Who CARERS Anyway?

Rand Paul introduces medical marijuana bill

I have heard a lot of excitement and commotion regarding the U.S. Senate’s introduction of the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act. From some of the blind support being put forth by the cannabis community and the lobbying efforts by folks to encourage the enactment of this bill you would think that Congress was actually legalizing marijuana or something. But that is far from the fact.

On a macro level, sure… it sounds positive. Congress is going to reschedule cannabis and allow for states to set their own policies. Wooohooo! They are going to allow for banking and provide direct access at the Veterans Administration. Great, right? It is like a dream come true, you might think. But think again. The bill crafted here, while great for headlines, will likely do more harm than good in the long run; and will not really solve any of the problems facing the cannabis industry. The overall effects could range from very little, to actually destroying the fabric of the current cannabis landscape, as well as creating an environment that is much more restrictive and limiting than the programs we see now.

Let’s take a closer look at the CARERS Act and the smoke and mirrors it attempts to put forth.

Supporters of the bill claim that it will “allow states to set their own medical marijuana policies and eliminate federal prosecution of patients, providers, and businesses in states with medical marijuana programs.” The text inserted into the Controlled Substances Act is as follows:

Compliance With State Law.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the provisions of this title relating to marihuana shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with State law relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, laboratory testing, or delivery of medical marihuana.

The obvious issue is that this change ONLY applies to “medical marihuana.” Being that four states and D.C. have enacted adult use legalization, the limiting reach of changing the CSA to not apply to persons acting in compliance with state law where medical is concerned shines a spotlight on the still very criminal nature of those operating in the non-medical side of the industry. So while this is definitely the highlight of the CARERS Act, it still leaves a lot to be desired as to where the industry and Country are headed in relation to marijuana.

As a person living in California, it is not very comforting either. California is over 10% of the Country and probably over 50% of the current cannabis industry. Yet no one here really knows who is and who is not “acting in compliance with state law.” Everyone is a collective or cooperative, no matter what they do in the industry. They keep attempting to pass bad laws that will further clarify the industry and establish regulations and licensing, but even those are not set to take place until 2017 at the earliest, even if they were to pass today. So to be clear, really the CARERS Act does not protect anyone in California and just the medical only people in Colorado and Washington; and don’t forget that the State of Washington is also trying to severely limit their medical only industry. So the people protected by this provision to the CSA is very limited.

You can even take it one step further and realize that there is no working definition in this Act or in Federal law for what “medical marihuana” actually is. So it gives added protections to people for something that does not exist. As we have seen from state to state, what is and what is not considered “medical” is a pretty wide range of issues. So what this clause is protecting is really anyone’s guess.

But let’s get to the nitty-gritty…. Rescheduling. I have heard cannabis advocates call for rescheduling a million times, and I just don’t get it. The CARERS Act reschedules cannabis from Schedule 1 to the incredibly restrictive Schedule 2. This is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. This topic came up at my Federal sentencing for providing cannabis edibles. Here is that exchange between the Honorable Judge Claudia Wilken and my attorney Tony Serra:

The judge’s next matter of inquiry focused on documents the defense had filed regarding efforts to change the scheduling of marijuana. It’s currently in schedule I, a category for drugs with a high potential for addiction and no established medical benefit. However, Serra related a recent experience in U.S. District Court in Fresno that spoke against this categorization – after filing a series of affidavits about marijuana’s medical efficacy, the government had been unable to round up any witnesses to counter the claim. “The U.S. Attorney couldn’t find one doctor who could say there’s no medical efficacy,” he announced with pride.

If marijuana were rescheduled, Serra speculated, it would reduce the federal government’s power to harass medical marijuana providers and subject them to civil and criminal litigation. “Schedule I will be dumped,” he said confidently.

It was a change, he noted, that could also be propelled by a shift in the White House. “We’re hopeful Obama will be elected and there will be real change,” Serra suggested. “This is an area that’s crying out for reform.”

Judge Wilken was smiling and nodding conspicuously by this time. She seemed won over, and appeared to have no concerns about Serra crossing the line of campaigning in the courtroom. She did, however, have one point of confusion: if marijuana was moved from schedule I to schedule II, wouldn’t there still be problems with access? “Schedule II drugs can’t be passed around,” she remarked.

Serra looked up at her, shooting her his most charming smile. “We’re going for schedule III,” he said with buoyancy.

So here is a Federal judge looking at sentencing me for cannabis crimes and even she realizes that Schedule 2 would be problematic for access. Why? Because Schedule 2 is reserved for drugs that “have a high potential for abuse which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.” There are intense and cost prohibitive restrictions placed on manufacturing and dispensing these drugs, which include morphine and oxycodone. None of the state programs currently in place come anywhere near what is expected from companies that deal in Schedule 2 drugs. Therefore, when it is reclassified here state programs will need to conform to these restrictions to be validated, thus shutting down most all of the industry as we currently know it.

You will not be able to have it both ways. Right now cannabis is a Schedule 1 drug and the US Department of Justice has decided not to enforce the law in states that have enacted cannabis programs. It is not likely that once placed in the hands of the FDA through the rescheduling process that they will simply ignore that most people are not in compliance with Schedule 2 standards. You can also believe that manufacturers of schedule 2 drugs and the pharmacies that have to conform to rigid Schedule 2 standards will not sit idly by while another Schedule 2 drug, marijuana, is ignored and allowed to be produced and distributed under non Schedule 2 standards. No way. In fact, you can be sure they will want in on the deal and that they have the money and resources to meet Schedule 2 requirements. They will work hand in hand with the FDA and DEA to ensure that cannabis is treated as a Schedule 2 and that the same rules that apply to them apply to the entire industry.

Add to that the prescription requirements for a Schedule 2 drug, being that a patient must have a written prescription for it and the physician can not prescribe more that a 90 day supply. It will be interesting to see how rescheduling affects a doctor’s ability to recommend cannabis, and the current get a recommendation for a whole year for unlimited amounts of cannabis. Schedule 2 would in theory require for doctors to specify the amount used by the patient and not allow for them to access more than a 90 day supply based on that figure. Also, does anyone think that they are going to allow for you to grow your own or smoke a Schedule 2 drug. LOL. That is funny. I detal more of these questions in a former piece entitles “Is Rescheduling the Answer We Are Looking For?

