Ain't No Stopping Us Now

IT IS HAPPENING! (No…not the breast massage.)

NoStopping.1

Adult use legalization of weed is coming…but do not take my word for it. Published this week in a editorial letter to the New York Times Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) wrote this:

Bill Keller’s May 20 column, “How to Legalize Pot,” captures the momentum and energy growing around the country to change out-of-date drug laws. This reform will come quickly because of major shifts in state laws and public opinion, coupled with increasing agreement that federal policy is a failure and the success of a new generation of reform advocates.

Blumenauer was responding to a great piece that ran last week in the New York Times entitled How to Legalize Pot, where Keller made this awesome and bold statement:

The marijuana debate has entered a new stage. Today the most interesting and important question is no longer whether marijuana will be legalized — eventually, bit by bit, it will be — but how.

“At some point you have to say, a law that people don’t obey is a bad law,” Kleiman told me when I asked how his views had evolved. He has not come to believe marijuana is harmless, but he suspects that the best hope of minimizing its harm may be a well-regulated market.

Also published this week was a great piece by Time Magazine entitled How America Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Marijuana.

But the puritanical fervor that once dominated the national discussion surrounding cannabis has been conspicuously absent of late. Earlier this month, the Colorado State legislature, by order of a November referendum, passed bills to implement the legalization and regulation of recreational marijuana use. Washington State voters also approved legalization by referendum on election day. And these events have recently been followed by more good news for supporters of cannabis law reform. The Organization for American States recently suggested that marijuana legalization could be a way to cut down on drug-violence in the western hemisphere. Perhaps most important, the movement has finally found a voice on Capitol Hill, as representatives Earl Blumenauer and Jared Polis submitted legislation earlier this year that would end federal prohibition of the drug, and allow states to tax and regulate it as they see fit.

Yesterday in Colorado, Governor John Hickenlooper signed into law the first legislation allowing for a regulated adult use cannabis market in the State of Colorado. While many of the proposed regulations suck, the big picture is clear….adult use legalization IS happening in Colorado…and the sky IS NOT falling.

Washington State will not be far behind, as the team charged with developing their regulatory model is set to release their findings and make their final suggestions to the WA State Liquor Control Board to develop the regulatory model there.

Several states, including California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Arizona are implementing robust medical cannabis retail distribution and wholesale markets. Regardless of the Feds lack of clear guidance and ongoing interference in some states, the will of the people is moving forward at a great pace.

The world is understanding that weed IS happening. There is no stopping the momentum and that the best thing society can do is get ahead of the situation before freedom and weed overcome us all swiftly and forcefully. For me personally, this in-between and awkward stage is frustrating.

On one hand, EVERYBODY knows weed will be legal one day very soon. On the other hand, we have a lot of issues to overcome, as we have spent the last four plus decades digging a hole of war crimes against our own people for using a safe, enjoyable and helpful plant. It is like that feeling when you know you are going to break up with a girl, but you do not want to do it before her birthday or Christmas. We are all still kind of going through the motions of the war on weed, while no one truly believes in it anymore. It is stupid.

So how do we get past it? How do we end this thing once and for all? How can a nation who has severely damaged millions of people’s lives by making them criminals for smoking weed say, “MY BAD?” How do they avoid having to admit they were terribly mistaken, let thousands of people out of prison, and act like nothing happened over the past decades?

A fucking apology would go a long way for me….

As a person who had his home and businesses raided by armed gunmen from the US Government for making weed brownies for sick people, I know firsthand the tragedies that this war on weed has created for real people like me. I was lucky too. I am a white male with an adorable family and a lot of community support.

I cannot tell you the amount of times I have sat in a federal courtroom waiting on another case and have seen judge after judge sentence young brown people to draconian mandatory minimum sentences of 5-10..even 20 years for weed. There are thousands of these folks rotting away in our out of control prison system right this minute. They all have families and people whose lives are messed up because we decided to haul their loved ones off to prison for years over weed. There are parents who only see their kids in a jailhouse visiting room because of weed. People are losing their children, their jobs, and their standing in the community over weed.

This shit has got to stop; and procrastinating on how to fix the problem is not going to help solve it. It will only make it worse and more difficult, as every day more lives are thrown away to a system of justice that has decided that people are numbers and pawns in their game of profits and deceit. The private and public prison industrial complex is driving the need for more prisoners, and we are using immoral and unjust drug laws to feed good people to the system because it is good for a company’s bottom line.

