectator of four. I watched a large open field prepare for a small community come together, security fencing being installed around the areas backstage, and VIP sections, vendors began arriving; within hours I was in a small town developing on the riverside. A village of vendors, arranging inventory on shelves, artisans displaying their various wares, and food booths unloading supplies, all waiting anxiously for those coming in celebration of a plant; Hemp and Cannabis!

The event began as always with the opening ceremonies of tribal drums offering up the event to the “Great Spirit” and to the spirit and love which encompassed those beautiful souls displaying community support. Ngaio Bealum, an extraordinarily funny Cannabis Comedian and long time activist, would maintain the tireless position of being the Emcee for the two day extravaganza. Ngaio brought the crowd to laughter with his “Highly” addictive style of humor. He announced speakers, and musicians remembering each name and organization without pause. His long time presence at Hempstalk has made Ngaio Bealum one of the mainstays of the event. Activist, wow they were many, but when Federal Medical Marijuana Patient, Elvy Musikka took the stage the crowd went wild. Yet she’s without her vision, meeting her and speaking with her, with her spirit of positivism, was like a warm blanket. The Activist and musicians poured everything they had into the crowd. Individual activist such as author and activist Chris Conrad, Hemp activist Stephanie Bishop, Dr. Phillip Leveque, Brave Makayla (a young cancer patient fighting for her life), Time 4 Hemp’s Casper Leitch, Jared Allway from SAFER, and the list continues, all working hard educating the attendees. The music was just as moving and eclectic as the activists’ speeches. Performers of all genres took to the stage, pouring out every ounce of energy and passion into the audience. Musical groups and entertainers with names such as the Herbivores, Bad Habitat, Hot Cold Tea, and Twice Baked were among the Saturday lineup. Justin James Bridges (while in a wheelchair) rocked the crowd and also performed with others after playing his own set. Tim Pate, another local, wowed the crowd with his graceful style of traditional sound.

Regulars to Hempstalk such as local artist John Trudell and Bad Dog, performing his poetry style of folk rock, continued the inspiration and message. Ponyboy and Los Marijuanos (from the Las Vegas area), made Saturday’s 4:00-4:45 time slot prime for the sweet smell and white smoke which filled the air at the proverbial time, 4:20. Saturday night ended with the “Hempstalk Talent Search Winners”, a fantastic group of guys from Sacramento, California, Arden Park Roots, with emphasis on the “Roots.” These four guys laid down some sound. And one song “Green Anthem” moved the people with their Rasta beat leaving all wanting more. After an exhausting day and graciously declining the numerous invitations to the after-parties knowing the next day would be another 16 hour day, I reserved myself to my RV for a much needed night of rest.

Sunday, day two began with Ngaio welcoming the returning attendees, and inviting those just arriving, to a day full of love, joy, and laughter. After the opening performance of Spiral, Ed King, with his ever present upbeat style, commanded the stage with his hip-hop sound bringing the populace to their feet. As the speakers and musicians moved on and off the stage, with the guidance of the always faithful P. Steve, the man which keeps the two day event running on time or as close as possible, day two of Hempstalk was moving along smoothly. During the 4:00-4:45 time slot, Real-One ensured the air in front of the stage hung with a cloud of thick white smoke, denoting 4:20 had arrived once again. After Paul Loney, one of the major sponsors of the event finished speaking, the event was recharged with a rockin’ pick me up from The Kerry Stickler Band; a hard driving blues rock band which sent everyone off with an uplifting feeling, realizing they had just been part of another historic event.

On Monday, the “Jack Herer Memorial Stage” was being packed up, loaded on the trucks which brought it to the park and pulled away. I walked back to the RV; I didn’t want to leave. As I reflected on the past few days, waiting for the rush hour traffic to subside, I sat in the solitary vehicle watching the people began to arrive at the river side to enjoy a cool evening with family and friends, I realized the celebration only ended when we did. I started up the RV and headed back down the narrow winding road to the main entrance of Kelley Point Park. While driving my way out and into Portland, inside I was filled with the anticipation of next year and Hempstalk 2014! ~


Cheech & Chong Live


Well I have quite the story for you, but what else can be said about these two influential icons, but Wow man! It’s freakin’ CHEECH & CHONG! I myself had seen TOMMY CHONG doing stand-up a few years back at the CAPITOL CITY COMEDY CLUB, but never had I seen the two comedic-icons of CHEECH & CHONG back together and up on stage until Friday May 31st 2013!

I knew I was at the RIGHT PLACE when we strolled up to the theater and saw the UP IN SMOKE 1964 Chevrolet Impala parked outside right along the curb of the Moody Theater; it was right out of the movie man! If you’re a fan of the CHEECH & CHONG classic UP IN SMOKE, you’re a fan of not just its CHARACTERS, but of its CAR, and who wouldn’t be, that car is smooth! After taking a few pictures, we finally made our way into the theater, deciding to grab ourselves a drink or two! I even drank a little bit, a full half a cup and let me tell you, that was more than enough to get me PRIMED and READY for the show, not to mention the couple of bowls smoked prior in the parking garage. I typically don’t drink as I am a LIGHT-WEIGHT, so in my perception, I was PARTYING; it was a special occasion and for all who attended the show, it was undoubtedly on like CHEECH & CHONG!

We eventually took our seats and the show eventually started; it wasn’t a long wait; we were just excited and anxious for the show to begin. Before any music started, the voice of TOMMY CHONG introduced us to his wife SHELBY CHONG who came out onto the stage doing her own bit of stand-up! We applauded with excitement as she introduced out onto the stage the legendary duo that is CHEECH & CHONG; she also conducted a little Q&A by asking them questions for the people! They mentioned highlights from both of their solo-careers, from CHEECH and his roles in Disney films, BORN IN EAST L.A. to the movies of Director ROBERT RODRIGUEZ, DUSK TILL DAWN and many others, to CHONG and his experience on THAT 70’S SHOW, stating that when he arrived on set, how none of the cast members got HIGH! And of course, we all KNOW the story of TOMMY going to jail and doing-time!

