The Bay Area's cannabis culturati is celebrating a new high Friday, June 3 in San Francisco when DJ Qbert and D-Styles, turntablists from the legendary Invisibl Skratch Piklz, perform together for the first time in ten years.
Sometimes compared to Jimi Hendrix and John Coltrane, turntable master D-Styles toured the globe with the Scratch Piklz and Beat Junkies. Now, D-Styles is back, sitting atop another top-notch night of experimental hip-hop and electronic music under the moniker "Low End Theory SF," the Northern California spin-off of the famed monthly hip-hop party in Los Angeles. He'll do a solo set and spin with Qbert, the Daly City native, global turntable champion, and former crew member of Mix Master Mike, a longtime associate of the Beastie Boys.
Founded in 2006 by Alpha Pup records' Daddy Kev, Low End Theory has become one of the most influential and hyped avenues for "beat music" thanks to residents Kev, The Gaslamp Killer, DJ Nobody, and MC Nocando's love of deep bass and experimental electronic music.
With a monthly podcast on iTunes downloaded 2.2 million times, Low End Theory helped launch cutting-edge producers The Glitch Mob, Daedelus, Nosaj Thing, and LA's Flying Lotus, who's easily the most forthright about his cannabis intake.
A darling of the dubstep scene, with roots steeped in the special "up" beat of reggae, Lotus has said his favorite method for testing the quality of a newly crafted track was to smoke a bong load and drive the freeways of LA listening to it at top volume. The road test appears to have served Lotus well, as his 2010 album Cosmogramma attracted global headlines for its trippy, dubby, psychedelic feel, and special guest vocal appearance by Thom Yorke of Radiohead.
A veritable Low End Theory bromance has since developed, with Yorke regularly making national news with surprise DJ sets at Low End shows in LA this spring. In February, Daddy Kev expanded Low End Theory to San Francisco, hitting on the first Friday of every month.
Now on night number five at 103 Harriet, Low End Theory SF backs up Qbert and D-Styles this week with DNTEL of The Postal Service, Mono/Poly off of Lotus' Brainfeeder label, and Dnaebeats featuring Gift of Gab, who is the producer from Blackalicious. Low End Theory residents Daddy Kev, Nobody, Gaslamp Killer, and Nocando open up the night. 10 p.m.-4 a.m., $15 tickets at the door.
Hill Buzzes with Weed Bills
Last week, three congressmen introduced three long-anticipated pieces of federal legislation to fix problems with medical marijuana law. Congressman Barney Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts, submitted a bill to reclassify pot down from its current status as a dangerous drug with no medical value. Legalization Nation reported last week that the Drug Enforcement Administration is preparing to ease restrictions on growing pot, so long as the growers are pharmaceutical companies who put the active ingredient of pot in a pill form.
Next up, Congressman Jared Polis from Colorado introduced a bill that would allow banks to provide services to medical marijuana businesses without being subject to "suspicious activity" reporting requirements. No national banks currently accept business from dispensaries. Bankers in Oakland have said that federal regulators are threatening to audit any bank that takes medical marijuana business.
Lastly, Congressman Pete Stark, an East Bay Democrat, introduced the third bill, which would change the tax code to allow lawful medical marijuana dispensaries to take business deductions. Under a 1980s drug law, "drug trafficking" organizations can't take business deductions, such as cost of goods sold and of doing payroll, when paying their taxes. The law came about after an outraged Congress discovered that a methamphetamine and cocaine dealer in the Midwest had successfully deducted a portion of his rent and his gas bill from his drug dealing business. Today, the Internal Revenue Service is using the law in audits against Oakland's Harborside Health Center and at least a dozen other major clubs. Without business deductions, operators say the entire medical marijuana industry would be closed.
Gov. Brewer Brews Up Trouble
Medical marijuana narrowly became the law of the land in Arizona last November, but that doesn't mean the losers are going to sit idly by while their state turns toward pot. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is moving to scuttle the state's nascent dispensary program under the guise of protecting state employee safety. Last week, Brewer's office announced it would sue the federal government to clarify if the state's medical pot program conflicts with federal drug statutes. Brewer also halted the state's permitting process for about one hundred dispensaries, though she did not stop the state from issuing medical marijuana patient ID cards.
Governor Brewer and Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne opposed the initiative last year. In May, Horne asked for written "guidance" from US Attorney Dennis Burke, part of a pattern of medical pot opponents seeking letters from US attorneys. Burke reiterated that federal law considers cannabis a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, and the feds have a wide variety of civil and criminal penalties for those violating the act
Now, Governor Brewer is using Burke's letter as evidence that public workers may be prosecuted for implementing the state's medical pot program, though activists note that no state employee has ever been arrested for doing so by federal authorities. Arizona patients, meanwhile, have begun to legally grow their own.
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