Personal Responsibility for Prohibition

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There will always be someone else to blame. We can always find another sucker or group of suckers to make responsible for our problems. The world is full of excuses and reasons as to why nothing is our own fault. It is this lack of personal responsibility that leaves a lot to be desired in the human experience.

When we fail to own the world we live in and realize that it is our responsibility to make it a better place, we allow for chance and chaos to rule the day.

The drug war and the evils of prohibition policies are none of our “fault.” But they damn well are our responsibility. When these oppressive actions are taken against mostly poor and minority people in our society, and we do nothing to stop them, we are condoning this action. We are giving comfort to those who use their power to decimate entire communities of people by imprisoning their mothers and fathers and making them live in constant fear. This is basic “how to destroy a village” stuff.

Yet because it is playing out in slow motion, building up decade after decade, we have been lulled into sitting idly by and watching this happen. We have all been duped into believing that we are surrounded by criminals, and that people who deal or do drugs deserve what they have coming.

But it is a trap. The same authorities that want to drag these low level offenders off to jail for decades at a time to perform sweat shop labor, are the same ones who failed to stop the drugs from hitting the streets in the first place. They are also the ones who have allowed income inequality to fester to the point where desperation sets in, and selling drugs becomes the only option for a lot of poor folks.

And here is the kicker….it is your responsibility to put an end to this. No one is going to do it for us. The big business and law enforcement/prison lobbies that have created the trap are not going to stop unless we, as a society, demand an end to the oppression.

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” -Fredrick Douglas

Do not expect that others will do this for us, or that an end will come without a demanding show of force. We have got to take this message to every part of the land and make people who support prohibition ashamed of their position and actions. We must begin to call these folks out for being involved with evil and corruption. There is no “just doing my job” excuse that is worth participating in a “holocaust in slow motion.” These folks are war criminals, whether they know it or not. If you make your living destroying other people’s lives because of petty drug charges, then you are evil. There is no middle ground there. You wanna stop being looked at as an evil person? Then stop participating in evil. It is really that simple.

But too often we are placated with glossed over realities and fancy shiny toys to the point we just are no longer paying attention. We have chosen to turn a blind eye and forfeit our responsibility. I am not sure if folks think that the world will work itself out, but I can assure you that it will not until we can step up and begin to take responsibility for it. This is not the next person’s responsibility. It is ours; and we must do a better job of ensuring that we are not abusing powers and creating blind fear to support evil.

It is our duty to stand up and say enough. The time is now and the wind is at our back People are listening to the drug war dialogue more than ever, and it is high time real people began to have an open and honest conversation about why we allow this tragedy to continue in our name. It is no longer okay to assume that things will get better. That has just not proven to be true.

Do your part to find a solution. Take personal responsibility for the world we live in. Let the burden of the evils of our society sit in your stomach like a rock and keep you up at night. Then do something to change it.

When the Levee Breaks on Cannabis Reform

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If it keeps on raining, the levee’s gonna break…..

I have been incredibly impressed with the change our country has taken in its position on gay marriage. It was only a few years ago that I was demoralized when CA voted to ban same-sex marriage passing Proposition 8 (HATE) by 52% of the vote. I wondered how it could be that in a liberal stronghold like CA on the exact same day that we overwhelmingly elected the first black President to office we could have passed a law taking away the rights of same-sex couples to enjoy the privileges of being married? It seemed so mean-spirited and senseless at the time that I seriously questioned the direction our society was moving. It scared me to think that so many in our community still had no idea what it felt like to be discriminated against, and would vote to discriminate against others just because of who they love.

Fast forward less than 5 years, and the world has changed….and I mean CHANGED. Our society’s position on gay marriage has done a complete 180, and we now see even the most staunch conservatives jumping on the same-sex marriage bandwagon. I talk to my gay friends who literally are dumbfounded that this watershed moment is unfolding before their eyes. The oppression of their right to love, and hold an equal position for that love in our society, is fading. There is a new day dawning on the LGBT community and it is about time. What kind of asshole can look a person in the eye and tell them their love for another human being is meaningless and sinful? Keep that noise.

The reason the gay community has been incredibly effective in making their case is because they succeeded in putting real people and real emotion to their cause. They made us understand that gay people were our family and friends. These folks are our neighbors and it is not okay to keep shitting on their lifestyle. This stark reality and the gay community’s embracing of itself has led to the levee breaking for LGBT rights. It is inspiring to watch happen.

What is unfolding in America and the world is a seriously progressive shift on many issues, including gay marriage, immigration, and yes….weed.

So what will we do when our levee of prohibition breaks? Are we ready for the quick shift in public opinion and the legal reconfiguring of how we treat weed in our society? What happens if we wake up tomorrow and the U.S. Justice Department declares that cannabis is now strictly a state issue and that they will be ending all enforcement? What if the Bureau of Prisons releases all people convicted of weed, and the feds takes a clear hands off position? What if, like gay marriage, the issue has shifted so far that it becomes possible to pass federal legislation on this issue finally? Would we even know what to do?

The area where our issue differs greatly is in the regulation and control of an industry. This will be a major point of contention and one we should be considering sooner than later. Often within cannabis reform circles there is a feeling that we should just be happy with not being hauled off to jail any more, and that even strict and overbearing regulation is better than the current situation. Okay…I can give you that; but why should we settle for crazy strict weed, instead of demanding complete and equal treatment under the law as booze or tobacco, or maybe even coffee?

We see this playing out in real time, as Colorado and Washington scramble to develop this industry out of virtual thin air. In Colorado they assembled a task force that has made recommendations to the legislature and governor on how they see the industry being regulated. There are all sorts of nutty ideas in the hundreds of pages of suggestions. The State of Washington has hired a former advisor to the office of National Drug Control Policy to develop their program, which will likely be an overbearing regulatory scheme, just because of the way the stupid law was written. It is like people, even many of our own, refuse to acknowledge that marijuana is safer. In many areas the suggestions seem to keep in place the drug war mentality that cannabis is somehow very dangerous and must be limited extremely to prevent some perceived harm.

This perception comes from years of lies and deception, mostly from big business and law enforcement lobbying groups masquerading as some Debby Do-Gooder organization, like the Partnership for a Drug Free America and the like. They have sold us on this bag of shit and have been incredibly effective at misleading the world on the “dangers” of weed. Jack Herer may have summed it up best saying:

Well, as I understand it, the main supporters are beer companies and the pharmaceutical companies. I’d like them to show me the dead bodies from marijuana. But they can’t because there aren’t any. -Jack Herer

But I think even Jack would be taken back by the growing support we see happening for our cause at this moment in history; or maybe he wouldn’t. Jack, like myself, always wondered why people had not pulled their head out of their ass decades earlier. So as we see the head emerging from the ass of the American culture and our beloved cannabis plant becomes reacquainted with our society, how will we react? Will we be just so happy to have any sort of acceptance that we will accept overly burdensome weed industry regulation and control? Or will we demand that weed not be demonized and be made readily available for all who want to use it? Are we even ready for that fight?

