Chicken Little Was Not All Wrong… The Sky Is Indeed Falling, Sort Of

The Trump Administration is fucked up. I cannot think of a more kind way to say that.

Every day I wake up to another news piece about these assholes getting people to trade their freedoms for the perception of “making America safe again.” From demonizing Mexicans and Muslims to justify building barriers and excluding people from certain nations, to declaring every media outlet besides Fox News as the enemy, the reality is that we are pretty fucked. These dudes are willing to lie, cheat, and steal to get what they want and the results will be a disaster for this Country for years to come. It is hard to see how anyone could believe that the sky is not falling at this point. These dudes are dead set on making the Book of Revelations a reality, and seem to welcome Armageddon with open arms.

Ever since Donald Trump announced his pick for Attorney General was Jefferson Beauregard Sessions I have been skeptical about the future of the cannabis industry. Many people who I associate with in this industry have accused me of overreacting, and have chosen to take the extremely optimistic position that the new administration would just leave weed alone.

They have justified this argument by stating that, “there is too much money being made for them to crack down on the industry” to which I responded that there is a hell of a lot of money in prohibition and locking people up for weed. The Drug War rages on not because it is good for society… It rages on because there are a lot of people making a lot of bread. Just look at the stocks of private prisons, as Sessions announced that the Feds would begin using them again in anticipation of the need to lock a bunch of more people up. Law enforcement, drug testing, legal costs, rehabs, and many more industries make A LOT of money from weed prohibition. It is laughable for us to believe that our petty tax revenues would somehow deter the Feds from going back to full blown enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act.

Others have stated that they believe the new administration would be too busy with immigration to focus a lot of time and energy on marijuana enforcement. I reminded them that we have a whole department called the Drug Enforcement Administration dedicated to enforcing bad drug laws and locking people up for weed. The administration is also working on hiring at least 15,000 new border and ICE agents to manage the immigration enforcement, so they are increasing their bandwidth to meet the demands of mass deportation and immigration enforcement. Do not believe for a second that if Mr. Sessions decides he wants a full frontal attack on the weed game that they will find the money and the people to pull it off.

It is hard for me to see how then Senator Jeff Sessions could berate the Obama Justice Department just last April for not enforcing the Nation’s marijuana laws in states where it is legal, and then not do something about it now that he has the job. He stated, “we need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger.” That does not sound like a guy who is going to take a hands off approach to the marijuana industry. Listen to him for yourself.

SENATE HEARING APRIL 2016

I have been walking around for the past couple of months feeling like Chicken Little telling fools that the sky is falling when in all honesty it is anyone’s guess what will happen. Unfortunately, my gut feeling is that we are pretty fucked. I anticipate nothing but sleazy underhanded manipulation from these fuckfaces that ar running the show for at least the next four years… not just with weed but with everything. The whole deal just feels super gross. It is hard for me to stomach that this is where we are really at as a nation. Ugh.

Then we got some confirmation of Trumps’s dastardly plans yesterday from Sean “Big Spicey” Spicer, the Press Secretary for the White House. He enlightened us as to what we can expect from the Trump Administration regarding weed laws… sort of. In a press conference, when asked about the Administration’s position on enforcement of marijuana laws in states where it is legal the response was pretty ominous to say the least. Big Spicey seemed to believe that there would be a reckoning coming for the “recreational” weed industry:

“There’s a big difference between [medical marijuana] and recreational marijuana and I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we should be encouraging people ― there’s still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature,” Spicer said.

When asked if the federal government will take action around recreational marijuana, Spicer said, “That’s a question for the Department of Justice. I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement of it. Recreational use … is something the Department of Justice will be looking into.”


Spicer did seem to give a glimmer of hope for medical marijuana, while in the same breath likening recreational marijuana to the opioid crisis that we see straight up killing people right and left around the Nation. Dsfuck? That is pretty spooky to hear. Good to know we are being compared to that epidemic. Another policy apparently based on “alternative facts.”

