Are the foxes running the cannabis reform henhouse?

The short answer is “Yes.”

The folks who are “leading” the reform effort (and I use that term loosely) seem to have different goals and ambitions than your average weedhead. Apparently the goal of stopping mass incarceration and building a unique industry where the soldiers who have dedicated their lives and freedom to pioneer every inch of freedom we currently have are at the core of is just too much to ask. It seems the folks who suck on the teet of big funding and who claim to be “activists” are nothing more than sellout turncoats willing to hand the entire effort over to the highest bidder (not that kind of high either).

I was taken back by NORML Executive Director. Allen St. Pierre’s statement in this recent Business Insider article:

Even more, it’s only a matter of time before industry gets involved. The most applicable business model is the tobacco companies’, and St. Pierre has reached out to the major firms already.

“They’ve been either growing or purchasing — in massive quantities — vegetable material, properly curing it, packaging it in usable form, and then working closely with all level of government while delivering massive taxes.”

He sent two memos the morning after election day — One to the President, the other to the heads of the major tobacco companies. The message was simple: “Isn’t it time that we meet?”

Article: Marijuana’s Top Lobbyist Told Us Why There Will Be Several Viable Legalization Bills Next Year In Congress

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/marijuanas-top-lobbyist-told-us-why-there-will-be-several-viable-legalization-bills-next-year-in-congress-2012-11#ixzz2DRPiZWR3

So here is a guy who has made every penny of his career for the last 20 years off of the back of the cannabis reform movement, and the first people he calls after our movement’s incredible victories in Colorado and Washington are BIG TOBACCO companies? WTF? Seriously? I am not sure why NORML still has this piece of work as their lead spokesmodel. The only thing I can think of is that the entire organization must also be in on the “sell the industry out to big tobacco” bandwagon.

It is no secret that I have been less than impressed with the work NORML has accomplished over the last four decades of prohibition, and they are not alone in my criticisms of cannabis reform efforts. I still firmly believe our movement/industry would be better served by a more consolidated effort with a more singular and pointed message, but alas, I am in charge of nothing. But to have to sit back and watch as the folks who this movement have trusted with our goodwill and character blatantly disregard the grassroots efforts and the outlaw pioneers that have made cannabis great, in spite of NORML’s ineffectiveness, is a huge slap in the face.

We can no longer stand down, while the foxes run the hen house. Before we know it these wannabe lobbyists and business moguls in waiting will have us all working for Phillip-Morris for slave wages, instead of developing a more accessible industry with far less barriers to entry, such as micro-brews or wine. And I am not saying to call up Robert Mondavi or the Red Tail kids either to see if they want to buy in. I am talking about building a new cottage industry starting with the world’s most forthright cannabis experts….US.

We do not need to cram cannabis into another model and enlist the big money support of those industries to come in and take over. We have got this. If the medical cannabis boom showed us anything, it is that we have the ability and knowhow to produce, package, label, and distribute large quantities of cannabis. And if Big Allen think growing high-grade cannabis is the same as producing tobacco, I got a grow room in Arcata to sell him.

The weed industry will be unique and although it will have some elements from many different market influences, there is no one model that will fit the culture, expectations, and imagination of a legal cannabis market. Anyone who tries to pretend their is has probably never sold a bag of weed in their life.

As we turn the corner towards legalization it might not be a bad idea to take a close look around and examine if we are entering the final battle with an army worthy of cannabis’ greatness; or have we been surrounded by the sellouts forever and have chosen to turn a blind eye? Whatever the case, it would bode well for us to clean our house before we are left with an industry that none of us will recognize, or probably even want to be a part of. We are better than this, and better than Allen St. Pierre (and many other reform group leaders) would have you believe. Decide if the future you envision looks like the one being described by our “top lobbyists,” or if it is time for us to take back control and messaging from those who can no longer be trusted….

“Seriously. You are gonna love working for big tobacco. I promise.”

Stop Selling Us Short

I went into my wife’s work the other day and met some of her co-workers. One of them asked me what I did for a living. Without missing a beat, I told them I worked in the cannabis industry. My wife looked surprised. She apparently had failed to mention that to anyone. As we left, she said “Well…I guess everyone knows now.”

I was dumbfounded, and a little taken back. My wife does not consume weed. It is not her thing. It makes her feel weird. But I was amazed that it seemed like she was ashamed of my career choice for some reason. Now, I do not hold her accountable. She has never claimed to be a weed activist like me, so I do not expect her to run around ringing the bell of cannabis freedom any chance she gets. But I also did not expect that she would shy away from the issue, if it were brought up. I guess I figured a woman who has spent a decade in the trenches with me would be used to the shocking revelation that our family is supported by the weed industry.

