Best Places to Celebrate the Fourth

fireworksFourth of July Events

Independence Day Beach Ball: Traditional clambake on the beach with live music to keep you grooving through the night. The Ocean House, 1 Bluff Ave., Watch Hill. July 4. oceanhouseevents.com

Fourth of July Clambake: Celebrate the birth of the nation with a traditional New England clambake. Stick around for post-dinner s’mores at the Weekapaug Inn, 25 Spray Rock Rd., Weekapaug. July 4. weekapaugevents.com

Family Fourth of July Celebration: A decades old tradition in South Kingstown featuring live musical entertainment, children’s activities, food vendors and fireworks from 5 – 9pm at Old Mountain Field, Kingstown Rd., Wakefield. July 4. southkingstownri.com

88th Annual Ancient & Horribles Parade: Nothing is sacred as Gloucester locals spoof local and national politics during this famous parade on the Fourth of July. The parade first wound its way down Main Street in Chepachet, in 1926 and has continued to delight Glocester residents (and many others) every year since. July 4, 4pm. glocesterri.org

Arnold Mills Parade: Road race, parade and band concert. The theme for this year’s parade is Proud to be an American. Activities start at 9am, Diamond Hill State Park, Cumberland. July 4. arnoldmillsparade.com

Bluegrass on the Pawtuxet: This first annual event from Angry Lobster Events and the RI Bluegrass Alliance turns Pawtuxet Village and Rhodes on the Pawtuxet into a Bluegrass mecca, featuring camping, master classes, and lots of performances, including the Steeldrivers, Pete & Joan Wernick, Tony Trischka and Blue Highway. July 4 – 6

19th Annual New Bedford Folk Festival: Featuring nearly 50 of the best in contemporary, traditional and Celtic folk music, including Chris Smither, Poor Old Shine, Vance Gilbert, Christine Lavin and Don White, the Celtic group RUNA and Grammy Award winning children’s entertainer Bill Harley. Arts and craft vendors, food and drinks downtown outside of Zeiterion Performing Arts Center and the Whaling National Historical Park in New Bedford. July 5 – 6, 11am – 9pm.


Block Island, Thursday 3, 9pm, Crescent Beach, blockislandinfo.com

Bristol, Thursday 3, 9pm, Independence Park, july4thbristolri.com

Cumberland, Thursday 3, 9pm, Cumberland High School, 2600 Mendon Rd., cumberlandri.org

East Providence, Thursday 3, 9pm, Pierce Memorial Stadium, 201 Mercer St., epheritagedays.com

Fall River, Friday 4, 9:30pm, Battle Ship Cove, 5 Water St., battleshipcove.org

Jamestown, Saturday 5, 9pm, East Ferry Beach, rockethogs.com

Narragansett, Friday 4, 9pm, Narragansett Town Beach, narragansettri.gov

New Bedford, Friday 4, 9pm, Hurricane Barrier, centralrichamber.com/1048/events/fireworks         New London, Friday 11-Sunday 13, Sundown, New London Waterfront, sailfestnl.org

Newport, Friday 4, 9pm, Newport Harbor,  centralrichamber.com/1048/events/fireworks

Newport, Friday 4, 9pm, Rose Island Lighthouse, 365 Thames St, roseislandlighthouse.org/events.html

North Kingston, Saturday 5, Sundown, North Kingston Town Beach, lafayette-band.com

Warwick, Thursday 3, 9pm, Oakland Beach, warwickri.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1217:annual-fireworks-display-set-for-july-3&catid=192:news-archives-2012&Itemid=207

