I am sorry you are sick, but I am in jail…

It seems that there is a portion of the cannabis movement that is okay with only sick people having access to cannabis. There is a “we must put the patients first BEFORE we work on ending prohibition completely” sentiment I have observed lately during debates over state initiatives.

I call BULLSHIT. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have been “fighting for patients rights” since way before 1995. We have put nearly all of the movement resources into advancing this concept for many years, and to our credit, we have done a good job of convincing most of America that sick people should have access to cannabis medicines.

But we have also done a poor job of putting forth a cannabis environment that is conducive to the real medical industry and its professionals. The “medical only” market we have created continues to come under intense scrutiny because from the outside looking in, it does not look like a medical situation at all. Most major media done on medical cannabis include a point (or many points) on the increasing skepticism of this growing industry. People just do not see fat blunts and “medical” cannabis cups as true to life medical applications of cannabis.

It is this giant lie we continue to tell ourselves so much that we have begun to believe it is true.

On one hand we have advocacy groups swearing up and down the country that this is all 100% legit medical use, while at the same time representatives of this very medical advocacy groups participate heavily in extremely recreational seeming events, and their staff and followers mock the medical uses of marijuana by consistently taking dosages far beyond any medical applications. These groups have no problem setting up their booth right next to a doctor who may be holding office hours at the local cannabis cup or Cypress Hill concert, but then want to look down their nose at these “recreational users” who are “screwing things up for real patients.”

Spare me the rhetoric. The unfortunate side effect of working so hard on medical only laws and policies is that we have not focused much time, energy, or resources on the real issue of cannabis prohibition….MASS INCARCERATION OF MOSTLY POOR PEOPLE.

Some folks have taken their self-righteous medical only stance so far as to say that they are not for adult use legalization because it could affect their rights as a medical patient. You know what makes a person really sick? PRISON. And not only does it make that person sick, it makes their entire family and everyone who ever cared about them sick too. When a young black youth is arrested for selling weed and gets a five-to-ten mandatory minimum sentence, not only does he risk real actual sickness from living in a dirty infested jail with limited healthcare, but he loses his life and standing in the community forever.

So while I understand that your rheumatoid arthritis is a bitch, just know that sitting in prison for weed is a much bigger bitch. We lock up poor people for weed at alarming rates in this country and terrorize people through unlawful search and seizures all in the name of prohibition. But do not worry, Mr. Medical Only Cannabis Activist…as long as you can have your weed, screw all of those folks, right?

Wrong. DEAD WRONG.

If you are so selfish that you would sacrifice another human’s freedom and right to life to only save yourself and your rights to use cannabis, then you are just as selfish, greedy, and evil as the bastards who made these laws, and who continue to endforce them. If you have convinced yourself that you are so damn sick that it is okay to continue to feed our youth into a violent and dangerous prison system so as not to upset the gentle balance of your safe access then you a.) lack courage; and b.) are a major part of the problem.

Here is a reality check for many who use cannabis “medically.” Your use is not really medical at all…at least by the normal terms and standards of what is medical in this country. So before you go doubling down on your bullshit position, do me a favor…consider these questions:

Question one…In a medical only cannabis market, cannabis will eventually be prescribed by a doctor when medical rescheduling takes place. What medicines prescribed by a doctor on the market now are smoked? Did you come up with none? I did too.

Second question….What medicines prescribed by doctors are whole plant medicines? I came up with none. What did you get?

Third question….What medicines are prescribed where you can get as much as you want to use over any period of time? What medicine does a doctor tell you to roll up as fat of a portion as you want and smoke away? Oh yeah…there are no smoked medicines. Well what prescription do they tell you it is okay to use as much as makes you feel good and pass it around to your friends? Did you come up with none again? Me too…

Fourth question…Which prescribed medicine are you allowed to grow at your house? None again? Damn…

One more question….What medicine prescribed by a doctor allows them to write prescriptions with no oversight or scrutiny from the FDA and DEA? None again? Damn…

The point I am making is that most of these medical only crusaders do not understand that their use, as it currently stands, is NOT MEDICAL AT ALL. If we continue to fight for a more medical cannabis environment, while ignoring the horrors of mass incarceration because we believe this is a more palatable and winnable argument for our cause, then we are sure to end up painting ourselves into a corner we never wanted to be in in the first place. You will eventually get the old, “You guys said you wanted medical only marijuana. Well here you go. Enjoy your Satixex or go back to being a criminal.”

