La Figa Holiday Gift Guide: Celebrate Krampus with Community-Focused and Socially Conscious-Themed Gifts

‘Tis the season. I have friends who make huge batches of fudge and give that out as gifts, and other friends who flavor and then bottle vinegars and oils. I have friends who can create coasters and potholders out of scrap fabric, knit lingerie, paint flower pots, découpage, draw, paint, bead, and generally out-arts-and-crafts me with one arm in a cast, which is why I shop very seriously with them, as well as looking for gifts that are socially responsible. (I don’t recommend hand knit bras, btw; they are itchy, lumpy, and offer no support, but um, it was the thought that counted).

Gifts should reflect the giver’s awareness of recipient, and carry a bit of the giver’s personality. Practical, thoughtful, and thought-provoking  are also important attributes. And because this is Firedoglake, a healthy dose of social consciousness never hurts.

Top of my list: FDL’s Free Bradley Manning t-shirt (there’s also an awesome sweatshirt). I ordered one for a friend as a Thanksgiving  gift, and he loved it, and I have one myself. The cotton is soft, the design is super cool, and you’re helping to support Manning’s trial coverage and activism.

Want to give a group gift, say for the whole family or your office? Occupy Sandy desperately needs Tyvek suits to protect those who are cleaning up mold damage in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Or consider supplying Occupy with the FDL Occupy Supply items. You can tell your peeps that instead of laying out for whole bunch of made-in-China crud that will end up gathering dust or getting regifted, you’ve made sure that an Occupy group is warm and cared for with American-made gifts.  And since usually  your family gives you socks and scarves, why not pay that forward and give socks and warm blankets to Occupy! Besides, weren’t your stodgy aunts and cousins thrilled last year when you gave a toilet in their name via Oxfam?

A Firedoglake Just Say Now shirt is perfect for your “states’ rights” libertarian relative–and for the fundamentalist Christian too, because after all, Pat Roberson did come out in favor of the legalization of marijuana, saying:

I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol. I’ve never used marijuana and I don’t intend to, but it’s just one of those things that I think: this war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded.

(And of course, Firedoglake memberships make great gifts as does a donation to Planned Parenthood. Or to your local library!)

This holiday season, along with their offerings like Lick It Softly (a blend of  peppermint and vanilla) and Krampus 2012 (red musk and black leather), niche perfumers Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab has special, limited edition blends to raise funds in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, with all proceeds going to the American Red Cross. Based on a guide to the seraglios of New York City published in 1870, The Gentleman’s Directory’s “Frank Burns” and “Miss Addie” are two distinct scents designed to recall a forgotten age of forbidden lust:

As you pass down Houston street, faro banks abound, till we reach an unpretending red brick building No. 25, kept by Frank Burns, known as the “Judge and Jury”. This is a great resort for the sportsmen both of this and the other country. Everything here is conducted in a respectable and orderly manner.

Bay rum, polished oak, exquisite pipe and cigar tobaccos, and a splash of bourbon.

The next house, No. 55, is kept by Miss Addie Blashfield, the dashing brunette, who has eight or ten boarders, both blondes and brunettes. These are a pretty lot of girls, of pleasing and engaging manners. It is regarded as a first class house, very quiet and orderly and is visited by some of our first citizens.

Red sandalwood, vanilla orchid, sweet clove, neroli, apple blossom, and a gentle hint of star anise.

Books are gifts that need to be given to yourself and to friends! And this year there are two very amazing and wonderful books that highlight LGBTQ, and make perfect gifts for LGBTQ and allies. Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay by Paul Vitagliano (DJ Paul V.) features photos and short essays by everyday people about growing up LBGTQ, as well as exclusive new stories and photos from LGBTQ people in the public eye, including Rep. Barney Frank, Erasure’s Andy Bell, actor Patrick Bristow, radio host Frank DeCaro, columnist Michael Musto, singer Sia, blogger Perez Hilton, composer Marc Shaiman, and drag legends Jackie Beat and Coco Peru. Born This Way is sweet, funny, at times heartbreaking, and ultimately joyful and triumphant.