Now rescheduling will allow for some research to be done, but even that research is strictly limited. It will not be like just any researcher will be able to decide to research cannabis for any reason they want to. Researching Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 drugs require special ordering protocols, and can only be accessed through strict DEA registrations. Placing cannabis in Schedule 2 will tie the hands of researchers and what you will likely see is a lot of people researching ways cannabis can harm people, or why it is more ineffective than certain alternatives available.

Rescheduling of any sort without adult use legalization is going to leave the industry very vulnerable. Schedule 2 will be absolute murder. Assigning the definition of a scheduled drug to a quasi-legal and tolerated environment will cause extreme confusion and put defined limitations in place that no one here is ready for. You can all but assume that 90% of what we believe to be medical in today’s market (grow your own, smoking, most edibles, etc.) will not fit into the neat and tidy categories that are expected from the drug schedules. It will create pay to play business structure that will ensure most cannot afford to pay, and those who can will make sure no one else is playing.

The the CARERS Act goes one step further and excludes Cannabidiol (CBD) from the definition of marihuana. Huh? It is obvious that the sponsors of this bill have drank the Stanley Brother’s kool-aid; but differentiating CBD from other cannabinoids will do nothing more than encourage more limiting CBD only legislation in states. Saying that CBD is not even part of the definition of cannabis is dangerous and unnecessary. It puts CBD on a pedestal, while at the same time demonizing THC. There is no evidence that CBD only medicines are effective alternatives for more than a very small sliver of the cannabis population. This bill attempts to make a special place for CBD with ZERO real studies done on its effectiveness or viability as a medicine. It attempts to quantify it with the same standards used for hemp, implying that the arbitrary less that .o3% of THC is somehow a figure of relevance. It is not. It is the evolution of one bad law into another bad law. It is stupid.

Creating a path for CBD hucksters to virtually go unregulated is a recipe for failure. It is a part of a law that is written to appease those who continue to push the CBD dream at the expense of THC and other cannabinoids. We already see a great deal of policy created allowing only for CBD, and differentiating it from THC in an effort to say “CBD is the medical part of marijuana and THC is evil.” It is an extension of the misinformation campaigns against marijuana that have fueled prohibition for decades. It is a bad idea, and this law cements it into Federal law as if it were a valid scientific fact. It stinks, and I am fairly appalled to see it in the CARERS Act at all.

Then there are the banking provisions. As a person who has been denied several bank accounts and had even more closed, I am all for new banking regulations for cannabis businesses. The current situation is absurd. Even a cannabis trade school that sells nothing more than books and classes is unable to get banking. Dispensaries and producers have to transport and store large quantities of cash. It is a safety nightmare, and it is surprising that there have not been more issues.

But the issues I see with how the CARERS Act goes about the banking issue is with the term “marijuana-related legitimate business.” The term “legitimate” already assumes that there are illegitimate businesses. Banks were already given the go ahead to do banking with “legitimate” cannabis businesses that did not violate the USDOJ’s eight enforcement triggers. The banks scoffed at the memo released, as it forced them to decide who is “legitimate” and who is not. That is not a risk they were willing to take in early 2013, and I don’t think they will be much more inclined to jump at this Act’s definition of what is legitimate. Maybe they will, but my guess would be that as long as the lines as to what is and is not legitimate are shifting banks will still choose to not risk their money on a maybe. It is just not worth it to them.

Then it goes into the research aspect…. it states:

Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Attorney General, acting through the Drug Enforcement Administration, shall issue not less than 3 licenses under section 303 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 823) to manufacture marijuana and marijuana-derivatives for research approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

So those three manufacturers of marijuana are the ones you will have to order from, after your DEA registration for Schedule 2 drugs as discussed above. Then you can get into where these firms will get their seeds to grow their cannabis, and what the requirements will be for researchers to access the cannabis, if it is even worth studying. If the bill passed this year it is still a year from them issuing licenses and the companies have to develop their facilities and actually grow the cannabis. Then the researchers have to go through the application process and if they are awarded the right to research Schedule 2 cannabis then they might get it somewhere in 2018 or 2019. LOL. Even then, as pointed out above, they are most likely to study the harmful effects of cannabis or why other medical options are better. Because it is Schedule 2, it will make researching it difficult and not likely to be available to small research firms focused on its benefits. But maybe I am just cynical about the medical and pharmaceutical industries. Who knows?

The one saving grace may be the allowance of Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend cannabis for those in states that allow for it. But even that will have special forms that doctors have to fill out, and which will likely be tracked to ensure the doctors are not too pot friendly. But it is hopeful that Veterans would have access to cannabis more easily, especially for its benefits where PTSD is concerned. These dudes have killed people for American freedom… can we get them a joint already?

The big reality is that I probably wasted my time and energy writing this entire article because the CARERS Act likely has ZERO chance of passing in our current do-nothing Congress. It is naive to think that lawmakers could come together on something as complex as this, but then again…. stranger things have happened. I just don’t see it. I think outright marijuana legalization would have a better shot at passing than this bill.

I am not a big fan of the Act. I understand people’s willingness to be excited over any legitimization of cannabis at the Federal level; but this bill will likely not help and could certainly hurt our efforts. I am not thrilled to have to oppose it, but nonetheless I do. Take it for what it is, not for what you want it to be.

Fuck Your Weed Store

Steve DeAngelo, Harborside Health Center

California is a strange deal where medical cannabis is concerned. Proposition 215 is over 18 years old, and was an extraordinary law that spawned the modern cannabis revolution. It was simple and to the point, and allowed for the proliferation of the cannabis market we see today. It laid the foundation for people to not to be treated as criminals for their choice to use cannabis as a medicine.

In 2003 the Californian State Legislature begrudgingly passes SB420, which laid out some basic framework for how the medical cannabis program here works. It set some boundaries in place, some of which have been challenged and overturned in the CA Supreme Court.  This law established the current “collective” and “cooperative” loose framework that currently governs the entire billion dollar cannabis industry in the State. To make a long story short every cannabis business in California is classified as a cooperative or collective, all assumingly operating as not-for-profit businesses. It is nuts. I wrote more in depth about it in a piece entitled, “What the hell is a medical cannabis collective anyway?”

