#UNACCEPTABLE: A Direct Action Demanding the State of Massachusetts Put Patients Before Politics

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Medical Cannabis Patients, Families and Supporters to Protest Massachusetts Department of Public Health on Tuesday, October 14th to Let Them Know Their Inaction is #UNACCEPTABLE. Protest, Press Conference, and Solidarity March.

Boston, MA, October 7, 2014 – On November 6, 2012 Massachusetts residents voted overwhelmingly to allow citizens to have access to medical cannabis. Nearly two years later the will of the people has still not been implemented and patients are still forced to go without cannabis medicine, or to seek it out from often dangerous black market sources. It is unacceptable.

The program has been hampered by incompetence and seemingly political positioning. The DPH received millions of dollars in fees to vet applications, and failed to do so. It took media sources reviewing the applications and publicly acknowledging their shortcomings to realize many inconsistencies and politically charged issues. The DPH was forced to delay the program and rescinded nearly half of the original 20 dispensaries that were selected for approval. Because of their inability to review the most basic of issues in the applications, this has resulted in them dragging their feet resulting in thousands of patients being forced to suffer needlessly.

To date, patients still do not even have a simple identification program for law enforcement to verify their patient status. The planned caregiver program is non-existent due to cumbersome and unnecessary regulations. Patients cultivating their own cannabis have no way to know if their gardens are legal or if they are violating the law, as DPH has no guidelines or registration. Dispensary groups approved for the inspection phase continue to be limited by unsure direction and confusion from the DPH. Patients with serious and life-threatening illness are being denied access and are suffering diminished quality of life (and even death) as a result of the State’s failure to implement the program.

This is no longer okay and we demand the Department of Public Health immediately begin to open up the program and allow for patients to access safe and quality cannabis medicines through experienced caregivers able to serve multiple patients; and clean, well-lit dispensary facilities.  We demand DPH limit restrictions on hardship cultivation and allow more patients the opportunity to grow their own safe medicine. We demand the DPH expedite the current dispensary applications waiting for approval, immediately issue permits in counties without access as required by law, and allow for at least 35 dispensaries statewide to serve the needs of the tens of thousands of Mass residents who qualify for medical cannabis. Hundreds of patients and activists will gather on October 14th to make these demands heard at the MA Department of Public Health offices in downtown Boston.

What: #UNACCEPTABLE: A Direct Action demanding the State of Massachusetts put Patients before Politics.

When: Tuesday, October 14, 2014: 11:00 a.m.- Protest Rally • 11:30 a.m.- Press Conference (Community Leaders, Physicians, Patients and Families to speak out) • 12:00 p.m.- Solidarity March to State House

Where: Massachusetts Department of Public Health • 250 Washington Street Boston, MA 02108

Why: To demand the DPH and state quit putting politics before patients and implement access to medical cannabis immediately. To bring public awareness to a cause that has forced people to suffer needlessly, including children and families dealing with major health issues. To call for immediate change and progress.

END

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Separate Togetherness- How cannabis cowards and wannabe politician activists with funding agendas have made the prohibitionists argument for them

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Cannabis reform is difficult. Finding methods and strategies to overcome decades of lies and deception is no easy task. Add to that the entrenched tribal views of the folks involved who have aligned themselves with this group or that organization and what you generally end up with is a bunch of egoheads infighting about who is the best and most worthy of funding.

Do not get it twisted. The goal of most reform groups and organizations is not cannabis freedom… it is funding. It is the same slutty whore dance that politicians do to finance their campaigns. It is a willingness to say and do whatever it takes to get some well-to-do prick to give you a boatload of money so you can further your mission, which again is to raise more money. It is cyclical. A lot of the reformers we see do very little in the way of actual reform and spend most of their time and resources raising money.

I am not naive about this. I have written about it many times at the national level. I have watched the shit show for too long not to see the writing on the wall. But I still like to give most people the benefit of the doubt when I first meet them. I would like to believe that there are some folks left whose ultimate goal is making the world a better place for cannabis users and patients.

So as I began to organize a direct action protest in Massachusetts I was confident that I could enlist the support of the many small local groups who make up the activist landscape there. After watching the entire system implode on itself for the last two years, it was obvious there was a need for a coming together and raising our voices in disapproval. Motivated by the desperate and frustrated pleas of several patients who were left in the cold by the MA Department of Public Health’s bungling of the program, including the parents of sick children who deserved access to safe and effective medicines to treat their child’s health issues, I began to organize #UNACCEPTABLE.

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The Direct Action event will be held October 14th at the DPH beginning with a rally, followed by a press conference, concluding with a solidarity march through downtown Boston ending up at the MA State House. I began organizing the event with some local activists and patients who were suffering. The action is clear in its mission… “Demanding that the State of Massachusetts put PATIENTS Before Politics.” Nearly two years after citizens overwhelmingly voted to allow patients access to medical cannabis the State has failed to implement a safe and convenient program. Patients are still forced to access dangerous black markets for medicine. This is unacceptable…

Simple enough, right? Seemed like a no-brainer to me. Here is a statement that the entire community should be able to stand behind and support. So I began to enlist the help of the local organizations in Massachusetts.

I sent out an email to Matt Allen, the head of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance (MPAA), as his recent press conference was in line with the action we were planning. We also contacted MassCann, the local SSDP chapters, the Cannabis Reform Coalition, and any other folks we believed could help us get the word out. The idea was to make it an open and inclusive event where groups and individuals could speak out about what has been an absolute nightmare in implementing a program for medical cannabis patients. I expected that these groups could find a way to put their differences in opinion aside for one day and work towards pressuring the DPH into actually implementing a safe and sensible program as was voted on by the citizens of the Commonwealth by a whopping 63% in 2012.

I was a bit taken back when Matt Allen and MPAA responded:

“Not sure if it makes sense for us to collaborate on this or if it would be more effective to keep doing stuff on parallel tracks, which can sometimes be even more effective- like if we can get the administration from all sides.”

So I followed up by responding:

The goal of collaboration would be to show a unified front. It would simply be you sharing the event on your network, and speaking if you would like. If organizational obligations keep you from doing so I certainly understand. I just wanted to give you the opportunity to be a part of this further action to put some pressure on DPH.

Yesterday I received a follow up call from Matt Allen on this matter and it became clear what his underlying issue was. He informed me his “advisory board” had decided not to participate or support the #UNACCEPTABLE Direct Action event because they could not be sure that since the event was “not in their control” that the other participants involved would be capable of representing the values of the organization. He stated, “We can’t be involved with people smoking in public. We have a reputation to uphold to allow us to continue to work on policy issues.” He then kept going on about how he did not want MPAA’s delicate image to be tarnished by the confusion of associating with other groups who support legalization. He mentioned MassCann no less than 5 times before I had to kindly remind him that I was not a part of MassCann, that they were not organizing the event, that it was a patient focused action, and that his wanting to be considered separate and seemingly above their group was short sighted, as adult use legalization would make medical access a no-brainer.

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The guy even had the nerve to tell me, “Well the Boston Freedom Rally is not a very good look for the community.”

The Boston Freedom Rally has been an amazing event creating awareness for cannabis freedom for 25 years, and has helped more to push real reform in the state than any of the sad sell-out strategies that Mr. Allen believes his organization is responsible for. He went on to say that if it were not for MPAA there would have been no Question 3, which is utter bullshit. That law was funded and orchestrated by Peter Lewis and his liaison Graham Boyd, and they simply used MPAA to give the effort that grassroots and folksy feel. Matt Allen, who at that time was the only Board member for MPAA and the sole beneficiary of any funding it received, wrote ZERO parts of the law that was enacted by the voters. His willingness to claim credit for the effort is laughable at best.

But let’s let him have the credit, as I politely did yesterday on the phone with him. So if this is the law YOU got passed and two years later NOTHING has come of it, then you too would be responsible for the shitty implementation of said law, no? I mean if this was your baby, and it left so many holes for the DPH to drive their “I hate marijuana” truck through, then do you take responsibility for that too? If you are taking credit for getting the thing passed then do you also take credit for it sucking? If not, why? You can’t have it both ways, Matt.

