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Does The L.A. Times Have An Anti-Marijuana Agenda?


California medical marijuanaBy Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town
Northern California Correspondent

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” ~ Joseph Goebbels

Is the L.A. Times anti-marijuana? Since the tragic shooting of Ft. Bragg city councilman Jere Melo a week ago last Saturday, the L.A. Times and other wire services have still been running erroneous information surrounding the incident.

Violence stalks the mountains above a quiet coastal town

“The slaying of Fort Bragg Councilman Jere Melo is the latest event in an area populated by marijuana growers drawn to the isolation, good weather and laissez-faire culture. ~ Los Angeles Times, September 4, 2011

Yet the local slant is going in another, totally different direction: That there is a killer loose, and it has nothing to do with marijuana.

While the Times beats the propaganda drum, suspected killer Aaron Bassler is still out there.

As of last night, September 4, at 8 p.m.:

“Sighted this morning at 8:15 a.m. near the home of his mother, Aaron Bassler, the suspect in two recent homicides that have rocked Mendocino County continues to elude capture. According to the SF Gate, “[m]ore than 50 law enforcement officers are combing a neighborhood on the eastern edge of Fort Bragg today. ‘It was a positive sighting,’ Capt. Kurt Smallcomb, spokesperson for the Mendocino Sheriff, said. ‘We have reason to believe he’s still right in that general area.”

The Fort Bragg Advocate posted an update: At 8:30 p.m. Sunday night, Sheriff’s Capt. Kurt Smallcomb said searches in the forest near the 30,000 block of Sherwood Road are continuing “as we speak.” Smallcomb corrected a previous report that Bassler was last seen in dark clothing, but that he was, in fact, wearing camouflage clothing when spotted by law enforcement personnel.

“Smallcomb said a police K9 was able to catch Bassler for a moment before he slipped away. Smallcomb reminded residents in the area to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings. Residents are urged to call 911 at the first sign of suspicious activity.”

But the headline above ran the whole day Sunday.

If the L.A. Times was really interested in what was transpiring on the Mendocino coast they would highlight how the killer’s family tried to get their son some help for his obvious mental condition. Because of a lack of funds, Aaron Bassler was denied county services.

?Reefer MadnessOr the revered SoCal paper might want to add that the killer’s father has alleged that his son might be responsible for the killing of Matt Coleman. It was speculated early on that Coleman was also killed by marijuana growers.

The L.A. Times is pushing this tiny coastal city into a position that may well backfire. At this time, most local journalists are being very sensitive to a story that has rocked a small community that on its best days is precarious to say the least.

Jere Melo was a civic leader, but he wasn’t a friend to the growing community. But that doesn’t have anything to do with his untimely death. Jere Melo was killed by a crazed wacko that was lying and waiting for trouble by the slit trenches he dug and the sniper posts he erected. He was ready for someone to bring it on. For Melo, it could have just been a matter of timing, not a preconceived attack.

But for eight dark days, the L.A. Times ran a story that blamed marijuana growers for the trouble in Fort Bragg, never taking the time to find the real issue: Money.

We can’t say what would have happened if Bassler had received some kind of mental assistance. One possibility is that this might never had happened. Another is that we might never have had a chance to read these snarky comments left on yesterday’s L.A. Times article. The names have been removed to protect the sane and the haters alike.

Posted at 10:44 a.m., September 4, 2011:

“So much for the ‘peace-loving’ hippies up in Humboldt and Bragg… I remember, with immense fondness, of spending three days up there bowhunting deer with a Bear takedown recurve. The area was teeming with wildlife: rivers, streams, secluded meadows graced by 100-year-old barns. A very special vibe in a very special place. Now, once again, Mexican druggies and professional pot farmers have stolen that, have pilfered our national forests — turning them into war zones. So, if that’s the game… Hunt them all down and kill every damn one of em…”

Posted at 10:55 a.m., September 4, 2011:

“Things have changed a lot up there, a real shame. By coincidence, I am going on a hunting trip in the exact area Jere was murdered. For the first time in my life I will be carrying an M-4 instead of a bolt gun. Sad.”