This abstract policy statement from Sean Spicer is especially troubling for businesses that have heavily invested into the adult use sector of the industry, as well as those who are employed by these businesses. In California, it is a real kick in the nuts given that we just passed an adult use law and have not even begun to license these businesses. The party might be over before it ever began. It is truly scary to think that we could go back to a time where raids happen every week, and people get locked up for draconian prison sentences for operating legal and transparent cannabis businesses doing everything right. And unfortunately it looks like we all will still be going to the doctor for a long time to come.

The real possible issue that the “medical only” position that the Administration is leaning towards poses is that a rescheduling of cannabis to Schedule 2, which the AG can do on their own if they so choose, would effectively shut down the entire current medical industry in favor of FDA approved real deal pharmaceutical cannabis medicines only. We are a couple of bad decisions of: scrapping the Cole memo; rescheduling weed; and cracking down on cannabis businesses, from seeing the entire industry as we know it pretty much vanish.

I understand that there are plenty of folks who are skeptical of my worst case scenario viewpoint; but look around you. There is a lot of worst case scenario shit popping off in America right now. Damn near every cabinet position appointed by Trump was a person whose objective has been to pretty much destroy the very department they are now in charge of. Chief White House Adviser Steve Bannon state at CPAC that the Administration’s objective is “deconstruction of the administrative state.” This shit is definitely not funny anymore and we would be naive as an industry to not begin preparing for the worst.

As a person who consults cannabis businesses for a living it is hard for me to tell my clients that everything is going to be alright, when in all honesty I am not really sure of that. I do know that there has never been a better time to get your compliance documentation in order before getting that knock on the door. Should something happen, God forbid, your best defense is the proof that you are operating as an above board legitimate business. But I am honest with all of my clients and let them know that shit could get real weird real quick. Luckily I have been through the weirdness and made it out alive, and know how to navigate the murky waters ahead. We could be in for quite the wild ride it sounds, so hang on tight.

At the end of the day we are all adults here. Hopefully anyone who has decided to invest in the industry, and be a part of the movement for social change that is cannabis, is clearly aware that they are indeed an outlaw. Like it or not, regardless of how many fancy state and local licenses you have hanging on the wall and how many taxes you have paid to the man, you are a criminal. Plain and simple. You are breaking the law and can go to prison for a long long time for what you are doing. One thing is for certain… as soon as that first door is kicked in by the Session’s USDOJ you can be sure there will be a scattering of folks who are just here for the money. It takes a lot of passion for cannabis and a giant sack of nuts to continue to openly break the law in the face of more aggressive enforcement practices. It will be easy to see who stands where if that threat becomes a reality.

I hope that I am wrong. I hope we can all look back on this and laugh about that time I got all weirded out and paranoid about Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump. I truly do hope everything will be okay. But I would be silly not to be a bit skeptical given the chaotic and aggressive first month of the Trump Administration. To be honest, I am really scared shitless. These cats are serious about fucking shit up and taking names, and I am positive that my name is still floating around the DEA offices somewhere. #ohhelpmelordjesus

I have been an outlaw for decades though so what is a few more years between friends? I am ready for the fight. Bring it. That is what I do. Game on, bitches. Game on. I got your prohibition right here, pal. Go fuck yourselves. One foot in front of the other all motherfucking day. Selah.

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.

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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.

 

The Sky Has Not Fallen So Get On With It…

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So close and yet so far…. I am growing tired of fighting for the inevitable.

Weed is going to be legal. Everyone knows it. Even our staunchest opponents agree legalization is inevitable. So what are we waiting for? Why is there this awkward transition into what we all know is much better for our society…. an end to the drug war and the militarized police state it has created.

As we watched Ferguson explode over the unnecessary death of an unarmed black teen, it was a stark reminder that the role of policing in this country has drastically changed over the years, as the drug war has escalated and targeted mostly poor and minority communities. We lock up 25% of the world’s prison population but only have 5% of the actual population. That is a pretty big red flag for a country that calls itself the “Land of the Free.” Maybe it should be the “Land of the Free Unless You Are Poor and/or Brown.”

We see the call for reform and a change in policy from everywhere these days, and there have certainly been efforts by groups to end the draconian methods of enforcing so-called justice that have gotten us into this mess. The US Justice Department has made some efforts to change policy and reform sentencing, but it is a far cry from where we need to be.