So what is the answer? End it…and end it now.

Take our lumps like grown people and figure out how to not make the same mistake again. There is no easy way to say sorry for ruining so many people’s lives over bullshit. There is no easy way to tell thousands of people locked in cages that we were wrong and that they can go now. There is no easy way to change our entire culture of law enforcement to be less focused on this overzealous drug war.

Nobody said it would be easy though…..but it is going to happen and it needs to happen now. The Justice Branch of the Green Shadow Cabinet issued a report this week entitled: “The Voters of Colorado and Washington Provide a Path to End the War-on-Marijuana Quagmire” which they make some excellent and pointed recommendations. here is that:

In the report we specifically limited our recommendations to actions President Obama can take without any legislation from Congress.  The 32 page report, “The Voters of Colorado and Washington Provide a Path to End the War-on-Marijuana Quagmire [7],” reviews the extent of marijuana use, impact of arrest and incarceration, reports of national commissions and legal issues around federalism.

The report makes four specific recommendations:

  1. Respect the will of the voters in Washington and Colorado, as well as public opinion in the United States that wants the federal government to refrain from interfering with implementation of these states laws.

  2. Recognize that there is no conflict between federal law and these state laws and enter into Section 873 contracts with the states to control marijuana, i.e. implement state laws, prevent sales to adolescents, ensure potency and purity labeling and apply taxes that raise money for government programs and discourage marijuana abuse. Colorado’s law allows personal cultivation of marijuana, which should be recognized in the Section 873 contract. And, in respect for federal law, states should agree to work to prevent marijuana from being diverted into states that have not reformed their laws. In return the federal government will not enforce laws against marijuana in states when the actions are consistent with state law and the 873 contract.

  3. With regard to regulation, licensing and taxation, these are alternative methods of control that are not in conflict with federal law which the US Supreme Court has said is to “conquer drug abuse” and “control the legitimate and illegitimate traffic in controlled substances.” Both the federal and state government want to protect public health and safety and can work together to achieve those goals.

  4. The Obama administration should reschedule marijuana to recognize its medical use and should enter into Section 873 contracts with states that have authorized medical dispensaries, and treat them like any other health care service.

There is a path to a cannabis reality we all can live with. It will likely be a messy and somewhat painful path…but a path nonetheless. We must demand that this journey begin now and that our society quit taking people to jail for weed immediately. We must restore sanity to our communities and quit making law enforcement the enemy of the people by forcing them to search people for weed and arrest them for a substance far safer than any of the “legal” ones.

There ain’t no stopping weed now….We’re on the move. Legalize weed today. End mass incarceration today. It will make you feel better…I promise.

 

Oh, the Places We'll Go

Nothing is fucked here, Dude.

ohtheplaces.2

There is certainly no doubt we are in a strange time for weed and where the weed industry will go is really anyone’s guess. But we are far from fucked, Dude.

I hear a lot of grumbling as cannabis comes back into the mainstream about how “this is not enough” or “this is not even real legalization.” Granted, some of the plans on the table in Washington and Colorado for adult use, as well as some of the proposed or active medical regulations in many states leave a lot to be desired.

Be patient.

This is really just the beginning…an awakening if you will. I know that many of us have been fighting these battles for decades, but the truth of the matter is that society is just beginning to catch up to reality. There is a cannabis renaissance happening that is undeniable and potent.  The world is waking up to weed, and realizing they have been hoodwinked for the last few decades…and a lot of them are pissed.

But with decades of misinformation, and a real live all out war, comes a lot of hurt feelings and ignorance.

There will always be a knee-jerk reaction to be extra cautious and to appease opposition forces through measured freedom and limited liberties. Idiot politicians will be sure to try and over-regulate the shit out the market, in an effort to show what responsible and diligent people they are. It is like when booze came out of prohibition and they wanted to only allow for beer that was not over 3.5% alcohol like they did right before prohibition to appease the prohibitionist zealots. It was eventually laughed off of the table because it was a stupid idea that solved no problems and limited enterprise.

The same will happen with weed. Once weed becomes a boring no-big-deal every day product in the global market, there will be a loosening of most of these ill-conceived shark-jumping regulatory laws. The industry will lobby for deregulation like all industries do, and eventually we will have enough resources to buy off politicians to get whatever we want like everyone else.

ohtheplaces.1

But even more powerful is the existence of the massive structure for a robust black market if the “industry” becomes too burdensome.