Posted at 10:24 a.m., September 4, 2011:

“As I posted, Jere was my cousin, and I don’t want to get into a discussion about medical marijuana, but I will say this. I am one of those ‘Evil’ people that did 30 years in Law Enforcement, and just retired at age 50. I worked at a large agency and worked Narcotics, and supervised a DEA task force. In 30 years I never went to a single call related to violence caused by marijuana intoxication. Dope rips, deals gone bad, yes, but not actual usage. The violence was always meth, PCP, coke, ice, crack, etc.”

dank nuggetPosted at 9:05 a.m., September 4, 2011:

“Amazing to see all the dope heads rationalizing murder away as their little fantasy of a victimless crime (medical marijuana) goes up in smoke. There’s plenty of blood on your hands, just because you can’t deal with reality.”

Posted at 8:18 a.m., Sepember 4, 2011:

“US drug war has met none of its goals. After 40 years, the United States’ war on drugs has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what? Drug use is rampant and violence even more brutal and widespread. Even U.S. drug czar Gil Kerklikowske concedes the strategy hasn’t worked. ‘In the grand scheme, it has not been successful,’ Kerlikowske told The Associated Press. ‘Forty years later, the concern about drugs and drug problems is, if anything, magnified, intensified.’ At the same time, drug abuse is costing the nation in other ways. The Justice Department estimates the consequences of drug abuse — ‘an overburdened justice system, a strained health care system, lost productivity, and environmental destruction’ — cost the United States $215 billion a year. Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron says the only sure thing taxpayers get for more spending on police and soldiers is more homicides.”

Posted at 8:03 a.m., September 4, 2011:

“Just sweep the whole area with thousands of National Guard soldiers and burn the pot farms to the ground.”

Posted art 8:24 a.m., September 4, 2011:

“Who will pay? Where will the soldiers come from? New taxes? Increased deficit? We’re now using National Guard troops to fight wars overseas since we don’t want to have a draft or pay enough to recruit full time soldiers.”

Posted at 7:42 a.m., September 4, 2011:

“Looks like law enforcement has time to play on trains. What a photo op. Too bad these guys cost $100-250k a year forever (meaning 20-40 years of retirement). Wow, wish I could make that kind of money fucking around on a train.”

Posted at 7:14 a.m., September 4, 2011:

“They are reaping what they have sown. Anyone with a modicum of common sense knows that ‘medical marijuana’ is mainly a fraud and merely a front for people to get high on pot. The drug culture of pot farmers, opium poppy growers, meth labs and the Mexican drug cartels have replaced the ‘capitalist pig’ lumber companies and sportsmen hunters. This is known as ‘progressive’ thinking.”

Posted at 8:24 a.m., September 4, 2011:

“You may have noticed that [the above commenter]put the word progressive in quotes. Which means it is not to be taken literally. So, no reason to display your sneering ‘superiority.’ [Commenter], big thumbs up for your comment.

Posted at 6:58 a.m., September 4, 2011:

“A very interesting and enlightening article. Every light casts a shadow. The Mexican nationals moving in like vultures on the trade is par for the course for illegals in the U.S.A. California has no choice now but to make the whole trade legal.”

Posted at 6:17 a.m., September 4, 2011:

“Rise the jail sentence to 40 years in jail for first offense of possession. Death for growing opium or marijuana. Quit the B.S., cause the weak fools who grow it is their only income excuse. Wake up it’s not cool to be a drug user, most live in the streets beg for money sell their bodys, and no personal hygiene. Those who think they look cool with a gun, are the biggest anus. Where is gov’t security for the locals. But of course nothing will be done, where money is involve. Pussie legislature who will sell their soul for a few bucks are no better than the grower. Watch which one will support the growers and their you will fine a anus.”