Are we ready for the world to change tomorrow?

I am not sure we are. I am not even sure we can begin to wrap our heads around what a global and free weed market will look like. I think a lot of people in the weed community are stuck in the turkey bag mentality. They often do not see the forest for the trees. But the world is changing, and it is changing fast. It would bode well for us to get out in front of this wave of support and begin making our case for equality now. We do not want the civil union equivalent of weed legalization. We want absolute freedom and equal treatment. We should expect no less and always demand more. Weed is awesome.

Which is why when I hear the California activist scene giving up on 2014 and looking to 2016 for change, I feel like we are not getting it. It just seems like we have no idea what is coming and will certainly have no idea what to do when it arrives. The time to play for keeps is now, and we must begin developing sound strategies for not “if” weed will be legal; but when weed is legal….like tomorrow.

We can continue to fumble dick over our glorification of yesterday and desire to keep what is special about weed special. There is not shit special about being in prison, having your stuff searched, and constantly fearing for your freedom because you like weed. In order to change what we hate about weed being illegal we will have to face the reality that there will be things we hate about weed being legal too; but that the good far outweigh the bad.

When the levee breaks we should have a plan…or at least a nice boat.

The Price of Weed

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The State of Washington introduced the consulting firm that won the job to help develop their legal weed regulatory model. They chose Botec Analysis Corporation, a think tank led by UCLA professor Mark Kleiman who has advised the Office of National Drug Control Policy and others on drug policy issues. Kleiman is an interesting pick, as he is certainly not “pro-marijuana” by any means, even publicly opposing California’s Prop. 19 initiative in 2010. But he is not “anti-marijuana” either, which gives him a generally objective view from where to view the cannabis marketplace.

The most interesting points I think he touched on in the many interviews he has done since his selection is cannabis pricing and how that will play out in real time. His analysis and thought on how price will affect the legal environment of cannabis are worthy of consideration, and in some respects are playing out in quasi-legal medical cannabis markets right now. Here is one thing Kleiman said in an interview with CNN:

“You don’t want the price to be so high that it generates a black market inside the state,” Kleiman said. “You don’t want the price to be so low that it generates an export black market.”

So right now there are a few different cannabis markets to explore. We have a California market that is really several sub-markets where pricing varies greatly, but the markets are still relatively high priced, and most organizations operate as not-for-profits. There is the highly-regulated Colorado market where forced vertical integration and saturation have made for a more fierce and competitive for profit market resulting in lower pricing, but less selection and quality; but quality continues to improve with time. There is the Washington State model, where in Seattle at least there is a saturation of providers and competition has resulted in reasonable pricing, and production continues to increase rapidly. Oregon’s weed market is more limited, but it is growing and has always had a reputation for value. We see an emerging Arizona market with huge barriers to entry that are resulting in higher prices, but it is still too early to tell much there. Maine has very few state run dispensaries and a robust caregiver program, but are realizing the need for change because of lack of competition and high pricing there. New Jersey opened its first couple of shops in the most restrictive market ever and prices there are brisk, even with totally vertical integration. This mosaic of weed markets gives great insight as to what happens to the price of weed dependent on the rules and restrictions applied by the powers at be.

California is by far the market with the most history to look at. There has been an ebb and flow of market forces here, and because of the massive size of the state and it very regional regulations and guidelines, it has allowed for many different types of markets to flourish. Some have come and gone, and some are coming back again. It is different from city to city and county to county, and the price and quality of weed can differ greatly where you go as a result. The one place where the California market flourishes is product quality and innovation. Because there are no real barriers to entry on the production side there are a lot more small batch high quality producers that can enter the market with very little oversight.

The “collective and cooperative” model has evolved so many times over the last decade that it is really hard to keep track of. California began opening dispensaries in the mid-90’s. With no real guidance from elected officials or lawmakers on how to operate businesses, growing pains have certainly taken place. But California is also a great success story. On any given day, hundreds of thousands of people have access to a variety of high quality cannabis at many convenient and well-lit clean facilities with very little incident. That is a victory by any measure, no matter what industry you are in.

Where the California market has somewhat failed, at least in certain areas, is in competition at the retail level. In many markets a very limited amount of providers makes for higher prices. Also, increasing tax burdens, massive permit fees, regulatory compliance matters, and a bunch of red tape have made it more difficult for dispensing collectives/cooperatives to operate without charging $50 or more an eighth. At last check, the nation’s largest retailer of cannabis on the planet, Harborside Health Center, had several $60 eighths on their menu. Harborside will be the first to tell you that they have A LOT of bills to pay over there; but where this phenomena is playing out is on the backs of the growers.

It is easy math to do….at $60 per eighth and 128 eighths per pound the collective grosses $7,680. But the price of cannabis has come down substantially at the wholesale level, dropping off from nearly $4k per pound or more at one time to roughly $3k at the top end and a lot of good weed moving for $2,500 per pound. But even if we gave the benefit of the doubt that the collective paid $3,500 for a pound, which is virtually unheard of these days, that is still a 55% margin. It is more likely around 60%. Why? Because over-regulation, high tax rates, growing barriers to entry, and running a top notch organization has gotten super expensive in a lot of areas. Couple that with increased pressures from the Federal government in the forms of raids, asset forfeiture, and IRS invasions; and the result is $50-$60 eighths, while the grower who risked his ass continues to see his rate drop.

Before the most recent round of enforcement began in October of 2011 there was a much more competitive market happening. After the Feds released their infamous Ogden memo, opening the floodgates for would-be cannabis providers to set up shop all over the state, there were certain markets that were fiercely competitive where expansion was rapid. There were no shortage of advertisements for great deals promoting $25 eighths and freebies in every weekly in the state. There was a certain glimpse of what a free market might look like….at least in some areas.

In other areas, where competition was limited more by local ordinance there was less competition and prices did not fluctuate nearly as much. In these markets, innovation and professionalism began to be more key trademarks versus a race to the bottom in pricing. Service and quality are what drive success in limited markets, as well as competitive markets.

Some great experiments have resulted from the chaos that have enabled us to see what happens when certain barriers are in place, or when free markets are allowed to evolve. In competitive environments organizations have to perform and offer greater value than their competition, or risk losing their share of the market. This results in greater value for the average weedhead. Simply having good weed is not enough in these markets, as people want to be catered to for their loyalty. If not, they will go somewhere else that does cater to them more. There are a million ways to run a dispensary, but knowing what your competition is up to is necessary to survive in a competitive market…and the price of weed is a huge factor in that.

