An Army of One

“There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.”

-Mark Twain

I am not sure what to think any more. Just when I think this industry/movement/clusterfuck could not get any more idiotic, it does. It is a huge exercise in groupthink, and it is becoming more pathetic every day. Does anyone think for themselves any more, or has everyone just decided to forget doing the homework and cheat off their neighbor?

For a bunch of “enlightened” stoners this group of activists, business people, weedheads, and legal politicos sure do lack in the independence category. Very few have the courage to speak the truth and say what they mean in this industry, and I am not sure why. If one more prominent activist comes up to me and “thanks” me for saying “the things we all are thinking but do not have the nuts to say” I am going to shoot myself in the face.

This is not hard stuff. This is basic human interaction. We all learned these skills when we were babies, and have since been conditioned to sit down and shut up unless we are spoken to. What is good and what is bad are not new concepts here.

But independence is rare in our community, and the desire for conflict is even more elusive. Maybe it is the perception that we must never criticize our own in fear of giving ammunition to our enemies; but here is the reality…by not managing those within our own ranks we have decimated our credibility on many levels, and have given more ammo to the enemy then ever could have come from a serious conversation about the internal problems we face.

I have made a conscious decision to stop issuing passes to those who are carrying the flag for our movement. It does not serve us well to pretend that the very obvious areas where we are lacking can be fixed with window dressing and platitudes. If we continue to buy into the idea that our voice and our independence matter little in the context of what the group wants (or what we have been led to believe they want), then we will continue to be hampered by strategies and objectives that play to the lowest common denominator.

There are a lot of folks out here who have claimed to have accomplished this or that, or who have been given this title or that position, who really have done very little. Let me be pretty clear….Weed is still as illegal today as it was in the 70’s. In fact, there are hundreds of thousands of lives that have been ruined by these failed drug policies since then, and that number is increasing daily. We now lock up 25% of the world’s prison population, but only have 5% of the actual population because we take poor people to jail for weed a lot. Or we take their house…or kids…or job. Ugh. Not a lot to be proud of.

Yet from the parade of ego and triumph we see from the group, you would think we had cleaned out the prisons and that weed was available at 7-Eleven now. Not even close.

And yet, every day I see more and more once independent people fall victim to the game. While there is still a strong group of holdouts, most have put their head down and have decided to tow the company line to make life easier for themselves. Many have given up their voice in order to be a conforming member of the larger community. It is the basic high school premise of the “cool kids” and the “outcasts.” There are the same peer pressure principles at play. If you want to be a part of the group you have to act like this and say these things. You definitely cannot rock the boat. It is sad, but true. High School was far from the end of the groupthink bullshit.

We all have the ability to think for ourselves. Many times we just choose not to, whether because of pressures, or because of laziness, or maybe even just a lack of confidence.

What has happened is that there is a breakdown in communication and understanding. There is a lot of built up animosities that are not likely to go away any time soon. There are not enough people willing to stand up and actually say “enough.” There are plenty thinking it, and many who have simply dropped out due to apathy; but there is very little communication as to what we can do better….independently, or as a group.

I would encourage the average weed activist to never allow the wishes of the group overcome your beliefs and values. Never be afraid to be the lone voice of dissent in the room. Do not let your voice be swept under the rug and diminished by the masses. Sometimes it takes an army of one to change the outcome of the battle. While there is need for group strategy and cooperation, it does us no good to blindly follow the group for the sake of not upsetting the group. Real dynamic movements acknowledge the need for independent voices and ideas, and are open to change and evolution.

You can continue to hire one Yes Man after another that will tell you how great you are, but unless you know that the Emperor does indeed have some fucking clothes on, it is an irrelevant exercise in stupidity, and likely corruption.

Think for yourself, and say what you think every once in a while. You might be surprised at the power of your army of one….

Older. Not Necessarily Wiser.

Every year we have a birthday and celebrate our existence, and we benchmark the time we have spent here on planet earth. With age comes responsibility, and often it is assumed that knowledge also comes from getting older.

Age is an interesting equalizer with people. The age of someone shows their level of experience in a measurement of time. While certainly the amount of actual days spent somewhere is a factor in experience, when we look at something as vastly mysterious as the meaning of human life, time can be an imperfect measurement indeed. What actually happens in that time frame also matters, and affects the level of wisdom and understanding of a person. It is easy to understand how a person who has been exposed to a variety of life experiences, cultures, and emotional situations may know a bit more than a person who has lived a more sheltered experience.