What I found striking in every time I have spoken with Matt is his outward and shallow effort to raise funds for his pathetic organization. He actually began his conversation yesterday by telling me how frustrated he was that “all of the dispensary groups who are trying to get approved in the state won’t give MPAA money, when he knows they pay lobbyists $10k a month.” The jealousy in his voice was undeniable and it was obvious that his sales approach to these folks was not working. Which is why he has taken up shelter under the flag of the local ACLU now… yes, the same group responsible for the limiting legalization law in Washington State, another effort funded by Lewis.

Funny… I wonder why their involvement with legalization efforts is okay and MassCann’s is not?

But I digress… Here is a group who has done virtually nothing to defend the rights of patients in the state for the last two years. They have bent over to appease the Department of Public Health and have made concessions in the regulatory process that have ended up in the ZERO access that we see now. No legal action. No protest. Nothing. Finally after pressure from people in the community wondering why they were doing nothing they decided to do a press conference a couple weeks back and finally pretend that they were disappointed in the process. Well way to go. It has only been two years of you sitting on your hands, but alright… you did something. The organization has not even updated its website in the past year plus, and has been sporadic in its efforts at the local level.

Let me guess…. the Newton dispensary is the only one who is paying your ransom right now because that is the only effort you have worked on at the local level since your other marks lost their permits. Does that sound right? You run a pay to play operation, and so if a group does not give you the money you do not have the time and energy to do the work. But you still want to say this is about the patients? That is laughable….

Which gets to the bigger picture philosophical discussion I hope we can have as a community. How can we demand that public officials and lawmakers quit playing politics with patient rights when those who claim to represent our community are as, if not more, guilty than them? When an organization such as MPAA only puts its time and energy into helping in areas where the dispensary stakeholders have given them funding, what does that say about us as a community? When a group decides to exclude their efforts from cannabis legalization in an  effort to appear holier than thou in the eyes of regulators who could give a shit, how does that help our cause?

MPAA is not alone. There are many organizations that take part in selective support and “we are not with those weedheads” bullshit efforts. I know Matt Allen has long been courting Americans for Safe Access for funding after his organization was cut off from MPP funding a couple years back. I am not sure exactly where his funding is coming from right now, but it is easy to guess based on the effort put forth. I would call on the organization, a nonprofit corporation filed as both MPAA and MPAA Foundation with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to make their funding records public so we may all really see who and what is driving the organization. I believe what you will find is a puppetmaster.

The sad reality is that MPAA, and many other organizations who claim to be working for “patients” and “reform” are simply not. They are working for funding and are willing to sell you out to achieve that funding. Many of the people and organizations that are put forth to protect us are the very ones making the prohibitionists arguments for them. They are willing to concede your right to access and use cannabis freely to go out of their way to make the point that cannabis is somehow dangerous and in need of more regulations. They continue to help lawmakers and regulators build the barriers to entry to the industry that has resulted in rich money hungry and politically well-connected being the only people who can afford to pay to play any more… and if those rich bastards do not cough up some money to their organizations they will not represent them in public either. It is sad and pathetic, and more unethical than the politicians themselves who take money from people to help their company make more money by fucking over the public. At least the politicians do not pretend they are some sort of activist here to help you.

So as we move forward on what is sure to be a historic direct action demanding that the Commonwealth implement a program that allows those in need access to cannabis medicine, we will not miss the participation of those who believe they are better than the rest of us and who will not be seen in public with us. We do not need some sell-out wannabe politician activists who are too worried about their image to get their hand dirty as a part of our effort anyway. Their inaction and limited support over the past two years proves that they have no respect from actual patients, the groups seeking licensing, or the DPH. They are nobodies who have sold themselves a bill of goods in hopes of getting one of these big money player to cut them a check.

With friends like that who needs prohibitionists?

P.S. Mat Allen can feel free to continue to disparage me to others behind closed doors. I will not take it personally. I am no wallflower. I embrace the controversial nature of my activism and stand behind my beliefs.. which is more than I can say for him and his group.

 

SB 1262 is BAD for weed and BAD for California

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Reasons why SB 1262 sucks:

  • Leaving regulation to local authorities will ensure very few will be able to be licensed for cultivation and production licensing, which are currently non-existent. It will create opportunities for corruption in every local jurisdiction in the state.
  • The Department of Consumer Affairs is a terrible regulatory agency for a comprehensive system for cannabis. They do not even want the job, which will ensure they are hostile and limiting in their approach.
  • The requirements for provisional licensing will ensure most growers and producers will not be able to meet the requirements by January 1, 2015 as there are currently NO licenses for production anywhere in the state, leaving the entire program likely to fail with no licensed supply to meet the demand of dispensaries.
  • The destruction of the collective and cooperative model will make it difficult for patients in areas without dispensary services to access low cost medicine conveniently.
  • Patients cannot share medicine any more without it being a crime, unless they are licensed. Creates criminals out of nearly everyone.
  • Caregivers who serve more than 5 people need a license, meaning many who depend on collective providers will be without access.
  • Those who do not meet the rigid requirements for licensing, including needing local authorities to sign off on all grows that have operated in the shadows until now, will ensure most people producing today will be forced back to the black market…thus creating far more criminals.
  • Requiring all deliveries be made by two or more people is unnecessary.
  • All weed must be stored in a locked room, safe, or vault. This makes zero exception for retail displays or stock, meaning every time you buy cannabis a person has to go into the locked room to get it for you. This creates a security risk with every transaction.
  • Reporting on inventory discrepancies within 24 hours means every .5 gram that goes missing must be reported, creating an administrative nightmare.
  • Posting all applicants info on line puts everyone at risk, and creates a public database to be accessed by press or employers that can be used against applicants.
  • Edible regulations are an absolute burdensome nightmare based in fear.
  • Lacks protection for property owners

The bottom line is this will be an absolute disaster and decimate the current industry. It will make new cannabis criminals where there currently are none and is a desperate hail mary by groups like ASA and CCIA who beieve something is better than nothing. I support sensible regulations, but not regulations where barriers to entry are too high to include most people currently involved in the industry. This will be the beginning of the end should it pass.

I would suggest you contact your state legislators today and encourage them to not support this legislation. Fuck SB 1262. Bad for weed. Bad for California.

DPA Calls For Action to Stop SB 1262

It is nice to see one of the major reform organization working to stop the SB 1262 Debacle. All others should join them immediately. This will be terrible for cannabis freedom.

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Dear Mickey,

California bureaucrats are trying to pass unworkable regulations that could ruin medical marijuana across our state. And we need your help to block the legislation.

Urge the Assembly Appropriations Committee to oppose the bill that will jeopardize medical marijuana in California.

This harmful legislation would maintain the unworkable bans and local regulations that have denied seriously ill patients access to their medicine. And it also does not protect cultivators or providers from prosecution by making licensure almost impossible in some areas of the state.

And it discriminates against hardworking Californians who were previously incarcerated by barring them from legitimately participating in the medical marijuana industry. This would unfairly impact people in low-income communities of color, because although there are similar rates of involvement in marijuana sales across racial lines, the overwhelming majority of people who are arrested, charged, and convicted are poor, black and/or Latino.

The proposed rules in the bill are worse than what we have now and would completely disable the program. Yet it’s gaining support with lawmakers and could be passed into law if we don’t act fast.

Time is running out to kill this bill and it could be voted on by the Assembly Appropriations Committee at any momentTake action and write the committee today.

There are major problems with this legislation. And police chiefs are encouraging lawmakers to support it because they want to use this as an opportunity to stifle the progression of medical marijuana policy.

At a time when federal prosecutors are cracking down on medical marijuana and putting patients’ access to their medicine in danger, this bill being considered by lawmakers is the opposite of what California needs right now.

Write our lawmakers today and tell them to oppose unworkable regulations and protect medical marijuana across California.

Sincerely,

Lynne Lyman
State Director, California
Drug Policy Alliance

Wolves in Wook Clothing. Why ASA continues to want YOUR cake and wants to eat it too. The SB 1262 DEBACLE.

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I have been here since nearly the beginning. I unfortunately know the story all too well. I have seen the California cannabis landscape evolve at every step and have been knee deep in politics and activism across the state for many years. Which gives me a unique perspective on the proposed regulatory bill making its way through the CA Legislature known as SB-1262.

I wrote a piece detailing my issues with SB 1262 entitled “You are all criminals. Welcome to the new California. SB 1262 must die.” In this article I went over many points of major issue in the proposal that will make more criminals out of CA patients and providers, and create a liability for physicians that will ensure many less people qualify as patients. Since then most reform groups have pulled their support for this effort, but not Americans for Safe Access. They continue to cheer lead for the end of the CA cannabis community and the making criminals out of thousands of people. It is bizarre to say the least.