We see it happening in Denver, Colorado for sure. In a relatively small city there are about 250 retail outlets for weed. The State also forced retailers to produce 70% of their own medicine, resulting in dispensaries being able to offer more wholesale direct pricing for their in house products. Weed is down to $25 an eighth there or maybe $35 for the super duper. Quality can vary and there are less flavors to choose from sometimes, but from what I hear the quality continues to improve. The usually dry climate can cause for some curing issues, so shelf life and freshness also matter in this market. But overall the competition has resulted in a lower price for weed and weed accessories across the board. Also, less interference and forced vertical integration has contributed to people being more comfortable with giving more for less. In California, the cost of rent alone for dispensaries continues to skyrocket, wherein Colorado more property owners are comfortable with the state run program because it has had little issue with asset forfeiture there….at least for now. I am unaware if the IRS has begun to audit dispensaries in CO either, as they have in CA. Denver is also a for-profit market, which means smaller margins are okay when you get to keep most of them.

Seattle, WA is a lot like Denver in the sense of densely saturated markets; but they do not have nearly as many regulations…yet. Apparently, they are working on some; but for now there are just normal business licenses issued for dispensaries and if they pay their taxes and have no complaints, there has been relatively little enforcement by the locals, state, or feds. In less liberal areas of Washington State there has been enforcement and major issues. There is a lower price scale there, generally around $35-40 an eighth, with a few still doing their fire at $50; but for the most part, a competitive environment has resulted in lower priced weed for the end user.

In both Seattle and Denver, and even Oregon, the cost of living is generally substantially lower than California too, so operating costs are much lower overall. At some point, I wonder if Californians just expect to pay more for things, and become cautious if something is priced too low. I am not sure people could wrap their head around a $30 eighth of the super chronic in West Hollywood. It is almost like people feel superior, or better about themselves, if they pay more for something. “It must be better…it costs twice as much.” In some ways this is similar to the wine industry too, where people pay crazy shit for a bottle of old grape juice.

The medical market leaves a lot to be desired for the population it serves. It has become far too burdensome due to the need for clandestine growing and production facilities (indoor lighting is a bitch), and the snowballing regulatory costs and taxing associated with dispensary operation. In California the porridge is too hot. In Colorado and Washington State, the porridge is too cold. In Arizona and New Jersey, they may never get any real porridge; and Maine is likely too limited to really gather meaningful assumptions at this time. In Maine, prices at dispensaries are high, but I hear the caregiver’s there have great numbers.

But there is no truly free market that allows for no restrictions on production or retail, so we have no idea what a retail adult use market will look like. We likely will not really see that even in Colorado and Washington, as their new legalization laws take effect because there will be a knee-jerk reaction to try and limit the programs severely to appease the feds. Maybe this strategy will be successful, or maybe it will be unnecessary. I believe the feds are ready to give on this issue. The dam of public opinion is breaking too quickly and they will get on the right side of history sooner than later. But even if the announced a no enforcement policy tomorrow it would still take time for a nationwide series of laws to develop and begin really affecting the market in a huge way…but it is coming.

One day weed will by $50 per ounce…unless people like Kleiman use the fear of yesterday to convince us that we must continue black market extortion pricing to “prevent diversion.” Once there is no more black market to worry about the product being exported to, we will likely see a boom in production to meet global demand and a number of great weed products being sold for incredible prices. We will also see a robust connoisseur market, just like wine, where specialty grown weed and finished products with reputation will hold superior value in the market for those who can afford it.

But for now the price of weed is too damn high, or too damn low…It is hard to tell. If you are a grower seeing $60 eighths while losing 25-35% of your income then it is probably too damn low. If you are a patient in California paying $60 an eighth it is definitely too damn high. If you are a patient in Colorado or Washington paying $35 an eighth, but having a more homogeneous and limited experience then I do not know what the fuck it is.

When we look at the possibilities of what will be in a legalized adult use global weed market it is clear that the best option is freedom. It will likely take us some time to achieve real and meaningful cannabis freedom, but we will not stop until that goal is achieved and I can get a $10 lid again….

Weed will be legal. What it will eventually cost will be the big mystery. Most people do not brew their own beer because it is cheap enough to buy. But high class liquor and spritis can sell for a mint. But it will take a truly free market to bring weed prices back to earth. I am sure it will get more volatile before it evens out and the larger market develops. At least we hope. Sounds like a lot of work, so we should get started this summer…..

Regulate Cali Medical Weed Like Booze?

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So no less than a dozen people have contacted me in the last 24 hours to express their concern for a new proposal being put forth by CA Assemblyman Tom Ammiano that would appoint the CA Alcoholic Beverage Control to control and regulate the industry. The Division of Medical Cannabis Regulation and Enforcement would be created within ABC to establish and oversee statewide standards for cultivation, manufacturing, testing, transportation, distribution and sales of MMJ and MMJ products;  a scale of fees for the above activities To adopt, amend, and rescind reasonable regulations for the control of cannabis; and a licensing program and fee structure for cultivation, manufacturing, testing, transportation, distribution and sale of MMJ. The program shall include an ID card program that respects the protections of the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act. The division shall work in conjunction with law enforcement for the purpose of implementing and enforcing the rules and regulations.

At first I was taken back and my knee-jerk response was “HELL NO.” But then I thought about it for a minute…..booze are everywhere. If ABC controls and regulates the booze market, and booze are everywhere, then why would I automatically be opposed to them regulating medical cannabis?

Let us be honest with ourselves and get real for a minute. Cannabis WILL be regulated in California and probably that will happen this year. There is just too much pressure from all sides, including the cannabis industry, to establish some clear guidelines of operation. The State Attorney General, District Attorneys from all over, City and County Officials, Law Enforcement, and yes….even weedheads, have been demanding that the state give us a clear set of boundaries to operate within. I have long said that the state has failed to protect cannabis users, businesses, and the communities they serve, by not establishing this framework earlier. It is all part of growing up and becoming a legitimate and serious industry.

While regulations will always suck (who likes rules?), they are often necessary to create a level playing field, to ensure that others in the industry are operating to certain standards, and of course, to make sure the government gets their cut. The question we must ask is what should these regulations entail and who should be in charge of overseeing and enforcing them?

I think the Alcoholic Beverage Control may be a good fit. Why? Because first and foremost they want the money. They are not swayed by the influences of limiting competition and creating advantages for a select group of providers like a board comprised of industry stakeholders, unions, and policy makers might. They issue liquor licenses based on a generous availability and certain administrative requirements; but they do not get into the drama of which bar is better, or which liquor store will be more successful. They issue a license and make sure you are paying the proper taxes and not selling booze to minors. As long as they get their money and you follow the rules, they could give a shit if you run the nicest bar in town, or some shitty dive that serves a bunch of alcoholics.

So that objective approach to licensing may be a good thing. I certainly am more hopeful that ABC will be a better option than what was proposed in AB2312 last year. Even that commission was problematic in make-up and likely would have been influenced heavily by the big money players in the industry to restrict licensing to only the few who would pay to play. I think that would have been a real disaster.