Look at Washington State. The team charged with developing their regulatory model has figured out that they cannot tax the shit out of the product and make it too difficult to get if they want to compete with the existing medical market, as well as the black market. Their harsh reality is that weed is already everywhere and they are gonna have a hard time trying to set too strict of boundaries on the legal market for too long because people will just circumvent their programs, and the companies investing millions into the industry will ensure the stupid rules are removed so they can compete.

The strange matrix of weird laws and strange policies is just a part of the process. Maybe it is an annoying and bullshit part of the process, but a part of it nonetheless.

We must continue to advocate for our cause and work to get the best regulation on the table we can when we can; but we should also learn to accept the process and understand that it is a series of battles that will end this war…not one massive kill shot.

We cannot write off every single imperfect effort because it is not exactly what we personally had envisioned. As a community, we must learn to balance our rights and responsibilities with the fact that people have demonized weed for so long that we are fighting a real uphill battle.

Incremental victories are still victories. Nothing is fucked here, Dude.

We have an awesome opportunity to shape the way that weed is understood and accepted. Our friends and neighbors are ready to listen, but we have a hell of a lot of work to do. We have to convince them that this criminal and evil plant they have been told about is really a safe, enjoyable, and helpful now legal substance. There will be no shortage of skeptics and haters, which is why we will see a severely limiting initial roll-out.

But we are all adults here. Most people will begin to grow more comfortable, as they have with the medical cannabis industry; and when the sky does not fall there will be efforts to adapt and repeal some of the dumbshit regulations that this state senator, or that jackass representative put in because he read something about weed on the interwebs somewhere.

Eventually there will be a weed market, and I think it will be awesome. I envision it as a hybrid of the coffee, beer, and wine industries. Some large behemoth producers with a growing support for small batch independent local producers and retailers. There will be a loosening of regulations and the free market will thrive. Some will win and some will lose. There is no doubt about that.

But in the end, I believe cannabis freedom will win. And then…Oh, the Place We’ll Go.

CHANGE.ORG: Quit taking people to jail for weed by summer…

Petitioning People Against Jail For Weed

change.1

People Against Jail For Weed: Quit taking people to jail for weed. Make cannabis legal by summer.

The drug war is an absolute failure. We are destroying people’s lives for a safe, enjoyable, and helpful plant that is safer than alcohol, tobacco, coffe, or any other “legal” drugs. we can no longer afford to continue taking our friends and neighbors to jail for their choice to use cannabis. American citizens inherent right to use cannabis must immediately be restored and law enforcement must quit violating people’s 4th amendment rights because they suspect or smell weed. The time to end this is now. #LegalBySummer

CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION!

yesyoucan.1

City of Fallen Angels?

GTA.1

So thousands of people in LA lost their jobs today. Super. I find it hard to believe that some in our community are celebrating this loss of access and return to 2007 levels of access in the nation’s second largest City.

Here is where Prop. D in LA gets a little crazy for me now that it has passed…

All existing medical marijuana businesses must immediately cease operation; except that any medical marijuana business that that does not violate any of the medical marijuana business restrictions described in Section 45.19.6.3, Limited Immunity, may continue to operate but only so long as subsections A through D and G through 0 of Section 45.19.6.3 remain valid, effective and operative.

And here is the definition of “medical marijuana business” just so you know who all must cease operations immediately….

(1) Any location where marijuana is cultivated, processed, distributed,
delivered, or given away to a qualified patient, a person with an identification card, or a primary caregiver.

(2) Any vehicle or other mode of transportation, stationary or mobile, which is
used to transport, distribute, deliver, or give away marijuana to a qualified patient, a person with an identification card, or a primary caregiver.

Yup…You got a pot grow that cares for more than 3 people? CLOSE. You got a delivery service? CLOSE. Not on the pre-ICO list? CLOSE. Edible kitchen? CLOSE.

But then peep this further…..

Then it says this:

Every medical marijuana business is prohibited that has one or more Managers who are also Managers at the same time of another medical marijuana business in the City;

So even your dispensary cannot have a pot grow in the City because technically a “medical marijuana business” is defined as a “location” meaning your grow facility is indeed a different business and you are now the manager of two businesses in the City…a NO-NO.

WTF? Chaos, baby…….

Freedom Over Fear

Freedom-not-Fear

Can our desire for freedom overcome our fears of oppression and failure?

