The world has changed. Act like it already.

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Yesterday the world of weed changed dramatically, no matter what the paranoid “sky is falling” stoners want to tell you.

The US Department of Justice and the nation’s top cop, Eric Holder, released a memo yesterday that allows for Colorado and Washington to move forward with their adult use cannabis programs without interference (and states with medical programs); as long as the programs do not cross certain boundaries and are well regulated. The announcement is a watershed moment in cannabis reform, no matter what your tin-foil hat conspiracy buddies want to tell you about it being a trap .

Sometimes the world changes. I cannot fathom how a person could read the memo released and come away feeling more paranoid than before. Here is the beginning of the memo for review, and we will get to the real ground breaking shit in the second half in a minute:

Office of the Deputy Attorney General
August 29, 2013MEMORANDUM FOR ALL UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS

FROM: James M. Cole, Deputy Attorney General

SUBJECT: Guidance Regarding Marijuana Enforcement

In October 2009 and June 2011, the Department issued guidance to federal prosecutors concerning marijuana enforcement under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This memorandum updates that guidance in light of state ballot initiatives that legalize under state law the possession of small amounts of marijuana and provide for the regulation of marijuana production, processing, and sale.The guidance set forth herein applies to all federal enforcement activity, including civil enforcement and criminal investigations and prosecutions, concerning marijuana in all states.
(TRANSLATION: THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN AND WE HAVE UPDATED OUR MARCHING ORDERS. THE GUIDANCE IN THIS MEMO APPLIES TO ALL FEDERAL ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITY. THIS MEANS YOU!)As the Department noted in its previous guidance, Congress has determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana is a serious crime that provides a significant source of revenue to large-scale criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels. The Department of Justice is committed to enforcement of the CSA consistent with those determinations. The Department is also committed to using its limited investigative and prosecutorial resources to address the most significant threats in the most effective, consistent, and rational way. In furtherance of those objectives, as several states enacted laws relating to the use of marijuana for medical purposes, the Department in recent years has focused its efforts on certain enforcement priorities that are particularly important to the federal government:

(Some have pointed to this statement as evidence that there is NO sweeping change happening. I beg to differ. I also beg to remind people that while there has been enforcement, there has also been a lot of weed sales tolerated over the past years too.)
  1. Preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors; (Cool with that)
  2. Preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels; (Cool with that)
  3. Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states; (Extra cool with that. Why? Because defining the difference in diversion from states where it is legal to those where it is not seemingly opens the door for interstate commerce from states where it is legal to other states where it is legal, no? Maybe wishful thinking, but I am an optimist.)
  4. Preventing state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity; (Cool with that. stay off the dope)
  5. Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana; (Cool with that, hate violence and guns.)
  6. Preventing drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use; (Cool with that. even WA states flawed DUI bill has not resulted in mass arrests…just Seattle PD handing out Doritos at Hempfest)
  7. Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands; and (Cool with that. If I gotta pay rent, so do you)
  8. Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property. (Cool with that. I was in Yosemite the other day burning fat joints and no one seemed to notice or care. The world has changed)

These priorities will continue to guide the Department’s enforcement of the CSA against marijuana-related conduct. Thus, this memorandum serves as guidance to Department attorneys and law enforcement to focus their enforcement resources and efforts, including prosecution, on persons or organizations whose conduct interferes with any one or more of these priorities, regardless of state law.

Now the big paranoid response to this is that “This is just like the Ogden memo and look how many people got fucked on that one.”

I love our movement’s Utopian rewriting of history on this one. If you listened to our side of the argument, everyone behaved like Saints after the first memo, and this completely out of left field attack was made on our peaceful Dudley-Do-Right community of non-profit weed caregivers. OH THE TRAGEDY!!!

But I was there. I remember the day the Ogden memo came out. I also recall that it inspired the Colorado legislature to develop and implement the program there that has been mostly successful and has allowed for more people to get in the game and make some money under a state sanctioned program than ever before.

I also recall that every jackass with a few thousand bucks of weed and a cash register opened a dispensary in areas with no regulation and when the local planning commission questioned them, or decided they did not want that use in their jurisdiction, they all decided to sue the city, tell the sheriff to eat a bowl of dicks, and disregarded public sentiment based on their belief that Attorney General Eric Holder had given them the right to do whatever they pleased.

I also remember every alternative weekly rag in the State of California filling up with ads of half-naked broads hovering over a smoking bong offering weed sacks for $25. I recall jackass dispensaries doing flier drops at high schools. I remember every weed grower doubling their garden size and pushing their weight to the max. I remember dispensaries setting up shop right next door to day cares and telling the day care operators that they just needed to deal with it.

But the enforcement that followed the Ogden memo had nothing to do with our behaviors. Nothing. It was all just a trap to arrest a very small percentage of the industry and to charge them with crimes so that we could pack the jails with unsuspecting dispensary operators who were complete and total angels. (rolls eyes)

Now do not get it twisted…..I am not supporting or defending the enforcement actions of this administration; but I am also not naive enough to think that our overzealous actions following the memo had zero to do with it all.