Alt Nation: Summer Shows

The best of alt rock in Rhode Island all summer

clarkSLIDEI thought this winter was hard, but this stretch of early April-like weather has been just furthering the frustration of waiting for summer to come again. I’ll let someone else worry about climate change because talking to the people that harp on either side of that debate is just painful. Instead I’m going to crank up my summer playlist, which always starts with The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer in the City,” and go through a list of all the shows coming to the area that I’m excited for! So grab your Del’s, iced coffee, sunscreen, crank up the tunes, and get ready to get dirty and gritty!
Stanatron mixes video and music for what should be a night of hypnotic ambient music. The music will be performed by a couple of seasoned veterans, Kraig Jordan and Bob Kendall. The performance includes a 49-minute film as well as Jordan and Kendall performing. The music is a departure from the more conventional songwriting of some their other projects. Think pre-Dark Side of The Moon Pink Floyd but more ambient and less structure. There is a 75-minute LP available now at 75orlessrecords.com.Stanatron will perform June 14 at the Jamestown Art Center.
The English Beat return to play West Warwick. Geez, never thought I’d write those words. The English Beat had one foot in the ‘80s new wave and the other foot in two tone ska. They had top 10 hits with a cover of “Tears Of a Clown,” “Mirror in The Bathroom,” and“Too Nice to Talk to.” It’s always a risk with older bands that don’t have much as far as original members, but having seen them several times in recent years in both conventional (Lupo’s) and unconventional venues (The Foundry building), I’ll vouch that The English Beat are still money for a good time. Fun fact about The English Beat is their name changes depending what continent they are on. In Europe they are known as The Beat and when in Australia they are The British Beat.The English Beat, The Stone Unturned, The Copacetics, and Rad Thursdays at Manchester 65, West Warwick June 21.
Bob Kendall returns with follow up to his last release, Midnight Flower (75orLessRecords). The new record has a decidedly Americana feel. I like the dark atmosphere on the opening track “Stay.” “Pall Mall Days” has kind of a folk feel, which I dig here. “You Can’t Have Everything” has kind of an Irish folk beat that I could see generating some good sing-a-longs at shows. The optimistic “New Day” is probably my favorite on the line, maybe just for the lyric, “If you lose your mind, don’t let it get to you.” Much of the record seems to be bridging ‘60s stuff like The Byrds with more modern influences like Uncle Tupelo and Wilco. This record is also available through the 75orLessRecords website. The CD release show is at one of the best laid back places to catch a show, The Narrows. The venue installed an air conditioning system last year so one no longer has to worry about being trapped in the sweat fest that old factory buildings can become in late June. Bob Kendall Band and Smith&Weeden will rock The Narrows in Fall River on June 20th.
Liberty Fest. The big news here is for the first time ever, Liberty Fest will not be in Smith Hill. Liberty Fest simply had outgrown the neighborhood and the last few years it was touch and go as to whether it would even happen. Not this year, Liberty Fest will happen at… Dusk on Harris Ave. in Providence. The music is scheduled to kick off around 2pm on July 4 and will run all night! The organizers secured some sponsorships that will enable them to continue the tradition of having Liberty Fest completely free! Featuring performances by Cannibal Ramblers, Vudu Sister, Boo City, Denver Boot, Tinsel Teeth, Tapestries, Pixels, Jacques Le Coque. Gym Shorts, Reziztanze, Little Foot, Lolita Black, Paraplegics, M.O.T.O. (no later than 9pm), Thee Fabulous Itchies (after 5pm and no later than 9pm), Swan Point, The Quahogs, Way Out, Beneath the Sphinx, Funeral Advantage, Cavetones, The Frenzy of Tongs, Teazer, Yah beautiful, and Olneyville Sound System.
Swamp Stomp returns for the 7th year to North Kingston near the entrance of The Great Swamp. For legal reasons, we can’t divulge the exact location in print, but all that information can be attained by contacting the kind folks at The Roots Hoot that run Swamp Stomp. I’ve never had the chance to attend Swamp Stomp for one reason or another, but no other event has turned me on to so many great bands without ever attending. A partial list of some of the bands that have played past Swamp Stomps that I later discovered includes The Bottle Rockets, Lydia Loveless, Patrick Sweany, and Toy Soldiers. This year’s lineup promises more great times with Ha Ha Tonka (Springfield, MO) and J.P. Harris & The Tough Choices (Nashville, TN) on board as the national headliners. The grounds open at 1pm and it’s pretty much a twangy rock ‘n’ roll picnic in a gorgeous setting. It is the ultimate backwoods yard party. Swamp Stomp returns to The Great Swamp of North Kingston on July 12. fb.com/events/670579096314750
