High Times magazine, December 1999, pp 60-61.
Top 25 Pot Stars Speak Out
Our list of living legends in the battle for legal
High Times List of the Top 25 Living Legends of
Pot (in order): Jack Herer, Tommy Chong, Willie Nelson,
Dennis Peron, Keith Stroup, Woody Harrelson, Elvy Musikka,
Stephen Gaskin, Gatewood Galbraith, Chris Conrad, Dr Lester
Grinspoon, Todd McCormick, Bob Randall, John Sinclair, Dr
Michael Aldrich, Dr John Morgan, Dr Lynn Zimmer, Peter
McWilliams, Vivian McPeak, Michka, Paul Krassner, Debby
Goldsberry, Ben Masel, Christie Bohling, David Peel.
#10: Chris Conrad
"I'm amazed at how many of the
predictions I made in the late 1980s about industrial
hemp and medical marijuana have since come true. We've
linked voters, ecologists, farmers, businesses, doctors
and average citizens into an alliance that knows hemp is
here for good. Now the pot smokers need to come out of
the closet to win their equal rights."
Editor's note: Yes, we know Someone got left out.
We tried to base our selections on the merits of good deeds
performed on behalf of cannabis and the overall
recongnizability of the individual. Plus you had to be
alive. Bur we freely maintain that every individual who
fights for cannabis deserves a #1 rating.
Herewith, allow us to add a few honorable
High Times magazine, 25th Anniversary Issue (November 1999,
Chris Conrad and Mikki Norris:
Dynamic Duo vs. Mandatory Minimums
As the United States moves into the 21st century it
practically leads the globe at jailing its citizens. (Only
Russia jails more, per capita.) Six out of 10 federal
inmates are incarcerated for drug offenses often with longer
sentences than murderers or rapists. Chris Conrad and Mikki
Norris hope the millennium will spur a re-examination of
this disastrous national policy.
"The Drug War is the greatest failure the US has in the
20th century, even a greater failure than Vietnam." Conrad
says. Likening the demonization of drug users to the plight
of "non Aryans" in pre-Holocaust Nazi Germany. "We need to
tie it into people's minds that it was a failed policy of a
To underscore this point, Conrad and Norris have
assembled a touring exhibit featuring the photos and words
of victims of America's mandatory-minimum sentences. In a
similar vein, they and Virginia Resner (coordinator of
Families Against Mandatory Minimums in Cali fornia) cowrote
the book Shattered
Lives: Portraits From America's Drug War
(Creative Xpressions, El Cerrito, CA). "A lot of people have
a hard time reading through it without tears at a certain
point." Norris says. "We're channeling through a lot of
human misery that is real and out there."
Their touring exhibit has been featured at conferences,
libraries, community centers and churches across the
USA&emdash;from Hawaii to North Pole, Alaska&emdash;and
across Europe. (They'll happily provide activists with a
portable laminated version to dispby locally.) Conrad and
Norris began the touring project, Human Rights 1995, during
the 50th anniversary of the UN that year, in order to expose
people to the medieval abuses of the Drug War.
Learning about the USA's conspiracy laws while working on
Shattered Lives was frightening for Norris "It was pretty
scary to think that if somebody's in a position where
they're facing ten to twenty years, or a life sentence in
prison, their only way of getting out is snitching on
someone else or naming names. It made me very paranoid,
thinking you don't know who's out there and who might be
facing that kind of situation."
Conrad adds, "I've always felt fairly safe because of the
things we don't do. But once you start reading these
case stories and you find out that with conspiracy law and
forfeiture law, even being innocent is not a protection,
then where do you go from that? The only thing you can do is
get rid of those laws."
Conrad who has written Hemp
Lifeline to the Future and Hemp
for Health. [Norris encourages] people
to 'come out' as pot-smokers. and depict how "the cannabis
culture is a noble and dignified heritage that we can be
proud of. that we shouldn't have to be hiding."
He has also become legally recognized as a cannabis
expert in one-fifth of California's county courts. He helps
deflate overblown police estimates of how much marijuana a
seized garden would have produced, often gaining a reduced
sentence for his clients and acquittals for medical
Longtime social-justice activists. the dynamic duo of
Conrad and Norris met in 1981 at an anti-Reagan rally in Los
Angeles and then ran into each other the following week at
an antinuke rally. "And then we made a date," the two say at
the same time. The couple has been active throughout the
'90s in anti-Drug-War and pro-hemp activities: Conrad
founded BACH, the Business Alliance for Commerce in Hemp,
and the Family Council on Drug Abuse.
"The thing that's annoying to me." Conrad bristles, "is
when I hear advocates of industrial hemp who take stands
against legalizing mari juana or advocates of medical
marijuana who say you should keep on arresting 'the other
people' who smoke it for personal uses. We don't think it's
right for them to be doing it, any more than we think it is
for the DEA or govenment to do it, or for the Partnership
for a Drug-Free America. The thing we're always trying to do
is bring harmony to the situation by getting the different
groups to communicate rather than attack each other."
"For the future of America and the country that we want
to live in -- that's why we're doing this." adds Norris.
Times Report: FILED 05/17/99 By Mark Miller - Special to
San Francisco's Million Marijuana March
While the number of cannabis activists did not reach
actually seven digits at San Francisco's Million Marijuana
March (SF MMM), certainly tens of thousands took to the
streets in support of peoples' rights to freely grow and use
the world's most useful plant. The Pacific Coast's version
of this international celebration was staged at SF's United
Nations Plaza, in the shadow of City Hall, and drew a
typically colorful Bay Area multitude.