Shit rolls uphill before it rolls downhill. If we piss off enough local officials, law enforcement, and concerned citizens they are going to demand that something be done. When we take the position of a free-for-all race to the bottom, are we surprised when local and state officials demand the feds take enforcement actions?

Were there some cases brought where the people who were targeted did not deserve it? YES. Absolutely yes. That is the sad and unfortunate part of law enforcement. From reading the discovery in my case, I can tell you for certain that these dudes know a hell of a lot less than we think they do. It does not surprise me when a good dude like Chris Williams is caught up in the nightmare because law enforcement has no idea of who is who, or what is what, in this evolving landscape of limited weed enforcement.

Now we can choose to be skeptics and see this momentous shift in federal enforcement policy as “more of the same,” or as some have dubbed it “Ogden v.2.0.” That would be a huge mistake and here is why….it disregards the entire second half of the memo and the SWEEPING instructions it gives as to how to interact with state licensed programs. Check it out:

Outside of these enforcement priorities, the federal government has traditionally relied on states and local law enforcement agencies to address marijuana activity through enforcement of their own narcotics laws. For example, the Department of Justice has not historically devoted resources to prosecuting individuals whose conduct is limited to possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use on private property. Instead, the Department has left such lower-level or localized activity to state and local authorities and has stepped in to enforce the CSA only when the use, possession, cultivation, or distribution of marijuana has threatened to cause one of the harms identified above.
(Here is the set up for the kicker. basic translation: We have already allowed states to enforce, or not enforce, the CSA at their discretion for possession and low level stuff)
(But peep this out. Here is where this memo departs from Ogden in a HUGE way.)
The enactment of state laws that endeavor to authorize marijuana production, distribution, and possession by establishing a regulatory scheme for these purposes affects this traditional joint federal-state approach to narcotics enforcement.(The world has changed) The Department’s guidance in this memorandum rests on its expectation that states and local governments that have enacted laws authorizing marijuana-related conduct will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems that will address the threat those state laws could pose to public safety, public health, and other law enforcement interests.(Since the world has changed, we are going to have to trust that states with these programs know what they are doing) A system adequate to that task must not only contain robust controls and procedures on paper; it must also be effective in practice.(If the state has an effective program that is really working, we must respect it) Jurisdictions that have implemented systems that provide for regulation of marijuana activity must provide the necessary resources and demonstrate the willingness to enforce their laws and regulations in a manner that ensures they do not undermine federal enforcement priorities. (If the local and state authorities are doing their job and making sure their programs do not violate one of the 8 points above, then we should leave them alone)In jurisdictions that have enacted laws legalizing marijuana in some form and that have also implemented strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems to control the cultivation, distribution, sale, and possession of marijuana, conduct in compliance with those laws and regulations is less likely to threaten the federal priorities set forth above.(If these states put their best foot forward in regulating these systems, we should leave them alone) Indeed, a robust system may affirmatively address those priorities by, for example, implementing effective measures to prevent diversion of marijuana outside of the regulated system and to other states, prohibiting access to marijuana by minors, and replacing an illicit marijuana trade that funds criminal enterprises with a tightly regulated market in which revenues are tracked and accounted for.(Further clarification….”If the program is working and not crossing our boundaries then we should leave them alone). In those circumstances, consistent with the traditional allocation of federal-state efforts in this area, enforcement of state law by state and local law enforcement and regulatory bodies should remain the primary means of addressing marijuana-related activity. (PAY ATTENTION HERE! STATE LAWS AND THEIR ENFORCEMENT SHOULD TAKE PRECEDENT!!!!) If state enforcement efforts are not sufficiently robust to protect against the harms set forth above, the federal government may seek to challenge the regulatory structure itself in addition to continuing to bring individual enforcement actions, including criminal prosecutions, focused on those harms. (Just as important….IF YOU FUCK UP AND DO NOT DO A GOOD JOB OF ENFORCING AND REGULATING YOUR SYSTEM WE WILL BE FORCED TO TAKE ACTION. I am guessing they are talking directly to us here my fellow Californians.)

The Department’s previous memoranda specifically addressed the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in states with laws authorizing marijuana cultivation and distribution for medical use. In those contexts, the Department advised that it likely was not an efficient use of federal resources to focus enforcement efforts on seriously ill individuals, or on their individual caregivers. In doing so, the previous guidance drew a distinction between the seriously ill and their caregivers, on the one hand, and large-scale, for-profit commercial enterprises, on the other, and advised that the latter continued to be appropriate targets for federal enforcement and prosecution. In drawing this distinction, the Department relied on the common-sense judgment that the size of a marijuana operation was a reasonable proxy for assessing whether marijuana trafficking implicates the federal enforcement priorities set forth above. (BIG ONE HERE! We know we issued you a memo before about medical marijuana that may have given the impression that ONLY small users and sick people were not to be targeted. We sort of told you that if a place was big enough that they might be a good target….now read the NEXT paragraph where they say they were wrong!)