In May, Americans for Safe Access put out a piece encouraging its supporters to blindly follow this Bill that would make it more difficult to get their medicine and would likely make most of them out to be criminals. The article was entitled “Support SB 1262 in California.” In this article they state the following:

ASA recognized the potential in SB 1262 early in the process. We worked with the Sen. Correa and other sponsors to significantly improve the bill, and ASA was the first in the medical cannabis field to endorse it. SB 1262 is a milestone in the medical cannabis debate in the state legislature. This is the first time that the California Police Chiefs Association and the League of California Cities have not opposed medical cannabis regulations. Having these two powerful lobby organizations standing beside patients and behind a regulatory bill is unprecedented. ASA regards this broad and influential coalition as a key strength of SB 1262, and we call on advocates and lawmakers to join us in supporting SB 1262.

NOTE: This endorsement has since been removed from their article. What remains is the following:

Contact your California State Senator and ask him or her to vote yes on SB 1262 this week. SB 1262 is a bill by Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) that would regulate commercial medical cannabis activity in the state. In its newly amended form, the bill places state regulatory control and licensing in the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and sets common-sense standards for cultivation and distribution. ASA supports SB 1262 because our research and experience show that sensible regulations preserve safe and dignified access to medical cannabis for patients, while reducing crime and complaints in neighborhoods.

It is funny when cowards run from themselves, but the bottom line is that Americans for Safe Access is still supporting this effort as detailed in David Downs’ article entitled “Do or Die for Mystery Pot Law.” In this article Down’s details how all other group’s of notable mention have pulled their support, while ASA remains steadfast in their undying love for this debacle:

“It’s a little unsettling given how important this is and how little time we have,” said Don Duncan, California coordinator for the 30,000-strong advocacy group Americans for Safe Access.

But ASA is staying on-board with SB 1262, which is sponsored by state Senator Lou Correa, a Democrat from Southern California. The bill is scheduled to be taken up by the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee in August, and has to be approved by the entire Assembly by the end of the August, or it’s over for this legislative session.

Now to hear Don Duncan say it is unsettling because of how little time we have is simply disingenuous. Americans for Safe Access have worked fr years to block the work of Tom Ammiano’s efforts to provide a regulatory framework that makes sense because they did not like the licensing agency, which was the Alcoholic Beverage Control,” as this would erode their position of “medical only access.” They understand like we all do that cannabis will be legal for adult use very soon and decided to retard that move by ensuring ABC could not regulate cannabis and easily make the transition to adult use.

Down’s article goes on to state:

As of press time, the most recent version of the bill is still supported by the police chiefs, the league, and ASA. But California NORML, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition oppose it unless it’s amended.

The DPA argues that the current version of the bill would make things worse for Californians. For one, anybody with a past drug felony would be disqualified from getting an industry license. That provision would place additional burdens upon many Californians — particularly African-American and Latino residents — who’ve already paid their debt to society.

In addition, many of the industry’s biggest and best actors wouldn’t qualify for a license, for technical reasons, such as an outstanding federal case (Harborside Health Center in Oakland) or the lack of official city permission to grow (which is pretty much every urban farmer in California). The bill also provides statewide approval of controversial new city bans on medical pot dispensaries.

“The issues are extremely glaring, and, frankly, I’m not sure they can be resolved,” said Amanda Reiman, DPA’s California policy manager. “The police chiefs think medical marijuana is a sham and look at this as an opportunity to stifle the progression of medical marijuana policy. The rules are worse than what we have now and would completely disable the program.”

It is good to see that at least some reform organizations have the courage to make statements that tell the truth.  Amanda is 100% right in stating, “The rules are worse than what we have now and would completely disable the program.” Furthermore it would make criminals out of thousands of law abiding citizens, create mass confusion at the local level of government, and ensure less people were able to access their medicine. Why the fuck any organization who was supposedly on the side of patients and providers would support this debacle is beyond me, but then I have long suspected Americans for Safe Access was indeed the Wolves in Wook clothing.

For a little historical perspective on my position on Americans for Safe Access, just know at one time I was their biggest supporter.

In 2007, our company donated tens of thousands of dollars in merchandise and literature to the organization when they were in the midst of their rebranding. I worked closely with the organization, even housing and distributing their merchandise in our own company offices in Oakland. I traveled throughout the state on their behalf soliciting dispensaries for donations to support their mission. I still respect Steph Sherer and Don Duncan for what I learned about activism and organizing while we worked together. I also appreciate the work Americans for Safe Access did when we were raided by Federal agents in 2007, and I owe them a debt of gratitude for helping me organize a response to the charges and allegations that were made against me and my company during that most difficult time. Their timely and organized response likely resulted in my not going to prison, and I will always be grateful for that.

But 2007 was  long long time ago, and Americans for Safe Access was a much much different organization. Besides the powerhouse figureheads of the organization, Sherer and Duncan, there is little remaining of what was at that time. In those days ASA got the lion’s share of their donations from medical cannabis providers like myself and many dispensaries throughout CA. They had just established their Washington D.C. office and were working to expand their political horizons to serve the folks who paid their bills. As they rebranded the organization and began to work towards doing more political lobbying and fundraising work over grassroots on the ground activism, they began to solicit money from more of the big name donors who were known to fund major projects in the cannabis reform movement. It was obvious they were shifting focus to encourage more large money donors, as it was difficult depending on dispensaries and medical providers who were under constant attack and being forced to shut their doors.

The initial shift was subtle, as a lot of the same names and faces were still in their roles with the organization. But over time their was an obvious sea change in who the organization was serving and what they wanted their image to look like.

Fast forward to late 2011, when I began to notice the most drastic of the change that I now clearly see as impeding cannabis freedom. When the Federal government announced their “crackdown” on the medical cannabis and began targeting high profile providers who donated to them regularly, the sky literally fell over there. Panic ensued and there was a call to circle the wagons to avoid losing everything. You could see it in Steph Sherer’s eyes, as she was on the ground in California a lot working to organize one response or another to what they viewed as an assault on not only patients and providers, but also their revenue. Purse strings were pulled quick by every organization in the state, as no one knew if that day may be their last. DEA raids were happening, including the high profile raid of Oaksterdam University and their dispensary. Letters were being sent to the biggest names in the game, including Harborside, BPG, Vapor Room, and many more, forcing them to close their doors and/or fight Federal charges. The IRS began a systematic crackdown charging incredible tax rates based on decades old drug kingpin tax laws. It was a highly volatile time for sure.

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As the calendar of 2012 began to pass, there were several efforts to put an initiative on the CA ballot to legalize cannabis for adult use on the heels of a narrow loss in a non-Presidential election year by Proposition 19. Three campaigns were working to secure funding for language that would have made cannabis legal for adults over 21. Money was being thrown at campaigns in Colorado and Washington to do just that, and it was obvious CA would have had a chance at also making history if funding groups came to the table.

Enter Americans for Safe Access with United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) in tow stating that they had the funding to put a medical cannabis regulatory initiative on the ballot and intended to do so. The  California Medical Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act was filed by Don Duncan of ASA and Ron Lind of UFCW in January 2012 that would have created erroneous regulations for the industry and cemented UFCW’s place at the table as the only union allowed for the industry. It would have drastically reduced who could afford to pay to play in the industry and would have made a nightmare web of bullshit that probably wouldn’t have even passed if it did make the ballot. It literally LIMITED ACCESS across the state.

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But I do not believe there ever was funding for the initiative and the entire thing was a smoke screen to run out the clock on the other efforts towards legalization for adult use.  For the price of a shitty website and a few lofty press releases, they created enough doubt in potential donors to definitely not back any of the adult use efforts, thus ensuring cannabis would only be medical in CA for the foreseeable political future. California has 1/10th of the population of the nation and by far produces the most cannabis. When a lot of the interests you serve make their money on the status quo, it is easy to see how this could influence organizational decision making.

Mysteriously during this time Don Duncan also gave up his controlling interest in his West Hollywood dispensary to a well-funded group fronted at one time by TV star Montel Williams and funded by people with deep deep pockets who had also bought the controlling interests to dispensaries in Sacramento and Berkeley, and were applying for a dispensary in Oakland for which Duncan sat on the Board and even took their required regulations test for them. So is it a coincidence that this happens and ASA begins serving the interests of the few more prominently? I think not. There is collusion happening behind these closed doors at a level any honest person simply cannot comprehend.

