SHOW ME THE MONEY!!! Why Weed Revenues Pale in Comparisson to Drug War Revenues

You weedheads are adorable with your darling little tax payments and your modest revenue streams. But don’t get it twisted. Your money is nothing compared to the taxes and economic “benefits” created by industries getting rich off prohibition and the drug war.

As we enter a new era of Federal enforcement with the changing of the guards from an Obama administration that chose to limit their enforcement into the cannabis industry with some vague and legally meaningless “memos” instructing enforcement agencies to chill out if the States say it is cool onward to a Trump administration where all bets are off and conservatives are chomping at the bit to return us all to the golden era of the Reagan “revolution” and Nixon’s “war on drugs.” It is anyone’s guess what will happen… not just with cannabis but literally everything. Good or bad, one thing is certain. Things are going to be very different under a Trump regime. From the way his cabinet is lining up and his thin-skinned responses to every petty argument, it is certain to be a wild ride.

I wish I were more optimistic; but I am not. Frankly, I am a little scared for us all.

The appointment of Jeff Sessions is troubling to say the least, as he has been a vocal critic of Obama’s stand-offish policy on cannabis laws, stating in his confirmation hearing this week, “The U.S. Congress made the possession of marijuana in every state—and the distribution—an illegal act,” Sessions said last week. “If that’s something that’s not desired any longer, Congress should pass a law to change the rule.” The glass half full person might say, “Look. Sessions is calling for legalization.” That is cute. What I hear pretty loud and clear is, “The law is the law and I will enforce it unless someone decides to change it.” Remember… Trump declared himself “the law and order candidate” on the campaign trail and this is the head of the law and order branch of the United States government.

To believe Trump, and even more so Sessions, is going to allow for Obama’s laissez-faire approach to cannabis to continue is naive. It was just last April, less than a year ago, when Jefferson Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions III stood on the floor of the United States Senate and declared, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” and that it was a “very real danger” that is “not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized.” He calls the effort to reform cannabis laws a “tragic mistake.” He has been incredibly critical of both of Obama’s Attorney Generals (Holder and Lynch) for not enforcing federal law where marijuana is concerned. In his tirade on the Senate floor last year he also stated, “You can’t have the President of the United States of America talking about marijuana like it is no different than taking a drink… It is different….It is already causing a disturbance in the states that have made it legal.”

Does that sound like a guy who is going to just look the other way? The AG has no obligation to uphold the random thoughts and ideas of the President. He does not serve at the President’s pleasure. The entire point of the Attorney General is to have an independent legal force to uphold the laws of the United States; and as Sessions clearly stated in his confirmation hearing he intends to do just that. He is a “by the book” motherfucker if there ever was one. So, forgive me if I lack optimism, but I have seen this shitshow before.

The argument I keep hearing from folks is, “NO WAY, MICKEY. THERE IS TOO MUCH MONEY BEING MADE FOR THEM TO SHUT US DOWN NOW.” Have you bumped your fucking head?

Do not fool yourself. It is incredibly profitable to arrest non-violent weedheads and weed farmers and take all their stuff. Drug task force budgets alone are more lucrative than legal weed sales. Do you have any idea how much revenue is created by funding drug enforcement agencies? From buying the latest and greatest tactical gear, surveillance equipment, and weaponry to hiring and paying tens of thousands of agents to enforce these laws, there is a hell of a lot of money just in the investigation and arrest aspects of the war on cannabis. The nation’s failed drug policies have resulted in the militarization we see of our police forces and society has spent over a trillion dollars working to enforce drug laws with zero results. Addiction rates have remained constant and access to drugs is greater now than ever before. It is a racket, and one that ensured a pretty penny for law enforcement agencies to rid our communities of these evil drugs. Yawn. Are we still falling for that tired story? Yup. The drug war rages on at the expense of all of us. But I am sure the taxes from your eighth of Jack Herer will be the straw that broke the financial back of the drug war (rolls eyes).

You see… marijuana has always been an easy target. It is large in comparison to other drugs, and is easy to detect because of its distinct looks, coloring, and of course, smell. Do you know how much money cops are losing just by not being able to search your car and house because it smells like weed? That was free money for them. They search for the weed they say they smell and eventually come up with something illegal that allows them to take all of your stuff. Oh… Did I not mention “asset forfeiture” yet? Yeah. That is a lot of money that drug cops take from people every year. If a cop can prove you used your car or your property to grow, sell, or “conspire” to sell weed or any other drug then they can essentially confiscate that property. It is fucked up really. Sometimes they do not even have to convict you of a crime to strong arm you out of your property. Dafuck?

Then there is the money made after the arrests… The court systems. The lawyers. The jails and then the prisons. The treatment centers. Etc. Etc. Etc. The list goes on of ways that arresting people for weed is a money-making machine. Drug enforcement, and the subsequent fallout from arresting hundreds and thousands of people every year for weed, are no doubt a big business. Fortunes have been made from arresting people for weed, jailing them, and then “treating” them for their weed addiction problems. LOL.

There is a reason that every effort to legalize cannabis at the ballot box has been opposed by most all law enforcement communities. That is real money out of their pockets and budgets. Less drug arrests means less of a need for drug cops, and less need for prisons to house drug criminals. The prison industrial complex is a giant machine that locks up 25% of the world’s prison population… even though we only have 5% of the actual world population. Let that soak in. We love locking people up in America, and the drug war has been good for the economy. Sure… We are trillions in debt and no better off, but fuck it…. Let’s double down.

There is also the X factor…. We allow private companies access to cheap labor of prison inmates. Does it sound a lot like slavery? That is because it essentially is, and prisoners manufacture anything from lingerie to weapons of war. Fun, right? And you were mad about undocumented immigrants taking your job. Nope. Your job was outsourced to a steady stream of cheap prison labor through companies like Unicor. If it sounds crazy that is because it is. There are more black people in prison now than were ever enslaved during slavery. It is no coincidence that prisons are filled with poor and disenfranchised mostly minorities. The drug war and mass incarceration has been good for business. I am not even mentioning hemp alternatives, though many agree that hemp is also a primary driver of prohibition from those invested in timber, textiles fuel and more. That is all big bucks we are talking.

Of course, we can’t forget about the cost of drug detection and monitoring. Drug testing is a big business. Just the industry of selling weird products to mask and hide drug use is a big business. Because weed stays in your system so much longer than other drugs, it has also been an easy target for the drug treatment industry. Just think of every high school kid whose parents have them tested because they come home smelling like weed one day, or the cost of drug testing that employers pay for in the hiring process alone. That is a lot of cheddar. But I am sure the taxes from your edible line are going to save the economy, bro. Funny stuff.

Believe that the taxes realized from legal weed sales would come at a perceived cost of other tax paying industries, as well… particularly big pharma and the booze industry. Theoretically, if people are spending money on weed they might in turn be spending less money on booze. If people can find relief from cannabis without having to see a doctor and get a prescription, then that could severely dent the budget of the pharmaceutical industry. So it is not like the taxes that will come from the weed game just appear out of nowhere. There will be certain trade-offs no doubt. Hell… Even drug cartels are pissed because their market is shrinking rapidly.

The ultimate reality is also that if cannabis were legalized globally today there would be an initial shortage, but over time supply would catch up with demand and prices would continue to fall… meaning your tax revenue would also shrink thus. There will come a day when a good ounce of weed is about $50 and even if they slap a 50% tax on that baby it will still only be $75. We have already begun to see process drop in states where legalization has taken hold. It will likely shape up to look like the wine industry in a lot of ways when it is all said and done… Some Two-Buck-Chuck or some Opus One, and a bunch of specialty items at all price points in between. But there will be some good weed for good prices for sure. The tax revenue projections off of $50 eighths and $300 ounces will be irrelevant one day, so there is that.

So you keep telling yourself that the new regime of ultra-right-wing conservatives who take money by the barrel from these industries have no interest in coming after you because you pay taxes. I wish I could live in that fairytale land of optimism and hope. The cynic in me will not let me be fooled by some meaningless rhetoric about states’ rights and whatnot. I don’t believe you.

It is true that none of us know what is going to happen in coming months and years as Trump and his band of scary pranksters take control of our Nation’s government and start calling the shots on who does and does not go to jail for what. I guess we can hope that they are so busy rounding up Mexicans and Muslims that they forget about us weedheads; but I am not going to hold my breath.

I am committed to staying vigilant and ready for the fight. Regardless of what happens I can assure you one thing… I am not going nowhere. But before you decide to report your weed sales to a government agency of any sort just ask yourself if you may or may not be incriminating yourself and then call me when you need some compliance documentation done to help you sleep better at night.

It will not be the money that keeps weed illegal and drug warriors fat for years to come. Our only real hope is social change. That we have squeezed enough toothpaste out of the tube that it will never go back in. Some may have a hard time imagining their communities going back to a time before medical and/or adult use cannabis were legal, but it can happen. And it can happen pretty quick. Remember that hundreds of cannabis businesses were abruptly closed in California in 2011 and 2012 with nothing more than a form letter and a stamp threatening enforcement. If the new AG decides that the Cole Memo is no longer USDOJ policy, then it would be quite easy for the Feds to ramp up the war on weed again. Can they arrest us all? Probably not, but they can certainly arrest a bunch of us if they want to. That is just a fact. Marinate on that for a while and then let me know if you still want to be so flippant about the coming changes in policy not just for weed, but for everything. Gonna be an interesting few years.

May the Big Magnet in the Sky help us all. Selah.

 

Reform CA vs. ReformCA.org: Let the Shit Show Begin

reformca.logo.44 VS.  Reform.Square

Sometimes things start out as a joke, and then become more serious as things unfold; but there is nothing funny about losing another election for cannabis freedom in California. Or even more so, getting stuck with a law that sucks because we let those who do not have the best interest of cannabis users and providers run amok with the process with zero checks and balances.

So let’s start by figuring out who and what “ReformCA” is… Late last year I began to hear about a group forming called Reform CA that was going to be organizing the effort for a 2016 initiative in the State of California. Being that I have spent the better part of my life fighting for cannabis freedom in California, I was somewhat surprised that I had no idea who the fuck these people were. So I went and checked out their fancy new website where, at the time, was listed a whole host of individuals and organizations that were supposedly involved. Literally damn near everyone was included, like there was some huge inclusive effort being put forth; but reality was anything but that really.

After further investigation, I found out that Reform California was a basic rebranding of the group called the “Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform“… the group that developed after the Prop. 19 loss who vowed to make a comeback after their poorly run campaign effort failed in 2010. If you go to their site and look at the “About” page their list of supporters has dwindled and they recently added a link to their Coalition page; but they do not list directly on their page who the fuck they are and why we should give a shit. If you read down to the bottom of the page you get this:

ReformCA is an initiative of the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform (CCPR), a registered 501(C)(4) non-profit organization based in Oakland. More information about CCPR is available at CannabisPolicyReform.org.

It always fascinates me when a group does not have the courage to directly list who they are on their page, but at least now they have this handy link to the CCPR page, which has listed a Board of Directors…. So here is the list of folks on the Board who are supposedly behind the ReformCA effort:

  • Dale Sky Jones- Oaksterdam/Prop 19
  • Alice Huffman- NAACP
  • Dale Gieringer- CANORML
  • Dan Rush- UFCW
  • Jeff Jones- Patient ID Center/Prop 19
  • David Bronner- Dr. Bronner’s
  • Antonio Gonzales- William C. Velasquez Institute
  • Richard Lee- Oaksterdam/Prop. 19
  • Jim O’Neil- Peter Thiel Consultant
  • Aaron Houston- Weedmaps
  • Stacia Costner- SSDP
  • Neil Franken- LEAP
  • Debby Goldsberry- UFCW?
  • Kristen Nevedal- Emerald Growers Association
  • Don Duncan- Americans for Safe Access
  • Joe Rogoway- Attorney
  • Graham Boyd- ACLU/Peter Lewis (Honorary Board Member)
  • Stephen Gutwillig- Drug Policy Alliance (Honorary Board Member

Sounds like an amazing effort, no? Well don’t let the smoke and mirrors fool you. I don’t think half of the people listed a Board Members even know they are on the Board, or at least do not seem to take active roles with the group. Have you heard about Reform CA, but kept wondering who the fuck was behind it really like the rest of us? Well… I am not even sure they know at this point. I am not even sure they know what their mission and objectives are. They just know that they feel if legalization efforts are going to happen in California that they deserve to lead the effort because apparently they have been standing around the longest or some shit.

Let’s be completely honest though… The list of people above is not really the group of folks who are putting forth the ReformCA effort. It is a handful of them that are really working on the project. The majority have not publicly announced their involvement or support for the Reform effort. But back to my story….