As explained above, however, both the existence of a strong and effective state regulatory system, and an operation’s compliance with such a system, may allay the threat that an operation’s size poses to federal enforcement interests.(This is fucking money right here. “However…we were wrong. If there is a strong regulatory system in place that the organization is in compliance with then the size of their operation should not matter. That is huge.) Accordingly, in exercising prosecutorial discretion, prosecutors should not consider the size or commercial nature of a marijuana operation alone as a proxy for assessing whether marijuana trafficking implicates the Department’s enforcement priorities listed above.(You can no longer send letters and press forfeiture or criminal charges on people just because they are big and popular. The place has to actually violate one of the issues listed above. This is a shot across the bow of Northern District US Attorney Melinda Haag and I am sure Harborside and BPG are extremely thrilled.) Rather, prosecutors should continue to review marijuana cases on a case-by-case basis and weigh all available information and evidence, including, but not limited to, whether the operation is demonstrably in compliance with a strong and effective state regulatory system.(Instead of making some bullshit decision to prosecute based on size you must actually do some work and see if the group is in compliance or not with state law. That is a huge fucking victory.) A marijuana operation’s large scale or for-profit nature may be a relevant consideration for assessing the extent to which it undermines a particular federal enforcement priority. The primary question in all cases – and in all jurisdictions – should be whether the conduct at issue implicates one or more of the enforcement priorities listed above. (Your marching orders are listed above and your cases should only involve issues that violate one of the 8 reasonable principles listed above).

So when I hear the lunatic fringe of cannabis dismiss this memo based on their “once bitten-twice shy” view of the situation, I have to wonder if they are reading the same memo as I am. When I hear the “Don’t fall for it. It is a trap” bullshit floating around, I have to step back and wonder if some people will ever really allow the world to change.

Is there a reason to move forward with caution and to hold the administration’s feet to the fire? Yes. Of course.

Is there also a reason to celebrate this huge victory and be hopeful that the world has indeed changed in our favor? Do we benefit more by automatically rejecting this historic policy shift in hopes of being right that it is some big trap? Does it make sense that the USDOJ would put forth such a robust memorandum and waste the administration’s political capital, only to trap a few more unsuspecting weedheads in the depths of their bloated prison system? Really? I just do not see it like that…..

The infamous Ogden memo was released in Obama’s first year in office. it was watered down and weak, and it was unfortunately misinterpreted heavily by both people in our movement and industry, as well as law enforcement and prosecutors. It was a politically correct and wishy-washy declaration that left a lot to be desired. It was carefully worded to not give too much power to either side of the argument, and it resulted in some bad behavior and terrible enforcement.

But it also allowed for the industry to flourish in many ways too. There is no denying that. The Ogden memo changed the game then, which is why it was so disappointing to see the administration pull back on it and appease law enforcement and NIMBY politicians with bullshit enforcement aimed at limiting Ogden’s impact. But there would be no Colorado or Washington systems in place without the Ogden memo, so remember that too in your “the sky is falling” hyperbole.

Now let me explain the last paragraph of the new memo for those who choose to disregard the entire content of this directive to look for their cynical place in history. Here is the part of the memo that declares that the USDOJ is not allowing a free-for-all and will still support the prosecutors overall decisions:

As with the Department’s previous statements on this subject, this memorandum is intended solely as a guide to the exercise of investigative and prosecutorial discretion. (This memo does not change the law because we cannot do that. It is meant to provide direction to our US Attorneys) This memorandum does not alter in any way the Department’s authority to enforce federal law, including federal laws relating to marijuana, regardless of state law.(We are not giving up our right to enforce Federal laws if we want to.) Neither the guidance herein nor any state or local law provides a legal defense to a violation of federal law, including any civil or criminal violation of the CSA.(This does not give away pour right to prosecute if we really want to. we can still hang your ass if you get out of line)Even in jurisdictions with strong and effective regulatory systems, evidence that particular conduct threatens federal priorities will subject that person or entity to federal enforcement action, based on the circumstances.(Even if you are in a state with a good program, but threaten our system based on the 8 points above, we will come and bust your ass.) This memorandum is not intended to, does not, and may not be relied upon to create any rights, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law by any party in any matter civil or criminal.(This is a memo, and not a change in law. We cannot do that, so this memo is not evidence of guilt or innocence should we drag your ass to court.) It applies prospectively to the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in future cases and does not provide defendants or subjects of enforcement action with a basis for reconsideration of any pending civil action or criminal prosecution.(This memo is meant to direct US Attorneys to not prosecute most weed cases that are in compliance with state laws; but if we do, this is not a legally binding document that will get you off the hook. It is a suggestion to our staff.) Finally, nothing herein precludes investigation or prosecution, even in the absence of any one of the factors listed above, in particular circumstances where investigation and prosecution otherwise serves an important federal interest.(If one of our own decides to come after you, this document was not created for you to defend yourself with. If you fly across our radar, we can still come and fuck with you if we want.)

This is the paragraph that has everyone’s panties in a ruffle it would seem.