Posted at 4:13 a.m., September 4, 2011:

“The pot heads have been on a 40 plus year propaganda campaign to sell the public that this drug is harmless and that those who smoke this garbage are peaceful. Maybe some of them are but all I know is that the drug dealing gangster thugs with their vicious pit bulls selling pot to high school and junior high school weren’t so peaceful, they lived next door to me until I went on a one man crusade against them. What I do know is that pot heads are wimps and must have no testosterone because when I went in their face and told them either they take their operation elsewhere or face some real pummeling, they left hastily with their pit bulls and their little drug operation.

“This idiot who got shot obviously went in to ‘reason’ with these drug addicts and couldn’t back his words up, that was a big mistake.

“Look, the scum who grow and deal this crap don’t fear cops but they certainly do fear a good old fashioned American ass kicking, just make sure you can back your words up with action and those scumbags run like little girls.

“Remember this pot heads, you have this guys blood on your hands, and the blood of many others as you fire up your bongs. You aren’t the hippies you think you are, you aid and abet murderers with your every toke.

Posted art 5:28 a.m., September 4, 2011:

“Nothing you say here at all is substantiated by any journalist. And you conveniently ignore the facts of the area and the other verifiable statements and conditions in the article. This is just propaganda.”

Posted at 5:49 a.m., September 4, 2011:

“Everything mendonik states is reported in the Ft. Bragg Advocate-News. On what basis can you call it propaganda and assert that it is not substantiated by any journalist? I live in Northern California, and everything in mendonik’s post here was reported by newspapers all over the region. Friend of mine works for Cal Fire one county north of here, another pot-grow hotbed. He has to respond after car accidents, structure fires, medical emergencies, and boat accidents on a local lake. Do the circumstances of all these tragedies get laid at the door of the pot growers, too? You got a one-size-fits-all tool for your rhetoric — which makes you the tool.”

Posted at 10:01 p.m., September 3, 2011:

“‘Even if he is found, no one expects the mountains to be quite the same again.’ This quote from the article has me very puzzled and frustrated. Why aren’t the state governments involved (it’s more than California) calling out the National Guard and declaring all out war on these growers/thugs? I don’t understand how we can bring the Taliban to its knees, bring down Osama Bin Laden, but throw up our hands and say, ‘Oh well – what can we possibly do?’ when it comes to the rape of our sovereign lands and the murder of our citizens. Maybe cannabis should be legalized for several reasons, but the issue is that ‘growers’ (almost makes them sound bucolic, doesn’t it?) are setting up little private war zones on land that belongs to other people, and ruining the surrounding society. The article states that the father of the guy suspected of killing Jere Melo is growing opium poppies – not pot. These are violent criminals who will stop at nothing until they themselves are stopped. We have an absolute right to defend our own soil, and the responsibility to the general public to do so.”

Posted at 5:20 a.m., September 4, 2011:

“Well, we have a lot of laws that prevent law-abiding people from having guns. We have a civil system that prevents law-abiding people from using guns, even justifiably We also have a broke state. We also have an idiot governor. And a few idiots before him in the same office. We also have idiots who actually believe in ‘medical marijuana’ when everyone knows there is no such thing. Once, it may have been a concept, but the execution of the idea has destroyed any legitimacy of it.”

Posted at 8:52 p.m., September 3, 2011:

Do you sniveling miserable drug addicts realize the problems you force down the unwilling throats of the honest people of this nation. You should all be lined up and shot dead.

Posted at 9:00 p.m., September 3, 2011:

“Those who smokes this dope is the problem.”

Posted at 9:02 p.m., September 3, 2011:

“You would lose this ‘issue’ when you legalize it because now these murders are now called businessmen … Now they can DONATE MONEY TO THESE POLITICIANS … Now then ARM THEMSELVES WITH BLOOD THIRSTY LAWYERS. And now … they can pervert your precious DOPE and make it more lethal…”

(I would like to thank the incredible Kym Kemp for additional information that I stole from her blog, Redheaded Blackbelt, www.kymkemp.com.)