An easy start would be to just make weed legal. There is an overwhelming shift in public opinion towards allowing for cannabis to be grown and sold, and the ongoing quasi-legal state mandated programs across the country have proven to be anything but the disaster that law enforcement and drug warriors promised would happen.

For nearly 20 years medical marijuana has been a staple of the California landscape, and many other states have followed suit in one way or another. In Colorado and Washington State we have seen clear benefits of adult use legalization, with very little harm to report. What we have seen instead are good paying jobs, tax revenues, and an increase in public safety as more people shift from booze to weed because they can.

This is not rocket science. This is clear benefit to harm ratio stuff. To simply put it, is there more good than bad happening? The answer is clearly yes.

The sky has not fallen. People have not lost their minds, or given up on life. There has not been an outbreak of dangerous crime surrounding cannabis. Addiction rates are not through the roof. Youth use of weed is not increasing drastically, as predicted.

The lies we have been told for decades about why weed should be kept illegal are falling on deaf ears. The numbers don’t add up.

Those who oppose legalization continue to try and retard the growth of the developing cannabis industry, and clear move for social change in drug and law enforcement policy. There are many who see their meal ticket threatened and are working feverishly to preserve some level of status quo so they can keep making criminals and drug addicts out of your average weedhead. These days are ending and they know it as much as anyone.

We like weed. We are good people. This is bullshit. The sky is not falling, asshole. Let’s wrap this shit up and legalize weed. Then we can talk about all these tanks and other petty drug crimes that we have created a war on our neighbors over.

The time is now. Let’s knock off the bullshit already.

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SB 1262 is BAD for weed and BAD for California

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Reasons why SB 1262 sucks:

  • Leaving regulation to local authorities will ensure very few will be able to be licensed for cultivation and production licensing, which are currently non-existent. It will create opportunities for corruption in every local jurisdiction in the state.
  • The Department of Consumer Affairs is a terrible regulatory agency for a comprehensive system for cannabis. They do not even want the job, which will ensure they are hostile and limiting in their approach.
  • The requirements for provisional licensing will ensure most growers and producers will not be able to meet the requirements by January 1, 2015 as there are currently NO licenses for production anywhere in the state, leaving the entire program likely to fail with no licensed supply to meet the demand of dispensaries.
  • The destruction of the collective and cooperative model will make it difficult for patients in areas without dispensary services to access low cost medicine conveniently.
  • Patients cannot share medicine any more without it being a crime, unless they are licensed. Creates criminals out of nearly everyone.
  • Caregivers who serve more than 5 people need a license, meaning many who depend on collective providers will be without access.
  • Those who do not meet the rigid requirements for licensing, including needing local authorities to sign off on all grows that have operated in the shadows until now, will ensure most people producing today will be forced back to the black market…thus creating far more criminals.
  • Requiring all deliveries be made by two or more people is unnecessary.
  • All weed must be stored in a locked room, safe, or vault. This makes zero exception for retail displays or stock, meaning every time you buy cannabis a person has to go into the locked room to get it for you. This creates a security risk with every transaction.
  • Reporting on inventory discrepancies within 24 hours means every .5 gram that goes missing must be reported, creating an administrative nightmare.
  • Posting all applicants info on line puts everyone at risk, and creates a public database to be accessed by press or employers that can be used against applicants.
  • Edible regulations are an absolute burdensome nightmare based in fear.
  • Lacks protection for property owners

The bottom line is this will be an absolute disaster and decimate the current industry. It will make new cannabis criminals where there currently are none and is a desperate hail mary by groups like ASA and CCIA who beieve something is better than nothing. I support sensible regulations, but not regulations where barriers to entry are too high to include most people currently involved in the industry. This will be the beginning of the end should it pass.

I would suggest you contact your state legislators today and encourage them to not support this legislation. Fuck SB 1262. Bad for weed. Bad for California.

DPA Calls For Action to Stop SB 1262

It is nice to see one of the major reform organization working to stop the SB 1262 Debacle. All others should join them immediately. This will be terrible for cannabis freedom.

