I have heard a lot of excitement and commotion regarding the U.S. Senate’s introduction of the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act. From some of the blind support being put forth by the cannabis community and the lobbying efforts by folks to encourage the enactment of this bill you would think that Congress was actually legalizing marijuana or something. But that is far from the fact.
On a macro level, sure… it sounds positive. Congress is going to reschedule cannabis and allow for states to set their own policies. Wooohooo! They are going to allow for banking and provide direct access at the Veterans Administration. Great, right? It is like a dream come true, you might think. But think again. The bill crafted here, while great for headlines, will likely do more harm than good in the long run; and will not really solve any of the problems facing the cannabis industry. The overall effects could range from very little, to actually destroying the fabric of the current cannabis landscape, as well as creating an environment that is much more restrictive and limiting than the programs we see now.
Let’s take a closer look at the CARERS Act and the smoke and mirrors it attempts to put forth.
Supporters of the bill claim that it will “allow states to set their own medical marijuana policies and eliminate federal prosecution of patients, providers, and businesses in states with medical marijuana programs.” The text inserted into the Controlled Substances Act is as follows:
Compliance With State Law.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the provisions of this title relating to marihuana shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with State law relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, laboratory testing, or delivery of medical marihuana.
The obvious issue is that this change ONLY applies to “medical marihuana.” Being that four states and D.C. have enacted adult use legalization, the limiting reach of changing the CSA to not apply to persons acting in compliance with state law where medical is concerned shines a spotlight on the still very criminal nature of those operating in the non-medical side of the industry. So while this is definitely the highlight of the CARERS Act, it still leaves a lot to be desired as to where the industry and Country are headed in relation to marijuana.
As a person living in California, it is not very comforting either. California is over 10% of the Country and probably over 50% of the current cannabis industry. Yet no one here really knows who is and who is not “acting in compliance with state law.” Everyone is a collective or cooperative, no matter what they do in the industry. They keep attempting to pass bad laws that will further clarify the industry and establish regulations and licensing, but even those are not set to take place until 2017 at the earliest, even if they were to pass today. So to be clear, really the CARERS Act does not protect anyone in California and just the medical only people in Colorado and Washington; and don’t forget that the State of Washington is also trying to severely limit their medical only industry. So the people protected by this provision to the CSA is very limited.
You can even take it one step further and realize that there is no working definition in this Act or in Federal law for what “medical marihuana” actually is. So it gives added protections to people for something that does not exist. As we have seen from state to state, what is and what is not considered “medical” is a pretty wide range of issues. So what this clause is protecting is really anyone’s guess.
But let’s get to the nitty-gritty…. Rescheduling. I have heard cannabis advocates call for rescheduling a million times, and I just don’t get it. The CARERS Act reschedules cannabis from Schedule 1 to the incredibly restrictive Schedule 2. This is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. This topic came up at my Federal sentencing for providing cannabis edibles. Here is that exchange between the Honorable Judge Claudia Wilken and my attorney Tony Serra:
The judge’s next matter of inquiry focused on documents the defense had filed regarding efforts to change the scheduling of marijuana. It’s currently in schedule I, a category for drugs with a high potential for addiction and no established medical benefit. However, Serra related a recent experience in U.S. District Court in Fresno that spoke against this categorization – after filing a series of affidavits about marijuana’s medical efficacy, the government had been unable to round up any witnesses to counter the claim. “The U.S. Attorney couldn’t find one doctor who could say there’s no medical efficacy,” he announced with pride.
If marijuana were rescheduled, Serra speculated, it would reduce the federal government’s power to harass medical marijuana providers and subject them to civil and criminal litigation. “Schedule I will be dumped,” he said confidently.
It was a change, he noted, that could also be propelled by a shift in the White House. “We’re hopeful Obama will be elected and there will be real change,” Serra suggested. “This is an area that’s crying out for reform.”
Judge Wilken was smiling and nodding conspicuously by this time. She seemed won over, and appeared to have no concerns about Serra crossing the line of campaigning in the courtroom. She did, however, have one point of confusion: if marijuana was moved from schedule I to schedule II, wouldn’t there still be problems with access? “Schedule II drugs can’t be passed around,” she remarked.
Serra looked up at her, shooting her his most charming smile. “We’re going for schedule III,” he said with buoyancy.
So here is a Federal judge looking at sentencing me for cannabis crimes and even she realizes that Schedule 2 would be problematic for access. Why? Because Schedule 2 is reserved for drugs that “have a high potential for abuse which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.” There are intense and cost prohibitive restrictions placed on manufacturing and dispensing these drugs, which include morphine and oxycodone. None of the state programs currently in place come anywhere near what is expected from companies that deal in Schedule 2 drugs. Therefore, when it is reclassified here state programs will need to conform to these restrictions to be validated, thus shutting down most all of the industry as we currently know it.
You will not be able to have it both ways. Right now cannabis is a Schedule 1 drug and the US Department of Justice has decided not to enforce the law in states that have enacted cannabis programs. It is not likely that once placed in the hands of the FDA through the rescheduling process that they will simply ignore that most people are not in compliance with Schedule 2 standards. You can also believe that manufacturers of schedule 2 drugs and the pharmacies that have to conform to rigid Schedule 2 standards will not sit idly by while another Schedule 2 drug, marijuana, is ignored and allowed to be produced and distributed under non Schedule 2 standards. No way. In fact, you can be sure they will want in on the deal and that they have the money and resources to meet Schedule 2 requirements. They will work hand in hand with the FDA and DEA to ensure that cannabis is treated as a Schedule 2 and that the same rules that apply to them apply to the entire industry.
Add to that the prescription requirements for a Schedule 2 drug, being that a patient must have a written prescription for it and the physician can not prescribe more that a 90 day supply. It will be interesting to see how rescheduling affects a doctor’s ability to recommend cannabis, and the current get a recommendation for a whole year for unlimited amounts of cannabis. Schedule 2 would in theory require for doctors to specify the amount used by the patient and not allow for them to access more than a 90 day supply based on that figure. Also, does anyone think that they are going to allow for you to grow your own or smoke a Schedule 2 drug. LOL. That is funny. I detal more of these questions in a former piece entitles “Is Rescheduling the Answer We Are Looking For?”
Now rescheduling will allow for some research to be done, but even that research is strictly limited. It will not be like just any researcher will be able to decide to research cannabis for any reason they want to. Researching Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 drugs require special ordering protocols, and can only be accessed through strict DEA registrations. Placing cannabis in Schedule 2 will tie the hands of researchers and what you will likely see is a lot of people researching ways cannabis can harm people, or why it is more ineffective than certain alternatives available.
Rescheduling of any sort without adult use legalization is going to leave the industry very vulnerable. Schedule 2 will be absolute murder. Assigning the definition of a scheduled drug to a quasi-legal and tolerated environment will cause extreme confusion and put defined limitations in place that no one here is ready for. You can all but assume that 90% of what we believe to be medical in today’s market (grow your own, smoking, most edibles, etc.) will not fit into the neat and tidy categories that are expected from the drug schedules. It will create pay to play business structure that will ensure most cannot afford to pay, and those who can will make sure no one else is playing.
The the CARERS Act goes one step further and excludes Cannabidiol (CBD) from the definition of marihuana. Huh? It is obvious that the sponsors of this bill have drank the Stanley Brother’s kool-aid; but differentiating CBD from other cannabinoids will do nothing more than encourage more limiting CBD only legislation in states. Saying that CBD is not even part of the definition of cannabis is dangerous and unnecessary. It puts CBD on a pedestal, while at the same time demonizing THC. There is no evidence that CBD only medicines are effective alternatives for more than a very small sliver of the cannabis population. This bill attempts to make a special place for CBD with ZERO real studies done on its effectiveness or viability as a medicine. It attempts to quantify it with the same standards used for hemp, implying that the arbitrary less that .o3% of THC is somehow a figure of relevance. It is not. It is the evolution of one bad law into another bad law. It is stupid.
Creating a path for CBD hucksters to virtually go unregulated is a recipe for failure. It is a part of a law that is written to appease those who continue to push the CBD dream at the expense of THC and other cannabinoids. We already see a great deal of policy created allowing only for CBD, and differentiating it from THC in an effort to say “CBD is the medical part of marijuana and THC is evil.” It is an extension of the misinformation campaigns against marijuana that have fueled prohibition for decades. It is a bad idea, and this law cements it into Federal law as if it were a valid scientific fact. It stinks, and I am fairly appalled to see it in the CARERS Act at all.
Then there are the banking provisions. As a person who has been denied several bank accounts and had even more closed, I am all for new banking regulations for cannabis businesses. The current situation is absurd. Even a cannabis trade school that sells nothing more than books and classes is unable to get banking. Dispensaries and producers have to transport and store large quantities of cash. It is a safety nightmare, and it is surprising that there have not been more issues.
But the issues I see with how the CARERS Act goes about the banking issue is with the term “marijuana-related legitimate business.” The term “legitimate” already assumes that there are illegitimate businesses. Banks were already given the go ahead to do banking with “legitimate” cannabis businesses that did not violate the USDOJ’s eight enforcement triggers. The banks scoffed at the memo released, as it forced them to decide who is “legitimate” and who is not. That is not a risk they were willing to take in early 2013, and I don’t think they will be much more inclined to jump at this Act’s definition of what is legitimate. Maybe they will, but my guess would be that as long as the lines as to what is and is not legitimate are shifting banks will still choose to not risk their money on a maybe. It is just not worth it to them.
Then it goes into the research aspect…. it states:
Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Attorney General, acting through the Drug Enforcement Administration, shall issue not less than 3 licenses under section 303 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 823) to manufacture marijuana and marijuana-derivatives for research approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
So those three manufacturers of marijuana are the ones you will have to order from, after your DEA registration for Schedule 2 drugs as discussed above. Then you can get into where these firms will get their seeds to grow their cannabis, and what the requirements will be for researchers to access the cannabis, if it is even worth studying. If the bill passed this year it is still a year from them issuing licenses and the companies have to develop their facilities and actually grow the cannabis. Then the researchers have to go through the application process and if they are awarded the right to research Schedule 2 cannabis then they might get it somewhere in 2018 or 2019. LOL. Even then, as pointed out above, they are most likely to study the harmful effects of cannabis or why other medical options are better. Because it is Schedule 2, it will make researching it difficult and not likely to be available to small research firms focused on its benefits. But maybe I am just cynical about the medical and pharmaceutical industries. Who knows?