Queens of the Stone Age. The French celebrate Bastille Day on July 14, which started essentially as a prison riot. This year Providence will have their own stoner metal riot with the return of Queens of the Stone Age. One of the best live bands out there somehow still manages to get airplay given the sorry state of commercial radio. Their last album …Like Clockwork was one of last year’s best. I caught them a few times over the years, most recently last December in Boston, and it’s just an audio mesmerizing assault of sound and precision. It doesn’t hurt that Josh Homme can write a hook in his unique uneasy style. If you are not at the beach and like loud guitars, you’d be a fool to miss this! Don’t be a fool. Queens of the Stone Age will rock the Providence Performing Arts Center like it’s never been rocked before on July 14.
Electric Six have been my favorite band to go see for about the last decade. Mix KISS rocking pomp with disco and throw in some Talking Heads as a chaser. Electric Six exploded onto the scene with their first record, Fire, in 2001 backed by tunes like “Gay Bar” (YouTube the video) and Danger High Voltage (with the infamous “fire in the disco, fire in the Taco Bell” lyrics and Jack White cameo). Since then the world has changed, but Electric Six has stayed the same as far as never gaining or losing popularity. Electric Six continue to release records annually and built up set lists filled with should-have-been-hits like “Down At McDonnelzzz” (celebrating those afterhours takeovers of fast food joints), “Future is in the Future” (commiserating “if money talks then I’m a mime” and celebrating “karaoke all night long, Macarena till the break of dawn”), and “I Buy the Drugs” (where they provide a PO Box address to send your orders). You won’t find a more charismatic front man in rock ‘n roll than Electric Six’s Dick Valentine. You also won’t find a better live band for booty shaking rock ‘n’ roll. Electric Six, Ravi Shavi, VulGarrity, and Satellites Fall bring the fire in the disco to Fête on July 21.
Newport Folk Fest and Deer Tick post-Fest Parties. The last weekend in July is forever reserved on my calendar for the Newport Folk Fest. It’s amazing how the Folk Festival has grown to be so much more than a “folk” festival, incorporating all different types of music. Not to mention adding a third day with a full lineup on Friday. This year I’m picking one non-headliner from each day to check out because there is so much great music going on at once that it helps to have a guide. On Friday I recommend reggae legend Jimmy Cliff. My pick for Saturday is the acoustic barnstorming husband and wife tandem, Shovels & Rope. Sunday’s pick is Lucero, who mix Americana whiskey-soaked blues, rock, and soul to stir the heart. If you can get tickets for Deer Tick’s after party at the Newport Blues Café, grab them! Those are some of the best shows of the weekend. Newport Folk Fest returns to Fort Adams State Park July 25th -27th. Deer Tick parties afterward at the Newport Blues Café.
Beck must have enjoyed his time in RI last summer for the Folk Festival because he’s back after not playing the state for probably 15 years before last year. Heck, Beck even hung around town for a few days after the festival and practiced at Lupo’s before heading out on tour. Beck’s touring behind a new album, Morning Phase, which is more of an acoustic album. Beck is really so talented that he can do whatever the hell he wants up there and I’d still go. He still plays the old hits like “Loser” and “Where It’s At,” as well as songs from throughout his career. It’s going to make for some tough choices with the Folk Festival and Deer Tick all happening the same day. Beck hits the Providence Performing Arts Center on July 26th.
Everlast. Few in music have had a weirder career track than Everlast, who went from rapping as part of House of Pain on the mega hit “Jump Around” to an acoustic singer songwriter winning Grammys for a Carlos Santana collaboration, “Put Your Lights on.” I still think the coolest thing Everlast did was get into a feud with Eminen that had them dissing each other back and forth in song. Expect the acoustic troubadour Everlast at Manchester 65 and the truth is he is pretty good at that. I even own an album or two. Plus, who would have thought when Everlast was winning Grammys that he’d ever be playing West Warwick? Everlast and Kris Hansen & Big Jon Tierney play Manchester 65 on July 27th.
Milltown Fest. This has to be the toughest weekend of choices in RI history. Milltown Fest is rolling into Fête and it makes the list only because Nashville Pussy is playing. Their shows at the old Met Café with their old fire breathing Amazon bassist, Corey Parks, were some of the most memorable I’ve attended. Straight up sleazy white trash rock ‘n’ roll performed to perfection. Nashville Pussy’s newest album, Up The Dosage, stands up to anything in their catalogue. In fact, one of the tracks, “The South is Too Fat to Rise Again” may be my favorite Nashville Pussy tune. Milltown Fest featuring performances by Nashville Pussy, Filth on The Floor and much more will go down at Fête on July 27th.
Supersuckers. The self proclaimed greatest band in rock ‘n’ roll, Supersuckers return for what promises to be another night of raucous mayhem. The Supersuckers act doesn’t really change much from year to year, but they do the punk meets outlaw country act well. I do miss the days when Eddie Spaghetti and the boys were more of an unknown and there was some element of surprise to their set. That said, they don’t exactly suck either. By the end of the night it is a safe bet that everybody will be smiling and swaying while singing along to “Pretty F***ed Up”. Supersuckers, The McGunks, and The Skinny Millionaires rock Manchester 65 on August 2nd.
Email music news to mclarkin33@gmail.com

