How the Creators of High Maintenance Crushed the Stoner Stereotype

Photo by Jena Cumbo for the Village Voice
Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair, the couple behind the critically acclaimed Web series High Maintenance
"It's OK, I'm the guy who can do this!"

Katja Blichfeld is trying to pick a morsel of beet salad from her teeth, and her husband, Ben Sinclair, is doing his best to assist: leaning over in his chair, his arms outstretched, index finger poised in midair. Blichfeld demurs; Sinclair insists. "If anyone should do it," he says, "it should be me!"

Blichfeld and Sinclair, the couple behind the critically acclaimed Web series High Maintenance, are grabbing a late-afternoon bite at the lobby restaurant of the Standard Hotel in the East Village. They have a room upstairs where they're sketching out the next round of episodes (they spent the winter in L.A., and still have subletters living in their Ditmas Park apartment). It's the first day of spring, and outside, fat, wet crystals of snow quickly coat the ground.

More »

Pot Advocates See Connecticut Ruling as a Way Forward for New York

A landmark Connecticut ruling has Nick Menditto in the clear.
When Nick Menditto was arrested for pot possession at a Connecticut rest stop, the timing could not have been worse. It was March 2011, and he was a few weeks shy of completing his probation for two other marijuana possession charges, which meant any new arrest would have serious consequences. But there was more to worry about — he was also busted just as the Constitution State seemed primed to decriminalize possession of small amounts of pot. And less than three months after his arrest, in June of that year, the legislature did just that.

More »

After Two Epileptic Children Die, Governor Asks to Speed Up Marijuana Legalization Timeline

Anna Conte passed away on July 17.
Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday sent a letter to acting New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker asking him to consider expediting the medical marijuana legalization specifically for epileptic children in New York.

Cuomo's letter comes after two children, nine-year-old Anna Conte and three-year-old Olivia Marie Newton, died this month. In June, state legislators passed the Compassionate Care Act, legalizing marijuana for patients with conditions including epilepsy, but legalization will not be implemented in the state for at least 18 months.

More »

New York Becomes 23rd State to Legalize Medical Marijuana--Just Not the Kind You Can Smoke

Tessa Stuart
Update, 2:20 p.m.: The Compassionate Care Act passed the New York State Senate. Here is the full text.

At precisely 2:51 a.m. on Friday, June 20, the New York State Assembly passed the Compassionate Care Act, which (when the bill passes the senate, as it is widely expected to, when it is taken up around 10 a.m.) will make New York the 23rd state in the union where medical marijuana is long as you don't smoke it. Seriously: Patients will need to use a vaporizer, pills or other extraction method. The use of joints, bongs and pipes--anything you light up--is strictly verboten.

More »

With Time Running Out, New York Must Decide on Medical Marijuana

The New York State Legislature has just more than three days to approve a bill that would legalize medical marijuana across the state, before the legislative session ends on Thursday, June 19. If it doesn't pass--and it hasn't passed the last sixteen times it has been introduced--it will be back to the drawing board.

Activists who have pushed to pass the bill, known as the Compassionate Care Act, remain stubbornly confident this will be the year--it is, after all, the furthest the bill has made it through the legislature since it was initially introduced in 1997. But Governor Andrew Cuomo is not bending over backwards to help move the legislation along. To the contrary, on Monday, Cuomo enumerated a laundry list of changes he wants to see implemented before he will support the bill to the Daily News.

More »

New York is THIS Close To Legalizing Medical Weed, But NYC is Still the Pot Arrest Capital of the U.S.

Tessa Stuart
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries.
On Tuesday the New York State Assembly passed, for the fifth time since it was introduced in 1997, the Compassionate Care Act. The bill would legalize medical marijuana in New York state, allowing sick New Yorkers relief from symptoms associated with cancer treatment, MS, epilepsy, and other ailments. With that vote, New York comes one step closer to joining the 21 others states and the District of Columbia where marijuana is legal in some form.

The same day, in downtown New York, demonstrators in front of One Police Plaza called attention to the fact that, despite progress in Albany, New York City remains the marijuana arrest capital of the United States.

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries gathered with representatives from the Drug Policy Alliance, Human Rights Watch, and Vocal New York beside a large graph showing that despite promises Mayor Bill de Blasio made during his campaign, arrests for simple possession have not dropped in any significant way since he took office.

More »

New York State's Long-Running War on Weed

Louisa Bertman
Despite Andrew Cuomo's promises, the end might not be near.
A U.S. map that shows where pot is legal looks a lot like recent electoral college maps, except instead of blue, the liberal states are rendered in green: the entire West Coast (California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada), progressive mountain and Midwest states (Colorado, New Mexico; Michigan, Illinois), all of New England, plus New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and Hawaii. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws legalizing medical marijuana; in two of them, recreational weed is all good, too.

Conspicuously absent from that map: New York.

More »

New Yorkers Ready to Puff, Puff, Pass Medical Marijuana Legalization

eggrole via Flickr
Good news! Pollsters finally found the one thing almost all New Yorkers -- men and women, Democrats and Independents, the young and middle aged -- can agree on: our support for medical marijuana.

On Monday, Quinnipiac University released a new poll showing 88 percent of New Yorkers support legalization of medical pot, and just 9 percent oppose. We are overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing small amounts of weed for personal use too: 57 to 39 percent. Men, on the whole, are more supportive than women (63 percent and 51 in favor, respectively). Sixty five percent of Democrats support legalization, and 58 percent of Independents do too.

More »

Three Strikes, You're Out: Albany Flops on Abortion Rights, Campaign Finance, and Medical Marijuana Bills

Remember the provision in the Women's Equality Act that would solidify abortion rights here in New York in the face of anti-abortion bills popping up in state legislatures across the country? Remember Cuomo's call for campaign finance regulation in a state electoral system that is drastically outdated and loophole-heavy? Remember the legislative push for medical marijuana in New York in a state with a record high number of weed arrests? Yeah? Well, none of them are happening anymore.

More »

New Jersey Gets First Medical Marijuana Dispensary. New York Still Weighing "Risks"

Today, about 20 medical marijuana patients will meet with staff at the Greenleaf Compassion Center, New Jersey's first medical marijuana facility to open its doors since the state passed a law legalizing prescription pot in 2010.

While medical weed is now legal in the Garden State -- as we've chronicled -- "progressive" New York is still weighing the "risks" of allowing sick people to treat their ailments with weed, rather than other prescription medications that, in most cases, are far more dangerous and addictive than marijuana.

In October, New Jersey Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd announced that Greenleaf was the first state-sanctioned distributor of medical marijuana, following several hurdles that have delayed the implementation of the state's medical marijuana law.

More »