It Is Going To Be Okay

Yesterday, US Attorney General Eric Holder was asked about the administration’s position on the weed laws passed in Colorado and Washington by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). I thought his response, or lack there of, was most interesting. Here is what he said:

“We are in the administration at this point considering what the federal government’s response to those new statutes will be. I expect that we will have an ability to announce what our policy will be relatively soon.” -Attorney General Eric Holder

Now on the surface this, and other non-committing responses from the administration thus far, have been virtually meaningless. But I am a tea leaf reader, so I like to look for the meaning behind the meaning for a deeper view. To me, it would seem that if the administration’s response was going to be “business as usual because weed is illegal” like we have seen in the past, then that response would likely have been easy to make, and would have been made already, no? I mean what is there to “consider” if nothing is going to change?

Maybe I am an eternal optimist, and willing to give the universe the benefit of the doubt, even though it has disappointed me in the past. It is possible that my glass is really half empty, but I will choose to believe it is more than half full. I believe in manifesting one’s destiny in spite of the odds being against you.

But I am apparently not alone, as it seems the drug warriors are also out in full force, kicking, screaming, and demanding that the administration take a hard stance against weedheads. In a letter from nine former heads of the Drug Enforcement Agency to US Attorney Holder, these ex-drug warriors looking to promote their own legacies stated, “To continue to remain silent conveys to the American public and the global community a tacit acceptance of these dangerous initiatives.”

It is obvious that these guys also see the writing on the wall and are working diligently to hang on to these failed drug war policies. It has got to be difficult to have worked so long for so hard on something that has by all measures been an absolute failure and disaster. I imagine there is a lot of law enforcement that is confused by the changing landscape of weed acceptance that is happening.

These folks who have been charged with doing the dirty work of big businesses and lobbying groups under the guise of public safety and honor have got to be pissed to see their life’s work crumbling before their eyes. I am sure there is a concern that society will turn their back on them and accuse them of the war crimes they have committed under the “just following orders- chain of command” bullshit.

That has gotta be a tough position to be in. I do not blame them for being pissed, and working to maintain their legacy. It is only natural to resist social change that is going to make you look like a real asshole.

So let me assure you right now that “It is going to be okay.”

Just like I teach my kids,  “it is okay to be wrong, as long as you can admit you were wrong and make things right.”

Now you may never be able to make right the innumerable amount of lives that these policies have ruined. You will not be able to give back the 10 and 20 years of people’s lives you have taken away from them, or change the course of history on people who were raised without a parent in the home because of what you have done. It is sad to think of how many folks have been oppressed and held down by these drug laws, and it must be difficult to look at the reality of the situation and understand that your actions contributed to one of the most wasteful failures of our lifetimes.

No…we cannot re-write history. But what we can do is change tomorrow and make sure that this never happens again in our name.

I cannot speak for every weedhead who has had their doors kicked in and who have been tried in a court of law as a criminal for weed, but I can speak for myself. I WILL FORGIVE YOU.

All I have ever wanted was an apology. Most people who use and deal in cannabis are good people with good intentions, and most are forgiving to a fault. How do you think we have gone this long without a violent revolution, while your armed gunmen have raped and pillaged our village for the past 40+ years? If the drug warriors can come back to earth and realize that these actions have been wrong, and are willing to acknowledge their offense and make amends, then we can figure out how to forgive you.

Continuing to hold firm to your ill-fated beliefs that it is our duty to somehow rid the world of the evils of drugs will only result in you looking like a much bigger asshole as this thing unfolds. My advice would be to use the political cover of public sentiment to shift your position and to quit trying to convince us all that prohibition is somehow working. It is not. Not by a longshot.

Just step back, admit that you were wrong for whatever reason, and promise not to take people to jail for weed anymore. Let’s start there.

We all know that you were fed a line of bullshit too, and that you thought you were doing the right thing…at least most of you. I feel bad for the position law enforcement has been put in enforcing these archaic laws based in lies and deceit. Law enforcement used to be  more well respected before we charged them with the duty of being the freedom of choice police, and instructed them to search everyone and drag them off to prison if they find some weed.

We have pitted these men and women who signed up to “protect and serve” against their entire community in some strange game of cat and mouse. What has resulted is a lack of trust and good faith between law enforcement and those in the communities they serve. Instead of being the heroes they once were, they are now seen more as vigilante drug warriors who abuse their authority and use drug laws to invade the privacy and destroy the lives of their neighbors. That sucks.