So after realizing that this group was developing and coronating themselves the legalization prom queen, I began to try and figure out who was what, and why I had not been invited to take part in the effort. Was it me? Probably. I can admit that my harsh criticism and forward thinking have rubbed many people the wrong way. Swing a dead cat around and you will likely hit a person who I have been critical of, or God forbid, made a funny meme about. Sue me. But I figured that even with my controversial reputation that I would at least get a courtesy heads up that this group was planning on leading the charge for legalization in CA, and wanted to be the point people for an effort that will certainly change my life forever. I can admit I was a little offended at first, as I believe I have paid my dues in this community and have certainly given a lot of myself to inspiring cannabis freedom.

So after a little digging it was brought to my attention that this group was primarily being put forth by CCPR, and being lead by Dale Sky Jones, Jeff Jones, and Richard Lee… the faces of Prop. 19. This sort of pissed me off, as I spent a lot of time, energy, and political capital fighting for Prop. 19 when EVERYONE else hated it and the folks who ran the campaign could not be bothered to fight their own fight. I was one of the most vocal advocates for the law, which I still believe for all of its issues would be better than where we are today; but I digress. I just found it funny, and mildly offensive, that a group headed up by folks whose honor I spent a hell of a lot of time defending could not be bothered to reach out to me about their plans. But that is cool… Like whatever, man.

RichardLee.1

After understanding that this ReformCA group was just a regurgitation of the CCPR group and others who I thought lost their fucking minds for deciding to pass on 2014 and who chose to ignore the momentum of 2012, which I wrote about in a piece entitled, “You gotta be shitting me….. 2016? Excuses Suck” I knew there was a problem. Further review of the situation enlightened me that this group was also being spearheaded by the likes of Dale Gieringer of CANORML, Don Duncan of ASA, and Dan Rush of UFCW, which explained why I was likely shunned in the deal. I have not been short on criticisms of these figureheads whose failed leadership has been disastrous in the cannabis community. Dale Gieringer continues to play political football in the community, and has been one of the least effective leaders I have ever met. This is a guy who refused to co-author my book Medical Marijuana 101 because I was “too big of a cheerleader for cannabis” in my writing. LOL.

Then you add in Don Duncan’s issues with ASA and their coalition of restriction partnered by Dan Rush of UFCW, and you understand that I have had a lot to say about the failures of these groups’ efforts. ASA and UFCW have continued to advocate for a more restrictive cannabis industry since partnering up in 2012 to try and push a medical initiative that they fabricated support for, which took the wind out of the sails of adult use legalization efforts across the State. Then they conspired to pass Measure D in LA, which put hundreds of dispensaries out of business, and was the most restrictive effort on the ballot. Don Duncan used his power with ASA to save his own dispensary, which he sold to a group once headed up by Montel Williams. UFCW twisted the arms of most GLACA members to become union shops, and in turn used their political muscle to give them a competitive advantage with Measure D. Americans for Safe Access and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union continue to use their political influences to support legislation in Sacramento that would only allow a select few to compete in the market, including language that cements the union’s place in the market. No one in their right mind or who has been paying attention for the last few years, believes that CANORML, ASA, or UFCW have their best interests in mind. It is obvious that they have all been bought or paid for by someone at this point.

Yes…. I have been, and will continue to be, a thorn in the side of anyone whose efforts support restrictions and compromise based on interests that have to do with money and nothing to do with cannabis freedom. I used to be a huge supporter of Americans for Safe Access, but their culture and mission obviously changed in recent years and I can not support a lot of what they are doing. I also like UFCW’s efforts in a lot of ways, but understand that they are a union and that at the end of the day they cannot really be trusted. They have an agenda, and that agenda is UFCW. While their political influence is certainly welcome, when it is influenced by the few and used to limit the industry more than it need be, I take issue. Sorry. Just trying to keep it real.

So here is where the story gets a little more amusing……

In November, for shits and giggles, I checked to see if this ReformCA effort had secured all of their domains. Low and behold, I found out that ReformCa.org and ReformCA.info were still available. So I bought them because I am a funny guy. I figured if a group was not sophisticated enough to secure their own domains then they certainly were not capable of running a campaign for cannabis legalization in a state the size of California. I parked the domains for a while, knowing soon enough someone would come looking for them.

Sure enough, three days before Christmas I get the following email, as well as a couple of panicked voice mails:

Howdy Mickey!

Hope this finds you well!  I understand you were kind enough to take ReformCA.org off the market in November, and I am circling around to find out what I need to do to get it into our wheelhouse.  CC’ing Brian, who helps with such things…
Are you living out east permanently now?  Trying to catch up, you are a busy guy!
Dale Sky Jones
Oaksterdam University
Executive Chancellor
Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform
Chairwoman

At this point I am giggling, because I am childish. Obviously someone realized what a huge fuck up this was, and then they realized it was an asshole like me who had control of their domains. Welcome to the show. All of the sudden they wanted to talk now. Still a little butthurt from the overt exclusion, I did not return the calls or email. Instead I began to think about ways to use their incompetence to learn a valuable lesson. I decided that instead of negotiate with folks who I had zero confidence in, that I would instead build my own informative website that was open an information portal to promote the discussion of the many aspects of what an initiative will need to be, as well as what initiatives are being proposed by the many different groups.

I then created the site ate ReformCA.org. It was modeled after MoveOn.org as an effort to set an example for how we should be approaching the issue of cannabis reform in California. The site was meant to promote an open dialogue among the community and have a safe space to share ideas on what we all want as a community for the industry to look like; as well as what we thought about the efforts being put forth. It also served the purpose of driving people crazy too; but that is just a bonus. I truly believe that before we get too far down the yellow brick road and hand over the industry to the highest bidder, we should really figure out what the fuck we want and what the fuck we need in a cannabis reform law. So the site was really more of a lead by example effort.

Reform.FB.cover.1

Currently I have a breakdown of the different aspects of cannabis legalization laws with an easy to register discussion section under each topic on our Discussion page. I also have four of the filed initiatives up with discussion portals for folks to review and discuss on our Initiatives page. While I am doing my best to put the site together, it is a side project so it is a work in progress. But it is a cool site that I hope will become the home for a lot of this discussion as the race for 2016 heats up.

So needless to say, my development of this page made the folks at ReformCA a little upset. I was contacted by one of their Board members who I am friends with, and asked to come speak to the group to discuss possible resolution. I agreed to come present to them at their Board meeting in May to discuss the website and their efforts.

So I shit you not….. I walk into Oaksterdam for the meeting and sitting around the table are Dale Sky Jones, Dale Gieringer, Richard Lee, Jeff Jones, Debby Goldsberry, and Jim Gonzales, who was noticeably absent from their Board listing on their site. On the phone was Don Duncan and Kristen Nevedal. Upon my entering Dale G. gets up and walks out. Don and Kristen immediately announce that they are hanging up the call. It is always nice to start a negotiation with almost half of the Board turning their back on the issue. I knew it was going to be my kind of meeting.

I began by presenting the Board with my 2016 Cannabis Adult Use Legalization Guide, a 15 page document spelling out my positions on what legalization efforts should look like in CA. The remaining members of the Board were very cordial, including Jim Gonzales who I had never met before. We had a robust discussion that went far over the 5 minute presentation I had planned. Dale and Debby engaged me in conversation about my opinions and experiences in the industry. We discussed the current madness that is shaping up for election season, and made nice for most of our discussion.

Then I stated the obvious…. “No one knows who the fuck you are.”

It seemed a little shocking I guess at first, but it was true. Everyone I had spoke with was confused as to who was putting the ReformCA efforts forward. Many in the cannabis movement/industry are highly skeptical of ReformCA and much of that hostility comes from having the same people being the spokespersons for their efforts who had previously failed. As discussed, the failure of Prop. 19 divided this community severely, and I still have arguments about it to this day. As I looked around the room, and got a clearer picture of what the group was up to, I began to feel uneasy. None of us can afford another failure in CA. None of us. But here we were trying to do the same thing and expecting different results. It seemed like insanity to me. Political and social suicide really. I would almost agree with Bill Zimmerman in his “shut the fuck up and let DPA do it” assertion rather than have these folks lead the charge again. I love Richard, Dale, and Jeff in their own rights for their work, but I think they need to pass the torch to people who are not so representative of days past and our failures as a community. Add to that the mistrust put forth by Dale G., Dan Rush, and Don Duncan and the whole deal seemed like a recipe for disaster.

I also asked them, “What exactly are you trying to do here?” This is where it got a little weird. They did not seem to have consensus really. I asked if they were developing their own language to file with the State, and got two different answers that were basically rectified with a “we can’t exactly say” sort of response. From the best I could figure out, they were hoping to work with DPA on drafting their language, and wanted to be the campaign committee for the effort. But admitedly, it was not super clear, even after asking a couple of times point blank,

The website discussion was humorous. I was honest and told them that it initially started out as a prank, but had evolved. I also told them I invested in developing the site because I believed it was a good model for the community moving forward. Jim looks right at me and asks, “So what do you want? Money?” I sort of laughed and told him that it was not about money. Dale Sky Jones told me how I was causing too much confusion and how they were holding some promotions until it was figured out. I told them to email me more about their efforts and that we could possibly find a workable solution to get them their domain back.

So a few days later I got this email with a subject line of “Thank you”:

Hi Mickey,

I wanted to thank you for coming to chat with us on Friday. Debby has forwarded your presentation to the entire board. We kept the official meeting going so we could also provide minutes of your presentation, and our chat to any board members not present or unable to stay (we often have folks drop off before the end of the 1.5 hour call as it occurs in the business day). We just completed the notes and will be sending those around as well.

I must say the presentation you provided was very helpful. I know we only agreed to a five min board presentation, but I personally wanted to dive deeper with you, and I appreciate you doing so as it gave us valuable insight and ideas.

I updated the Trippi team on Sat and asked to them to look into options. I have a meeting today about the website to discuss implementing the suggestions and improvements to outgoing communication you inspired. We are contemplating several different ways to do it, and also clarifying what roles we can play in making it happen.

As you can imagine it is always tricky getting this many groups to agree on what gets posted, as we are still traveling the state, learning more and gaining consensus, however the next two months will prove enlightening as we narrow the focus and get drafting.

In the meantime, we can certainly improve communication about who we are and what we are doing as we find ways to open it up for those who have not attended a meeting.

I hope to chat soon about the .org now that you’ve had time to think about what you feel is a fair price. We are a non-profit and struggle for donations like most do, however the board feels you should be compensated for your investment if you will simply turn it over. With that said, I thought I heard you (someone?) say $2,000. I do not want to haggle or start negotiating below $1,000 and cheapen the conversation. If 2k will convince you to turn the site over, I will approve it immediately so we can all move on and focus on what is at hand.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Dale Sky Jones
Executive Chancellor
Oaksterdam University
Chairwoman
Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform

I left the meeting that day feeling terrible, after giving Dale an insincere hug and shaking Richard Lee’s hand. I began to think more and more about the whole deal, and realized that we were doomed if this is what we were going with. It was a recipe for disaster. It made me sick to my stomach to think about, and I could not muster the strength to go through the bullshit we went through last time all over again because of pride and self-righteousness. There was just too much at stake to risk making the same mistake twice.

So I responded with this email:

Hey Dale et. al,

Thanks for letting me come in and discuss my ideas for 2016 with the group. I have spent the last week plus thinking about the experience and working to reconcile the many things we discussed. I have also spent more time on your other site reviewing your Board and its mission.

Yes. I was taken aback, but not surprised, that Dale Geiringer walked out, and Don and Kristen hung up the call before I could have a chance to speak; but I will take your word that it was more of a coincidence than hurt feelings based on past criticisms of mine. Such is life. It is tough being the messenger sometimes.

All that being said, I will be completely honest with you. I think the way your group is structured right now is an absolute recipe for disaster within the cannabis community, and likely even more so outside of the cannabis community. The figureheads and stakeholders you have lined up to lead the charge, in my opinion, are severely problematic.

For starters, you, Jeff, and Richard being the faces of the organization will be your downfall. You guys know that I defended the Prop 19 effort vigorously and often by my damn self. Most of your team could not be bothered to rise up and meet the many criticisms you and the initiative faced for whatever reason, leaving folks like me and Chris Conrad to take the heat and try to make people understand that for all of its flaws, Prop 19 would have been far better than what we had. I have been a vocal advocate for Richard and his willingness to put himself in the line of fire for the 19 effort. I have taken a lot of shit for that position over the years and still have many arguments to this day based on those positions. I do not regret that for a minute.

But the campaign was an absolute failure in the eyes of many, and sending out the same team to try and push a new initiative would be one of the most strategically bizarre moves ever conceived in politics. There is a reason the Republicans begged Mitt Romney not to run again. Because he is the face of losing and mistrust… and for better or worse, right or wrong, you, Richard, and Jeff are also the face of losing in the cannabis world. Your inability to combat the lies and misinformation in that campaign have festered for many years and have left A LOT of the community thinking you do not have their best interests in mind. That is no position to start a new campaign effort from.