Now I am not saying working with Alcoholic Beverage Control will be a walk in the park by any means. Those guys want money and they want as much as they can get. So I would expect a fairly heavy tax burden to be put in place. But what I came up with is that a more competitive environment of licensed manufacturers, distributors, and retailers would create lower prices for weed across the board. We see this happening in Denver now, where the price of cannabis is about 1/2 of the price of weed in Cali. So my thought is that the extra tax burden would probably balance out by the difference in cost through a more competitive market. Not to mention, most jurisdictions currently have some sort of sin tax on medical cannabis, as much as 10% in some areas.

On top of that, many dispensaries are forced to pay HUGE fees to those cities, as much as $60-$70k a year. That cost is passed on directly to the consumer in the form of higher priced weed. There is a reason the wholesale cost per pound is a lot less than it used to be, while most retail pricing has stayed consistent. The overhead for running a dispensary has become super heavy. So do we really think that a state run program will be a hell of a lot worse than the highway robbery we see happening now in most cities? I do not think so.

So before everyone gets out the pitchforks and torches and begins to burn this idea down to the ground, ask yourself, “If not ABC, then who?”

In an ideal world I would personally get to oversee the entire program and make decisions based on what was best for weed. But even I am not that objective, so I would probably be a lousy choice too. The reality we face is that someone will likely be regulating this industry relatively soon. Could the agency responsible for leaving booze all over the community to the point of irresponsibility be a good choice for us? Maybe. I am not entirely opposed to it given the alternatives. I am going to explore it more.

There will certainly be winners and losers too. It will become difficult, or nearly impossible, for small home growers who do a few lights in a spare room to enter the commercial market like they do now. And while that may suck, the truth is that a lot of this product never sees the dispensary shelf anyways. Many dispensaries are vertical these days and growing their own; or they have large scale producers bringing them products cheaper than the small batch guys can afford to give up. So this is already happening to an extent.

The one concern I might have, as a convicted felon for my role in the infamous weed candy cartel incident of 2007, they could make it so no convicted felon can participate in the commercial market. I certainly hope they make exceptions for folks like myself who were convicted for the same actions they are issuing a license for. That would suck if we were left out based on doing the same thing we were trying to get a license for. If ABC does it like liquor licensing then we should be okay.  The ABC guidelines provide that ABC can grant a license to a felon that has been rehabilitated. However, the ABC will investigate and make a determination and could deny the transfer of the license.

So while I am going to keep a watchful eye on the situation, I feel better about it than I did initially; and much better than I did about the initiative being proposed by ASA and CANORML, as well as Ammiano’s AB2312 from last year. It should be an interesting battle to watch, but overall, I think it can and will pass the legislature. We should be prepared for that. I am already starting my outreach to the ABC. From what I hear, they have some okay people running things over there these days, which is encouraging.

Like I said initially…booze are everywhere. There is no shortage of liquor licenses in California. I want weed to be everywhere too, so maybe ABC is not such a bad option after all. Obviously no option would be best, but that is just not realistic. So we can try to get all idealistic and oppose anything and everything that regulates the industry…or we could seek out the best option for that regulation, and I for one do not think ABC is such a big bad option after quickly reviewing their systems and policies for booze….

Should we regulate medical weed like booze in Cali? I am not against it…..I am open to a discussion as to why I should be, so fire away.

UPDATE: Just got off the phone with the Public Info Officer for CA Alcoholic Beverage Control. Did you know that since 2000-2001 the amount of liquor licenses in the State of CA has increased by almost 20% from 71,000 licenses to 85,000. That is what I am talking about…more access.

Rose-Colored Glasses Just Make Everything Pink

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I am sometimes questioned for my outspoken commentary on the cannabis movement. Some people do not understand what I am trying to accomplish by speaking critically about other cannabis activists or reform organizations. There is often a fear associated that I am somehow fueling the fire of the opposition or giving comfort to our enemies. Nothing could be further from the truth.

What fuels the fire of the opposition and gives comfort to our enemies is our inability to effectively organize; and our inability to confront issues within our community.

When we whitewash over real problems we face in an effort to not rock the boat, we miss out on opportunities to grow and evolve. It does not serve anyone’s interest to allow systematic failures to go unchecked, or to not have the difficult conversations that are necessary to be an effective movement. If we decide to shy away from internal issues, we should not be surprised when our efforts look disheveled from the outside.

We owe it to ourselves, to the millions of weedheads across the world, and to our brothers and sisters in jail for weed, to put our best foot forward. It is impossible for us to do that if we refuse to take an honest look at where we are as an industry and movement, and work to make changes where necessary to accomplish our objectives more efficiently, without the bullshit that often masquerades as reform but is really just an ego-driven con game.

A lot of the issue is that we just refuse to change. We have the exact same figureheads calling the shots as we did 10, 20…even 40 years ago. Is it a surprise that our movement continues to sputter along when we roll out the same tired ideas from the same tired people, usually with a fresh coat of paint and a couple of new cheerleaders? Is the reason we do not see a need for change that everyone is wearing rose-colored glasses? Maybe.

I am sure some of my criticisms of this group, or that supposed leader, have made me less than popular in many circles. There are certainly groups of people who loathe my commentary and who just wish I would go away. I am often confronted for my open and honest dialogue about public figures and reform organizations in the movement. Here is one comment I got on Facebook yesterday:

You can speak ill of people all you want, but that accomplishes nothing and wastes your time when you could be doing something more productive.

This is a common tone in cannabis reform when criticisms come to the surface. First it starts with people not even looking at or discussing the issue at hand, yet distracting from that conversation by making the dialogue about your right to even bring up such criticisms. There is generally a “Fuck you. Do it yourself if you think you know better” thrown in there for good measure, and before it is all said and done, the core issue is glossed over, as activists circle their wagons to uphold the status quo and defend their turf.

It is natural to want to defend the honor of an organization you are deeply involved with, or a person whom you have stood with for year after year. It can be hard to admit that things are not as good as they could be, and that a new direction may be necessary. With that comes the admission that the old way of doing things were a failure…and that can be a tough pill to swallow. I can certainly understand the difficult position that puts many people in. Change is hard. Changing because you understand things have not been as great as they maybe should have is even harder.

But that does not mean we should ignore the issues we face and continue to make the same mistakes over and over, just to avoid admitting that we may have been mistaken. We cannot change the past, but if we do not remove the rose-colored glasses and look deeply at the movement with a critical eye, we should not be surprised when the future looks a lot like the past.

I think we are better than where we are currently. I think there is a dynamic and exciting chapter in cannabis reform waiting to blossom. I meet so many folks who get it, and who understand the need for evolution within our own ranks; but most are frustrated by the bureaucracy and old boy’s club that has become cannabis reform. Many choose to keep their head down and just humor the situation to not lose their seat at the table. Others choose to ignore the obvious issues, and see the movement through their rose-colored glasses.

That is fine if you are okay with the slow-moving and fractured effort that we see happening now. For those who expect more and deserve more, we understand that we cannot continue to do the same things over and over and expect different results. We are not insane.