Let’s stop this shit. I would like to live in a world where I knew my local officers were not our rifling through some guy’s car because they think they smell weed in it, and were maybe out looking for the guy who wants to jump my fence and steal my television instead. I would like to believe that most of law enforcement understand that these policies are a disaster and in their own private beliefs really wish this bullshit would stop too.

It can be okay. We can make things better for both sides of the issue. Weedheads can be happy knowing that they are no longer criminals, and law enforcement can be satisfied knowing they are not being used as pawns in a game to increase the profits of the booze, tobacco, and private prison companies. That sounds like a good deal, right?

I can say for certain that IT IS GOING TO BE OKAY. Why? Because it has to be.

We must all figure out how to change these policies and then move on to a world where people can co-exist more easily, and where people have more faith in those who enforce their laws. I am ready to make that commitment. I am ready to turn the page on history and begin discussing the “remember when” aspects of prohibition.

WE CAN AND WIL END THE DRUG WAR; AND IT IS GOING TO BE JUST FINE WHEN WE DO. 

RECDICINAL- Where do we draw the line between enjoyment and therapy? Or do we?

I use cannabis as a medicine. It helps me with the pain from two knee surgeries, and the seven screws and a steel plate in my left heel. It also helps me to focus better and get more done, as a Ritalin baby of the 80’s who was hospitalized with severe ADHD at a young age. There is no doubt I use cannabis as a therapy for the many challenges I face with my health.

But I also smoke weed. Sometimes a lot of weed. Like more than a doctor would probably agree was a medical dosage by any means. I am not alone either. A lot of people smoke weed for enjoyment, and to enhance the mundane bullshit of life. There is nothing wrong with that. Weed is fun. It makes food taste better. It makes me giggly. It helps me to think about weird and awesome shit. It can lighten up my bad mood, or mellow out my tense emotions.

Now I hear the “all use is medical” crowd firing up their keyboard to tell me that food, and giggles, and weird and awesome shit are all just part of the medical benefits of cannabis. That because it “lightens me up” and “mellows out my tense moods” this is all clear medical usage. Save it for someone who is still listening to that line of bullshit. All you are doing is digging your hole deeper.

We do not do ourselves any favors by trying to justify that every joint ever smoked has been for a medical application. In fact, we embarrass ourselves more times than not with that flawed logic. I have said it before and i will say it again…”We are not that sick.” We have won the argument that sick people should be allowed to use weed. Where we are losing the argument is by telling the world that everyone who smokes weed any time ever is sick. It just does not hold water…and it lacks courage.

I smoke weed because I like it, and I will be damned if I have to wander around acting like I am in dire pain every time I want to burn a fatty with my friends. I do not have to, and it is embarrassing to think that so many people do. It is like watching rats in a cheese maze. We have found that we do not get electrocuted if we eat the medical cheese, so now all cheese is medical. Super.

The reality is that the maze is fucked up and evil…period.

We are entering a even stranger reality where Colorado, Washington, and hopefully more states soon have, or will pass adult use legalization measures. There is a delicate dance happening where “medical use” norms and regulations will be intertwined with adult use norms and regulations, and an awkward posturing by many will certainly happen.

Those who have built their empires on a strict “medical only” market and who have used their “higher ground” medical rhetoric to demean adult use legalization efforts will be faced with tough choices. The doctors who have built up huge practices of patient authorizations for weedheads will be challenged between money and ethics in many ways. The evolution will be interesting to watch, no doubt.

But make no mistake about it…after weed is legal for any adult to use as they please, very little of the current medical cannabis infrastructure will continue to exist. Very few of the current folks who are incredibly ill will ever go to a doctor for weed again. Nobody is going to pay $50-$100 for a recommendation when you can use your ID to get in the weed store. Sorry. It is just not going to happen. But when all you need is an ID to get in the weed store, 10 times as many folks will come…which is nice.

But what will be an incredible evolution in the medical sector will be not just the majority of patients who will suddenly get well, but the majority of non cannabis doctors who will begin to open up to cannabis therapy in an environment where “medical” is not a term used so loosely on the end of every blunt. When the stigma of the current system and its perceived abuse disappear, and real clinical testing can be done to uncover more of the mysteries of the cannabis plant, we will see AMAZING growth in real medical applications of cannabinoid therapies. The problem is that this will not ever happen in the current environment.