Here is communication from Abatin’s attorney stating so:

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Don’t believe me about their initiative efforts? That is fine…. Let’s talk Los Angeles and Measure D. Here is what weed journalist David Downs said about Measure D the day after it passed:

Los Angeles voters chose to drastically reduce the number of storefronts selling medical marijuana yesterday, passing Measure D…. Measure D supporters – including the City Council, advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, and a dispensary union the UFCW Local 770 — celebrated the win for regulations in the biggest medical marijuana city on the planet.

So here we have ASA nd UFCW celebrating “drastically reducing” the number of places for people to get their cannabis. They put an effort on the ballot behind closed doors that was aimed at shutting down the majority of dispensaries besides a select few who were operating before an arbitrary and illegal deadline was placed by the LA City Council. These groups worked in conjunction with hostile lawmakers and the chosen few dispensing groups to put their competition out of business and again LIMIT ACCESS.

I wrote a piece about this seemingly bullshit move in 2013 called “More IS Better.” In it I detail my opposition the the ASA/UFCW’s coalition to LIMIT ACCESS in LA. I wrote:

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.

This is and was a glaring reason to assume that the goals of expanding access for patients was no longer the focus of Americans for Safe Access, and instead a shift to focus on providing a competitive advantage for a select few who can compete is their new objective. What they did in LA was unnecessary and counter productive to cannabis freedom. Did I mention that the current version of CA SB 1262 mentions several times Measure D directly, ensuring it’s ability to limit access? Yeah. It is like that.

But let’s get back to where we are now with CA SB 1262.

Tomorrow ASA is organizing a lobbying day at the CA State Capitol. They are calling on medical cannabis supporters to come out and let lawmakers know how they feel about the proposed regulations. They have walked back their full-throated support for the bill, now even calling it “controversial.” As noted earlier they are still publicly supporting the bill and encouraging lawmakers to do so.

Here is their statement on their Lobbying Day scheduled for tomorrow (Monday Aug. 4):

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It is clear that they have gotten a lot of feedback, as they make sure to state “It does not matter if you support or oppose, or are undecided….” They are hedging their bets wherever possible, while continuing to support an effort that will literally shut most every aspect of the current cannabis system in CA down and turn it over to only a very few who can afford to play the game and meet the slim requirements of the bill.

They continue to call for their legion of blind supporters to make their voice heard, while literally selling us out to the interests of the few, the connected, and the opposition. It is an amazingly underhanded effort at the core, and one I can only relate to absolute treason. There is no reason any person who supports cannabis freedom should ever give a dime of their money, any resources, or energy to supporting. It is clear that the new name of the organization should be Americans for Limited Medical Only Access (ALMOA).

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I strongly encourage anyone who cares about cannabis freedom to come out and voice their opposition to this crap. If you can make the ASA Citizen Lobby Day event super. If you cannot, contact your state legislators by phone and email immediately. Let’s organize direct action responses to this Bill while we still have time. Things will move rapidly. It is up to us to ensure we do not have to live under a homogenized rich person’s vision of what the industry should look like.

We must ensure any regulations being put forth take into consideration the current network of small batch producers and friendly patient services that exist everywhere in the state. 

We cannot let the only voice being heard is those who are in bed with the CA Police Chief’s Association and the CA League of Cities, who have openly opposed any sensibility in the CA legal process year after year. ASA should be treated with the same disdain and opposition with these groups as long as they are supporting this effort to LIMIT ACCESS and MAKE CRIMINALS out of thousands of people for doing what they do this very minute. The time to act is NOW, or do not be surprised when this piece of shit is your reality in a few days.

I hate to say it, but our biggest enemies these days are within. The people we need to worry about are right here, pretending to be your friend while selling you down the fucking river for thirty lousy pieces of silver. I just do not get it. But regardless, BEWARE OF THE WOLVES IN WOOK’S CLOTHING. They are everywhere.

You are all criminals. Welcome to the new California. SB 1262 must die.

oldwoman.crime.1

California is the new black…

It is a sad day in cannabis history when groups and organizations charged to protect patients and providers sell us down the river; but that is exactly what has been happening in Sacramento over the past few months. Americans for Safe Access, in conjunction with other supposed cannabis reform groups, lobbyists, and powerful union muscle, have been negotiating away cannabis freedom in the California capitol for months working on a bill called SB 1262 that will destroy the current cannabis industry and make criminals out of damn near everyone who doesn’t have a few hundred thousand dollars laying around to comply. It is true. everything you know and love about the California cannabis scene is about to be uprooted and replaced by a bill that will ensure only the big money backers have a seat at the table.

Don’t believe me? Read it for yourself. Here is the current working mock up with the proposed amendments.

SB1262.mockup.ALL_.FINAL2_.062414

And here is Americans for Safe Access Executive director Steph Sherer’s ringing endorsement and admission of their undying support for this load of shit here:

ASA recognized the potential in SB 1262 early in the process. We worked with the Sen. Correa and other sponsors to significantly improve the bill, and ASA was the first in the medical cannabis field to endorse it. SB 1262 is a milestone in the medical cannabis debate in the state legislature. This is the first time that the California Police Chiefs Association and the League of California Cities have not opposed medical cannabis regulations. Having these two powerful lobby organizations standing beside patients and behind a regulatory bill is unprecedented. ASA regards this broad and influential coalition as a key strength of SB 1262, and we call on advocates and lawmakers to join us in supporting SB 1262.

To put it in simple terms, the reason you see ASA, UFCW, and other groups supporting this piece of shit is because they have LOST THE BATTLE. After years of having their collective asses handed to them in the California legislature by real lobbyists for the CA Police Chiefs Association and the California League of Cities, they have conceded the game. You don’t think ASA lead man Don Duncan sold his interests in his dispensary group to Aundre Speciale and Montel’s big business dispensary group and moved to Sacramento for nothing do you?

In doing so, they have literally conceded the rights and current recognized freedoms of every medical cannabis patient in California. If you don’t believe me, let’s go over the mock up in detail and show you how….

This proposed bill is an overwhelming disappointment in many ways and should be either edited greatly, or denied completely. It provides a very loose and dangerous framework for an industry that has organically developed over time do to inaction on the part of the California Legislature. To try and rewind history is not a fair or ethical way to implement sound regulations that provide for public safety and allow for reasonable access to cannabis.

In the declarations section it sums it up in the phrase “minimum statewide standards.” What is necessary is a comprehensive statewide licensing program that allows for the many small batch producers to exist who currently are invested as providers in the current system. The way the regulations are set forth in SB-1262 will be ripe for corruption at the local level, and force small businesses out of the industry to appease the lobbying interests of the few. It makes no sense to create a bill that will make criminals out of the current activities of tens of thousands of Californians.

The biggest issue this program will face is on the production side. The bill requires that all cultivation centers register with the program by January 1, 2015 and prove they were lawfully cultivating through support of local authorities. There are ZERO licenses for the production and manufacturing of cannabis and related products ANYWHERE in California. This means virtually none of the current providers will be eligible, and dispensaries will have no supply to meet a well-established demand. All this will do is create more black market issues, as those who are providing medicine will look for alternative methods of distribution. It takes many months for local agencies to create ordinances for medical cannabis related businesses, as has been evident in nearly every licensing process in cities all over the state. It is not reasonable to expect growers and people who make products to have local support by January 1, when most operate in a fairly clandestine manner due to a lack of licensing and protection for these types of businesses. This is a direct result of no statewide direction or framework for almost 18 years of the existence of the medical cannabis program in California.

In addition, the language that attempts to severely limit who qualifies for the program is baseless, and violates key principles of the doctor patient relationship. There is very little real harm that opposition can show to justify this need for such invasive principles of patient rights where cannabis is concerned, when we allow doctors to prescribe much more dangerous medicines with lees intrusion.

Below are detailed areas I see that need to be addressed in order to make this bill even workable, though I would assume scrap it in its entirety in current form:

2525.2- the definition of “Attending Physician” limits the patient doctor relationship and does not serve the interest of the medical profession, or the patients it serves. For example, a person using cannabis for issues recommended by a Psychiatrist would not need a physical examination.