The one saving grace may be the allowance of Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend cannabis for those in states that allow for it. But even that will have special forms that doctors have to fill out, and which will likely be tracked to ensure the doctors are not too pot friendly. But it is hopeful that Veterans would have access to cannabis more easily, especially for its benefits where PTSD is concerned. These dudes have killed people for American freedom… can we get them a joint already?
The big reality is that I probably wasted my time and energy writing this entire article because the CARERS Act likely has ZERO chance of passing in our current do-nothing Congress. It is naive to think that lawmakers could come together on something as complex as this, but then again…. stranger things have happened. I just don’t see it. I think outright marijuana legalization would have a better shot at passing than this bill.
I am not a big fan of the Act. I understand people’s willingness to be excited over any legitimization of cannabis at the Federal level; but this bill will likely not help and could certainly hurt our efforts. I am not thrilled to have to oppose it, but nonetheless I do. Take it for what it is, not for what you want it to be.
I am both happy and saddened by this development, but truly believe it is the right decision for me, my family, the company, and the patients we serve…. selah.
For Immediate Release: March 20, 2015
Compassion Edibles CEO Mickey Martin steps down to allow for new leadership. Board of Directors to name new CEO in coming weeks.
Oakland, CA – Compassion Edibles Chief Executive Mickey Martin resigned his position on Thursday in order to take on larger political projects on the cannabis industry horizon. His long tenure with the company he helped found ended among concerns that his current ambitions did not allow for him to commit the time and energy needed to effectively operate Compassion Edible’s growing business model. Martin will remain as an advisor to the company, consulting on regulatory matters and helping to develop sound best practices for the organization.
“There comes a time when an organization needs new leadership and direction to continue to grow. I enjoy my position in the cannabis industry as a political advocate and outspoken activist. That, at times, can create for difficult issues in operating a business whose mission is to reach as many patients as possible with their safe, effective, and delicious products,” said Martin. “I can no longer allow my personal limitations stand in the way of progress, and the company has grown to a point where it truly needs more than I am able to give. I will always be grateful for the opportunity Compassion Edibles provided for me, but time has come to turn over my position to someone who can give the attention to detail it takes to compete in today’s blossoming edibles market. I look forward to continuing to work with Compassion on fundraising efforts and in a part-time advisory role in the future. I am confident the values I instilled in the company will continue to guide it for years to come.”
The company is set to launch several new products in coming months, and has an exciting calendar of events planned for the year. Compassion Edibles recently took on new distribution partners that will allow for the products to reach new areas of the state that were previously limited by logistical matters. They are also exploring launching in other states in the near future. This, coupled with a renewed commitment to quality assurance and dosage management, positions the company for amazing growth potential moving forward. The market for food-based cannabis medicines has exploded in recent months, and Compassion Edibles looks forward to continuing to lead the market in providing the best value to patients who enjoy our products. We will continue to develop self-regulatory protocols to ensure consistency and quality at every level of the production process; and will continue to invest in perfecting our formulations to ensure proper and accurate dosages.
Our new CEO will certainly have their hands full, but the company is proud to announce that some amazing candidates are being considered for this position. They will be announcing their new selection after the next scheduled Board meeting at the beginning of April. The new CEO will be responsible for implementing organizational standards and helping the company transition into regulatory models set forth by the state in coming months and years. Given the focus of edibles in the media, and concerns expressed by public officials across the nation, the demand for consistent and professional edible products continues to grow at an incredible rate. Providing the organization with a solid foundation is imperative to achieve our objectives.
“Compassion Edibles was founded by Mickey Martin and we will always be grateful for the years of dedication he was able to provide us. The company has been through many difficult and trying days in our nearly 15 years of existence, and Mickey provided strong and unwavering leadership through those times. His decision to move on did not come lightly, nor was it a decision made in haste,” said current Board member and cancer survivor Jason Anderson. “But there comes a time in every organization’s evolution where we must all stand back and take stock of the situation, and make the best decision for the company, our staff, and the patients we serve. The values that Mickey stands for will always be an intricate part of our business model, but the company is at a place where it requires a Chief Executive that can be hands on and who can guide the organization to achieve our mission.”
Martin’s resignation is effective immediately. Jason Anderson will serve as the company’s interim CEO until a successor is selected. For questions or concerns feel free to call us at (510) 502-0419 or email us at email@example.com. Contact us directly to receive a sample box of our great products. For more information on our organization and products visit us online at www.compassionedibles.com.
At this moment there are several groups working on efforts to legalize cannabis for adult use in 2016. The reality is that there is a lot to consider in these efforts as this law will govern cannabis users and the industry for decades to come. It is imperative that we get it right the first time and ensure that the law is fair and just.
What we must consider is that a lot of people charged with this effort do not have any real life experience in the cannabis industry in California. Most are attorneys and reform advocates who have never really bought or sold a pound of weed in their lives. They may not understand how the industry works, so it is up to us to inform them of our wants and needs in the language they are drafting.
To facilitate this conversation REFORMCA.org has created a discussion page that YOU can be a part of. The site is user friendly, being able to sign in with social media or as a guest. It is currently separated into different categories of discussion that address the many issues facing our community, and the need to develop sound language that support these issues. It is important that we all take part in the conversation and allow those who are creating this law to hear us loud and clear. We need to find areas of broad consensus, and have a robust conversation in areas where there is real concern. Utilizing the www.REFORMCA.org site will help consolidate the conversation and create a positive space for the discussion. Your participation is valued and an important part of this process.
This interactive site is a useful tool, as it enables users to join in the discussion directly, as well as vote on conversations to bring them more prominence in the discussion. The site is a safe place for a vibrant conversation and is moderated regularly to ensure compliance and respect.
Social change efforts like this are difficult. In a state as large as California with so many different viewpoints and opinions, it is important for everyone to have their voice heard. Your input can help others to find their voice, and hopefully we can find a way to create an initiative that is positive for everyone. Together we can help those writing the language to understand the vast cannabis landscape that makes up California and create a law that serves us all well. A fair and level playing field is imperative and it is up to us to lay out our desires and needs clearly and effectively. A lively debate is important to stimulate the marketplace of ideas.
Be the change you want to see and lend your voice to the discussion. YOU do matter and REFORMCA.org is here to help you be a part of the solution.
WHAT IS REFORMCA.ORG?
ReformCA.org is an online resource dedicated to moving forward the conversation for the reform effort to legalize cannabis for adult use in California in 2016. As we speak lawyers and stakeholders are working on language that will define how cannabis is possessed, used, grown, processed, transported, distributed, and sold in our State for decades to come. It is imperative we get it right now to avoid issues in the future. For those of us who have spent years developing the cannabis movement and industry in California the words drafted in this initiative are not just important…they are vital to our future.
We must stand up and be accounted for in the process. Individuals and organizations from all over the State and from different sectors of the cannabis landscape have understandably different views and understandings of what it will take to create a legal cannabis industry that is fair, and which serves the cannabis user well. This site is aimed at creating a safe place for us to come together to express our ideas and opinions in hopes of finding areas of broad consensus. It is true that we will never all agree on everything, and none of us should go into the conversation expecting to be right on every point we make; but we must make a concerted effort to find reasonable solutions to difficult problems, Part of having a fair and open conversation is going in open-minded and not starting from a point where everyone else who disagrees with us is wrong. While the conversation is sure to get heated at times, as this is deeply important to so many of us, we MUST allow for everyone to feel safe in voicing their opinion. Please respect others in this debate.
There are many aspects to ending prohibition for us all to consider. The definition of cannabis freedom can take on many forms to many different people. At the end of the day, what all of us should hope to achieve in reforming cannabis laws in California and the world is an environment where people can use cannabis freely without fear of arrest, punishment, or loss of standing in the community. We should hope for an industry that is a level playing field where producers and retailers of cannabis can openly compete for the cannabis market without impossible barriers to entry that limit choice and innovation. The goal should always be a market that produces ample high quality cannabis at the greatest value to the consumer.
So how do we get there? What can we do to be a part of the solution? What must be in the initiative language to make this all possible? What must NOT be in the language? Where are areas we can find compromise; and what are the deal breakers for us?
My hope for ReformCA.org is that it is a place where we can put it all on the table, and influence those putting forth initiative efforts to consider our voices in the process. From those of us who grow cannabis; to those who process raw cannabis into amazing finished goods; to those who distribute cannabis products; to those who run cannabis stores; to those who operate auxiliary businesses; we all work together in an industry that should ultimately benefit the cannabis consumer and provide high quality cannabis products that are convenient, affordable, and safe.
Please take the time to be a part of this discussion, no matter what your role is with cannabis. Create an account and share with us your ideas, your wants, and your needs. As the language for these laws is developed and discussed we can use the ReformCA.org platform to organize and evolve the conversation. In the end, we hope that whatever language makes the ballot is one that has been vetted by our community and something we can all live with and prosper. Thank you for taking the time ad energy to be a part of the ReformCA.org community. We look forward to an incredible marketplace of ideas where we can share and learn about the efforts to end cannabis prohibition once and for all in California.
I have avoided writing this story because the last time I wrote a piece about Aundre and her partners in crime in 2012 I was mysteriously attacked and my family was threatened right afterwards. It was 2012, in the thick of the Oakland permitting process, and I wrote a piece about her and her buddy Montel Williams scamming people who she owed money to and lying to Oakland officials to get the open permit there. The piece was called “Why Montel Williams is Bad for Weed.” It was one of the last pieces I wrote on my old blog Cannabis Warrior, which I shut down after these fucks followed my wife and took pictures of her dropping my kids off at school, complete with a poorly worded threat to my family that was mailed to me fro Juarez, Mexico under the guise of a Mexican cartel.
This letter was the third attack on me for my story. First I came out one morning to my tires being slashed. Shortly after that happened, Aundre called one of my good friends because she “wanted to talk before things got any uglier.” It was an odd message to receive from the person who delivered it, as there was no connection beyond him just being my friend. We had never discussed this person or had any dialogue about one another over the years. It was just out of the blue… a phone call. “Aundre Speciale called me. She said she wanted to talk to you before things got any uglier.” I told him to tell her to go fuck herself because she was a thief and unethical lying bitch. We will get into those details shortly.