There is NO State licensing for any type of cannabis businesses. The ONLY licensing in the State are for cannabis dispensaries, and those are all licensed by local authority. The evolution of cannabis laws stems from a groundbreaking ordinance passed in the City of Oakland in 2005 that first regulated cannabis dispensaries, as the City was overrun with weed stores and felt the need to bring them under control. It was an interesting time as the industry took a very “every man for themselves” attitude and groups began to position themselves to be one of the lucky four out of dozens to receive the first licensing for a cannabis business in the state. Because dispensaries are retail businesses open to the public they garnered a lot of attention, and were the focal point of regulation by cities and towns looking to control the situation.

Cities and counties watched as Oakland licensed cannabis businesses. Shortly after liberal strongholds of San Francisco and Berkeley followed suit, passing regulatory ordinance for cannabis dispensaries that were operating in their town. At the same time you saw jurisdictions rushing to ban these types of businesses as they began to spring up around the state. In Los Angeles you saw the epitome of a shit show as hundreds of businesses opened up with no regulation; and the city still struggles to this day to find order in the chaos.

Dispensary laws have evolved throughout the state in many different ways, with regulations varying from municipality to municipality. There is no rhyme or reason to the laws and no uniformity of implementation.

But here is the real kicker…. there are NO real laws governing the production of cannabis and cannabis products. People who provide cannabis medicines to dispensaries have ZERO protections through licensing anywhere in the state. It is as if the cannabis is supposed to magically just appear.

Cannabis is a hot button topic, and most places have passed either dispensary regulations or prohibition laws out of necessity. They have not come willingly to the table on most occasions to address the issue. None have really had the courage to confront the issue of cannabis production. Some have tried and failed, like Oakland’s famed four huge grows program that is blamed for the Federal crackdown of 2011; and Mendocino’s attempt at a zip tie program that allowed for 99 plant collective gardens, which was also attacked by the Feds and shut down. But there is no license to grow weed, to make hash, or to produce edibles and other finished products anywhere in the state. Producers of medicine like myself are largely left to fend for ourselves. We are forced to operate under the radar and do our best to remain undetected in our communities. It is very much a don’t ask, don’t tell situation.

What has resulted is a lot of power given to the retail sector of the market….. the weed stores. They have become the gatekeepers in the industry and have gained a lot of political advantage due to their ability to be out in the open under the protection of their licensing. This has given them the ability to play kingmaker and use their power to control vast parts of the industry. They currently have this advantage due to an unlevel playing field that greatly favors their business model; but you can be sure it will not stay this way forever.

Think of your normal marketplace for any commodity. In the normal world retailers are usually just facilitators of goods. Very few dominant retailers control their markets. You have Best Buy in electronics. Staples in the office sector. Macy’s in the fashion sector. Wal-Mart is an obvious powerhouse. But in general, most retailers are regional outfits that serve certain communities and provide an outlet for desired goods. In most markets the companies that produce the goods hold a lot of power.

For instance… take booze. A liquor store cannot exist if it does not have Budweiser and Jack Daniels on the shelf. Sure… major retailers like BevMo can command better pricing through large volume purchasing, but for the most part in that industry producers of beer dominate the landscape. You never see a “Jim’s Liquor Store” Nascar. You see a Budweiser one. The companies who produce high demand products dictate the marketplace. Small batch producers of beer with less demand have to compete more rigorously for their place in the market, but the craft brew and small batch wine industries continues to explode, garnering more and more of the market from traditional behemoths like Anheuser-Busch. The point is that the average booze store does not have a hell of a lot of power.

Or could you imagine an electronics store without Sony products? Impossible. No Playstation? Please.

The development of world class products that consumers want is what drives the market. Innovation creates demand, and demand forces retailers to carry certain products. Every store that has electronics for sale has to offer Playstation, or they sacrifice a large base of potential customers. The larger the store the better the pricing they can get, which is where retailers can control the market. But believe Sony would get by without Best Buy, yet best Buy could never survive without Sony. The demand for their products is too high. People seek them out because they make great products. Have you played a PS4 lately? Holy shit that is a lot of fun.

The cannabis market in California is currently flipped upside down. Due to political necessity the dispensaries have been afforded with licensing and legitimacy. I know a lot of good people who operate dispensaries that understand how lucky they are. They have also risked a lot to get their businesses open and to maintain success in an extremely murky environment. There is no doubt that dispensaries have paved the way for medical cannabis in California through being on the front lines of an often heated debate. They have been the public face of this industry for a long time now, and often under the most scrutiny. But they also are the ONLY groups who have actual licensing to operate their cannabis business under clear regulatory framework.

Producers of medicine are forced to self-regulate and hope for the best. There is no real safety provided through having legal guidelines that govern a business. It is crazy if you actually sit back and think about it. With all the billions of dollars in weed grown, hash made, edibles produced, and don’t forget the lube, it is nuts to think this all happens under the undefined premise that we are all a bunch of collectives. This collective makes the weed. This collective produces finished products from the weed. This other collective distributes it to another collective that sells it. It is mind boggling. On most days I am not sure how we made it this far. It is both beautiful in its lack of definition and mind numbing all at the same time. But the bottom line is that the entire production sector has no licensing to legitimize their efforts.

So here is the rub…. A lot of the conversation being had about the upcoming ballot initiative being developed for 2016 is aimed at protecting the interests of people who have licensed businesses. These groups believe they deserve a two year window after legalization where only they can compete in the marketplace. They want to adopt the same principle that we saw happen in Colorado where only medical licensed businesses could operate for the first two years. You know how that worked out there? Recreational weed prices have stayed relatively inflated and most of these businesses who got the head start have sold out to the highest bidder and no longer even operate the businesses.

The distinctly unlevel playing field has done nothing to help the end user realize higher quality or better value. It has simply enabled a select few to manipulate the market and has given way to unsavory business practices where competitors work to undermine one another. It has been anything but a free market. Now that the two year mark was passed at the end of last year we will see more businesses compete for market share, and an increase supply will result in lower prices and higher quality offerings. It will be good for everyone who smokes weed.

If the influential dispensaries have their way, we will see a repeat of this mistake here in California. But because they are the only one’s who will be licensed, they will also attempt to control the production sector through increased vertical integration, while locking out many growers and manufacturers of cannabis products. It would be a swift kick in the nuts to people who have risked everything to provide high quality medicines through the collective scheme over the years with no real protection. It will give further advantage to the lucky few who happen to open in areas that have decided to allow for their use, while shunning those in less tolerant parts of the state. It will pigeonhole a lot of the industry into a very few pockets, and will create a more defined oligopoly than we see right now. It is unacceptable.

In all reality, fuck your weed store.