18100 (d) and (e)- The definition for dispensary is too loose. It should include the term “retail.” As it is currently determined even a person “providing” a hit of a joint to a patient is considered a dispensary

18100 (f)- under “licensed processing facility” it seems to imply that a processing facility can distribute directly “to a patient with a medical marijuana recommendation” which would technically make it a dispensary too.

18101 (a)- It seems worrisome to have one executive officer appointed by the governor vs. a committee of people. Too much power makes the position ripe for corruption.

18101.1.-  making state authority subject to local control is backwards, and will create many litigation issues between cities who have established programs that make them revenue as is, and a program that is fairly implemented at the state level.

18101.1 (a)- establishing “minimum” standards falls short of what is necessary by the state on this program. In 1996, Californians voted for Prop 215, which included “To encourage the federal and state governments to implement a plan for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need of marijuana.” The way this program is being set up will neither be safe, due to its lack of real authority and vision at the state level and the willingness to allow smaller corruptible local forces to set the rules, nor affordable, due to it cumbersome cost structure and intolerance of small batch producers.

18101.1 (d)- once again, making the entire program “subject to local ordinances” will prove to be the downfall of the medical cannabis program envisioned in SB 1262

18101.1 (l)- redundant.

18101.2 (a)- The word “provide” is EXTEMELY PROBLEMATIC here, as the way it is worded, “a person shall not sell or provide marijuana other than at a licensed dispensing facility” literally makes sharing your medicine with a fellow patient a crime. One of the healing properties of cannabis is also the psycho-social therapy of building a community and support network. It is common for patients to share cannabis medicines with one another, and it makes no sense to outlaw any transfer of medicine between qualified patients, thus creating criminal behaviors unintended by these regulations.

18101.2 (b)- The licensed cultivation site will be problematic upon start up and will leave most of the established industry without any product to dispense until local ordinances and authorities can create new programs for those. There are no licensed production facilities in the state to this date in any local jurisdiction anywhere.

18101.2 (c)- The same goes for “licensed processing facilities.” It is unclear if any jurisdiction will even authorize this at this point.

18101.2 (e)- The requirement of a “certified testing facility” is a neat idea, but there are none licensed at the state level for cannabis, and standards and processes have not been developed. The bill charges for those standards to be developed, but until they are, it leaves a donut hole in which places will be able to get certified.

18101.2 (f) (8)(A)- “moral turpitude” should be defined here.

18101.2 (f) (11)- This is an area that needs MUCH MORE definition. It is unclear what “drug trafficking” means in this context. Is a person caught with a few ounces in college considered a drug trafficker? It says the Bureau “MAY” deny a license based on past criminal conviction if the crime was substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the business…” In this context, where does that leave a person who was arrested for cultivating or producing cannabis? Technically it is what the license is being given for, so wouldn’t that make the person potentially an expert that was caught in a time of unclear and unjust laws, which are now the actual business being licensed?

18101.2 (h)- THIS IS A BIG ONE. Why would they limit the ability of a company that dispenses or processes medicine to provide a more closed-loop system by cultivating their own medicine? Why would they force a company that is concerned with processing different types of medicine be beholden to outside cultivators who may not produce the type of medicine in the correct conditions that are needed for a certain product? It also limits supply greatly, and will result in a homogenized market of licensed production medicine for patients to use, thus resulting in them going elsewhere (black market) for medicines that used to be readily available.

18101.3- January 1, 2015 will be way too fast for any cultivation or production provisional licenses, thus shutting down the entire program.

18101.3 (a)(1)- “limited immunity under local law” should be spelled out and referencing Measure D is unnecessary and reeks of union and ASA corruption charges to me.

18101.3 (2)- the part about “during that six month prior to January 1, 2015 the applicant was regularly cultivating or distributing medical marijuana collectively or cooperatively in full compliance…” is a deal breaker and will result in a nightmare of law enforcement and clashes with local city government in absence of a robust cultivation licensing system with the state.

18101.3 (b)- $8,000 is a lot per applicant. I would like to see how the “actual cost” is determined from processing some paperwork, as there are no real life state inspections listed here anywhere. The limited testing done by the bureau would never reach these numbers over a year.

18101.35 (a)- It is unclear if the program is actually valid during the “provisional” or “standard” licensing process. When is it that dispensaries can only get medicine from licensed cultivators and processors? Jan. 1, 2015 or July 1, 2016? If the first, it is too soon, and if it is the latter, then it the provisional licenses seem irrelevant.

18102(b)- Why did they remove “through the cultivation.” It makes no sense to keep all licensing separate. What other industry requires that?

18106(a)(5)- The development and implementation of standards will take a while and will be challenged in litigation for sure.

18106(c)(7)- “tend to create a law enforcement problem” is vague and too open for interpretation. The entire process for determining high crime areas is subject to major scrutiny, and also may conflict with most local zoning ordinances, as they have zoned most to the higher crime areas.

18108.8- Does this say that testing can only be done by processing or cultivation licensees and not dispensaries?

18113(a)- This passage cements that a person sharing cannabis with another patient is indeed a criminal now

18113(b)- In what other field re caregivers limited to 5? Hospice? No…

11658(e)- Representative Sample is convoluted. Is it each batch or each shipment? And this would insinuate testing at the dispensary level, which was not allowed previously

111662- “unadulterated food product” is not correct. It should be treated as a medicinal food or supplement.

111662(a)- many drug products require refrigeration. It is unclear what problem this tries to solve, and certainly limits a patient’s choice in what might work for them. If it is not required to be refrigerated, can it anyway?

111662(d)- What is a single serving size? Every patient is relatively different in consumption needs. Each product is different in how they affect a patient. This is very slippery language that should either be defined clearly, or dealt with differently

111662(e)- “maximum potency standards” is defined by who? What scientific studies will back up these claims? Hot button topic and ripe for litigation I am sure.

111662(f)(1)- “attractive to children” needs to be defined. What does that mean exactly? What is not attractive to children?

111662(g)- Photos of any kind? Pictures of any food, even in a logo?

111662(h)- the Snickerdoodle reference is actually the craziest part of this, as Snickerdoodles are an actual specific recipe of cookie that contain cream of tar tar in addition to cinnamon. Silly deal here.

Brownie-Mary

Feel free to print out the mock up version and reference the sections for more clarity on what I see as major problems with this bill.

So how did we get here? Why would a group like ASA who has claimed to have the interest of patients and providers at the core of their mission, absolutely sell us all out for this bullshit bill? The answer is obvious…. Money.

To be clear, ASA shitcanned and sabotaged a much more reasonable effort put up by Tom Ammiano called AB1894 because they did not want the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to write and enforce regulations for commercial medical cannabis activity statewide.

Why? Because that obviously pushes the industry rapidly in the direction of adult use legalization, and that is terrible for the bottom line of an organization that gains most of their revenue selling the world a bag of medical bullshit. It is not that there is not a true and moral mission for medical cannabis. It is that a lot of the industry in its current form does not reflect the true medical aspects of our society. ASA wants their cake and they would like to eat it too. They have spent years taking money from patients and dispensaries to supposedly defend their rights, but a couple years back it seems their major funding sources changed and they have been working to limit access…not improve it. They should change their name to Americans for Less Access because that is exactly what they have been fighting for. Well…not fighting. Bending over and making major concessions to bolster their political connections is more like it.

The entire deal reeks of fraud and corruption. It was not surprising to hear that Senator Leland Yee was arrested on corruption charges from an investigation put forth by the FBI where Lee took money to create more cumbersome regulations that benefited the people he was taking the money from. Those folks just happened to be undercover FBI agents. Here is an exerpt to get a better idea:

An undercover FBI agent posing as a medical marijuana supplier met with state Sen. Leland Yee in Sacramento in June and, according to the FBI’s transcript of a secret tape recording, said he was willing to make campaign contributions in exchange for support of legislation.

When the purported medical marijuana supplier offered to contribute $10,000 to $15,000 to Yee’s secretary of state campaign in May 2013 and sought help with legislation, Yee told a government informant, according to the FBI affidavit, that he played by the rules and couldn’t take money for himself. But he said he would be willing to help those who helped him get elected – a “long-term investment,” as he described it to an aide.

Believe that Yee is not alone and believe that there ARE big money interest manipulating this game from inside and out. While it is illegal for public officials to take this kind of money, it is certainly not illegal for organizations like ASA to take it to do the bidding of the few. They began this shit in 2012 at least, working to undermine any legalization initiative put forth by threatening to put their own medical initiative on the ballot, swearing they had the money to do it, but producing nothing in the end but running the clock out on all other efforts.