"We're changing our approach," offers Chris Conrad,
prolific author and expert marijuana courtroom witness, who
helped coordinate the SF MMM: "Instead of just focusing on
industrial hemp or medical marijuana, we're tying this into
the civil-rights movement, that adult cannabis users should
have equal rights under the law."
The very first speaker at the MMMarch rally was its prime
coordinator, Julia Carter of the Drug Peace Campaign,
vocalizing one of the afternoon's central themes, "pot
pride": that cannabis has to "come out of the closet and
into the coffe shops." Emphasized Carter, "The time has come
to stand up for marijuana!"
Other notable speakers included Oakland attorney Robert
Raich, who's on the state government's new medical-marijuana
task force, impaneled by Attorney General Bill Lockyer to
establish cannabis-cultivation guidelines for patients and
caregivers. Raich cleverly compared the US Drug War to the
current Kosovo conflict, suggesting, "If America were
someplace else, NATO would bomb it because of all the
human-rights violations of the War on Drugs."
Tom Ammiano, president of the San Francisco Board of
Supervisors, informed the rally that he also is working with
AG Lockyer to establish a nonprofit medical-marijuana center
to replace the now-defunct San Francisco Cannabis
Dale Gieringer, head of California NORML, punned about
the failures of "the piss-poor drug testing industry": for
example, statistics clearly showing that companies which
subject their employees to drug testing consistently show
lower productivity rates as a direct result. Gieringer also
counseled against activist complacency, showing how there
have been more marijuana arrests in California since the
passage of Prop 215 than there were before it, as
disgruntled local authorities seek to have it overturned in
Debby Goldsberry of the West Coast's Cannabis Action
Network had perhaps the most exciting news of the afternoon:
that before very long the Berkeley City Council will be
voting to enable their 1997 ordinance which establishes
procedures by which the Berkeley city police will forego
prosecutions for cannabis use and cultivation. While of
course federal prohibition will still apply to Berkeley, it
should complicate things considerably for the feds.
The only unexpected speaker at the MMM was a stunner:
Baba Ram Dass, the legendary psychedelic spiritual pioneer
of the 1960s, now confined to a wheelchair because of a
stroke. With a weakened voice he initiated a simple chant of
"Marijuana... Marijuana," which evolved into a lyrical
mantra intoned by the entire congregation.
Other speakers included Mikki Norris, co-author of
Portraits of America's Drug War, who
presented some sobering statistics to the perpetually
partying crowd: 40,000 marijuana POWs currently behind bars
in the USA, nearly 700,000 annual cannabis arrests, over 85
percent for simple possession, et cetera, ad nauseam.
David Ford, co-author (with Oakland's Dr. Tod Mikuriya)
of Marijuana: Not Guilty As Charged, briskly deflated a
string of standard anti-marijuana "medical" myths--the
feeble old "gateway" slander, the "more carcinogens than
tobacco" garbage--and blasted anti-pot politicians who take
donations from corporations who subvert progressive cannabis
and hemp legislation. Ford ended his oration by lighting a
joint in the wind, to raucous applause.
Shortly after the magical moment of 4:20 PM the actual
march commenced, stretching over four blocks continuously,
with thousands holding signs and banners, inciting comradely
honks from vehicles and startled eyebrows from tourists.
Circling City Hall with a full escort, the Pot Pride Parade
wound back around to UN Plaza where everyone could re-assume
the flagrantly recreational partying and dancing.
FILED 7/15/97. By Steve Bloom - Special to HT News
More Than 10,000 Hempsters Attend WHEE!
More than 10,000 hempsters attended WHEE! - the World
Hemp Expo Extravaganja - this past weekend (July 18-20) in
Harrisburg, OR. The event took place on property owned by
Conde's Redwood Lumber, 20 miles north of Eugene.
WHEE! featured three days of hemp and music. Some 200
vendors ringed the 30-acre site and bands performed for 12
hours daily on two stages. The headliners were Fishbone
(Sat.), String Cheese Incident (Sun.) and Calobo (Fri.).
A who's who of hemp activists gave impassioned speeches
from the stage and appeared at workshops. Among them were
Jack Herer, Dennis Peron, Stephen Gaskin, Paul Krassner,
Chris Conrad and Sandee Burbank.
One of the highlights of the weekend was a surprise visit
by the Merry Pranksters, led by Ken Kesey and Ken Babbs.
Wearing green eye masks, they joined the 4:20 Show on
FILED 10/06/98 By Steve Bloom - Special to HT News
[Photos: Gabe Kirchheimer]
Freedom Is NORML At Boston Rally
Despite a decline in crowd size, the Boston Freedom
Rally-held on Saturday, Oct. 3, on Boston Common-succeeded
in uniting the Northeast marijuana movement for the ninth
Police efforts to influence attendance seemed to work.
For weeks prior to the event, Boston authorities promised
mass arrests of those caught smoking or with a bag. This
turned out to not be the case, as 60 arrests were made, a
significant drop from last year's total of 150.
MASS CANN president Bill Downing came prepared for the
police action. He wore a plastic pig's snout over his nose
and chanted "Oink! Oink!" whenever he saw undercover narcs
zeroing in on their pot-toking prey. This resulted in his
being briefly detained early in the day by the police.
Downing sang "Give Peace a Chance" and then emerged from the
arrest tent unharmed and free to continue his campaign.
"I was arrested for no good reason," Downing told the
press that surrounded him after his release by the police.
"I don't think any officers should arrest people for
marijuana. That's why we're here." Downing recommended that
others follow his lead and offered to provide pig's noses to
anyone who did.
Speakers included John Sinclair, Chris
Conrad, Dean Cook, Kevin Zeese and Elvy Musikka, who
sang a tune from her new album.
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