The show was really cool as throughout the evening, they intertwined the comedy-skits of CHEECH & CHONG between the two great performances of TOWER OF POWER and WAR (who had all toured together in years past)! Personally speaking, I wasn’t all too familiar with the music of TOWER OF POWER, but I really enjoyed their set. WAR was awesome performing such classics as “Spill The Wine”, “Slipping Into Darkness”, “Don’t Let No One Get You Down”, and “The Cisco Kid” which featured a special guest appearance by local Austin Tejano icon Little Joe! They capped-off their set with the classic “Low-rider” consisting of the horn-sections of both TOWER OF POWER and WAR together!

Mixed in between the sets of these two great bands, we saw funny renditions of CHEECH & CHONG classics such as “Dave”, “Cruisin’ with Pedro de Pacas”, “Hairy Palm”, the story of “Santa Claus” to “Blind Mellon Chillin’”; they were at their classic best! CHEECH & CHONG also performed the song favorites of “Mexican-Americans”, “Beaner”, and eventually closing the entire night with the CHEECH TU-TU induced “Earache My Eye”!

After the show, we were fortunate in that we had GUESTS PASSES and so we got to go BACKSTAGE and say hi! We were among quite a number of fans who were lined-up for the MEET & GREET that night! For those who are wondering out of satisfying your own curiosity, NO, we did not get to hang or smoke-up with either CHEECH or CHONG; if we had been given that golden opportunity, I can assure you now that we would have; we were prepared either way that was for sure! It was an honor in getting to meet CHEECH and Tommy’s son PARIS for the first-time; I had met TOMMY and SHELBY years before at the CAPITOL CITY COMEDY CLUB, but to meet them altogether at once was indeed the icing on the cake, the cherry on top!

On a more personal note, thanks to an idea brought on by my friend Josh, I was proud to see THE AUSTIN420 getting picked-up by the many attendees of the show, and why not, when THE AUSTIN420 was the only publication on site! There was nothing COOLER and AMAZING than seeing THE AUSTIN420 TOMMY CHONG EDITION sitting on the official merchandise table of an official CHEECH & CHONG show! It was amazing in seeing the number of issues that had circulated throughout the course of that evening, as well as the number of issues that had been signed by TOMMY himself backstage, including signing a couple of issues for me and my own personal archives!

The everlasting aura of CHEECH & CHONG hasn’t changed, but the acceptance of cannabis in mainstream society has! While this comedic-duo will continue to represent all that is stereotypical and fun of smoking the weed, this indeed was a night of magic for us all who shared in this experience; an experience that some had waited an entire lifetime to see! ~


Shen Yun


Shen Yun Performing Arts was founded in 2006 and is based in New York. Three different companies tour the world consecutively for seven months. The shows goal is to revive the essence of 5000 years of Chinese culture. Shen Yun is associated with the Falun Gong spiritual practices and performances are often hosted by Falun Dafa associations. Some acts contain scenes that depict the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.

There are a number of different acts accompanied by a large projection screen and live orchestra. The orchestra contains both Chinese and Western instruments. The acts are presented in both Chinese and the local language. Shen Yun contains three types acts, dancing, singing and martial arts display. The songs are performed in Chinese with the lyrics displayed in the local language on the projection screen.

Dance is the main component to the performances and the style is built on a foundation of classical Chinese dance. Ethnic, folk and story based dances help keep Shen Yun’s style the purest form of Chinese dance. The unique movements have been passed down continuously for thousands of years, allowing no outside influences and revealing the richness of China’s long and complex heritage.

Movements in each of the dances are rich with expressive power, bringing out inner meanings of thoughts and feelings. Each of the performances tell stories filled with virtues from past to present and are meant to reflect human nature, moral concepts, mental state along with conduct and values. The movements in Chinese dance are circular and follow an Eastern saying of “beauty in roundness.” The dancers must practice difficult jumping and tumbling techniques along with flip and turning techniques not found in other dance styles. All the movements of the dancers are revolved around their breathing as to be led by the spirit or Shen. It is believed that in order for one to master the techniques of the Chinese dance, they must be of good moral character. Dancers will need 6 years of schooling and undergo strict physical training to perform the movements. Shen Yun only allows those who have practiced for 10 years to perform on stage.

 All of the costumes worn by the performers are all handcrafted with bright and colorful colors and match the amazing backdrops. Every performance tells a story. From the story of Hua Mulan, the female general who took her elderly father’s place in battle to the story of Yue Fei who had a dilemma of protecting his country or staying behind to care for his elderly mother.

In Jan of 2010, the government of Hong Kong refused entry visas for the performers and the shows had to be cancelled. In China’s past, everyone from the Emperor to the farmer lived in peace with the heavens and spirit. But in the 1950’s to the present, most of what made China’s culture so unique was lost to the communist rule. Shen Yun hopes to revive the spiritual aspect of China’s culture.

When I saw the performances, I was awestruck. It amazed me that not only could the human body move in such a way, but that such a powerful message could be portrayed with absolutely no words. The performers were really able to portray their love for the dance and the spirit that they represented. The backdrops helped give you the idea that you were back in China however many years ago as you moved from the past to the present. For anyone wanting to get a true idea of the culture of China and how it was before the communist rule, needs to see Shen Yun. The grace and elegance and powerful movements capture the imagination and this is one show I will continue to see year after year. No other performance has made me want to learn more about another culture like Shen Yun has. ~