But my wife is not alone. We live in a society where admitting you are a weedhead is somehow taboo.

We have got to change this mindset; and the best way to do that is to have the courage to engage people in a healthy conversation about weed.

For me, it is a no-brainer. I cram weed into the conversation whenever I get the chance. I spent 30 minutes the other day educating my dentist, his entire staff, and the other people in the office about the evils of cannabis prohibition. It was incredibly well received; and I am sure more than one person left there feeling just a little different about the issue. The receptionist even asked me for a signed copy of my book, as I left.

Too often, we fail to have this conversation because we fear what people will think, or say. But the reality is that we do a disservice to our fellow man and our communities when we do not stand up and tell the truth.

When you can use your interactions with people to change the dialogue on the subject of weed, you should. If more people had the strength to stand up and say “Cannabis prohibition is evil. We use these laws to lock up mostly poor people for weed at alarming rates, and we have spent over a trillion dollars on this failed policy with nothing to show for it,” we would easily win. There is no rebuttal to that conversation. There is no snarky comeback that holds a candle to the evils of locking up 5x more people than the rest of the world in the name of the Drug War.

When we begin to put people on the defensive for their anti-weed positions, and make them examine their views for legitimacy, we will always win the conversation. Where we lose is by allowing the decades of misinformation, and the social stigma related to weed, to silence us. If we do not take control of this conversation and have the courage to call bullshit on prohibition, then we should not be surprised when we continue to see misinformed people oppress weedheads and attempt to categorize us as lesser people because we like weed.

Most of these “anti-weed” losers are boozehounds. It is easy to turn the conversation on a boozer. The next time some booze-righteous chump tries to make you feel like you are a degenerate for your love of weed hit him with this line…”Your glorification of booze and willingness to condemn your fellow man for weed has resulted in innumerable unnecessary deaths, family abuse, and violent crime. I hope you are pleased with your position. Weed is far safer for alcohol, and is responsible for more creativity and beauty than you will ever find at the bottom of your bottle of poison, loser.” Feel free to paraphrase, but you get the gist. “Booze are evil. Weed is safe, enjoyable, and helpful.”

I have made a conscious decision to quit selling myself short, as a weedhead. You should too. We are better than this.

I used to look at the shirt I was wearing for the day, and think “is there anywhere I am going today where my Jack Herer weed shirt might be inappropriate?” I now look at the same shirt and say “Is there anywhere I can wear this today that it could possibly start  conversation, and give me the opportunity to tell someone about why I love weed?” It is the same shirt, but my position has evolved. I have made a conscious decision to engage head on, and to never be ashamed of my undying love for weed. If a person thinks less of me because I have a weed t-shirt on, then they have made my life easier…one less loser I need to deal with.

But more so, it is an opportunity to educate another human. We MUST take the time to stop and talk to those who are confused or misinformed on the issue.

It is our duty to shift the paradigm, and make those who support prohibition feel like the freaks and degenerates. We must not shy away from the conversation because we are right, and they are wrong. When we put the facts out there, any reasonable human with a decent head on their shoulders gets it. They get that we lock up 25% of the world’s prison population, but only have 5% of the actual population because we continue to take poor people to jail for weed. When people hear that their jaw drops. They have nothing left to say. There is no valid argument to oppose that position. The numbers do not lie.

Do yourself a favor….quit falling for these people’s “weed is bad” bullshit. It is not. It is actually awesome, and anyone who believes we should put people in jail for weed needs to be blasted for being evil. They should be embarrassed by their position, and it is up to us to embarrass them.

So as we enter the holiday season, and many weedheads go home for the holidays hiding their weed from the family, just know that you are selling yourself short. You have nothing to hide. If grandma is going to cut you out of the will because you like weed, then so be it. It is better than living a lie and acting as if you have done something wrong. Chances are if you sat Grandma down and gave her the facts, she may understand, and may be willing to change her position. If not, then Granny needs to re-examine her moral compass. But selling yourself short to appease the long lie of prohibition in a effort to not rock the boat is an EPIC FAIL.

Stop selling us all short, and make the decision to tackle the weed issue head on in EVERY part of your life. I do not care if it is at church, at little league, or in line at the bank….if you get the opportunity to educate another human on the evils of cannabis prohibition, DO IT! If we do not stand up for our own cause, then who will? It is up to us to make that difference and to change the world.