I do not get it. This is boilerplate “we reserve the right to do our job regardless of what this memo says” stuff. Of course they are going to make this qualification. They are not going to leave their people blowing  in the wind.

All of the flack they caught from the lack of this clarity in the Ogden memo has made them certainly clarify their position. I do not think we could expect them to say “this memo is now the law of the land and if our enforcement divisions or prosecutors charge you with a crime, just show them this memo as evidence that you are free to go.”

I understand that some people will not acknowledge change has happened until there is a 100% stand down and our brothers and sisters are all released from prison. I appreciate that vigilance; but it also fails to recognize the momentous progress we have made and the fact that the world IS CHANGING rapidly.

If we cannot get on board and act like the world is changing then who will? If we cannot understand the huge victory this memo was for our community and continue to move forward and make these changes real and lasting in our community, then who will?

The world has changed. Act like it.

Or run around acting like everyone is out to get us and that this is just some trap to take your weed garden again. I will choose to have my glass be half full on this one. Join me is a toast to cannabis freedom.

I am going to write Eric Holder a thank you card today. Positive reinforcement can only help.

Suck my Med-Men. How hucksters and charlatans are taking your money.

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The cannabis industry is changing. There is no getting around that.

As the industry evolves into a more legitimized market, we see the hucksters and charlatans coming out of the woodwork to separate the fools from their hard-earned cash. It is easy to see why they do it….because they can.

Unsuspecting good people who want to understand how they can be a part of the industry are willing to open their wallets up to those who they believe have the knowledge and experience they are looking for.

Unfortunately, there are a series of half-baked nitwits who have come together to pretend they are experts, and who talk a good game with absolutely zero experience or accomplishments to back them up. They will gladly tell you what you want to hear to get you to cut a check. They will have a fancy website that talks circles around the industry with no reference to even one actual client who they have helped, or dispensaries they have opened.

Enter “The MedMen” consulting group.

I had never heard of this band of idiots before last week. I had seen their name on some over-hyped and non-believable press releases floating around, and I assumed they were another group of spinsters who were trying to make their nut in the cannabis industry giving half-cocked and ill-conceived advice to unsuspecting wannabe cannabis moguls. But I did not pay them much attention because, honestly, there are a dozen of these ass-clown groups trying to get attention with bogus press releases and “we are so great” hyperbole these days. It is hard to keep up.

But then last week I get a call from a kid named “Brian.” He wants to have his “boss,” Adam Bierman, join us at the Massachusetts Cannabis Knowledge Forum. He is fishing for more publicity for his scam and believed that his guy was worthy of educating people on the cannabis industry at the MCKF.

I politely tell him that we have already booked speakers, and that the advertising was already done. I also let him know that we were doing an activist panel at the end of the events if he thought his boss was an activist. His response?

“Yeah. Adam was on a panel in Vegas. He is an expert. We have helped open licensed dispensaries all over the United States.”

Now I am intrigued. As a person who has worked tirelessly for years helping people get licensed dispensaries open, and who knew the challenges that presented, I asked him a simple question….”Which licensed dispensaries are you guys responsible for opening?”

It was a more than fair question. I expected them to pop off with some random groups in Arizona, which I would hope to contact to verify; but instead his answer was something far more insane.

“Los Angeles. We have opened several in Los Angeles,” said Brian.

I very nicely (holding back my laughter) told him, “There are no licensed dispensaries in Los Angeles at this time. Nor has there ever been a competitive application process there.”

“Yes…Yes there are,” he quivered. There are 130 pre-ICO collectives….”

I reminded him that the simple registration in 2007 was no application process and was actually deemed illegal in a court of law. It was forms that were filled out by anyone and everyone and resulted in chaos in LA for the past several years until this very day. There were STILL no licensed shops. What the election in May did was ban all dispensaries but gave an exception to those who registered before the illegal moratorium in 2007.

But these guys are the experts, right? Why should I be telling them this?

I inform this kid Brian that he is misleading people in his explanation of these vague accomplishments with no names to back up those claims. Here is where it got weird.

The kid says…”Oh yeah. well suck my dick. You will never be successful anyways.”

I break out in uncontrollable laughter. I have NEVER been on a business call and had another supposed grown man tell me to suck his dick.” It has just never happened…and I have had some VERY heated business conversations in this industry.

But the dude just broke. He had no answers for his lies, had been called on his shit, and just broke. The best he could come up with was “suck my dick.”

After I got done laughing I attempted to contact his boss, Adam Bierman, to see why the hell he would hire such amateurs to do his bidding. I sent him an email, and tried to call the number listed on their fancy website of platitudes. when I call the number an the Brian kid answers again.

“MICKEY?,” he answers.

“Yeah.”

“What do you want?”

“I would like to speak to your boss, Adam,” I reply.

“He read your email. What do you want me to do?”

A little peeved at this point I respond, “A fucking apology would be nice.”

The kid does not miss a beat and says “I fucking apologize” and hangs up on me.

I did not know if I was mad, or so amused by the situation that I could not even get mad. I felt bad for them. It was like they had never really been questioned about their accomplishments before. I cannot imagine some unsuspecting idiot getting snow-jobbed by these hucksters without at least asking, “Have you helped anyone actually open a licensed dispensary before?”

