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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A New Era of Activism and Resolve

It has been nearly a year and a half since I wrote a piece for this site. Why? Because the movement for cannabis freedom began to evolve more into an industry for commercial cannabis; and it became exhausting to try to focus weed activism on so many moving targets, as the hucksters and charlatans came from far an wide for their piece of the action. It is not that there was not a need for activism… It was just a little different.

I spent the last year plus writing more election focused pieces at the site ReformCa.org. It was a brutal year for politics, both in the aspects of who will govern our future in America and where the cannabis reform movement was moving. What we ended up with were several “victories” for adult use and medical cannabis across the nation, while electing a man for President that has made and appointment for Attorney General that could send us back to the days of severe prohibition of cannabis… and quickly.

I feel that it is time to fire back up the Weed Activist site to once again become a resource for activism and understanding to protect the gains we have made as a movement and industry, while continuing to fight for more progress. We cannot afford to allow the appointment of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to head the Justice Department to push us back into the dark ages of cannabis. It is unclear what his plans will be, but it is ominous to say the least. We must be vigilant and prepare for the fight of our lives.

drugsarebad-sessions-fuckmickey-1

Just earlier this year in April, AG nominee Jeff Sessions said the following during a senate hearing on cannabis:

“Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” Sessions said during a Senate hearing in April. “We need grown ups in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it is in fact a very real danger.”

This is the man that we now have calling the shots at the USDOJ. All signs point to a fairly easy confirmation for him, despite his racist and off-color remarks over the years. Those of us who work and play in the cannabis landscape must wake up and understand that this is a really big deal. If you do not understand, I can make it real simple for you. The only thing that has allowed for States to develop and regulate cannabis programs in lieu of Federal laws making it illegal are two MEMOS from the US Department of Justice stating that enforcement resources should not be used to interfere with cannabis programs in States with clear regulatory models in place. That is it… a couple of stupid memos.

As the head of the Justice Department, Sessions can walk in and simply tear up those memos on day one and launch a new war on cannabis providers, if he so chooses. Those who believe that he would not based on Donald Trump’s loosely framed statements while on the campaign trail that it should be left to the States simply do not understand the role of the Attorney General in the United States. The AG is not there to be a “Yes Man” for the President. They are an extremely independent agency that is there to enforce laws. Now the President can make suggestions and hope that the AG respects those wishes, but in no way is the Attorney General bound to do anything the President says. If Sessions wants to make our lives hell again he can do so with or without the blessing of Trump. That is your reality. So wish in one hand and shit in the other… but Sessions has made it clear that he despises marijuana and it is hard to see him running a Justice Department that simply looks the other way.

Many of the folks who jumped into the weed game after the dust settled and it was clear that enforcement was severely limited may be in for a rude awakening. All of those cultivation and sales records that you have diligently kept and submitted to the State or local government in the name of compliance are enough to get most an easy 10 year mandatory minimum sentence in a Federal Penitentiary. That is real talk. Look it up. It is not all fun and games anymore, is it?

Most of the new era of cannabis entrepreneurs and wannabe moguls have no idea what it is like to wake up every morning being sure that the DEA was going to kick your door in and drag you into jail to face a court system where you have no legal defense for cannabis… medical or not. The movement for cannabis freedom has pretty much died off in years past, and what we have seen more recently are complacent and over-confident stakeholders acting as if cannabis were completely legal because their state told them it was. Many have not even considered that a change in Administrations in Washington could severely change the industry that has evolved. They do not get the severity of the crimes they are committing and the real and present dangers that they face.

I have not forgotten. I will never forget. It is ingrained into who I am… Into who I will always be. I am an activist. I am here for the fight. I am here to defend the honor of cannabis, and nothing else. It is still just about a plant and some freedom for me.

I know what it is like to have the power of the Federal government unleashed on me, and to see my name in every major media news outlet across the world as a criminal wanted for cannabis. I remember what it was like to have DEA Special Agents follow me for two years, go through my entire life, and storm my home and businesses with armed federal agents looking to take away my freedom for a decade. That is the reality we all face as an extremely conservative and weed-hating Administration takes shape in our Nation’s Capitol. You can rest on your laurels and hope that it will be all good. I know better. I have seen this show before. Spoiler Alert…. A lot of people go to prison.