Now get to work….go find a prohibitionist and change their mind. If we all do that once a day, this thing will be over in no time….

Jive Turkey Pardons

So now that we are past the stupid election and we can be sure Overlord Romney will not be the leader of the Republic, it is time to hold Obama’s feet to the fire about not just stopping taking people to jail, but to also let go the people who are sitting in cages because they got caught with too much weed or too many plants. With the holidays upon us full force, it is impossible not to think about those who are in prison, and what a blessing it would be if their sentences were commuted. These folks do not deserve to spend one more day behind bars away from their loved ones for weed.

This is not a big stretch for a person who made a ceremony out of pardoning some birds named Cobbler and Gobbler the other day.

While it is great that our nation has some weird tradition where the President gets to pretend to care about the death of a turkey while innocent weedheads sit in jail, it is a mockery of the Presidential pardon, which has become less and less of a tool used to right the wrongs of our justice system in recent years. For something that costs the President nothing, it begs to wonder why he has used this power so little in his first term?

Like everything, it is politics and money. It is a cautious position that fails to utilize one of the most powerful things a President can do….bring justice to where our system has failed our fellow man.

Nothing is a more stark injustice than the fact that we have people sitting in jail for decades over some weed. It is one of the most tragic things that our society has put forth in history, and here is a person, who with the stroke of a pen, could end this nightmare and send our political prisoners home. President Obama needs to take a long deep look at this situation and decide if he is going to be the courageous leader who put an end to this madness, and who sent our brothers and sisters home for the holidays with their family.

We are better than this as a Country. Not only is it pure evil to lock people up for weed, but it is damn expensive. While we are having this huge budget discussion can we put the drug war on the table as a cost reducing factor? It would be nice to see a push for reducing the mass incarceration of our neighbors like we saw a push for healthcare reform. We can not afford to house and feed 5x more prisoners than the rest of the world. What we are doing now is not working. Fix it.

Prisons are not job creation. Prisons are where the spirit and core of our Nation have gone to die.

I am calling for not just President Obama, but all Governors as well, to release our weedheads and put an end to these policies that enslave mostly poor people for a plant far safer than the booze that we rejoice in this nation.

Let’s have that weed summit soon, okay Choomy McChoomerson?

 

Lifting Up the Less Fortunate

It is undeniable that we are all inter-connected on this planet. Like it or not, what one of us does affects the other. In turn, we also have certain responsibilities to our fellow man.

It is no secret that this world is full of the “haves” and the “have nots.” It has been that way since the beginning of time, from what I can tell. But that does not mean the “have nots” are any less valuable or any less worthy of our respect and love….and resources. It is our duty to lift up those who are less fortunate and help them where we can.

As we enter Thanksgiving week, I am reminded of how much hunger and suffering there really is in the world. I know families that are struggling to figure out how to pay the rent, much less if there will be a feast at the house on Turkey Day (or a sack of weed). It pains me that I cannot do more to help everyone. I hate that I live in a world where one guy has a private jet, while the other is starving. I am not saying we all deserve a private jet, but I think in a world with so much, everyone should have food. That is not a hard concept to understand.

As a society, we become less civilized when we simply ignore the less fortunate. The fact that we can walk right past people who are outright suffering in a flippant manner, jump in our fancy car, and drive to our warm and toasty home with little, or no, care for those we see suffering is barbaric. Yet, we all do this every day. The world has become more cold and callous in many ways.

Do not get me wrong, though. Not all is lost. There truly are many good people doing many good things; and many people are struggling in one way or another themselves. There is a lot of great work that is done to help the less fortunate, but even some of the larger charity organizations get caught up in the mix and lose focus of their mission. Often, a lot of would be funding goes to executive and administrative needs, rather than to those suffering. That is sad. But at the same time, there is a lot of great work done.

Unfortunately it is just not enough. There are just too many people without a warm meal and a place to stay. That disgusts me really.

Even in the world of cannabis, we could do a better job of lifting up the less fortunate. There are many patients who cannot afford the current prices of cannabis. A lot of good organizations have organized care programs that provide for the less fortunate; but often it is not enough, or patients are too embarrassed to ask for help. What is sad is that if we truly legalized weed it would be MUCH more affordable and accesible for everyone.

But in the current quasi-legal gray market we have established, there are still many who fall through the cracks. We owe it to the community, and to ourselves to do a better job of ensuring people in need can get good weed without having to cough up their rent money for it. It is great if you are already doing something, but overall we are not really doing enough. We can, and should, do more…..