They have also worked to undermine Ammiano’s efforts at all costs because they know that the ABC controlling cannabis will remove it from their health bubble and advance the cause of adult use legalization for all, a mission they have continued to not support and side step for years. Here are some pieces I wrote about it about a year ago called Regulate Cali medical Weed like Booze, Learning When to Say Yes, and Out of the Frying Pan. I even called the “much stricter bill coming out of the senate.” you are welcome. Some day you assholes will start listening to me on this stuff.

But make no doubt about it…. ASA is not your friend and neither are their coalition of the willing to fuck you over to save themselves. I am ultimately disappointed to see groups like ASA supporting and promoting a bill that literally makes everyone in California besides a select few criminals again.

I am not even sure where the real problem is? What are we trying to fix here? It would seem that every day tens of thousands of Californians have access to safe and effective medicines in clean and professional environments. If anything, the issue is not enough access in areas that continue to fight it, and SB 1262 cements their rights to keep doing that.

The biggest issue is that this bill requires everyone who produces cannabis, growing or products, must be licensed by the end of the year and in order to do so you must have support from your local city or county. Since there are ZERO production licenses or regulatory models anywhere in the state it will create chaos and a scenario so ripe for corruption that I would say no less than a dozen public officials are brought up on racketeering and pay-to-play charges before it is said and done. Every grower with a few hundred grand buried in the hills will be bribing their local city council person and county supervisor to allow them to continue to exist. This should be a lot of fun to watch unfold.

So what can we do about it? You can start by raising hell with your state legislators.

To make it easy, we will just use ASA’s fancy web portal to contact them directly. Just click HERE to get directed there and follow the easy instructions below. Direct link: http://org.salsalabs.com/o/182/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=13363)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Enter your zip code and address
  2. Call the people who are listed as your representative
  3. Erase the subject line of the message and replace with VOTE NO ON SB 1262
  4. Erase the”your letter” are and replace with something like the following: “I am writing to ask you to oppose bill SB 1262, which will make criminals out of nearly every medical cannabis patient and provider in California. This ill-devised plan does nothing to increase public safety and creates a program that is ripe for political corruption at the local level. It is a pay-to-play devised program that only benefits the wealthy and well-connected and tramples the rights of every patient in the State. A vote in favor of this effort will be a vote for increased criminal actions against qualified patients and providers, and will increase law enforcement budgets across the state by adding further confusion and unnecessary restrictions to a program that has struggled since its inception. While there is a need for some regulatory control by the State of California, this effort does not do that, giving most power to local authorities and disregarding the state’s responsibility to provide a program for safe and affordable access as voted on by the people of California in 1996 when the  Compassionate Use Act passed. Thank you for your time and consideration on this important matter. I would appreciate your vote denying passage of this severely flawed legislative effort.”
  5. Fill out your personal information and click “send this message”

It may be too little too late at this point, as SB 1262 seems to be sailing towards passage at this point. This latest version will be snuck through as amendments and ratified within days, so it is imperative that you act now. I am completely baffled at the people who support this effort and will let each and everyone of them know that they are now officially on my shit list. Welcome to the show. You will notice not many have the courage to admit that they are a part of this shit show, but the list is deep. More to come on each and every one of the snakes who have helped get this piece of shit bill this far.

It is gonna be a fun summer. Selah.

Bought and Paid For: Cannabis media in the era of fraud and deception

sellout

Who can you trust? The answer is probably no one. Everyone seems to have a price these days.

It is becoming commonplace to see well-known one-time activists cross the line to bought and paid for shills. It is disheartening and to be honest, it continues to sadden my existence in the cannabis landscape. I am so exhausted at trying to keep up with who is on whose team now, and who bought which activist for what sell-out scammer project to legitimize their efforts. It is becoming more folks than not, and I can no longer let my respect or affections for folks cloud my judgement.

If you are a sell-out fuck working for people whose intentions are to whore out this industry for their own personal gain then we are no longer friends, associates, or whatever the fuck it was that kept me from telling you to go blow a goat years ago. I don’t care who you are. If your moral, ethics, and your ability to influence people are for sale to the 1% of the cannabis industry, then you too can go take a walk down Go Fuck Yourself Street.

But the way these frauds are getting to you is what you may not even notice. On top of enlisting well-known activists to huck their bullshit scam at events and directly in person, what you see are these fraud savvy assholes infiltrating cannabis media sources to get them to push their messaging in a way that just seems like normal everyday reporting. They attempt to tie in the product to a storyline, or gloss it over in a manner that makes an obvious fraud seem palatable.

It is affinity fraud. I have discussed this before, but here is that definition one more time for review:

From the SEC:

What is an Affinity Fraud?

Affinity fraud refers to investment scams that prey upon members of identifiable groups, such as religious or ethnic communities, the elderly, or professional groups. The fraudsters who promote affinity scams frequently are – or pretend to be – members of the group. They often enlist respected community or religious leaders from within the group to spread the word about the scheme by convincing those people that a fraudulent investment is legitimate and worthwhile.These scams exploit the trust and friendship that exist in groups of people who have something in common. Because of the tight-knit structure of many groups, it can be difficult for regulators or law enforcement officials to detect an affinity scam.

The “spread the word” part is where media becomes so handy. It used to be cannabis media would just shill out over someone’s fancy new grow product or stupid grinder. The company would buy a bunch of advertising and give a bunch of free gear to the magazine, and one of the well-known writers for the mag would throw them a bone in the form of a positive review of their deal. It was fairly transparent and people understood that relationship. To be fair, publications would often reject doing these pieces too if the products really were inferior.

Fast forward to now, and what you see is a much different playing field. The scams we see being put forth, and paid for in our cannabis media, are large scale corporate frauds that are using these outlets to push their ruse. I was reminded of this after discovering a series of article on Kannaway/Hempmeds products in Cannabis Now Magazine by a well-known activist named Angela Bacca. (DISCLOSURE: Angela Bacca worked for me last year for a couple of months, and it did not work out due to differences in work ethic and responsibility issues)

Angela has worked hard to make herself a known commodity in the cannabis industry. She worked with Ed Rosenthal for a long time, claiming she basically wrote his book for $12 per hour and she made a lot of contacts at that position. She also worked with Ladybud Magazine for some time, to which she made a lot of contacts with cannabis writers and activists. She has used these relationships and positions to create credibility and she is generally well-liked in most circles. I generally think Angela is a good person, who has been put in a tough place by the folks at Cannabis Now, who are making the money for her work.

Which is why I was ultimately shocked to see her writing fluffy push pieces singing the praises of the Kannaway/MJNA/RSHO/Hempmeds bullshit scammers. Medical Marijuana Inc./Cannvest are at the forefront of scamming folks in the name of cannabis. Their CEO was brought up on fraud charges, and their entire operation is slimey. Their latest ruse is Kannaway, a multi-level marketing scam that preys on the goodwill of others by claiming their CBD rich products derived from hemp are legal in all 50 states. They are taking this one step further and encouraging people with needs for cannabis medicines to “don’t move,” offering their hemp alternative as a legal substance. The truth is it is not. CBD is very much an illegal schedule 1 drug still according to the DEA. For more details on this ruse check my Snake Oil story.

But here are the three pieces done by Angela Bacca and Cannabis Now Magazine that make zero mention of possible conflicts or lies; but instead, use their content and trust with their audience to basically push press releases from these folks as if they were legitimate and worthy opportunities. WTF?

hempmeds.bacca.1

I bring this up as an example of what I know to be a direct payola scheme, where money from a company is going to a publication to push their scam. I have friends who operate publications who have been approached by these folks offering a lot of silver coins for their willingness to sell out Jesus. It is obvious that Cannabis Now magazine, and their bona fide activist Angela Bacca, have taken the bait and have been obliged to run these push pieces to further the legitimacy of these known scam artists. It is sad.

What is sadder is that I know a lot of people who write for that publication, whose names are being tarnished in association with this bullshit. Cannabis Now is certainly not alone, but it is such a blatant example of cannabis media selling out morals and ethics for money, that it is impossible to ignore. Yeah… that is a nice advertisement they took out in your magazine. Bet that cost them a pretty penny. But the reward of having a person who has won over the hearts and minds of the community out there shilling your scam products is worth it. You see…the fraud cannot happen without the affinity.