It seems like a natural first question, but either a.) they really have no clients and are using the one illegal dispensary this kid opened a few years back as their “model”; or b.) they had the world’s stupidest clients who just threw money at wannabe consulting groups without doing any homework on them.

I am going with a.), myself….

But this is indicative of what we see happening all over the industry. People are coming out of nowhere to sucker good folks out of their money for services they have no clue of how to provide. The MedMen are just one of many charlatan groups who have decided to jump on the get rich quick at someone else’s expense bandwagon. The reason this dude was calling me to get a speaker spot on the event is because he NEEDS exposure to make his scam happen. He NEEDS to be relevant. He is not on his own. Check his bio:

Adam has become an industry leader and expert, featured on Fox, ABC, Playboy Radio, KTAR and The College Times. He has applied his knowledge of the medical marijuana industry to build The MedMen, which is the first consulting firm of its kind, providing turnkey opportunities for dispensary operators in Southern California. Having proven a model, Adam expanded The MedMen into other areas of the United States, providing state and city-specific services to dispensary operators. He is concurrently President of The MedMen’s parent company, Modman Enterprises, a branding and marketing firm with a focus on health and wellness related industries.

Became an industry leader and expert how? And for that matter, when? I have been here for a long long time doing this and had never even heard of the dude outside of his own overblown press releases. He has applied his knowledge of what? Where is this proven model? How come we cannot talk about it? Turn key opportunities for which dispensary operators in Southern California?

Do they have one person who is willing to step up and say that they helped them and did a great job? Last I checked, there weren’t any “turn key operations” in So Cal. It is still a free-for-all legal battle that has been shaped by court cases and bad planning. LA has no ordinance that licenses dispensaries. San Diego has no ordinance licensing dispensaries. Orange County has no licensed dispensaries. Who exactly are these turn key operations you speak of?

The dude’s bio, which is where one showcases their talents and accomplishments, only further opens the door to more questions. The only accomplishments and credentials he can list are that he opened MedMen consulting. Beyond that, it is a pretty slim resume it would seem.

But do not just take my word for it. A short Google search reveals a harsh reality. Here is what the Ripoff Report wrote about Adam Bierman in one of his previous hair-brained schemes called “Brand X”:

As I hope you see from the facts below, The Brand X Group is as ethical as Enron. Truly, really Adam Bierman is a genius with words, like Hiter before him, he can rile you up to  believe anything he says. Past the fast talking, you need to ponder and think about what people have been saying about this man. A boy with no character who runs an ethically bankrupt business which is reflected by his way to get/save as much money as he can. This is probably the third report on Adam (who was previously COO at a company called XTS). With his trusty sidekick Andrew Modlin, now apparent COO of Brand X, they will market anything you want, but you’ll be wasting your time. None of them are ever effective, and to be associated with this marketing firm is a liability for any company.

Read the full report HERE:

A real consultant is not out fishing for business. They generally have more work than they can account for and are turning down opportunities. Their business does not come from fancy press releases or media stunts…it comes from word of mouth from people who recommend their services based on past success and experience. They have a resume and references to give you that verifies they know what they are talking about. They have succeeded already, and have no need to lie about their accomplishments because they are all there to see. They are happy to discuss their accomplishments because they are real and verifiable. They also do not tell you to suck their dick if they cannot answer a question.

But if you fail to dig deep enough, or are swayed by the pile of misinformation and misleading bullshit of a real-life huckster, then do not be surprised when you blow some cash learning a valuable lesson. This industry is full of people who will tell you what you want to hear to make a buck off of your hopes and dreams. It is up to you to verify people actually know their shit.

So before you head down the yellow brick road to failure and disappointment, do your homework. Ask for references. Talk to people who your consultant has helped in the past and make sure they are legit. If they are, their clients should have no problem telling you that they did a great job for them. If you are looking for a good consultant, do not do a Google search or contact the guy you saw quoted in some press story. Find a person who has had success with a consultant, and ask them who they used.

Or don’t, and be the fool who is soon parted with his money. The choice is yours really.

But fair warning…..If it sounds too good to be true, and is not backed up by verifiable fact, chances are you are getting took.

Fear and Loathing in Medical Cannabis

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I often wonder how we got here. I mean…I know how we got here from standing here for so long. But how did we really get down the rabbit hole into this incredibly complex interwoven jumblefuck of laws and policies we call medical cannabis?

….the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry

Medical cannabis is wonderful. For those who use cannabis as a therapeutic agent solely, cannabis is a miracle. I know a lot of these folks…People who use cannabis sparingly to mitigate their symptoms to increase their quality of life. There are real cannabis healing miracles happening all over. Medical cannabis is amazing.

But is it enough?

Of course not. In fact, it can be quite debilitating. Sure….California, Colorado, and Washington have fairly robust and easy to access programs in place. But the programs we see developing in other states is incredibly burdensome, and to many, just not worth the hassle.

Why? Because the categorization of “medical” is the most restrictive category to all out legalization.