Add in the likes of Dan Rush, Don Duncan, and Dale Geiringer, and what you have is a shit show. No one is going to follow those Generals into battle. It just isn’t going to happen. Sorry. They have spent too much time and energy lobbying for restrictions and working to undermine the movement for anyone to feel comfortable that they have our back on this effort. I will point you to the LA debacle with Proposition D as an example where UFCW and ASA worked together to restrict permitting and create an environment that made several hundred operating businesses and their clients criminals again. Dale G. also represents a lot of bad decision making by people who the community thought were supposed to have their backs. Having these elements on your team does nothing but elicit mistrust within the community.

You are also missing a lot of the new cannabis industry players in your mix, either by design, or because they simply want nothing to do with your old guard approach. I am not sure whose idea it was to comprise a group of people, who while they are supposed leaders due to their title and pedigree, are simply not. There are a lot of viable people working hard to make a difference in cannabis reform, and the most dynamic are nowhere to be found in your circle at this time.

I was going to solicit a bunch of questions in hopes that you could enlighten me as to why this was a good idea, but after doing some soul searching I will just say that I do not have confidence at all in the team you have assembled, and cannot support the effort as it stands. I can only hope that whoever decides to fund this thing moves in a different direction and forms a more solid coalition of people that I, and the rest of the community, can believe in. It is not personal by any means, but we also cannot rewrite history. We have all staked out our positions in the madness that is the California cannabis landscape. Unfortunately, many on your team have taken positions that directly contradict the principles of cannabis freedom; and more so some flat out lack ethics and morality and have already proven they will sell us out for a bag of silver.

So now that we have gotten past the niceties and concerns, let’s talk business…. As I stated in the meeting, I have no interest in money. I know how to make money if I need it. But at this point it is principle. I invested over $2k into getting the site reformca.org up and running, and have put a great deal of time and effort into the project. Why? To be a thorn in your side of course. No one called me or invited me to any meetings to discuss the effort, and that is fine. Who the fuck am I anyway? But what I saw happening is a group of entitled people coming together to coronate themselves prom queen in this effort, and I simply was not feeling it. I built reformca.org as an information portal where the community could come together to discuss the efforts being put forth and have an open and honest dialogue on the merits of these efforts. Your input the other day lets me know you do not really have those same interests, and are looking for more of a tunnel vision approach. Much to my surprise, I have faced more hurdles because people think I am you than you probably have by people thinking you were me. LOL. Just so you know, people have very real and meaningful concerns about your effort and many are not feeling it. At least that is what my initial feedback has produced. It is also very worrisome to me to think that a group who cannot even secure their own web domains would be in charge of any campaign for adult use cannabis legalization in California. Don’t you agree? I mean, if you cannot handle the small stuff, how can anyone trust you with the big stuff? You want me to put my future in the hands of people who are obviously incompetent and who admit they do not have the time, energy, or resources to roll this thing out right? No thanks.

But if you want the domain back, I will tell you what…. I will do it for $5k and then donate anything over the costs I have incurred back to whatever campaign effort forms down the road after it makes the ballot. This offer is good until June 1, and then the price will be $10k. If that sounds good let me know and I will forward you my bank account information and you can deposit it directly. I have been adimately clear in all of my communications that I have no issue taking hostages if need be to push the agenda of cannabis freedom. I hope this makes it clear that this is 100% true. I may not have a fancy group or title to stand behind, but I am more than willing to use whatever influence I have to make sure that this thing is done right and that the law we are left with represents the many, not the few. Your team does not impress me as having those same goals given their track records.

Thanks for your time and energy on this. I look forward to discussing mutual goals.

Regards,

Mickey Martin

Self-Appointed Leader of the Weed Movement

So here we are at an old fashioned Mexican standoff. June 1st has come and gone, so if they want their site back they can cough up $10k. Otherwise, fuck it. We can continue the charade and they can keep selling wolf tickets to their coronation dance. I will keep developing the information on my site in hopes of at least reaching some folks, and having a discussion on the legalization efforts we see going forward. I have nothing to lose. I am already an outcast from these circles of yes men and sellouts, as noted by half of them walking out before my presentation. So let’s not bullshit each other and pretend their s going to be some huge kumbaya moment, and the years of deception and failed politics will somehow just dissipate.

The coming months will be telling, and it is up to us as a community to decide if we want to continue down the path of failed leadership because of a warped sense of ownership of this industry by folks who have a great deal of baggage. Or do we want to demand new leadership and direction from people we can trust to represent the needs of the many, and not just the few? I think it is long time for change in the industry, and while I am not necessarily qualified to decide who and what are appropriate leadership and directions for everyone, I do know that continuing down the same path that has left us vulnerable for nearly two decades is not a viable option.

So there you have the tale of ReformCA vs. ReformCA.org. Funny not funny really; but we all knew it was going to be a fight, so is anyone really surprised? I didn’t think so. Selah.

2016 Cannabis Adult Use Legalization Guide

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Cannabis Landscape Overview

What an interesting and exciting time for cannabis this is. With four states and D.C. legalizing cannabis for adult use and dozens of states working to implement medical cannabis programs, cannabis is becoming more widely accepted in our society. Every day new opportunities arise and new challenges are faced. As cannabis returns to the mainstream of society there are both external and internal forces at work to consider.

Colorado and Washington continue to face issues due to over-regulation and increased barriers in their programs. Challenges are to be expected, as we work out the details to ending prohibition; but many of the challenges we face were avoidable with more thorough and well-thought language written into these laws. We are beginning to see issues take hold in Oregon, as well, as they develop the parameters of the new adult use legalized industry there. These are the laboratories of democracy that face the uncertainty of what cannabis legalization should look like head on. What we have seen in the early stages of development in these states is an industry struggling to find itself, and its voice, in the community. Real life challenges, including the inability to establish banking, has left the cannabis industry frustrated and searching for answers. There has been an influx of capital in these states using their funding and influence to manipulate regulations and laws to suit their business needs. Some of the over-burdensome regulations in these states have made the playing field far from level.

Each of these programs has their own unique matters of concern to consider, as new laws are strategized and developed across the country for 2016. It is important to learn from avoidable missteps and create language that accomplishes the simple overall objective of creating a cannabis landscape where adults can grow, possess, and use cannabis freely without fear of arrest; and an industry that is fair that serves the interest of the consumer by providing high quality cannabis products at the greatest value. The potential global market for cannabis is immense and should not be left to chance. The laws being created now, and the programs that accompany them, will lay the groundwork for how cannabis is understood and accepted in our society. It is a great responsibility to ensure that what is put on the ballot is meaningful and accomplishes this objective. There is no room for error due to political showmanship and lack of camaraderie. It is time for the adults in the room to make the tough decisions for this industry moving forward that take into account the bigger picture, and which defend the rights and freedoms and cannabis users and cannabis providers.

In order to achieve a more perfect cannabis industry there is a need to find a unilateral consensus on major issues facing the reform community. There are no winners and losers in this process of developing laws, but it will require certain sacrifices and understanding from all major stakeholders. No one is going to get everything they want in any law that is written, and certainly there will be objections from both allies and opposition forces. But it is imperative that the laws being developed represent the interests of the many and not the few. It is important to consider the models being put forth currently, and create language that solves common problems and increases cannabis freedom.

What we are seeing both in medical and adult use markets across the country is a knee jerk reaction by prohibitionists fueled by exploitive media reporting working to undermine these programs and the evolving industry. Several medical programs are under attack, and there are many issues facing the programs we see in early development in states like Massachusetts and Illinois. There is a growing effort to limit medical cannabis laws to CBD only legislation in several states. There is a growing divide of interests within the cannabis community, as these issues continue to cloud the landscape. There is a great deal of uncertainty and fear by people who have dedicated their life to cannabis. Many of these people are rightfully concerned by the evolution of cannabis laws and regulations, as the extreme barriers to entry and unnecessary limitations have made it difficult for small operators to compete and thrive. There are also notable limitations on consumer rights that have created a tangled web of inconsistent implementation of cannabis laws.

It is natural for people to resist change. There will always be a certain population of the reform community who will romance the golden age of cannabis and who are resistant to inevitable change. I think we all have certain norms and expectations that are threatened by cannabis becoming another boring good that is bought and sold by people across the globe. Cannabis is a commodity. The industry that will develop around that commodity is only beginning to be seen. We are at a unique point in history that requires us to rise up and meet the incredible challenges that we face in order to create something special and lasting that we can all be proud of.

California is by far the biggest piece of the cannabis landscape to consider in the equation, making up over 10% of the nation’s population and which is a major producer of agricultural based commodities. California is the mecca of cannabis and is responsible for most of the innovations in the industry we have seen over the past decades. It is an amazing testament that Proposition 215 has withstood the test of time and that SB420 has enabled us to create such an incredible mosaic of cannabis producers and providers throughout the state. What makes the California cannabis market great is that there are so many people involved, and there is a level of cooperation and competition that are unmatched anywhere in the world. Because everyone in the State operates under the pretense of a ‘collective or cooperative,” it has opened up for interpretation for many unique and innovative business models to serve the sophisticated needs of today’s cannabis consumer. There are many who have questioned the validity of the California program, but there is no questioning the success of a program that serves over a million cannabis consumers every day with very little incident of harm; and which provides real economic impact to the communities where cannabis is tolerated and allowed. Yet there are still large areas of the state where cannabis is not tolerated and the broad interpretation of the law has posed continuing legal issues for patients and providers. There are virtually no protections anywhere in the state for those who cultivate cannabis or who produce cannabis finished products.

There is a well-established medical cannabis industry here that will need to be interpreted and considered in any initiative effort for the state. We clearly see in Washington State what could happen to a developed medical industry that lacks real definition and protection at the state level, as they work to shut down hundreds of dispensaries there. That is a very real scenario for California, and the issue most likely to affect buy in from the community on initiative language that is being considered. There are several laws also being considered in the State Legislature that could pass before the election in 2016. All of these factors have to be considered in writing adult use language, as the two issues are not separate by any means. That being said, many in the medical community will need to come to terms and reconsider the fact that anyone who grows, processes, transports, or sells cannabis is a “collective” which does not have clear definition, and which is interpreted very loosely across the medical cannabis spectrum. We can no longer look to the 2008 AG Guidelines as a responsible way of doing business. There must be a defined process for medical cannabis patients, caregivers, and providers to continue to have the same freedoms they have now, while also taking into account the norms of the medical and alternative medicines industries.

Add to that the many differing opinions on a variety of topics, from personal cultivation to regulating concentrates, and it is easy to see how difficult the development process might be. It is worth it though. We must rise to the occasion and have the difficult conversations to ensure the laws we see enacted in California, and across the nation and world, are reflective of the ethics and morality that we wish the movement and industries to be. We have an incredible opportunity ahead to create something that achieves cannabis freedom and is a model for ending prohibition around the world.

Extraordinary Challenges

There will be no shortage of battles, as the 2016 election cycle heats up. There will be extraordinary challenges faced both from within the cannabis community and from those who oppose cannabis. Nothing should be taken for granted, and whatever campaign forms to lead the charge should be prepared to fight for every vote. There is severe mistrust within the cannabis community, and many are rightfully skeptical. It is going to take a great deal of outreach and education to sell any effort to the community, and there is sure to be a great deal of criticism to overcome. The easiest way to resolve matters effectively and timely is to commit to 100% transparency in the development process and find a reputable team of ambassadors to educate the community on every aspect of the initiative being written. If there are strategic reasoning and evidence for certain controversial aspects of language being considered it is imperative to be ready to make that case publicly and in real time before the cannabis rumor mill spins out of control. While the industry continues to expand, it is still a relatively tight knit group of people who have vast communication networks. Social media and internet outlets enable for information to travel fast, and it is important to stay ahead of the game.

It would be unwise to take the cannabis vote for granted and to try and pass an initiative without consideration of the industry and movement at large. While cannabis users and supporters make up a fraction of the vote, know that all of those people have family and friends who look to them for their opinion on these matters. While it is impossible to make everyone happy, it would be a mistake to not at least give people the opportunity to express their opinion on matters; and to work to provide relevant information to overcome perceptions and disagreeable terms in the language. It is also important to keep an open mind to suggestion from real people who use and provide cannabis every day. While it is clear that the industry will change over time, it is important to ensure the language developed is as inclusive as possible of those who have dedicated their time, energy, and resources to cannabis.  At the same time it is not realistic to try and serve the direct interests of those who are already in business and who are “licensed.” There is no real licensing for the entire manufacturing and producing of cannabis industry in the state now, so propping up the retail sector would be unwise. The only way to ensure fairness is to create an industry that is fair for anyone to enter should they choose. It should limit the barriers to entry and provide groundwork for how the program is to be implemented, not leaving important details up to regulators and legislators to work out later.