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Dear Mickey,

California bureaucrats are trying to pass unworkable regulations that could ruin medical marijuana across our state. And we need your help to block the legislation.

Urge the Assembly Appropriations Committee to oppose the bill that will jeopardize medical marijuana in California.

This harmful legislation would maintain the unworkable bans and local regulations that have denied seriously ill patients access to their medicine. And it also does not protect cultivators or providers from prosecution by making licensure almost impossible in some areas of the state.

And it discriminates against hardworking Californians who were previously incarcerated by barring them from legitimately participating in the medical marijuana industry. This would unfairly impact people in low-income communities of color, because although there are similar rates of involvement in marijuana sales across racial lines, the overwhelming majority of people who are arrested, charged, and convicted are poor, black and/or Latino.

The proposed rules in the bill are worse than what we have now and would completely disable the program. Yet it’s gaining support with lawmakers and could be passed into law if we don’t act fast.

Time is running out to kill this bill and it could be voted on by the Assembly Appropriations Committee at any momentTake action and write the committee today.

There are major problems with this legislation. And police chiefs are encouraging lawmakers to support it because they want to use this as an opportunity to stifle the progression of medical marijuana policy.

At a time when federal prosecutors are cracking down on medical marijuana and putting patients’ access to their medicine in danger, this bill being considered by lawmakers is the opposite of what California needs right now.

Write our lawmakers today and tell them to oppose unworkable regulations and protect medical marijuana across California.

Sincerely,

Lynne Lyman
State Director, California
Drug Policy Alliance

Wolves in Wook Clothing. Why ASA continues to want YOUR cake and wants to eat it too. The SB 1262 DEBACLE.

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I have been here since nearly the beginning. I unfortunately know the story all too well. I have seen the California cannabis landscape evolve at every step and have been knee deep in politics and activism across the state for many years. Which gives me a unique perspective on the proposed regulatory bill making its way through the CA Legislature known as SB-1262.

I wrote a piece detailing my issues with SB 1262 entitled “You are all criminals. Welcome to the new California. SB 1262 must die.” In this article I went over many points of major issue in the proposal that will make more criminals out of CA patients and providers, and create a liability for physicians that will ensure many less people qualify as patients. Since then most reform groups have pulled their support for this effort, but not Americans for Safe Access. They continue to cheer lead for the end of the CA cannabis community and the making criminals out of thousands of people. It is bizarre to say the least.

In May, Americans for Safe Access put out a piece encouraging its supporters to blindly follow this Bill that would make it more difficult to get their medicine and would likely make most of them out to be criminals. The article was entitled “Support SB 1262 in California.” In this article they state the following:

ASA recognized the potential in SB 1262 early in the process. We worked with the Sen. Correa and other sponsors to significantly improve the bill, and ASA was the first in the medical cannabis field to endorse it. SB 1262 is a milestone in the medical cannabis debate in the state legislature. This is the first time that the California Police Chiefs Association and the League of California Cities have not opposed medical cannabis regulations. Having these two powerful lobby organizations standing beside patients and behind a regulatory bill is unprecedented. ASA regards this broad and influential coalition as a key strength of SB 1262, and we call on advocates and lawmakers to join us in supporting SB 1262.

NOTE: This endorsement has since been removed from their article. What remains is the following:

Contact your California State Senator and ask him or her to vote yes on SB 1262 this week. SB 1262 is a bill by Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) that would regulate commercial medical cannabis activity in the state. In its newly amended form, the bill places state regulatory control and licensing in the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and sets common-sense standards for cultivation and distribution. ASA supports SB 1262 because our research and experience show that sensible regulations preserve safe and dignified access to medical cannabis for patients, while reducing crime and complaints in neighborhoods.

It is funny when cowards run from themselves, but the bottom line is that Americans for Safe Access is still supporting this effort as detailed in David Downs’ article entitled “Do or Die for Mystery Pot Law.” In this article Down’s details how all other group’s of notable mention have pulled their support, while ASA remains steadfast in their undying love for this debacle:

“It’s a little unsettling given how important this is and how little time we have,” said Don Duncan, California coordinator for the 30,000-strong advocacy group Americans for Safe Access.