So it is time to revive WeedActivist.com and to keep the community informed and educated on what it is going to take to continue to win this fight… and just know that it IS going to be a fight. I am recommitting to my work as an activist and a freedom fighter. I plan on being proactive and not waiting for things to get worse before I get to work. Nope. The time is now and the fight is already upon us.

For those of you working in the cannabis industry who do not consider themselves to be OUTLAWS, here is a dose of reality for you. You are an outlaw and in the eyes of the Feds, you are a criminal that deserves to spend a decade behind bars for your weed business. Let that sit with you for a minute.

As you look across your garden of thousands of “state legal” plants, or you “state licensed dispensary” with documented sales of over 1,000 kg or more of cannabis, just know that you are a 10 year mandatory minimum waiting to happen. There is no way around that. If the USDOJ decides to begin prosecuting cannabis businesses again you have no defense. You are guilty and you are doing 10 years.

Mandatory means mandatory… There is no middle ground there. Google “Matthew Davies” if you don’t believe me. Text book case of a wannabe business mogul caught up in the game who thought that there was no way he could get a mandatory minimum for operating licensed cannabis businesses. No… You really can; and if Jeff Sessions has his way, you certainly will.

Try not to get it twisted. You can try to put lipstick on the pig if you want, but the reality is that we likely to have a real and meaningful fight on our hands. So I am gearing up for it. I am putting fresh batteries in the megaphone and sharpening my poster making skills. I am preparing for the worst, even if I want to hope for the best. You should too.

We all have a lot to lose. We have come too far to turn back now, and I for one am not going down without a fight. Weed Activist is back and we will be more active than ever, so stay tuned and I will see you on the front lines for the next battle for cannabis freedom. You can be sure of it.

Selah.

 

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.

Ken Estes spells it out in video. Right on or too much?

On one hand I think this video is amazing. Ken Estes does the work and is not afraid to put himself out there. The beginning of this video is an incredible journey. Not sure about the hip hop video to tie it together at the end, as visions of the Scarmazzo case linger in my brain. Whatever you may think- feature or fail- this video is an evolution of the Ken Estes and the GDP crews’ story, and for that we thank them…

Nobody likes a bully. US Attorney BULLIES California with IDLE THREATS

Don’t BEAT ME UP, Pimp…

The report came out yesterday confirming what we all knew. Holder and the USDOJ will continue to bully California and cannabis users and providers to carry on the FAILED war on drugs. Way to go. You political posturing is unnecessary, but expected. After all- it is your job as the Nation’s top cop to protect your interests. There is no interest of the country being upheld as you would assert. Jailing and making criminals of cannabis users has been THE BIGGEST FAILURE of public policy this nation has experienced since the Civil Rights movement.

This is nothing new. In 1996, the Clinton Administration made the same remarks about prop. 215 and made the same threats. Now comes the big schoolyard bully, trying to protect the big business and lobbying interests rather than enforce sensible policy. What a joke. I guess what WE THE PEOPLE believe is not good enough. The fact that we are tired of living in fear over cannabis use and tired of being treated as inferior for our choice to use a safe and effective plant, is not good enough reason to stay out of the affairs of California. You had to come input your threatening BS in an attempt to quash the vote. US Attorney Eric Holder and his boss President Obama should BE ASHAMED! This is a cowardice bully move and it WILL come back to bight them in the ass come 2012. You have just told the most populous state in the Nation that our votes do not count. Thanks.

Here is a couple of excerpts from Holder’s statements:

Marijuana is illegal under federal law, which drug agents will “vigorously enforce” against anyone carrying, growing or selling it, Holder said.

So this is a wise use of Federal resources? Why? It would seem that if you do not have the resources to go after medical users, why on earth would you now have the resources for responsible adult users? You couldn’t “vigorously enforce” your way out of a wet paper bag. And what would the point be anyway? Do you see THIS CRUSADE as a wise use of Federal resources? There are plenty of law enforcement in California. Why not let them do their job?

“We will vigorously enforce the CSA against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law,” he wrote.

So there we have it California. Fuck you. Fuck your hopes and dreams. Fuck the “great state experiment” theory. FUCK YOU, Pothead losers. Does that about sum it up, Mr. Holder?