Where weed is concerned our society is in the middle of a mid-life crisis. We are beginning to understand that the war on drugs has been a complete waste of time and we are ready to buy a motorcycle and head out on the open road for a little fun and adventure. It is painful to wake up and realize that we have spent so much time, energy, and of course money on taking people to jail for weed. It is difficult to comprehend how we even continue to allow for this bullshit one day longer.

Game over, drug warriors. People want their weed and they want it now. Quit bullshitting us ,and acting like dragging mostly poor people to jail for weed is some sort of moral crusade. Weed is awesome and people know it. Just let it go. It is over. You lost.

Weed legalization is happening, and if you have not noticed, it seems to be happening pretty fast. On Friday, the world’s oldest regional organization, The Organization of American States (OAS), which includes 35 member nations released a report that encouraged the legalization af marijuana. Boom…there you have it. This is not me spouting off about “Quit taking people to jail for weed.” This is a report from world leaders of 35 countries in our region who are fed up with the war on drugs and its over-reach into their societies. It is about time. Here is what the New York Times reported on it:

MEXICO CITY — A comprehensive report on drug policy in the Americas released Friday by a consortium of nations suggests that the legalization of marijuana, but not other illicit drugs, be considered among a range of ideas to reassess how the drug war is carried out.

The report, released by the Organization of American States walked a careful line in not recommending any single approach to the drug problem and encouraging “flexibility.”

Prompted by President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia at the Summit of the Americas last year to answer growing dissatisfaction and calls for new strategies in the drug war, the report’s 400 pages mainly summarize and distill previous research and debate on the subject.

Yet with all of the bold rhetoric we see in the press and in our discussions in our lives about ending the madness of weed prohibition, there is still an inherent fear by most in our community to approach the subject because of the 40 bullshit years of misinformation brainwashing people that weed was evil and only for losers. It is still more difficult than anticipated for people to find their courage when approaching the subject with their friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers who have bought into the drug war propaganda.

This must stop. We are right and they are wrong. No one who uses weed deserves to lose their job, their standing in the community, their kids, or repeatedly have their privacy disregarded because they like weed. That is ultimate hypocrisy and bullshit in a society plastered with drugs, and ads for drugs. Back up off the non-toxic mellow herbs and quit pretending weed is some evil shit. It is not. It is likely one of the greatest resources for humans on the planet.

Fly your weed freak flag loud and proud my friend. Your freedom is greater than your fear.

What has been astonishing though is not the fear from everyday people who casually use weed; but from those who are supposedly actively working to promote cannabis freedom. Some “reformers” and activists seem ready to negotiate away basic freedoms in fear of how society will perceive our love for weed and freedom. We are becoming our own worst enemy, as we see the gates of cannabis freedom opening. It is many of our own who are standing in our own way, holding the gates closed and clinging to their hopes of hanging on to this quasi-legal limited freedom meal ticket for just a while longer.

Just like the drug warriors who have abused their powers to lock up millions of our brothers and sisters for some weed will be held accountable for their actions, we will also hold those in our own court accountable for their treachery. It will all come out in the wash…the back-room deals will become front page news and those responsible for retarding our growth will have to answer for their deceit.

Those who are willing to surrender freedom because of fear are no friends or associates of mine. We are not even playing the same game. Walk tall if you want to walk next to me. I am walking towards freedom.

I understand that there will be limitations and that we will likely see incremental and measured steps towards real global legalization with weed NASCARs and everything; but I will be damned if it will be our own supposed allies who turn their back on us in order to make a buck or two are going to bend us over. We are better than that. Weed is better than that.

So when you hear this figurehead, or that community leader, spouting off about how we should compromise our freedom in fear of retaliation from the feds or public officials, just know that it is bullshit and they have likely cut a deal that sold you and your right to a safe, enjoyable, and helpful plant down the river.

I see real freedom on the horizon, and I am not scared to do what it takes to get there. Blood and treasure are sure to be lost, but the ultimate goal of freedom will always outweigh the fear of oppression. Anyone who says otherwise is a coward and should not be trusted.

fear-freedom

#LEGALBYSUMMER

I HEART STEVE COHEN

I have a confession to make….I HEART STEVE COHEN.