Some have tried to say that these are two different and separate issues. Nothing could be more patently wrong. The medical use of marijuana is NOT a separate issue from adult use legalization. True herbal cannabis will never be truly free as a medicine to use as people want until we realize adult use legalization. We will  see an out of control pharmaceutical industry find ways to influence lawmakers to limit the very definition of medical cannabis, and ensure that you can only buy cannabis medicines from them. If patients truly want real and meaningful access to herbal cannabis at much lower costs, then cannabis legalization for all is the ONLY ANSWER.

Some of you need to quit with the medical charades too. Nothing is sadder than a bunch of stoners faking back injuries and standing around talking about how sick they all are to justify them taking 20 fat dabs and eating a 500mg brownie. The jig is up. People do not believe you any more and you are making us all look bad. Even my brother with cancer who had three of his ribs removed does not pul the medical card as much as most of you.

And before all of the true-to-life medical cannabis patients who do suffer greatly jump down my throat for this piece, just know that it is the interference, noise, and chaos of this integrated quasi-legalization movement masquerading as some group of healers and alternative medicine experts that is really standing between you and the medical industry buying into the medical applications of cannabis.

I have spent the past year plus talking to cancer research doctors and oncologists at Stanford Medical Center. While all of them understand the medical benefits that their patients see from using cannabis, none want to be associated with the medical cannabis industry as it stands because they do not see the current situation as being medical at all in any way. So that is not me speaking…that is a team of some of the most qualified cancer researchers in the world.

The cannabis movement continues to bury its head in the sand and tries to believe that if they continue to repeat the same mantra over and over that somehow things will get better. Well, while we have provided limited protections for those in our society who can afford to pay a doctor to write them a note for weed, the fact is that over the past 15 years+, since Prop. 215 passed, MORE PEOPLE HAVE GONE TO PRISON FOR WEED…not less.

So while we may be winning the medical only battle (which I have shown will result in limited variety and availability to less and less qualified people as time goes on), WE ARE LOSING THE WAR ON CANNABIS FREEDOM. While we continue to divert huge portions of our movement’s resources to justifying the medical only approach, hundreds of thousands of poor, and mostly minority, people go to prison for weed every day.

Until we can step back and understand that we are not even asking for what we really want because we have been led to believe that we must “save the medical patients first” then we should not be surprised when what we get is a very limited medical market with people still going to prison for weed…A LOT. If we spent as much money and time exposing the tragedy of mass incarceration and the failed war on drugs as we have on trying to convince the world we are all very sick and that only 10 joints of the chronic-bubonic will save us, weed would be legal already.

This movement needs to re-prioritize its message ans its implementation of resources to be more effective in ending the war on cannabis. It is not a “do this first and we will get to that later” issue any more. LATER IS NOW. It has been damn near two decades since we began the big “we are all very sick” march towards legalization. Maybe it is time to switch gears, accept that people do not believe us any more, and begin to attack the tragic aberration that is the mass incarceration of our own people. WE CAN END THIS MADNESS…but we cannot until we begin to really ask for what we want…and more so..what we really need.

So while I am very sorry you are not feeling well, my friends are sitting in prison rotting away for weed right now. Their situation is MUCH MORE dire than yours. So when a person says “we have to save the patients first” remind them that by saving everyone, we save the patients; and we save the lives of thousands of good people being railroaded by a prison industrial complex gone bad. It is no longer okay to ignore the opportunity cost of not addressing the core issue of mass incarceration.

This is a fight we can win, and it begins with us demanding that they quit taking ALL people to jail for weed….not just the sick…and certainly not the “sick.”

Dying in jail for possession of weed…

Can you imagine getting a death sentence for possession of weed? Well that is exactly what happened to a young man from Washington State named Michael Saffioti (22), who was arrested for possession of cannabis. He missed a court date, and like a good citizen, turned himself into the authorities. He died in police custody  less than 24 hours later because the jailers refused to believe that he was having a severe reaction to the oatmeal he was served. This young man lost his life because of our draconian laws on weed and because of a prison industrial complex that is evil and overwhelmed. This is a tragedy that could have been avoided, and simply never should have happened.

But these tragedies happen all of the time. It is disgusting. People get arrested for weed everyday and get shoved into a prison system that is built for violent offenders and crimes of moral turpitude. Yet we allow our friends and neighbors to be railroaded into this dangerous system for something as benign and trivial as weed. Why?