Actor/activist/author Michael Kearns’  The Truth is Bad Enough: What Every Became of the Happy Hustler? is an important social documentary/autobiography by the first openly gay actor in Hollywood (Kearns came out during the peak of his television career which included stints on Cheers, Murder She Wrote, and The Fall Guy). In 1991 he publicly disclosed his HIV+ status on Entertainment Tonight, and in 1994 he adopted his daughter Katherine, making him the first openly gay, publicly HIV-positive, single man to become a father. Kearns also co-founded  two AIDS organizations with partner James Carroll Pickett: Artists Confronting AIDS and STAGE (Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event), the longest running theatrical benefit in the world.  The Truth is Bad Enough takes the reader through the nascent days of Gay Pride, through the AIDS crisis and beyond, from Kearns’ first major media explosion (Kearns created Grant Tracy Saxon, the bisexual author of The Happy Hustler, a deliberate spoof of Xaviera Hollander’s The Happy Hooker), his childhood and relationships, though his work in theaters as a playwright, and actor, as an activist, and most importantly as a father.

Many of the films we’ve featured on Firedoglake Movie Night are available on DVD, and out of the over 190 films we’ve discussed, there’s bound to be something for everyone on your list!

Who doesn’t love coffee? Okay, maybe a few people. This year along with Dean’s Beans, a pioneer in Fair Trade, organic coffee (all his beans are certified organic, Fair Trade, and kosher!) who can create custom roasts for everyone on your holiday lists, there’s a new java supplier on my list: Trystero Coffee, a nano-roaster in Atwater Village, right by the Los Angeles River. Bean maestro Greg small-batch roasts heirloom, direct trade varietals on Thursdays, then delivers them around town on a bicycle (though Trystero does ship priority mail fo rhtose of you out of cycling range). It’s a family business–just Greg and Nicole, and they rock. Plus Trystero’s name and logo is from one of my favorite books, The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon.

There are now almost a hundred small wineries in the U.S. creating organic, sustainable and/or biodynamic wines. Some like Rubicon (Inglenook) owned by Francis Ford Coppola, are not, shall we say, inexpensive (his run about $250 a bottle!), but with some searching, you can find bottles in the $20 range, like Bonny Doon and Snoqualmie Valley.

Some times a special girls (or guy) needs a glamor gift, and that’s where Batcakes Couture comes in. Using ethically sourced feathers, Madame Batcakes creates fascinators,  boutonnieres, cuffs and headbands, as well as handmade crystal devil horns and lacy cat ears, plus amazing hats. And showgirl head dresses!  I gotta love and support a single mom who works 18 hours days and, having no insurance, paid for her son’s critical medical care herself (an extra $20,000 she had to glue together using just her skills as a hat maker).

I’ll bet many of you know a local artist or crafts person who makes some amazing items; or look for them via Facebook and at farmers or flea markets. By shopping local artisans, you help your community. Just make sure your local “artist” isn’t reselling stuff made elsewhere and claiming it as their own; you want to support their art/craft, not their ability to source “handmade” items from abroad and double the price–one problem found frequently on Etsy. Though Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson claims the craft site is trying to stem that problem, not much seems to have been done, despite Etsy community continually flagging blatant junk resellers.

Shop sensibly, locally, thoughtfully. And remember this is the time of year when many social groups and small organizations and charities get together to hold sales where you can find cool vintage goods and some great handmade items. Just maybe not the knit bra. Seriously.

Penn Jillette Calls BS on Obama’s “States’ Rights”

Magician and arch-debunker Penn Jillette made a very valid point on his podcast Sunday: That Obama has called states’ rights for marriage equality, but not for marijuana laws.

First off states’ rights for marriage equality means that over 1,300 federal rights are denied to same-sex couples in the states that celebrate marriage equality, but that wasn’t where Jillette was going. The entertainer, doesn’t smoke, drink or do drugs, said about Obama and marijuana legalization:

Now, he has not left this to states’ rights. As you know, medical marijuana… you can get in California, and the feds are coming in to try to stop this. States’ rights don’t mean jack sh*t to the Obama administration on anything except gay marriage.