About a week after that I was leaving a dispensary I frequent in Sacramento when an older white biker looking guy walked right up to the window of my car on a hot summer day and sprayed me point blank with pepper spray. The fuck nailed me right as I was lighting a cigarette and filled my face and the rest of my car up with his toxic spray. Hardly able to see, I took off into the middle of a busy street and was able to pull off on a side road before I got into a major accident. I then crept down the side roads to a nearby hotel and got them to give me a bunch of milk to wash my face and called some local friends to come help me. I had been physically assaulted in public over this shit. It all began to make sense now.
About 10 days later is when I received the letters above threatening my family. My wife was incredibly spooked and she begged me to take my blog down… so I did. CannabisWarrior.com disappeared, I removed myself from Facebook and other social media, and I laid low for several months. I eventually found the courage to start this blog, but you will notice to this day my name is still not directly on it. That was by design. Of course people figured out my writing style and that it was me, and I eventually came out of hiding. It was an incredibly traumatic time for my family, and I am still incredibly angry about it to this day.
So how did it all begin?
Flashback to 2009 after I was sentenced by the Feds for operating Tainted Inc. Aundre was operating Capitol Wellness in Sacramento, and decided she wanted to “help” me out. She donated $2,500 to me when I was struggling, which she would later expect me to give her free bounce houses and snow-cone machines for her lavish parties, as I operated a party rental company at the time. She is a manipulative bitch who tried to hold her lousy donation over my head, as she loves to pretend how altruistic she is and will donate money to people and causes to win their friendship and loyalty. She still does this to this day, and it is a ruse at best. Her sole reason for doing these types of things is to say “See what a good person I am.” Don’t believe the hype.
She then hired me to do some work for her new facility in Sacramento. We remodeled and furnished her new location and I began to help her develop sound business practices, as she accused all of her staff of stealing from her and that she was losing money. So we developed inventory control protocols and cash tracking systems to help manage the business side of the matter. At the time, she was only paying me half of what she owed, with the big promise that she would repay me everything after she was able to open her Berkeley location CBCB, which she had gotten a permit to operate by conning the cash strapped previous owners. I appreciated the work, and was happy to be able to at least pay some bills with the promise of getting paid the rest down the road.
Her and her partner at the time operated Capitol Wellness with reckless abandon. They took advantage of people who brought in weed, taking out loan after loan from these hard working growers and producers in the form of consignment. She racked up literally HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS in debt from people who were willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and leave product with her. She consistently took money out of the business to fund her lavish lifestyle, pay for her house, and to travel partying from one festival to the next party, claiming her madness was all one big business expense.
Now Aundre on the face is a likable person. She can act very kind and sweet when she wants to, and is amazing at manipulating people. She can turn on the crying any moment she wants to elicit an emotional response. She continued to rob Peter to pay Paul and gave sob stories to the many people she had taken advantage of, while she spent their money on molley and partying like a rockstar. There were literally so many people, including her staff, who she owed money too that it became impossible to give her the benefit of the doubt any longer.
We began working at the Berkeley facility doing the build out there… unpermitted of course. We built the walls, painted the place and installed the flooring that you see there today. At this time Aundre began to really be spread thin, and was running out of lies to tell people about why she didn’t have their money. She continued to beg, borrow, and steal from anyone and everyone to continue her party and try to open the Berkeley spot. At this time she began to not even pay us half of what she owed. She expected us to work for free on promises of being paid after it opened. I pulled out of the project halfway through the floor installation, and a couple of the guys I was working with ended up finishing it off and never getting paid for their work. She then hired another contractor to do a bunch of work, who she never paid either. At the time I left we were owed well over $20k. I know the other contractor did a bunch of HVAC work and other major configuration which he is still owed about $50k to this day.
We had written off the money, knowing she was no good for it; but then entered Montel Williams.
Now after Montel decided to go all over the press bragging about his facelift to the organization and his role as a “consultant” I was contacted by these two little old ladies who were owed $8,500 from Aundre. They said they had contacted Montel directly and he replied to them they better delete his phone number or he will sick the police on them. Nice guy, right? These were two seniors on a fixed income who desperately needed that money, as they counted on it to supplement their incomes. I agreed to help them organize a protest, and wrote a damning press release and began rallying the troops. The night before the protest the word got out to them and Abatin contacted the ladies and agreed to pay them what was owed in exchange for them signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement. We decided to do the protest anyway without them, as there were many people owed money by her that needed a voice.
Below is the Press Release that went out:
For Immediate Release:
Montel Williams medical cannabis dispensary owes tens of thousands of dollars to member providers and contractors and refuses to pay their past debts. A protest has been organized by outraged vendors, including two senior citizens who live on fixed incomes and have been greatly affected by their unwillingness to pay their bills.
(Patients and concerned citizens will gather in protest on Friday, June 17 at noon at Abatin Wellness (29th & U) to express their frustrations.)
By: Concerned citizens and hard-working people that Abatin Wellness (formerly Capitol Wellness) have defaulted payment to for goods and services provided. We will be joined by some who question the integrity of an organization that would spend tens of thousands of dollars on facility upgrades, when they owe hundreds of people in the community for their hard work, and have seemingly circumvented the Sacramento ordinance that regulates medical cannabis dispensaries.
• On Monday, June 13th Montel Williams held a press conference declaring his leading role in the newly renovated and renamed Abatin Wellness Center, stating he would be “involved at every level of the cooperative, from the philosophical direction, down to the blueprints.” He apparently does not think that financials are included in “everything,” as his management group has failed to do the right thing.
• Capitol Wellness Center (CWC) is Sacramento’s oldest remaining dispensary and over the past couple of years have mounted hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt due to mismanagement.
• When the new partnership was formed with the “Abatin” group there has been an effort to intimidate and mislead people that are owed money by CWC, using bankruptcy laws and threats of disclosure to discourage people from demanding payment. These underhanded tactics have left many in the community questioning the validity and decency of the new “ownership.”
• The City of Sacramento has laid out a clear ordinance regulating the operations and application process for dispensaries, and it seems this group is circumventing the process in several ways, including being closed for more than 30 days and transferring ownership through back door deals.
WHAT: A peaceful protest of Motel William’s and his new “partnership” at Abatin Wellness Center for their lack of integrity, honesty, transparency, and decency. An action to bring awareness to the unsavory business practice happening with the new “ownership” of Abatin, formerly Capitol Wellness Center. A demonstration to demand that the City look deeper into the apparent takeover of a once humble and independently operated dispensing collective by an apparent investment group associated with Mr. Williams, who now is paid a consulting fee for his endorsement of this dispensary; we question how they cannot afford to pay what is owed by the collective but they can afford to pay Montel Williams.
WHO: A group of patients, providers and contractors who are concerned about the business practices of Abatin Wellness Center and their inability to pay their debts to honest and hard-working people, including two senior citizens who live on fixed income and have been greatly affected by Capitol Wellness’ defaulting on what they are owed. People directly affected by the apparent take-over and failure to pay by a group associated with TV celebrity Montel Williams. Other concerned citizens that question the legal ability of this group to circumvent local laws, and use a paid celebrity to gain competitive advantage.
WHERE: Abatin Wellness Center (formerly CWC) – 2900 U St., Sacramento CA
WHEN: Friday, June 17th at 12:00 p.m. (Noon)
WHY: To confront the new “ownership” and question their reasoning for not assuming the debt of the corporation upon ownership transfer. Because patients, providers and those who are owed money by this organization deserve to be paid in full BEFORE hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on renovations, upgrades, and celebrity spokespeople. To bring awareness to a situation that has been handled poorly by the new management group, including attorney Gary Hiller. To let the community know that this group is not worthy of their income and collective resources, as they have defaulted on paying hundreds of hard working people in an already tough economy and to encourage them to go elsewhere in Sacramento for their medical cannabis services.
After the protest I was contacted by many people who Aundre owed money. While most were just story after story about people who had once trusted Aundre only to be burned by her and never paid, there was this one email that provided a lot of insight into the current takeover by Montel and his group of investors. Here is that email in its entirety:
Thanks for getting back to me. I will definitely be there for the next one. One of the people i was speaking of is filing small claims on monday. I have contacted the city attorney here as well as the city clerk that oversee’s medical cannabis. The city attorney didn’t respond but he forwarded my email to the city clerk. She emailed me all CBCB applications and operational standards agreements made with the city. The commission hasn’t met at all this year but her email tonight says that they are meeting in a couple of weeks and as far as i can tell from the paper work she sent…the name on the zoning permit is still aundre’s. I will forward to you in case you are interested…most of it not relevant material. I may have personal evidence that information was falsified for that permit application here in Berkeley that might be compelling enough to revoke the permit. I also know that for sac….i was touring with montel, andre, and jim (they were trying to hire me…thank GOD i made the right decision.) the first week they took controlling interest….they were in a mad dash scramble to make that 27th street location appear to be open as aundre was saying something about being in violation of the permit because the doors had been closed for months…as the employee’s looted the place because they were not being paid. Andre was a friend, and on some level i feel bad for her but you can only say sorry and blame your previous partners so much….. I wish nothing bad for her personally. I witnessed her pulling cash from the tills to pay her mortgage on her personal residence, I witnessed it again when she was dolling out cash to pay an attorney to represent her suit against the FED’s for the farm bust. The employee’s claimed to have had an open tab at starry plough on her business credit card. Meanwhile she was partying at the white house with cheech & chong and the playboy mansion on our dime!!
I don’t know if you have had any contact with Shawn Sedaghat or Jim Zaun…they are the management company and Shawn calls all the shots…I met with them last Saturday before montel flew in…this was after a compelling letter i sent to shawn…he replied that he was confident we could reach an amicable solution so i went up and wasted 6 hours of my day…they were 1 hour late…gave me the same bull shit…then claimed that in order to be fair to everyone they wanted to offer us all 1/3 of our outstanding invoices and also go back and 1099 everyone for everything they ever brought in. 3 days before my meeting another friend they owe was called in to meet jim. jim led him to believe he wanted to meet to settle up the money owed…instead he gave BS excuses and tried to extrapulate genetic breeding info. for his CBD strain. classy eh? As i skimmed the paper work from the city of berkeley…which also shows that kris hermes was a partner at some point…anyway i believe i understood that there were not any tax laws in place for vendors as it was a transfer of goods and services within a collective…only tax liability were on the resale/retail side of things.