It would also be unwise to underestimate external opposition, especially from law enforcement, public officials, and even Kevin Sabet’s minions. They understand the magnitude of a cannabis victory in California and will wage an aggressive campaign here to undermine the campaign for adult use legalization at any cost. It will take a meaningful public awareness campaign to combat their fear mongering and hyperbole. It is important to consider opposition argument when developing the language, but not to overestimate the power of these arguments in such a way that creates unnecessary burdens for cannabis users and providers. There are areas of the language that will be distorted and twisted regardless, and it is the responsibility of the campaign to overcome opposition with sound argument and education. We must learn from other efforts and also current events where the opposition will most likely make their stand, and be prepared to counteract those efforts accordingly. The opposition has access to media and political contacts that have to be considered in the development of any strategic planning for a successful campaign. This thing is no way in the bag, and we can be sure those who hate cannabis freedom will be out in full force working to scare the bejeezus out of the average voter. They will focus heavily on scaring parents, as that demographic is still difficult for us to overcome. We must be prepared to have the difficult conversation of why making criminals of cannabis users and providers has been a real disaster, and a huge financial burden. It will also be necessary to heavily lobby the conservative right with a message of freedom and personal responsibility.

While the challenges of the 2016 campaign season are just beginning to come into focus, the cannabis community needs to find areas of common ground in which to build consensus. The right hand must talk to the left, and there has to be real leadership that people can be confident in to advance the objectives of any campaign that develops. The campaign will require a high level of sophistication and messaging will be incredibly important. Finding highly qualified and likable people to undertake these difficult roles can be a real determining factor in the success or failure of this effort. The team compiled to speak on behalf of the campaign must be competent and capable of problem solving on their feet. It will be a fast paced atmosphere that requires incredible organization and communication skills to meet the challenges head on.

Realistic Objectives

It is a fine line between treated like tomatoes and secured like Fort Knox. Someone has to make the difficult decisions on language that will affect how cannabis is consumed, cultivated, processed, and distributed for decades to come. While there is varying consensus on any range of issues, from personal consumption matters like social clubs and possession limits to commercial regulatory schemes for the industry, the objective should be able to provide as much cannabis freedom as is reasonable; and create an industry where a level playing field will allow free market principles to decide success. It is a delicate balance, and obviously “realistic” can be a severely objective term. It is a huge responsibility to decide the parameters of ending cannabis prohibition. It would be smart to really consider a global cannabis market and what it would take for the industry to accommodate that market should Federal prohibition end tomorrow. Chances are the end is closer than we think.

Thinking small and leaving to much discretion to state agencies has been a mistake in both Colorado and Washington thus far, and it would seem Oregon is heading down a similar path. It would bode well to define clearly all of the aspects of the industry and to include clear direction as to how the industry is to operate and be governed. There must be a reasonable exchange of ideas on these matters, while maintaining a realistic outlook as to what can first and foremost win an election. Campaigns that lose are worthless. It is important to include sensible limitations that still provide enough freedom for the average cannabis user and home grower. There also has to be a clear path for the commercial industry that gives confidence to voters that the industry will be safe and a contributing part of society.

It would be a critical mistake to allow knee jerk responses to public criticism by opposition forces to influence the language. While we should not give our opponents reason to sound the alarms by including language that could be deemed irresponsible, we should also not cower to assumed politics and have faith that a powerful campaign message can overcome common criticism, as long as the language is reasonable. Figuring out what those reasonable objectives are is an incredible responsibility, and should not be taken lightly. Everyone must understand that there will be uncomfortable compromise, and we must stay focused on the big picture aspects of cannabis legalization. What we want and what we need are two different things, and many of us are going to have to accept aspects of the proposed law that we do not necessarily agree with. But with an open and transparent discussion, we can make the case openly and work to educate people who have an interest in cannabis freedom.

The Purpose of Adult Use Legalization Laws

What are we trying to accomplish? Mostly we want adults to be able to possess and use cannabis for spiritual, enjoyable, medical and any other use they see fit. We are working to end the stigma of cannabis prohibition and return cannabis to its rightful place in our society. We want to make cannabis boring again.

Any law created should create an industry that ultimately benefits the cannabis consumer, and which is open and transparent. We need not further cloud the landscape with overly burdensome restrictions aimed at providing false senses of security to those who oppose our efforts. The purpose of any adult use legalization law should be cannabis freedom. There will be inevitable limitations that will need to be included, but we must not jump the shark with overzealous details that limit fair play in an open and inclusive industry.

We want to remove all criminal penalties for cannabis from the books, and encourage the release of persons incarcerated for cannabis crimes. In doing so, we must consider where civil penalties may still exist for infractions of the law, including sales to children and unsavory business practice. We want to also ensure voters of public safety and responsibility.

It is imperative to consider the current Federal landscape of cannabis tolerance; and also create language that is timeless which can withstand the evolution of Federal laws in coming years. There is also a matter of revenues, which is the carrot on the horse for a lot of voters. It is important to define reasonable limitations on sin taxes for cannabis clearly in the language, and limit the industry’s long term responsibilities. Ultimately the goal for any adult use legalization law is to win the election come November 2016. Finding a path to victory that is fair and equitable for the most people should be the main objective.

A Level Playing Field for All

One of the biggest fears of those in the cannabis community is that they are going to be left out of the new industry because they will not be able to compete with big money interests. They worry that the new law will create a system that is too burdensome for them to be a part of due to heavy licensing fees and cumbersome regulation. There are also those pressing to make an exception of sorts for already established cannabis businesses to ensure some protection from larger interests. The only answer is a truly level playing field for all.

It is important to create a law that is fair and just. That includes creating a competitive industry model that rewards those who provide the highest quality goods and services at the best value for the end user. We must create a space for everyone who wants to be a part of the industry to exist, as long as they meet certain requirements. We must create an industry that is fair for both large and small business owners to compete. This is not an impossible task. We see a lot of small business models thriving in the beer and wine industries. In fact, the licensing set up for alcohol is a pretty good model for adult use cannabis, where licenses are provided for both large and small batch production and growing of raw materials. There is licensing for retail establishments, social establishments and events, as well as different scales of production based on batch size and products. It would not be a bad idea to consider a three tiered system like they do for alcohol as well, with your raw cannabis being treated like beer, solventless concentrates and products being treated like wine, and solvent-based and intensive production products being treated like hard liquor. I think we can all agree there is no shortage of liquor in our society, and that entering the alcoholic beverage industry is relatively easy for most to do, should they so choose. It is also an industry that allows for people to produce beer and wine for personal consumption, so it is easily relatable in that regard.

While I am not a fan of the “Regulate Like Alcohol” tag line for a campaign, I do think that the booze industry has a relatively level playing field, and that alcohol regulations in our society are very liberal. That is what I would like to see for cannabis too. I would like to see cannabis available as commonly as alcohol products, and it will take a level playing field for the industry to accomplish that. One can hope that the evolution of the cannabis industry will be more conscious that the alcohol industry has been over the years, but that will come from consumer demand. We must trust that free market principles will prevail in the industry long term. Quality and value will overcome supply and demand. Those who compete will be successful.

Defining the Entire Cannabis Continuum

One of the biggest mistakes we could make is not clearly defining all aspects of the cannabis continuum. Choosing to willingly leave out certain topics because they are deemed political liabilities is a poor strategy. We MUST include the entire industry into the language to assure that the industry includes all cannabis users and producers’ needs. It does not make sense to simply exclude parts of the industry that are more controversial because it is perceived to be more of a political risk. If we fail to include major sectors of the industry, such as BHO or edible production, we are possibly excluding those types of products from the cannabis marketplace; and simply creating another need for black market distribution to meet the demand for those types of products.

The definitions of the language are important; and their content, and more specifically that actual wording that defines what the many aspects of the cannabis industry are, should be examined closely for accuracy and clarity. These are the definitions that will guide the industry for decades to come, and it does not serve us well to simply cut and paste terms that are outdated or inaccurate from other erroneous legislation. Each term must be carefully considered and worded in a way that will promote cannabis freedom, and not leave room for misinterpretation.

Cannabis Rights and Freedoms

What rights and freedoms will this law grant? This is the million dollar question, and where many folks will stake their allegiance or opposition to the proposed law. What rights and freedoms come with the deal? How much weed can they possess? How much can they grow? These rights/limitations are crucial in the process. There are also the rights and freedoms of commercial entities that must be considered. It is a lot to deal with, but must be clearly spelled out in the language to ensure protections for cannabis users and providers. There are also medical cannabis protections that need to be maintained and protected.

The objective is to create language that promotes personal freedom of cannabis users, as well as creates a fair and inclusive industry to best serve the interests of the community. We should envision a long-term solution to current problems and anticipated issues as cannabis becomes a global market. Keeping people from getting arrested, losing their kids, losing jobs, and being discriminated against in society is the first goal; but we must also consider the long game and what this law will look like five, ten, and twenty years from now. The rights and freedoms granted here will likely be the foundation for cannabis reform for decades to come, so it is important to get it right.

Repealing Prohibition Laws

It is necessary to repeal the current laws that prohibit cannabis laws, and replace any laws that are to remain with civil penalties instead of criminal. We must look deeply at all areas of the law that cannabis prohibition has creeped into, including public housing limitations and use by people on probation and parolees. We must be sure to not miss any aspect of repealing these laws that have terrorized our communities for decades. We must ensure there is zero ability for unfair enforcement because we did not specify the repeal of prohibition laws enough. We must be thorough in this regard.

The Need for Clear Regulatory Framework

There have been many valuable lessons learned from laws both here in California and across the nation where cannabis implementation is concerned. There are understandable growing pains, and then there are matters that could have been easily solved by providing more detail in the law when it was written.

There has been a clear desire to over-regulate many aspects of the industry both by those who oppose cannabis, and often from those within our community. At times, we have been willing to compromise away our rights and best business practices to appease those who will never be convinced that cannabis is safe, enjoyable, and helpful. So when I refer to the “need for clear regulatory framework” I am not calling for a host of burdensome regulation. What I am suggesting is the need to clearly spell out the least burdensome options in the language and not leave the rules of the road for legislators or officials to decide. I believe if we want to model the industry after other industries that are relevant, such as agriculture or alcohol, then we should include those regulatory structures into the actual language to avoid possible confusion or misinterpretation by regulators.

There is no need for cannabis to face unfair regulatory scrutiny because of decades of misinformation of the drug war. We must lay out what the regulations are in the language to avoid an industry that is beholden to forces that oppose cannabis, or those who want to corner the market for personal gain.

Personal Possession, Cultivation, and Production

What is allowed by the average Joe? How much can they carry on them? Possess in their homes? Cultivate at their homes or on private property? What types of finished products can they produce for personal use? This is where you are going to find opposition from within if the law does not provide adequate freedoms to the average cannabis user. As stated previously, while the cannabis user is a small portion of the voting public, most everyone has a stoner friend or family member that they will ask for advice in voting on this law. It is important to grant enough rights for most people to be comfortable that they can grow or produce their own cannabis and products if they choose, while not making it so liberal as to allow opposition forces to frame it as a free for all with no boundaries.

So what are good limitations? With cultivation you are likely looking at plant numbers or canopy size. If I were doing plant numbers I would probably consider 20 plants to be reasonable per person, and if I were considering canopy I would think that 100 square feet may be suitable per individual. Then you have to consider how many individuals per residence or property. Can 5 people all grow at the same residence or facility? Where are the limits drawn?

How about possession? We have seen one ounce be allowed in other states. While an ounce is a good amount of weed, why is it a good metric for what people are allowed to possess? Do we have similar limitations on any other products in our society that we can think of? Why are we attempting to limit exactly how much cannabis a person can possess at any given time? What problem are we trying to solve here? Nobody blinks an eye when some old man goes to Costco and fills a cart with cheap vodka. Does it make sense to limit personal possession amounts for one reason or another? I have yet to hear a very good argument for the one ounce deal. It would seem an unnecessary aspect that for some reason has become a gold standard in adult use legalization. Is it time to shift that paradigm?

What about producing hash, edibles, topical products, and other applications at home or on private property for personal use? Should we limit the use of solvents for hash making at home, much the way people are not supposed to make hard alcohol? If we do, we should also make the penalties for doing so similar to those for illegally making hard liquor at home, and not a major crime. Anything that is disallowed by the language created will certainly still be a part of the illegal market, but it is important to also make the penalties reasonable for violations. Do we limit the amounts of certain products that can be created for personal use? There are limits on beer and wine production for a calendar year, but they are fairly liberal. Can we establish liberal baselines for these areas that allow plenty of freedom for those who cultivate and produce their own cannabis products that afford them protections in the law?