Bottom line, Obama should repeal DOMA and let states set their own pot laws. Oh heck, go whole hog and federally legalize marijuana.

(And for the record, I don’t do pot either.)


HT Huffington Post

Peter Tosh’s Music Joins Rights Campaigns

Beginning tomorrow, Tuesday Aug 9, the estate of reggae artist Peter Tosh is joining with Amnesty International in a campaign to draw attention to the plight of Mexican human rights defender Lydia Cacho.  Amnesty is offering a free download of Tosh’s anthem, “Get Up Stand Up,” to people taking action in her case at Cacho, a Cancún-based journalist and human rights defender, has received numerous death threats by phone and email, and there are serious fears for her safety.

Tosh–the most outspoken of Jamaica’s reggae pioneers – helped popularize  “Get Up, Stand Up” (co-written with Bob Marley) which has become a standard at Amnesty International rallies and at civil and human rights fundraisers, large and small, around the world. 2011 marks the human rights organization’s 50th anniversary

In the weeks to come, Tosh’s music will also be used in campaigns from Greenpeace International, (now in its 40th year), Students for a Sensible Drug Policy and the Marijuana Policy Project.

Students for a Sensible Drug Policy will use Tosh’s “Legalize It” in efforts to support new federal legalization legislation introduced in Congress in July.

The union of Tosh’s music and  activist campaigns follows the release of the expanded Legacy Edition reissues of Tosh’s seminal solo albums Legalize It (1976) and Equal Rights (1977), both available online.

Willie Nelson’s Teapot Party Endorses…uh…whut? Oh, Nevermind

(Willie Nelson finds Nirvana)


Willie Nelson’s Teapot Party was formed last November after the singer was arrested for pot possession. The goal of the party is support candidates who think the way the Teappotters to do. Which pretty much means legalizing marijuana.

Just three days ago Willie Nelson endorsed former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson as the GOP nominee; Johnson admits to smoking pot and is pro-legalization. Heck Johnson even attended a bunch of pro- hemp and pot rallies across the country! Non of this “I never inhaled,” namby-pambyism from him.

But then–after Willie endorsed and Johnson sent out an acceptance quote and it was all over the media, Willie changed his mind. Instead, he told campaign advisers, he likes Dennis Kucinich for president.

Nelson now says

I think I will wait and see where he [Johnson] stands on other things. My bad. Sorry. I still think he is a good guy but so is Dennis and if he decided to run I would personally vote for him. If it came down to either him or Gary I’m already committed to Dennis. They both have said they support legal pot…This will blow over and the world moves on. No harm done. We sound like a bunch of pot smokers, that’s all…The more I get into politics the more I realize that I am a guitar player.

The presidential election is more than just a one-issue race. And while the Teapot Party might want to take a page from corporations by backing a candidate form each party, in the end endorsing a candidate is a serious business which requires more than just a a bong’s worth of thought.


[HT: Celeb Stoner]

Willie Nelson, the Border Patrol and the Teapot Party

Border Patrol agents stopped a tour bus carrying Willie Nelson and band members at a checkpoint in Sierra Blanca, Texas, 100 miles from the Mexico border, smelled weed, called the K-9s and found six ounces of wackybaccy on the bus. Nelson posted a $2,500 bond and was released four hours later.

The singer now faces 180 days in jail and $10,00 fine. Local county sheriff says he’d like to have Nelson cook and clean and maybe wear one of theose stripey outfits.

Rolling Stone reports

The arrest doesn’t sit well with Texas attorney Dick DeGuerin, a criminal defense lawyer who recently represented Tom Delay and country singer Billy Joe Shaver, and was lawyer to David Koresh during the 1993 FBI siege of the Branch Davidian ranch outside Waco, Texas. DeGuerin questions the lawfulness of the search, which he says occurred 100 miles from the Mexican border. “It needs to be contested,” he says.

“It’s supposed to be a checkpoint only for aliens, and [agents] overstep their authority all the time,” he says. “I’ve had several cases from that checkpoint and they just use the opportunity to check out anybody they want to. If you have long hair, if you’re driving a van or it looks like you’re from California or you look like a hippie, they do profiling.”