Shawn is an Iranian multi millionaire investor and he and Montel are close personal friends from the MS foundation and Montel is more than just the face guy. Montel is heavily involved behind closed doors with shawn. They have a 2-1 controlling interest on the internal board of directors. It’s amazing how many scams follow montel’s name…exercise equipment, toaster, juicers, fake coins, and loans…just in a five minute search last night. I am starting to think he is a puppet for the feds. What medicinal cannabis patient on this planet would open a dispensary that only appeals to people who would never use cannabis??? those services they claim to offer are already available at many dispensaries…the difference is patients sign up or chose them. Shawn told me saturday that every patient is overdosing themselves on cannabis and they are going to change that. my response was that he was overdosing daily on nicotine and coffee which have way more harmfulll effects!! Hard to prove maybe….but Shawn had never smoke cannabis until i showed him how to use a bong…i am sure he just obtained a card so that he could make millions. I am more concerned as a patient about the public slander of our doctors (the ones that pur their careers and reputations on the line so patients like him could even have access to the medicine) and the way they have all refered to everyone of us as drug dealers and criminals. His right hand guy Jim boasts about being a great drug dealer in his past!!! Montel has known the details of the outstanding debt since… like 2-3 months before they even came on board with aundre…this consulting shit they are saying is smoke and mirrors. They are preparing to side step liability. Shawn keeps saying they are meeting with Eric Holder and that he and montel have had this plan to roll out a nation wide model (that the feds will except) that they can then take global. Shawn own a packaging company in Italy that is closely associated with Revlon…they also own a medical packaging business on top of many other business.
This is alot of info…if you ever have the free time we should meet up for coffee. I am in downtown berkeley. FYI…i sent my official demand letter to shawn at his email address 48 hours ago… and have heard no response, which was expected. I will do almost anything to get my money and help others get theirs. I want both their operating permits revoked!! I spoke with James Anothony about the debt 2 days ago…he didn’t want the case…but when i emailed him back asking if he was interested if i my goal was to revoke their permit….oddly enough he responded and wants me to call him asap about by goals? Fucking attorneys… Anyway, i will send over the info. and check with the 2 people i am in contact to get their ok to share their personal info.
This firsthand account of what was going on was too much to ignore. We began planning more protests. I was soon contacted by Aundre on Facebook in hopes of finding resolution. Here are some of those messages:
??? im seriously not in control over there anymore. shit got soooo bad i had to hand it over just to keep the doors open. i would love to talk face to face but the short version is from the time you and bill and kimberly and everyone left cw and he took over, not a single thing was handled and by the time i got my head outta my ass and looked at what was goin on over there, we were in sum deep shit. im so fucked myself, swear to jah i didnt get a penny outta the deal, i gotta job for now, but im lookin at filing for bankrupcy. you know me, im a fuck up but i never fucked anyone over, shit got sooo crazy i dint know how to get outta it.
Actually, what it is said that she got out of the deal was her house mortgage paid, her new VW SUV paid off, and a well-paid position as their symbolic “Executive Director.” Meanwhile the investment group had taken over operations of both Sacramento and Berkeley.
I was offered a settlement for $12,500 of what was owed to my companies, as that was what was owed to me in wages for services provided. The other folks I worked with on the project were left high and dry. I was also forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement under duress to get my money, which is completely illegal. I continued to speak out on the group and their unsavory business practices. I know of dozens of people to this day who have never been paid. The group was offering to pay people but they would have to agree to sign a 1099 and report EVERYTHING they ever brought into the dispensary, often leaving more of a tax burden than what was still owed. They used their attorneys to muscle many people into just walking away and writing off the loss as an experience in trusting shady bitches like Aundre.
Then came the Oakland RFP process for four new medical cannabis dispensaries and sure enough Montel Williams himself was the sole applicant for Abatin Wellness. I did a lot of investigative reporting on the Oakland process, getting all of the applications through a public records request and running some background checks on many questionable individuals. I was incredibly surprised by Montel’s application, as it was literally 27 pages compared to other applications ranging from 200-300 pages each. Like I said, Montel was the ONLY name listed on the application when it was submitted. It was like he truly believed he had it in the bag or something, so much he didn’t even have to really file a thorough application.
I continued to pry into the situation, and was not surprised to find out he had been warming up to Oakland City Council persons, including Rebecca Kaplan. The scores came out, and as Oakland’s process was highly suspect, four groups with close ties to Oakland public officials were initially awarded the permits. Montel’s group came in a paltry 8th out of 10 applicants.
But notice the amazing 94 points they received on their “TEST.” You know why? Because Americans for Safe Access California Director Don Duncan took it for them. Now mind you that ONLY Montel’s name was on the application. So technically he was supposed to be the only one allowed to take the test. But his team of lawyers made the following compelling argument on why Duncan was indeed on the Board of Directors for Abatin Wellness:
This clearly establishes that the Abatin Group, led by Montel Williams at the time and directed by Aundre Speciale, hired Don Duncan of Americans for Safe Access to be on their Board of Directors and not only take their test for them, but also lobby the City on their behalf.
Months later it was revealed that this same investment group had bought out Don Duncan’s interest in his West Hollywood dispensary LAPCG, and Don moved to Sacramento full time to lobby for Americans for Safe Access. It should be noted that many of the policies ASA has lobbied for recently would seem to favor the dispensaries operated by the group through restrictive permitting and barriers to entry. You can decide if that is a coincidence or not.
While the organization came in 8th place, notice that they currently hold a license in Oakland for Phytologie. This is where it got interesting and I got attacked. One of the groups, AMCD Inc. was disqualified around the public hearing phase after it was revealed they had lied on their application.
Shortly thereafter another group, G8 Medical Alliance Inc., was disqualified for their involvement with Dhar Mann who was indicted on 13 felony counts for defrauding the City of Oakland on properties he owned and received grants for. This left one license available and open to go to the remaining group of applicants.
At this time Montel’s group hired a local Oakland attorney who had close ties to City officials to lobby on their behalf because they had a building they had purchased ready to go. They began to try to discredit other applicants through false reports of their operations and tried to undermine the other applicants to get the one available remaining permit in Oakland. It was enraging to hear about their efforts, as Aundre literally screwed over half of the industry and sold her soul to get Sacramento and Berkeley open and operating. Now she was spreading false rumors that other folks were shady? No way…
So I began to compile evidence and submitted it to the Oakland City Administrators office. I was aware that the Abatin group was filing public information requests for my communications and the City gave me the option of not submitting the evidence, as it could not be kept confidential. I submitted it anyways, as it was the right thing to do. Several other folks who she owed money to also contacted the City to tell them about her immoral business practices.
This was when my friend received the ominous phone call that Aundre wanted to talk to me before things got ugly. Shortly after all of my tires were slashed, followed by me being pepper sprayed while leaving a dispensary in Sacramento. Then I received the threats to my family pictured above. It changed my life. I was forced to remove my Cannabis Warrior blog and I lived in virtual hiding for several months. It still traumatizes my wife to this day and I have little doubt about who was behind it.
And after all that, another applicant dropped out of the race and they were awarded the permit anyways as the only remaining viable option.
I later found out that Aundre had an ex-boyfriend pull a similar stunt on her threatening her in the name of a Mexican drug cartel. This was just too much to ignore given the timing of it all, and the demand that I stay off of the internet in the letter that threatened my family.
It took me a long time to reconcile the situation and I have mostly remained quiet. My wife begged me to let it go, and for the most part I have. It was not an easy task as these fucking people actually followed my wife and kids around taking pictures of them and threatened their well-being. I wake up angry about it every day, and I have lost plenty of sleep over the last two and a half years since it happened. I live under guarded security at this time, with security systems and cameras in place at all times.
To add insult to injury, I shared these photos once on Facebook and was contacted by the FBI regarding the matter. That is right. The FBI. They were concerned for my safety. Go figure. What an interesting discussion that was.
So why bring it up now you may ask? Why put these accusations out publicly after all of this time? Why risk mine and my family’s personal safety again? What do I gain from it all? Is it worth it?
To be honest I do not fucking know. I know I have been carrying this around for the last two and a half years and very few people in my inner circle are aware of the situation. I do not think anyone is aware of it in its entirety as spelled out here. For me, it is cathartic to put it out there for the community to absorb. I would rather die with my boots on. I can no longer allow the fear for my family paralyze me. I know in my heart what happened and can no longer sit idly by without saying anything. It is not in my nature. It was only a matter of time. My reality is that I either had to write this piece or I would probably end up enacting some repressed revenge one day that would get me in a lot of trouble. I do not need that; so I decided to spell it out here in the open for all to see and let it go. This community can decide if they want to continue to allow people like this to prance around like they are some Debby Do-gooder when in all reality they are immoral fucks who have burned a lot of people and who will continue to burn more to achieve their objectives.
So as you sit there tomorrow at the International Business Conference in San Francisco watching this fraud speak on the Dispensary 5000 panel like some sort of expert, know that she a.) has no idea how to operate a dispensary; b.) fucked over innumerable people and then sold them out to fund her ventures; and c.) is a terrible person willing to be a part of unspeakable acts to further her efforts. If that is who you want to stand behind and hold up as some sort of expert, then I guess we have a different opinion of what this industry should be about. There is no room for these types of folks to have a seat at the table, no matter how innocent and sweet their manipulative ass makes them sound.
Aundre is one of several snakes that have used their connections in the community to work their way into the inner circles of the cannabis community. She is now merely a puppet like so many others who make appearances and work to bullshit their way to the top on behalf of their overlords. It disgusts me to see her wander around at events like she never ripped everyone off and everything is okay. For a lot of people out tens of thousands of dollars it is not okay. She often portrays herself as a victim, blaming anyone and everyone for the damage she caused…. and a lot of folks have bought this bullshit story hook, line, and sinker- often attached to a favor or fancy donation. It must suck to have to buy friends.
At one time I considered Aundre a good friend. I always knew she was a troubled human from the days when she tried to open a dispensary in Venice while whacked out on dope, and her strong arm maneuvers to gain total control of Capitol Wellness from her former partner; but I too bought the story for a period of time and chose to ignore the telltale signs of her fraud. That was my bad.