If you truly love cannabis and freedom the only obvious answer is a truly level playing field. No one deserves an advantage cemented into a law through barriers for others. Your advantage is that you have been operating in the marketplace for a number of years. You do not deserve special treatment. What you deserve is the right to exist and compete in an open and free market where you provide great products and services at a good value, and customers go to you because you are the best. Not because you are their only option due to restrictive licensing and permitting schemes.

You are not going to use your good fortune to lock us out of the market. Miss me on that shit. If you are so great then consumers will reward you with their business. But the days of the retailers having a stranglehold on this industry are coming to an end. People who produce great weed and desirable products will command their share of the market, and begin to dictate what supply and demand is. Your subpar weed for too much money will no longer even be on the menu. You will either have to step your game up or get trampled by better offerings at greater values. It is free market principles that will decide who succeeds and who fails.

It is funny to see those who have claimed to fight for prohibition for many years now begin to circle the wagons and lobby for prohibitive barriers in the process to protect their interests. What is even sadder is that they do not have the courage and confidence to believe they can be successful in a truly free market. But it is the only answer. We cannot continue to believe that further limitation will somehow protect our romantic views of what the industry should look like. What the industry should look like is yet to be determined, and strangling that process through delays and restrictions is not going to work.

I hope that the individuals crafting any language here in California or other states consider the realities, and do not cater to these well-funded interests from within our industry. Everyone deserves the right to compete for the exploding weed market. No one deserves the right to segment and control certain parts of the market just because they have been standing around the longest and happened to be at the right place at the right time.

What will benefit the cannabis user and create the real legalization principles we have all fought so diligently for is an absolute free market. At some point we must look beyond our small world and understand how large a global cannabis market is, and allow the industry to begin to meet those demands through innovation and competition. Anything less is just uncivilized.

Now is not the time for us to become the prohibitionists. I believe in myself and my products, and know I can compete with anyone. I am not scared of the future. I welcome it with open arms and you should too.

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.

The Awkward Hair Phase: Cannabis Industry Growing Pains and Weirdness

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I was in Colorado this week looking around at the developing industry in the first legal state, and I was a little surprised at what I found. It is incredibly interesting to see this thing play out. The only thing I could think of comparing it to is that awkward hair phase that one experiences after shaving their head and trying to grow their hair back out. What a weird time in cannabis history.

I was having a discussion over some pie with some activists I respect and adore; and one made the statement, “I think about 90% of the cannabis businesses we see now will not exist in a few years.” I could not have agreed more and I think that 90% may have been generous. We discussed the invasion of “The Capitalists” and their silly desire to throw their money at the wall in an effort to secure their place in the emerging industry.

The problem is that most of the jackasses we see populating the “investment” and “capital” environment right now are just glorified middlemen with no real passion for the industry, and not enough funding to be a real force when the market is truly a level playing field. Most of what you see now are half-hearted efforts by old dot-commers and mortgage fraudsters who made some quick cash, and who are willing to gamble on that next big thing. They like to march around like they are some important assholes because they have a few million laying around and want a piece of the action.

I have watched more of these wannabe pricks come and go with their ass handed to them in the past few years than I can even find funny anymore. Nothing worse than watching some cocky investment prick think he can waltz in and make a name for himself, only to realize he is lost in a world governed by outlaws and whose rules have yet to even be defined.

What is funnier is to watch those who should know better fall for their bullshit and ruin their reputations over some champagne wishes and caviar dreams.

Not a week goes by that some poor sucker who I used to respect has sold their soul for a shot at the title with their new found sugar daddies. I often sit back and nod my head, smiling while they tell me about their next big thing, and why I should trust some jackyl who they have hitched their wagon too. I like to listen attentively for a while until I find just the right moment to look them in the eye and let them know that they lost their fucking minds. This is usually followed by some witty response like, “NUH-UH” and we usually go our separate ways.

More times than not I see these folks a few months later with their head in their hands telling me how right I was. I take no pleasure in that.

Look no further than the Bhang Chocolate debacle for a shining example of what I am talking about. In March I wrote a piece called “Bhang Goes Big Marijuana” where I questioned a deal between Bhang and Mentor Capital that sold 60% of the company for $39 million dollars. Upon writing the piece I was contacted by two of the principals from Bhang trying to sell me on their good fortune. They left multiple messages and texts telling me why the deal was on the up and up, and why I was nuts to think differently. I chuckled and smiled, as I had seen this shit show before.

Just a couple of short months later came an article entitled “Bhang Terminates Relationship With Mentor Capital” in which the company declared Mentor Capital in breach of the contract for non-payment. SHOCKER!

I like Scotty Van Rixel for the most part. He is a decent guy who at least makes an effort to do the right thing. Which is why I was surprised to see him caught up in what was such an obvious pump and dump scam. The problem came when the “pump” did not work and so there was not enough to “dump” to pay Scotty and his crew what they were owed.

Now Mentor Capital is suing Bhang for their $1.5 million back. The announcement names Bhang’s owners, Mr. Scott Van Rixel, Mr. Richard Sellers, and Mr. William Waggoner in the suit. So these three got to split up $1.5 million…. a lousy $500k each on a company reportedly doing $300k a month plus in sales, and they have greatly tarnished their reputation in the process. They might even have to return the cash they received if Mentor wins the suit. So what did they gain besides a gigantic headache?

But this is just one of many get rich quick schemes I have seen come and fade over the past couple of years. As people see the end of prohibition coming about there is no shortage of bright eyed wannabe moguls floating around making sexy eyes at these would be investors. The problem is that they cannot tell a real investor from some loser prick with a couple of million bucks who got lucky on some stock gamble back in the days. They get chewed up and spit out, often to be nothing more than a faded memory when it is all said and done.

But that is where we are as an industry. With one foot in and one foot out of legalization, we have a really awkward hair phase going. So many people are trying to get their big opportunity going that they have forgotten we are still fighting for cannabis freedom. They are so fucking worried about getting their piece of the pie that they have forgotten that the pie is not even baked yet. Shit… we have hardly even bought the ingredients.

It is somewhat entertaining to watch, but it is also painful. The whole deal raises too many questions for my taste, but alas, to each their own.

Just know that what you see now is not reality. It is not the hairstyle we are going for. It is some strange barrett pinning back a 3 inch lock of hair to give it some style, but it really just looks strange. It is the growing pains and the weirdness stage for sure; and it is obvious most of you guys are lost. Maybe it is just time to invest in a nice hat.