I refuse to wear rose-colored glasses because I think a completely pink world is disgusting.  I would much rather face the realities of the situation and have a grown up conversation about how to make the world a better place. If others want to continue to look at the situation through their rose-colored glasses, that is their prerogative; but do not be surprised when you wake up one day to find out that the world is made up of a lot of wonderful colors…and pink is only one of them.

Defending UFC Fighter Nick Diaz

I am not a UFC/MMA fan by any means. I have just never really gotten into it. You may say I am a stoner, not a fighter. That being said, I have a hell of a lot of respect for the time, energy, and strength that goes into the sport. Those dudes train hard to perfect their craft and take a beating just to do their job.

Which brings me to Nick Diaz. While I may not be a huge fan of the sport, I am a huge fan of Nick Diaz. Why? Because of his open admission that he smokes weed, and an even a more comical approach to beating the tests for weed. Unfortunately, Nick got a little ahead of himself on that and his weed use got him suspended from the sport for a year. That is correct. You heard me right. UFC stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in income, and severely damaged one of their best fighter’s career because he smokes weed.

Obviously Nick has good medical reason for using cannabis. Beyond the physical punishment that fighting has given him, the mental stress and anguish have also got to be tough to deal with. A lot goes into being a high profile prize fighter…especially for a kid who never graduated high school and rapidly rose to success in his sport. I am sure medical cannabis helps Nick Diaz in ways a lot of folks could never imagine. Yet, here we are in this day and age still ruining people’s lives and careers because they choose to use weed. What the hell is wrong with this society?

This kid is one of the baddest fighters in the world and capable of being a champion on any given day. But because he smokes weed he is ostracized and suspended from his sport for a year and is still being threatened with never fighting again. I just do not get it.

But I love Nick Diaz’s way of dealing with it. Instead of cowering like a chicken shit and bowing down to the UFC overlord, Dana White, he came out swinging and admitted he still smoked weed and was still working on beating the test instead of stopping his weed use. Nick Diaz should get a fucking award for this. The man has balls the size of jeep tires, and has literally put his money where his mouth is. Diaz has lost a year of work (not chump change either), and continues to hold strong to his weed convictions even when it has cost him so much, and could cost him his career. Nick Diaz has more courage in his weed pipe than most of these so-called warriors do in their entire entourage.

It is one thing to be a good fighter, or athlete. Plenty of people can do that. But in the bigger picture of society, Nick Diaz has chosen to make a point and take a stand for something he believes in. Nick Diaz believes in weed and has no intention of backing off that to please the powers at be…nor should he. Weed is safe and for Nick, weed is helpful. He does not need to be ashamed of his weed use.

In a sport whose main sponsor is BUD LIGHT, it is terrible that weed use is even an issue. Here is a sport that is promoting people getting drunk, and who have no penalties for their fighters drinking a whole keg of Bud Light, yet they want to ruin a person’s career over the much safer choice to smoke weed. The world is full of hypocrites, but there is nothing more evil than the way pro-sports bows down to the booze industry in exchange for sponsorship money. Here is a sport that takes millions from companies promoting getting drunk and the evils that come with that, but Diaz’s use of weed is just too much. Here is what UFC President Dana White said after Nick tested positive last year:

“My stance on the whole thing is… it’s not allowed. You’re not allowed to do it. Whatever the commission says you’re not allowed to do, you’re not allowed to do. It doesn’t matter what I think,” UFC president Dana White stated in a meeting with reporters following Tuesday’s UFC 146 press conference in Las Vegas.

“I don’t smoke weed. It’s not my thing. It’s illegal; you can’t do it. I can’t present an argument for why (Nick Diaz) should be cool to have marijuana in his system.”

So even Dana White, who continues to threaten firing him if he tests positive again, does not have a good reason why weed is a bad thing for Nick or the sport beyond “because it is illegal.” Well Dana….it used to be illegal to drink booze to. But could anyone imagine Jack Dempsey not being allowed to fight because he enjoyed some booze during alcohol prohibition? No. Because that would have been stupid and had absolutely zero to do with Dempsey’s boxing skills. Just like Nick’s use of weed has zero to do with his ability as an MMA fighter.

Listen to Diaz in his own words about why he smokes weed from a 2009 LA Times article:

“I’m more consistent about everything being a cannabis user,” Diaz said in an interview with The Times last week. “I’m happy to get loaded, hear some good music . . . I remain consistent. And I have an easy way to deal with [the drug tests].

Diaz….argues marijuana eases problems he has battled since childhood when, he says, he was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and prescribed mood-altering medication. His rebellion as a youth forced him to relocate to schools where he continually felt out of place and he ultimately became a high school dropout.

Nick Diaz has the right to smoke weed. A much more valid right than the right of everyone and their mamma to drink booze. It is the law that is stupid and the policies of the UFC that need to be changed. It was obvious in Nick’s title fight last night that his one year suspension for weed  did affect his ability. There is no way it couldn’t. Here is what he told MMA Junkie about the situation after the fight in response to their asking him about possibly changing up his training home:

“I can’t be jumping teams,” Diaz told MMAjunkie.com. “I just have to do the best with what I have. You know what? I’ve never paid taxes in my life, no joke. And no one wants to hear that kind of talk and what’s going on with me. I might as well just be a kid. I’ve had fight after fight after fight after fight, and you don’t know what that does to somebody who didn’t graduate high school. Take it into consideration for a second what three fights a year will do to you your whole life. And the only time you have some time off, it’s not like it’s a vacation – everybody’s telling you you’re this piece of s—, you’re suspended, you ain’t fighting this guy, you ain’t fighting that guy, you have to come back and dance around a bunch of hard hitting people. It’s a rough sport.”

Diaz pondered retirement saying this:

“I just feel like I fought everybody that I set out to fight,” Diaz said. “Johny (Hendricks) here, he’s a new guy. Jake (Ellenberger)’s been around for a little while. But I just feel like I’ve taken care of everything I wanted to do in the sport. This is hard stuff. I don’t ever get any time off. I’ve only had a year off one time, and it was a stressful year. I was pretty bent out of shape that I didn’t win that (Condit) fight. Nobody ever assured me, ‘They’re going to give you that (St-Pierre) fight.’ I was just sitting around depressed the whole year off. I can sit here and make a million excuses about why I wasn’t ready for the fight. But I want a rematch. I think I could beat you. I think I may be a better matchup for Anderson Silva, as well. But we’ll see what happens. I didn’t really have a good first round. I just think I could’ve been a little better prepared for this fight. I think next time, if I did get an extra shot, I think people would try to help me out a little bit.”

It is obvious Nick has a lot on his mind and I do not blame him for being a bit discouraged. It has got to be crazy frustrating to be forced from your career, your passion, and what you are best at because you like to smoke weed. Nick paid a lot for his “pro-weed I will do what I want” position, and I respect the hell out of him for it. When you look at the reason the athletic commission claims the drug is banned you can see beyond a shadow of a doubt that their reasoning is beyond bullshit.