But ASA is staying on-board with SB 1262, which is sponsored by state Senator Lou Correa, a Democrat from Southern California. The bill is scheduled to be taken up by the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee in August, and has to be approved by the entire Assembly by the end of the August, or it’s over for this legislative session.

Now to hear Don Duncan say it is unsettling because of how little time we have is simply disingenuous. Americans for Safe Access have worked fr years to block the work of Tom Ammiano’s efforts to provide a regulatory framework that makes sense because they did not like the licensing agency, which was the Alcoholic Beverage Control,” as this would erode their position of “medical only access.” They understand like we all do that cannabis will be legal for adult use very soon and decided to retard that move by ensuring ABC could not regulate cannabis and easily make the transition to adult use.

Down’s article goes on to state:

As of press time, the most recent version of the bill is still supported by the police chiefs, the league, and ASA. But California NORML, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition oppose it unless it’s amended.

The DPA argues that the current version of the bill would make things worse for Californians. For one, anybody with a past drug felony would be disqualified from getting an industry license. That provision would place additional burdens upon many Californians — particularly African-American and Latino residents — who’ve already paid their debt to society.

In addition, many of the industry’s biggest and best actors wouldn’t qualify for a license, for technical reasons, such as an outstanding federal case (Harborside Health Center in Oakland) or the lack of official city permission to grow (which is pretty much every urban farmer in California). The bill also provides statewide approval of controversial new city bans on medical pot dispensaries.

“The issues are extremely glaring, and, frankly, I’m not sure they can be resolved,” said Amanda Reiman, DPA’s California policy manager. “The police chiefs think medical marijuana is a sham and look at this as an opportunity to stifle the progression of medical marijuana policy. The rules are worse than what we have now and would completely disable the program.”

It is good to see that at least some reform organizations have the courage to make statements that tell the truth.  Amanda is 100% right in stating, “The rules are worse than what we have now and would completely disable the program.” Furthermore it would make criminals out of thousands of law abiding citizens, create mass confusion at the local level of government, and ensure less people were able to access their medicine. Why the fuck any organization who was supposedly on the side of patients and providers would support this debacle is beyond me, but then I have long suspected Americans for Safe Access was indeed the Wolves in Wook clothing.

For a little historical perspective on my position on Americans for Safe Access, just know at one time I was their biggest supporter.

In 2007, our company donated tens of thousands of dollars in merchandise and literature to the organization when they were in the midst of their rebranding. I worked closely with the organization, even housing and distributing their merchandise in our own company offices in Oakland. I traveled throughout the state on their behalf soliciting dispensaries for donations to support their mission. I still respect Steph Sherer and Don Duncan for what I learned about activism and organizing while we worked together. I also appreciate the work Americans for Safe Access did when we were raided by Federal agents in 2007, and I owe them a debt of gratitude for helping me organize a response to the charges and allegations that were made against me and my company during that most difficult time. Their timely and organized response likely resulted in my not going to prison, and I will always be grateful for that.

But 2007 was  long long time ago, and Americans for Safe Access was a much much different organization. Besides the powerhouse figureheads of the organization, Sherer and Duncan, there is little remaining of what was at that time. In those days ASA got the lion’s share of their donations from medical cannabis providers like myself and many dispensaries throughout CA. They had just established their Washington D.C. office and were working to expand their political horizons to serve the folks who paid their bills. As they rebranded the organization and began to work towards doing more political lobbying and fundraising work over grassroots on the ground activism, they began to solicit money from more of the big name donors who were known to fund major projects in the cannabis reform movement. It was obvious they were shifting focus to encourage more large money donors, as it was difficult depending on dispensaries and medical providers who were under constant attack and being forced to shut their doors.

The initial shift was subtle, as a lot of the same names and faces were still in their roles with the organization. But over time their was an obvious sea change in who the organization was serving and what they wanted their image to look like.