Work ethic and a hunger for knowledge are also very important aspects of human understanding. A person who is more determined and ambitious to learn about the world we live in will generally have a larger knowledge base to draw from. and in turn, should be wiser for it. Educational opportunity and an openness to learning determine how we grow as people and take in our world. One can assume that a person who is focused on, and who has the opportunity to expand their education might be wiser than a person who is lazy in their studies, or who has little opportunity in their schooling.

The main point being that just because a person is older they are not necessarily any wiser for it. It is a myth that simply aging will bring wisdom.

My birthday is always a simple reminder that I do not really know shit, and that I should work harder to learn more because my days here are obviously numbered. It is always the time when I evaluate if I have done enough, have been good enough, or have worked hard enough. Have I made a difference in my world? Or has my time been wasted?

It is healthy to examine one’s self and better understand if you are living up to the morals and objectives that you have set forth. Are you achieving your goals? What are areas that we can do better? What opportunities have we missed, and how can we avoid missing more opportunities in the future? How can we step up our game and take it to the next level? Have we kept our word and have we been a good stewards of our community? Can we be better?

My birthday has always been an exercise in self-examination for me. If this is how we keep score here on earth then I generally want to take a minute and see where I am on the game board.

So what does this have to do with weed?

I thought you would never ask. As an activist community, and a movement, and as an industry WE NEED TO DO MORE SELF EXAMINATION, as well

I am not sure what day would be the exact birthday for the weed movement (4/20?), but it is high time that we all sat down and took a long hard look at where we are, and how the hell we got here. We need to examine closely what is working, and what is not; and commit to changing what is not. How many years have gone by without so much as a change in strategy, or leadership, or methodology?

Why do the figurehead organizations “leading the charge” for cannabis freedom look the same today as they did a decade ago? Or four decades ago for that matter?

Has so much gone right for cannabis users over the past few decades that we see no need for change, or even maybe a dynamic shift in who we send out there to beat the drums for our cause? Is it just me who thinks the standard shtick of this movement has gotten stale; and that the same idiots keep saying the same things to please the same folks with the same money, and that in the translation the needs of the average and ordinary weedhead are getting shoved aside?

It is offensive to watch the folks that pretend to be fighting for weed users’ and cannabis patients’ rights continue to sell out our values to the highest bidder; and to disregard what is best for the masses in hopes of winning favor with the money folks. For us to not take a closer look at why we continue to operate in a “business as usual- don’t rock the boat” manner would be tragic. It is time we stepped out of our comfort zone and began to ask ourselves if we are good enough?…and more so, could we be better?

For us to blindly travel down the same road hoping to arrive at a different destination than we have in decades past is ignorant and idiotic. We are better than that.

This movement is no spring chicken. Some of these players have been fighting this fight for a long, long time. That certainly makes them older. I am not sure about any wiser. Often it seems as if we are fighting yesterdays battles on different terms and ignoring the evolution of the world we live in. I think we lack youth and expression on many levels, and have given too much to tradition, with little expectation of results.

We have allowed our movement to ride a long on cruise control with the same few folks dictating the direction, energy, and rhetoric. We MUST ask ourselves if this has been effective, and if we believe we can improve, we certainly should.

Weed will be legal soon, whether by our works, or in spite of our efforts. That choice is up to us to make. We can let the sheep in sheep’s clothing continue to sell us out to the highest bidders; or we can begin to demand accountability, ambition, and evolution.

When can we knock off the dog and pony show, and consolidate the best and brightest this industry has to offer into a powerful force to knock down the final walls of prohibition and lead us to the promised land?

As I turn a year older today I will certainly reflect on my place in society, but I cannot help but wonder how many more birthdays will have to go by where we still take people to jail for weed because maybe we could have done more, worked harder, or have been better. I hope that this is the last birthday I ever have under cannabis prohibition and the idiotic drug war, and you should too….

 

Strange Days On The Horizon

Just when you thought it could not get any weirder….

The complex nature of cannabis law reform usually makes me want to scream. It is a strange world where the truth can cease to exist, and hyperbolic bullshit rules the day. It is a puzzle, or maybe it is a trap…it is often hard to tell. It can be beautifully frustrating, or frustratingly beautiful. It is uncertain, and many times uncomfortable.

As a weed activist, it is difficult to tell where reality and fiction colide; and where weed will emerge from the underground back into an accepted and understood part of our society. It can boggle your mind if you try to think too hard about it. It is a hard concept to grasp. How the fuck did we get here?