If not us, then who? Who are we waiting for?

I am making a pledge this Thanksgiving to give a substancial donation to my local food bank, and to find at least one less fortunate person I can share some weed with. If we all made this commitment, we could make a serious effort in lifting up the less fortunate, and as a result, we would have a much happier and healthy society.

Do your part….If you have enough, then be a swell person and kick down to the “have nots.” It will not kill you to have a little less, so that others may have just a little. The less fortunate are not always homeless, or desolate either. Chances are someone you know is struggling. Reach out and see if you cannot make their life just a little better this day…and every day.

Together we can make a real difference.

Welcome to the Show

It is a strange time in the weed activism game.

Over the past two weeks, since the election, we have seen an overwhelming amount of positive dialogue being had on legalizing weed for adult use. There has been an avalanche of media and many very public discussions about ending the drug war and stopping the mass incarceration of our citizens for non-violent drug crimes…particularly weed. It has been exciting and fulfilling.

But one of the more strange phenomena has been watching the activist and reform community contort their messages to keep up with the evolution happening in real time towards legalization. People who have spent the last decade clearly distancing themselves from the legalization issue are now confronted with the harsh reality that their “medical use only” and “medical is a completely separate issue from legalization” message is no longer even remotely relevant. Folks who have made a career out of the medical only limited prohibition are beginning to realize that their days are numbered.

It is clear that as soon as legalization happens that 90% of patients will never see a doctor for cannabis related needs EVER AGAIN. That is just a basic reality, and maybe a tough one to swallow for some who have banked their existence on the idea that America would never be ready for full legalization. It almost seems as if some very prominent medical activists have been caught off guard and now wonder just how long they will be able to survive, should legalization unfold rapidly.

There is a clear hedging of the bets happening. All of the sudden these folks have changed their tune, and instead of adult us legalization being a “separate issue,” they are having discussions on how legalization will be positive for patients. Welcome to the show.

Not a moment too late, either. It is good to see those who pointed and wagged their fingers at legalization efforts for years now embrace them and openly discuss their merits. I have long stated that “anyone who is really for patient access to affordable cannabis MUST be for adult use legalization.” That is becoming more obvious as each day goes on, and story-after-story breaks on letting America have their weed.

What I find humorous is that it has taken this long for some people to find their voice on this issue. At times, our movement  is more restrictive and damning to our own cause than our opposition could ever be. There is a lack of confidence and courage at the highest levels of this movement that are simply mind-boggling.

Our own community has put forth more suppression of the message that we must end prohibition than many in the mainstream ever could. We have bought into a culture of shame and dishonesty and have attempted to convince everyone that, indeed, the entire world is sick, and that only 20 bong rips a day will ever make them better. Even in the face of the entire world calling bullshit on us, there are some who refuse to acknowledge the basic fact that we have overplayed the medical card and have left a bad taste in some people’s mouths, as a result. They continue to double down and tell people, “There is nothing to see here. Move along.”

Well, apparently there is A LOT to see. What people are waking up to is that weed is safe, enjoyable, and helpful; and that we cannot continue to take people to jail for it. We have evolved from a place where our society only believes very ill people should have access to cannabis, to a place where the majority of folks think we should just let adults smoke weed if they want. That is a wonderful transition.

Hopefully we will continue to see those dedicated to medical cannabis embrace the movement towards adult legalization. By ending the charade of quasi-legalization through medical authorizations, we will see REAL medical progress, and a lot more doctors and medical professionals willing to be a more intricate part of cannabis medicines with the stigma of abuse removed. Any person, or group, who truly wants what is best for patients has got to get on board with adult legalization. It is a no-brainer.

If these folks refuse to embrace that concept, and continue to push for restrictive medical only laws (i.e running another medical only initiative in CA), it will be clear that they have no intention of helping patients at all; yet just developing a system that ensures patient will continue spend way too much money on their “meds” at limited associated dispensaries. That is a terrible idea, and one I hope will be soundly rejected as this unfolds over coming months.

The time to end this thing is now. We will need all of the help we can get. We have taken the one step forward…please do not be our two steps back.  Thanks.

Cash Hyde Passes. Leaves greatest gift of all…Hope.

As a father of two sons myself, I can tell you I have NO IDEA what the Hyde family is feeling after the passing of their son Cash who lost his battle with brain cancer. The strength and fortitude of the Hyde family has been inspiring. Through their’s and Cash’s ongoing fight with this disease, they were able to touch the hearts of so many; and have inspired many more into action to make sure that kids like Cash do not have to suffer needlessly because of a failed policy on a safe and helpful plant.