“The drug is banned because of the damage it does to the person taking it,” said Keith Kizer, Nevada State Athletic Commission executive officer. “It could make you lethargic, slow your reflexes, and those are dangerous things in a combat sport.”

Well, for a person who you claim would be “lethargic, an have slow reflexes” Nick sure has overcome a lot to get where he is. It is clear that the commission does not see weed as a “performance enhancing drug,” as their position is that it decreases a person’s performance to a point of danger. Well, isn’t that a person’s choice to make themselves? If the drug is not giving them a competitive advantage, and to your account is giving him less of an advantage, then shouldn’t Diaz not only be allowed to use weed but be celebrated for his ability to perform while even being lethargic and slow? I mean, the commission is basically saying he is winning all of these fights and moving up the rankings despite his usage of a drug that makes him less able to perform. That is the shit! It is like he is fighting with one arm tied behind his back…and you want to suspend the guy? He is a beast to be celebrated and honored.

Instead, our society chooses to punish and make a mockery out of people who smoke weed. We continue to throw away some of the best and brightest just because they use weed. It never ceases to amaze me. When will we end this madness and stop treating people who like weed as second class citizens? Nick Diaz is a hero….not for his fighting; but because he has the balls to stand up and tell the truth and defend his right to use weed even in the face of criticism, unfair punishment, and loss of income.

If more people in our society had the courage and strength of Nick Diaz we would be in a lot better shape.

When being interviewed after the fight by Joe Rogan, Diaz flirted with retirement saying, “Hopefully I made enough money to invest in something.” Well Nick, if UFC wants to dog you out we would love to have you as an investor and spokesperson in the emerging weed industry. I am happy to discuss the many opportunities whenever and wherever. Have your people call my people.

Mickey Martin- (510) 377-1990

UPDATE: Nick Diaz was suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission…not UFC as originally reported.

The Dab Debate Heats Up

It was only a matter of time before the sky began to fall on the dab scene. The dab debate is beginning to hit the mainstream, as news organizations begin to run stories about this “new dangerous form of marijuana.” Very spooky, right?

Check out this local news report on “earwax, the shatter….dabbing.” Notice the old tried and true fear mongering that happens. First, they give you the innocent young teen girl telling you about how her friends are “dabbing” and how it is “easier to give to people and cheaper.” Add in the very straight reporter talking about overdose and toxic chemicals. They add the recovering drug addict who did a stretch in the joint to scare you even more. The cops warn it is “hard to identify” and that they “want to let parents know what they are looking for,” then tie that to the legalization measure passed this fall. What I really like is the drug addict telling you that “if you want $100k Mercedes go find a person who has one and ask them how they got it and go work for it.” Yes, person who let weed ruin his life….it is just that easy. Check out the sensationalism for yourself:

Now I expect this type of sensationalist rhetoric from the media and the prohibitionists. What I did not expect was to hear such overblown rhetoric coming from those within the cannabis movement. In a piece done by the great Chris Roberts of the SF Weekly blog entitled, Thanks to “Dabbing,” It Is Possible to Overdose on Marijuana the normally cannabis friendly Roberts takes a strange turn in his writing, putting forth a very lopsided piece that raises more questions than it answers. My biggest question is “why was there no attempt to cover the story from both sides?” I mean, I get that this is a hot button topic that people are interested in, but when doing a piece that attempts to demean the safety of cannabis by suggesting that people could indeed overdose and die from dabbing, doesn’t it make sense to possibly explore the millions of people not dying for whom dabbing provides a rapid and less carcinogenic form of ingesting their cannabis?

I am a bit disappointed by Roberts reporting, as he usually does a much better job of getting the entire story. But who I am most disappointed in in the Director of CANORML, Dale Gieringer, who is quoted in the piece from a prior communication as saying this:

It also may be dangerous, as California NORML’s Dale Gieringer writes in a recent letter to O’Shaughnessy’s, the marijuana medical journal published by veteran journalist Fred Gardner.

“In the past couple of years, there have been repeated occasions in which 911 teams have had to be called in due to cannabis overdoses,” Gieringer writes, going on to describe people passing out from high-concentrates at High Times Cannabis Cups in LA. The most authenticated record of someone dying from marijuana use, by the way? A man who became so incredibly high on hashish he passed out — and then died after hitting his head on a hard floor.

“Things like this never happened until the popularization of hash oil in recent years,” he adds. “The dangers are dire enough to merit a special warning.”

THE SKY IS FALLING! THE SKY IS FALLING!

Geiringer also said on an email communication regarding this matter:

I’m aware of three such incidents at a recent gathering in LA and several more at a cannabis cup in SF.   A lady my age who has been smoking since the 70s fell down and broke her front teeth after dabbing.  Someone else passed out and nearly cracked his skull on the sidewalk.   When  911 crews need to be called in, there arise serious questions about a drug’s safety. Cannabis advocates need to take the dangers of dabbing seriously.

Now granted….people doing the fish and hurting themselves is a big deal and should be a concern. But let’s not try to pin this on just dabbing, or try to suggest that this was never an issue before dabbing. That is just very disingenuous and more so, untrue. I have been standing around the weed water cooler long enough to have seen the evolution of concentrates happen; and as concentrates have gotten stronger (whether water processed or solvent processed) people have had to learn to adjust their intake and dosage levels to avoid getting to high, or God forbid, busting their teeth out from falling over. I have taken a good hit off of a joint and have gotten up too quickly, and have found myself lightheaded and woozy.

But because some folks are either unaware of their limitations, or choose to overindulge at an event where they may be less hydrated and overheated and have an accident, does not mean that we need to circle the wagons and reign in dabbing as a result. That is just stupid. It is like telling us to close down a bar because one asshole decided to get too drunk and wrecked his car.

People who dab do so at their own leisure and discretion. If a person is taking a hit from a dabbing device without being aware of the strength and power of the concentrate they are smoking, whose fault is that? Does personal responsibility come into play? Or are we going to take the same position as most drug warriors do and blow up isolated incidents of bad and irresponsible behavior to be some sort of an epidemic worthy of “special warning” because it is so “dangerous and dire?”

But that is what we get from our leadership these days. Any time the media or a public official asks a tough question, you can always count on the leaders of the cannabis movement to immediately throw the entire movement under the bus in an effort to distance themselves from whatever it is that the public is outraged about now. Super.

I remember when we had this conversation about edibles a few years back. There was a growing concern over the dangers of cannabis edibles, and the potency of them. There were the same overblown stories about the kids, and how teens were eating weed brownies. Here is an example of some of that rhetoric from an early 2011 story in Denver:

“You can’t tell the difference between Rice Krispies treats you buy at Target and some of these other ones. They look just alike. And we’re seeing suckers packaged in a way that they could easily end up in the hands of children on school grounds. And patients who are drinking these sodas and eating these products have no way of knowing how much THC is in there. That’s not safe, either. If it’s a medicinal product, it needs to not only be marketed as a medicinal product, but be clearly identified as a medicinal product.”