So in many states we see the “You want medical? We will give you medical” phenomena.

Look at New Jersey. After several years they finally opened a dispensary only to have it shut back down due to lack of medicine this summer just months after opening. Maine has a very limited program in place. with a very small portion of the population there signing up as patients, and they have had issues with pesticides because of the strict medical organic cultivation standards required there. Washington DC has a rigid program in place that only allows patients on their death bed access. Connecticut requires a licensed pharmacist risk their license to dispense there. Rhode Island finally has its first dispensary open after a four year struggle deciding what was medical enough. Massachusetts has vowed to implement a rigid program. Illinois has vowed to implement an even more rigid one.

Do you see a pattern here?

We are going backwards. Access is becoming more difficult…not easier. There is theoretically more of it, as more states come on line; but it is getting more difficult and less cost effective for people to even participate in. They are adding more and more limitations to programs and making it more difficult for patients in many ways, including making cannabis WAY more expensive. New Jersey’s dispensary was selling medicine for $600 an ounce? YIKES!

We continue to build barriers to entry into the system. Not just for people who need a million bucks just to get started in some states; but also just the average patient. What patient on SSI can afford $600 for an ounce? Or even $300 for that matter. It can be a lot.

Yet we continue to sell the medical angle almost exclusively. It is like our old fall back. It has worked, and we continue to double down.

Instead of saying, “I like weed, and I am a good person,” we are quick to point out how CBD is “not even psychoactive” and is a “miracle for everything that ails you.” It is like we are so scared of being lumped in as a pothead for our love of being high that we have decided that it is easier to say “See…I am not even trying to get high. I just really need my medicine (in huge amounts many times a day).”

Yeah. I need my medicine too…..it happens to be getting high.

Why do I have to be a bad guy because I like weed for more than just medical reasons? I have medical issues, but I certainly do not just use cannabis solely as a medicine. I smoke weed to make life more enjoyable.

I quit drinking over 5 years ago (best thing I ever did). Booze are not a good option for me. Weed is. I am not ashamed of that. I refuse to be.

Yet we still see a large majority of our time, energy, and resources being put towards promoting the restrictive classification of medical marijuana and only promoting its therapeutic uses, when the real argument is that we should end prohibition and stop the madness.

Change the dialogue and change the game….

If we begin to move away from demanding our medical rights, to insisting upon our right to use cannabis safely as an adult for whatever we see fit, we CAN get past this medical cannabis regulatory nightmare. We CAN make it happen. We can end mass incarceration.

Or we can continue to beg for the world’s strictest and most expensive regulatory models, and not be surprised when decent weed still costs $60 an eighth for another couple of decades. The choice is ours and ours alone.

Why I Changed Your Mind on Weed

by Mickey Martin

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I was heartened to see television personality and part-time physician, Dr. Sanjay Gupta come out the other day and apologize for hips previous ill-conceived hyperbole about cannabis. His piece, “Why I changed my mind on weed,” has been making the rounds on social media and in the press.

Gupta had this to say about his previous stance on marijuana:

I had steadily reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana from the United States and thought it was fairly unimpressive. Reading these papers five years ago, it was hard to make a case for medicinal marijuana. I even wrote about this in a TIME magazine article, back in 2009, titled “Why I would Vote No on Pot.”

Well, I am here to apologize.

I apologize because I didn’t look hard enough, until now. I didn’t look far enough. I didn’t review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.

Apology accepted….Kind of.

I mean it is kind of offensive to think that you spewed your positions demonizing cannabis for so many years without “looking hard enough.” Not that you are the end all where doctors and research are concerned, but your very high profile position as a leading medical corespondent for a major news network does give you some ethical and moral responsibility to actually maybe “look harder” before using your bully pulpit to mislead the entire world.

How does a person take such a strong and definitive position on something without actually taking a good hard look at it? Especially when your position is resulting in an incredible level of mass incarceration and the loss of rights and standing for people who use cannabis?

How many other strong positions have you taken that you might have failed to take a hard look at too?

Maybe your positions are less health-based than they are based in your desire to be a TV star and appease the many drug companies who sponsor your show on CNN? Maybe your desire to be a vital mouthpiece for the Obama administration has skewed your ability to really see things for what they are? Maybe you are just a paid shill who lacks any integrity and are now changing your position to get on the right side of history before the world changes forever?

Who knows? What is clear is that you often take very public positions without really doing your homework.  How can one even look at your new found position on cannabis as anything other than another shift by a guy who has a tendency to take positions based on politics and glamour than actual medical or scientific research? I mean…yeah. it is great you are coming around, but why now?

Your sincerity on these issues is questionable at best because of your often obvious “evolving position” on hot button topics. You blow in the political winds, which is not exactly where I want my doctor to be. I would not go to a physician that did not believe in stem cell research because of his political and/or religious views. I want a doctor who will give me the treatment that I need, regardless of how it makes his pastor feel about him. I want that in my “journalists” too.

But enough of beating up on Gupta. At least he had the courage to apologize for his past lies and misleading of people.