But the good news is that recreational adult cannabis use is coming. We can soon put down our medical defensiveness and light up in peace.

Sometimes we just want to smoke a fucking joint because we are grown ass people and because weed is awesome. I shouldn’t need a doctor to tell me that weed is awesome. In fact, I do not…

As weed emerges from the darkness into just another boring thing that people use to make the world more fun, exciting, and bearable, just watch the medical onion get peeled back. The once very rigid folks who declared on national television that the “do not support recreational cannabis use” will be the first ones on the recreational bandwagon. They will likely also take credit for the whole thing and tell us how they invented purple weed. I cannot wait.

It has always been a no brainer to me. Quit taking people to jail for weed. I do not give a shit if they are a patient, or a spiritual user, or just a weedhead like me. For us to continue to use medical patients as our justification for ending prohibition is silly. Medical classification of any product is the second strictest classification next to outright banning something. If we continue to ask for highly regulated medical only cannabis, we should not be surprised when we are stuck with a lot of highly regulated medical only cannabis. Pull your head out of your ass for a minute and realize that is bad strategy on many levels.

A recent California poll showed a majority (54%) support legalization for adult use. What was the one area where cannabis support had dropped in the poll since it was last taken? Support for the current medical law. It dropped 5% points since the survey was last done in 2010. Why? Because people think we are full of shit. That is not speculation. That is just fact. We are LOSING support for medical cannabis because some folks do not think that the doctor at the rap concert is legit. I know it seems crazy, but it is true.

In my humble opinion we MUST begin to embrace wholeheartedly adult use recreational whatever you want to use it for weed use. We must not try to blur the lines any more than we have and we should begin to act like freedom loving adults who demand to be treated as equal citizens who happen to smoke weed. It is our duty to change the conversation and the way our society views marijuana.

There are still a lot of uneducated and misinformed people out there who hate weed, and believe it is evil. Those people suck, but we do not help ourselves by giving them the ammunition of saying “See. This is not what we all voted for. We voted for seriously ill people to use cannabis in a very restrictive environment.” We must move past that argument and challenge the prohibitionists on their rationale. No one in their right mind thinks that people should go to jail for weed when presented with the facts. We have to begin to demand that these policies prohibiting and criminalizing weed end once and for all for anyone and everyone who likes weed….for medicinal use, recreational use, or even for recdicinal use.

Anything less is a compromise I am not willing to make. You should not either. You are just embarrassing yourself for tomorrow. Weed will be legal. May as well get with the program now before the world passes you by….again.

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….

 

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.

What does adult use legalization of weed really mean?

One of the main obstacles facing cannabis reform and society is defining what exactly adult use legalization is and looks like in modern society. There are many theories, ideas, and philosophies on what adult use legalization will and/or should look like; but the reality is that this situation is an entirely modifiable mystery.

There are all sorts of weird extremes in this issue. Some think weed should be treated like tomatoes. Grow all you want, whenever you want, wherever you want. Others think just decriminalization, while still keeping fines and penalties for weed, is the answer to avoiding the big corporate takeover. There are also those who believe firmly in the tax, regulate, and control mantra. Some think that weed should be less strict than booze; some believe more. Many think it should be the exact same as booze.

The answer lies somewhere in the middle of all of those positions.

What is clear is that our society is awakening to the fact that we can no longer keep going down the road of forced prohibition and mass incarceration of our own people. It is not working, and it is far too costly to continue on this path with zero results to show for it.

Weed is everywhere. I am pretty sure anyone in America who wants weed right now can easily get it, if they put their mind to it. That includes most teens and young adults because the current “illegal” distribution system has no regulations in place, or limits on age. It is a free for all.

We left weed all over the place, called it illegal, and have locked up millions of people for using it, growing it, and selling it. This campaign to destroy poor and minority communities has resulted in overwhelming disaster.

So now that we are seeing our society demand social change where weed is concerned, how do we square that with the current landscape? Where does weed fit in our culture and norms?

Weed is an inebriant. It can cause a change in consciousness and emotion. For most people this is a positive change that relaxes, soothes, and enhances their life experiences. The substance is also known to make people giggly, hungry, and more interested (and maybe even interesting). Unlike booze, which is known to cause violence and loss of control, weed is a thought to be a more mellow and cerebral experience.

Weed is not great for everyone. There are those who it makes paranoid and/or uncomfortable. Many people experience a more euphoric experience than is good for them. Just like with anything, it does not work for some people and excess amounts can be harmful to an extent.