My hopes of retelling this tale is to create an understanding of what type of beast we are dealing with here, and the types of underhanded and aggressive tactics that are taken to silence people like myself. This is a person who cannot be trusted, and who is using her smiley face, and standing in the community, to fuck over people to benefit her investors.
If I am harmed again for speaking out then so be it. That is a chance I would have to take. The officer that responded to the threats when we initially received them told me “I know you are a convicted felon, but sometimes a person has to do what they have to do to protect their family. I am not telling you to get a firearm. I couldn’t do that, but…”; and he left it at that. He agreed that this was not the work of a cartel because they generally do not send letters. What he did say was, “Whoever you pissed off, you got very close to something.” I agreed…. and I knew who and what I had gotten close to.
I have since received even more damning evidence from upper level management that used to work for them. The whole deal is incredibly shady…. and these are the people we are advancing as experts and representatives of ethical business practices at our events? Spare me. I am over the whole fucking deal and am glad to finally have it off of my chest. Now I do not have to explain it, or sit in silence about it. It is done.
I am sure Aundre will deny every word of this, and that is okay. She has spent her entire life lying, so why would I expect any different now? I don’t. But everyone of you who know her know you have been lied to at one time or another. You have heard the stories and the tall tales. You have forgiven them as irresponsible and childish behavior. I for one disagree. I cannot forgive and forget. I will not. I can’t…. and now you know why.
California is a strange deal where medical cannabis is concerned. Proposition 215 is over 18 years old, and was an extraordinary law that spawned the modern cannabis revolution. It was simple and to the point, and allowed for the proliferation of the cannabis market we see today. It laid the foundation for people to not to be treated as criminals for their choice to use cannabis as a medicine.
In 2003 the Californian State Legislature begrudgingly passes SB420, which laid out some basic framework for how the medical cannabis program here works. It set some boundaries in place, some of which have been challenged and overturned in the CA Supreme Court. This law established the current “collective” and “cooperative” loose framework that currently governs the entire billion dollar cannabis industry in the State. To make a long story short every cannabis business in California is classified as a cooperative or collective, all assumingly operating as not-for-profit businesses. It is nuts. I wrote more in depth about it in a piece entitled, “What the hell is a medical cannabis collective anyway?”
There is NO State licensing for any type of cannabis businesses. The ONLY licensing in the State are for cannabis dispensaries, and those are all licensed by local authority. The evolution of cannabis laws stems from a groundbreaking ordinance passed in the City of Oakland in 2005 that first regulated cannabis dispensaries, as the City was overrun with weed stores and felt the need to bring them under control. It was an interesting time as the industry took a very “every man for themselves” attitude and groups began to position themselves to be one of the lucky four out of dozens to receive the first licensing for a cannabis business in the state. Because dispensaries are retail businesses open to the public they garnered a lot of attention, and were the focal point of regulation by cities and towns looking to control the situation.
Cities and counties watched as Oakland licensed cannabis businesses. Shortly after liberal strongholds of San Francisco and Berkeley followed suit, passing regulatory ordinance for cannabis dispensaries that were operating in their town. At the same time you saw jurisdictions rushing to ban these types of businesses as they began to spring up around the state. In Los Angeles you saw the epitome of a shit show as hundreds of businesses opened up with no regulation; and the city still struggles to this day to find order in the chaos.
Dispensary laws have evolved throughout the state in many different ways, with regulations varying from municipality to municipality. There is no rhyme or reason to the laws and no uniformity of implementation.
But here is the real kicker…. there are NO real laws governing the production of cannabis and cannabis products. People who provide cannabis medicines to dispensaries have ZERO protections through licensing anywhere in the state. It is as if the cannabis is supposed to magically just appear.
Cannabis is a hot button topic, and most places have passed either dispensary regulations or prohibition laws out of necessity. They have not come willingly to the table on most occasions to address the issue. None have really had the courage to confront the issue of cannabis production. Some have tried and failed, like Oakland’s famed four huge grows program that is blamed for the Federal crackdown of 2011; and Mendocino’s attempt at a zip tie program that allowed for 99 plant collective gardens, which was also attacked by the Feds and shut down. But there is no license to grow weed, to make hash, or to produce edibles and other finished products anywhere in the state. Producers of medicine like myself are largely left to fend for ourselves. We are forced to operate under the radar and do our best to remain undetected in our communities. It is very much a don’t ask, don’t tell situation.
What has resulted is a lot of power given to the retail sector of the market….. the weed stores. They have become the gatekeepers in the industry and have gained a lot of political advantage due to their ability to be out in the open under the protection of their licensing. This has given them the ability to play kingmaker and use their power to control vast parts of the industry. They currently have this advantage due to an unlevel playing field that greatly favors their business model; but you can be sure it will not stay this way forever.
Think of your normal marketplace for any commodity. In the normal world retailers are usually just facilitators of goods. Very few dominant retailers control their markets. You have Best Buy in electronics. Staples in the office sector. Macy’s in the fashion sector. Wal-Mart is an obvious powerhouse. But in general, most retailers are regional outfits that serve certain communities and provide an outlet for desired goods. In most markets the companies that produce the goods hold a lot of power.
For instance… take booze. A liquor store cannot exist if it does not have Budweiser and Jack Daniels on the shelf. Sure… major retailers like BevMo can command better pricing through large volume purchasing, but for the most part in that industry producers of beer dominate the landscape. You never see a “Jim’s Liquor Store” Nascar. You see a Budweiser one. The companies who produce high demand products dictate the marketplace. Small batch producers of beer with less demand have to compete more rigorously for their place in the market, but the craft brew and small batch wine industries continues to explode, garnering more and more of the market from traditional behemoths like Anheuser-Busch. The point is that the average booze store does not have a hell of a lot of power.
Or could you imagine an electronics store without Sony products? Impossible. No Playstation? Please.
The development of world class products that consumers want is what drives the market. Innovation creates demand, and demand forces retailers to carry certain products. Every store that has electronics for sale has to offer Playstation, or they sacrifice a large base of potential customers. The larger the store the better the pricing they can get, which is where retailers can control the market. But believe Sony would get by without Best Buy, yet best Buy could never survive without Sony. The demand for their products is too high. People seek them out because they make great products. Have you played a PS4 lately? Holy shit that is a lot of fun.
The cannabis market in California is currently flipped upside down. Due to political necessity the dispensaries have been afforded with licensing and legitimacy. I know a lot of good people who operate dispensaries that understand how lucky they are. They have also risked a lot to get their businesses open and to maintain success in an extremely murky environment. There is no doubt that dispensaries have paved the way for medical cannabis in California through being on the front lines of an often heated debate. They have been the public face of this industry for a long time now, and often under the most scrutiny. But they also are the ONLY groups who have actual licensing to operate their cannabis business under clear regulatory framework.
Producers of medicine are forced to self-regulate and hope for the best. There is no real safety provided through having legal guidelines that govern a business. It is crazy if you actually sit back and think about it. With all the billions of dollars in weed grown, hash made, edibles produced, and don’t forget the lube, it is nuts to think this all happens under the undefined premise that we are all a bunch of collectives. This collective makes the weed. This collective produces finished products from the weed. This other collective distributes it to another collective that sells it. It is mind boggling. On most days I am not sure how we made it this far. It is both beautiful in its lack of definition and mind numbing all at the same time. But the bottom line is that the entire production sector has no licensing to legitimize their efforts.
So here is the rub…. A lot of the conversation being had about the upcoming ballot initiative being developed for 2016 is aimed at protecting the interests of people who have licensed businesses. These groups believe they deserve a two year window after legalization where only they can compete in the marketplace. They want to adopt the same principle that we saw happen in Colorado where only medical licensed businesses could operate for the first two years. You know how that worked out there? Recreational weed prices have stayed relatively inflated and most of these businesses who got the head start have sold out to the highest bidder and no longer even operate the businesses.
The distinctly unlevel playing field has done nothing to help the end user realize higher quality or better value. It has simply enabled a select few to manipulate the market and has given way to unsavory business practices where competitors work to undermine one another. It has been anything but a free market. Now that the two year mark was passed at the end of last year we will see more businesses compete for market share, and an increase supply will result in lower prices and higher quality offerings. It will be good for everyone who smokes weed.
If the influential dispensaries have their way, we will see a repeat of this mistake here in California. But because they are the only one’s who will be licensed, they will also attempt to control the production sector through increased vertical integration, while locking out many growers and manufacturers of cannabis products. It would be a swift kick in the nuts to people who have risked everything to provide high quality medicines through the collective scheme over the years with no real protection. It will give further advantage to the lucky few who happen to open in areas that have decided to allow for their use, while shunning those in less tolerant parts of the state. It will pigeonhole a lot of the industry into a very few pockets, and will create a more defined oligopoly than we see right now. It is unacceptable.
In all reality, fuck your weed store.
If you truly love cannabis and freedom the only obvious answer is a truly level playing field. No one deserves an advantage cemented into a law through barriers for others. Your advantage is that you have been operating in the marketplace for a number of years. You do not deserve special treatment. What you deserve is the right to exist and compete in an open and free market where you provide great products and services at a good value, and customers go to you because you are the best. Not because you are their only option due to restrictive licensing and permitting schemes.
You are not going to use your good fortune to lock us out of the market. Miss me on that shit. If you are so great then consumers will reward you with their business. But the days of the retailers having a stranglehold on this industry are coming to an end. People who produce great weed and desirable products will command their share of the market, and begin to dictate what supply and demand is. Your subpar weed for too much money will no longer even be on the menu. You will either have to step your game up or get trampled by better offerings at greater values. It is free market principles that will decide who succeeds and who fails.
It is funny to see those who have claimed to fight for prohibition for many years now begin to circle the wagons and lobby for prohibitive barriers in the process to protect their interests. What is even sadder is that they do not have the courage and confidence to believe they can be successful in a truly free market. But it is the only answer. We cannot continue to believe that further limitation will somehow protect our romantic views of what the industry should look like. What the industry should look like is yet to be determined, and strangling that process through delays and restrictions is not going to work.
I hope that the individuals crafting any language here in California or other states consider the realities, and do not cater to these well-funded interests from within our industry. Everyone deserves the right to compete for the exploding weed market. No one deserves the right to segment and control certain parts of the market just because they have been standing around the longest and happened to be at the right place at the right time.
