Portrait

Arnold Schwarzenegger, champion de la weed

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Des fumeuses frasques de sa jeunesse aux lois pro-cannabis votées sous son gouvernorat, Arnold Schwarzenegger n’aura jamais caché ni renié son penchant pour la ganja,  au plus grand bonheur des Californiens. Petit portrait d’un géant vert.

C’est avec un titre de M. Univers Europe pour seul bagage et un corps aussi robuste qu’un bong en acier qu’Arnold Schwarzenegger arrive aux États-Unis en 1968. S’il est bien taillé, le jeune homme débarque du vieux continent franchement fauché. À 21 ans, il n’a qu’un objectif:  devenir le culturiste numéro un des States. Une profession qui outre-Atlantique rapporte gros.
Il y parviendra, en 1970 précisément, grâce à une discipline tout autrichienne et un régime des plus naturels. Élu M.Olympe à 23 ans  (faisant de lui le plus jeune mortel récompensé par la plus haute distinction des mecs qui ne se dégonflent pas), il  devient en quelques semaines mondialement célèbre. Incarnant dans la foulée et à juste titre un des athlètes les plus en forme(s) de la planète.  Une excellente nouvelle pour les défenseurs d’une consommation de cannabis intelligente et saine. Parce que si l’homme fort du culturisme a mérité ses médailles à la force entre autres du poignet, il n’a jamais eu les doigts patauds lorsqu’il s’agit de s’en pomper un gros. De joint.

Totale rigole

En effet, les séances dans les salles de muscu’ sont intenses. Comme nombre de ses haltères-égo, Arnold trouve dans la weed une manière saine de se détendre, de faire passer les douleurs dues aux lourds entrainements comme de se donner un appétit suffisant pour remplir ce grand corps en devenir.
Tommy Chong, un de ses collègue et partenaire de sudation, se souvient d’ailleurs bien de son Autrichien d’ami:«  Arnold, c’était le Golden Boy du bodybuilding, un des types les plus sains de la planète. D’une incroyable force mentale quand il travaillait.  Après il fumait de l’herbe. Il en fumait pas mal parce qu’il savait que c’est inoffensif » (propos confirmés par le Governator lui-même qui ajoutera : « c’est vrai, avec Tommy on passait de très bons moments, on savait s’amuser »)

Pour autant, si Arnold a toujours assumé ses folles et vertes années cannabiques (véhiculant par la même occasion une image aux antipodes du stoner sofa-surfer)  c’est surtout son engagement politique en faveur de la weed qui lui vaut aujourd’hui, la reconnaissance à laquelle il a droit.

Total légal (genesis)

En 2003, l’acteur et ex-bodybuilder devient le 38e Gouverneur de Californie. Élu républicain, cette étiquette conservatrice ne l’empêchera pas pour autant d’agir de concert avec Obama contre le changement climatique ou d’imposer dans son état une politique toute keynésienne de grands travaux publics.
Mais surtout de faire passer deux lois qui poseront les bases juridiques nécessaires à la future légalisation du cannabis en Californie.

Depuis 1996, il était déjà possible d’y obtenir du cannabis à usage médical : mais sous d’assez strictes conditions.
La prescription magique devait émaner d’un des rares médecins agréés, uniquement pour de lourdes pathologies et avec à l’époque très peu de points de vente.Qui plus est, la possession d’herbe était encore un crime.
Même en possession de l’ordonnance de toutes les convoitises, les patients devaient faire attention lors du transport de leur cargaison depuis le point de vente des dispensaires jusqu’à chez eux.
Les consommateurs même en situation légale restaient malgré tout dans une zone grise peu confortable. Une première solution législative en faveur des consommateurs de cannabis médical a été votée en janvier 2003 avec l’adoption du projet de loi 420 (oui-oui… 420, comme le fameux 4/20, ça ne s’invente pas ) du Sénat connu sous le nom de « loi sur le programme de marijuana à des fins médicales ».
Le projet de loi 420 du Sénat a mis en place un système de carte d’identité pour les patients sous cannabis médical et a permis la création de collectifs à but non lucratif pour la fourniture de cannabis aux patients.
La loi 420 a  aussi rendu l’accès au cannabis médical nettement plus aisé pour les patients,  couvrant beaucoup plus de pathologies (anxiété, dépression, anorexie…).