Fast forward to late 2011, when I began to notice the most drastic of the change that I now clearly see as impeding cannabis freedom. When the Federal government announced their “crackdown” on the medical cannabis and began targeting high profile providers who donated to them regularly, the sky literally fell over there. Panic ensued and there was a call to circle the wagons to avoid losing everything. You could see it in Steph Sherer’s eyes, as she was on the ground in California a lot working to organize one response or another to what they viewed as an assault on not only patients and providers, but also their revenue. Purse strings were pulled quick by every organization in the state, as no one knew if that day may be their last. DEA raids were happening, including the high profile raid of Oaksterdam University and their dispensary. Letters were being sent to the biggest names in the game, including Harborside, BPG, Vapor Room, and many more, forcing them to close their doors and/or fight Federal charges. The IRS began a systematic crackdown charging incredible tax rates based on decades old drug kingpin tax laws. It was a highly volatile time for sure.

fuckthefeds.odam

As the calendar of 2012 began to pass, there were several efforts to put an initiative on the CA ballot to legalize cannabis for adult use on the heels of a narrow loss in a non-Presidential election year by Proposition 19. Three campaigns were working to secure funding for language that would have made cannabis legal for adults over 21. Money was being thrown at campaigns in Colorado and Washington to do just that, and it was obvious CA would have had a chance at also making history if funding groups came to the table.

Enter Americans for Safe Access with United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) in tow stating that they had the funding to put a medical cannabis regulatory initiative on the ballot and intended to do so. The  California Medical Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act was filed by Don Duncan of ASA and Ron Lind of UFCW in January 2012 that would have created erroneous regulations for the industry and cemented UFCW’s place at the table as the only union allowed for the industry. It would have drastically reduced who could afford to pay to play in the industry and would have made a nightmare web of bullshit that probably wouldn’t have even passed if it did make the ballot. It literally LIMITED ACCESS across the state.

UFCW.ASA.filing.2012

But I do not believe there ever was funding for the initiative and the entire thing was a smoke screen to run out the clock on the other efforts towards legalization for adult use.  For the price of a shitty website and a few lofty press releases, they created enough doubt in potential donors to definitely not back any of the adult use efforts, thus ensuring cannabis would only be medical in CA for the foreseeable political future. California has 1/10th of the population of the nation and by far produces the most cannabis. When a lot of the interests you serve make their money on the status quo, it is easy to see how this could influence organizational decision making.

Mysteriously during this time Don Duncan also gave up his controlling interest in his West Hollywood dispensary to a well-funded group fronted at one time by TV star Montel Williams and funded by people with deep deep pockets who had also bought the controlling interests to dispensaries in Sacramento and Berkeley, and were applying for a dispensary in Oakland for which Duncan sat on the Board and even took their required regulations test for them. So is it a coincidence that this happens and ASA begins serving the interests of the few more prominently? I think not. There is collusion happening behind these closed doors at a level any honest person simply cannot comprehend.

Here is communication from Abatin’s attorney stating so:

Abatin.Communication.DonDuncan

Don’t believe me about their initiative efforts? That is fine…. Let’s talk Los Angeles and Measure D. Here is what weed journalist David Downs said about Measure D the day after it passed:

Los Angeles voters chose to drastically reduce the number of storefronts selling medical marijuana yesterday, passing Measure D…. Measure D supporters – including the City Council, advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, and a dispensary union the UFCW Local 770 — celebrated the win for regulations in the biggest medical marijuana city on the planet.

So here we have ASA nd UFCW celebrating “drastically reducing” the number of places for people to get their cannabis. They put an effort on the ballot behind closed doors that was aimed at shutting down the majority of dispensaries besides a select few who were operating before an arbitrary and illegal deadline was placed by the LA City Council. These groups worked in conjunction with hostile lawmakers and the chosen few dispensing groups to put their competition out of business and again LIMIT ACCESS.

I wrote a piece about this seemingly bullshit move in 2013 called “More IS Better.” In it I detail my opposition the the ASA/UFCW’s coalition to LIMIT ACCESS in LA. I wrote:

The first is Measure D. This is the MOST restrictive and MOST expensive measure. It limits the number of collectives to an arbitrary 135 that were listed in 2007 on the City’s illegal moratorium and Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) and raises the tax rate for weed by 20%.