The truth is that it is becoming more and more difficult to tell who still has their morals and ethics in tact. The circle of trust is shrinking considerably, and it will likely only get worse as we go.

Circle-Of-Trust

We are surrounded by people who are willing to offer their morals up for a few lousy bucks to get by. It is a sad reality, but reality nonetheless. It is nice to think we would all stand on ethical principle and be trustworthy people, but human nature tells us this is not the case. Those with the ability to use their influence to penetrate the affections of cannabis users and activists will be heavily targeted for their support. When the money is on the table and no one else is looking it is interesting to see who is willing to cough up some affinity to help sell the frauds.

There are lots of people willing to use their voice to convince you that the devil is just an old friend. As cannabis media continues to grow, those who control these messages will be courted for their allegiances, and unfortunately, many will sell you and your affection for their publication right down the river for some shiny trinkets. You can choose not to believe it if you want. The fact is that it is happening, and it is happening A LOT.

So as you glance over the latest piece from your favorite weed magazine, ask yourself, is this a real piece of journalism or is it a cleverly disguised advertisement for someone or something? Look deeper into what you read to try and find the real motivation behind the piece. Look beyond the glossy headline and the introductory paragraph that makes you want to believe this is a real story, and see if by the end you have not been influenced to support a product or organization. Use a critical eye to more deeply examine the purpose of a story, and do not blindly read shit believing it is legit because the person who wrote it is a trusted source. There is no such thing when big money enters the equation. People will sell-out.

Even my shit you can question if you like. Notice I carry no advertising on this site. It is by design to ensure the views here are not influenced by any other interests than my own bad attitude and desire to make weed legal. I can promise you I will never sell-out to the highest bidder and use my influence to huck some bullshit scam…but who the fuck am I? Question everyone.

A lot of what passes for journalism in the cannabis world is simply not. It is well-crafted pieces of bullshit that were bought and paid for by the subject. If you cannot see it for yourself, there is only so much I can do to point it out to you. I am asking you to use your awareness and intellect to look past the distraction, overcome your trust of this person or that magazine, and ask the hard hitting question of “what is this piece pushing?”

You can be sure a lot of what you are reading are bought and paid for pieces meant to sucker you out of your money.

Culture Magazine is literally one long advertisement made into a magazine of “reviews.” When is the last time anyone saw a negative review of anything in that piece of shit rag? LOL. The fact that they allow Carol Sherman a monthly column should make it pretty clear that their goal is to help their advertisers take your money. Nothing more. Nothing less. There is no education or real news in there. Just one fluff piece pushing some bullshit after another. Culture magazine is the worst. At least Cannabis Now has the courtesy to try and cleverly hide their sell-out pieces under the guise of real stories. Culture is basically one whore piece followed by another with very little qualms about it. I am not sure which is worse.

What I do know is that there is a lot of bullshit floating around that is being pushed off as media and journalism. It is up to you as a reader and consumer of media to look for the scam and decide if you want to keep patronizing publications that are nothing more than sell-outs and cheap hookers for big companies trying to win over the cannabis community. I will keep my weed media radar set to “highly skeptical.” You should too….

The Wolves of Weed Street. Weed stock scams for dummies.

wolfofwallst.1

A sucker is born every minute and in the newly emerging and quasi-legal cannabis market I am pretty sure that number is much higher (pun intended). I just finished watching Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street last night. Beyond the shock value of a lot of it was a sad and true story about the way “Wolfie” Jordan Belfort was able to fleece millions of dollars from hard working people by selling shitty pink sheet stocks that have little to no real company value behind them.

I was starkly reminded that ALL of the cannabis stocks we see floating around right now are traded on these same pink sheets to avoid regulation and oversight. The stock market is hard to pin down with its constantly moving targets, and most of the fraudsters who are putting on these scams to profit off of people’s love for weed are about as shifty and unethical as they come. They are the lowest of low; and it is their goal to separate you, the stupid small time hard-working investor, from your hard earned money selling you shit stocks from companies with little to show for their promises of fame and fortune.

The Wolf of Wall Street did a great job of showing how the pink sheet traders are indeed the lowest scum of the investment world, comparing them to the dirtiest and most disgusting low budget prostitutes:

“The three of us exchanged glances but said nothing. After all, what was there to say? The truth was that hookers did take credit cards—or at least ours did! In fact, hookers were so much a part of the Stratton subculture that we classified them like publicly traded stocks: Blue Chips were considered the top-of-the-line hooker, zee crème de la crème. They were usually struggling young models or exceptionally beautiful college girls in desperate need of tuition or designer clothing, and for a few thousand dollars they would do almost anything imaginable, either to you or to each other. Next came the NASDAQs, who were one step down from the Blue Chips. They were priced between three and five hundred dollars and made you wear a condom unless you gave them a hefty tip, which I always did. Then came the Pink Sheet hookers, who were the lowest form of all, usually a streetwalker or the sort of low-class hooker who showed up in response to a desperate late-night phone call to a number in Screw magazine or the yellow pages. They usually cost a hundred dollars or less, and if you didn’t wear a condom, you’d get a penicillin shot the next day and then pray that your dick didn’t fall off.

― Jordan Belfort, The Wolf Of Wall Street

I have been trying to warn people about the pink sheet fraud that is happening in the world of cannabis stocks for a long time. I called this shit in 2009, when the King of Fraud himself, Bruce Perlowin, began pushing Medical Marijuana Inc. and trying to recruit people from the industry to manifest their scam. The problem is that stock fraud is difficult to nail down, and the way these companies evolve are through smoke and mirrors tactics that play on the affinity of the investor, while shifting the liability of the scam among veiled stakeholders and other fake shell companies to enhance the books and create the illusion of short term success.

In simple terms, most of the marijuana stock companies are participating in plain and simple affinity fraud. Here is a little information from the SEC on what affinity fraud is:

What is an Affinity Fraud?

Affinity fraud refers to investment scams that prey upon members of identifiable groups, such as religious or ethnic communities, the elderly, or professional groups (or cannabis lovers). The fraudsters who promote affinity scams frequently are – or pretend to be – members of the group (or activists for a cause). They often enlist respected community leaders from within the group to spread the word about the scheme by convincing those people that a fraudulent investment is legitimate and worthwhile (a lot of this going around). Many times, those leaders become unwitting victims of the fraudster’s ruse (or willing participants).

These scams exploit the trust and friendship that exist in groups of people who have something in common. Because of the tight-knit structure of many groups, it can be difficult for regulators or law enforcement officials to detect an affinity scam. Victims often fail to notify authorities or pursue their legal remedies and instead try to work things out within the group. This is particularly true where the fraudsters have used respected community leaders to convince others to join the investment. (Or in a movement where people are scared to go to authorities in fear of prosecution for weed)

Many affinity scams involve “Ponzi” or pyramid schemes, where new investor money is used to make payments to earlier investors to give the false illusion that the investment is successful (A LOT OF THIS HAPPENING). This ploy is used to trick new investors to invest in the scheme and to lull existing investors into believing their investments are safe and secure. In reality, the fraudster almost always steals investor money for personal use. Both types of schemes depend on an unending supply of new investors – when the inevitable occurs, and the supply of investors dries up, the whole scheme collapses and investors discover that most or all of their money is gone. (Any minute now)

But do not take my word for it. This week the well-respected Forbes Magazine did a piece entitled, Inside the Pot Stock Bubble where they examine the real time fraud happening with stocks in the cannabis sector. It is an eerie resemblance to the scams portrayed in the Wolf of Wall Street movie. These guys are driving up the value of a bullshit stock through false hope and media propaganda to sucker you, and whoever else is interested, out of their hard-earned cash. They are not preying on rich folks, but those who work hard and are hoping to invest their savings in “the next big thing.” It is shameful and disgusting. The cannabis industry should be outraged that these charlatans are working to fleece the public through using our good name and reputation.

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Here are some highlights from the Forbes piece:

…Who needs the heavily regulated casino industry when there’s far more cash on the table in the penny stock market, with nary a protection for investors, save a warning from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority last August to be on guard for “con artists behind marijuana stock scams”?

…The perfect window on a huge, emerging red flag for mom-and-pop investors looking for a way to cash in on the legalization of marijuana. A multibillion-dollar industry run for decades by criminals and now traded on the vehicle of choice for financially savvy swindlers and hucksters! What could possibly go wrong?