I cannot even comprehend the concept of why weed was ever made illegal in the first place. I have thought long and hard about the evolution of our nation’s drug laws, and how we have ended up in such a terrible mess. For me, it is unconscionable to think that people lock other people in a cage because they like weed. I just do not get it. What the hell is going on? How did this happen? Where were the defenders of the Constitution when we needed them back in the day when they began this whole mess about locking people up for what they put in their own bodies? Why are we putting up with this shit now?

Yet somehow, this nation of freedom-loving, gun-toting, patriotic defenders of liberty have allowed the big governement nanny state to tell us what we can, and cannot consume. What is that all about?

“You like weed? It makes you feel good and you do not hurt anyone? Sorry, chump…You are going to prison.”

The absurdity of this concept is coming to the surface more and more each day. It is only a matter of time before cannabis re-enters the mainstream markets again, and becomes another boring commodity like booze, tobacco, pills, or even tomatoes. Think about it. Rarely does a beer company make the news just for making beer. It is just not interesting copy.

So how will weed go from being this hot-button outlaw topic to just another boring industry that serves a certain portion of the population with their products? What twists and turns will we experience along the way? How will the evolution unfold? Will it take a couple of decades to see a truly unadulterated weed market that is not hampered by overly-burdensome regulation and taxation? How long will it be before the market shifts completely to a level playing field where the person with the best goods and services wins?

Will it be a series of slow moving changes that take baby steps to a long-term freedom; or will there be a sudden social and political shift that will drastically open the floodgates of freedom and justice?

One thing is certain. It will be strange….hopefully in a good way.

We already see strange positioning and posturing, with this person selling their bag full of miracles to any sucker who wants in on the early action. The snake oil salesmen (some literally) are out in force to separate the fool from his money. That is just the nature of the beast.

The insane part will be the strange interpretations of what weed is and where it belongs in our society. We have already seen the medical vs. adult use argument heat up. There is the matter of production to figure out…who, where, how etc. Personal cultivation rights will be interesting. Driving will matter, of course, as we already see the drama happening in WA and CO.  Retail sales….how does that work? Weed stores? Weed in stores? Internet weed store? All of that….

For every little issue and concept, there are a million ideas and rationales for implementation. There will be fighting. There will be winners and losers. There will be fierce competition. There will be supply and demand. The thought of it all boggles my mind.

It will be a strange trip indeed, but one I am certainly exited to take. I have my thoughts and ideas, just like anyone else. Some are brilliant; others stink, I am sure. The hope is that we realize a world with less people in jail and more people using weed instead of booze, or pills, or whatever….However we get there is how we will get there, and there is likely not a hell of a lot I can do about it personally.

But fate is seldom wrong, and certainly we will see the fate of our beloved cannabis plant find its way back to the surface one way or another. For all of the money, time, energy, and human resources we have seen go into fighting weed and promoting its prohibition, weed has endured and is stronger than ever. If anything, their efforts to prohibit it have backfired, and have made it so much more interesting and intriguing.

It will only get fucking weirder from here…..until it gets boring. Hopefully that will happen sooner than later.

The only thing that needs to be “exciting” about weed is that it smells, tastes, ans works better than usual. You can keep all the rhetorical politics and grandstanding bullshit…. Keep the swat team kicking in peoples’ doors for weed and searching their car…and taking their kids…and losing their jobs….and being treated like lesser citizens. The eye rolls and snarky comments. The stereotypes. Keep all that shit. Whatever we need to do to get there, let’s get moving.

I can sassure you it will never get weird enough for me….I will be here regardless.

Corporate Cannabis in a Conscious Culture

Weed will be legal for adults to use as they please soon enough. (#weedlegalbysummer)

One of the big fears I hear in the community is the “takeover of the cannabis market by big corporations.” There is usually a Monsanto reference or two in there, and usually the folks that are worried ponder if decriminalization is not a better option. So let me be clear on that point. It is not.

Decriminalizing cannabis does nothing to return cannabis to its rightful place as a safe, enjoyable, and helpful plant in our society. Settling for a decriminalized model still means weedheads are lesser people in the community. It still means cops can harass you because they smell weed. It means fines and civil penalties (including asset forfeiture) for those who choose to participate in the trade. It means people still being drug tested and losing their jobs, or kids, or standing in the community. All of that is unacceptable; and for what? To keep some nostalgic and romantic version of the outlaw environment and culture, a little higher prices, and to not turn over control of the industry to some large corporation?