It was crafted by the ultra-corrupt City Council who has recently voted to ban dispensaries altogether and was written by cannabis enemy LA City Attorney Carmen Trutanich. The LA Times has suggested that instead of opposing all three, that Measure D is the closest thing to accomplishing NO medical marijuana. Here is their quote on that:

It would be easy enough to urge a no vote on all three, and to call on the city to impose a full-scale ban instead. After all, The Times opposed Proposition 215 from the outset, partly because it was sloppily written and partly because it set up an inevitable conflict with the federal government, which continues to classify marijuana as illegal and dangerous….

Measure D will come the closest to accomplishing that goal, or at least will put us on the right road.

Most important, it would impose limits on the number of marijuana businesses in the city, allowing about 135 dispensaries to remain open — those that were operating and registered under city laws in 2007 and that sought to re-register in 2011.

Source: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/endorsements/la-ed-end-marijuana-measure-d-e-f-20130510,0,448078.story

So get that…the super conservative LA Times who thinks dispensaries should be outright BANNED, and the City Council, who also thinks dispensaries should be BANNED, agree that the closest thing to an outright ban they can get passed is Measure D, and they are supporting this effort to severely limit and cripple the local market.

This is and was a glaring reason to assume that the goals of expanding access for patients was no longer the focus of Americans for Safe Access, and instead a shift to focus on providing a competitive advantage for a select few who can compete is their new objective. What they did in LA was unnecessary and counter productive to cannabis freedom. Did I mention that the current version of CA SB 1262 mentions several times Measure D directly, ensuring it’s ability to limit access? Yeah. It is like that.

But let’s get back to where we are now with CA SB 1262.

Tomorrow ASA is organizing a lobbying day at the CA State Capitol. They are calling on medical cannabis supporters to come out and let lawmakers know how they feel about the proposed regulations. They have walked back their full-throated support for the bill, now even calling it “controversial.” As noted earlier they are still publicly supporting the bill and encouraging lawmakers to do so.

Here is their statement on their Lobbying Day scheduled for tomorrow (Monday Aug. 4):

citizenlobbyday.ASA.duncan

 

It is clear that they have gotten a lot of feedback, as they make sure to state “It does not matter if you support or oppose, or are undecided….” They are hedging their bets wherever possible, while continuing to support an effort that will literally shut most every aspect of the current cannabis system in CA down and turn it over to only a very few who can afford to play the game and meet the slim requirements of the bill.

They continue to call for their legion of blind supporters to make their voice heard, while literally selling us out to the interests of the few, the connected, and the opposition. It is an amazingly underhanded effort at the core, and one I can only relate to absolute treason. There is no reason any person who supports cannabis freedom should ever give a dime of their money, any resources, or energy to supporting. It is clear that the new name of the organization should be Americans for Limited Medical Only Access (ALMOA).

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I strongly encourage anyone who cares about cannabis freedom to come out and voice their opposition to this crap. If you can make the ASA Citizen Lobby Day event super. If you cannot, contact your state legislators by phone and email immediately. Let’s organize direct action responses to this Bill while we still have time. Things will move rapidly. It is up to us to ensure we do not have to live under a homogenized rich person’s vision of what the industry should look like.

We must ensure any regulations being put forth take into consideration the current network of small batch producers and friendly patient services that exist everywhere in the state. 

We cannot let the only voice being heard is those who are in bed with the CA Police Chief’s Association and the CA League of Cities, who have openly opposed any sensibility in the CA legal process year after year. ASA should be treated with the same disdain and opposition with these groups as long as they are supporting this effort to LIMIT ACCESS and MAKE CRIMINALS out of thousands of people for doing what they do this very minute. The time to act is NOW, or do not be surprised when this piece of shit is your reality in a few days.

I hate to say it, but our biggest enemies these days are within. The people we need to worry about are right here, pretending to be your friend while selling you down the fucking river for thirty lousy pieces of silver. I just do not get it. But regardless, BEWARE OF THE WOLVES IN WOOK’S CLOTHING. They are everywhere.

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…