While big business and the perceived industry is sexy and all, it is important to remember that this effort is about making life better for the average cannabis user and affording them the rights and freedom to possess, grow, and create cannabis products for their personal use and consumption. Like most other available commodities, most will likely choose to be a part of the commercial marketplace; but having the right to possess and produce cannabis should be at the forefront of the discussion in creating any law.

Commercial Cultivation and Production

The most incredible part of the California cannabis landscape in its current evolution is that 99.99% of commercial production and cultivation is not licensed or regulated anywhere. It is an unspoken truth that lives in the gray area of the law. Everyone in California is a collective or cooperative, whether you are a retailer, a grower, or a producer of finished products. Even the labs are some weird hybrid of one of these unclear business models. This fact poses several challenges to licensing the industry as we know it.

How do we bring the production sector of the industry into compliance, while understanding that most still operate in mostly clandestine scenarios across the state? How can businesses that have been operating for many years apply for licensing that will not compromise their operations as they reveal themselves publicly? What risks are posed by doing so? Is there a need to rectify existing business models in the language; or do we consider the adult use industry a clean slate from which to build?

Who regulates the commercial production aspects of the industry? Does it make sense for the Department of Agriculture to oversee commercial cultivation? Or does an entity like ABC make more sense? Or do we want to create an entirely new entity to oversee the whole industry? Or does it make more sense to integrate the industry into one, or several, existing entities? We must also be aware of organized labor’s desires to penetrate the production and retail sectors of the industry and influence this aspect of the process. While their political influence can be helpful, we must not trade away commercial producers’ and their employees’ rights to choose to be a part of union activities or not.

Commercial cultivators and producers have been left out in the cold in this industry. They are afforded very little protections in an industry that has been influenced by limited permitting for retail outlets, making the retailers gatekeepers in many respects. What we must consider in the creating of this law is that commercial manufacturing and production will drive this industry in the future, just like it does every other industry on earth. Budweiser can live without your liquor store, but believe your liquor store must have Budweiser. The cannabis market will evolve, and both small and large producers of cannabis and cannabis products must be well represented and protected in the initiative language.

Retailers

Because retailers are really the only ones afforded any clear protections under the current medical cannabis system in California, there is a certain desire to protect those interests and investments. Some have suggested giving currently licensed medical establishments a two year head start, much like we saw in Colorado. That is not a viable solution, as the results there were that many sold their interests in these businesses, and a lot of the market was homogenized and limited. Now that the two years have passed there is an increase in businesses competing, and the result is better quality and lower prices for the consumer. We should not make the same mistake trying to protect the interests of those who have been lucky enough to be in an area of the state where cannabis is allowed and regulated. Those entities will already have an advantage in any local licensing matters if they have been good stewards of their communities.

What we should encourage in the law is an open cannabis market for adult use legalization that encourages cannabis products be dispensed at both specialty retailers and conventional retailers. I would like to see cannabis products integrated into every corner of society, and not place limitations on where it can be bought and sold to meet some idealistic quality we imagine people want to see. Retail outlets compete for customers through providing great service, quality products, and good values for their clients. People who want to be a part of the emerging industry should have to compete for customers just as if they were opening any other business. We should not limit too strictly where cannabis can be obtained and distributed if we truly want to lay the groundwork for a global cannabis market. Retail licensing, including bar type of establishments, would be well-served by the regulations we see for alcohol establishments. Booze is everywhere, and most people can get a license for retail outlets or bars if they choose to really pursue it.

Edibles

Cannabis foods, drinks, and ingestible products are the fastest growing sector of the cannabis industry. They are also one of the most controversial aspects, garnering a lot of unwarranted media attention due to hyperbolic reporting of isolated incidents in states where cannabis is legal for adults. They are one of the areas that those who oppose cannabis have chosen to take up arms against cannabis, playing on fears of accidental ingestion and psychosis. What is clear is that this is an area of the industry that needs clear definition and an area where any campaign better be prepared to do massive public education and awareness on.

When used responsibly there is no healthier method of ingestion for cannabis. Everyone can agree that people not smoking is a positive thing. But there is a lot of irrational fear about cannabis edible products that need to be examined, defined, and accounted for in the language for adult use legalization. How will these products be regulated and brought to market? What limitations regarding food production are required, and where does edible cannabis production differ from normal food production? How do we manage active ingredient levels to ensure public safety, while still allowing for creative and innovative product development?

Edibles are an important part of the discussion and the language included to define and control their use, production, and distribution should be carefully considered by those creating the language. There should not be a knee-jerk reaction to provide solutions to the trumped up problems the media and drug warriors have created. We are looking for sensible solutions to reasonable problems.

Concentrates

Concentrated cannabis products are growing in popularity, and are one of the areas where the industry is seeing massive innovation. From devices used to extract the cannabinoids, to a wide array of products to consume concentrated products, it is clear that the concentrated cannabis industry is the future. It would be an incredible misstep to leave these products and their methods of production out of the language because of feared blowback due to negative stories we have seen in the press related to explosions due to irresponsible production of BHO and other cannabis products. We can embrace that narrative and explain this is the very reason we must allow for and regulate any extraction that requires special equipment and facilities to produce. The home BHO lab is the new bathtub gin still, and where it has compromised public safety is clear testament to the need for properly regulated production. Just like we regulate the production of many products, including distilled liquor, we can create a space for the production of these products to exist.

Concentrated cannabis products are also the basis for many other finished cannabis products, so it is necessary to ensure they are available if we want an industry that includes a wide variety of product types. Ignoring their importance would be a fatal flaw, and would leave a lot of the current cannabis community and industry lacking real representation. The wise thing to do would be to address the matter head on, and create sensible and reasonable standards for their production.

Medical Use vs. Adult Use

It has been eighteen plus years since California passed Proposition 215 allowing for an affirmative defense for patients. It is hard to believe that this same law still governs most of the cannabis industry to this day. There is something to be said about how it has withstood the test of time. There are also a lot of people who rely on Proposition 215 and SB420 to protect their rights as a qualified patient. This is going to be a loud and vocal contingency that must be heard and respected. It is unclear how to protect the medical cannabis industry due to its lack of definition. We are seeing in Washington State now what can happen as a result of a state program lacking teeth as it is being folded into the adult use sector. How do we protect those who want to remain a medical patient and provider through language in the law without having to more clearly define what is and what is not considered a part of the medical industry? This is a very hard part of the riddle that those crafting this language must consider. They must also consider that there are several bills in the State Legislature that are being considered to reign in the medical cannabis industry. How can any initiative filed account for all of these aspects and possible conclusions; or should it?

Is it easy enough to simply state that, “This law shall not impose on any rights granted under Prop 215, SB420, and the California State Medical Cannabis Program?” Maybe… but it best be worded clearly to really protect those rights and avoid the issues we are seeing elsewhere.

Taxes and Revenue

What about the money? The money is what is going to entice a lot of voters who otherwise could care less about weed. The idea of making additional revenue off of potheads is an enticing. It is also an area where the industry can give away the farm for real, if not reeled in. It may also be good to declare what the funds are to be used for, so that the campaign can promote that “weed will help build schools and pave roads in your community.” That is an easy sell.

It would be smart to include caps on how much the industry can be taxed to make sure that we are not being unfairly targeted for funds because of cannabis being formerly illegal. In other words, let’s not be so happy that they are not beating us up and taking us to jail any more that we agree to give them all of our lunch money. Establishing tax rates that will provide a great deal of revenue, while still making cannabis affordable and limiting burdens on cannabis businesses, is an important function to consider when drafting language.

What about the kids?

A lot of the opposition arguments hinge on the threat to children posed by increased cannabis acceptance in or society. People play on the fears of parents who want the best for their children and they do so by making irrational arguments. We must be prepared to take the message that kids are far better protected by a regulated market, and that the real danger is creating massive amounts of criminals out of our youth for cannabis crimes. We must make them understand that cannabis is not as dangerous as they have been led to believe, and that it would benefit them to make cannabis just another boring thing that adults do like drinking or using tobacco. We cannot afford to concede this argument and give into these irrational fears about cannabis being extremely dangerous. Parents should only hope that their child experiments with cannabis in lieu of the many legal alternatives in their house at any given time, such as booze and pills. The kids will be fine. It is the parents we need to worry about and address accordingly.

Anticipating Opposition

The one thing we can be absolutely sure of in any initiative and campaign to legalize cannabis for adult use is strong opposition. We should not underestimate the opposition and we must anticipate their attacks and be ready to respond promptly. It is a fast paced world we live in where information, and too often misinformation, travel very quickly… especially in cannabis circles. A campaign to legalize weed in California (and any other state) must be prepared to take on the opposition and confront misinformation with sound argument and fact. We must not cower to those who would choose to see millions of our friends and neighbors locked up every year for cannabis. There is a portion of society that will never be on board with cannabis legalization, and that is okay. We only need 51% of people who vote in November 2016 to support us, and we will have to fight our asses off for every one of those votes.

Whoever is leading the strategic efforts of the campaign must view the issue from the oppositions’ perspective to understand their anticipated arguments; and have prepared counter arguments and messaging campaigns ready to launch. We know most of the common opposition arguments, and most are sad and pathetic attempts to live in the past. Our best bet is not to shy away from the argument, but make the arguments early and debunk them accordingly. We must embrace the opposition argument as possibly valid in the eyes of the common voter, and then clearly explain why it is invalid. It will take an organized and disciplined response team to navigate the many opposition arguments that will be formed between now and election day. It is imperative to find spokespeople who are respected and capable to deliver the campaign messaging.

The campaign should also consider and accommodate religious opposition. There are many arguments to be made as to why the current system and laws are inhumane by any religious standards; but it would bode well for us to create educational campaigns that target religious communities and make the case for ending cannabis prohibition on those terms.

The opposition from within the cannabis movement is also a major force to be reckoned with. As previously stated, the easiest way to overcome these factors is absolute transparency, and taking the time to explain and inform people about the reasoning of things. We must be prepared to defend our positions in public and make room for people to disagree and find compromise. Nothing is going to make everyone completely happy, but there are certainly things that are livable and then there are areas where people will take hostages.

Wants vs. Needs

There are some in the cannabis community who have a difficult time distinguishing between wants and needs. This will be a challenge to any group putting forth potential language for the ballot. Unfortunately there are people who want it all and cannot see the line between their wants and the community’s need. While it is important to honor the wants of the many, when developing language it is important to decipher what is actually needed to make the law successful and workable, and which points are simply asking too much. Often, when writing initiative language, it is not what is included that matters as much as what is NOT included. While it is important to detail many parts of the industry to ensure the program is inclusive and complete, there are also areas that may be best left out of the language to avoid confusion or unnecessary political discourse.

It is imperative to make wise decisions as to what our actual needs are as a community and as an industry, and to make sure the language put forth includes ALL of those needs. We can then look at the wants and see what aspects of those may, or may not, be reasonable.

We must also be prepared to make the case as to why certain demands from stakeholders ARE wants and not needs. It is not enough to just say “no” and leave it at that. There must be well-thought arguments that counteract the inevitable criticisms of those who do not get what they want. If left to fester, those who feel slighted without explanation can work as a cancer within the community and erode trust in the effort. While that is bound to happen in some areas, the campaign must be prepared to answer these criticisms quickly, effectively, and publicly to limit the damage from such discourse.

The wants vs. needs aspect of the effort will require real and meaningful conversations and education to overcome the challenges posed by those who inevitably want it all, and who are willing to burn the effort to the ground if they do not get their way. While it is important to make smart decisions, it is just as important to back up those decisions with valid argument and strategic fact. It is not impossible to overcome those who want the moon, but ignoring this contingency would be a critical failure of any campaign effort.

Why You Should Listen To Me…..

I believe I have a unique position in the cannabis movement and industry. I have spent many years working to develop sound business models and regulatory framework for many sectors of the industry. My work as a provider of cannabis medicines predates most of the current industry, and I have maintained an active role in working to legitimize and help the world understand how cannabis can be produced and sold in a legal marketplace. I understand the challenges we face clearly, and have been on the front lines of this battle for a long time.

I have faced the wrath of the Federal government head on, as my businesses and home were raided by the DEA in September of 2007. Our battle with the Feds resulted in no jail time for me or my staff, as both law enforcement officials and a federal judge agreed that we were a model non-profit business providing safe cannabis medicines in a conflicted legal state. Through these battles, I developed a voice for activism and have been a vocal advocate for cannabis freedom at every chance.

I have also written thousands of articles on the cannabis reform movement, and have been unapologetic in my criticisms of many who are public figures within the cannabis industry. While my work has often created hard feelings between myself and major stakeholders in the movement, it has also created a respect level among my colleagues as a person willing to have the difficult conversation and tell the truth regardless of consequence. I am certainly not the most liked person in cannabis reform circles, but there are few who can challenge my commitment to cannabis freedom and my willingness to speak up on any number of issues we face as a community. I have never been here to make friends, but I do believe I have the respect of the majority of my peers.