Le Cannabisator.

En  janvier 2010, la Cour suprême de Californie déclare que l’application de la loi  SB 420 ne limite plus la quantité de cannabis qu’un patient pouvait posséder. Toutes les limites de quantité autorisées ont donc été levées.
Puis,  le 30 septembre 2010 , grande date s’il en est,  est promulguée la loi 1449 qui stipule que  « la possession de cannabis n’est plus un crime » (en Californie).
Cela n’a l’air de rien, mais c’est une immense avancée pour la cause Ganja du Gloden State : tout simplement parce que c’est la loi 1449 qui, déjà amandée, ouvrira de facto la possibilité d’un vote en faveur d’une légalisation totale (en novembre 2016).

L’état le plus à l’ouest qui soit, fera appliquer ces très cools dispositions le 1er janvier 2018. En pleine campagne pour faire passer la loi 420 et 1449, le Governator se chargera par ailleurs de préciser son opinion  sur le sujet : « Le cannabis n’est pas une drogue, c’est une feuille » ou encore  « franchement, aujourd’hui tout le monde s’en fout de savoir si vous fumez de l’herbe ou pas ».
En normalisant la consommation de cannabis, en défendant sa non-dangerosité puis en réduisant les sanctions criminelles pour sa possession, Arnold Schwarzenegger aura mérité haut la main le balèze portrait que la rédaction ZeWeed dresse chaque mois.

 

Bruce Lee et la Weed.

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Bruce Lee est sans doutes  l’un des acteurs les plus importants de sa génération, considéré comme le parrain des MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) et fondateur du Jeet Kune Do : cette pratique mêlant philosophie et arts martiaux.
Mais saviez-vous que Bruce était un grand kiffeur de weed?
Petit portrait du dragon fumant.

Bruce Lee est un pionnier du MMA, mais aussi de la consommation de weed en tant qu’athlète de haut niveau, et ce des années avant l’engouement des sportif et fighters pour le cannabis  (en tant que solution naturelle pour soulager les douleurs post compétition et entraînement), Aujourd’hui, les autorités sportives commencent juste à accepter les bénéfices du CBD et du THC pour la récupération des sportifs, alors que le dragon en devenir s’adonnait depuis longtemps à des smoke-session thérapeutiques.

Justice lui est rendu puisque l’UFC, la plus grande fédération mondiale de MMA, autorise depuis 2018 l’usage du CBD, et depuis 2019 celle du THC dans certaines compétitions. Les fleurs de la belle plante étant jusque lors considérées comme « dopantes ».

Le cannabis a aussi fait de Bruce Lee un survivant: En 1970, après une grave blessure au dos, il se retrouve pour 6 mois à l’hôpital.  Tous les docteurs prédisent qu’il ne pratiquera plus jamais le Kung-Fu. Mais c’est sans compter sa grande volonté et sa consommation de Cannabis que le maître du Kung Fu arrive à se remettre devant les caméras. C’est d’ailleurs à la suite de cet accident qu’il fera ses trois plus gros blockbusters à Hong Kong puis “Enter the Dragon” son chef d’oeuvre dont il ne verra jamais l’avant-première.

Le dragon fumant

Bruce Lee aimait la weed autant qu’il méprisait l’alcool. Il découvrira le cannabis dans les années 60 grâce à Steve McQueen à qui il donne des cours de Kung fu et de Jeet Kune Do.
Bob Wall, un acteur qui jouait à ses côtés dans “Enter the Dragon” raconte que Bruce consommait au minimum deux brownies au Cannabis par jour pour “repasser à la normale” et évacuer le stress de la journée. Étant l’acteur principal et le  producteur du film, il insistait même pour que TOUS ses invités soient fournis avec leur propre joint.