The Bitter Disconnect

cannabisShould the Federal Government prohibit Cannabis?

Though the Obama administration has been the first to open a dialog exploring marijuana prohibition’s end, the government’s message is convoluted and inconsistent with public opinion. While Attorney General Eric Holder discusses a shift in U.S. Marijuana Policy that respects state marijuana laws, the Republican-controlled House looks to pass legislation that will punish the president for not faithfully executing the federally mandated Controlled Substance Act. This new legislation will allow Congress to effectively sue the president for not acting against states that ignore 75 years of anti-marijuana propaganda and legalize, even though numerous surveys, studies and Gallup Polls show that over 55% of U.S. citizens support marijuana legalization.

In response to President Obama’s “hands off” approach and reassuring words expressing his desire to see the legalization experiment succeed in both Washington and Colorado, Michelle Leonhart (head of the DEA) has been throwing a tantrum, the likes of which none have seen since Yosemite Sam was ousted by Bugs Bunny in the old west. She has openly criticized Obama for associating with pro-legalization groups and announced her disdain at the thought of a hemp flag flying over the U.S. Capitol. She has even overruled DEA administrative recommendations for marijuana research, which would allow better insight into both medicinal and industrial potentials of the cannabis plant.

Throughout marijuana prohibition, there has been an irrational unwillingness to explore cannabis plant uses. Even though this plant was the first cash crop in America and we import hundreds of millions of dollars in hemp products each year, the U.S. government refuses to legalize hemp production in this country. Despite thousands of documented medical case studies, international research and a U.S owned patent (US Patent 6630507) titled “Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants,” the federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance, claiming that the plant has no medicinal value. Unfortunately, the trickle down effect of this ignorance is not only poisoning the minds of our leaders, but costing the U.S. jobs, revenue and a better quality of life for those who could benefit from the plant’s healing properties.

But those who oppose legalization have compiled their own supporting research and polls, the majority of which were conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which focuses on the negative impacts of cannabis on society. The evidence points toward addiction and developmental issues in adolescent brains, and also shows an increase in marijuana use among adolescents, contradictory to the figures in states that have legalized marijuana use in some manner. Though I do not discredit their research, there are better ways to educate and discourage adolescents from experimenting with drugs, as demonstrated by the tobacco industry, which has seen a dramatic decline in adolescent use since anti-tobacco/teen-targeted advertising started in the late ’80s.

Both pro-legalization and anti-legalization movements have an abundance of supporting evidence to prove or disprove their particular stance. Any study can be manipulated to prove a particular theory with the proper appointment of study subjects, controlled environments and biased agendas. The laws of nature dictate that anything can happen, at any given time, in any given place, providing the conditions are right. Where a wise man will accept those conditions and adapt, an ambitious man will manipulate those conditions to suit his needs. Such is the nature of all research conducted to discover pre-concluded theories or facts.

Therefore we must discard all of the conflicting evidence and look at the items that remain. Somewhere in the middle you will find the facts that have nothing to do with public opinion, corporate agendas or child development. The facts have more to do with your civil liberties. According to the Declaration of Independence, all men have the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and we are free to practice these rights in the privacy of our own homes, on our own properties, as long as these practices do not infringe upon another’s rights to do the same.

So, in my mind, the real question is not at all about the legalization of marijuana. The real question is: Are we slaves or are we free men? And if we are free men, should we not be allowed to determine our own morals and values, not only those approved by the federal government?

Charitable Zombies Take Over Fort Adams


It’s well-known that the only way to cure the zombies in your life of their affliction is a quick blow to the head, ending their insatiable appetite for human flesh. But can you really call a headshot a cure? The creators of the Zombies Got Guts 3K adventure race, which takes place at Fort Adams on August 25, came up with a much better kind of cure.

Race participants start the challenge as zombies, with costumes strongly encouraged, and as they complete each one of 10 obstacles successfully, they’ll receive a bit of zombie antidote that will make them human again at the end of the race. Those who finish the race without all 10 pieces of the antidote are doomed to forever roam the earth in search of human brains.


Though zombies aren’t usually considered the most generous of creatures, the ones tackling this obstacle course are doing so in the name of an important local charitable organization. Punks for a Princess was formed after the tragic drowning death of 7-year-old Kaitlyn Ferra. Originally formed to raise money for the Kaitlyn Ferra Memorial Fund, the organization has since evolved to raise money for the A Wish Come True organization, which grants wishes to kids facing life-threatening illnesses, so that more children can benefit from the organization’s events.
PR Director of Punks for a Princess, Bobby Forand, said, “We wanted to plan a summer event so we teamed up with Dave Prata from Hallowed Entertainment and the Zombies Got Guts idea was born. While there are few original ideas anymore, we thought the idea of starting as a zombie and getting a piece of the antidote after completing every obstacle was somewhat unique. After negotiations, Fort Adams offered us their venue and the rest is history. Planning the event has been a worthwhile challenge, but I have loved every minute of it and can’t wait to see everything come to fruition.”

To give your zombie a chance to be cured, preregister him at zombiesgotguts.com. On-site registration is available, but limited, so preregistration is encouraged. Spectators of all ages can attend, but participant zombies must be at least 18. The event takes place at Fort Adams on August 25 with check-in at 7 am and the first wave of zombies hitting the obstacle course at 9 am.


Industrial Hemp – Keeping the Green in the Red

Our initial plan for 13 Folds Magazine was to print it on hemp paper. This was a consideration in homage to our founding fathers’ ardent dependency upon the hemp plant, which inspired the wide use of hemp products. Consumables such as oil, fabric and rope were essential to their daily lives. From Thomas Paine’s revolutionary literature to Betsy Ross’ first American flag, hemp was invaluable to a movement that would change the world forever.[1] We also preferred to use hemp paper for its limited environmental impact compared to traditional wood pulp paper.[2]