You will not be surprised to hear that our “fearless” leaders also threw us under the bus during the big “edibles are dangerous” debate too. Check out this statement from NORML’s Executive Director, Allen St. Pierre in response to a question about the “Saving Kids from Dangerous Drugs Act”:

The bill has garnered support from unexpected quarters. Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), says that “those who say marijuana is medicine had better be prepared to market it as such – and not as candy.”

Further, says St. Pierre, those who sell pot-infused brownies, cookies and other “medical edibles,” or “medibles,” have reason to be worried, because, in his opinion, the bill is written broadly enough to include them. […]

Medical edibles are a very significant part of the multi-billion dollar medical marijuana industry, says St.Pierre.

And some people cross the line, especially in advertising, he says.

Some alternative papers run ads for pot in four different ice-cream flavors. “It has a child-like appeal,” he says of one such ad. “I don’t think that was the notion of people who put out this ad, but that’s what it looks like.”

We can always count on good old Allen to come out swinging…it is just usually for the other side.

But you can see how this is nothing new. Just the latest hysteria from the prohibitionists that is now being supported and further legitimized by those within our ranks who apparently need to grow a pair and figure out how to defend our honor and represent people’s right to use weed however they want. I am so tired of some drug warrior cop saying “this type of weed is dangerous” and our own leadership running right up and saying “Yeah it is!” Shut the fuck up, already.

I look at dabbing like the hard alcohol of the weed industry and it should and hopefully will be, regulated as such. I know that if I drink whiskey that chances are I will get extremely intoxicated much quicker and with a smaller volume than if I were drinking beer. So I moderate that. I do not drink a pint of whiskey; and if I did, i could anticipate probably falling over and maybe even dying from my fall. But that is because I am an asshole that drank too much whiskey, and not because whiskey is more dangerous when used correctly, right?

Just like liquor, dabs are more dangerous to manufacture so chances are there will be special requirements for manufacturing them, just like there is for operating a booze still. But this does not mean that people who enjoy whiskey and who use it responsibly should not be allowed to do so, or that in needs to be a “dire” matter.

Dabs can be a lot. Do not get me wrong. They are an extremely potent and powerful way to consume the active ingredients of cannabis. But they also provide a method of ingesting cannabinoids into the system that allow the end user to consume much less carcinogenic vegetive matter, and to use a very small amount to achieve the desired level of effect. What is wrong with something being more efficient?

It kind of reminds me of the scare tactics used by the feds that “today’s marijuana is 5 times as strong as marijuana in the 60’s.” Yeah…so? Good for me. I have to smoke less to get where I need to be. I have to smoke less weed to get baked. Yay! I am just not seeing the problem.

Now if people want to get into the chemical aspects of the process and whether or not the actual butane being used to extract the oils are dangerous to be consumed, then that may be a scientific discussion worthy of having. I personally usually only dab concentrates I know were made in a safe and clean environment by folks who know how to remove any toxins properly. This is also an issue that can be worked out by proper guidelines and regulations. For the record, butane and other solvents are used in super critical extraction of a lot of non-cannabis essential oils and edible extracts. It can be done safely and properly….and it should. Most people who make BHO or other oil extracts want there to be standards in place. They know that poor quality and possibly dangerous BHO harms their craft more than anyone.

So while the dab debate heats up and it become very popular to want to distance yourself from the dab situation because of its perceived dangers and drug culture, just know that we do ourselves no favors by throwing our fellow weedheads under the bus because they like dabbing. Instead, we should embrace the culture and promote the positives that these essential oils can bring to the cannabis environment. We should be cautious to condemn a growing sector of the industry based on loose theory and hyperbolic bullshit. If you have direct evidence of butane extracts damaging a person physically then by all means bring that to the table, but let’s not go around telling people it “could contain neurotoxins” with no evidence of it actually doing so. Believe if there was direct evidence of this the drug warriors would be out in force trumpeting that as the reason weed should be kept illegal forever.

Let’s not do the prohibitionists work for them with no verifiable dangers other than people being personally irresponsible and falling over because they chose to ingest something in a dangerous situation without being prepared for it. Thanks.

If you see the dab debate heating up, the best thing to do is to cool it off with reality…..when used responsibly, dabs can bring the effects of cannabis to a person rapidly and efficiently with very little ingestion of plant based carcinogens.

Be A Nancy…

The House Minority Leader and unquestionably the most powerful woman in the country, Nancy Pelosi, took the weed debate to the next level yesterday in an interview with the Denver Post Editorial Board. She did not mince words or beat around the bush in her comments about the historic vote legalizing weed in Colorado and Washington States, as well as states with medical cannabis laws on the books. Here is what she said:

From the Denver Post:

Pelosi said the federal government should not fund enforcement of its marijuana laws in states that have legalized medical marijuana and in Colorado and Washington, which have also legalized recreational use of pot.

“The state (Colorado) has spoken. The law has been passed,” Pelosi said. “There are issues with taxation and regulation, and we need to get on with it.

CAN YOU HEAR US NOW???

That is right. The people of these states have spoken and it is time for the Feds to do the right thing and end their interference into the laboratories of democracy. Like Nancy said….”GET ON WITH IT.”

This is an important statement for many reasons. First and foremost, it is the highest ranking official to come directly out in support of ending enforcement of weed laws in states that have voted to allow for it. That in itself is an amazing evolution. Just last year I could not imagine Nancy Pelosi ever having the courage to make this statement publicly. But numbers do not lie.  When laws pass by 10+ points in a climate where virtually nothing passes by those margins, it is impossible to ignore. Nor is it wise politically to ignore the overwhelming support of the people in order to continue with policies that have been nothing short of a disaster and an absolute failure.

This could also be an important statement from Pelosi because of the way the Obama Administration does business. They have been criticized for their methods of releasing big statements in “trial balloon” form before making direct policy shifts. Just like Vice President Biden was the first to trickle out the policy shift on gay marriage; or when former OMB Director Peter Orszag sent out the Social Security cuts trial balloon right after the election; or the infamous trial balloons introducing the possible controversial Cabinet appointments of Susan Rice and Chuck Hagel. The point is that this administration is notorious for “feeling out” the situation before making a move, so it is very possible that one of Obama’s closest partners, Nancy Pelosi, could be the bearer of the weed legalization trial balloon in this case.

Pelosi is one of the smartest politicos in the game, regardless of where you stand on her politics. She is a shrewd leader who knows how to get on the right side of history when the time comes. She did the same thing last year with gay marriage, as she pressured the Democratic Party to include support for gay marriage in their official party platform. And sure enough, they did…and they won the election big. It is night and day for gay marriage in the political world from where it was just two years ago. It is amazing to see politicians do a complete 180 on this issue, and now it is not politically viable to oppose gay marriage, unless you are some right wing nuthole from Alabama.