Sa consommation de Cannabis explique pourquoi Hong Kong, sa ville d’origine, n’a jamais nommé de rues ou de bâtiment avec son nom. Ici, le cannabis est illégal depuis 1969. C’est un des points sur lesquels la loi hongkongaise (qui est un territoire autonome appartenant à la Chine depuis la rétrocession par l’Angleterre en 1997) est particulièrement plus dure que la loi chinoise. La loi sur place prévoit encore des peines de prison systématiques pour possession de Cannabis, qui est considérée comme une drogue de catégorie 1, au même titre que l’héroïne et le crack. Il est  donc très facilement possible d’écoper d’une peine de prison même pour des quantités misérables. En 2015 un jeune a obtenu 2 mois de prison pour avoir vendu 0,24 gramme de Cannabis. En Chine, la peine moyenne est aux alentours de 10 à 15 jours de prison pour possession et consommation de Cannabis.

Il existe malgré tout un bel hommage de l’acteur : une statue en bronze commandée par un fan. Cachée dans le jardin des stars, dans le quartier Tsim Sha Tsui, elle représente Bruce dans sa pose “Prêt à l’attaque” dans son iconique film “Fist of Fury” sorti en 1972. “Il fallait honorer sa mémoire” raconte le président de son Fan Club.

 

 

 

 

Haroun Tazieff: le chaud portrait lavé d’Antoine de Caunes.

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En promotion pour la sortie de son livre « La prévision des séismes », Haroun Tazieff est reçu en 1989 dans l’émission « Nulle part ailleurs ». Une occasion pour l’hilarant et trublion Antoine de Caunes  de brosser un explosif portrait  du vulcanologue qui dès les années 70 tenta  d’alerter l’opinion publique de la progression d’un réchauffement climatique causé par l’homme. Un grand moment de télévision que nous nous devions de partager afin de rendre hommage au plus bouillant et visionnaire des scientifiques polonais.

 

Valeria Salech, Argentina’s cannabis pasionaria

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Meet Valeria, the woman fighting for legal weed in Argentina. Not because it’s cool and hype, but because her son’s life depends on it. Portrait of a Mama warrior.

In 2014, Valeria Salech and her husband gave their 8-year-old son, Emiliano, cannabis for the first time.
Valeria recalls that afternoon like the day she first really met her son.
“About 30 minutes after taking the resin, Emi started looking me in the eyes and smiling. He had a look I’d never seen before,” says Valeria. “That day changed our lives forever.”
Today, Valeria stands at the frontlines of the battle to legalize cannabis as the founder of Mamá Cultiva Argentina (Mother Grows), the nation’s most recognized cannabis activist group with a proud feminist agenda. 

Coming To Life With Cannabis 

 

“Have you ever seen the look of someone doped out on anxiolytics?”
I froze as Valeria’s question shot out of the loudspeaker on my phone.
“My son has had that look since the day he was born,” she says.
“Seeing that look go away thanks to a grain of rice of cannabis resin, I knew then and there that I would keep giving the resin to Emi, even if it just meant he could look me in the eyes and smile.”
That was 6 years ago. Back then, Emi (who suffers from epilepsy and severe autism) saw the world through a daze of pharmaceuticals and still used diapers and a bib.
I ask Valeria to recall the changes to Emiliano’s condition and behaviour over the years since he started using cannabis, and she sighs.
“That’s hard, because it requires me to think back to a boy that no longer exists,” she says.
“The same month he started using cannabis, Emiliano stopped using his bib,” Valeria recalls. A few months later, he started learning to eat with a fork, and after about 1 year, Emiliano stopped using diapers.
“Step by step, Emi has been gaining independence and the ability to show himself the way he really is,” says Valeria.
Seeing the way cannabis changed Emiliano’s life, Valeria didn’t hesitate to take it upon herself to fight for the rights of every other mom in Argentina who’s children or family could benefit from cannabis. 

2016: The Birth of Mamá Cultiva Argentina

On the 22nd of March 2016, 2 years after first trying cannabis with Emi, Valeria sat in on the presentation of a draft bill aiming to decriminalize the medical use of marijuana in Argentina.
Looking around the room, she noticed the overwhelming number of women, in particular mothers, at the presentation.
“I said to the woman sitting beside me, ‘we need an organization to represent the women here,” Valeria recalls. 