What will benefit the cannabis user and create the real legalization principles we have all fought so diligently for is an absolute free market. At some point we must look beyond our small world and understand how large a global cannabis market is, and allow the industry to begin to meet those demands through innovation and competition. Anything less is just uncivilized.
Now is not the time for us to become the prohibitionists. I believe in myself and my products, and know I can compete with anyone. I am not scared of the future. I welcome it with open arms and you should too.
The process for legalizing cannabis in many states for the 2016 election has begun, and it is shaping up to be quite the clusterfuck. Don’t get it twisted. This is going to be a long and difficult process. To be clear, I do not envy any of the groups who are throwing their hat in the ring to try and develop and get language on the ballot that we can all agree on. The reality is that will just never happen.
Just looking at the California landscape is enough to make you want to shoot yourself in the face… much less Massachusetts, Ohio, Arizona, Nevada, Maine, and maybe even Missouri. But there is no questioning that California is the biggest, and most difficult, piece of the puzzle. Why? Because the toothpaste is already out of the tube here in California and putting it back in anyway whatsoever is going to ruffle some feathers. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people who make their living producing and distributing cannabis here in the Golden State. We are coming up on 20 years of medical cannabis infrastructure that has become an entrenched part of the landscape and political process here. No one is giving up what they have worked to build easily and there is real fear that bad language could topple most of the people working in the industry now, leaving a system in place that is neither fair or a workable solution.
The mistrust and infighting has already begun. It is only going to get louder and more pronounced as time goes on.
There is a group trying to develop a campaign module called Reform CA, comprised of Prop. 19 holdovers and those who believe they have some authority to speak on behalf of the industry in California because they have been standing around the longest. It is anything but an open and transparent process though, as even a well-known asshole like me has been left in the dark about what exactly they are up to. The idea is simple. They believe if they can show they have a coalition of major stakeholders on board they believe the big money funders will run the campaign through them. But this group is already fraught with major issues. They do not trust this other group ,and are aligned with this guy who is talking shit about that guy. It is the same old song and dance.
Add to that the fact that they were not even savvy enough to lock down their own domain names going in, as I personally own www.reformca.org and .info, and you can see how this might turn out to be another half-hearted ill-conceived plan of doing the same old thing and expecting different results. I plan on using the reform.org domain to set up an interactive site where people can come together to and share ideas as to what the language for California should be. Talk about a daunting task, but as painful and difficult as having this conversation is going to be, it is a necessary exercise in order to hopefully find language we can all live with.
ReformCA.org will be developed into an ongoing dialogue concernng the upcoming legalization efforts in California
The Reform CA group held a conference in Oakland the other day that sort of summed up the whole deal for me. The egos and wannabe cannabis rockstars all gathered in a room to tout their theories on what we needed to do to be successful. They discussed how we were going to use different platforms to get the message out and how we could learn from the efforts in other states. It all seemed fair enough until the Keynote Speaker and former Proposition 215 operative Bill Zimmerman took the stage and basically told the entire crowd of over 100 stakeholders how their input did not really matter because the Drug Policy Alliance was running the show, and they should all just shut the fuck up and fall into place now before they got crushed in the process. Needless to say, that did not sit well with most of the people in the room who had dedicated varying portions of their lives to weed and California.
Now Bill Zimmerman told some people who confronted him that he was there speaking on DPA’s behalf, a claim which Drug Policy Alliance representatives adamantly denied when questioned about Zimmerman’s aggressive and inflammatory remarks. It is unclear whether that fact was a miscommunication on Zimmerman’s part, or an afterthought, given that his speech was widely rejected and seen as a lightning rod of criticism for the DPA effort.
I will be the first to say that I like Drug Policy Alliance, for better or worse. I think of all the groups at the table DPA is a quality organization with good leadership that tries to do the right thing. I dig Ethan Nadelmann, and most of the people who work for DPA. I also understand that, like Zimmerman was trying to convey, DPA has a lot of resources and ability to make the effort a reality and get a good law on the ballot for us to be successful. Where I depart from Bill Z is in the area of input and attempted consensus. After discussing the matter in brief with figureheads at DPA, I was assured that they would be soliciting input from the community that they had worked so closely with for over 20 years.
That being said, there was also real doubt by DPA that any real consensus could be found, as their initial input with respected members of the cannabis community had resulted in a wide array of input and ideas on how to best implement a law that ends prohibition and ensures an industry we all can live with. The fact is that there is never going to be language that meets the needs and desires of everyone involved in the weed game in California. It is too vast and too evolved to give everyone everything they want. It ain’t gonna happen.
The reality we all need to face is that we are not going to get a perfect law that is super-duper for everyone. What we must figure out is not what we WANT, but more so what we NEED. I would love to have a law where every adult in California could grow 100 plants and do whatever they want with their harvest with no taxes or need for a commercial licensing structure. But that is not a political reality, and no one putting up several million dollars for the campaign is going to get behind something that is a gamble at the ballot box. If we want to put a law like that on the ballot we better start putting all of our money in a hat and putting it on the ballot ourselves. I can tell you that is not going to happen. I have been in the industry working on fundraising and whatnot for a long time, and I can tell you that it is not going to work out. There is so much mistrust and deceit in the ranks of the cannabis movement that getting the folks who may collectively have the money to pull off such a feat on the same page is impossible. The last person to put his million dollars where his mouth was was Richard Lee, and everyone damn near crucified the guy for trying to make Prop. 19 law because they feared how it would affect their bottom line. Richard Lee has been noticeably absent from the 2016 process thus far.
People need to come down off of “Mount I am Always Right” and begin to look deeply at the politics and social norms that govern our society where cannabis is concerned. We must put aside our “my way or the highway” points of view and begin to understand that we are not going to get a perfect law. We must begin to decide what we NEED to continue to be successful and build a community of cannabis producers and providers, while realizing that we may have to concede some of what we WANT in an effort to do so.
How do we come up with characteristics of a law that creates a level and fair playing field for all, while still preserving a lot of the industry that currently serves millions of cannabis users well? What can we live with? What is unacceptable? Where are areas we need to be progressive and forward thinking? And where are areas we might want to take a more conservative approach?
It is a difficult task for anyone to take on alone, and at the end of the day some people will be ultimately butthurt no matter what is decided upon. There are many different policy wonks and outlaws working on ways to fuck the football, and the discourse is sure to get ugly at times. But ugly is part of the process. Long and drawn out difficult discussions may seem tedious and unproductive, but they are actually where we normally make most of our progress. Sometimes it takes a pointed and volatile discussion to ensure everyone is heard. At times it will be contentious. People will get called names and there will be loaded questions to answer. But we must put it all on the table and get it out of our systems so that we may grow.
I am on the edge of my seat as I watch it all develop. The show has just begun and there are already some interesting fireworks popping off between the reformers. I am preparing for the fight, and finding ways to make my voice be heard in the process. Obviously when you are thought of as the resident industry asshole it is difficult to get a seat at the table; but I know how I can influence the conversation and look forward to my role as a provider of information and direction. Whether anyone will listen to me is yet to be seen, but that has never stopped me from making my voice heard… and I would suggest others do the same. Stand up and be accounted for, or do not be surprised if you are run right over.
I do not subscribe to the type of blind allegiance Bill Zimmerman chose to spout off to the crowd the other day. It was short-sighted and disregarded the hard work and opinions of those who have been on the ground making the cannabis industry and movement a reality. I was pleased to hear that DPA disowned him and his hyperbolic bulshit and were committed to working with the community where that was possible.
The other assholes who think they are holding some power in this deal are just as big of pricks IMO… they just did not have the balls to project their rhetoric over a microphone in a room of advocates and stakeholders. It doesn’t mean they are any less guilty of undermining the process though. Whether it is DPA, MPP, NORML, ASA, or a loose coalition made up of weirdos from all of these groups and then some, there is a definite aura of cloak and dagger bullshit already beginning to happen. It is frustrating to say the least, but not surprising. I have been watching this pissing contest for decades now, and it is only more pronounced now that so much is at stake.
I will say that of all the powers at be at the table I am comfortable with Drug Policy Alliance for the most part, if they are sincere in their willingness to take input and craft language based on the realities on the ground in California. That being said, if they propose language that resembles the piece of shit they submitted to the California Secretary of State for consideration in 2014 that support will erode quickly. But hopefully given the victories in Oregon and Alaska coupled with the issues we have seen in Washington and Colorado, DPA will go back to the drawing board and come up with language that we all can live with. I am somewhat optimistic of that.
We, as a community, need to figure out what it s we NEED though. Not what we WANT or believe in our little self-centered worlds we deserve, but WHAT DO WE NEED? What are the basic rights and freedoms that this language should include to ensure we all have an opportunity to be a part of the future of the cannabis industry? What are possibilities and what are non-starters? What can we live with and what is entirely unacceptable?
Then we have to figure out how to mold that into a cohesive message that can influence those who will be writing the language on our behalf. As much as I appreciate and respect the suits and academics that make up most of the policy organizations, the reality is that not one of them has ever grown or sold an ounce of weed in their lives. They do not drive around with a trunk full of turkey bags making sure the crop gets to the end user. They have never made an edible or blasted a gram of wax. They just do not get what it takes to make up this vibrant community of outlaws an entrepreneurs. So it is up to us to get that message of what we NEED to those who will likely be putting forth the ballot initiative that will govern and define our industry for decades to come.
That is the challenge. So go look yourself in the mirror and have a long heart-to-heart conversation with yourself as to what you NEED, and fuck what you want. That is irrelevant for the most part, and not likely to do anything more than frustrate you in the end. Know going in that we will all be disappointed in one way or another, and hopefully, at the end of the day, we can find some sort of broad consensus for what will eventually become law in California, and the many other states working to make weed legal for adults to use for whatever they please. Know it will be a tough and contentious process, and that is okay. It is okay for us to agree to disagree on some points, as long as we can find some middle ground in areas of great importance.
I am not one to roll over and go quietly; but I also realize that I am one nobody in a sea of somebodies who has an opinion that is just that… an opinion. You can be sure you will hear that opinion repeatedly between now and election day 2016, but even I know that there are certain inevitabilities that I need to come to terms with and get over if this is all going to work out. I would suggest you also climb down off of your high horse and look at the situation through realistic, and not rose-colored, lenses.