Jack Rikess, a former stand-up comic, writes a regular column most directly found at jackrikess.com.

Jack delivers real-time coverage following the cannabis community, focusing on politics and culture.

His beat includes San Francisco, the Bay Area and Mendocino-Humboldt counties.

He has been quoted by the national media and is known for his unique view with thoughtful, insightful perspective.

Article From Toke of the Town and republished with special permission.


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  1. Readers, there’s another side of Aaron Bassler’s story as evidenced by the rare photo seldom seen or published of him today by local Kym Kemp (http://kymkemp.com/2011/10/04/aaron-bassler-a-mental-health-tragedy/ )

    A young man graduating, full of hope and dreams dressed in a tux, someone’s loved son and taken care of, smiling. A very different view than how we might remember Aaron Bassler of late.

    Her Redheaded Blackbelt site has the unusual photo and article of Aaron in his happier and healthier days– and the failure of the mental health system and courts to intervene– in the article “Aaron Bassler– “A Mental Health Tragedy?”

    Please give it a read or comment. It’s a different and unusual side of his story needing to be told. Thank you.

  2. The most obviously unconstitutional aspect of the war on drugs is the reversal of the presumption of innocence.

    We are under a “government of laws”, not a “government of men”. But if someone can plant drugs among your belongings, and if you are then required to prove that the drugs are not yours (which you can’t), then you are under a government of men, namely of those who are willing to plant evidence. Therefore the reverse onus of proof cannot be valid in any jurisdiction.

    More: http://is.gd/noreverse .

  3. We just included your post at a new Facebook page dedicated to ending marijuana prohibition. Only 4 members so far, but we’ll grow. Nice bit of research you’ve compiled!

  4. Charles Patrick Queen on

    Well,if our antiquated government would use they empty heads and legalized marijuana for adult use nation wide this would have never had happened.All of the research has been done and still is world wide and it always comes back totaly positive in every area of research and study.A lot of people,mainly our governmet do not see thru thru the fog and haze they live in 24/7 365 a year some how seem to not see that legalizing marijuana for adult use nation wide go’s way,way beyond allowing a person to use it legaly.The list of proven positive thnigs realted to total legalization is just way to long for me to list one by one.Hoepfully after the elections and we have a new president which is a given cause obooboo will never be back again perhaps we may end up with a president and especially new admin that have more open minds and have gone thru all of the research and study’s as well as looking at all of the stats from the country’s that have already legalized it and see the very many positive aspects of legalizing it wil bring our country and it’s people.They just have to get thru the part that legalization as I said go’s way beyond allwoing a person to use it legaly.Keep up the fight and never quit,I know I’ll never stop in my quest for adult legalization

  5. The comments from the peanut gallery hardly represent the opinion of the publication’s editors. It would be great if true because by and large the comments columns of MSM newspapers are overwhelmingly on our side.

    While it’s annoying and borderline contemptible that the morons showcased above who need nothing more that to find cannabis in the general vicinity of anything negative to blame that negative on cannabis, they are real people and they are the people that we need to marginalize in order to end the insanity of the epic failure of public policy which we call the war on (some) drugs.
    Sun Tzu, in “The Art of War” said:
    Know your enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles, you will never be defeated. When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are sure to be defeated in every battle.

    While there’s no doubt that the world would be a much better place if the Know Nothing prohibitionists were to vanish without even a trace of ever having existed, it’s just not going to happen. Quite frankly we couldn’t ask for a better cohort of stooges to man the opposition since they’re not going to do the world a favor by vanishing. Barring an act of god we’re never going to see them vanish or change the minds of these Know Nothing prohibitionist extremists. But there are lots of people with no experience or knowledge of the cannabinoidians who would side with the enemies of freedom were we not able to discredit and disprove their claims. Given the opportunity those people will back us.