A little over 2 weeks later, on April 7th, 2016, she founded Mamá Cultiva Argentina (MCA).
Valeria laughs as she remembers the early days of the organization, storming congress with other moms to intercept deputies in the hallways and hand out their homemade brochures.
I ask her to tell me about her life outside of her activism.
“I can’t,” she says. “I was born an activist. This is my life. In kindergarten, I was the one who spoke up to the teacher to make sure all the students got the same amount of biscuits,” she laughs.
Since day one, MCA had a very clear mission:
“To demand a legal framework through which the Argentine state recognizes the therapeutic properties of cannabis and the right for individuals to cultivate it in order to secure a safe treatment for our children or whoever needs it,” says Valeria.
But besides its clear stance on cannabis, Mamá Cultiva Argentina also has a proud feminist agenda alligned with Argentina’s Ni Una Menos (“Not One Woman Less”) movement.
“I was inside the congress with the other moms handing out brochures and intercepting deputies when I heard the screams of the women outside,” says Valeria, thinking back to 2016 when she found herself inside the walls of congress during one of Argentina’s biggest feminist marches.
“We were being told how to live and being judged on whether or not we were good mothers. We were being told to heed to doctors and the police,” says Valeria.
“Once we realized that we were in the same fight as the women outside, we didn’t hesitate to join them on the street. It was an awakening, and from there on out we started to reveal all the violence we’ve suffered. And all the violence we’ve suffered comes from this capitalist and patriarchal system that oppresses us.”
In October 2016, Valeria travelled to Rosario for that year’s Encuentro Nacional de Mujeres (National Women’s Meeting). In one of the meeting rooms, there was a group of women talking about cannabis.
“I walked into the meeting and the entire room stopped to applaud me,” says Valeria. “I cried because the recognition of my peers, of women who like me had been battered by this completely patriarchal system, to this day means more to me than if I were to be applauded at the United Nations.”

The Times They Are A-Changin’

 

Today, the right to grow cannabis, the plant that’s changed Valeria’s life and the lives of countless other Argentines, seems closer than ever before.
On Wednesday, July 15th 2020, 6 years after Valeria first gave cannabis to Emi, the Argentine Health Ministry announced a draft of new reglementary changes to bill 27.350, the law that restricts the use of medical cannabis to public health trials on patients with epilepsy.
The draft makes big promises; the right for registered patients to cultivate their own medicine, the public production and sale of medical cannabis products at pharmacies, and free access to cannabis therapies for patients without health assurance.
And while it’s only a draft, Valeria’s gut tells her that change is on the horizon.
Since January, Mamá Cultiva Argentina has been part of an advisory council working together with other activist groups, doctors, universities, and institutions like CONICET [the Argentine National Scientific and Technical Research Council] to prepare its own draft reglementations of bill 27.350.
“When someone invites you to work with institutions like CONICET and the Health Ministry on a bill that actually plans to implement the change you’ve been fighting for, you tend to trust that,” says Valeria.
And while there’s still no news of when these new reglementations will come into effect, Valeria is confident it’ll be soon.
“If it’s not today, it’ll be tomorrow or after that. But I’m not ashamed to tell you that every morning I wake up and the first thing I do is check the boletin oficial**,” she laughs. 

 

**boletin oficial – the gazette where the Argentine state publishes its legal norms.

 

Arjan Roskam, the weed king.

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In 2001 Arjan Roskam became the self-proclaimed « King of Cannabis » – a title no-one ever tried to take from this 38 Cannabis Cup winner. Whereas 40 years ago he was homeless, nowadays, he is a Ganja business multimillionaire and is also known as the creator of the last three decades’ most remarkable weed strains. The path has made his very respected, even by his critics. Here’s the portrait of the dutch Weed giant

Arjan is 16 years old when he smokes his first joint. We are in 1981, in an Amsterdam that counts only 10 coffee shops. « We used to smoke anything we could find because we were young and we didn’t know any better. Anyway, there was only Morrocan or Afghan (hash) available on the menu. From time to time, some Jamaican or red-threads Thai (grass), but it was way too expensive », Roskam remembers.