The fight is sure to get ugly, and I am okay with that as long as at the end of the day we find a solution we can all live with. Selah.
Don’t go getting all excited. The reality is that we probably will not end cannabis prohibition this year… but we could if we really wanted to.
The human experience loves suffering. It is as if fate has sealed the deal on the long and drawn out painful experience. We expect it. We relish in it. It gives us something to bitch about, and it keeps our dark places filled with grief. On some levels humans need to suffer. It gives meaning to the moments when we do not. But often we are mired by expected tragedy, and we invite failure and misery to dinner like an old friend. We lack the confidence and trust that things can really change, and that we can do anything to create that change.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. We are powerful.
Usually change happens rapidly… in bursts. We see history change in a moment, and what was today is often not tomorrow. It is anyone’s guess what day will signal the true end of the war on weed and the prohibition of cannabis; but believe that day is coming. The walls continue to crumble and the lies of drug warriors continue to fall on deaf ears. There is no turning back now. The toothpaste is out of the tube. There is no putting it back.
But how long will it take us to evolve as a society? What will it take for us to move from selective freedom in select areas to an open and free cannabis experience? How many more people will have to go to jail or lose their kids before we finally say enough is enough? How many more people have to suffer at the hands of prohibition before we wake the fuck up and finish the job once and for all? The answer, unfortunately, is too many.
As I see another year come and go I am reminded of my ongoing optimism of years past. I, for one, believe EVERY year will be the last year of cannabis prohibition. I live every day as if it were the last; and I know one day the levy will break and this will all be over. The fight will end one day, and not a moment to soon for me. I am not getting any younger and would not mind getting past the constant battle of ending prohibition.
This movement/industry has come a long way, and we have seen some major breakthroughs where acceptance of cannabis is concerned; but there is also a disturbing complacency within that is fostered by a lack of courage. It is almost as if there are those who would like to continue the quasi-legal grey market of cannabis for a while longer so they can cash in a few more chips before their whole deal goes up in flames. A lof of so-called reformers have no idea what the fuck they will reform if the easy money of cannabis prohibition is off of the table and they actually have to perform to gain support. There is posturing on all sides of the table. Sadly enough, deep down inside, there are some within our ranks who probably hope that cannabis prohibition never really ends so that they can continue to hold on to what ever minimal control they have of their pathetic lives of selling bad weed for good money, or whatever else scam they are into where the black market allows them to get over.
Let’s be clear though… The folks who continue to work behind the scenes to retard the progress of ending prohibition are the scum of the earth. Those who have disregarded the mission in an effort to ensure they have a seat at the table going forward are no better than those who work against us. Believe that there are many people who stand next to us every day pretending to be down for the cause who are just as happy to see things stay right where they are. Don’t let a lot of these fuckers fool you… Many are selfish and greedy pricks who survive off of the chaos and pain fueled by prohibition.
So as that clock hits midnight and you are taking part in whatever silly time honored tradition that makes you feel good, let this soak in for a minute. 2015 could be the last year anyone is ever arrested for weed. It could be the last year that people who need cannabis suffer without. It could be the last year that people lose their kids or jobs for weed. It could be the last year we have to fight- if we all agree to really fight. If we all put down our egos and delusions of grandeur for a hot minute, and actually picked up the sword and drove it home WE CAN END THIS THING.
We do not need to wait until 2016 and hope that a few rich guys decide to back some weakly worded ballot initiative that will allow for more limited freedoms in select areas based on bullshit calculations done by some weird thinktank cats who probably don’t even smoke much weed. We can decide to rise up and be accounted for. We can use our power and influence to move the mountain… if we really want the mountain fucking moved.
Or we can kick the can down the street for another year or ten, and allow for our society to continue to deteriorate in the name of bad laws and ignorant policies. It is likely that many will choose to kick that can again. It is easy money for a lot of people and most are too busy worrying about themselves and their hopeful futures to really do the hard work it will take to end this thing.
This could be the last year of the bullshit…. if we really want it to be. Only time will tell and often it is out of our hands. Fate is seldom wrong.
I for one will be reloading and coming at 2015 like I come at every year…. as if it will be the last year of cannabis prohibition. I hope an army of people join me in the fight to end this thing once and for all. You want to make a resolution? Make one to spend every day working to stop the madness; and if enough of us make that commitment do not be surprised if we are not having this conversation next year.
Don’t get it twisted. Weed ain’t even close to legal yet.
While it is nice to look at the progress we have made with adult use legalization happening in 4 states and DC, and with new states implementing medical cannabis laws every day, don’t forget that cannabis is still very much an illegal and dangerous deal for a hell of a lot of people.
There are still hundreds of thousands of people in jail right now for growing, selling, and even just smoking some weed. Thousands of parents have lost their children over weed. Millions of people have lost a job because they smoke weed. Even those lucky enough to escape the harsh punishments of the drug war philosophy on weed have experienced diminished standing in the community, or they have had to hide their choice to use weed from everyone.
After everything, weed is still very much discriminated against and met with fierce opposition and punishment.
Weed is a plant… A safe, enjoyable, and very helpful plant. There is nothing about the cannabis plant that makes it dangerous or even remotely scary. They hysteria and propaganda of Drug Warriors have succeeded in making a beautiful plant into the boogie man. It is nonsensical at its core and one of the biggest scams ever pulled on people. It is a fucking plant.
The plant makes a lot of people feel better. It has healing and therapeutic effects that continue to be documented. It wasn’t even until 1992 that the Endocannabinoid System was even discovered…. nearly 20 years after Nixon began the war on drugs that included the hippies beloved cannabis.
Scientists began to look for receptor sites to explain the action of other drugs and toxins in a similar way. In 1988, specific receptors were discovered for THC (tetrahydrocannibol, the active ingredient in marijuana).
THC isn’t found naturally in the body. The existence of a specific ‘bliss receptor’ for THC implied that it was actually just a forgery of a hitherto unknown natural molecular key. The key was isolated by Israeli scientist Raphael Mechoulam in 1992: arachidonyl ethanolamide, later called ‘anandamide’ (a Sanskrit word for “internal bliss”):
So THC has the ability to mimic the naturally occurring effect of anandamide, often associated with the feeling of bliss. Why ever would we outlaw a safe plant that has the ability to help a person find bliss? The basics of cannabis prohibition defy logic in every way and have resulted in an absolute failure of our society that has been catastrophic. Side effects…. Euphoria. Yeah. Sue me.
We have denied people the FREEDOM to choose to use weed. Why?
We have locked up and punished millions and millions of people’s whose only crime is weed. Have we lost our fucking collective minds? People are rotting away in the bloated prison industrial complex because of cannabis, and somehow our society has become immune to these injustices. There are so many folks out there who have taken the lies of prohibition hook, line, and sinker. People continue to make a mockery of civilization with this absurd lack of freedom to use a useful plant. Who do these folks think they are?
So there you have the bottom line basics…. “It is still just about a plant and some freedom.”
Yet as we see the tide turning there are so many jackasses who see greed, fame, and fortune; and who simply do not care about the plant or the freedom. They just care about the money. It is such bullshit.
I happened to put on Pot Barons of Colorado, a hyperbole filled television series on MSNBC starring apparently gigantic assholes who are all hoping to sell the fuck out to some big money corporations one day, and wander off with their enormous bag of cash. I could only stomach to watch it for about a half an hour before literally wanting to punch Trip Keber in his throat, so I turned it off.
But not before I got to see more than I needed to see, and realized these pathetic get rich quick losers had no clue about weed, and only care about freedom as far as their business is concerned. They want to cry because they can’t get a bank account, but do very little to fight for people who can’t even get a student loan because of their involvement with cannabis. They bitch and moan because their profit margins are so small, but could give a shit that there are tens of thousands of people who can’t even get a job because of their use of weed. These bastards want to bellyache about their struggle to stay afloat in a marketplace that is unstable and changing, and they never take into consideration the reality that what is really unstable is a home where kids are growing up without parents because of the war on weed.
Yes… Cannabis business is a reality; but it is pretty fucking far from the only reality.
Swing a dead cat around and you are sure to hit some asshole who thinks he is “the next big thing” or “God’s gift to cannabis.” Spare me the rhetoric. I have seen more of these selfish and inconsiderate pricks come and go than I care to admit. Yawn. Tell me again about how your new __________ (insert stupid cannabis product and/or marketing idea here) is the “first” and how everyone in the industry before you has been doing it wrong.
It is certainly sad to see people make their quick buck off of weed and do absolutely nothing to fight to really end cannabis prohibition. It is disheartening to know that these fools have no idea what it is like to not sleep because you know the DEA are kicking the door in any day now. Their smug and insensitive bullshit makes me angry.
But I take comfort in knowing most of these scumbags will fail, and they will fail miserably. They will lose everything in their quest to be the king of weed. They will take their investors down with them. It will be fun to watch. Live it up now fellas because 99% of you will be nowhere to be found in a few years. Your well-documented failures will be a blip in cannabis history.
The whole shit show is sure to get better before it gets worse… and yet it is so simple. It is simply about a plant and some freedom.
It isn’t about you or me, or any of these silly-ass companies trying to make a name for themselves. It isn’t about how to morph your non-profit reform organization into a business model down the road. It is not about who is the most successful or who has the biggest weed dick.
It is about a plant… and some freedom. Get it? It is about the basic decency not to fuck with our fellow man because they want the freedom to use this plant to increase their quality of life.
Those who get it will stand up and fight to end this bullshit… Those who do not will continue to suck up time and energy. Get on the right side of history or get the fuck out of my way. The rest of this busllshit is just window dressing.
I am a business person by nature. I graduated in business with honors from St. Mary’s College in California. I understand the need for business and corporate infrastructure in our world. I know it will take some business know-how to develop the industry into a thriving marketplace of quality weed products that can meet the demand of the world. I am not anti-business by any means.
But the current wannabe business moguls and cannabis hucksters are not the business folks that we want or need to take the industry to the next level. What you have now are a bunch of ex-mortgage fraudsters and dot-com hustlers who made a few bucks off of their get rich quick scammer bullshit who are now looking for the next big thing.