Cashy’s story transcends logic and understanding for most empathetic and caring human beings. Here is a great kid who was dealt an extremely bad hand, who found success and relief through ingesting cannabis medicines. Here is information on how cannabinoid medicines helped Cash in his struggle:

 

Cashy is the youngest Medical Cannabis patient in the United States. We were able to replace seven scary and toxic drugs that were given to Cash as a nausea cocktail around the clock with 0.3 Milliliters of cannabis oil. At the time we decided to give Cash this safe and therapeutic medicine, he was so sick that he hadn’t eaten in over 40 days and was living on TPN and Lipids as intravenous nutrition, he vomited 8-10 times a day and could barely lift his head off the pillow. Within two weeks of receiving the oil, Cash was eating, laughing, and had a quality of life we hadn’t seen in months.

Cash survived septic shock, stroke, pulmonary hemorrhage, pulmonary hypertension, all side effects of the chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants he had received. We were told after his 4th cardiac arrest episode he would have brain damage, organ failure and that he would ultimately die. However, he did not die, and it was because of the cannabinoid therapeutics that he was receiving and their Antioxidant and Neuroprotectant capabilities.

Cashy is the first pediatric cancer patient to receive full cranial and spinal radiation without the use of any conventional nausea and pain medications. Once again Cashy has been given a quality of life that is not possible on pharmaceutical drugs and has had minimal side effects thanks to Cannabinoid Therapeutics and their patented Antioxidant and Neuroprotectant capabilities.

 

This is the gift that Cash and his family were able to give the world through their experiences…hope. No rational person walking the face of earth could learn about  how cannabis medicines helped increase the quality of life and reduce the suffering of this special young man, and still believe medical cannabis should be illegal. Any parent would have done the same thing to save their child. Yet here we sit, still working to convince people that cannabis does have medical value and should be heavily researched some 20 years after the discovery of the endocannabinoid system.

It is unacceptable to me that we, as a society, have allowed this to happen. The fact that we made these parents break the law in an effort to save their son disgusts me, as it should everyone. It pains me to think, if these parents had access to higher dose cannabis medicines, more targeted and regulated cannabis treatment programs, and if our medical community had pulled its head out of the rear of prohibition sooner, that possibly this boy, and countless others, might have been saved. That literally makes me sick to my stomach.

Because the government has made cannabis illegal and unavailable for medical use and research, it is unclear whether cannabis does indeed cure cancer. Yet there is no disputing its ability to reduce the sie effects of cancer treatments and to increase the well-being of those inflicted with the disease. But what Cashy’s courage, and his parents willingness to take a stand against the laws that prohibit cannabis therapies, shows us is that there a.) certainly are medical benefits and promising value in cannabis therapies; and b.) there is HOPE for our civilization yet.

Through Cashy’s life, experiences, and even in his passing we have all learned some valuable lessons that we should be sure to never forget.

For one, life is precious. None of us know how long we have here on planet earth, or what that journey will entail. I know when I learned of Cash’s passing yesterday I looked at my own kids in a different way. I understood how incredibly lucky I was to have two healthy kids, and I understood that could change at any moment. I tried to put myself in the position of this family and tried to imagine what they have been through. I am sure my imagination could do no justice to the real pain and suffering that they must be feeling right now.

I was never lucky enough to meet Cash, or his family; but I still sit here with tears running down my face uncontrollably as if I knew them forever. Cash’s life on this planet, for the time he was with us, has taught me an invaluable lesson about being grateful and not taking life for granted. We often forget that this all could end any minute for any one of us, and that it is our duty to live every day to its fullest.

Another lesson Cash’s story has taught us is that we have the power to make a real difference. Never before has such a powerful message come from such a small package.  The Hyde family never anticipated their son’s illness could change the world, but indeed it is. Because of their courage and willingness to share their experiences with us, they have started a fire that is not likely to ever be extinguished. Many of us have poured over the many pictures of Cash, and have followed the story through its hills and valleys. Many activists, including myself, were able to put a face on the fight we have been fighting for so long; and the thought that this adorable boy may have been denied a cure for his deadly disease because of draconian drug laws has made it more clear than ever that this thing MUST END NOW. Not another day should go by where families like the Hydes must wonder if more could have been done, or if the cure was out there. This family has given us our own power and have shown us that our personal courage can create real and meaningful change in our world.