While I have no interest in joining any campaign effort in an official capacity, you can be sure that I will be a vocal ally or opposition to any effort being put forth. Like it or not, I will offer my input and ideas in a public forum where all can understand and digest my position. There are certain sectors of the industry where I do hold influence, and I will use that influence to rally the troops in support and/or opposition to cannabis legalization efforts that arise.

It is important to understand my position. My goals are not personal, or influenced by my business and/or personal contacts. I just want cannabis freedom…plain and simple. I have no interests beyond creating a society where cannabis is a normal everyday boring commodity, and where people do not have to fear arrest or punishment for their choice to use or produce cannabis. The rest of the argument is invalid if freedom is still limited. I am not an idealistic fool who does not see the massive change we are undertaking with these efforts. I have no desire to romance the past or hang on to “the good old days.” I am fully aware that this will be a hard and difficult process. I hope to provide are realistic outlook for those who look to me for guidance.

While I certainly do not have enough power to make or break a campaign, I can definitely make life easier or more difficult. My choice is obviously to get behind an effort I can believe in and support; but I will make no qualms about taking an unfair and ill-thought effort to task if necessary. I offer my advice and input as a partner for social change, and I would hope that my opinion would be considered in the drafting of the language to be put on the ballot. I believe my insight and understanding of this movement and industry can be a valuable resource moving forward. The stakeholders developing initiatives and eventually a campaign would be well-served by my input. It is their choice to consider or not. I am offering my services and critical eye in hopes of being a useful part of the effort to legalize cannabis for adults in California. I have dedicated a lot of my life to this movement, and believe I can be a helpful asset in developing a law that is inclusive and fair for everyone. I can use my voice to help create understanding and to combat misinformation in the process. I am more than happy to be a voice of reason; and am committed to ensuring the effort put forth is one that we can all be proud of, and which creates a model cannabis industry that meets the needs of our society.

The election is ours to win or lose. I appreciate your time, and am available for more detailed explanations of my positions if necessary. I look forward to the development of cannabis laws that achieve the objectives of cannabis freedom.

THIS REPORT WAS PREPARED BY MICKEY MARTIN CONSULTING AS A RESOURCE TO BE PRESENTED TO MAJOR STAKEHOLDERS OF CANNABIS REFORM GROUPS IN CALIFORNIA AND ACROSS THE GLOBE.

This is a subject that we could have developed hundreds of pages on and we are happy to expand in details on any views expressed here. For more information contact mickey@mickeymartinconsulting.com. To join the discussion on cannabis reform in California visit www.reformca.org and let your voice be heard.

A downloadable PDF of the report is available here for distribution: 2016.CannabisLegalizationGuide.MMC.1.0

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But… But I thought we were all good?

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Complacency and arrogance will be the death of us.

I have been watching the cannabis industry march around high-fiving each other and acting like adult use legalization was inevitable for the last couple of years. I have done my best to sound the alarm that this thing was far from over, and that the wolves were in the hen house. A lot of my pointed and volatile critique of an industry with its cart in front of its horse has fallen on deaf ears; and that is fine.

The blowhards and wannabe moguls have continued to disregard the battle at hand in an effort to lay the groundwork for their “next big thing” approach to cannabis reform. Even long time reform advocates have turned the page before they were done reading, and many once vocal and great activists have hung up their protest signs and bullhorns for some great business opportunities or jobs. Many have completely forgotten that we are long from out of the woods; and that we have really only just begun to fight. Folks have chosen to roll over and take what is given to them, and there is very little housekeeping being done within the cannabis reform movement. Everyone is so busy glad-handing one another about how great things will be that any progress we see is being undermined by politicians and those who see weed as simply a means to an end of great fortune. It is pretty sad.

Across the nation we are beginning to see increased and unnecessary limitations and enforcement of the cannabis industry. While organizations and individuals hosted awards galas and parties to celebrate their pyrrhic victories, those who oppose cannabis, and those who love nothing more than cannabis money, have conspired to throttle the progress we have seen.

Look around you. A lot of the progression has become regression, and many state programs are under attack. You have the passage of SB 5052 in WA State that will completely decimate the medical cannabis program there. Passed by the legislature and awaiting the Governor’s inevitable signature, this bill will close all of the medical cannabis dispensaries in the state and force patients into the highly regulated industry established by I-502. It is a nightmare that many should have seen coming. Why? Because the authors of 502 put no real protections in place, and the medical cannabis program in the state was not clearly defined from the outset. Since there were no meaningful laws on the books that defined medical cannabis dispensaries and the many products that make up the industry, the entire thing was left to chance and not afforded any real legal protections.

ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION CALIFORNIA? We are virtually in the same boat, with the entire industry being one weird “collective or cooperative” with no real protections or definitions.

It is imperative that we ensure that the language put on the ballot for 2016 clearly defines the medical and adult use industries, their functions, the products they encompass, the standard business practices of the industry, and the individual rights of patients and weedheads. This is not a game to be left to chance or interpretation. This is reality. The language we put on the ballot must include clear and concise direction as to what protections we are afforded as a community.

You can also look at what is happening in Colorado for more insight as to areas we need to better define going forward. They are working to further limit the industry there and have begin to impose more and more restrictions on cannabis in the state program. Edible cannabis products have come greatly under attack in recent months, as the state pushed for regulations on the products potency and marketing. There is also the controversy of the newly imposed testing requirements that have proven to be anything but reliable. Do not forget the restrictions on licensed businesses participating in the Cannabis Cup too! And then of course there is the development of limitations for the state’s caregiver program and crack down on doctors that is more intense than what we have seen for pill mills that actually kill a lot of people. Awesome, right? When they said “Regulate Like Alcohol” they did not mean “exactly” like alcohol; or maybe not even sort of.

Rhode Island is also fighting the passage of a bill that would decimate the state’s successful caregiver program and force patients into the homogenous and cost prohibitive dispensary model to access their medicines. While there has been a lot of great success with the program, a couple of would be business moguls hired some lobbyists to highlight some isolated incidents and wrote legislation being proposed that would completely destroy the caregiver programs there. Progress….

Don’t forget Massachusetts, where the law was written so poorly in 2012 that it will be nearly THREE full years before any dispensary opens its doors to provide cannabis medicines to patients. Patients continue to demand access, but the state has largely bungled the process and retarded the program’s progress at every point. There is hope that the new administration of Charlie Baker will do a better job given recent statements, but it is a sad day when a Republican Governor of a largely liberal blue state of Massachusetts is more committed to their medical cannabis program than the former Democratic standard bearer Deval Patrick. Maybe his new job at Bain Capital influenced his willingness to botch the program and leave the good people of the Commonwealth suffering unnecessarily. Maybe Bain Capital will own all of the dispensaries in New England sooner than later. It would not surprise me at this point.

Oregon is having some growing pains in its coming program. Alaska continues to drag its feet and even raided their former TV news personality turned cannabis entrepreneur, Charlo Green. Arizona is trying to make it more difficult to get cannabis medicines. Maine hired Sheriffs to inspect their caregivers. Ohio has a battle on their hands, as groups set to try and make monopolies part of the state constitution and groups battle for funding. All across the country there seems to be solutions to what are hardly real problems which threaten cannabis freedom at its core, and could continue to confuse and confound what is legal and what is not. The dangers lie in the fact that one bad law from one state often becomes another bad law in another state, as lawmakers and regulators are generally lazy. The cannabis reform movement’s own lack of engagement in a lot of the programs and politics has resulted in knee-jerk reactions resulting in less freedom… not more.

To further complicate the mess, look at the big raid of a large cannabis lab in Southern California, The Werc Shop, last week as clear evidence of complacency and arrogance. So here is a third party lab that is supposed to be providing verification for cannabis products for safety and potency. While at the same time the lab is producing and selling its own cannabis products, and is in bed with other producers of cannabis products. So the people doing the testing of your product are directly competing with you in the cannabis marketplace. Add to that the sheer stupidity of operating in the not-so-liberal Pasadena and lurking in a building where your neighbors didn’t really know you, and you get the recipe for disaster that happened there. Realize that third party labs in California are really anything but, and that the labs themselves are operating in a quasi-legal environment also apparently as some strange “collective or cooperative” as required under CA law, and you can see the complexities of developing the legal framework of the industry here moving forward. What can we do to protect businesses deeply invested who believe they are doing the right thing, but really have no legal protections at all? How can we write a law here that encompasses the vast majority of our industry, while realizing the ultimate goal of ending prohibition and allowing adults access to high quality and affordable cannabis for whatever they please?

But there is no real sense of urgency in a lot of the cannabis circles these days. People are so caught up in their own little get rich quick schemes that they have disregarded the fight completely. People are ether so sure of themselves, or so fucking jaded, that they have allowed complacency to overtake their identities. Their false sense of hope and inevitability is dangerous and fails to understand reality. The battle is far from over…. In fact it has really just begun.

In a recent article by Bloomberg entitled “Marijuana Legalization Across U.S. May Hinge on 2016 California Vote”, we are clearly reminded that this thing is anything but in the bag. The words that go into the law we put on the ballot here matter. It will be a delicate balance of what we need and what will pass the voters. We cannot afford to fuck this one up. What is written here will define the industry for decades to come and should not be taken lightly. There are a lot of important issues to consider, including medical access, cannabis production methods, and public safety matters. To help move the conversation along I have developed a discussion page  at reformca.org which highlights a lot of the major points that I believe could use input as people begin to draft and submit their language for initiatives. I would encourage you to use this tool and to be a vocal participant in this process. Too much is at stake to not have our voices heard on this one.

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We have a lot of work to do. Coalitions and organizations are developing to take us on this wild ride through the election in 2016, and marijuana will be a hot button topic all across the United States. We must be prepared to stand up and be accounted for, or we should prepare for defeat and deception. Nothing is a given, and what we have seen is that some of our biggest enemies are within. There are no do-overs. We must find a way to rise up and meet the challenges of tomorrow today.

But don’t take my word for it….Look around:

“A state with so much influence and size is very important,” said Kevin Sabet, co-founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a San Diego-based nonprofit group that opposes legalization. “We expect a long, drawn-out battle in California — and an expensive one.”

or this tidbit here….

“I don’t think it’s a slam dunk to pass,” said Rob Stutzman, a Republican political consultant who worked for former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. “There’s a lot of opposition to it. There will be a lot of concern about unintended consequences.”

Supporters will have the more difficult burden of persuading voters to change the law, while opponents can stir doubt and concern to secure ‘no’ votes, Stutzman said.

The game is ours to lose, but given some of the early fumbling I have seen, coupled with the losses we are experiencing in current programs, I am certainly concerned. Do not think this is over by a longshot. It is the fight of our lives and we need be prepared. While there is certainly momentum in the cannabis reform efforts, there is still the realization that we are one bad election away from losing all of the ground we have gained. Just yesterday NJ Governor and 2016 Presidential hopeful, Chris Christie stated that if elected he would shut down the industry and return pot to the dark ages…

If New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) becomes president of the United States, he said on “The Hugh Hewitt Show” Tuesday, he will “crack down” on those states that have ended prohibitions on marijuana.

When asked by Hewitt if he would enforce federal drug laws in those states that have legalized and regulated cannabis, Christie responded unequivocally.

“Absolutely,” Christie said. “I will crack down and not permit it.”

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So as you sit there planning your next “let’s give each other a reach around for how great we are and celebrate” event, just know that you are still at war. Assholes like Sheldon Adelson, who sunk Florida’s efforts to pass a medical marijuana law last year, are a couple of large donation checks away from sinking your battleship. Are we stupid to think that we have this thing in the bag? We don’t. Not even a little bit.

“But… But I thought we were all good?”

No, asshole. You are pretty fucking far from all good. You are looking down the barrel of a gun and you don’t even know it. You have let the shroud of complacency take over your existence,  and our enemy knows it. We are completely vulnerable.

We have to be ready to fight. Nothing will be perfect, but we must ensure that any efforts we make going forward are focused on cannabis freedom and a level playing field for all. Continuing to appease the opposition is obviously not working, and I for one am tired of being sold out by some of our own for their shot at the title. You can be certain that in the near future the industry and cannabis regulations we see will not be like tomatoes, so you can just stop that romanticism right now. What we need to do is understand WHAT WE NEED, and use our collective voices to ensure that at the minimum that is what we get. We can work on what we want from there.

Wake the fuck up and get off your ass already. Tomorrow is here today, and you are already two steps back. Time to get moving. No better time than the present.

What You Want and What you Need May Be Two Different Things

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The process for legalizing cannabis in many states for the 2016 election has begun, and it is shaping up to be quite the clusterfuck. Don’t get it twisted. This is going to be a long and difficult process. To be clear, I do not envy any of the groups who are throwing their hat in the ring to try and develop and get language on the ballot that we can all agree on. The reality is that will just never happen.