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Weed Prohibition is Stupid…

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The prohibition of weed is one of the stupidest things mankind has ever done.

I am constantly embattled in the effort to bring sense and sensibility back to the world we live by ensuring we quit locking people up and destroying their lives over this safe, enjoyable, and helpful plant. It is a frustrating fight because none of it makes any fucking sense. It is constantly arguing over what is literally a no-brainer.

Those who continue to support the ideas and policies that have fueled cannabis prohibition are usually just idiots. These dinosaurs have drank the kool-aid for so long that somehow they really believe this shit, and I for one am tired of having to prove what dipshits they are to the world. This is stupid.

There is no sane argument left for prohibiting cannabis. The opposition continues to look like idiots throwing shit at a wall to see what sticks. I am baffled that these losers have the courage to say this shit out loud. Most are lucky that assault is still prohibited because it is all I can do to not bitchslap a person when I hear the word “gateway dru….” (SLAP). My bad.

Yet here we are…. still arguing about this shit. This is basic stuff.

So let me break it down real quick and simple-like for these obviously dim bulbs.

  • CANNABIS IS NOT DANGEROUS: Just stop it. There is zero evidence of cannabis causing harm to the end user. No… cannabis is not for everyone and should be used responsibly; but over thousands of years of use there are ZERO fatalities from simply using cannabis.
  • CANNABIS PROHIBITION IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS: Taking an enjoyable and helpful plant and outlawing it creates an illicit market for production and distribution. The only thing that makes weed dangerous is that the inflated prices of cannabis due to the risk of it being illegal create an unsavory business model. With only those risking jail time for distributing weed being left to control the market, it is not surprising that there are criminal elements that come from an illegal trade. If weed was sold at 7-Eleven like booze there would be no stupid market for the shady elements of our society to exploit for gain.
  • MAKING CRIMINALS OF EVERYONE IS NOT WORKING: I am not sure how we got to a point where our society allows cops to search people because they think they smell some weed. Nothing is more intrusive into the lives of a citizen than having some strange cop dig through your pockets, your car, and/or your home looking for some fucking weed. When did we create a situation where cops have to play weed babysitter for the entire world? Don’t they have better shit to do? Being a cop used to be a respected position in our world, and I still have a lot of respect for people willing to be the first responders to often dangerous situations… but a bag of weed is not a dangerous situation and cops who continue to take mostly poor brown people to jail for weed are war criminals.
  • WEED HELPS PEOPLE: There are a lot of people who benefit from the effects of cannabis. The obvious is the seriously ill person who finds a better quality of life from using cannabis. But the reality is that a lot of people find cannabis as a useful alternative to other dangerous and legal substances like booze or pills. The human experience is always searching for a way to take the edge off, and rightfully so. Shit is rough out here sometimes. So why are we forcing people to use booze or dangerous pills to achieve what a safe and benign plant can do for them? That is just stupid.
  • CANNABIS ENHANCES LIFE: Smoking some weed can make any number of life’s activities more enjoyable and can enhance one’s experience. From watching a good movie to creating amazing artwork, cannabis has enhanced our society and culture greatly. Can anyone imagine what music would be like if no one smoked weed? Cannabis has the ability to open up people’s minds and to relax people’s fears and issues, thus creating a more enjoyable experience on many occasions. Why would we want to not let people have a better time in their often mundane lives is beyond me.
  • IT IS NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS: When did we become so self-righteous as a society that we can interfere with people’s personal freedoms in such a way? I mean, why does Suzy Prohibitionist give a shit what I do so much? Why does anyone give a shit if another human wants to smoke some weed and make themselves feel better? These folks need a hobby or some shit because thrusting your beliefs and your ways of thinking into my beliefs and way of thinking is not working for me. It is none of your fucking business if I smoke weed, just like it is none of my business you eat a bottle of Paxil every month and drink yourself to sleep. Have fun. Knock yourself out. But when you wake up from your red wine and Valium coma how about you back the fuck up off of my lifestyle choices. Thanks.
  • YOU REALLY WANT ME TO PEE IN A CUP?: This is one of the grossest things we do as a society. The evolution of drug testing is immoral and unnecessary. Let’s face it… 90% of drug testing is done to detect who uses weed. Almost all other drugs pass through the system so rapidly they are irrelevant to the drug testing industry. But weed stays in the system for weeks, and it makes it an easy target for those who choose to use weed to discriminate against people for employment, or to put them in jail for probation violations and whatnot. It is gross to think that you want a cup of my urine to prove if I am worthy to do your shitty job. Is that any way to start a relationship? Here… pee in this cup for me. What did you say? You want my piss in a cup? Did I miss something? This is not okay with me.
  • IT IS NOT WORKING: By any calculation the prohibition of cannabis and the entire war on drugs has been an absolute failure…. and an expensive one at that. We have spent over a trillion dollars with nothing to show for it. There are no less drugs since we began this debacle. We now lock up 25% of the world’s prison population while only having 5% of the actual population. Sure… Land of the Free. Gotcha. Addiction rates have remained constant. No more or less people have been found to be “addicted” to anything regardless of how many doors we kick in and families we destroy with this nonsense. The walls of prohibition are crumbling and it is time for folks to get on the right side of history. This whole deal has been a debacle and those who continue to support this utter bullshit need to have their heads checked because there is nothing anyone can say that proves this shit is working in any way whatsoever. The jig is up.

I am tired of even arguing about this shit. It is not even an argument. It is just a bunch of uneducated ignorant people who fold whenever real facts are brought up. This ideological “drugs are bad… except the ones I use” must stop. We must condemn and shame those who continue to put this bullshit forward. We all have better things to do than continue to argue the obvious… PROHIBITION IS STUPID.

We owe it to ourselves to find the strength to really end this thing. Maybe if everyone took a minute from dividing up the pie before it is done baking we could make a more concerted effort to restore sanity to our society. It is all of our jobs to be a vocal voice of reason for cannabis freedom in our communities. Those who want to keep up this nonsense do not deserve our respect our our courtesy. What they deserve is to be called out for the war criminals they are and to make them unwelcome in our society any longer.

We are better than this shit… I do not get what the fuck is taking so long; but this shit is STUPID.