Unfortunately, printing on hemp paper was cost prohibitive. Due to U.S. laws, which do not differentiate between hemp and marijuana, hemp for paper cannot legally be grown domestically and can only be obtained through importation. The team at 13 Folds is made up of strong proponents of “buying American to support America,” so importing originflagthe paper from another country (with China being the most cost effective) was contradictory to our ultimate message. So, in response to the authoritarian circus known as the DEA, we have been forced to present our readers with the very beautiful but “earth raping” editions of 13 Folds Magazine that you have grown accustomed to. All you have to do is go to your local supermarket or brand name store to gain a better understanding of the lunacy behind the current U.S. stance on industrial hemp. You can purchase many different brands of hemp food products ranging from non-dairy milk to “highly” nutritious seeds. I use the term “highly” quite loosely, as you cannot get “high” from the hemp version of the marijuana plant.[3] Other products, such as hemp-oil, clothing, linens, textiles and building materials, also are readily available and commonly sold on the U.S. market. But very few of these products are actually made in America, with even fewer being made with American hemp. It would seem that the moral of this story is that our government is only willing to allow the sale of hemp products if there is some sort of import tax associated with it. As a matter of fact, low estimates claim that the U.S. imports close to $500 million in known hemp products every year.[4] This is money taken out of the hands of American Farmers, American Workers and American Families, only to be given to those countries (such as China) that have embraced the cultivation of the hemp plant as a valuable natural resource. In return, these countries pay a hefty tax on their imports, which puts money in the U.S. coffers. This money, in turn, is used to pay back the interest on our enormous debts to these countries. This would all make sense except for one thing – that’s not what’s really happening. The duty and tariff rates for most hemp products are well under the national average. In fact, hemp oil actually has a duty rate of 0 percent when classified under Health & Beauty. These foreign countries have managed to not only dictate the chain of supply to the U.S. market, but have managed to do so with minimal opposition from U.S. officials. Take China for example. China is the leading producer of hemp products in the entire world, with these hemp products being among the most profitable of all the nation’s exports. Care to guess which country is the world’s top consumer of hemp products? If you guessed the United States, then you are correct. This means that the bulk of China’s success in the hemp industry is dependent on U.S. consumption. This is also true for countries such as Canada, India, Japan and Spain that also derive the majority of their hemp export business from the United States. In fact, there are more than 30 nations that currently benefit from the lack of a U.S. presence in the worldwide hemp market. Though these nations dictate the supply, it is the United States that dictates the demand. Because the United States is the largest consumer of hemp and hemp products, it seems evident that Americans should be allowed to capitalize on entering the global hemp industry. That undertaking would not only provide less expensive resources for U.S. businesses (factoring in the costs of shipping and tariffs), but also would provide an alternative cash crop to entrepreneurial farmers. This, in turn, would provide much needed jobs in the States while decreasing our dependency on foreign resources. Yet here we are, in the wake of economic collapse, still denying the viability of one of the world’s most dynamic crops to our society. So what are we as Americans doing to bring this market home? We are spreading the word with readily available facts to dispel the common misconceptions associated with the hemp plant.[5] Many organizations (The Hemp Industries Association, Vote Hemp and the Resource Conservation Alliance are a few of the more prominent ones) have provided vast resources of facts, data and research for individuals seeking knowledge on the industrial hemp topic. These organizations are lobbying, every day, to convince Congress to bring the hemp industry home. But they cannot complete this task alone. They need your help. There is a nationwide movement that seeks to include industrial hemp in the current U.S. Farm Bill. This movement has been championed by a number of congressmen (crossing party divides), with people like the Libertarian-leaning Rand Paul, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – KY) and Senator Ron Wyden (D – OR) spearheading the charge. In an attempt to repeal the current restrictions against hemp in this country, Wyden even introduced the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013 as an amendment to the new House Farm Bill, currently being proposed. Unfortunately, H.R. 525 did not gain the support needed for inclusion in the five-year plan, though this is not the end of the Industrial Hemp movement in any way, shape or form. Though we often are tempted to believe that the government’s unjust scrutiny of the hemp plant is somehow due to failed leadership or the greed of a hidden corporate agenda, I find that the following quote presents a more sensible, if not unacceptable, dynamic.  “Ending the restrictions on industrial hemp is pro-business, pro-farmer and commonsense. As I’ve said, if you can buy it at the local supermarket, American farmers should be able to grow it. While support is growing, we have some significant challenges right now. Between the generational misconceptions about hemp within the Congress, continued opposition from the Drug Enforcement Agency, and no clear opportunity to vote on further Farm Bill amendments, the time is not yet ripe for industrial hemp. Better-organized advocacy on behalf of hemp, clearly separated from advocacy for cannabis, is vital to overcoming these obstacles. As we continue to build support and look for other avenues, state agricultural commissioners, farmers and business that would benefit from this legislation need to help get the facts out there and push for Congress to pass this bill.”