Just looking at the California landscape is enough to make you want to shoot yourself in the face… much less Massachusetts, Ohio, Arizona, Nevada, Maine, and maybe even Missouri. But there is no questioning that California is the biggest, and most difficult, piece of the puzzle. Why? Because the toothpaste is already out of the tube here in California and putting it back in anyway whatsoever is going to ruffle some feathers. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people who make their living producing and distributing cannabis here in the Golden State. We are coming up on 20 years of medical cannabis infrastructure that has become an entrenched part of the landscape and political process here. No one is giving up what they have worked to build easily and there is real fear that bad language could topple most of the people working in the industry now, leaving a system in place that is neither fair or a workable solution.

The mistrust and infighting has already begun. It is only going to get louder and more pronounced as time goes on.

There is a group trying to develop a campaign module called Reform CA, comprised of Prop. 19 holdovers and those who believe they have some authority to speak on behalf of the industry in California because they have been standing around the longest. It is anything but an open and transparent process though, as even a well-known asshole like me has been left in the dark about what exactly they are up to. The idea is simple. They believe if they can show they have a coalition of major stakeholders on board they believe the big money funders will run the campaign through them. But this group is already fraught with major issues. They do not trust this other group ,and are aligned with this guy who is talking shit about that guy. It is the same old song and dance.

Add to that the fact that they were not even savvy enough to lock down their own domain names going in, as I personally own www.reformca.org and .info, and you can see how this might turn out to be another half-hearted ill-conceived plan of doing the same old thing and expecting different results. I plan on using the reform.org domain to set up an interactive site where people can come together to and share ideas as to what the language for California should be. Talk about a daunting task, but as painful and difficult as having this conversation is going to be, it is a necessary exercise in order to hopefully find language we can all live with.

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ReformCA.org will be developed into an ongoing dialogue concernng the upcoming legalization efforts in California

The Reform CA group held a conference in Oakland the other day that sort of summed up the whole deal for me. The egos and wannabe cannabis rockstars all gathered in a room to tout their theories on what we needed to do to be successful. They discussed how we were going to use different platforms to get the message out and how we could learn from the efforts in other states. It all seemed fair enough until the Keynote Speaker and former Proposition 215 operative Bill Zimmerman took the stage and basically told the entire crowd of over 100 stakeholders how their input did not really matter because the Drug Policy Alliance was running the show, and they should all just shut the fuck up and fall into place now before they got crushed in the process. Needless to say, that did not sit well with most of the people in the room who had dedicated varying portions of their lives to weed and California.

Now Bill Zimmerman told some people who confronted him that he was there speaking on DPA’s behalf, a claim which Drug Policy Alliance representatives adamantly denied when questioned about Zimmerman’s aggressive and inflammatory remarks. It is unclear whether that fact was a miscommunication on Zimmerman’s part, or an afterthought, given that his speech was widely rejected and seen as a lightning rod of criticism for the DPA effort.

I will be the first to say that I like Drug Policy Alliance, for better or worse. I think of all the groups at the table DPA is a quality organization with good leadership that tries to do the right thing. I dig Ethan Nadelmann, and most of the people who work for DPA. I also understand that, like Zimmerman was trying to convey, DPA has a lot of resources and ability to make the effort a reality and get a good law on the ballot for us to be successful. Where I depart from Bill Z is in the area of input and attempted consensus. After discussing the matter in brief with figureheads at DPA, I was assured that they would be soliciting input from the community that they had worked so closely with for over 20 years.

That being said, there was also real doubt by DPA that any real consensus could be found, as their initial input with respected members of the cannabis community had resulted in a wide array of input and ideas on how to best implement a law that ends prohibition and ensures an industry we all can live with. The fact is that there is never going to be language that meets the needs and desires of everyone involved in the weed game in California. It is too vast and too evolved to give everyone everything they want. It ain’t gonna happen.

The reality we all need to face is that we are not going to get a perfect law that is super-duper for everyone. What we must figure out is not what we WANT, but more so what we NEED. I would love to have a law where every adult in California could grow 100 plants and do whatever they want with their harvest with no taxes or need for a commercial licensing structure. But that is not a political reality, and no one putting up several million dollars for the campaign is going to get behind something that is a gamble at the ballot box. If we want to put a law like that on the ballot we better start putting all of our money in a hat and putting it on the ballot ourselves. I can tell you that is not going to happen. I have been in the industry working on fundraising and whatnot for a long time, and I can tell you that it is not going to work out. There is so much mistrust and deceit in the ranks of the cannabis movement that getting the folks who may collectively have the money to pull off such a feat on the same page is impossible. The last person to put his million dollars where his mouth was was Richard Lee, and everyone damn near crucified the guy for trying to make Prop. 19 law because they feared how it would affect their bottom line. Richard Lee has been noticeably absent from the 2016 process thus far.

People need to come down off of “Mount I am Always Right” and begin to look deeply at the politics and social norms that govern our society where cannabis is concerned. We must put aside our “my way or the highway” points of view and begin to understand that we are not going to get a perfect law. We must begin to decide what we NEED to continue to be successful and build a community of cannabis producers and providers, while realizing that we may have to concede some of what we WANT in an effort to do so.

How do we come up with characteristics of a law that creates a level and fair playing field for all, while still  preserving a lot of the industry that currently serves millions of cannabis users well? What can we live with? What is unacceptable? Where are areas we need to be progressive and forward thinking? And where are areas we might want to take a more conservative approach?

It is a difficult task for anyone to take on alone, and at the end of the day some people will be ultimately butthurt no matter what is decided upon. There are many different policy wonks and outlaws working on ways to fuck the football, and the discourse is sure to get ugly at times. But ugly is part of the process. Long and drawn out difficult discussions may seem tedious and unproductive, but they are actually where we normally make most of our progress. Sometimes it takes a pointed and volatile discussion to ensure everyone is heard. At times it will be contentious. People will get called names and there will be loaded questions to answer. But we must put it all on the table and get it out of our systems so that we may grow.

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I am on the edge of my seat as I watch it all develop. The show has just begun and there are already some interesting fireworks popping off between the reformers. I am preparing for the fight, and finding ways to make my voice be heard in the process. Obviously when you are thought of as the resident industry asshole it is difficult to get a seat at the table; but I know how I can influence the conversation and look forward to my role as a provider of information and direction. Whether anyone will listen to me is yet to be seen, but that has never stopped me from making my voice heard… and I would suggest others do the same. Stand up and be accounted for, or do not be surprised if you are run right over.

I do not subscribe to the type of blind allegiance Bill Zimmerman chose to spout off to the crowd the other day. It was short-sighted and disregarded the hard work and opinions of those who have been on the ground making the cannabis industry and movement a reality. I was pleased to hear that DPA disowned him and his hyperbolic bulshit and were committed to working with the community where that was possible.

The other assholes who think they are holding some power in this deal are just as big of pricks IMO… they just did not have the balls to project their rhetoric over a microphone in a room of advocates and stakeholders. It doesn’t mean they are any less guilty of undermining the process though. Whether it is DPA, MPP, NORML, ASA, or a loose coalition made up of weirdos from all of these groups and then some, there is a definite aura of cloak and dagger bullshit already beginning to happen. It is frustrating to say the least, but not surprising. I have been watching this pissing contest for decades now, and it is only more pronounced now that so much is at stake.

I will say that of all the powers at be at the table I am comfortable with Drug Policy Alliance for the most part, if they are sincere in their willingness to take input and craft language based on the realities on the ground in California. That being said, if they propose language that resembles the piece of shit they submitted to the California Secretary of State for consideration in 2014 that support will erode quickly. But hopefully given the victories in Oregon and Alaska coupled with the issues we have seen in Washington and Colorado, DPA will go back to the drawing board and come up with language that we all can live with. I am somewhat optimistic of that.

We, as a community, need to figure out what it s we NEED though. Not what we WANT or believe in our little self-centered worlds we deserve, but WHAT DO WE NEED? What are the basic rights and freedoms that this language should include to ensure we all have an opportunity to be a part of the future of the cannabis industry? What are possibilities and what are non-starters? What can we live with and what is entirely unacceptable?

Then we have to figure out how to mold that into a cohesive message that can influence those who will be writing the language on our behalf. As much as I appreciate and respect the suits and academics that make up most of the policy organizations, the reality is that not one of them has ever grown or sold an ounce of weed in their lives. They do not drive around with a trunk full of turkey bags making sure the crop gets to the end user. They have never made an edible or blasted a gram of wax. They just do not get what it takes to make up this vibrant community of outlaws an entrepreneurs. So it is up to us to get that message of what we NEED to those who will likely be putting forth the ballot initiative that will govern and define our industry for decades to come.

That is the challenge. So go look yourself in the mirror and have a long heart-to-heart conversation with yourself as to what you NEED, and fuck what you want. That is irrelevant for the most part, and not likely to do anything more than frustrate you in the end. Know going in that we will all be disappointed in one way or another, and hopefully, at the end of the day, we can find some sort of broad consensus for what will eventually become law in California, and the many other states working to make weed legal for adults to use for whatever they please. Know it will be a tough and contentious process, and that is okay. It is okay for us to agree to disagree on some points, as long as we can find some middle ground in areas of great importance.

I am not one to roll over and go quietly; but I also realize that I am one nobody in a sea of somebodies who has an opinion that is just that… an opinion. You can be sure you will hear that opinion repeatedly between now and election day 2016, but even I know that there are certain inevitabilities that I need to come to terms with and get over if this is all going to work out. I would suggest you also climb down off of your high horse and look at the situation through realistic, and not rose-colored, lenses.

The fight is sure to get ugly, and I am okay with that as long as at the end of the day we find a solution we can all live with. Selah.

Why we could end cannabis prohibition in 2015 if we really wanted to…

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Don’t go getting all excited. The reality is that we probably will not end cannabis prohibition this year… but we could if we really wanted to.

The human experience loves suffering. It is as if fate has sealed the deal on the long and drawn out painful experience. We expect it. We relish in it. It gives us something to bitch about, and it keeps our dark places filled with grief. On some levels humans need to suffer. It gives meaning to the moments when we do not. But often we are mired by expected tragedy, and we invite failure and misery to dinner like an old friend. We lack the confidence and trust that things can really change, and that we can do anything to create that change.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. We are powerful.

Usually change happens rapidly… in bursts. We see history change in a moment, and what was today is often not tomorrow. It is anyone’s guess what day will signal the true end of the war on weed and the prohibition of cannabis; but believe that day is coming. The walls continue to crumble and the lies of drug warriors continue to fall on deaf ears. There is no turning back now. The toothpaste is out of the tube. There is no putting it back.

But how long will it take us to evolve as a society? What will it take for us to move from selective freedom in select areas to an open and free cannabis experience? How many more people will have to go to jail or lose their kids before we finally say enough is enough? How many more people have to suffer at the hands of prohibition before we wake the fuck up and finish the job once and for all? The answer, unfortunately, is too many.

As I see another year come and go I am reminded of my ongoing optimism of years past. I, for one, believe EVERY year will be the last year of cannabis prohibition. I live every day as if it were the last; and I know one day the levy will break and this will all be over. The fight will end one day, and not a moment to soon for me. I am not getting any younger and would not mind getting past the constant battle of ending prohibition.

This movement/industry has come a long way, and we have seen some major breakthroughs where acceptance of cannabis is concerned; but there is also a disturbing complacency within that is fostered by a lack of courage. It is almost as if there are those who would like to continue the quasi-legal grey market of cannabis for a while longer so they can cash in a few more chips before their whole deal goes up in flames. A lof of so-called reformers have no idea what the fuck they will reform if the easy money of cannabis prohibition is off of the table and they actually have to perform to gain support. There is posturing on all sides of the table. Sadly enough, deep down inside, there are some within our ranks who probably hope that cannabis prohibition never really ends so that they can continue to hold on to what ever minimal control they have of their pathetic lives of selling bad weed for good money, or whatever else scam they are into where the black market allows them to get over.

Let’s be clear though… The folks who continue to work behind the scenes to retard the progress of ending prohibition are the scum of the earth. Those who have disregarded the mission in an effort to ensure they have a seat at the table going forward are no better than those who work against us. Believe that there are many people who stand next to us every day pretending to be down for the cause who are just as happy to see things stay right where they are. Don’t let a lot of these fuckers fool you… Many are selfish and greedy pricks who survive off of the chaos and pain fueled by prohibition.

So as that clock hits midnight and you are taking part in whatever silly time honored tradition that makes you feel good, let this soak in for a minute. 2015 could be the last year anyone is ever arrested for weed. It could be the last year that people who need cannabis suffer without. It could be the last year that people lose their kids or jobs for weed. It could be the last year we have to fight- if we all agree to really fight. If we all put down our egos and delusions of grandeur for a hot minute, and actually picked up the sword and drove it home WE CAN END THIS THING.