Finally, Cash taught us all that we are in this thing together. One Love. It is easy to get lost in a world of confusion and chaos,and to forget about the big picture. Cashy’s life, and even his death, has made it abundantly clear that  we are interconnected. Our actions, or lack of actions, do affect each and every person on this planet. Because our society has failed to end prohibition of the cannabis plant, and continues to stifle research, we are all responsible for the needless suffering of people who could otherwise benefit from legalized cannabis. The fact that we have allowed this to happen with little or no objection for decades is intolerable. We have not done enough. We must do more. What we do affects everyone around us, and it is our duty to ensure that our friends, neighbors and fellow man do not suffer needlessly.

So as I sit here mourning the loss of our youngest cannabis warrior, I am hopeful. I am hopeful that Cashy’s story will be spread far and wide, and that is passing will become a rallying cry for justice and morality. His life touched so many, and continues to inspire us all. I know that it has started a fire in my belly this morning, and I vow to work even harder to ensure others have access to cannabis . We should not have to wonder, “what if?” There should be no question as to whether or not we could have saved one, or a million people. Cannabis prohibition has failed miserably, and Cash’s story symbolizes everything that is wrong with our current policies. We have allowed greed and evil to stand in the way of progress and healing. That is unacceptable.

Watch this touching video tribute. Warning…you probably will cry. But when you are done, wipe the tears away and commit to making a difference so that we do not have to lose any more great warriors like Cash. While he may have left this planet, he will live on in our actions and determination. Selah.

“When he let go, it was very peaceful. And I felt him…and I felt everything that he was go into me, and then my heart sped up, and he was gone,” Cash’s dad Mike Hyde recalled.

Just two weeks ago, Cash rode his bike down the street on Halloween. But something changed, and in the last two days his parents noticed him getting tired and rundown. They knew, their boy was losing his fight with brain cancer.

“And yesterday we gave Cashy back to God, and he passed away in my arms on the couch right there,” Mike said.

“I didn’t want to let him go,” Mike said. “But [at] the same time, you gotta do what’s right, and Cashy fought a hard battle.”

“And last night he chose to pass away on his own terms,” Mike continued. “I can’t be mad at that. He showed us all so much love. That’s why the foundation’s slogan is ‘believe in one love.

 

 

 

 

Being Right vs. Being Nice

I was initially taken back, and then inspired by an interview I heard Princeton Professor Cornel West give on Democracy Now. Here was the statement that got me thinking:

“I think that it’s morally obscene and spiritually profane to spend $6 billion on an election, $2 billion on a presidential election, and not have any serious discussion — poverty; trade unions being pushed against the wall, dealing with stagnating and declining wages when profits are still up and the 1 percent are doing very well; no talk about drones dropping bombs on innocent people … I mean, I’m glad there was not a right-wing takeover, but we end up with a Republican, a Rockefeller Republican in blackface, with Barack Obama, so that our struggle with regard to poverty intensifies.” -Cornel West

Now those are some harsh words for President Obama; but words that he should really take a hard and close look at. Often it is the reality of true criticism where we grow as people, and as movements. While I am sure President Obama is not thrilled to be called a “Rockefeller Republican in blackface,” that is a criticism that he his going to have to, for better or worse, digest and come to terms with. The hope is that it is such a blistering critique, that it forces the President to look at these issues that Brother West is putting forth; and hopefully he can begin to address some of the more progressive and important issues we face as a Nation.

Cornel West has taken some heat for his comments, with people and pundits calling them too harsh and saying West went “too far.” I could not disagree more.

When ever did we become a society of such wimps and sissies? It is flabbergasting to witness the thin skin of an entire nation (and in my case the entire cannabis movement) become so fragile that grown adult humans cannot put real issues on the table for discussion without fear of upsetting the applecart. Here is a little newsflash for you…the apple cart is kinda screwed up right now. It could use some upsetting.

Often when I have been critical of folks within the movement my motivations have come into question. Some have went as far as questioning if I was “working for the other side” because of my willingness to put truth on the table for an open and honest discussion. There is a concerted effort to silence our own criticisms , often with the cliches of “unity” or “the greater good.” Yet, nothing is more damaging to a movement and/or industry than the inability to look inside of the machine, and make the necessary critical adjustments instead of continuing down the same path as if there were no issue.