For the record, there are some fairly large corporations that sell weed in the industry already. I mean, Harborside’s well-publicized $20 million plus a year in revenues and one hundred employees are hardly a mom and pop operation. Nor should they be. The reality is that in order to provide a large amount of goods to a growing population of people, it is going to take some big business know-how and fortitude to create and operate an infrastructure capable of providing good-old American grown weed products all over the globe. I do not think that the average weed grower and person who works in the industry understands the VAST untapped weed market that is currently being served by Mexican brick weed and the hay that gets shipped out of state.

Here is one thing that a legalized weed market will change….YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO SELL BAD WEED FOR TOO MUCH MONEY ANYMORE. Sorry….you will have to step your game up to compete in the marketplace; but we already see these free market principles happening in states with robust cannabis markets (which is why the hay gets shipped out of state). Weed is like $20-$25 and eighth in Denver due to the saturated marketplace there. Yet because a lot of the product is vertical, meaning the manufacturer is also the retailer, the margins still exist to allow most dispensaries there to make a living. But stores have closed there who could not compete, and products that are no good do not get bought. Pretty simple…grow better weed, or find a new gig.

The reality is that there will be large companies and corporations that enter the cannabis market. I do not see it being the end of the world. During the Prop. 19 debate I was chatting with Spearhead’s Michael Franti online about this issue, and he had some great insight. He stated that while there likely would be a corporatized cannabis market, that just like the foods he buys, there will also be organic small farmers, and small batch producers from which people can purchase their cannabis. He called it a personal choice issue, and one that we all face in almost every purchase of any commodity on the planet. There are cheaper, lower quality, mass produced options for nearly everything; and there are also higher quality, crafted, and independent choices available. There are evil corporations, and there are conscious corporations that are good stewards of their community. While corporate America leaves a lot to be desired on many fronts, there is a place for corporations in our society.

I mean, I cannot make my own car. As much as I would like to think I can, it is just not feasible. Is it impossible? No. Is it likely that a car I tried to make myself would be terrible because I do not have the proper equipment, labor force, resources, or intellectual knowledge to do it correctly? Yup. My car would suck big time. So it is easy to see how in order to feed the demand for consumer products and commodities, it often takes a large corporation to provide the needed infrastructure and mechanism to get the products to market to meet the demand.

Weed is not different. Let’s look at some numbers. It is estimated that about 9-10% of the population smokes weed regularly. That number is probably higher, since it is hard to get people to admit to criminal activity in polling, as well as the folks who may occasionally take a drag off their friend’s joint every once in a while, as well as the folks who may not consider themselves a “regular” user. Now the current market in states with medical cannabis access show that about 1-2% of the population qualify for medical cannabis in states where registration is mandatory. So what we can gather is that even in states with a great deal of medical cannabis access, there is still a HUGE untapped weed market. Only about one in five weedheads participate directly in the medical cannabis programs available. Obviously in states where there is no medical cannabis, or where the laws do not allow for dispensaries or access points, there is a much larger secondary black market that is fueling consumption. The point is that there are still A LOT of people in America getting their weed from less than stellar resources, and there is a lot of market potential for people who produce and sell weed. Add to that a percentage of the population will likely open up to using cannabis without the stigma or legal risks there are now, and you could see the market increase substantially.

There is no shortage of potential. Then add to that the possibility of a global supply chain, where places like Northern California lead the charge in product reputation, and you could see an incredible market growth potential. Do you have any idea how popular Budweiser is in Ireland? I didn’t either. But it just shows that when you open up a legalized global cannabis market, there will always be room for growth and prosperity for people who grow good weed, likely in places none of us ever imagined selling weed.

I like to compare the potential weed market to that of the wine industry, as it is easy to see how things correlate pretty easy. Now there are certainly big corporate wine making behemoths in the industry, and they provide products generally aimed at a lower price point, which lack in quality and taste. But the market is huge. There is a lot of money in the ghetto.