In 1983, Arjan is travelling to Thailand with some friends. For some reason, the young man ends up in a small village near the Burmese border. « When I was there, I met a 78 year old man who treated heroin addicts with Ganja. There was a serious issue with heroin in Thailand, I myself tried some. This doctor had me try Indica infusions that were made to treat junkies’ withdrawal. »

« Seven days later, while I was packing to leave, he took my hand and placed five seeds in my palm. Then he looked into my eyes, and said solemnly : « keep those seeds. A few years from now, they will make governments fall apart. »
The Thai episode and the shaman’s prophecy would haunt Arjan until he got back to the Netherlands, two years later. Back in Holland, Arjan starts growing different marijuana strains, some donated by his friends, others gathered while travelling (in Thailand, Nepal or other south-est Asian regions). Bad call. Whenever they buy weed, coffee-shops are exclusively interested in imported strains such as Thai, Mexican Sensemilla or Jamaican grass. Indoor strains are only at their beginning and at best considered as a saturday night eccentricity. With quite a low THC content compared to hash and a considerably higher price, Weed only represents 10% of cannabis sales. Without worry, Arjan kept seeing the city in green despite Amsterdam’s people only smoking hash. He continues to frantically grow his Haze in a godforsaken greenhouse out of town, enhancing its quality by the harvests.

Between 1987 and 1989, Roskam keeps adding Coffeeshop owners to his phonebook. He gives them samples, then comes back the next morning… Quickly coming to understand that he’s not welcome there. « I showed up with something new, but they called it cat-piss. People weren’t used to it ». No-one being prescient in the Netherlands, Arjan had to deal with rejection and humiliation for two years.

« Long story short, I had no money, I had nothing. My wife and I were poor. Very poor. At some points, we were so broke that we lived in the street », confesses Roskam, whereas he is now a multimillionaire. The soon-to-be entrepreneur and his wife, Celeste, end up cruising all over Amsterdam’s center, going from petty jobs to petty jobs.« I had a good friend whose sister, Martha, owned four bars. Fancy places where all the thespians, musicians, members of the gay community, artists, and painters from Amsterdam used to hang out. » Thanks to Martha’s financial support, Roskam, still without a dime, opens The Green House in January 1992. A Coffee shop doomed to stay clientele-free for more than a year.

From 9am to 1am, Roskam spends his days lying on the store’s couch, smoking, depressed, and waiting for customers that still wouldn’t come. « On high days, I would sell maybe the equivalent of 25 dollars of beers and coffees », Roskam remembers. We are in spring 1992. Worried that no- one would ever walk through the Green House Coffee shop’s door, his partner-investor Martha gives up only three month after opening the business. « I had more than 120 000€ debts that I couldn’t pay, and a rent that I couldn’t pay as well. So I had to borrow a shitload of money from a friend in order to keep going ».

Things continue like this until a day in January 1993 when a big limo parked in front of the Green House’s door. Inside the limo a now deceased Kennedy family member was intrigued by the place. « I had no idea who he was or who those people were. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even know about the High Times’ very existence. » (the title had been redeemed by the Kennedy family). « They told me that they had heard about an unusual weed I sold, and asked if I wanted to participate to a contest happening in early November. I answered – sure, why not ? I had nothing to lose. And then, the limo went on its way ». That November, one afternoon, Arjan got a big surprise : without any obvious cause, a crowd of roughly 500 people gradually show up at Arjan’s Coffee shop. « I couldn’t understand, I hadn’t advertised in any way nor had I offered any type of discount, I even thought it was some kind of scam or a bad joke from other bud-tenders ». The next day, 700 customers came, 800 the day after…

« As a matter of fact, I had won the Cannabis Cup. But I was so out of my mind with my Ganja farming and my money issues that I had completely forgotten about the contest. And to be honest, at first when the Kennedys told me about it, I thought this whole thing was kind of a joke and a quite dodgy one at that. Anyway, long story short, there were 7 rewards to win, and I won all 7 ! Of course, with so many international TV stations looking, it was my glory day. And I wasn’t even there, I was on my sofa, in my coffee shop, freaking out. »