– Sen. Ron Wyden

Senator Wyden made that statement as all hope for the Industrial Farm Act’s inclusion into this year’s Farm Bill was being squashed by the opposition. We may not have seen the results we were after this time around, but we at 13 Folds are in the fight to fully normalize cannabis in the United States, starting with the obvious first step of tearing down the ill-conceived barriers in the way of a thriving domestic hemp industry. Can you say the same? 06.18.13 | David Sorgman | Editor in Chief of 13 Folds Magazine From the pages of 13 Folds • www.13folds.com [1] – The Truth About Hemp, by Lawrence Wilson MD • May, 2011, The Center for Development [2] – The Sustainability of Tree vs. Paper, by Chen,Thuan, Pretty, Vanstone, MacDonald, O’Toole, Dwyer, Gruening • December, 1998, University of waterloo. [3] – Hemp: A new Crop with New Uses for North America. By Ernest Small & David Marcus • 2002, ASHS Press [4] – Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity, by Renee Johnson • March 21, 2013, CRS Report for Congress [5] – Hemp & Marijuana Myths & Realities, by David West • 1998, North American Hemp Council Other Sources Include: NORML, Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance, Marijuana Policy Project, Hemp Industries Association, Hemp History Week, Import Duty & Taxes made Easy, and last but not least: A Renewal of Common Sense: The Case for Hemp in 21st Century America, by Erik Rothenberg • March, 2001, VoteHemp, Inc., www.votehemp.com (I recommend anyone interested in the facts about Hemp, read this treatise).

CANNABIS COLUMN: The Medical Marijuana Conundrum

Medical marijuana’s an effective treatment for many ailments. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be such a strong movement in so many states to make it legal for patients in need. However, marijuana is still illegal under federal law, which prevents it from being covered under most health insurance policies. Seeking reimbursement for the cost of this medicine also can be difficult. Therefore, what are patients – many of whom are too ill to work or have little to no income – supposed to do?
Some states, such as Rhode Island, have taken a proactive strategy to such questions and written a low-income solution into their medical marijuana laws. Such strategies require caregivers and dispensaries to supply medicine to patients in need, leaving the onus on them to seek reimbursement from insurance companies and health care providers. This still doesn’t guarantee that the provider of the medicine will ever receive funds, but it is a patient – first approach that I can respect. This does, however, create a disadvantaged market for those seeking to become caregivers or open dispensaries in which the long-term cost of producing medicinal marijuana ends up costing too much money.
First you have to consider the overhead associated with becoming a caregiver or opening a dispensary, which, in states such as Massachusetts, can be close to $1 million[1]. Depending on the state, dispensaries are required to have large escrow accounts, special permits, licenses and monitoring systems. Then there is the cost associated with the growing facility itself, which is relevant to both dispensaries and caregivers. The growing, lighting and ventilation systems themselves can cost more than $10,000, in even a small-scale operation. Nutrients, fertilizer and water are another high priced factor that most lawmakers don’t take into consideration. When you stack all of those costs on top of the time it takes to complete the first growing process, which includes producing healthy mothers, generating clones and raising them through a complete harvest, you end up with a time-consuming and hefty investment.
Now consider that the majority of the patients in need of medical marijuana fall into that low-income category. Many are patients who are terminally ill, physically disabled or battling sicknesses that prevent them from being able to function in a work environment. Not only is it inhumane to restrict access of this medicine to those in need, but it is also unjust to place the burden of providing such medicine solely on those who must produce it.
So is there an answer to this conundrum? I believe that there is and until the federal government legalizes marijuana as a medical alternative to the “death dealing” drugs of modern day pharmaceuticals, that answer lies in the individual state’s ability to legalize recreational use.
In a state where recreational use is legal, caregivers and dispensaries have an alternative market to sell to. In those states, where recreational use is not legal, that market is commonly referred to as the “black market.” It is this recreational market that currently serves as a supplement for those who can’t afford to pay for their medicine.
By legalizing recreational use, two things are accomplished. 1) Those currently taking advantage of the medical marijuana laws, who don’t truly need them, will not flood the health system, allowing for more accurate analysis and decision-making by insurance companies and other health agencies. 2) Those who are not in need of marijuana for medicinal purposes will be required to pay the standard excise and sales taxes associated with recreational use, therefore supplying an alternative and legal revenue for those who are giving marijuana away as medicine.
As long as regulations for recreational marijuana are handled in a responsible and intelligent manner, there is no need to restrict access to patients or force caregivers to shoulder the burden of cost. Legalization is nothing more than a common sense approach to those in need.
1: Toke Signals, “MA Marijuana Dispensaries May Need $1 Million to Open”, Steve Elliott, April 4, 2013
Other Sources: Medical Marijuana Business Daily, RI Department of Public Health, Anonymous Patients and Caregivers, Maine.gov, Marijuana Policy Project, The Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Mike D’s Top Five: The Can’t Miss Shows of May


#1 Thursday, May 2: Tallahassee (CD release show) with Smith & Weeden and Coyote Kolb. $10. 8pm. All ages. The Columbus Theatre, 270 Broadway, Providence. Boston’s (by way of Providence) roots rock band Tallahassee are putting out Old Ways and this is the party. While I haven’t heard it yet, I can tell you that I look forward to it. Singer Brian Barthelmes might be the nicest guy in music. Providence’s Smith & Weeden and Boston’s Coyote Kolb round out the bill.  