Losers Never Win… Legalization Is No Loser

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Election Day 2014 has come and gone. The people have spoken, and despite a somewhat frightening wave of Republican victories that speak more to the cowardly strategies of the Democrats than the strength of right wing positions, the weed vote went incredibly well…. again. Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia all voted to legalize cannabis for adult use rather handily. There was not even a very close result. Alaska won by 4 points- Oregon won by almost 9 points- AND DC WON BY ALMOST 39 POINTS. None of those are nail biters. Any politician in America would take those results in a heartbeat.

The funny-not-funny vote of the night was in Florida where Amendment 2 on MEDICAL marijuana failed to meet the 60% threshold needed to pass. To be fair 57.6% of the people did vote Yes, but in Florida it requires 60% to pass an Amendment, so the effort failed there by a lousy 2.4%. But I think there is a valuable lesson here…. medical cannabis is not necessarily the overwhelmingly popular issue it once was. Initial polling had support for medical marijuana in the state of Florida at nearly 90%… so what happened?

What happened was billionaire Sheldon Adelson put $5.5 million dollars into an effective campaign that told people they were being bullshitted. The narrative was that the law was not truthful and was littered with “loopholes.” The opposition campaign seized on the reality that even though there are still a lot of people who hate weed, there are even more who hate being lied to. They successfully portrayed the Amendment as a front for adult use and effectively demonized the thought of cannabis caregivers actually being drug dealers who would somehow be protected by this ruse. The message was certainly effective enough to stifle enough of the vote that it resulted in failure. Check out the ad below to see how the opposition chose to spin it:

Do you see what they did there? The argument was never against medical cannabis, or cannabis at all. It was to inform people they were being supposedly lied to. They framed the argument so that the average voter would take pause, and they banked that they could create enough doubt to keep the Amendment from passing with that strategy…. and they were right. “It isn’t what is seems.” That is where the political strategists who designed the No on 2 campaign hung their hat. On making voters feel like they were being duped. I do not believe that 42.4% of Florida believes that sick people should not have access to cannabis. I do think that many were willing to believe that the whole medical deal is a sham and that they should vote no to avoid being bullshitted.

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The irony of passing three adult use legalization initiatives, but failing to pass a medical marijuana amendment is too much to ignore. I have long said that it is time for us to move past the medical only debate and to shift our time, energy, and resources towards adult use, which would encompass medical cannabis and take away the never ending questions of “Who is sick enough to smoke pot?” and “Is this really medical, or am I being bullshitted?”

I have done a great deal of outreach in communities all over the United States, and even the most staunch supporters of cannabis have looked at me point blank and said, “But the whole medical deal is kind of bullshit, right?” I then go into my whole speech about preventive medicine and forcing people to maybe fudge an illness to avoid prison for growing plants; but I shouldn’t have to. The reality is that on some levels they are right. A lot of the activity the cannabis community dubs “medical’ just does not meet that standard in our society, and creates more questions than answers for a lot of people. I think this is what moved the needle in Florida, and what will continue to undermine medical only efforts going forward.

In states where we see new medical programs coming into place, what we see are super burdensome regulations and laws being put forth meant to “ensure this is only accessed by the truly sick and dying.” Limiting patients rights to cultivate, to have caregivers, and to have a free and competitive markets are all hallmarks of people wanting to make sure that they are not being bullshitted by these potheads. If they want medical they will get medical. How is that working out New Jersey? Exactly.

The reality is that people do not hate weed like they used to. What they hate is feeling like they are not having an honest conversation. I believe that our community continues to stretch the medical conversation too far. The results are twofold… 1) It creates a lot of doubt for people who have no skin in the game. Your average voter and citizen is not necessarily opposed to weed, but they do know they have never gone to the doctor at a Cypress Hill concert.; and 2) It does a huge disservice to those patients who do have serious illnesses for which cannabis can be beneficial, as they are lumped in with the perception that what the cannabis community is pushing as medical does not always meet that standard of medicine as defined by our  collective culture.

The lesson learned from last night’s election are simple… People are ready for legal weed.

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I believe that we could have put the nail in the coffin last night had the reform community and their financial sugar daddys had the courage to run an adult use legalization initiative here in California. The state has 10% of the nation’s population and is the leading producer of our nation’s agriculture crops. It is also the American stronghold for the wine industry, as its ideal growing climates are good for both grapes and weed. But the big money and local players decided to let it ride and wait for the sure thing in 2016. I have told them all they were fools, and the good people of Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia also called them fools last night. They will still try to sell you a bag of goods about “youth turnout” and “questionable support,” but I think our neighbors to the north in Oregon proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are just plain wrong. We could be celebrating today California, but instead we sit here being threatened by the USDOJ for not having a statewide regulatory model and watch as our own supposed supporters and their “lobbying efforts” work to shut down most of the industry as we know it. But don’t worry… it is only two more years until 2016.

Those could end up being a very long two years.

As marijuana continues to gain mainstream popularity and more focus is put on the industry, know that the lack of definition in California’s law will continue to haunt us. Empowered by a wave of conservative victories in the midterm, it would not be surprising to see the current administration make knee jerk concessions in an effort to negotiate with the Republican congress.

But who knows? Maybe even the conservatives are getting it now that the people want their weed… and at least the conservatives will have the balls to actually do something about it. How long is it before the right wing looks around and says, “Shit… Everyone seems to want their weed. Maybe we should just give it to them and champion that issue before 2016. Where is all that money going anyway?”

I would not be surprised at all to see another California crackdown in the near future. I think we shot ourselves in the foot by not seizing the moment and capitalizing of the momentum from our victories in CO and WA in 2012. We have left a lot to chance, and it would not be surprising to see the CA Legislature pass a much more restrictive adult use and medical regulatory model before the election in 2016 ever happens. In fact, I almost can guarantee it. It will be a “good enough” model that ensures very few can meet the burden of the barriers to entry, and it will be the death of the current cannabis landscape, as well as the hopes for anything of substance in 2016. Maybe I am wrong… Lord, I hope I am wrong. But I have seen these stars align before.

Who knows what the future holds? I do know that today I raise my bubbler to the great citizens of Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia for standing up for cannabis freedom and moving us that much closer to ending this thing. As a person who has worked a long and hard time on cannabis reform efforts it is inspiring to see us changing the hearts and minds of a Nation… one cannabis-loving state at a time if we have to. While I will never be able to wrap my head around what people who oppose cannabis are thinking, it is comforting to know that more and more of my neighbors and fellow citizens are getting it, and that we are that much closer to winning.