Two-Buck Chuck is a staple in many middle-class and low income houses, as it is a decent bottle of wine for an incredible value. It is likely not handcrafted in seasoned Oak barrels, or aged for years; but it is a great product for a person on a budget. But when that same person wants to celebrate a little, they might splurge for the $20 bottle of Stag’s Leap, or they may even go out to a big dinner and drop $300 on a bottle of Opus One. Now neither of these are a bad option. They are just choices that people make based on what they can afford, and what their preference priorities are. There is no wrong or right choice. I am sure the folks who have a job at the Two-Buck Chuck factory are just as happy as the people pulling the grapes for Stag’s Leap. And the reality is that our society NEEDS Two-Buck Chuck, or a lot of folks would not be able to have a casual bottle of wine, now and again.

So when I hear pot growers bellyache about their fears of being squeezed out of the market, I just do not get it. If you grow decent pot, and are not an asshole, you should be able to make a living in a legalized weed market. There will be more income to go around for everyone, and while prices will be lower for sure, it will be easier to grow and sell more to meet the difference. A lot of the major wine makers do not grow all of their own grapes. Often large corporate wine makers, like Mondavi, buy their grapes from a number of small batch grape farmers to make into products. This affords the farmer the ability to focus on his crop, rather than on trying to sell the crop in the marketplace. It is a symbiotic relationship that serves both purposes of filling the resources of the major corporation, while providing income to small batch independent farmers who are good at what they do. See how that could work?

But the one thing about cannabis is the established culture that has evolved as a result of prohibition. It is understandable that folks who have risked their lives and freedom to grow and sell weed would feel threatened by the possibility of “outsiders coming in an taking over.” Although, most of us were outsiders in this industry at one time or another. But in all reality, a lot of the culture will remain, and the folks who developed and created the beauty of that culture will likely be at the forefront of the evolution into a legalized and ordinary cannabis market. There will be winners and losers, and some folks will not make the cut; but overall, I firmly believe that those who have paid their dues will be rewarded in a legalized adult use cannabis market, and will be able to expand their horizons beyond their wildest dreams. It is easy to imagine a possible disaster, but can you imagine awesome success? If not, you should try to.

There is no reason that a corporate cannabis environment cannot possess and represent the morals, values, and conscious behavior that many see as synonymous with the cannabis movement. There are actually a lot of good corporations in the world that have found a way to balance the demands of the corporate shareholder needs and the moral and ethical values that we expect of our fellow humans, and their businesses. This is our market to win or lose, and believe that we have the ability to shape how our society views cannabis as it re-enters the mainstream and legal market. It is up to us to demand that cannabis corporations provide a higher standard of quality, and that they are conscious capitalists operating sustainably, and ethically. We can decide who succeeds and who fails by who we support, promote, and believe in. We can demand the balance that we want, and we can be the change we want to see in the world.

So put aside the boogie-man big bad wolf corporate Monsanto cannabis myth for a minute, and try to envision a legal cannabis market where we all do great, have awesome jobs, and nobody has to go to prison.

If you can figure out what that looks like, we can figure out how to get there. But weed will be legal soon, so it would be smart to get a head of the curve, and not resist adult use legalization; but embrace it and figure out where your place is in that market….because it IS coming.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

I hear a lot of praise and patting on the back happening for the victories in Colorado and Washington in 2012; and rightfully so, as they have changed the conversation where weed is concerned. These efforts have forced our society to take a hard look at our policies for marijuana and drug enforcement more closely, and not a moment too soon.

But what I also hear is a lot of revisionist history that fails to give credit where credit is due.

To be honest, I am pretty deep into cannabis awareness, and even I was unaware of the level of involvement the Marijuana Policy Project had in the Amendment 64 campaign in Colorado while it was happening. The campaign did a good job of distancing themselves from MPP and their Executive Director, Rob Kampia, whose sexual escapades has given the organization a less than stellar reputation. This article entitled “The Breast Massage Will Happen” from the Washington City Paper goes into explicit detail about the abuse of power and creepy culture of the organization, and their “hyper-sexualized” leader.

Yet, after the campaign, there was Rob to collect his spoils, and claim his spot as the mastermind who has brought the world cannabis legalization. All of the sudden, now Rob Kampia is using this victory as a vehicle to reestablish himself as a major player in cannabis reform boasting recently in an SF Gate blog about waiting until 2016 for the next initiative push, ““It really only takes 23 rich guys who can write $1 million checks, and I know 23 rich guys who can write million dollar checks.”

Now why these rich assholes would give Rob a million bucks is beyond me, but if Rob is anything, he is a prolific fundraiser. He unfortunately is not a leader, or even a very well respected member of the community. But his incredible ego will never tell him that. They guy brings down everybody’s average, really.

