High Times magazine, December 1999, pp 60-61.

Top 25 Pot Stars Speak Out

Our list of living legends in the battle for legal cannabis

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

Chris Conrad, author of Hemp: Lifeline to the Future; co-author of Shattered Lives: Portraits From America's Drug War; statewide petition coordinator for California's Prop 215; court-qualified legal expert in cannabis:

"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 mentions: … Mikki Norris … .

High Times magazine, 25th Anniversary Issue (November 1999, p 36)

Freedom Fighters:

Chris Conrad and Mikki Norris:
Dynamic Duo vs. Mandatory Minimums

Hemp in the HollowBY GREG DAURER

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 bygone era."

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 marijuana patients.

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.

High Times Report: FILED 05/17/99 By Mark Miller - Special to HT News

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 Cultivators Club.

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 the courts.

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 Shattered Lives: 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 Saturday. ...

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 straight year.

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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