Unlike with moth substances though, weed cannot kill you if you take too much. It can make you wish you were dead though if you get a hold of a brownie that is way too strong.

Some will argue that the intoxicating effects of cannabis are minimal, and for some people they actually are more “normal” when using cannabis than when not, often because of a medical condition or being overly-anxious. Weed can help some feel less socially awkward, and helps them to expand their horizons. While it may not physically impair many people, weed can still be a powerful substance that can interfere with a person’s ability to function. For that reason, it has to be treated as an inebriant, and like booze, prescription drugs, and tobacco, there will likely be some level of regulation that will be stricter than a tomato.

The coffee model is a possible option. While there is no age limit on coffee, it is generally frowned upon to buy you 5-year-old kid a latte. But people do do it. There are not limitations on growing coffee beans, technically, but it only grows in certain climates and not many in the US outside of Hawaii. There will always be regulations on commercially produced and distributed products meant for human consumption. The FDA is very active in the regulation of coffee beans, actually. Caffeine is curious because it is a stimulant that is generally associated with more awareness and being alert.; although I have had some Americanos that have sent me into a frenzy of anxiety and panic before, for sure. The reality is that because of the effects associated with weed it will likely be more strictly regulated than coffee; but the industry model is an interesting one to think about.

Because of the long lie of cannabis prohibition, we have a lot of myths and bullshit to overcome to create a better understanding of cannabis and its effects on people. The good news is that most of the younger generations have either tried weed, or have a friend or family member who is a weedhead that they still adore. The myths are dying as generations pass, but we must do a better job of vocalizing our message and educating folks, if we hope to have a somewhat level playing field for weed in society.

Otherwise, we should not be surprised when the regulations we see for weed are overly-burdensome and taxing. There will be a very strong effort to say, “Well, you can have legal weed, but you have to jump through these one million hoops to get it.”

We see some of this coming from within our own community too, as folks roll out plans and ideas that seem like prohibitionists wrote it themselves. Usually it is an attempt to gain support from sectors of the community that will likely never support cannabis. In the meantime, we undermine our own message that cannabis is safe, enjoyable and helpful by agreeing to regulatory terms that make it seem unsafe and dangerous.

The reality is that cannabis is not entirely benign by any means, but there is no reason it needs to be kept in a locked vault with armed guards and only people who know the secret password should be able to get to it.

Some of the major factors that go into regulating a substance like cannabis are: quality assurance (production, processing, packaging, and handling); age limitations; driving limits; consumer access; and licensing parameters. It is a complex web of possibilities, which are endless really.

It is our job, as weedheads who will certainly be the most affected by any new changes in the law and regulations for the industry, to create an acceptance for cannabis in this transition period based on real life experiences and communicating our desire to be treated equally to every one else in society. People who smoke pot have been ostracized and made to feel like criminals for too long. We must make the case that we are good people and upstanding citizens that deserve to be treated fairly and respectfully.

We should be weary of too much compromise with those who have created the myth of the drug war, and who have profited from the destruction of communities in the name of these failed policies. A willingness to agree that cannabis is dangerous and must be heavily regulated in a trade for the allowance of it in our society is absurd.

While we will certainly not get the free-for-all tomato model that seems to be the most freedom filled idea, we should also not give up our right to cultivate our own cannabis; and should not agree to be limited in choice and free market enterprise. We should be ready to demand that we AT LEAST be treated just like booze, where people can access a variety of options very regularly in many different ways (bars, stores, events, etc.). There must be an entertainment and social component allowed too, like bars and nightclubs who sell booze by the bucket. Should cannabis be sold at any store like booze, or should specialty stores be required? Who knows?

Will we see regulations more lax than booze? Not likely. At least not initially. Why? Because our opposition has done a great job in selling us a bag of crap that weed is dangerous and that it will ruin our lives. So chances are a knee-jerk response will include some over-regulation.

The best thing we can do to combat that is to share our stories. Making real connections with people about why weed is NOT dangerous, and is actually very helpful, can change the game. The same way gay people being willing to stand up and demand that their love be respected changed the way our society views LGBT issues, we too should stand up and be accounted for.

“I am a weedhead, and I am a good person.” That is a powerful statement.

The most interesting parallel I have heard was from a friend who I was philosophizing about the future of with in Colorado in December. He compared cannabis flowers to beer, water hash and solventless extracts to wine, and your BHO and super-critical extraction products to liquor.