In a house judiciary committee this wee, Representative Steve Cohen, again, took the United States Justice Department to task on their policy on weed in America and challenged the evils of prohibitin on the national stage. Bravo! Bravo, Mr. Cohen! You sir, are my new hero and I would be honored to shake your hand. Below is the text and video of Steve Cohen giving Eric Holder the business:

And one of the greatest threats to liberty has been the government taking people’s liberty for things the people are in favor of.

The Pew Research Group shows that 52 percent of Americans think marijuana should not be illegal, and yet there are people in jail and your Justice Department is continuing to put people in jail for sale and use on occasion of marijuana. That’s something the American public has finally caught up with. There was a cultural lag, and it’s been an injustice for 40 years in this country to take people’s liberty for something that was similar to alcohol.

You have continued what is allowing the Mexican cartels’ power and the power to make money, ruin Mexico and hurt our country by having a prohibition in the late 20th and 21st century. We saw it didn’t work in this country in the ’20s; we remedied it. This is the time to remedy this prohibition, and I would hope you would do so.

THANK YOU, STEVE COHEN FOR TELLING THE USDOJ TO, “QUIT TAKING PEOPE TO JAIL FOR WEED!!!”

cohen.1

More IS Better

more.1

A week from today, Los Angeles is set to vote on the future of medical marijuana in their City. There are 3 competing ballot measures to regulate the industry.

The first is Measure D. This is the MOST restrictive and MOST expensive measure. It limits the number of collectives to an arbitrary 135 that were listed in 2007 on the City’s illegal moratorium and Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) and raises the tax rate for weed by 20%.

It was crafted by the ultra-corrupt City Council who has recently voted to ban dispensaries altogether and was written by cannabis enemy LA City Attorney Carmen Trutanich. The LA Times has suggested that instead of opposing all three, that Measure D is the closest thing to accomplishing NO medical marijuana. Here is their quote on that:

It would be easy enough to urge a no vote on all three, and to call on the city to impose a full-scale ban instead. After all, The Times opposed Proposition 215 from the outset, partly because it was sloppily written and partly because it set up an inevitable conflict with the federal government, which continues to classify marijuana as illegal and dangerous….

Measure D will come the closest to accomplishing that goal, or at least will put us on the right road.

Most important, it would impose limits on the number of marijuana businesses in the city, allowing about 135 dispensaries to remain open — those that were operating and registered under city laws in 2007 and that sought to re-register in 2011.

Source: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/endorsements/la-ed-end-marijuana-measure-d-e-f-20130510,0,448078.story

So get that…the super conservative LA Times who thinks dispensaries should be outright BANNED, and the City Council, who also thinks dispensaries should be BANNED, agree that the closest thing to an outright ban they can get passed is Measure D, and they are supporting this effort to severely limit and cripple the local market.

The dumbfounding part is that people in our own industry are backing this play….Which brings me to Measure E.

Measure E was put forth by a coalition of UFCW, Americans for Safe Access, and the Greater Los Angeles Caregivers Alliance. It also limited the number of collectives the the 135 listed as pre-ICO/illegal moratorium, but did not raise the tax rate. When the City made the power move to put their initiative on the ballot, ASA, UFCW, and GLACA all folded their efforts to back the City’s in an unprecedented and puzzling move that can only be seen as protectionism at its finest. There is no other explanation for a group spending their hard earned money to gather signatures for an initiative only to abandon their own initiative in favor of a more expensive model.  It is simple collusion with City Hall at its finest.

The problem is that these folks are now in bed with those who have spent the last 5 years undermining their businesses and trying to get rid of them. Way to go.

Which brings us to Measure F, which to me is the no brainer of the choices on the ballot if you are for MORE ACCESS. Silly me….I thought that is what we were standing on the street corner fighting our asses off for all of these years.

Here is what the LA Times says about Measure F:

Measure F, by contrast, sets no limits. It includes some strong rules and protections — in some cases stronger than those in D. But the city simply can’t sustain an unlimited number of dispensaries. Supporters of F say there would be de facto limits as a result of the requirements about how close dispensaries could be to schools, parks and one another, and that the final number would be in the hundreds. But what guarantee is there? Certainly nothing in the law.

So when the conservative hacks at the LA Times state that Measure F is bad because it provides too much access, even though offering stronger protections, my liberal freedom-loving radar goes off and tells me to do the opposite of what these right wing zealots are pushing. I am seriously surprised that more of the activist and reform community leaders are not joining me in my support of Measure F. I am seriously disheartened that a large contingency of activist groups and community leaders would turn their back on MORE access. It is appalling.