Nelson said in an email to

There’s the Tea Party. How about the Teapot Party? Our motto: We lean a little to the left. Tax it, regulate it and legalize it. And stop the border wars over drugs. Why should the drug lords make all the money? Thousands of lives will be saved.

This is Nelson’s third arrest for pot. I hope he doesn’t pull a celebrity rehab redemption…Nah. Check out the stoners in this video.

Los Angeles Fearmongering Sheriff Lee Baca Stirs Prop 19 Cauldron

With Halloween just around the corner, eldritch tales of bone chilling terror abound. Oh noes! Razors in apples, Liquid-Plumr-laced chocolate, and the worst of all: DRUGS!

Within these stories lies a warning, an ancient morality fable: Nothing is free, and with greed comes a risk. There have only been two cases nationwide from 1958 to 1988 of children dying from eating tainted trick or treats, including one kid who was murdered by his own father with a strychnine-flavored Pixie Stix. Yet the stories continue because they prey upon our fears: Our spawn will be destroyed by (choose one or more):

  • Greed
  • Freedom
  • Outsiders/The Other ( i.e.: pagans, hippies, Commies, Jews, Catholics, Baptists, Buddhists, Muslims, atheists, amoralists, immoralists, Republicans, Democrats, foreigners, who live down the block)
  • Well, just in time to scare people about Prop 19, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office issued a warning about medibles, medical marijuana in candy form. The Los Angeles Times reports:

    Investigators have confiscated candies and snacks containing pot from marijuana dispensaries, and they are concerned such items could wind up in children’s trick-or-treat bags, they said Friday in a statement.

    Local Los Angeles TV station KTLA–owned by the LA Times parent company Tribune–showed medibles which were clearly decorated with pot leaves and had names like “Kush Candy.”

    WTF!? At $10 to $20 a medible snack, who the heck is gonna be giving out those candies?

    Officials say pot treats, such as candy bars and lollipops are sold in marijuana dispensaries and could be circulating around. “These lollipops, candy bars, they look pretty legitimate. The problem is if it gets in the wrong hands and a kid licks a lollipop, they get ill or intoxicated,” said Cpt. Ralph Ornelas of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. Some treats look like regular cookies or candy, but they don’t smell normal. Another clue, many of the products are not clearly labeled (my note: they aren’t very commercial looking compared to say Tootsie Pops or Snickers bars).

    Both stories did add that the Sheriff’s Department

    says it has never received a report of candy or snacks containing pot being distributed to Halloween trick-or-treaters.

    This is fear mongering at its finest. Oh how I wish Lee Baca was up for re-election. I would be leading the move to get him out of office!

    The warning comes days before Californians vote on Proposition 19, the marijuana legalization measure. Sheriff Lee Baca opposes the proposition and has said he will continue to arrest marijuana growers even if it is approved.

    Props to KTLA’s reporter who asked if opposition to Prop 19 had anything to do with the news alert. The on-camera deputy said the sheriff’s department was just concerned about public safety. Note that in this photo, courtesy of the LASD, along wth pot leaf logos, you can clearly see the word


    on the candy. I’d file this under pot-hating propaganda.

    Self-defeating propaganda photo courtesy of LASD

    Okay, Snow White’s stepmom handed her a poisoned apple, giving second marriages and witches a bad name, and there was one time on record that pot was passed out to trick or treaters. But that was an accident. reports:

    An odd act of randomness occurred in the town of Hercules, California (near San Francisco) in 2000. Some trick-or-treaters came home with little packets of marijuana done up to look like miniature Snickers bars…Police investigated and were satisfied the homeowner had no knowledge of the special contents of certain bars that were handed out that night.

    The marijuana packets dressed up to look like Snickers bars had landed in the Hercules dead letter office because whoever had tried to mail a package containing them either didn’t use enough postage or had listed an incorrect address…A postal employee (the mystified homeowner) brought the “candy” home to give out on Halloween, thinking the Snickers bars were, well, Snickers bars.