It was enlightening to envision, as it makes perfect sense.

Anyone can brew their own beer and make some wine for their personal consumption. If you want to sell that commercially you need licensing and you pay taxes on your business income. But people cannot distill their own spirits at home without licensing and use permits. Why? Not because anyone gives a shit if you make whiskey, but they do not want you to blow up your neighborhood. That is a lot like BHO production. There are certain dangers that must be taken into consideration for public safety reasons.

I can tell you one thing real adult use legalization DOES mean. It means the cops will quit searching your house, car, and/or person because they smell weed. Think about that for a minute. Then think about people not losing their job, or their kids, or their standing in the community. Then really think about people not going to jail for 5-10-20 years for some weed. THAT IS WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT! Freedom…..

As we speak, the cannabis elite and their Daddy Warbucks donors are plotting their victory laps. Some are plotting their alliances with big business and titans of industry. Others are writing their memoirs already. But not many are solely focused on what is best for the average weedhead on the street. I can assure you that they do not have your personal struggle in mind, as they play the game of reform like it was Uno- Skip. Draw Four for you. Reverse. Skip again. Draw two. Blue 3. etc.

That is all fine and dandy, but like any slimy politico, even the cannabis reform politicos are beholden to the court of public opinion. Pressure from the masses will always trump bullshit.

It is yet to be seen if enough people whose lives will be affected by these laws will stand up in time to ensure our voice is heard. Be an active and vocal part of the process. The end result could be something we are all forced to live with for a very long time. Do not leave that up to the idiots….

Politics, Reality, and Political Realities

“Politics is the art of controlling your environment.” -Hunter S. Thompson

Weed is coming to the forefront of the political spectrum, and it is being seen more regularly as a topic for legitimate discussion. The intersection between politics and cannabis is an interesting issue to see unfold in real time, as elected officials, law enforcement, intellectuals  and activists struggle to define the process on their own terms. There are the obvious politics of the situation, including the “tough on drugs” position, the medical positions, and the economics of drug enforcement, and its role in our society. Those are all potential hot potatoes that, while once taboo to speak of, are being brought to the front of the social and political dialogue more regularly.

The reality is that the world is changing. I may even go as far as saying it has changed.

Does anyone remember the moment when our society went from looking down on gay marriage, to it being widely accepted? Neither do I. It just happened. While there is still a definite struggle in the gay community to bridge the gap to total acceptance, what we are seeing is the reality that our society is MUCH more understanding of this struggle; and no longer views gay marriage and equality as third rail issues. Why? Because the gay community has done an incredible job of messaging and activism that has resulted in people being forced to face their own reality and humanism. They used their opportunity and resources to hammer home the message that it was no longer okay to discriminate against an entire population based on who they love. People cannot argue with that. Those that do are now being marginalized and looked at as the extremist that is on the wrong side of history.

In the other extreme, you can look at what is being done to shut down a woman’s right to choose across the nation, and see how politics can be the enemy, more times than not. In Mississippi, we are seeing the closing of the ONLY abortion and women’s health clinic in the state. How did they do it? REGULATIONS. They regulated them out of business. I bring this up because this is a very harsh reality that we need to face, as cannabis begins to re-enter mainstream culture. If we trade our values and ethics, and concede too much to gain political support, we could end up with a similar situation.

Look at medical cannabis in New Jersey. The program there has been incredibly burdensome and costly, and several years later, only one clinic has been able to open just months ago; and they are already struggling to make ends meet because of the regulatory costs and incredible red tape of the program. It is more cost prohibitive than it needed to be, and the result will likely be people continuing to seek their cannabis from illicit sources. Just like in Mississippi…what will result is poor women getting abortions from illicit resources. It is a dangerous and slippery slope.

Clear evidence of this is Washington state’s passage of I-502. In December, LEAP advisory board member Norm Stamper was quoted as saying. “”I now question whether Washington state’s initiative needed to be as restrictive as it is.” Of course it didn’t. But there was no telling Stamper and the campaign crew that this was the case, as they touted its rigid standards as necessary for victory, only to be proven wrong on the same night by voters in Colorado. I-502 passed by 10 points. Even if it only passed by 5 points with no DUI per se provision and allowing people to grow their own, it still would have passed big.