Well I for one do not take kindly to being bullied. I will not give you my lunch money and my freedoms because you have threatened me. I have been here before. This is not my first rodeo. If you want to send your goon squad out to kick my doors in again then so be it. I will put my Santa suit on, grab my signs, and make a fool out of your actions…AGAIN. You cannot imprison the MILLIONS of people who use cannabis. It is just NOT GONNA HAPPEN. Get a grip. Find something else to do. Hell, Obama can’t even remember that the DEA exists.

With 2 wars, threats of terrorism in our borders, violence on the border, a SHITTY ECONOMY, no jobs, and one failing policy after another, it would seem that the Obama Administration would have something better to do…i mean really. Even issuing this stupid statement was TOO BIG A WASTE OF RESOURCES for cannabis prohibition. Live in the NOW. Look around you. People are tired of the lies, misinformation and THREAT of bullying enforcement policy. GO BACK TO WASHINGTON D.C. and threaten the cowardice legislators that still make cannabis “illegal under Federal law” which is the only reason you can give for your enforcement policy. GO HOME and fix the system instead of posturing in California about what you will or will not do to enforce your ARCHAIC AND FAILED POLICIES.

WASTE!!!!

Obama- reel your boy in before Californians completely turn their back on you in 2012 because you are picking on us. We are a sovereign State and expect you to uphold the 10th Amendment. In case you forgot what that says here it is for you:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

And spare me the Interstate Commerce clause BS. I defer to the great Sandra Day O’Connor in her disent in the Raich case:

We enforce the ‘outer limits’ of Congress’ Commerce Clause authority not for their own sake, but to protect historic spheres of state sovereignty from excessive federal encroachment and thereby to maintain the distribution of power fundamental to our federalist system of government. …

This case exemplifies the role of States as laboratories. The States’ core police powers have always included authority to define criminal law and to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their citizens. Brecht v. Abrahamson, 507 U.S. 619, 635, 123 L. Ed. 2d 353, 113 S. Ct. 1710 (1993); Whalenv. Roe, 429 U.S. 589, 603, n. 30, 51 L. Ed. 2d 64, 97 S. Ct. 869 (1977). Exercising those powers, California (by ballot initiative and then by legislative codification) has come to its own conclusion about the difficult and sensitive question of whether marijuana should be available to relieve severe pain and suffering. Today the Court sanctions an application of the federal Controlled Substances Act that extinguishes that experiment, without any proof that the personal cultivation, possession, and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, if economic activity in the first place, has a substantial effect on interstate commerce and is therefore an appropriate subject of federal regulation. In so doing, the Court announces a rule that gives Congress a perverse incentive to legislate broadly pursuant to the Commerce Clause — nestling questionable assertions of its authority into comprehensive regulatory schemes — rather than with precision. That rule and the result it produces in this case are irreconcilable with our decisions in Lopez, supra, and United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598, 146 L. Ed. 2d 658, 120 S. Ct. 1740 (2000). Accordingly I dissent.

Justice Clarence Thomas went further, berating the Court for their interpretation of the Commerce Clause:

Respondent’s local cultivation and consumption of marijuana is not “Commerce … among the several States.”

Certainly no evidence from the founding suggests that “commerce” included the mere possession of a good or some personal activity that did not involve trade or exchange for value. In the early days of the Republic, it would have been unthinkable that Congress could prohibit the local cultivation, possession, and consumption of marijuana.

and…

If the Federal Government can regulate growing a half-dozen cannabis plants for personal consumption (not because it is interstate commerce, but because it is inextricably bound up with interstate commerce), then Congress’ Article I powers — as expanded by the Necessary and Proper Clause — have no meaningful limits. Whether Congress aims at the possession of drugs, guns, or any number of other items, it may continue to “appropria[te] state police powers under the guise of regulating commerce.”

and further…

If the majority is to be taken seriously, the Federal Government may now regulate quilting bees, clothes drives, and potluck suppers throughout the 50 States. This makes a mockery of Madison’s assurance to the people of New York that the “powers delegated” to the Federal Government are “few and defined”, while those of the States are “numerous and indefinite.”

So while I never thought I would agree with Justice Clarence Thomas, he makes valid points. Move on and find some real crime to enforce Top Cop Holder. We got California under control. Thanks.

Former San Jose Police Chief summed it up better than i ever could in his response to Holder’s bullying threats:

“As we saw with the repeal of alcohol prohibition, it takes action from the states to push the federal government to change its policies,” said McNamara.