Of course, there is the CANORML lack of position at all stating that people should vote on all three. Great…way to take a stand there. There is also the mudslinging position of dispensary operators who would be protected by Measure D in the press trying to paint their competition as outlaws and thugs. Here is what one dispensary operator told the LA Times:

Yami Bolanos, who runs PureLife Alternative Wellness Center, is backing Proposition D, which would shrink the number of pot shops to about 130. Only dispensaries like Bolanos’, which opened before the adoption of a failed 2007 city moratorium on new shops, would be allowed to continue operating.

At the City Hall rally and news conference, Bolanos accused some newer shops of catering to drug dealers by not requiring doctor’s prescriptions and selling more than 8 ounces of marijuana per visit to customers, more than twice what her store allows.

“Who needs 8 ounces, unless you’re going to break it up into dime bags and sell it in the street?” she said.

Apparently Yami has completely lost her mind and has taken the position of a prohibitionist. Who needs 8 ounces? People traveling long distances to access their medicine from places like Bakersfield with no access who may not want to come down every week, so they stock up. People who do juicing, or make edibles may use larger quantities. People who find a strain that works for them and want to stock up on it may buy 8 ounces. What business is it of yours anyways? When SB420 passed in 2003 state lawmakers, another scared and normally conservative group of humans, thought 8 ounces was a good number. Why is a dispensary operator supposedly on the side of patient access questioning patient need and rights in public like this?

Because of money and power basically. There is no other explanation.

But here is that basic rule of thumb for me on this….MORE IS BETTER.

MooreIsBetter.1

I will be damned if I have worked my ass off to defend access to cannabis over the years so that some wannabe good ol’ boys club can dictate the market to their own competitive advantage. That is just bullshit. When the defenders of Measure D try to paint the non-protected dispensaries as some sort of scofflaws and “people who just got here 10 minutes ago” it is easy to point out that for one, most of these places opened up right after the moratorium under the City’s own stupid hardship clause in 2008, meaning they have been open for the better part of 5 years; and two, most of the original dispensaries protected by Measure D have changed ownership or have been bought out by management groups.

The bottom line is that Measure D arbitrarily closes hundreds of dispensaries based on a bad law in an irrelevant time, and severely limits access. Measure F, on the other hand, does not attempt to close down the dispensaries operating pre-ICO, and even allows for new great operators to apply for a permit. As a person who has been shut out of the business for 5 years by the feds, I would not mind an opportunity to apply for a dispensary permit in LA down the road if I chose to. That my friends is called FREEDOM.

I have heard some conspiracy rumblings that some weirdos think that Measure F contains a “poison pill” for language in it stating it does not authorize the breaking of Federal law. This is a statement in response to the Pack v. Long Beach decision, and I personally included similar language in the initiative I wrote for Sac County. The fact that these are the straws folks are grasping at shows clearly that Measure F is the BEST OPTION for more access to cannabis and a more competitive and level playing field.

Measure D closes down hundreds of dispensaries. Measure F does not. This is not hard to figure out….

The folks backing Measure D are working to shut down their competition, whereas Measure F makes no attempt to shut down the proponents of Measure D, or anyone else for that matter who complies with reasonable restrictions.

I have even heard an activist who I respect greatly say “1,000 in Los Angeles is too many.” When I remind them that the City of Denver, Colorado has a population of about 600,000 people and they have 235 dispensaries who all do well and compete and have succeeded in driving prices for cannabis way down, and that Los Angeles is a city of 11 million people (18 million in the metro area) that by that rate Los Angeles should be able to sustain several thousand dispensaries and still manage to thrive, they have no immediate answer.

Yeah…Real life has played out and the sky did not fall, Chicken Little. So now what is your big excuse? Too many? You mean too much access?

We live in a world where free markets help increase competition and in turn, drive innovation and value. IMO. Measure F is the only measure that allows for our true American freedom principles to thrive and is the only real choice on the ballot for anyone who loves cannabis freedom.

I have a lot of friends who would do quite well if Measure D passes, but the ones who believe in themselves and believe in their business do not see legally handicapping the industry as the solution. In fact, it is the problem.

I have no idea which measure will pass, but I know as a community we should ALWAYS back the measure that provides for MORE access….MORE IS BETTER. Duh…

More Access. More Jobs. More Weed. Vote Yes on Measure F. Fuck the rest….