Our society is collapsing from these policies and we have become numb to the issue. But this kid in Snohomish County, WA is not just another criminal who got what he deserved. He is a kid that smoked marijuana because it made him feel better. He did not deserve to be put in a cage for his use of marijuana. Here is what his mother said about the tragedy from a story on Toke of the Town:

“Ultimately, he found and thought he was better functioning using marijuana,” said his mother, Rose Saffioti, who is a nurse.

But Michael didn’t have a doctor’s recommendation to use cannabis medicinally, which left him vulnerable to prosecution. His marijuana use led to several encounters with law enforcement. After the most recent incident, he and his mother went to the police station, carrying his medical history, after he had missed a court date.

“I wanted Michael held accountable for his legal issues and I insisted on it,” his mother said. “But I didn’t want him to die.”

Michael started having trouble breathing after eating the oatmeal that was served to him in jail. According to other inmates, he begged for help.

The guards accused him of faking it, and allowed him to die in horrible pain. The autopsy found his allergic reaction to milk products contributed to his death.

“I know there’s a period where he knew he was going to die,” his mother said. “And he trusted me. Everything was supposed to bet set up, that he’d be taken care of.”

“He was scared,” she said, reports The Associated Press. “I said, ‘You are doing the right thing. They are going to take care of you.’ He said, ‘I have a bad feeling that they are not going to take me seriously.’ ”

“You can’t get help. You can’t call 911,” said Anne Bremner, an attorney representing the Saffioti family. “You’re at their complete mercy. When the jail’s the one that gives you something that’s going to kill you — that they know is going to kill you — they, at a minimum, have to rescue you. And they didn’t.”

Nothing she can say will bring back her son. As a father of two kids I cannot even imagine the lost and angry feelings that must be overcoming this family. It is unacceptable and a clear sign that this war on our own citizens MUST STOP.

This is the challenge for all of the parents who oppose cannabis legalization based on the idea that they do not want their precious children smoking weed. The fact is that weed is more available to kids as an illegal substance. When they get it easily and are caught with it, your precious child becomes a criminal at the mercy of a corrupt and vile system that profits off putting them in a cage with other dangerous criminals. If you want to save your kids then vote yes to legalize weed and raise them to make better choices if you think weed is such a bad thing. But do not vote to continue the mass incarceration of our own people. Do not allow for the prison industrial complex swallow up your babies because they like weed.

We are better than this as a society. People need to be outraged. We can no longer afford, financially or morally, to put good people in cages for weed. it is not working. My heart goes out to these folks, and all of the folks who have lost their loved ones to this insane policy of imprisoning people for safe, enjoyable, and helpful plants.

Doing the Little Things

I am amazed at the amount of people who think that their activism begins at the protest and ends at the end of the event. Activism is something that puts you to sleep at the end of a long day and wakes you up early driven to do more. Activism happens EVERYWHERE.

Often, the most effective activism you can do is in normal every day conversations with friends, neighbors, co-workers, or even the lady in line at the grocery store. There is always room to squeeze in a conversation about weed and why our current weed policies in this country are absolute failures. It is the little things in weed activism that make the wheels turn. The reason we see the most recent tracking polls above 50% in favor of legalizing cannabis for adults is because our society at large is having this conversation more often and more prominently. We are seeing a very healthy dialogue taking place in real time, where more people have begun to find their voice on this issue.

It is no longer just Snoop Dogg out there preaching weed love. There are crazy right wingers like Pat Robertson and Tom Tancredo jumping on board. You see Brad Pitt and Richard Branson making waves a lot on the failed drug policies of our country. Civil Rights groups, like the NAACP, are supporting ending the mass incarceration of mostly poor and minority folks for weed. There is a deep, and more honest, conversation happening out there than has ever been had in my life time. I could not be happier.

But it is up to us to continue to fuel that fire. It is up to us to take a well-publicized statement and turn it into many conversations with folks who need to be educated. We need to share that story on Facebook and Twitter for all of our friends to see. We must send letter, and emails, and make phone calls, and continue to use our time and energy to break down the barriers of misinformation that keeps our plant from its righteous place in our daily lives.

It is the little things that will end this thing. It is great that there are big picture things happening to be a part of. But the ground game happens every day in your normal life patterns. That is where we reach those who just need a little encouragement, or some knowledge, to get their support for the cause. Those folks will not be at the rally and may not see the protest on TV; but they know YOU and they respect your opinion. Use that influence to make a case for the cause.

They say weedheads are about 10-15% of the population. That means if all of us made a commitment to talk to ten of our neighbors, we could reach everyone in America with a message of cannabis freedom. Do those little things today. Track down a stranger and tell them why weed is awesome. Buy a cool weed shirt and start a conversation. Put an end the drug war sticker on your car. Write an email for weed. Make a phone call for weed. If we all do one little thing a day we can end this thing tomorrow. DO IT!