Yet for some reason, there are folks who want to credit this asshole with the courage to put Amendment 64 on the ballot. So let’s be clear….Rob, MPP, or any other of these reform organizations NEVER would have had the courage to go all in on a statewide ballot initiative like they did in CO and WA had Richard Lee not had the courage and vision to put proposition 19 on the ballot in 2010. The fact that Richard put the initiative on the ballot and was ABANDONED by almost all of the major policy groups and STILL GOT 46% OF THE VOTE on a very slim campaign warchest proved beyond any reasonable doubt that cannabis legalization was much closer than any of us thought.

Marijuana Policy Project and NORML did nothing to financially back the effort. Americans for Safe Access would not even have the courage to publicly state that they supported the effort, calling it a “separate issue” (eyes roll).

Imagine if MPP and major donors had donated the millions of dollars, like they did in Colorado, to run public education campaigns, and to put more boots on the ground to educate our own community. Just think if the deep pocket donors, like Peter Lewis, who threw millions at the I-502 campaign in Washington would have even given a portion of that to the Campaign in California. Is it possible Prop 19 could have passed with better funding and a more galvanized effort? Quite possibly.

But one thing is for certain….after the Prop. 19 campaign was over the dialogue of our nation, and our collective conscious, had changed dramatically. The campaign opened up everyone’s eyes to the reality that cannabis legalization is certainly possible. This inspiration and motivation were the foundation for the Washington and Colorado efforts. Yet you will not hear the victory lappers give that credit very often. Rarely do they credit the Prop. 19 campaign with dramatically shifting the conversation on cannabis away from the “we are all very sick” mantra that had been the focal point for over a decade, to a “we are grown-ass adults who should be able to use weed” conversation.

The Prop. 19 campaign paved the way for the victories in CO and WA, and it is terrible that we now see folks willing to claim credit for this change in our society, with hardly even mentioning Richard and his bold effort in California  It is unfortunate that we now see people making claims about how they are calling the shots and will decide who legalizes cannabis where next.

But I believe it is worth noting that if it were left up to these folks, and had Richard not put forth a magnificent campaign on a shoestring budget with none of their support, we would likely be talking about 2024 for legalization; and even then these assholes would probably be skeptical of the polling data. Richard put the issue on the front burner, and for that, we should all be incredibly grateful. It would have been even nicer if some of these big box reformers would have came out and actually tossed a couple of bucks in the hat in 2010 to help; but hey…at least they can enjoy the results of the effort, which was a renewed national dialogue on ending cannabis prohibition.

Unfortunately, these groups were supposed to be the ones putting forth that dialogue….not a dispensary operator from Oakland.

Was Richard’s effort in California the first effort for legalization? Certainly not. Was it the one that changed the conversation and put cannabis legalization on the map? Yup.

But do not expect the ego-driven maniacs that hold the cannabis reform purse strings to tell you that. They would much rather keep you believing that their way is the only way, and that we must wait another four years for cannabis freedom. “Just give us your funding and we will keep it safe until we are absolutely 100% positive we can win this thing.” It is very sad.

Will another angel investor step forward and put an initiative forward in California for 2014; or will we allow these groups to kill the momentum from recent victories, and allow people to go to jail, lose their kids, lose their jobs, and lost their standing in the community for another 4-6 years? Is it possible to raise funds outside of these limited resources? Sure. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a galvanized effort to spearhead that massive fundraising effort? Like an organization dedicated to policy or reform or access, or something like that?

Does anyone realize that even though Amendment 64 and 1-502 passed in 2012 that there will likely be no cannabis industry in place in either state until 2014? So it is safe to imagine that if we wait until 2016 to legalize cannabis in California that we are talking 2018 before we ever see an adult use weed store on the Cali map? Yeah….fuck all that noise. The world will be a different place. Marco Rubio will probably be President by then.

For some perspective….if we go back in time 4 years from today to February 10, 2009, there were ZERO dispensaries in Colorado. Today there are hundreds of dispensaries, regulated grows, and did I mention weed was legal there? To think that this will be the same world four years from now, and to leave our fate to chance, is beyond bizarre to me.

The reality is that the world is changing fast, and if we want to be in charge of our own destiny, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels and wait for a sure thing in 2016. If we do, we should not be surprised when we are forced to take what we are given when policy does indeed change. And it will change. You can count on it.