In Cannabis Markets Retail is King….For Now

kfc.dispensary.1

The evolution of the cannabis market is happening. What was once a clandestine industry based in people’s garage is now growing into a full-fledged cottage industry, complete with retail and wholesale elements, as well as charlatans and hucksters. As the industry develops, it is interesting to see where the power breaks down compared to other types of similar industries.

The development of any new and emerging industry is sure to be a difficult and trying one. Add to this equation the complexities of federal prohibition and state allowances, and what you get is a model somewhat turned on its head. What do I mean by this?

The legal climate for cannabis has focused primarily on the retail aspects, being dispensaries. A lot of attention has been given to the stores that sell weed rather than the organizations that produce weed and develop finished products. In most normal industries, manufacturing sets the pace. The retail model is an important vehicle in which goods are moved, but are by no means driving inovation and production like they do in the cannabis industry.

The current situation allows for retailers to maintain a lot of power because there are no major manufacturing conglomerates or production and distribution houses that have enough of a presence in the industry to dictate the market, like in other industries. There are very few major brands that can have the impact necessary for their supply to drive demand. Generally the retailer holds all of the power and can dictate the market more easily by using their position as a gatekeeper to include, or exclude, people from the market.

But this will not always be, if history has any relevance. As a more legal and upstanding market develops this power WILL shift. When major cannabis production companies are developed the world will change. In the world of supply and demand, the cannabis industry is lacking in the power of the supply side…for now. But as a legal cannabis market comes into focus you can be sure that there will be some game changing moves made on this side of the equation.

Large batch producers not constrained by prohibition and the risk of prison will be able to develop larger and more sustainable business models that will be able to produce enough cannabis to move the needle on demand. Normal business factors will begin to emerge, as the veil of prohibition is removed. It is clear that those who can effectively produce high quality cannabis products and market them effectively to the masses will gain more power. The way manufacturers and suppliers drive demand is through advertising, marketing and development of the brand. While there are extremely limited efforts of this happening now, none of these brands have the ability to really change the game the way say Sierra Nevada changed the beer game in the 90’s, or how low price quality offerings like Kia have changed the automobile market. But they will…

Retail shops will not dictate the market principles beyond prohibition. High quality cannabis products will. Why? Because that is generally how things work. We do not go to Best Buy because they have just any stereo or computer; we go there because we know they will have the brands we want at decent prices. But if Best Buy sold a bunch of off brand merchandise that nobody wanted, who would go there? No one…that is who.

Can you imagine if a liquor store was given as much power in deciding alcohol industry standards and product line development as cannabis retailers currently are? Can you imagine a world where we told booze retailers that they could only sell the booze they produced themselves? No…you can’t. You know why? Because that would be stupid…the same way the current cannabis market is pretty stupid in respect to other industry norms.

We are in a strange vortex for the weed market, as people are more willing to allow it to be legal, but there is still a huge mystery as to how it is to be produced, distributed, and sold. The knee-jerk reaction seems to be working to over control the industry and to make things more difficult than they need to be. This is not rocket science…it is business. We buy, sell and trade agricultural commodities and finished products all of the time. It is what our consumer society is known for, so it is only a matter of time before these false barriers are removed and the industry changes to a more “product” focused, rather than “store that sells product” focused industry.

So all of the big conglomerate weed stores should live it up while they can because the time is coming where you will just be another weed 7-Eleven in a sea of weed 7-Elevens. How long it will take for this evolution to happen is anyone’s guess, but you can be sure folks like myself and others are preparing for that day….and when it comes, just know that the abuses of power that we see now in the industry from overzealous retailers and their buyers will NOT be forgotten.

Dear USDOJ…..Stop it. You are embarrassing yourself.

Yes. Another pointed open letter to the United States Department of Justice regarding their insane actions and policies on weed…enjoy.

embarassing.2

Dear US Department of Justice Officials and US Attorneys,

Stop it. You are embarrassing yourself…and our nation.

As I stood on yet another street corner yesterday -this time in Berkeley- to witness another press conference decrying the interference of the feds into state law, I could only think about what a waste of energy the whole experience was; and what an embarrassment it was that in a civilized society we again had to drag public officials, sick people, and stakeholders of a well-run tax paying business onto a street corner to address another ill-conceived attack on a medical cannabis provider.