DECADES in prison for medical weed

Home Sweet Home

It has been a long and sobering couple of weeks for the medical cannabis community, Justice has again failed and we see our brothers and sisters being put in prison for decades for providing safe and effective cannabis medicines to people authorized to use it from their physicians.

Let that sit with you. We are putting people in prison for DECADES for providing weed to sick people. Should I say it again? We have taken a human being and put him in a small cage with other dangerous criminals for ten plus years because he provided sick people with plant material that made them feel better. I do not know about you, but it makes my stomach turn really. It makes me sad to be an American, really.

This week Aaron Sandusky was convicted on two conspiracy charges and remanded to custody for a 10-year to life sentence for his role in operating a group of medical cannabis dispensing collectives in Southern California. In Michigan this week we say Gerald Duval Jr. and his son Jeremy Duval sentenced to ten years in prison for two medical cannabis greenhouse facilities that were being cultivated for patient use in accordance with state law there. In Montana late last month, Chris Williams was convicted of 8 felony counts for his role in Montana Cannabis, a legal provider of medical cannabis there. He also faces decades in prison for his “crimes.” And this is just in the past two weeks.

We have been quietly, and sometimes not so quietly, been sending medical cannabis cultivators, providers, and patients to prison for DECADES and ruining people’s lives for not just weed, but doctor authorized weed. It is an incredible injustice and we should be outraged. Often our community tries to read the tea leaves and say, “Well, this person was busted for this reason, and it will never happen to me.” That is bullshit, and you should know better. We are all in the same boat and face the same risks.

If I made my living providing medical cannabis I would begin to seriously looking at donating my resources towards ending cannabis prohibition, and fast. You could be the next person to face the injustice of doing the right thing and facing a jury that is not even allowed to take into consideration the medical aspects of your defense. In Federal court you have no defense. Did you grow weed? Yes. Go to prison for a decade. WTF? But that is where we are at. This is happening all over. What are you going to do about it?

The list is long of good people who are sitting in prison on mandatory minimum sentences and decades of time for providing weed to sick people. We are allowing our government to run rampant and take the lives of good people for weed. Bryan Epis (10 years), Eddy Lepp (10 years), Luke Scarmazzo (22 years), Richard Montes (20 years), Dustin DC Costa (16 years), Timothy Dellas (10 years), Doctor Mollie Fry and her husband attorney Dale Schafer (5 year mandatory for very few plants over years), and there are dozens of others doing 3, 5, 6, 7 years sentences also. It is alarming.

These are not the “bad operators.” These are not bad guys who just got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. These are all people who believed, like many of us, that if we do the right thing then justice would protect us. We are all very vulnerable to Federal enforcement. None of us are better than the others in the eyes of the US Justice Department. We are all a bunch of criminal weedheads to them. It is a sad reality that we all must take a hard look at.

Times are changing and there is a louder and more robust call for cannabis freedom every day. This is great; but it is not very comforting for the folks waking up away from their loved ones with nothing but time staring them in the face.

We have got to make a better effort. We have got to make more clear and focused campaigns aimed directly at the evils of imprisoning people for a safe, enjoyable, and helpful plant. We have got to begin to move mountains and free our brothers and sisters from the clutches of tyranny. We must get our shit together and take this fight to the heart of the beast, which is combatting the mass incarceration of our neighbors and citizens for weed. It has got to end and it has got to end now. It is no longer okay to sit idly by while good people lose their freedom and standing in the community because of weed.

This is not working…

POWERFUL! The House I live In. GO SEE IT!

A powerful new documentary exposes the horrors of the war on drugs. Calling the war on drugs a “holocaust in slow motion,” this movie looks at the incredible damage that America’s longest war has taken on our society. This documentary could not come at a better time, as our nation is having a more robust dialogue than ever on the failure that is the drug war.

Here is a trailer for the movie:

Get out to the theater and support this movie. This movie has the power to break down barriers and educate people on this evil assault on our citizens. Never before has a movie so clearly spelled out the terrible dangers and the injustices of the drug war. Do not just see it yourself, but take a friend or family member to see it. It is POWERFUL and an excellent way to put forth the conversation that the war on drugs must end, and it must end now.

The House I live in is a MUST SEE for any weed activist, and any person who needs a very real and touching message as to why this policy of prohibition has failed our society. Go see it today….

Screenings

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