#2 Thursday, May 9: 95.5 WBRU presents an Earth Day Show with Silversun Pickups and Bad Books. $27.50 advance, $30 day of. 6pm doors, 7pm show. All ages. Lupo’s, 79 Washington Street, Providence. By now, you should know about and have made up your mind on Silversun Pickups. Bad Books are new to the Providence market, fronted by Kevin Devine and Andy Hull (singer of Manchester Orchestra), and their single “Forest Whitaker” is fire. YouTube it – it’s my favorite song of 2012, hands down. While you’re at it, Netflix the masterpiece Ghost Dog and have a Forest Whitaker Day.

#3 Saturday, May 11: Ghostface Killah, Jahpan and Sour City. $20 advance, $25 day of. 8pm. All ages. The Met, 1005 Main Street, Pawtucket. Wu Tang’s Ironman Ghostface Killah with a live band? Sounds pretty good. Expect a mix of classics and cuts off his new album 12 Reasons To Die, which is also available on cassette for those of you who have still not made the turn over to CD format… or are still driving 1997 Oldsmobiles.

#4 Monday, May 13: The Darkness and Free Energy. $25 advance, $28 day of. 8pm. All ages. Lupo’s, 79 Washington Street, Providence. Do you believe in a thing called love? No? Me neither. If you believe in a thing called alcohol – and drinking to the point where you don’t know whether or not you live in the ‘70s – then this is the concert for you. The Darkness are a blast live, and opener Free Energy is nice mix of all things T Rex and Big Star with some additional snarl.  Check out their James Murphy (of LCD Soundsystem) produced Stuck On Nothing album.

#5 Tuesday May 28: Futurebirds, Burlapen and Milk. $10. 8pm. All ages. The Met, 1005 Main Street, Pawtucket. Baba Yaga is getting Athens, Georgia-based country rock band Futurebirds a lot of attention and critical acclaim. When Pitchfork and Paste kiss your butt on the second record – that’s usually the fast road to success. I like what I’ve heard and it reminds me a lot of what’s been going on recently up here in the Northeast scene. Burlapen’s debut show marks the overdue return of veteran Providence indie song writer Rachel Jorgensen. Boston’s Milk round out the bill.


— Mike D

Marijuana Decriminalized in RI

On April 1, 2013 the “Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act” went into effect, legalizing the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, marijuana paraphernalia, and a limited amount of marijuana plants in the state of RI. It also creates a regulatory process for the manufacture, sale and taxation of marijuana. “More than seven decades of arresting marijuana users has failed to prevent its use,” the bill begins.

There were more than 2,702 arrests for pot-related offenses in 2009 while rapes had a clearance rate of a mere 27% (meaning of all reported incidences, only 27% were charged).

Know your rights: After sorting through the 42-page bill, here’s what you need to know…

All rules apply to adults 21-years or older.

Anyone previously convicted of possession of one ounce or less of marijuana or possession of marijuana paraphernalia will be expunged, provided that person was 21 years of age or older at the time of conviction.
  • A person 21-years or older is exempt from arrest, penalty, seizure of weed or paraphernalia or prosecution for possessing, using, obtaining or transporting (AKA you can have)
    • An ounce or less of weed
    • Five grams or less of hashish
    • 16 ounces of weed-infused solids (brownies, edibles, etc)
    • 72 ounces of weed-infused liquids
    • Marijuana paraphernalia
    • No more than six marijuana plants,
      • Only three plants can be mature or flowering
  • Growing at Home
    • Plants can only be grown on owned property, otherwise a landlord’s permission is required.
    • Plants growing outside must be cultivated in an enclosed, locked location, such as a locked fenced-in area.
    • Plants growing inside must not be in eyesight from outside of the dwelling.
    • If residents are under 21 years old, plants must be locked up.
  • You cannot
    • Possess weed in a prison or juvenile detention center, whether you’re visiting or not
    • Operate a car, motorboat or sailboat under the influence of marijuana.
      • After taking a urine sample individuals, “shall not be considered under the influence of marijuana solely because of the presence of marijuana unless the concentration of components of marijuana is proven to be sufficient to cause impairment.”
    • A person who smokes marijuana in an outdoor public place shall be liable for a civil penalty of one hundred fifty dollars $150.
    • Sell weed to anybody without a wholesaler or retailer license
    • Buy weed from anybody without a wholesaler or retailer license (though once its yours, its yours)
    • Possess weed in a work-environment if there are rules in place that prohibit it.
  • For the kids
    • 18-20 year olds caught possessing an ounce or less of marijuana must forfeit the drug in question and pay a $150 fine.
    • 17 years old and under caught possessing an ounce or less of marijuana must forfeit the drug in question and pay a $150 fine along with completing an approved drug awareness program and community service as determined by the court.
  • Buying and Selling: Wholesalers and retailers
    • A wholesaler is exempt from state penalties for cultivating, preparing, packaging, and selling marijuana to a retailer or another wholesaler, but cannot sell marijuana to the general public.
    • A retailer is exempt from state penalties for purchasing marijuana from a wholesaler and selling marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia to customers who are 21 years of age or older.
    • Anybody over 21 can sell weed seeds to a wholesaler.
    • A year or less from when the bill was passed there will be one wholesaler and one retailer registry in the country, with the numbers growing substantially over the next few years.