He joins the ranks of SO MANY people who are changing their mind on weed. Why? Because we are changing their mind one conversation and valid point after another. The world is changing because we are changing it. We will not be silenced.

Every day more people are standing up and saying “I like weed and I am a good person.” That is a powerful statement and one people cannot argue with. When we personalize our struggle as a person who enjoys cannabis we make it real for folks. It is easy to take a hardline position against weed in theory and believe you have some moral higher ground based on the illegal status of weed. But when a real person…a  friend or family member…has the courage to look that person in the eye an tell them that they like weed and do not deserve to be persecuted for enjoying a safe, enjoyable, and helpful plant that person has a choice to make. They must decide if their position, and beliefs, are correct any more. How can a person look at their friend or family member who enjoys cannabis responsibly and tell them to their face they deserve to go to jail, have their house searched violently, and deserve to lose their kids because they like weed?

They can’t. That is why we are winning.

Just like gay marriage, as people have the courage to stand up and change a mind or two by personalizing the debate, we see people’s hardened and cruel positions evaporate. The “coming out” of weedheads is what is changing the debate.

We are changing it because we have to. Because it is us who will have to end this thing. The powerful and money-hungry prohibitionists will not give up unless we take them to the mat and kill their game once and for all. When we can begin to shift the focus from the lies about weed to the evils of the policies against weed and the real devastating affects they have had on our society, we win.

CHANGE IS COMING!!!!

And it might come as early as next week. I have long stated that we will see a dramatic policy shift on weed this summer. My “Legal By Summer” campaign is based on the idea that social and political pressure for a step back in the war on cannabis is growing at incredible rates. With the adult use legalization measures passing in WA and CO last fall it is difficult to see how the administration can do anything except for surrender their crusade against weed. It is not working, and it is no longer worth wasting political capital to enforce bad laws. If the administration’s policy statement was going to be “Sorry. Screw you. We are continuing to interfere with state law” they would have made that statement already.

It is obvious that they are looking for a time and some political space to ease the policies back and they are trying to find a graceful way to do it. Which is why I was very excited to hear Eric Holder’s interview with NPR this week where he stated that new policies and reform were coming, and coming soon, to the USDOJ.

Here is an excerpt from US Attorney general Eric Holder’s interview with NPR:

“The war on drugs is now 30, 40 years old,” Holder said. “There have been a lot of unintended consequences. There’s been a decimation of certain communities, in particular communities of color.”

That’s one reason why the Justice Department has had a group of lawyers working behind the scenes for months on proposals the attorney general could present as early as next week in a speech to the American Bar Association in San Francisco.

Some of the items are changes Holder can make on his own, such as directing U.S. attorneys not to prosecute certain kinds of low-level drug crimes, or spending money to send more defendants into treatment instead of prison. Almost half of the 219,000 people currently in federal prison are serving time on drug charges.\

“Well, we can certainly change our enforcement priorities, and so we have some control in that way,” Holder said. “How we deploy our agents, what we tell our prosecutors to charge, but I think this would be best done if the executive branch and the legislative branch work together to look at this whole issue and come up with changes that are acceptable to both.”

So could this speech at the American Bar Association in SF next week be the moment we have all been waiting for? Sure…why not?

Now that the “political scandal” BS has mostly passed, and Congress is on a five week break from Washington, what better time to drop the big news that we will no longer be actively pursuing taking people to jail for weed in states that allow for it? What policy shift could do more to decrease prison overcrowding for stupid non-violent drug crimes than stopping the reefer madness? None.

Weed prohibition has enabled law enforcement to search and prosecute mostly poor people for crimes at an alarming rate. This prohibition has given the green light to drug warriors to ruin people’s lives and decimate our communities.

The time for change is NOW. The reason why I changed your mind on weed is simple…because you were wrong. Be a good person like Sanjay Gupta and admit you were wrong and move on. Anything less is just uncivilized.

Legal by summer, bitches…..

An Industry of Idiots and Egos

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There is no shortage of idiots in this industry; and no shortage of idiotic egos who believe that they are some savior to cannabis because they are more “professional” and “educated” than the stupid potheads who have been ruining everything until they showed up. Excuse me while I barf.

The Independent UK ran a piece on Denver today, which was fine, until I got to the quote by the owner of River Rock Wellness, Norton Arbelaez, stating this:

When he first arrived, he recalls, “I looked around and said, ‘Wow, there’s a lot of bozos in this business’. At that point it was like the Wild West: people from California, Texas, all over the country, were just showing up and saying, ‘I once grew a couple of plants in my basement, I can do this’. But we were professional about it. We wanted to operate to a certain standard that Colorado hadn’t previously experienced.”

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/mile-high-city-inside-denvers-billiondollar-marijuana-industry-8740525.html

Yes. Where on earth would we be without the contribution of Norton Arbalaez? I mean, we were so very lost and everything was so terrible before he arrived on the scene to clean up the industry. God Bless him for coming to save us all.