“Passing Proposition 19 in California will undoubtedly kick start a national conversation about changing our country’s obviously failed marijuana prohibition policies,” he added. “If the federal government wants to keep fighting the nation’s failed ‘war on marijuana’ while we’re in the midst of a sagging economic recovery and two wars, it just proves that the establishment politicians’ priorities are wrongly focused on maintaining the status quo.”

Yeah….what he said.

UNDER FIRE: More raids on collectives. Still feel safe?

Some cannot see the writing on the wall. As eleven more people were booked into the system for providing cannabis medicines, we continue to see complacency in the movement and calls for more of the same. Really? It amazes me that many patients, operators, and producers of cannabis medicines still think that somehow the current gray area phenomena will last forever. But what we see is the beginning of the end, as municipalities are also using the gray area to prosecute providers, kick in doors, and create chaos in the community. Welcome to your new life of raid first, and let the courts sort it out. Just ask Jovan Jackson how that works out…

First they came for San Diego, but we did not speak up because we were not from San Diego.

Then they came for LA and we did not speak up because we were not from LA.

Then they came for San Jose but we did not speak up because we were not from San Jose.

Then they came for OUR GARDEN, and by that time there was no one left to speak up.

We should all think very clearly about what is happening everywhere to understand what could happen anywhere. It is a dangerous proposition to continue down the path of uncertainty and darkness. There is a high-water level for everything and medical cannabis is no different. There is a backlash brewing and unless we can advance the cause and pass Prop 19 to define more clearly the difference between medical and adult use, we are destined to see this trend continue. These are some headlines from the past month or less…

Raided medical marijuana dispensaries targeted due to alleged profits

By Brian Day, Staff Writer

A group of five medical marijuana dispensaries, including one in Covina, raided by authorities Wednesday were targeted because the operators were allegedly turning a profit from the establishments in violation of state medical marijuana laws.

CW: One begs to understand what consists of turning a profit? Is any money a profit as some law enforcement put forth? Or is an organization allowed to have resources, as long as one person does not realize the dividends? This is the unclear area of the current laws that should have all providers worried…

Eleven people were arrested in connection with the operation, which took place Wednesday morning in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties.

The Alternative Medicine Collective of Covina, 20050 E. Arrow Highway, Suite B, was forced to close its doors after a multi-agency task force seized its products, along with four other dispensaries in the four-county operation, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said. No one at the Covina dispensary was arrested.

Under California’s Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, medical marijuana dispensaries are only allowed to operate as non-profits, Capt. Ralph Ornelas of the Sheriff’s Narcotics Bureau said.

Are law enforcement prepared and trained to identify what is and what is not non-profit? Are they accountants too?

“This organization was definitely working outside the law,” he said.

“Our investigation proved they were charging people and making a profit out of it,” Ornelas said. “You’re not supposed to make a profit.”

CW: This is where every patient, provider and producer should be worried. Since the current laws are vague, law enforcement is left to decide whether or not YOU are making a profit. What does a profit look like? Apparently it looks like cash….

Authorities also searched an Alhambra home in the 1600 block of Curtis Avenue, though no evidence was seized, the captain said.

Erik Andresen, 35, of Seal Beach was arrested as the “primary suspect” in the case against the five dispensaries, Ornelas said.

He was booked on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana and another marijuana-related offense at the sheriff’s Norwalk Station, according to a jailer. He was released Thursday after posting $100,000 bail.

CW: Hmmm…that seems like normal charges. Not operating as a for-profit charges. Or some other civil infraction that most businesses would endure for accounting issues…

Andresen said he serves as an advisor for the organization of patients involved and denied any wrongdoing.

“We are a group of patients who are together, collectively, to provide medicine for sick people,” he said.

Andresen said the dispensaries did not make a profit.

“You’re allowed to be reimbursed for your time,” he said. He declined to say how much money he has received in compensation, but described it as “piddly.”

CW: Are you? Who said? Sure the Peron case gives that impression, but it does not define what is “reasonable” thus leaving a lot of discretion to law enforcement. And as we saw in the Jovan Jackson case, if your judge believes in the “only a community garden” theory then you are screwed, unless your reimbursement comes under the narrowest interpretation of the current laws…

“I don’t own a home,” he said.

Andresen added that the collectives generally give excess marijuana free of charge to their sickest patients.

“We don’t turn a profit because be give away any extra proceeds,” he said.