We do not need to wait until 2016 and hope that a few rich guys decide to back some weakly worded ballot initiative that will allow for more limited freedoms in select areas based on bullshit calculations done by some weird thinktank cats who probably don’t even smoke much weed. We can decide to rise up and be accounted for. We can use our power and influence to move the mountain… if we really want the mountain fucking moved.

Or we can kick the can down the street for another year or ten, and allow for our society to continue to deteriorate in the name of bad laws and ignorant policies. It is likely that many will choose to kick that can again. It is easy money for a lot of people and most are too busy worrying about themselves and their hopeful futures to really do the hard work it will take to end this thing.

This could be the last year of the bullshit…. if we really want it to be. Only time will tell and often it is out of our hands. Fate is seldom wrong.

I for one will be reloading and coming at 2015 like I come at every year…. as if it will be the last year of cannabis prohibition. I hope an army of people join me in the fight to end this thing once and for all. You want to make a resolution? Make one to spend every day working to stop the madness; and if enough of us make that commitment do not be surprised if we are not having this conversation next year.

Selah.

BLOOD MONEY: Business moguls and hucksters making money while giving nothing to the fight to end prohibition

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I am a business person by nature. I graduated in business with honors from St. Mary’s College in California. I understand the need for business and corporate infrastructure in our world. I know it will take some business know-how to develop the industry into a thriving marketplace of quality weed products that can meet the demand of the world. I am not anti-business by any means.

But the current wannabe business moguls and cannabis hucksters are not the business folks that we want or need to take the industry to the next level. What you have now are a bunch of ex-mortgage fraudsters and dot-com hustlers who made a few bucks off of their get rich quick scammer bullshit who are now looking for the next big thing.

They look at the cannabis industry as another opportunity for easy picking and are throwing their pathetic investment money at the wall to see what sticks. They are working to undermine the industry by offering incredible dreams to hard-working cannabis businesses and promising them shiny trinkets to give up control of their companies. To date, most of these “big deals” have failed miserably, and it is usually the unsuspecting cannabis producer who is left holding the bag. There is a sucker born every minute, and in the cannabis industry that rate could be far greater.

People make their own decisions though, and as much as I can try to let them know that they are being taken for a ride, it is ultimately their decision to do so. Just know when the so-called capital investor fucks you over that I told you it was going to happen.

I will make this clear one more time for you… THE REAL MONEY IS NOT EVEN HERE YET. THESE PEOPLE ARE JOKES AND WILL SCAM YOU FOR EVERYTHING YOU HAVE TO GET AHEAD. That is how they made their pathetic measly millions to begin with. Duh.

I talked to a lot of cannabis activists and hard-working entrepreneurs who attended the recent Marijuana Business Expo in Las Vegas. Most all of them shared a common message… the place was full of slimy sharks and investment losers in suits who knew NOTHING about cannabis and even less about the fight we have had to endure to get to where we are. None of these fucks could probably tell you who Jack Herer or Dennis Peron were. Most all of them did not even smoke weed, but were happy to buy the “pretty ladies” drinks by the dozen. These shallow pricks are arrogant enough to think they can waltz right in to a movement and industry with so much history of pain and suffering and sucker us all with their delusions of grandeur because they happen to have a couple of million bucks laying around that they scammed from some old ladies on bad mortgage deals before the crash of 2008. Their willingness to lie, cheat, and steal to get ahead are duly noted, and I am amazed that most of them even know that cannabis is a fucking plant.

As a person who had his home and businesses raided for providing cannabis medicines to sick people in California in 2007, I for one am deeply offended. It takes everything in my power to not just walk up and start punching these dickheads in their throats, and screaming “PEOPLE ARE STILL SITTING IN JAIL FOR DECADES FOR THIS PLANT, YOU FUCK!!!!” Which is why I probably am not invited to speak at any of these business huckster deals. God forbid a real weed activist was allowed to look these dirty fucks in the eye and tell them that I wished they would die. But I digress….

I read an article recently in the LA Times entitled “Marijuana legalization backers anxious as costs mount, donors waver.” In the article it goes into how there are all these so-called millionaires looking to break into this business, but very few, if any, are willing to kick down for the political and activism causes that it will take to really end prohibition.

Ethan Nadelmann, who I greatly respect, is disillusioned with the entire deal also. The article states:

At the Las Vegas conference, Nadelmann chastised the pot entrepreneurs, sounding like an exasperated high school principal scolding truants, except that he swore a lot.

“All of you came that close to seeing this thing blow up in our faces,” he told them, referring to the near-crisis in Oregon. “I am looking for you guys to step up and step up soon.

“You wait for some goody-two-shoes who is interested in civil rights to say, ‘Let’s legalize,’ then we will come in and hire our lobbyist for our own interests. It is shortsighted. It is narrow-minded.”

I couldn’t agree more. The short-sighted and narrow minded wannabe moguls we see circling the industry like buzzards have no interest in the social change aspect of it all. They are just waiting for everyone else to do the hard work of ending prohibition so they can position themselves to make some cash off of the endgame. These fucking losers could give a shit about the thousands of people rotting behind bars for selling some weed, while they try to figure out how to capitalize off of the legal weed selling game. They could care less about the fact that the war on drugs has decimated mostly poor and minority communities and has left millions of people to be criminals, to lose their jobs, to have their kids taken away, or to be treated as lesser people for their right to enjoy weed. They just see dollar signs and think us stupid stoner hippy types are easy to bull over with their limited fortunes. Fuck those people.

Those who are just here for the fame and fortune, while shitting on the fight to end prohibition and the drug war, will never be welcome in my community. You will be lucky if we never cross paths and I don’t make you look like a complete asshole in public. I have nothing to lose… you have everything.

Let this be fair warning that you better either start investing in helping us end this thing, or be prepared to have me spend my every waking moment trying to sabotage your “Google of marijuana” or “Costco of marijuana” game plans.

What you are trying to make is BLOOD MONEY. Plain and simple.

You are happy to sit back and watch more and more people go to jail for this plant while you lobby and position your company to make millions. You are gross and disgusting and I hate you. I hope that bad things happen to you. In fact, I pray for it daily. If there is anything I can do to make sure it does, believe that I will.

It is hard to keep up with all of the Blood Money Millionaires coming into the game these days, but I do my best. It is disheartening in many ways and makes me often wonder why I continue to fight, only to have some outdated Ferrari driving son of a bitch come in and claim to be some expert who is taking over the industry…. and people wonder why I am the way I am.

I will not give up though. I will be here fighting this fight until every last one of my cannabis brothers and sisters are let out of prison, and my friends and neighbors no longer have to worry about being a weedhead. I will fight the uphill battle myself if I have to and make sure that kids with medical conditions have the right medicine they need to get better. I will succeed. I have no choice.

But know I will not sit idly by and let you piss away my work on your quest for an easy fortune. Know I am here, lurking close by just waiting for that moment when I can sink your battleship. Enjoy your blood money while you can because I will eventually get to you and make sure that every dime you made was not worth it in the long run. Most of you are just lucky that murder is still illegal. You bastards make me sick.

Plan on seeing me more frequently at these “Cannabis Business” events so that I can put a face with your name and add you to my shit list. Keep trying to make a quick buck off of cannabis while giving nothing to freedom. Try to have your cake and eat it too… but do not be surprised when I creep up from behind and force feed you that fucking cake until you can’t breathe anymore. That day is coming. I’m your huckleberry.

Like I said in the beginning… it is not business I think is bad or evil. Business is a necessary part of the society we live. But you can be corporate and still be conscious. You can still do your part for cannabis freedom while making a decent living. You can still get on the right side of history and put your lousy chump change into the hat that will help us to end this failure of prohibition. But I know most of you won’t… and that is fine by me. I love a good war.

Welcome to the show, you BLOOD MONEY LOVING BITCHES. Shit just got real for you.

#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.

 

Overcoming Adversity in the Age of Long and Preposterous Bullshit

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Sometimes it feels like the walls are closing in. While I still am very much embattled with the ending of prohibition and the need to fight off the last of the drug warrior bullshit, I am also engaged in trying to fight off the wave of preposterous bullshit coming from within the cannabis ranks. There is no rest for the wicked. I am burning the candles at both ends, and often the fight seems like too much to overcome.

But then there is weed….

At the end of the day, weed is what I gauge my victories and losses by. Did I make the world better for weed and people who love weed today? Did the effort and energy I put forth move the ball down the field for Team Weed?

Most days I can clearly say, “Yes.” But there are some days when the adversity that needs to be overcome is overwhelming, and it wears on a person’s soul. When my one step forward is counteracted by some other person’s two steps back, it is frustrating. I often find myself stressed and angry over things I have very little control over.

For me, it is personal. It exhausts me at my core and makes me question why I continue to fight a battle that, on it’s face, just does not make sense any more.

Prohibition has never made sense to me. That is what is so infuriating about it. How can our society be so fucked up about something that is so black and white? Weed is a safer and more desirable option for many of our friends and neighbors, yet for some reason we want to make it impossible for many to use, thus forcing them to booze it up or look for more legal pills and whatnot to take their edge off. Furthermore, cannabis medicines have the ability to greatly increase the quality of life for many, yet we see politics and ignorance continuing to force people (including thousands of children) to suffer greatly by denying people access and limiting supply greatly. Add to that the fact that we have decided to lock up 25% of the world’s prison population while only having 5% of the actual population, and it is enough to make one’s head explode.

But that is a battle and an argument I am used to having. That is one that, even though progress is often slow, it is a battle we are winning on the daily. More and more people are waking up to the fact that weed prohibition is utter bullshit. I still cannot get a bank account for my trade school because of the word cannabis, so there is inevitably A LOT of work to do, but at least I feel like we are winning a long and drawn out war. I can see the light at the end of that long and dark tunnel. Like I said, this is a battle I have always knew was there and that needed to be fought.

But dealing with the clear sabotage and trickery that has become the cannabis movement these days is something I did not anticipate having to overcome. I did not foresee the level of treachery that has become this movement’s current face. It is a different feeling that I can only describe as a disease that is eating us alive from the inside out. At least in battling drug warriors and prohibitionists the battle lines are clear and the enemy is pronounced.

Because I know clearly that we have been infiltrated by those who have zero respect for how we got here, and who would sell us out at any moment to further their career or products, I am having a hard time finding a comfortable and secure place within the movement that I can depend on. It seems every day there is another person who I once trusted and believed in that has been sucked in by the gimmicks and the promise of great riches. It is demoralizing.

“When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”

― Winston Churchill

Beyond my very small tribe of dedicated cannabis warriors, I have lost my ability to believe in people.

I no longer trust that there is an army of people who want to make the world a better place for those of us who love weed. I often feel betrayed and hurt by those I once were proud to call my colleagues. People are willing to sell out their morals and ethics quicker than I can keep up with these days, and the entire deal makes my stomach hurt.

Where the fuck is the passion? What happened to you? Why do I feel like the real enemy is within, and that I must walk virtually alone if I want to keep on the path of the righteous? Who are all these hucksters standing around the cannabis water cooler these days, and what have they done with my friends?

But alas, no one ever said it would be easy. No one ever said that life was fair.

Overcoming adversity in the age of long and preposterous bullshit is where we are. It is no longer an “Us vs. Them” scenario. It is an “Us vs. Us and Them.” The calls you hear for “unity” and “togetherness” are normally just a mask for “shut up” and “don’t look at what I am doing.” As I sit back and assess the situation on the regular, what I have come up with is that most of these folks masquerading around as the “cannabis industry” and “activists” are simply the wolves in sheep’s clothing we were all warned about.

My reality is that I am not naive enough to sell myself a bag of goods that this is going to be okay. It is going to be hard. It is going to be difficult. It is going to be the battle of a lifetime….. and that is fine. I’m your huckleberry.

The bottom line is simple… You are with weed or you are against weed. If your objective is anything less than cannabis freedom, then you no longer have a seat at my table. If you are willing to concede the mission to line your own pockets you will be treated like an enemy. There is no middle ground here. I do not have time to decide what degree of a sellout these kids are any more. You either are or you are not. You will be dealt with accordingly.

I might be exhausted from fighting the battle on all fronts, but at the end of the day, it is you who is your own worst enemy. It will be you who knows where you stood and what you did to either, make the world a better place, or to destroy it with your corruption and bullshit. You can count on me kicking your ass at every moment you show your pathetic head if you are deemed an enemy within.

So as you plot and scheme to deceive and get rich, just know it is a gamble. It is only a matter of time before it all collapses around you and you are left wondering what happened. Your agenda should be simple…. Cannabis Freedom. Anything else is just a slippery slope to disaster and will be treated as such. See you on the battlefield. Time to storm the castle.

CANNABIS.AGENDA.1.0