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What Cassie Sees

The corporados have their deadly Predators and Reapers, but declassed workers in the East Bay are developing a Cassandra drone that is capable —at least in theory— of sending back images from days to come. On June 3 we visited the hangar in Richmond to which one of their prototypes was transmitting grainy, intermittent video and even some faint audio to a MacBook Pro. If the new drone technology works, these transmissions will turn out to be accurate images of the period ahead. 

As spring turns to summer, polls show that unambiguous support for marijuana legalization by the Libertarian candidate for president, Gary Johnson, has made him very popular.  Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico, and running mate Jim Gray, a retired Superior Court judge from Southern California, are lifelong Republicans who don’t smoke pot.  Their campaign events are drawing overflow crowds.  Media coverage is shifting in tone from bemused to respectful.

Romney faults Obama for not cracking down all the way on so-called medical marijuana, for allowing dispensaries to exist, for turning this great country into Sodom and Gomorrah.  He reassures the American people that scientists in the pharmaceutical industry can and will create medicines that provide the good chemicals in marijuana without the bad ones.  His corporate backers are spending without limit to get him elected. The barrage of TV ads is relentless, sophisticated, utterly deceitful.

Fear that a smarmy Puritan who thinks corporations are people will get to appoint two U.S. Supreme Court justices inclines many thoughtful marijuana users to vote for Obama. But the morale of these pro-pot Dem voters is low, while the pro-pot Libertarians are righteously and energetically campaigning —ringing doorbells and passing out leaflets— for Johnson-Gray. By late August polls show the Libertarians gaining momentum with voters under age 35, and drawing many more voters away from the Dems than from the Repugs.  Pundits ponder whether “the pot vote” could tilt the election. Johnson and Gray say, “We’re in it to win it.”

Barack Obama announces that as a first order of business following his re-election, he will appoint a special Presidential Commission to review “the entire medical marijuana issue.” The pro-pot Libertarians lead the scoffing: “Don’t expect us to fall for that one again.”  (Which is what Dennis Peron politely told the Institute of Medicine back in 1999, citing the many formal reviews and studies concerning marijuana that the feds have conducted over the years, all adding up to one big, endless stall.)

But the pro-pot Dems respond: “This Commission will be different because the science is so much more advanced now, and because Barack Obama isn’t Richard Nixon. He won’t ignore the findings of doctors. He wants to reschedule but he needs the cover of recommendations from a Commission…”  Obama’s Cannabis Commission will reportedly include not only experts in medicine, pharmacology and addiction treatment, but a leading advocate of drug policy reform.

Electromagnetic interference emanating from San Francisco on the last night of October prevented our friends’ drone from determining the success of Obama’s ploy/promise of another Commission to study “the entire marijuana issue.”  When I left the hangar  they  were animatedly discussing “spectrum-spreading” and “frequency-hopping” strategies that might enable her (they call the thing “Cassie”) to provide images into November.

Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?

“U.S., Vietnam Exchange War Relics” was the headline on the Wall St. Journal story June 5.  Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, on a trip to Hanoi, was given the never-mailed letters of Steve Flaherty, a sergeant with the 101st Airborne, killed in combat in ’69. And Panetta presented his Vietnamese counterpart with the diary of a North Vietnamese soldier named Vu Dinh Doan, which a marine had found in a machine-gun pit in ’66.  A relative of that marine instigated its return to the survivors of Vun Dinh Doan by contacting a PBS TV show called “History Detectives,” which ran a story about the diary and then involved the Defense Department.

According to the observant Barnes, “Vietnamese Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh presented the letters, laid out on a red cloth with yellow fringe, to Mr. Panetta. In return, Mr. Panetta presented the diary, wrapped in a FedEx envelope, to Gen. Thanh.”

Fred Gardner edits O’Shauhnessey’s, the journal of cannabis in clinical practice. He can be reached at

More articles by:

Fred Gardner is the managing editor of O’Shaughnessy’s. He can be reached at

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