But Arbalaez is not alone. He has just joined a host of other false prophets who would have an unsuspecting journalist believe that they were something knew and exciting. That it was their model (which they ripped off from others) that changed the game. That everyone else was a “bozo” before them and now…NOW WE WERE GOOD because this asshole showed up to show us how to do it right.

If dude was a real businessperson he would realize that the way he is approaching the market, and his revision of history, is just unappealing. If your model and business are successful enough there is no need for the hyperbole. It speaks for itself. You do not have to try and gain bonus points by trying to shit on everyone before you.

I have seen this story a million times and I hear it a lot coming out of Colorado, unfortunately. In a State that has the population of the West Side of Los Angeles, there is an awful lot of victory lapping and back-patting for what is a relatively new industry there. We are just beginning to see audits showing the severe flaws in the regulatory model, a lot like we saw flaws in California’s system being heavily covered in the press before the crackdown here.

I love Colorado. I am a part-time resident you might say. I was as excited as anyone when Amendment 64 passed, but I do not really get the “We’re #1” attitude that I hear out of the state at times. Let’s get one thing straight. California is, and will always be, the cannabis mecca. People will continue to sing rap songs about Cali weed, and we will continue to have a robust cannabis community here. There are more growers in California than you have patients in Colorado. It is not even the same ball game. So can we get past the who is better than who in cannabis battle? I love your work. Quit shitting on mine.

For all the shit talking done by people outside of California about our system here, let us be clear….every day in California nearly a million people have access to thousands of well-lit and clean dispensaries around the state. The model here promotes evolution, as every patient is allowed to be a part of the market, and not just a few big batch producers. This spurs innovation and competition. It allows for a greater pool of methods and techniques to be used to create products and plants that are amazing. The system here, while not rigidly controlled like CO (which is highly debatable and yet to be seen), is working. People have access to a hell of a lot of killer weed and weed accessories.

Not that I do not like “Flo.”

But California has always been, and will always be, known for its incredible cannabis community and industry. There are a lot of decades of work to put in before anyone else rivals the history and depth of the culture here. So before you do some press piece where you want to beat your chest about how awesome Colorado (or any other state for that matter) is, and how shitty California is, just save it. You are embarassing yourself again.

An attorney and supposed advocate of medical cannabis, John Morgan, had this to say just yesterday when boasting about how different Florida’s program would be:

He drew a distinction between his proposal and California’s widespread program, saying Florida’s is aimed at limited dispensing to medical doctors and linking the use to seriously ill Floridians who are battling cancer, ALS and other debilitating diseases.

“This would be what I would call the opposite of California,” Morgan said. “This is not a wink and a smile and psychologists prescribing marijuana. It’s much more regulated and it’s really for the terminally ill and chronically ill, not for somebody that’s having a bad hair day.”

Source: http://politics.heraldtribune.com/2013/08/01/medical-marijuana-supporter-florida-wont-be-be-another-california/

Yeah, asshole. That is the same thing Colorado said before they passed their big laws and now they are lumped in with California. I had a chance to visit a presentation by Patrick Kennedy’s Project SAM the other day in Massachusetts, and he referred to the abuses in Colorado at least as much, if not more, than he did about California.

But where are the problems in California and/or Colorado? Where is the damage being done? I see the benefits. Building being rented. Jobs being created. Services being used. Money being spent….but where is the damage?

Where the hell are all these kids that are strung out on weed an unable to manage their lives as a result? Where are the dead bodies of people on the roads who have died from smoking their weed and driving? Where are the  torn apart families that everyone promised would happen if weed were available in stores? Where is it?

It is not there….because weed is safe and makes people feel better.

We have allowed prohibitionist zealots to sell us a bag of rocks disguised as regulation and control. We have seen a lot of unnecessary burden placed on the cannabis industry with little or no evidence of any real harm done. We are being taxed at alarming rates, forced to secure everything like banks, encouraged to waste money proving we are non-profit, and racing to the bottom to provide weed cheaper than the next guy. Sure…that is business; but the cannabis business is being unjustly singled out; and a lot of this crap is being put forth and supported by the sheeps in wolves clothing.

There are a lot of money-hungry, don’t-smoke-weed, just-sell-it wannabe business moguls poking their heads around the industry these days. God Bless them. They have a rude awakening coming. They are just the guppies clearing the way for the real big busniesses to crush them down the road.

Their lack of passion and understanding of how we got to where we are will be the death of them. Believe it will get uglier before it gets better, and it is always the asshoe who got into this for money, and not weed, who folds first when things get tough.

I will be here regardless. Will you?

So spare me the ego rhetoric and b-boy stance. I am cool on all that. If a company is out here trying to make it and sell weed in this quasi-legal environment then I support them; I wish them well. I have no interest in making my name off of other people’s mistakes or lack of ability. I will make my name by providing the highest quality products and service for the best value to people who I enjoy doing business with. The rest of it is all academic “he said-she said” bullshit.

But do me a favor…..the next time that journalist calls and wants you to say some bizarre ego shit to make their story more interesting, just shut up and stick to promoting yourself instead of tearing others down….or better yet, try promoting your products and services. That should keep you out of trouble.

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