    Had pot been legal, this would never had happened. Maybe some news stories about the high rate of childhood diabetes and obesity would be more on the mark, or a feel good story about alternatives to candy, like pencils, disposable tattoos or maybe even used kids books bought in bulk from thrift shops?

    Side note: Since 1983 I have been doing an annual experiment. On the day before Halloween, I go to the market, sometimes with a friend, sometimes alone. The set up varies, but the goal is the same, to see how awake people are. I always make sure to dress as square as possible and cover my tattoos. Glasses add an air of respectability and further the “normal” vibe. Thus costumed as a typical suburban mom and carrying a couple sacks of candy or a bag of apples, I’ll ask a clerk and/or a fellow shopper if they know what aisle the Drano is on. Then I’ll ask where the sewing needles can be found. If I’m with a friend, while standing near some people, I’ll matter of factly ask:

    I’ve got the candy, could you snag the Raid and some razor blades?

    Or I’ll buy a a couple of the above items along with bags of fun-sized chocolate bars–I mean you can always use single edge blades to cut out decoupage designs, and gods know buttons come loose and hems fall out…

    Granted, I’m not expecting the store manager to give me the third degree or be swarmed in the parking lot by the LAPD, but maybe a raised eyebrow, a gasp…Today I was at the airport purposefully holding my arriving guest’s name card inverted, and four people stopped to tell me it was upside down. You’d think–

    I may be a bit of a prankster, but what Lee Baca and the LAPD sheriff’s office did with that warning–which only served the sheriff’s own antediluvian agenda–was ridiculous and only furthers a myth which has been repeatedly debunked.

    CA Potheads: Vote! There’s More on the Ballot than Marijuana.

    So now everyone who wishes to vote in California has registered, the legislative analyses have been mailed out and it’s time to get down to srs bsns.

    Californians, it is really important to vote in this election. So fill out your mail-in ballot and leave it for the postperson if you think you can’t manage to get to the polls (gods know I am fairly langurous and prefer the simple stamp to actually leaving the house.)  There are some important races on the ballot, and if you don’t vote, you really need need to STFU about how things are being run.

    Okay, along with the gubernatorial and senate races, there’s Prop 19 which should be enough to get you to the polls, ye slackers, stoners, and sybarites!  Politics make strange and sometimes hot bedfellows: There are non-smokers who are yes supporters;  wake’n'bakers who are no;  medical/215 clients and casual users who have divergent views yea vs nay; and people who are still trying to figure out what “space” with regards to a minor means–and if  passing out pot brownies at a party constitutes “personal use.”

    Whether or not you are voting for legalizing pot because you are appalled at the way the war on drugs is being run and want the state to have some cash; or against it because of the patchwork of jurisdictional laws and  potential environment impact of acres of indoor growing  on non-renewable resources, figure out what works for you and go vote.

    If Prop 19, which is ahead in the polls passes, United States Attorney General Eric Holder is gonna crack down in Cali. Hopefully medical won’t be impacted. I hear the cry across the land

    Oh noes I’m a on list!

    Prop 19 will feel the effect of whoever is elected as State Attorney General, a post now held by gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown.

    Well,  Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley who is running as the Republican candidate is really opposed to CA’s 215 medical marijuana business, and even more so to Prop 19. Earlier this month, he told an audience at a UC Davis debate:

    I really am strongly opposed to Proposition 19 for many reasons. I would be inclined to advise that it is unconstitutional and pre-empted by federal law.
    Cooley stood with LA County Sheriff Lee Baca–IMO a hypocrite who has co-signed the thuggish cult of Scientology for decades, riding on their parade  floats and speaking at their events, despite the cult’s  clear cut violations of human rights, child labor laws, and basic human decency–on Friday October 15 when Baca said Prop 19 was superseded by federal law and if passed, would be found unconstitutional.
    Proposition 19 is not going to pass, even if it passes.
    As Los Angeles County District Attorney, Cooley cracked down on dispensaries from the time of the passage of 215 on. He doesn’t like pot, he doesn’t like pot being sold. And goodness knows what he would do to 215, but maybe I am just being all Cassandra on the walls of Troy again. Like I was about Holder and the Feds.
    Candidate Kamala Harris–former San Francisco District Attoney whose endorsements were plastered all over HempCon by both the for and against 19 pot advocates and, per UC Davis School of Law Dean Kevin Johnson
    sees herself as an attorney general who will focus on issues not just involving crime and law enforcement, per se, but also issues of environmental justice, protecting consumers and more broad issues
    –took a more cautious approach on Prop 19 at the UC Davis  debate.
    I believe that if it were to pass, it would be incumbent on the attorney general to convene her top lawyers and the experts on constitutional law to do a full analysis of the constitutionality of that measure … and what action, if any, should follow.
    Prop 19 comes down to states’ rights, as by the way, so does AZ Prop 1070. As with AZ 1070 expect Constitutional challenges. The Drug Enforcement Agency anticipates suing if Prop 19 passes.
    What will be fascinating if Prop 19 passes–and it is eight points ahead in the polls, with the LA Weekly Dennis Romero pointing about that Holder’s remarks:
    Way to piss off Californians so much that we might actually pass this thing…Kiss our Golden State ass.

    –is that potentially Tea Party/states rights/militia types and libertarians could cuddle up with liberals, libertines and hippies to fight for an elected initiative that runs contrary to Federal policy. Sit back, order in pizza, and start the pop corn, it’s a smoking Constitutional cause and democracy’s finest hour. Dude.

    Humboldt Grower’s Association Issues Outdoor Pot Guidelines

    Untrimmed sun bud and other Humboldt bounties

    I was up in Humboldt County again last week and met with county supervisor Mark Lovelace–who led opposition to an industrial logging plan and helped establish the Sunny Brae Community Forest–to talk about Prop 19. Humboldt County has led the way in environmental protection for the redwoods, in senior care and of course in cultivation of their renown outdoor sun-bud varietals and other strains of cannabis grown with less environmental care and concern.

    As well explaining to me that the very nature of pot’s illegality serves as a protection for those who large scale grow on public lands in the parks and forests because of the lack of regulation, Lovelace told me that standards need to be set for commercial marijuana production, a statewide baseline

    I know what my own standards would be (outdoor-organically grown only; indoor commercial grows like those in houses across the state and even larger ones proposed in Oakland are environmentally destructive, using non-renewable resources and causing irreparable damage) and now the Humboldt Growers Association in anticipation of legalization  are trying to develop a proposal for medical marijuana cultivation that I hope would become the guideline for commercial pot.

    HGA board member Joey Burger told the Times-Standard that if the law changes, the board’s proposed ordinance would be easily convertible to a larger marijuana industry.

    Of course with those standards comes regulation, permits and fees. Regulations fees and permits are inevitable if Prop 19 passes, but there’s no need to rape the environment for profit. Kinda runs contra to perceived ganja/weed/pot culture values, though it seems the newer generation of growers could give a flying hang. I was told by one official that the the growing kids today have a sense of entitlement bought by underground economy’s income and an overall lack of respect for the land.  What I saw in grow-jerks was the bro-tardness inherent in today’s callow youth, part of the Federlining of America, with more dollars than sense.

    Outdoor-organic sun bud, mold resistant cultivar; pesticide free.

    The proposed HGA ordinance would

    regulate outdoor marijuana grows with canopy areas larger than 100 square feet through a permitting process that lays out requirements for both applicants and farms. According to the proposed ordinance, applicants would have to be at least 21 years old, a resident of the county for at least two years and not have any violent crime convictions on their record.

    In order to get a permit under the proposed ordinance, applicants would have to submit to site inspections, estimate water usage and a water source for the garden and provide proof of land ownership. The permits would be up for renewal every year and would allow the cultivation of not more than 40,000 square feet of canopy space


    The sum total of garden space could not exceed 40,000 square feet (an acre is 43,560 square feet). Permit holders would also be required to provide access to their cultivation sites and water resources to inspectors at all times. While a permit for a 1/4 acre would cost about $20,000, gardens under 100 square feet would not require a permit.

    I am curious if the HGA’s proposed ordinance will allow 99 square feet per person per residence, as on farms there may be several people living communally, each growing their own 215 (medical) pot.