CW: So here begs the question. If you give away any extra proceeds, but just have not gotten around to giving them away yet, when can YOU be charged with maintaining a profit? See the conundrum in the current system?

The names of the other 10 people arrested on drug related charges were not available Thursday, Ornelas said.

In all, the multi-agency task force searched five marijuana dispensaries, one cultivation site, two processing sites, seven homes and a sailboat, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.

Ornelas said they were located in Covina, Alhambra, Long Beach, Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Fullerton, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside and Palm Springs, Ornelas said.

In addition to the Covina establishment, the medical marijuana dispensaries raided Wednesday included the Palm Springs Holistic Collective, the Riverside Compassionate Wellness Center, the San Diego Holistic Collective, and the Compassionate Medical Collective in San Diego, Ornelas said.

Andresen said that as far as he knows, only one dispensary in San Diego is affiliated with his patient group.

Officials seized 35 marijuana plants, valued at $70,000; 78 pounds of processed pot, valued at $234,000; seven gallons of concentrated cannabis oils, valued at $44,800; about 4,000 pre-packaged, marijuana-laced edible products; hydroponic growing equipment and chemicals; and about $20,000 in cash, according to the sheriff’s statement.

CW: I just want to point out that chances are they have no idea of the value of oil….

The edible products included, “Lolly pops, ice pops, candy bars, brownies – all that stuff,” Ornelas said.

CW: Here we go again….

He said sheriff’s narcotics officials are looking into requesting agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration get involved.

CW: The FDA came to the raid of Tainted Inc. Our game was too tight for them to have any issues, as our facilities were immaculate and our operations were above and beyond the call of duty. But you will never read that in the paper, now will you? I hope these producers did their due diligence in preparing these ingestible meds…

Andresen said he would have no problem cooperating with health regulations governing edible marijuana products.

CW: Would not or did not?

Source: http://www.sgvtribune.com/news/ci_16281596

So the real question to ask yourself is how long do we want to keep up the charade and hope that SB420 will hold up in OUR court of law. It would make more sense for the community to pass Prop. 19 and work to set up a system that actually allows for and regulates cannabis sales and distribution. Anything less is just irresponsible. We are seeing more frequent attacks based on the gray area of the laws that govern our community. We will continue to see more. And as these agencies find success their attacks will become more frequent and more invasive. Do not let the complacency of the situation fool you. Access is under attack and YOU could be next. Those who want to “Keep Marijuana Medical” have obviously drank the kool-aid of complacency and are foolish enough to believe their good time will last forever. But the noose is tightening on medical use and there is a real backlash happening. What you will see is less people being able to access cannabis and chances are a fed up Legislature will repeal or amend SB420 to close the loopholes that allow people to operate. Is this what you envisioned? More people being raided, arrested, and prosecuted for cannabis or less? Pass Prop 19 for less. Do nothing and hope for the best if you want more people to be UNDER FIRE. We cannot afford to stand still on this…

Attorney Bill Panzer "Respectfully Disagrees" with Letitia Pepper

I have to respectfully disagree with Ms. Pepper’s analysis on this point. First of all, under federal law, there is no such thing as “medical use” and the cases that have found no preemption don’t rely on the medical/recreational distinction. It is clear that medical cannabis remains illegal under federal law. Rather, there is no federal preemption because the laws do not conflict. A conflict of laws only occurs when one cannot follow one law without necessarily violating the other. For example, if California passed a law making it mandatory to possess cannabis there would be a conflict. If a person followed state law and possessed, they would be in violation of fed law. If a person followed fed law and refrained from possession, they would be in violation of California’s mandatory possession law. Under such circumstances, the feds could sue the state and invalifdate the state mandatory possession law. But Prop 19 does not require anyone to possess cannabis. As such there is no conflict with fed law. Of course, possession still would remain illegal under federal law and Prop 19 would not provide a defense in federal court.

Bill Panzer

In response to Letitia Pepper’s latest tin-foil hat conspiracy that somehow medical use can be legalized and adult use somehow cannot because she has a WHOLE DIFFERENT copy of the Constitution than everyone else….

Pepper Wrote:

“One of the huge problems with Prop. 19 on which I didn’t concentrate — I was mainly trying to figure out what its actual terms did to patients’ rights — is that it purports to legalize recreational use.  But while medical use can be legalized under state law and also federal law, recreational use remains totally illegal under federal law, which cannot be so easily trumped by a state law legalizing recreational use.”