So what does this mean for Rhode Islanders today? Head shops aren’t changing any time soon. They’ll still be selling “tobacco” pipes until they become “retailers,” which first, is subject to take a solid chunk of time and second, costs $10,000. Your drug dealer can’t go launching his marketing campaign without a permit (advertising will be regulated the way the cigarette companies are anyway). You do now, however, have the legal right to grow plants in your own home; bake your weed cake and eat it too.

With regulated sale comes taxation so here’s the bad news. For every ounce a wholesaler sells, they pay a tax of $50 (adjusted for inflation). After traveling through other wholesalers, down to the retailers and to the public, in the end, an ounce what would normally sell on the street from anywhere from $260 – $300 will rise substantially.

Then there’s the issue of legalization in a state while the country still hasn’t made the move. Though not addressed in this bill, the initial ruling can very likely change over the course of the year.

Still not satisfied? Check the State of Rhode Island General Assembly for the full 42 pages-worth. Know your rights.

The Hummel Report: Small Business Owners Navigate Unfriendly RI Tax Waters

Wilfrid’s Seafood

Like thousands of small businesses in Rhode Island, Wilfrid’s Seafood in Woonsocket faces a full menu of taxes and fees every year just to stay in business.

Lee Ann Sennick is the company’s comptroller and sees them all come across her desk.


“In this industry in particular there are a lot of licenses and permits you need to have – shellfish shipper license, food business license, different things to ship into Massachusetts, to bring product in from other states,” Sennick tells The Hummel Report. “Everything has a fee attached to it and they’re $200, $300, $400, but every year 10 or 12 of those really adds up.”

What Sennick didn’t see until recently was an unexpected doubling of the federal unemployment tax that each of the 32,000 businesses in the state is required to pay every year. It has doubled over the past two years because Rhode Island has still not paid back more than $200 million it borrowed from the Feds when its unemployment fund went insolvent in 2009.

The Federal Unemployment Tax Act helps fund the administration of unemployment benefits, pays part of the extended benefits thousands of Rhode Islanders have taken advantage of and funds job service programs like netWORKri.


Robert Langlais in an assistant director at the state’s Department of Labor and Training, which oversees the unemployment insurance fund. He says Rhode Island businesses have been paying a higher rate each of the past two years because the state – along with more than a dozen others across the country – still owes the Feds hundreds of millions of dollars.

“If you borrow from the federal government, if you have a loan outstanding for more than two years, the federal government automatically increases the employer’s federal tax,” Langlais said. “It’s an automatic payback of the loan.”

And the added tax affects each business differently depending on its size.

“We were looking at a difference of $840 this year, which was due and payable in January with our quarterly return, which is our year-end return,” Sennick said. “That $840 is the difference between sponsoring a little league team here in the community. That’s a quarter of our advertising budget for the year; it’s got to come out of somewhere.”

Barbara Holmes is a CPA who saw an increase not only in some of her clients’ federal unemployment tax, but her own as the owner of a small business herself.

“It wasn’t the Gross National Product or anything but still, I can take $400… and use it to better advantage potentially,” Holmes said. “It directly hits the businesses – it’s just another tax that the businesses have to sustain and if we don’t become more business friendly in this state we’re going to be in big trouble.”

Sennick says she never got notification from the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training about the tax increase and found out from a fellow businessman who asked if she’d seen it earlier this month. He had received the note from his payroll company, which is the first he’d heard about it.

The DLT provided us with notices it sent out, adding that it also held public workshops to answer employers’ questions.

The DLT also says that in 2011 The General Assembly made structural changes to the unemployment system – including a reduction of benefits – that will help rebuild the system and erase the current $214 million deficit.

But not anytime soon.

Hummel: “What’s the long-term game plan to pay that off?”

Langlais: “With the 2011 changes we put in, we expect the loan to be paid off in 2015, about a year earlier than it would have been had we not made the changes in 2011. At that point we’ll build up reserves, and have a healthy enough reserve so we won’t have to borrow again.”

Hummel: “But that means one or two more years, you’re going to see…”

Langlais: “Right, you’ll see it one or two more years, yes.”

Hummel: “What message do you have for businesses who are facing this?”

Langlais: “The long-term we’re going to get out of this; short-term, yes, there’s some pain involved. They’re not taking the brunt themselves because we are again reducing benefits, so in two years we’ll be the same as Massachusetts and Connecticut as far as what employees receive.”

Sennick and Holmes have their own message for the state of Rhode Island.

“My message for the state is basically to try and make Rhode Island a place where people want to do business,” Sennick said, “where we can do business, where’s there’s an incentive for people to come in here.”

Holmes adds: “It’s just annoying. This state is so unfriendly to businesses we have now, and in the beginning of 2013 we’ve become more unattractive for businesses. It’s just not healthy.”


The Hummel Report is a 501 3C non-profit organization. If you have a story idea or want make a donation to the Hummel Report, go to www.hummelreport.com. Or email Jim directly at jim@hummelreport.com.