I celebrate the victories and I am sorry for the tens of thousands of people in Florida who are still criminals for their right to use cannabis. We mourn for those who desperately need access to cannabis as a medicine there who were counting Amendment 2 to pass. I do believe that the 57.6% of people voting yes is a powerful message, and it is hopeful that your lawmakers might listen.

Hopefully lawmakers everywhere will listen, and get on the right side of history sooner than later. Cannabis is a safe, enjoyable, and helpful plant. There is no more boogie man here. People want their weed. Legalization is winning… Prohibition must end soon.

As a community we need to begin to ask ourselves what we really want and begin to ask for that. It makes no sense to limit ourselves any longer. What we want is weed… and we want you to quit taking us to fucking jail for it. Or taking our kids. Or making us lose our jobs. Or losing student loans. Or our standing in our community. We want a fair and level playing field for the industry where quality, innovation, and value rule the market… not politics. The sooner we get there, the sooner we can end this awkward dance with what is cannabis freedom and who qualifies for it.

Losers never win…. and only a real loser would look at the writing on the wall and not change strategy. Adult use legalization is no loser. Victory or Valhalla.

What the Fuck Are We Thinking?

Head in Hands

What an odd time in cannabis history. No one ever said evolution was painless. In fact, it is quite awkward.

Watching the industry evolve from days of outlaw diplomacy to corporate douchebaggery is a major struggle for me. On one hand there is nothing romantic about people getting locked up in prison for decades for growing weed that is sold at inflated prices due to black market principles. It is just not a workable model for a civilized society. At the same time, the limited and guarded acceptance of cannabis has resulted in programs that are unworkable and expensive that benefit the few, and which are often designed to fail.

Nothing we see now is a level playing field. Until we see a truly free market work in cannabis there will be an odd dance of those who believe in freedom being pushed out by those who believe in limited freedom and who are willing to throw us all under the bus to serve their own agenda. Don’t cannabrand me, bro.

I am not an idealist. I saw this coming a mile away and have done my best to bring caution to the wolves in wook’s clothing. I understand the situation clearly and know it will likely get worse before it gets better. This strange era of positioning and lobbying for our own unworkable limitations will not last forever, but it will go on for some time. It is the monkeys fucking the football for real, as no one on any side of the argument can seem to find the right answer. the answer is simple… It is cannabis freedom.

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Instead what we see are people working to undermine freedom by promoting limited models that promote their business models. The easiest to spot are the CBD oil hucksters out in force to convince the word that their magic CBD potion is totally legal and won’t even get you high. Some of these pricks, like the Hempmeds/Cannvest/Kannaway crews, are shipping their hemp sludge derived “medicines” that were created from industrial machine byproducts to all 50 states touting their legality as nutritional supplements. Their lies are misleading, as routinely their products test far above the allowable THC limits for hemp derived products, and often their refined sludge carries dangerous heavy metals and contaminants. These groups have used slick marketing campaigns to sell their Frankenstein medicines, and have worked to convince the public and government officials that their bullshit magic paste is the answer; and that real cannabis derived products, often containing THC, are somehow dangerous. They have scammed stock investors on the pink sheets enough to afford lobbyists who have worked to pass CBD only legislation in several states.

Do you mind putting a shirt on while you harvest my "medicine?" Thanks.
Do you mind putting a shirt on while you harvest my “medicine?” Thanks.

But you cannot mention CBD only without looking at the Stanley Brothers and their “Realm of Caring.” Talk about a group of Stepford Wives and Children of the Corn. Bajeezus. This sad band of brothers have parlayed their 15 minutes of fame on CNN with Dr. Sanjay Gupta into a full blown international circus of fraud and deception. After throwing “lazy hipies and potheads ” under the bus in their media appearances, they went out of their way to make promises to thousands of families dealing with health issues for their children that they would be able to ship their miracle drug “Charlotte’s Web” to all 50 states this month because they had simply renamed the strain as hemp. Okay… so it was medical marijuana a couple months ago, but now Charolette’s Web is just hemp. Gotcha. Tell me more.

Well they were forced to eat their words after months of teasing families desperate to try their miracle that Gupta told them would save their kid’s lives. They retracted their nationwide offerings stating:

Unfortunately, despite the fact that the U.S. imports more hemp foods than any other country, the common association of CBD with high THC cannabis has caused more scrutiny for these hemp products than expected. For example a Minnesota mother may be facing charges for possessing a CBD product which she obtained for her son. Such tragic events, combined with the ever changing legal landscape of hemp/CBD products, have forced us to reconsider all potential ramifications of our previous distribution plans. Simply put: the last thing we want to do is put the families we serve in jeopardy.

As a result, at the strong advice of our legal counsel, we have decided it is in the best interest of both present and future clients, as well as the longevity of the ROC program as a whole, that we hold our distribution plan to higher standards than the conventional hemp industry.

So your legal counsel didn’t tell you that what you were planning on doing is actually quite illegal until after you made promises to thousands of desperate families? Super. Sounds like a real winner. Let me guess…. these are the same legal geniuses you have writing the CBD only legislation that resulted in the Minnesota mother being charged? Or in other states? Did you guys even write a strategy plan on this model? Or did you just see a window of opportunity after Gupta gave you some legitimacy and try to exploit it for your own gain by cementing in CBD only legislation that serves your model (even though it really does not) and leaves most patients out in the cold?

Maybe everyone should just move to Colorado to get your miracle drug hemp deal. But wait… last report is that the Charlotte’s Web that was planted outdoors as “hemp” is much different that the CW that they had been distributing to families. The cannabinoid profiles are extremely different and do not have the same results for many parents.

The Stanley’s tried to tell parents that the difference came from growing conditions outdoors under natural sun, but that is just not a valid assumption. What is more likely is that what was planted outdoors was not Charlotte’s Web at all, and was instead a modified varietal or completely different strain that was developed to meet the requirements of hemp production…. likely under advice of their crack legal team over there.

Now many parents are forced to perform their own alchemy to adjust cannabinoid levels themselves. More likely even is that this program was put in place to meet the even stricter hemp/CBD requirements that their own lobbyists have helped create in other states. They hoped that this would serve as a model, but unfortunately has resulted in anything but. Now their own efforts will come back to bite them in the ass, as well as the rest of the cannabis community.