East Bay Express reports suspicious activity over Oakland and Berkeley

No Joke: Secret Government Agents Circling Pot Farms in Oakland, Berkeley

Over the past several months, a single-engine, Cessna-type plane registered to an undisclosed federal law enforcement agency has been circling above the epicenter of the national legalization movement: Oakland, and Berkeley. A narcotics interdiction expert says the plane’s model, low altitude and habit of loitering over cities for hours and hours is consistent with DEA anti-pot operations, wherein the federal agency looks for the tell-tale heat signatures of grow houses and the special green color of outdoor gardens.

One Alameda resident, Marcy Englert, says Oakland International Airport staff told her the FBI was thermal imaging the East Bay when she called to complain about the incessant whine of the small craft circling the island in early September. The Englerts work from home and the plane had become a daily annoyance. Legalization Nation confirmed with Oakland Airport spokesperson Rosemary Barnes that there is indeed a federal law enforcement aircraft performing “public safety operations” above the East Bay, but she didn’t have any details on the agency or its specific activity.

During a recent overflight, Legalization Nation called the Oakland Airport noise abatement hotline and posed as an annoyed East Bay resident. Hotline staff said they’d received dozens of such complaints about the craft over the last four months. There’s actually two, single-engine “Jena” or “Idaho” type crafts, one red and one blue, the staffer confirmed. The planes have spent two to three weeks circling Alameda, two weeks above Berkeley and two months circling Oakland this summer, the staffer said. He could not detail what federal law enforcement agency owned the plane or its purpose.

“Whenever he goes up there and circles, we get calls,” the staffer said.

Barry Cooper, a former narcotics officer turned pro-pot activist and creator of the 2009 documentary Never Get Raided, says DEA anti-pot operations often involve low-flying small planes affixed with a camera system called FLIR that detects excess heat from grow house ventilation. They also use a plane-based camera system dubbed ‘pot-buster‘ that can detect from 5,000 feet up the specific wavelength of light reflecting off an outdoor marijuana garden. [See pictures of a camera system attached to the same “Idaho” model aircraft as reported in the East Bay]. These planes will circle an area tagging suspect locations with GPS coordinates.

The Supreme Court ruled thermal imaging a private residence unconstitutional without a search warrant, but the eight-year narcotics veteran says in his experience, “they’re using them anyway to spot suspicious houses. Then they set up and look for another reason to get the warrant. They do not put in the search warrant affidavit that they used the FLIR. They’ll put in the search warrant affidavit that they saw cars coming in and out of the place, or their power usage was too high, or they got an undisclosed tip.”

Authorities could simply be reconnoitering the nation’s hotbed of legalization for intelligence purposes, Cooper says.

“This is something that the feds do. It’s a billion-dollar industry. They like to keep up with where it’s being grown and how it’s being grown. They’re possibly gathering data to discover exactly how much.”

FBI Special Agent Joseph Schadler, a spokesperson on Northern California operations, said he’s not aware of big operations requiring Cessnas and thermal imaging. Schadler can’t confirm or deny the existence of any FBI investigation, but, “we don’t do dope stuff,” he said.

DEA Special Agent Joycelyn Barnes, a local public information officer, said she was unaware of any activity. The DEA also does not comment on ongoing investigations or practices. Barnes said the plane could be another federal law enforcement agency. The resident agent in charge of the DEA’s Oakland office said this was the first time he had heard of such an operation.

The Department of Justice has stated, “it will not be a priority to use federal resources to prosecute patients with serious illnesses or their caregivers who are complying with state laws on medical marijuana”, but federal anti-potoperations continue nationwide at pre-Obama levels. Cannabis is legal for medical use in California, however the federal government considers it a Schedule-One controlled substance on par with heroin and PCP.

Local growers combat imaging technology with a variety of countermeasures. Some grow in basements and vent heat from lights and fans into the sewers. Other set up glass or reflective materials to block vented heat from a grow. Outdoor gardeners have also started masking the tell-tale color of their crop — which has entered harvest season — with spray-on food dyes, Cooper says.

Source: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/LegalizationNation/archives/2010/09/24/no-joke-secret-government-agents-circling-pot-farms-in-oakland-berkeley