The same thing is happening with the weed debate. Just look around you. Politicians are scrambling to wrap their heads around it. Prohibitionists are out in force kicking and screaming to maintain the evils of the drug war because they too see the writing on the wall. This thing is ending…and it is ending soon. The debate has turned the corner, and it is only a matter of time before legal weed is a reality in America. While Nancy may be the first prominent big name politician to come out in support of changing these policies, be sure she will not be the last.

A lot of these politicians will learn to BE A NANCY.

Pelosi has long been a leader of policy change and a powerful voice in the national political scene. Nancy is also a powerful voice in the weed debate because of her role as a woman and a mother. That is a powerful position for the cause because women are a lot of the folks that we need help convincing that legalizing weed for adults will be okay. The “soccer mom” situation is very real, as we have allowed the prohibition lobbies to scare the bejeezus out of parents, and moms in particular, convincing them that weed would somehow be the downfall of their precious children. A strong woman’s voice can help to ease those fears and will help to shift the debate.

I do not know how to convince the folks in this movement to wake up and see what is happening before their eyes. When I hear California activists continue to talk about waiting until 2016 to put forth an initiative, all I can think is that they need to “BE A NANCY.” When we have the ultimate politician and most powerful woman in the nation saying “WE NEED TO GET ON WITH IT” and our own movement of folks supposedly committed to reform saying “We should wait a few more years to get on with it” there is a pretty big disconnect IMO. The world is gonna get on with it, with or without us. That is a fact.

So call me “Nancy.” I am down….I am ready to get on with it and to get on with it now.

Don't Make Excuses. Make History.

The world is full of excuses. There will always be a reason not to do something epic, if we look hard enough. The difference between those who make history and those who watch history pass them by  is that people who make history rarely make excuses, or let challenges overcome their determination. Where there is a strong will there will always be a possible way.

Weed has come to a fork in the road. As a movement we must decide if we are going to take destiny into our own hands and end cannabis prohibition once and for all; or if we are going to let the same tired excuses stand in the way of our freedom for another few decades.

Let’s look at some of the common excuses that we hear as to why we cannot legalize weed right now:

  • It is too soon.  A lot of folks have bought into the theory of prohibition, and believe that it must be a slow evolution to restore our society to sanity. I am not buying it. The world is ready for legal weed. We must take a close look at our self-confidence as a movement if we cannot really envision the freedom we want and desire happening, like now. It is sad when those in our own ranks are so entrenched in the status quo, and believe we must take baby steps back to reality. It is never “too soon” for freedom.
  • Corporations will take over the industry. Look around you. Corporations have taken over the industry already in a lot of ways, and that is not always a bad thing. Corporations can provide the large resources needed to produce an adequate supply for global demand. It is foolish to believe that we should keep weed illegal, or decriminalized, to avoid the normalization of the market into corporate society. This can be done ethically and consciously, as well. Not all corporations are evil, and while there certainly are evil corporations out there, society is demanding more accountability and ethical behavior from corporations these days. There is also a resurgence of smaller corporations and local small businesses that provide great products in most industries. You choose to go to McDonald’s or to the farmer’s market.
  • Legalization will destroy medical cannabis. Huh? I could not believe it either when I heard this, or when this factor became evident in campaigns for adult use legalization of weed. I was astonished. But apparently the fear mongering goes like this…”If we pass legalization the feds will be so mad that they come in and shut everyone down.” (Please wait for sky to fall) If anything, legalization would take the heat off of the medical market…if that is your real mission. True to life medical patients and providers should be thrilled by legalization. Nothing destroys the credibility of medical cannabis, and the benefits it has, more than hundreds of dudes limping into a doctor with a pulled groin to get a recommendation to grow some weed. Most doctors outside of the cannabis bubble do understand the medical benefits of cannabis, but will not be associated with the current medical market because of its huge gray area of what is, and what is not, medical. If you really want the medical community to embrace medical cannabis then differentiating between medical and enjoyable use is the only answer.
  • It is a political hot potato and hard to get support. That is just because we are doing it all wrong. First and foremost, we have the majority support of the people behind us and have for a couple of years now. Chances are support would be even higher if we did a better job of exposing the drug war for the fraud and deception it is. If we were more effective of making the case to people that we are allowing evil and greedy people to lock up mostly poor and minority people for many years to perform slave prison labor for major corporations over some harmless weed, we could end this thing today. Most folks have no clue. Because we have let our own personal doubts and conditioning get in the way of us standing up and saying “enough,” we have given up our political power. We must begin to educate people and expose the tragedies that these laws and policies have caused our communities. When we can do this, the powers at be will stand up and take notice and move quickly to be on the right side of history. No politician wants to be associated with policies that are evil and which are so damaging to our society.
  • There are far more important issues on the table than weed. No there is not. What could be more important than the “holocaust in slow motion” that is the drug war? The reason we believe that our issue is not important enough is because we have been told for years that we are degenerates and derelicts because we like weed. We have allowed our society to make a mockery of weed and cast those who use it as some bumbling fools and idiots. When the reality is that weed is used by A LOT of people from all different walks of lives, backgrounds, ethnicities, and income brackets. Weed does not know racial boundaries or class. But you would not know that from looking at those arrested and in jail for for weed. But it is fair to say that at this point, everybody knows somebody who smokes weed; and that person is at risk of being arrested, having their right to privacy violated, and their lives ruined because they choose to use weed on occasion, or instead of booze. This is not okay any more. Weedheads are good people. We are everyone, and we deserve to have our freedoms and rights restored immediately. Nothing is more important than putting an end to this madness. Nothing.

Those are just a few of the common excuses I have heard swirling around camp cannabis lately. When I pick up a paper, or watch the news, or talk to people outside of the cannabis community, I am amazed and humbled at the overwhelming acceptance that is happening. The increasing willingness to embrace this cause, and the ongoing conversation about these disastrous policies, is heartwarming and real. There is something meaningful happening in our national (and global) dialogue about weed. This is happening, and probably happening quicker than most may be ready for.

We have to decide if we are going to ride the lightning and go for the kill shot…or if we are going to sit back and make excuses for another 5-10 years while this thing rolls out on its own without us. We CAN make history, and we can make it NOW.

We can continue to promote IMMEDIATE FREEDOM in our daily walk. These laws must change and they must change now, There is no need to lock up one more person for weed ever. We must have this conversation with anyone and everyone who will listen. It is up to us to keep this issue on the front burner and in the public eye. Organizing effective education campaigns and mobilizing people to push for reform has got to happen at a more rapid pace. It is up to us to expose the evils of prohibition and demand that we make immediate changes to how we deal with weed. We must be more agressive in our approach. It is time to cross the streams and destroy the StayPuft Marshmallow Man.

The time is now and history is ours for the taking. Excuses are for losers.