They look at the cannabis industry as another opportunity for easy picking and are throwing their pathetic investment money at the wall to see what sticks. They are working to undermine the industry by offering incredible dreams to hard-working cannabis businesses and promising them shiny trinkets to give up control of their companies. To date, most of these “big deals” have failed miserably, and it is usually the unsuspecting cannabis producer who is left holding the bag. There is a sucker born every minute, and in the cannabis industry that rate could be far greater.
People make their own decisions though, and as much as I can try to let them know that they are being taken for a ride, it is ultimately their decision to do so. Just know when the so-called capital investor fucks you over that I told you it was going to happen.
I will make this clear one more time for you… THE REAL MONEY IS NOT EVEN HERE YET. THESE PEOPLE ARE JOKES AND WILL SCAM YOU FOR EVERYTHING YOU HAVE TO GET AHEAD. That is how they made their pathetic measly millions to begin with. Duh.
I talked to a lot of cannabis activists and hard-working entrepreneurs who attended the recent Marijuana Business Expo in Las Vegas. Most all of them shared a common message… the place was full of slimy sharks and investment losers in suits who knew NOTHING about cannabis and even less about the fight we have had to endure to get to where we are. None of these fucks could probably tell you who Jack Herer or Dennis Peron were. Most all of them did not even smoke weed, but were happy to buy the “pretty ladies” drinks by the dozen. These shallow pricks are arrogant enough to think they can waltz right in to a movement and industry with so much history of pain and suffering and sucker us all with their delusions of grandeur because they happen to have a couple of million bucks laying around that they scammed from some old ladies on bad mortgage deals before the crash of 2008. Their willingness to lie, cheat, and steal to get ahead are duly noted, and I am amazed that most of them even know that cannabis is a fucking plant.
As a person who had his home and businesses raided for providing cannabis medicines to sick people in California in 2007, I for one am deeply offended. It takes everything in my power to not just walk up and start punching these dickheads in their throats, and screaming “PEOPLE ARE STILL SITTING IN JAIL FOR DECADES FOR THIS PLANT, YOU FUCK!!!!” Which is why I probably am not invited to speak at any of these business huckster deals. God forbid a real weed activist was allowed to look these dirty fucks in the eye and tell them that I wished they would die. But I digress….
I read an article recently in the LA Times entitled “Marijuana legalization backers anxious as costs mount, donors waver.” In the article it goes into how there are all these so-called millionaires looking to break into this business, but very few, if any, are willing to kick down for the political and activism causes that it will take to really end prohibition.
Ethan Nadelmann, who I greatly respect, is disillusioned with the entire deal also. The article states:
At the Las Vegas conference, Nadelmann chastised the pot entrepreneurs, sounding like an exasperated high school principal scolding truants, except that he swore a lot.
“All of you came that close to seeing this thing blow up in our faces,” he told them, referring to the near-crisis in Oregon. “I am looking for you guys to step up and step up soon.
“You wait for some goody-two-shoes who is interested in civil rights to say, ‘Let’s legalize,’ then we will come in and hire our lobbyist for our own interests. It is shortsighted. It is narrow-minded.”
I couldn’t agree more. The short-sighted and narrow minded wannabe moguls we see circling the industry like buzzards have no interest in the social change aspect of it all. They are just waiting for everyone else to do the hard work of ending prohibition so they can position themselves to make some cash off of the endgame. These fucking losers could give a shit about the thousands of people rotting behind bars for selling some weed, while they try to figure out how to capitalize off of the legal weed selling game. They could care less about the fact that the war on drugs has decimated mostly poor and minority communities and has left millions of people to be criminals, to lose their jobs, to have their kids taken away, or to be treated as lesser people for their right to enjoy weed. They just see dollar signs and think us stupid stoner hippy types are easy to bull over with their limited fortunes. Fuck those people.
Those who are just here for the fame and fortune, while shitting on the fight to end prohibition and the drug war, will never be welcome in my community. You will be lucky if we never cross paths and I don’t make you look like a complete asshole in public. I have nothing to lose… you have everything.
Let this be fair warning that you better either start investing in helping us end this thing, or be prepared to have me spend my every waking moment trying to sabotage your “Google of marijuana” or “Costco of marijuana” game plans.
What you are trying to make is BLOOD MONEY. Plain and simple.
You are happy to sit back and watch more and more people go to jail for this plant while you lobby and position your company to make millions. You are gross and disgusting and I hate you. I hope that bad things happen to you. In fact, I pray for it daily. If there is anything I can do to make sure it does, believe that I will.
It is hard to keep up with all of the Blood Money Millionaires coming into the game these days, but I do my best. It is disheartening in many ways and makes me often wonder why I continue to fight, only to have some outdated Ferrari driving son of a bitch come in and claim to be some expert who is taking over the industry…. and people wonder why I am the way I am.
I will not give up though. I will be here fighting this fight until every last one of my cannabis brothers and sisters are let out of prison, and my friends and neighbors no longer have to worry about being a weedhead. I will fight the uphill battle myself if I have to and make sure that kids with medical conditions have the right medicine they need to get better. I will succeed. I have no choice.
But know I will not sit idly by and let you piss away my work on your quest for an easy fortune. Know I am here, lurking close by just waiting for that moment when I can sink your battleship. Enjoy your blood money while you can because I will eventually get to you and make sure that every dime you made was not worth it in the long run. Most of you are just lucky that murder is still illegal. You bastards make me sick.
Plan on seeing me more frequently at these “Cannabis Business” events so that I can put a face with your name and add you to my shit list. Keep trying to make a quick buck off of cannabis while giving nothing to freedom. Try to have your cake and eat it too… but do not be surprised when I creep up from behind and force feed you that fucking cake until you can’t breathe anymore. That day is coming. I’m your huckleberry.
Like I said in the beginning… it is not business I think is bad or evil. Business is a necessary part of the society we live. But you can be corporate and still be conscious. You can still do your part for cannabis freedom while making a decent living. You can still get on the right side of history and put your lousy chump change into the hat that will help us to end this failure of prohibition. But I know most of you won’t… and that is fine by me. I love a good war.
Welcome to the show, you BLOOD MONEY LOVING BITCHES. Shit just got real for you.
I was in Colorado this week looking around at the developing industry in the first legal state, and I was a little surprised at what I found. It is incredibly interesting to see this thing play out. The only thing I could think of comparing it to is that awkward hair phase that one experiences after shaving their head and trying to grow their hair back out. What a weird time in cannabis history.
I was having a discussion over some pie with some activists I respect and adore; and one made the statement, “I think about 90% of the cannabis businesses we see now will not exist in a few years.” I could not have agreed more and I think that 90% may have been generous. We discussed the invasion of “The Capitalists” and their silly desire to throw their money at the wall in an effort to secure their place in the emerging industry.
The problem is that most of the jackasses we see populating the “investment” and “capital” environment right now are just glorified middlemen with no real passion for the industry, and not enough funding to be a real force when the market is truly a level playing field. Most of what you see now are half-hearted efforts by old dot-commers and mortgage fraudsters who made some quick cash, and who are willing to gamble on that next big thing. They like to march around like they are some important assholes because they have a few million laying around and want a piece of the action.
I have watched more of these wannabe pricks come and go with their ass handed to them in the past few years than I can even find funny anymore. Nothing worse than watching some cocky investment prick think he can waltz in and make a name for himself, only to realize he is lost in a world governed by outlaws and whose rules have yet to even be defined.
What is funnier is to watch those who should know better fall for their bullshit and ruin their reputations over some champagne wishes and caviar dreams.
Not a week goes by that some poor sucker who I used to respect has sold their soul for a shot at the title with their new found sugar daddies. I often sit back and nod my head, smiling while they tell me about their next big thing, and why I should trust some jackyl who they have hitched their wagon too. I like to listen attentively for a while until I find just the right moment to look them in the eye and let them know that they lost their fucking minds. This is usually followed by some witty response like, “NUH-UH” and we usually go our separate ways.
More times than not I see these folks a few months later with their head in their hands telling me how right I was. I take no pleasure in that.
Look no further than the Bhang Chocolate debacle for a shining example of what I am talking about. In March I wrote a piece called “Bhang Goes Big Marijuana” where I questioned a deal between Bhang and Mentor Capital that sold 60% of the company for $39 million dollars. Upon writing the piece I was contacted by two of the principals from Bhang trying to sell me on their good fortune. They left multiple messages and texts telling me why the deal was on the up and up, and why I was nuts to think differently. I chuckled and smiled, as I had seen this shit show before.
I like Scotty Van Rixel for the most part. He is a decent guy who at least makes an effort to do the right thing. Which is why I was surprised to see him caught up in what was such an obvious pump and dump scam. The problem came when the “pump” did not work and so there was not enough to “dump” to pay Scotty and his crew what they were owed.
Now Mentor Capital is suing Bhang for their $1.5 million back. The announcement names Bhang’s owners, Mr. Scott Van Rixel, Mr. Richard Sellers, and Mr. William Waggoner in the suit. So these three got to split up $1.5 million…. a lousy $500k each on a company reportedly doing $300k a month plus in sales, and they have greatly tarnished their reputation in the process. They might even have to return the cash they received if Mentor wins the suit. So what did they gain besides a gigantic headache?
But this is just one of many get rich quick schemes I have seen come and fade over the past couple of years. As people see the end of prohibition coming about there is no shortage of bright eyed wannabe moguls floating around making sexy eyes at these would be investors. The problem is that they cannot tell a real investor from some loser prick with a couple of million bucks who got lucky on some stock gamble back in the days. They get chewed up and spit out, often to be nothing more than a faded memory when it is all said and done.
But that is where we are as an industry. With one foot in and one foot out of legalization, we have a really awkward hair phase going. So many people are trying to get their big opportunity going that they have forgotten we are still fighting for cannabis freedom. They are so fucking worried about getting their piece of the pie that they have forgotten that the pie is not even baked yet. Shit… we have hardly even bought the ingredients.
It is somewhat entertaining to watch, but it is also painful. The whole deal raises too many questions for my taste, but alas, to each their own.
Just know that what you see now is not reality. It is not the hairstyle we are going for. It is some strange barrett pinning back a 3 inch lock of hair to give it some style, but it really just looks strange. It is the growing pains and the weirdness stage for sure; and it is obvious most of you guys are lost. Maybe it is just time to invest in a nice hat.