    The HGA guidelines as reported in the Times-Standard do not go into regulating the organic aspect, and does not address current commercial indoor growing which hopefully can be dealt with through other means. The Humboldt Medical Marijuana Advisory Panel (HuMMAP) has also  presented its draft policy to the county supervisors — which includes graduated licensing fees for cultivation starting at $200 a year for 100 square feet of mature plant canopy, and allows for immediate outside interests to begin large scale growing, if they can afford the $300,000 for 40,00 square feet.

    With regard to the HuMMAP proposal, Lovelace told the Times-Standard that the guidelines addressed the issue of growing statewide and reiterated what he had told me:

    We’d all like to have some authority at the local level.  But I think we’d like to have a baseline which we can work with.

    The County Supervisors who, by the very nature of the jobs seem determined to regulate, tax and control marijuana growing, will no about come up with a plan, hopefully a workable and affordable solution that will benefit farmers, the environment, consumers and California–and possibly by extension the country as more and more states open their minds to medical marijuana and eventual legalization.

    More Than Marijuana: Humboldt County DA Wins Big for Seniors

    Humboldt County, synonymous with high-end marijuana, is at the epicenter of the “sun bud” outdoor-organic grow movement. Recently the attention on  pot and Prop 19 have overshadowed a huge Humboldt County legal battle, a landmark case, the outcome of which has far reaching implications in the healthcare field and for senior citizens.

    In 2004 the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office, under Paul Gallegos, filed a complaint against Skilled Healthcare Group, Inc., related corporations and five of the defendants’ skilled nursing facilities in Humboldt County. The complaint alleged that the defendants had intentionally failed to provide sufficient direct nursing care staffing for elderly residents at their skilled nursing facilities.   The Times-Standard reports:

    Patients, who [plantiffs' attorneys] contend did not receive showers on a regular basis, walked around with catheters leaking and dragging on the ground, had wounds left untreated and were forced to sit in soiled bed sheets for hours or, in some cases, even days.

    Additionally, the suit alleged that Skilled Healthcare Group, which was rather profitably run, with 79 facilities in  seven states, misrepresented to the consuming public–in particular, the elderly residents and their family members — that they were operating the nursing facilities in compliance with applicable laws. California state law mandates that each resident receive 3.2 hours of care daily (the federal minimum is 4.1 hours).

    The suit expanded to include over 32,000 patients who lived at various Skilled Healthcare facilities statewide. In July the jury awarded members of the class action suit over $667 million. Skilled Healthcare stock plummeted and the promptly indicated it would file for bankruptcy.

    Had the bankruptcy filing happened, there would have been no financial award, so Humboldt County District Attorney Gallegos stepped in and negotiated a settlement for $62.8 million, the largest settlement in the US this year. The settlement also provides for an injunction that ensures that nursing staff levels at the defendants’ facilities will meet or exceed the minimum staffing levels required by California law. When word of the settlement hit, Skilled Healthcare’s stock shares rose from a hideous low.

    In addition to providing financial relief for the defendants, and insuring that care will meet state standards, the settlement which Gallegos negotiated may also provide up to  $2 million in funding the Humboldt County District Attorney’s office.

    This is a case in which justice was served by both the jury which awarded a substantial verdict and by the District Attorney who negotiated an outcome for the greater good of all concerned.  There was no reason to drive Skilled Healthcare into bankruptcy, which would have served no benefit for their clients, their employees, their stockholders, and the communities they serve. Gallegos’ injunction insures that the clients and communities will now be served to the letter of the law; no jobs are lost–in fact, the settlement will increase nursing staff hours; and district attorneys’ offices are funded to protect their seniors from other predatory abuses. This is how justice should be done.

    Pot Ice Cream: A Medical Taste Treat

    Some folks in the town Santa Cruz, California have a new product at their medical marijuana collective: Pot ice cream, a pint of which is the equivalent of 2 to 4 doses of weed and costs $15. But then what do you eat when you get the munchies?

    Based on the number of 420 doctors at HempCon, and the collectives trying to sign me up, it seems like MMJ is here to stay.

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