The US Attorney for the Northern District has filed a forfeiture asset claim against the building where Berkeley Patients Group (BPG) operates….the new one. Last year a highly publicized shut down of the organization’s original facility in which they operated for over a decade with no complaints forced them to move to new digs not too far from the old location. In their moving they were very careful to select a site that met all known requests of the US Attorney’s office, including being 1,000 ft. from schools, parks, and youth facilities.

IMG_20130508_122207_444

Shortly after moving and re-opening their doors they were served another notice to close, and now a forfeiture action to take the building has been filed. The feds want to seize the building at 2366 San Pablo Avenue, much like they are trying to seize the buildings where Harborside operates.

At the end of the press conference the group took questions. I only had one…”did they feel that this forfeiture action was vindictive prosecution based on the organizations high profile nature, and more particularly, in light of an article done last year by Michael Montgomery and David Downs that aired a lot of the organizations dirty laundry.”

After a brief pause BPG’s spokesperson responded with a simple “no.”

Well that answers that, now doesn’t it? No. In fact, it does not.

The reality is that this is clearly selective prosecution aimed at creating fear in the community, and forcing the hands of landlords to not work with cannabis providers any longer. It is an underhanded and slimy way of going about your business and it is an embarrassment to the term “justice.” You guys should be ashamed….again.

I have no idea what motivates the dance of the idiot that is cannabis policy in this country. Our way of dealing with weed is so fucking bankrupt and morally reprehensible that I am amazed every day that people do not grab their pitchforks and torches and demand a real change and a releasing of millions of otherwise innocent people in jail for stupid drug crimes.

The fact that you people over there still have the nerve to roll out another bullshit forfeiture lawsuit, and continue to raid compliant providers of cannabis, is BIZARRO. At what point do you get tired of defending this bullshit in public?

Here is what US Attorney Melinda Haag released in a statement yesterday when asked about the BPG situation:

Haag defended the suit and others like it on the same day Berkeley politicians held a news conference to complain about it.

In a statement Haag said lawsuits against landlords of medical marijuana dispensaries and letters threatening the landlords have been reasonable and are supported by educators, addiction specialists, police officers, clergy, parents and others who are “negatively affected by marijuana.”

“The marijuana industry has caused significant public health and safety problems in rural communities, urban centers and schools in the Northern District of California,” Haag said. “Because some believe marijuana has medicinal value, however, we continue to take a measured approach and have only pursued asset forfeiture actions with respect to marijuana retail sales operations very near schools, parks or playgrounds, at the request of local law enforcement, or in one case, because of the sheer size of its distribution operations.”

Source: Contra Costa Times

I do not know US Attorney Haag personally, but by all measures she seems to be intelligent and very educated. I find it hard to believe that she can make such a statement without taking any responsibility for the current state of affairs due to the US government’s, and more so the USDOJ’s, enforcement policies and actions where cannabis is concerned. How out of touch does one have to be to make the statement that “the marijuana industry has caused significant public health and safety problems in rural communities, urban centers and schools in the Northern District of California” without considering what role cannabis prohibition and the black market plays in those public health and safety matters?

Her reference to a “very measured approach” is a clear admission of selective enforcement based on arbitrary and shifting limitations. While no clear boundaries have been set defining what the exact parameters are from what exact uses, or how big the “sheer size” of an operation is that will be targeted by her office, her admission signifies that there is a line there somewhere. As a matter of public safety and fairness it would be helpful if these guidelines could be more clearly established for people to operate under.

But the fact that we continue to play clandestine cat and mouse bullshit games with medical cannabis like this is simply embarrassing. Just stop it. We are better than this.

Knock off the military SWAT raids, the shifty letters, the forfeiture actions, and the IRS audits. Quit doing everything in your power to destroy our movement without having the political courage to even really say why. To pawn the responsibility of your actions off on nameless and faceless  “educators, addiction specialists, police officers, clergy, parents and others who are negatively affected by marijuana” is cowardly.

If you believed in that bullshit rhetoric your handlers released you would own it, with no need to justify your actions by claiming that these faceless many were your reasons for actions. Either what you are doing is right, or it is not.

But do us all a favor…knock of the charades and bullshit. At this point you are operating as a direct tool for big business and law enforcement/prison lobbies and your actions are destructive and mean. Stop it.

There is no “just doing our job” when your job is destroying the lives, livelihoods, and values of the majority of people in the society we live.

Quit taking people to jail, invading their privacy, and taking their stuff for some weed….That shit is not working and you are just embarrassing us all with your unwillingness to wake up and smell the sour diesel.

Love….Mickey