« En fait, j’avais  gagné la Cannabis Cup. Mais j’étais tellement à côté de mes pompes, dans mes cultures de ganja et mes problèmes de fric,  que j’avais complètement oublié cette compétition. Et pour tout dire, au début quand les Kennedy m’en ont parlé,  je croyais que c’était un peu bidon et louche, cette affaire. Bref, pour faire court, il y avait en fait 7 récompenses en lice et j’ai gagné 7 trophées! Évidemment, avec autant de télés internationales, c’était mon heure de gloire. Et je n’étais même  pas là, j’étais sur mon sofa,  dans mon café,  en train de flipper. »

« King of Cannabis »
Three years later, given this dazzling success and after Arjan won three more Cannabis cups, the High Times magazine select him for its July cover. Seeing her husband breaking into the Ganja- aficionados’ bible, Celeste says laughing that he became the « king of cannabis ». Arjan himself would adopt this silly nickname a few years later. To this day, nobody has tried to claim his crown or his title. The reason for this is that, in addition to his 38 Cannabis cup wins, he has also won 20 Highlife trophies and plenty other awards. Amongst the most hailed strains he found during his botanic journeys were the Super Silver Haze, the Hawaiian Snow, the Arjan’s Ultra Haze, the Super Lemon Haze, the Himalayan Gold, the White Rhino, the White Widow, the Great White Shark, the Doctor, the Trainwreck, the Church, and the latest Flowerbomb Kush.

High Times 237 May 1995

From 1995 to 2005, Roskam works in the education field, giving classes that bring attention to canna-business related issues. « I was training policemen, public officials, judges, prosecutors,… people who would have put me in jail twenty years ago » says Roskam with amusement. This Ganja-entrepreneur deeply cares about getting rid of the numerous wrong judgements about cannabis. Simply because Arjan Roskam is, in spite of what his critics and rivals say, passionate about Weed and gives himself the duty of evangelizing Weed’s benefits to the world as well as the necessity to legalize its consumption.

While in the Congo, where he went to shoot « Strain Hunters », Roskam, unfortunately, had the opportunity to make his point: « you have kids there who have malnutrition. Hemp oil and seeds are very, very important to these kids who often have nothing else to eat… It’s the ignorance, the idiocy of those politicians who live only by electoral deadlines, of narrow-minded Christians, of stuck-up catholics, of the pharmaceutical lobby, of alcohol industry – they are responsible for the wrong ideas people have about cannabis » Roskam says with intensity, affirming that in Vietnam, they use hemp to clean up soils contaminated with agent orange.

Reading this, we may understand why this dutchman doesn’t only make friends. But so far, after researching, we found out that indeed, hemp does absorb and filter the toxic defoliant spread by the American army during the Vietnam war and allows the land, at the end of its cycle (2 to 6 months), to be workable and harmless to humans and animals.

Roskam also built a charitable foundation (his critics and sore losers would say only for taxation purposes), in order to help the most deprived people in Africa and Asia, and in such an elegant way : on Arjan’s demand, this charity work is barely mentioned over his website or anywhere in general. Two years ago, Roskam’s team also created a factory in the Congo to feed 250 families and about 700 kids. The King declared : « We are going to produce medicine for the Congolese population, since the government seems to fail to do so ».

At the beginning of the year, Roskam teamed up with Canopy Growth and Organa Brands to introduce his brand, Green House, into the retail trade’s landscape in Canada. Now that autumn is

settling, Roskam and his team are completing a large factory in Canada. « We just acquired the first open-air licence in Ontario’s history, in Canada », he explains. « We are extending our factory and will produce 12 tons of premium Ganja over the next year, growing in the sun, as it should ». For it is the dutch expertise that the Canadians are looking for. And who could train them better than the King of Cannabis ?

Arjan’s goal in Canada is to offer the public quality and quantity at the same time, and therefore Weed at more reasonable prices than it currently is. « I am 54 years old, and will only retire on my death bed. If everything goes right, you will keep seeing me for 30 years. Now that legalization is being discussed in Europe, the adventure may really begin ».

Long live the King !

Alexis