We have seen this manifest in disaster on more than one occasion. Because we have not chosen to have the tough discussions, we have seen a real lack of discipline (and sometimes and outright sideshow) that has made everyone’s job in changing the hearts and minds of the public on cannabis much more difficult. But still, rarely do we ever take our own to task; rarely do we ever hear the “leadership” of cannabis reform call out a person for being an idiot and making the road ahead more difficult for the rest of us. It simply lacks courage.

It is extremely healthy to examine the structure, behavior and outreach of the movement to see where we can develop more sound strategies, cohesive messaging, and shared objectives. What is not healthy is being told to keep your head down, shut up, and do not criticize in the name of “unity.” The fact is that most of the cartoon character activists who use this movement as a conduit to fame and fortune have no desire for unity whatsoever. It is a catch-phrase that usually means, “get in line and do not call me on my bullshit.” Then in one fail swoop, these same characters will turn their back on the movement, disregard a cohesive message, and sell out all morals and ethics for a shot at a close up. It is disgusting.

But do not hold your breath for the great reform council to come to the rescue. They are all bought and paid for. There is a reason that people are allowed to trample the core values of this movement, time and time again, with little repercussion; it is called money.  The desperation of our current system that pits the community against itself in a high stakes competition for funding is embarrassing. It is almost as if the reform community has little intention of really reforming anything.

Instead, we see a constant struggle to one up each other, and an attempt to not rock the boat in fear of drying up one funding source, or another. Pathetic is an understatement.

If we wanted to have that tough conversation, now is a good time for it. The time for being “nice” has passed. We are on the brink of real change and we need some courageous decision making happening in our movement, sooner than later. We cannot afford  to continue down a meager path to limited immunity, when the rest of the world is asking for freedom. It is sad when Pat Robertson of the 700 Club has the courage to make more pointed and real statements about legalizing weed than many in our own movement. What gives?

It is necessary to be right. It is not necessary to be nice.

Whether within the movement, or in discussions with our friends and neighbors, there is a right and wrong side of this issue. There is no middle ground. Often it takes harsh and critical statements to move people’s positions. We have to be firm and direct in expressing our disgust for these policies. It can sometimes take a volatile and graphic discussion about the evils that result from cannabis prohibition to wake a person from their apathetic slumber. Sometimes we have to shake a person at their very foundation to make them understand the severity of a situation.

These types of discussions are messy, and usually anything but “nice.” But they are necessary if we want to accomplish our objectives of making cannabis available for all adults to use as they please, and an end to the mass incarceration of our citizens. So before you bight your tongue in fear of being overly-critical or too harsh, DON”T. Let it fly. We can handle the truth. We may not always like the truth; but we can handle it. We are all big kids here…so act like it already.

What You Can Do To make A Difference Right Now

We are seeing a paradigm shift in our society about the way people view weed. With Colorado and Washington passing adult use legalization measure, we have positioned ourselves well to end cannabis prohibition once and for all. Unfortunately, policy changes do not happen easily or swiftly, so it will take a concerted effort of activism to get us to where we need to be. Here are a quick few things you can do to be a part of the action:

MAKE A CALL OR TWO: 

Right now is a great time for President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and your elected officials to hear from you on this matter. Pick up a phone and let your voice be heard. Here is what I would say:

Hello. I am calling in concern of our nation’s policy on marijuana. This week two states past historic laws calling for an end to cannabis prohibition. It is time Federal policy catch up to the reality that marijuana is far safer than alcohol. We can no longer afford to lock up mostly poor people for a safe and effective plant. Please work to change the disastrous policies and end this war on our own citizens.

Here are some contacts:

THE WHITE HOUSE- (202) 456-2121 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest  Washington, DC 20500

OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL- (202) 514-2001 U.S. Department of Justice950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. Washington, DC 20530-0001

FIND YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS: http://www.commoncause.org/siteapps/advocacy/search.aspx?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=4860375

 

ORGANIZE A LOCAL ACTION:

Find like minded people in your community and organize a rally, candlelight vigil, freeway banner drop, or town hall style meeting to raise awareness for this issue. Encourage others to take action and be a part of the solution. Try to garner local media attention. Get in the paper, or on the evening news for cannabis freedom. Spread the word that these policies are evil and must end now.

USE YOUR NETWORKS:

Pump email lists, facebook accounts, twitter feeds, and any other mass communication vehicles you have with stories and messages that support cannabis freedom. It is up to us to keep this subject on the front burner. Colorado and Washington activists gave us the stage, now we have to perform. The wider we spread the message, the more difficult it is for the opposition to lie and deceive the public.