Perhaps the most incredible part of the pot stock boom: Even though the Obama Administration says it will not enforce the Controlled Substances Act in states with a robust regulatory regime, marijuana remains illegal under federal law. “You can’t have an industry where they say, ‘We can put you in jail for the rest of your life, but we probably won’t today,’?” says Sam Kamin, a University of Denver law professor. “Who would invest in that? Who would put their money in that in terms of raising capital?”

In Colorado, for example, recreational and medical marijuana businesses have to grow and sell their product in the state. That is why Medical Marijuana carefully structured its joint venture with Dixie so that it does not actually do anything connected with marijuana. It is also a big reason that hemp–a variety of pot plants that has only trace amounts of THC, marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient–has become the buzzword with the pot stock crowd.

You can read more about the details of who these fraudsters are specifically in the Forbes article. There has also been some good pieces done over at Seeking Alpha that have tried to follow these scams and expose their fraudulent activities. There are also many articles working to “pump” these scams too on there, but an article entitled “Medical Marijuana, Inc.: Definitely a Dope Opera”  and others are good insightful reporting on what is often a complex and woven web of bullshit that is the stock game.

The reality is that there is very little legitimate stock investment opportunity in the cannabis sector right now. Why? Because of it being federally illegal.

Real investment folks are not at the table yet. What you see now are a lot of ex-mortgage fraudsters and tech bubble vultures circling looking for easy prey. They are taking the “sizzle” of the surging popularity of marijuana and are using that to sucker good folks out of their good money based on bullshit lies and false promises.

So how does it work?

I am glad you asked. The racket these companies are engaged in is most commonly called the “Pump and Dump.” Below is an explanation of what that is more clearly in context of the wolf of Wall Street:

PUMP AND DUMP

A pump and dump scheme consists of artificially inflating or ‘pumping’ the price of a stock to benefit those that own it. Once the price has been pumped up, owners quickly sell off the stock or ‘dump’ it at a huge profit causing the price to plummet. Jordan Belfort would often buy large amounts of worthless stock and then, using his army of stockbrokers at Stratton Oakmont, spread rumors and positive statements about the company. This caused the price of the stock to spike exponentially. Once the stock reached record highs, he and his associates would sell it off, causing the price to reach record lows.

So the most obvious example of “The Pump” is the Martha Stewart of Marijuana herself, Cheryl Shuman. I began writing about her fraud in a piece entitled “Cheryl Shuman is Full of Shit” last year. Her “pump” of a company called Rapid Fire Marketing (RFMK) and their crappy product the Cannacig put her on my radar. What she did was create this false persona through the “Martha Stewart” rip-off deal. The woman cannot cook, so where Martha became relevant is beyond me. She sells herself as some Beverly Hills socialite, when she really does not live in Beverly Hills at all.

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To pump her company Rapid Fire she needed a hook to attract television producers. She latched on to a hot button topic, being kids who use cannabis, and conned the parents of a girl named Mykayla who is battling cancer, to take their story public with her on the Ricki Lake show. The company promised the family a generous donation based on sales from the show if they helped pump their company on their website and social media channels. The family trusted this woman and her pump scam, only to find out they were used and tossed away after the company made a bunch of money by pumping their stock based on the story of their family’s struggle. A detailed account of this experience can be found at the father’s blog entitled “Sly Generosity: Cheryl Shuman Meets Brave Mykayla.”

RFMK sent the family less than $50 for their efforts, dumped a bunch of overvalued stock, and wandered off into the night with their riches.

Shuman also began to pump for Medical Marijuana, Inc. (MJNA) last year, right before she was exposed for her bullshit. She was selling “Hempmeds Px” products at every stop. She used her experience with the Ohio Rights Group to pump her bullshit snake oil on her propaganda “media tour.” She even convinced some of the Board to invest in the company and had their logos plastered all over the campaign website. In September she went on social media to claim she suffered a “mini-stroke” and was miraculously cured by using Hempmeds Px CBD products LESS THAN A WEEK LATER. Amazing, right?

After pressure from people who would no longer tolerate Shuman’s shameless pump scheme, MJNA released Shuman from being their brand manager. Now the company has put together and elaborate multi-level marketing pyramid scheme called Kannaway to continue the pump. Shuman is off pumping other bullshit, and talking about taking her own company public for the pump and dump ride. Should be exciting.

Other forms of “the pump” are overzealous press releases pushed out claiming untrue and manipulated facts to increase the value of the stock. You see this happen all of the time. It was more prevalent, nearly daily, before it was found out the SEC was investigating MJNA.

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It is unclear when the Wolf of Wall Street scenario will fully play out. Remember, in the movie based on real life, Jordan Belfort was allowed to scam people for years while the FBI investigated him before any charges were filed. Who knows if, and when, anyone will get around to investigating and cracking down on these crazy scams. It is exhausting to have these folks stealing money based on bullshit promises about weed because they know people love weed and will want to invest.

The penny stock scams going around now are disgusting and incredibly immoral. Or maybe scumbags like Jordan Belfort, the Wolf of Wall Street, were right…

 See, money doesn’t just buy a better life, better food, better cars, better pussy. It also makes you a better person. You can give generously to the church or a political party of your choice.

It is up to you if you want to give your hard earned cash to the Jordan Belfort’s of cannabis or not. We can have the “I told you so” conversation later.

Be Strong and Powerful

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I recently came across and old friend on Facebook. It is amazing how reflecting on our own journey can help us to realize how we got to where we are. It is humbling to remember what an idiot we used to be. It is empowering to understand what we have overcome. It is bewildering to dream of what we might have missed. It makes us stronger to put our lives in context and to be okay with who we have become.

Believe it or not, I used to be an idiot.

I suppose it is the classic coming of age story about a wayward kid with a chip on his shoulder living every day as if it is his last who comes to the realization that there is more to the word than his personal wants and desires. I cannot remember the day I decided to pull my head out of my ass and quit being a total idiot, but I know I was a late bloomer…somewhere after the age of 30.

I spent many years trying to find myself. I searched in the bottom of booze bottles and in an array of drug binges. I pressed boundaries wherever I could find them, and would seek out trouble to justify my existence. I often sacrificed who I was for who I believed the world wanted me to be. I lacked confidence and in turn, sold myself short on a lot of days.

As we wander through our own memory, we are often confronted with areas in our life where we have failed. It is easy for us to push these memories aside, but they are always there lurking.

There is a certain fear in all of us, even on our best day, that we could somehow return to that person we were on our worst day. It is this fear that drives the human experience, and either makes one reach for the stars or tumble down the hill of life.

We are our experiences. Like it or not, who we are has been shaped by the events that have made up our lives and the people who have been a part of those events. We cannot relive the past, nor should we.

Yesterday is gone, but tomorrow is forever.

Yet in order to fulfill our lives and find our potential we must be strong and we must be powerful. The world is going to keep spinning and difficult days will lie ahead. But it is up to us to rise up and meet the challenges of another day, and to do our part to make the world a better place. We have to look inside of ourselves to find the necessary strength to overcome. It is our own power that will move the mountain.

Too often we sacrifice our strength and give up our power. We allow our lack of confidence or unfamiliarity to get the better of us. The fear of failure and loss can be too much to bear. The world becomes a very small place when life becomes overwhelming. Our doubt can consume us.

Where we find our strength and power is when we rise above our own fears and accept our fate. Fate is seldom wrong.

No one ever said that life was going to be easy. There are too many variables and unpredictable outcomes to ever assume anything. What seems inevitable today can be completely questionable tomorrow. Nothing is written in stone; and if it is, stone can easily be broken. Life is a constantly evolving battle between our mind, our body, and the worlds of order and chaos.

More times than not our path has already been chosen for us, and the decisions we make are irrelevant to where the universe will direct us. We can never take back yesterday, but we can always find strength that there is a tomorrow.

It is our duty to ourselves to be strong and powerful. It is up to us to make our presence on planet earth known and to ensure the world is a better place than where we found it. Our lives are like masterpieces that we paint with our daily actions. This is our gift to the world.

I challenge you to be strong and powerful. You are amazing. You were put here for a reason. Your life is important. The things you do make a difference. You are incredibly strong and powerful, and I am better for knowing you…So thanks.

Whatever tomorrow may bring, our strength will not waiver and our power will be known. Selah.