But this is often the political reality for cannabis reformers. After decades of being treated like derelicts and deadbeats, any little glimpse of legitimate recognition or interest and reformers are ready to bend over backwards and give up the farm to be taken seriously. The organizations and big money donors that have the funding to put reform efforts forward (I am looking at you Peter Lewis and George Soros) play cannabis reform like a game of poker. While there is no questioning the desire to end prohibition, eventually, the political calculus that goes into our effort are far to humble to reflect actual reality in our society.

In other words, our tendency is to play to the politics, and forget about the social and cultural realities that are driving the conversation. It is easy to be cavalier with your efforts and energy when it is not you waking up every day in prison, or the fear of going to prison. Too often the person making major policy reform decisions has little idea of what things are like here on the ground. They lose focus on the real pain and suffering brought on by our failure to end prohibition, as a society.

They do not see the mothers raising their kids alone because we have taken their fathers away to jail for weed for decades. They do not have to look these folks in the eye or try to answer questions there really are no answers for. Their car is not being searched on the side of the road.

Those who choose to play political Rochambeau do not live in a world of reality. They live in a world of contrived reality and borderline chaos. They live in an environment that amounts to a never-ending bad relationship. They see reform efforts and victories as notches in their belt, and not as an urgent a pressing matter that is destroying the lives of millions of people as we speak. More folks are shoveled into the system every day, as we sit back and talk poll numbers.

But the reality reality is that people are continuing to suffer for no reason. Our world has changed. If the resounding victories for cannabis in Colorado and Washington were not clear enough, just look around you. Weed is being accepted and understood by more people every day. It is an incredible awakening that we are experiencing and the time is now to take the kill shot. We can not conform to political norms to appease the opposition and play it safe. People are looking for action and answers. Our answers cannot be “Just wait a little longer.” Our action can not be measured and weak.

We must be bold and aggressive  We must kill this thing now. We cannot afford to experience the same nightmare that has seen acceptance for medical cannabis grow at a snails pace for the last two decades. We must frame the argument as an urgent matter that needs immediate resolution. Our friends and neighbors are on our side. We have the support of more people than we need to effectively end this thing; but we must begin to demand our freedom, and quit trying to negotiate with terrorists.

The political reality is that we will likely continue to negotiate with terrorists. We have been conditioned to believe we are criminal scum who smoke dope, and our actions show that we have bought into that. The fact that we continue to beg for shreds of freedom, and consider what should be common sense resolutions as huge victories, and throw parties and hand out awards shows our political and societal immaturity. The political reality is that many in our own movement do not believe…really believe…that this CAN happen.

There is a cautious optimism and a lot of patting each other on the back for the ground we have gained; but there is not a lot of willingness to put our foot on the neck of the drug warriors and use the power of our collective voice to kill the evils of prohibition.

The argument is on our side. The support is there for the taking. Whether we begin to create real political pressure through massive awareness campaigns, continue to pressure law makers, or take our issue directly to the voters, what is clear is that there is no better time than the present to execute a more forward approach to cannabis reform. It does not bode well for us to rest on our laurels and hope that change will come to us eventually. We will leave the wolves to run the hen house if we do not take control of our destiny.

Politics will always take time to catch up to reality. We should not be lulled into playing the game of politics. The reality is that MOST people in our society are more than willing to end this thing and end it now. We need to give them the opportunity and platform to express that willingness.

The unfortunate political reality is that a few deep pocket billionaires and organizations control the current narrative, and the failure to organize a cooperative and cohesive effort that is solely aimed at ending prohibition NOW will likely end up coming back to bight us in the ass.

But if we can organize and come together, the sheer number of weedheads that live on planet earth should be able to create enough of a ruckus, and could possibly begin to really consolidate our resources enough to maybe move a mountain or two in the meantime.

What is certain is that the pages of history are being written today on the end of cannabis prohibition and we all must decide where we want to be on those pages. Do we want to be remembered as cannabis prohibition being ended because of us, or in spite of us? As a movement, as an industry, and as a community, we all have a lot of soul searching to do.

Inspirational. Stay hungry. Stay foolish.

A great quote from an old apple commercial, as well as a commencement speech that Steve Jobs gave at Stanford in 2005. While no one ever accused Jobs of being cute and cuddly, the man is a genius and changed the way we look at the world, listen to music, talk to our friends, and understand ourselves. Let the words run over you like a fountain of truth…

“Here’s To The Crazy Ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world – are the ones who DO !”

 

Thanks, Steve….

FYI, Steve liked weed too…..