The problem with the CBD revolution is that it is based on the premise of not getting high. Those who began this effort were motivated by their inherent fear of the perception that the opposition was concerned with people getting stoned. There are certain conditions where CBD is an undeniable benefit, but the industry has overblown this not in an effort of medical progress, but in an effort to say, “see… we are not even trying to get high.”

It has always been based in an effort to “legitimize” the cannabis industry by downplaying the psychoactive effects of cannabis. Can someone tell me when feeling good and feelings of euphoria became such bad things? Why are we conceding that a safe and enjoyable experience is somehow evil and intolerable in a society where most wake up with the drug of coffee and go to sleep with the drug of booze? Why are we, as cannabis users and supporters, denying our right to use cannabis to enhance our experiences? It all makes no sense to me.

What the fuck are we thinking…?

But don’t stop there. Let’s look at the edibles situation in Colorado more deeply. What we have is a basic unfounded hysteria resulting in backlash and red tape that very well could shut down the edibles market, or at the very least make it unworkable for many. The reports of a kid jumping off a balcony and dying after eating too much weed food and the guy who killed his wife after apparently ingesting edibles are the rallying cry where the prohibitionists have pointed to the “dangers” of marijuana. They have gone out of their way this Halloween to scare the shit our of parents by putting up billboards showing that THC infused candies look a lot like real candies. Yeah… well Jack Daniels looks a lot like apple juice when it is just sitting in a glass, but we do not see the drunken weed haters making this comparison. Vicodin looks a lot like a Tic-Tac too, but where is the outrage there? There is none.

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What we are seeing is a result of our industry’s representatives conceding these perceived dangers and allowing for regulators to take that ball and run with it. Instead of demanding equality and freedom where cannabis is concerned, it is our own industry’s lobbyists who have given ground on this issue to a point where it is becoming problematic. Look…. I feel for the kid who jumped off the balcony, but this type of stuff happens much more frequently under the influence of booze and we do not see a call for booze to be sold in single serving containers heavily labeled and packaged in tamper resistant packaging. In fact, anyone over 21 (and many times not 21 with a fake ID) can walk in and buy enough booze to kill a grown adult any day of the week they want.

But people like Michael Elliott of the Marijuana Industry Group have used their political muscle to empower regulators on this issue over the years, and now is watching his chickens come home to roost. The funny part is watching guys like him scramble when they figure out that in an effort to promote the interests of the few businesses he serves as a paid lobbyist, he actually ended up screwing them too…. then comes the effort to roll back the stupid shit you said just a few months ago. Yes… Let’s concede some strange danger about edibles because Maureen Dowd ate too much weed food and had an out of body experience in a Colorado hotel room. Super.

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But in an effort to win favor with lawmakers and regulators, what we see is these so called industry experts and their lobbyists willing to bend over and let the edibles industry be raped by those who oppose cannabis as some real danger. Look…. weed food can get you super high, but at what point does personal responsibility come into play? Why are we allowing people like Michael Elliott to make the opposition’s case for them, and then are surprised when the opposition seizes that concession to make the entire industry look like a bunch of irresponsible child molesters in need of severe oversight and regulation.

Let me know when they want to start “regulating cannabis like alcohol” as was promised in the historic 2012 election. Last I checked booze were everywhere and there were no burdensome regulations on how they are packaged and the quantity per bottle. Call me weird, but it would seem that a drug like booze that actually kills over 85,000 people a year might be regulated a little more tightly than weed food, but what do I know?

I do know that us willing to agree that somehow cannabis food poses some real verifiable danger to our society in respect to the many dangerous and legal options we already have is stupid.

What the fuck are we thinking?

Which brings me to my next issue, which is home cultivation and caregiver access. Why are there folks who are supposedly on the side of cannabis willing to take the rights of people to grow their own, or to access their medicine through a private caregiver who cultivates for them, away? People like Michael Elliott have conceded that there are dangers in these types of systems that are being abused to “illegally sell marijuana.”

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When he says “illegally” what he means is outside of the tightly regulated tax burdened system that his group has worked to develop. These positions have resulted in states like Massachusetts severely limiting the ability of caregivers to cultivate for patients or for patients to cultivate their own. Most states take statements like these and turn them into unworkable legislation that leaves people unable to legally cultivate plants for themselves or those in need. It is a pay to play scenario that will result in more limitation and knee jerk reactions that stifle personal freedom.

Not a day goes by that an article does not come out from those who oppose cannabis touting some poorly worded statement by some jackass in the cannabis industry about how dangerous these situations are to public safety. The fear of the cannabis community to actually stand up for their rights is embarrassing and at times devastating to our efforts.

What the fuck are we thinking?

The truth is that we are not. We are allowing those who favor prohibition to drive the conversation and when we help do their work for them by compromising the truth for hysteria, we all lose. When these assholes try to work the system to favor their own business models, only to have the whole rug pulled out from under them because they really do not understand politics as much as they led you to believe, the progress we all have worked hard to realize is instantly diminished.

It is sad enough that we have to deal with the Kevin Sabets and Patrick Kennedys of the world, but to have our message of cannabis freedom undermined by those who supposedly are on our side is ludicrous. I for one am tired of having to clean up these messes and work to convince people that these myths being put forth and supported by would be industry “experts” are simple fallacy.

This is not that difficult… cannabis is incredibly safe in comparison to most everything. Should there be limitations and regulations? Sure. But they must be reasonable and they must be founded in reality. We can no longer afford to have our own people making our lives more difficult by trying to give an inch to the crazies, which always results in a mile.

No we do not need CBD only laws to make sure people are not getting high. No we do not need to go out of our way to make a Scarlet letter for cannabis foods and ensure they are packaged in bulletproof containers. No we do not need to keep people from cultivating their own cannabis to avoid some perception of a dangerous diversion scenario. It is all stupid drama contrived to make issues where there are none. I will say it again… in the name of Jack Herer “SHOW ME THE BODIES.”

We must be cautious moving forward to not negotiate the freedom we are working to achieve. It makes no sense to help those who would be just as happy locking up people for weed create a market where weed is so severely limited that it leaves most people criminals and keeps the market inflated to black market pricing.

The reality is that a free cannabis market regulated sensibly with allowances for innovation and without so many impossible barriers to entry will result in higher quality and more affordable cannabis available to those who love and need weed. The rest of this window dressing is for the birds. The sooner we pull our heads out of our ass and begin asking for what we really want, the sooner we can get past all of this unnecessary drama and bullshit.

Selah.

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

Unacceptable.DirectAction.10.14.14

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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