Summer of Sam

Photo by Bob AulDamned if Sam Clauder wasn't telling Clockwork the truth. On Sept. 10, the state Assembly passed a resolution that acknowledges the difference between industrial hemp and marijuana and calls for University of California studies on the wonder plant's feasibility.

Clauder runs Californians for Industrial Renewal (CAIR), and this isn't exactly the legislation he told us about three months ago ("Hemp, Hemp Hooray!" June 18). That bill would have California farmers planting hemp by the end of winter 2000. The resolution by Assemblywoman Virginia Strom-Martin (D-Duncans Mills) also didn't enjoy the widespread bipartisan support Garden Grove Democratic political consultant Clauder envisioned; the final vote of 41-30 split along party lines.

But it's a step toward CAIR's ultimate goal: making the Golden State hemp-friendly by the time the Democratic National Convention rolls into LA's Staples Center in August 2000. As it stands, California joins seven other states that have recognized industrial hemp's potential by passing legislation this year.

The plant can be used to produce paper, building materials, textile fiber, oil, paint, diesel fuel, plastics and food protein. It can be grown on marginal farmland and requires less water than most plants once established, as well as little or no herbicides or pesticides. It's a vigorous plant, maturing in three or four months, allowing several harvests per year. But unlike its distant cousin marijuana, hemp won't get you high.

Introducing her resolution, Strom-Martin said the current hemp prohibition "makes about as much sense as prohibiting gardeners from growing poppies because one variety is the source of opium."

HELLO, I MUST BE GOINGHuntington Beach began the week on Sept. 13 with more mysteriously high bacteria levels in the ocean north of the Santa Ana River, prompting county health officials to post warning signs on the beach. Then, two miles of shoreline were closed on Sept. 16 when more than 1,000 hypodermic needles washed ashore.

On one section of beach, signs warning of the high bacteria were taken down 15 minutes before new signs went up warning of the needles. Wasn't that a Marx Brothers routine?

The needle closure lasted only a day, but coupled with the bacteria scare, the damage may be done. With officials saying they have no clue as to how the needles or the bacteria got to the beach, out-of-towners told the dailies they have given up on Huntington Beach and are now heading south to Newport and Laguna beaches to frolic.

Meanwhile, the town got a reminder of its last high-profile spoliation last week when the owner of the American Trader tanker that spilled more than 400,000 gallons of oil off Huntington Beach in 1990 agreed to pay $16 million in damages.

WORM OUT OF IT NBA freakazoid Dennis Rodman will not be prosecuted for public drunkenness in connection with his Aug. 21 arrest at Woody's Wharf in Newport Beach. So he's got that going for him. Which is nice. ABRA CADAVER Time to whip out those UC Irvine Medical School scandal scorecards. Again. This time with feeling. During the past five years, the school has withstood a national egg fertility scandal; at least two professors splitting amid research-impropriety probes; and, earlier this summer, a researcher resigning after being accused of deliberately spreading radioactive waste on a colleague's chair.

The latest incident involves a UCI mortician who may have sold body parts from cadavers donated to the medical school. Specifically, authorities are looking into whether Christopher S. Brown, director of the school's Willed Body Program, sold six spines for $5,000.

Hot tip to investigators: check recent withdrawals from the bank accounts of Assemblyman Scott "Slime" Baugh, Times Orange County editorial writers, and anyone on the Orange County Board of Supervisors who isn't named Spitzer.

 
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