    But the good news is that they’re just a very vocal minority and discrediting their foaming at the mouth hysterical rhetoric with facts and logic will make our victory certain. IMO of course. I first enjoyed cannabis in 1977 when Jimmy Carter was POTUS. Between the time of that event and the first couple of years of this century support for re-legalization was stuck with the number of people favoring re-legalization at 30-35%. In the early 1990s that number slipped into the high 20s for a couple of years.

    Between ~2004 and the present we’ve seen a stunning increase of around 50% in support for re-legalization. Today the cohort of those favoring re-legalization stands at just under 50%. Prop 19 (1972) lost by a margin just better than 2-1. Last year Prop 19 (2010) lost 53.5 to 46.5. (there were indeed two Prop 19s to re-legalize cannabis which appeared on California ballots in 1972 and 2010)

    What caused that sea change in support for re-legalization? My opinion based on experience and observation is that the reason is right in front of your eyes. That would be the comments columns on the websites of main stream media which enable us to kick to the curb the bald faced lies, half truths and hysterical rhetoric of Know Nothing prohibitionist dogma when it’s published as if it were news.

    Since we have the truth on our side it really is just a matter of making the truth known. Most people aren’t dogmatic prohibitionists who are suffering the tragedy of congenital idiocy. But previous to perhaps 5 to 8 years ago our only recourse was to write a letter to the editor which would be printed 5-7 days later in a section of the paper which was not even in the general vicinity of the original article. Today we can counter their hysterical rhetoric with facts including links to supporting evidence starting only a few moments after the propaganda was posted on the media website(s) with our objections attached to the article.

    If the Know Nothings didn’t present their tortured logic in such a foaming at the mouth manner we wouldn’t be so fortunate as they offer the opportunity to segue into posting our arguments and proof of the Know Nothings being wrong, wrong, wrong. Last week I actually saw one of them berate and denigrate the claim that the body produces endocannabinoids. While this was obviously a person who wears only flip fops or loafers, it still presented the opportunity to post proof that the endocannabinoid system and endocannabinoids exist. I’m certain that less than 10% of adults in the US are aware of the existence of and implications in human medicine of the endocannabinoid system.

    I am a truly grateful to be a friend of freedom.
    (P.S. In order to wear footware which aren’t flip flops or loafers one must have the native intelligence required to master the art of tying shoelaces.)

  6. miguel domingueq on

    the above comment is addressed to the LA Times, not WeedBlog, I got stoned and forgot to make that clear.

  7. miguel domingueq on

    The tragedy in Fort Bragg had nothing to do with marijuana. Although Mr. Melo was a security guard and was perhaps looking for dope, Mr. Bassler certainly wasn’t part of any marijuana grow. His condition probably includes severe mental illness, and his action was probably more to do with his disease than any thing else. So, let us deal with this ‘local’ tragedy, and keep your “news” articles on topic.

  8. Do you have to ask? Of course the Times is anti-cannabis! Do you remember that phoney driving test they sponsered with the CHP and a couple of ringers right before Prop. 19? ‘Nuff said!

  9. What seems to escape some in this country is the founding idea that you are allowed to have your own opinions but you have no right to push your views on others.

    If you don’t want to do drugs… That is YOUR choice. Telling me I can’t make that choice… THAT is a crime.

    Pushing Christianity on me is not right too… You can keep your delusions. However even Muslims have the right to be deluded just like the Christians do. It’s called freedom of choice.

    Take away the choice… You take away the freedom, for what is freedom without choice?

    Americans need to stay out of each others personal choices. If it doesn’t affect you, butt out!

  10. Man fucks like you people blaming weed for this are not only retarted. AS the article clearly reads that this was just another random murder like the countless others that happen in the U.S. not even related to weed. Second You people are on here ranting about killing potheads and locking them up for life Over something that YOU cause violence over Its not the growers fault they get robbed its not the growers fault that there are people like you who think to smoke something makes you a bad person fuck you assholes. And to that tough guy who thinks you can talk shit to random people say that shit ot my face and see what would happen im sick of you ignorant fucks.

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