 

JOIN A GROUP:

There is power in numbers and there are plenty of organizations that could use a hand right now. Join a cannabis advocacy group and benefit from their infrastructure and network. Assist in major projects and help to be a part of the solution. It will take all of these groups working together to kill the prohibition monster, but we are almost there.

 

There is plenty that one person can do to make a difference right now. Please work hard to end cannabis prohibition. We are very close and it is up to us to be the squeaky wheel right now. If we can squeak loud enough, we may just be able to end this thing once and for all…so get to work.

 

Nowhere To Go But UP From Here

The dust is settling. My brain is beginning to wrap around the concept that Colorado and Washington passed weed legalization measures on Tuesday. While obviously it is not the end all for reform, it is a MAJOR step forward in ending cannabis prohibition. If you do not believe me then you are just not paying attention.

No less than 1,873 stories on marijuana legalization today!

The media has picked up the story and ran with it. There are literally THOUSANDS OF NEWS STORIES discussing this new found freedom and the failed policies of current drug laws. It is AWESOME! I could not be more excited.

A watershed moment is happening in America, and I am knee deep in it. The efforts of activists and supporters have come to bear fruit, and we have forced our nation to have a serious discussion on drug policy…at least for weed. That is a major step, and one that we can certainly capitalize from. If we play our cards right, we should be able to crush the drug warriors in months…not years as some are suggesting.

“BUT HOW?”

Great question. The simple answer is strategy and coordination. It will take the whole damn village, but we are at a point where we can seize the moment and put a final nail in the coffin of prohibition; or we could blow it again, a la Peter Bourne.

We have an opportunity in front of us like never before, and we should take it and run with it. Now is not the time to hold back, or to make half-measure claims that reflect a desire to carry on the status quo for one day longer in hopes of better days 4 years from now. The only people who want to preserve the current cannabis structure are the folks that make their living selling overpriced weed to really sick 20 somethings, or who make their living from people going to jail for weed.

Anything less than a full-frontal attack on this nation’s failed policies on cannabis will be a huge opportunity cost to this movement, and the millions of stoners it is supposed to represent. Now is the time for the KILL SHOT.

Any person or group who loves weed (or who love people who love weed) MUST come together, find a clear message to rally around, and we must present our case loudly and effectively to the American people. All eyes are on us. If we do not take the kill shot, no one will.

At this moment in history, the hunter has become the hunted; and we have drug warriors scrambling to make sense of it all.

As the question continues to be asked, “Why do we take people to jail for weed?,” we must be there to expose the evils and injustices of these policies. We must be the voice for the hundreds of thousands of good people who are behind bars today for weed. We are the voices of the parents who have had their kids taken over weed. We are the voices of the millions of people whose rights are violated every day as officers search their cars and property because they say they smell weed. We are the ones that must stand up and hold these war criminals accountable for their crimes against humanity .

I call for a coming together of all factions of this movement in a bold effort to make this final push for real reform. We are on the doorstep of progress, and we have got to do what it takes to get this job done. Now is the time to set down personal, and organizational, differences and objectives and focus on one thing…cannabis freedom. The message is simple….“What we are doing is not working. We must end cannabis prohibition. This immoral and unjust policy has gone on long enough.”

Now is the time to organize and put everything we have into campaigning for a meaningful end to prohibition. We must form alliances with organizations aimed at stopping mass incarceration, and groups that protect human rights and minorities. We have got to get our boots on the ground…and on the phone, in social media, through emails, etc. There has never been a moment in the history of cannabis prohibition where so many people have been focused directly on this issue. We must use this energy to our advantage, and create massive awareness campaigns to hammer the message home.

We have the public eating from our hand’s right now and we must feed them a heavy dose of reality….taking people to jail for weed is an enormous failure, and a costly one. Also, we must uplift the public and empower them. We must make them understand that this is a matter of freedom and it is the right thing to do. We must send the message that WE ARE BETTER THAN THIS.

Because we are better than this. Prohibition and the drug war have ruined massive lives in this country and have created an astonishing amount of criminals through a tempting and lucrative black market. We have exposed the most needy in our communities to a culture of crime and punishment over a safe and enjoyable plant. It is a travesty, and one that must end NOW…

We have the power to make this happen. We CAN use our resources, time, and energy to crush prohibition…and we CAN do it right now. I hope the heads of state of cannabis reform are organizing a summit to develop a sound strategy for the final battle. If they are not, they should.

Yesterday is gone. Today is a brand new day. It is our day. It is our time. Never look back. The end is near…and not a moment too soon.