I thank Richard Lee for his willingness to put himself, his resources, and the fate of our movement on the line in 2010 for cannabis freedom. It would be nice if the rest of the yahoos might mention that in their victory laps and groovy back patting videos from here out, and maybe consider growing a sack of nuts while they are at it. Thanks.

Ethics and Morality in the Struggle Against Good and Evil

There is no shortage of drama in the wild world of weed. Why should today be any different?

Yesterday I got a message from a cannabis activist who claimed she had worked for an organization that was collecting donations for an inmate in prison. She claimed that she had evidence that this group had collected donations in this person’s name and had not given him as much as they had taken in. I was presented with some loose figures, surrounded by ominous language about reporting people to  the Department of Revenue and IRS. To me the tone seemed very vindictive, and not necessarily a call for help for the person who was in jail.

But I take these things seriously, as I would not want to be getting fucked over if I were sitting in Federal prison for weed. So I forwarded the info on to some associates in the area to see if I could track down some truth.

Here is the kicker…..I tell the lady making the accusations that I am going to write the inmate to see what his take on it was. She warned me to “Be careful not to upset him” and that she had tried to tell him but that “he was in denial.” HUGE RED FLAG.

Talk about scruples….

I am now presented with an accusation that these folks are stealing from this inmate, but a warning not to upset the inmate and that he may be in denial because they are the only ones giving him money. Apparently just not enough money. But the claims that his denial is based on his “dependency” on the alleged thieves is odd. If these folks are so evil then why are they the only ones putting money on his books, even if it is not as much as you think they should?

Come to find out this broad is an ex-employee of the organization and used her access to their books for what seems on the surface as a vindictive effort. If a lot of this apparently happened in 2011, and you worked there during the whole deal, but now want to make these disparaging claims AFTER you are no longer receiving your paycheck from the organization, that also raises a HUGE RED FLAG.

If the actual person who you are saying is being taken advantage of does not believe that and trusts the folks who you are accusing to the point of you having to say he is “embarrassed” and “in denial”  then maybe it is you who should be embarrassed or who is in denial. Who knows?

I bring up this point because I have seen a lot of this type of vendetta going around, and it disgusts me. In case some of y’all have not noticed, we are actually fighting a real war with real enemies that want to put us all in prison.

My gut on this tells me that it is more of a personal issue than a true-to-life bleeding-heart effort to support this inmate. But for shits and giggles, let’s assume that this person is on the up and up, and that I am just way off on this one. It is rare, but it happens.

Let us take for granted that this is actually happening and that there is an organization collecting donations for an inmate and then keeping a large majority of said donations for themselves. Just that statement reminds me of every large charity organization out there because that is what they all do, really. But in this context it is obviously different. We are talking about funds targeted for a certain individual…and individual sitting in prison helpless.

Any person or organization of people who would perpetrate such a fraud are certainly evil. There is no questioning that. Obviously we all know that the world is full of evil folks, and while I am not convinced that the people in question in this case are those evil people, I do know that evil people do exist in this movement; and that people have raised money for folks who had no intention of giving it to them. So let’s speak directly to that issue.

Sitting in prison is likely one of the worst experiences a human can have. It is demoralizing and depressing. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. Every day is a terrible one and the only ray of light you have are the few people on the outside who still give a shit about you. It is a vulnerable and often lonely place to be.

For a person, or group of people, to use a tragedy like this to solicit funds for personal gain is unspeakable. It is a crime against human nature that cannot be fathomed by any person who has an ounce of morality. The people who would put forth such a ruse are the lowest scum of the earth and do not deserve to walk on the same planet as the rest of us. They are the lowest common denominator and this is just not something I could ever do. It saddens me to think that there are people that would.

From the situation that was presented to me yesterday, I have taken away some valuable lessons.

One is that people are fucked up. Either the person trying to destroy another’s reputation by making unfounded accusations, or the ones being accused, are fucked up people. Regardless, the world is full of fucked up people.

Another lesson is that trust is difficult.  Finding people who you can put your faith in that will do the right thing, even when no one is looking or after they are gone, is terribly hard. Depending on people and having them disappoint you is incredibly frustrating.

The final lesson is that I am not the morality cop of the weed industry. At least not any more. If people want to be unethical and immoral that is their prerogative. I do not have the energy or time to try and police all of the bullshit that goes on around here any longer. It is not good for my soul. People are going to be people. If they cross my path, we can deal with those realities as they come, but please leave me out of your fucking drama from here on out. Thanks.

And do the right fucking thing for once. It might feel good even….