Weed Activist

FREE EDDY LEPP! Vote YES on 19!

October 30, 2010 in Legalization

On an episode of Time 4 Hemp with Casper Leitch that Eddy has endorsed Prop. 19. FREE EDDY LEPP! Here is a link to that video:

EDDY LEPP’s wife Linda sends a message from Eddy: VOTE YES on 19!

This is an article I did for WCC on Eddy’s going to jail…

FREE EDDY LEPP!

Old Man Gets a Decade in Prison for Growing Some Plants

It was crazy windy. Debris was blowing around the streets of San Francisco at a fevered pace. The wind was howling through the skyscrapers on the skyline.  The Reverend Eddy Lepp was wearing flip-flops; a suit jacket, a small brim pinstripe fedora with a Rasta colored band, some blue jeans, and flip-flops. It was May 18th, 2009 and this was the day Eddy would face federal sentencing for his role in the cultivation of over 30,000 cannabis plants. He would receive a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in federal prison from Federal District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel before a courtroom packed with supporters.

No matter what your views are on cannabis, I think we can all agree that a decade is an awful long time for growing some plants. For Eddy, it may be a death sentence. This 57-year-old man has seen a lot and his health is not what it used to be. A lot of thanks for a man who served his country proud in his military days and whose crime hurt nobody. It is a sad day for society when rapists and murderers receive less time than a gardener. But maybe a gardener is a bit too plain for Reverend Lepp, as he is much more than simply that. He is also a dedicated political activist and a Rastafarian Minister. He is a caring soul and a generally happy guy who is always smiling. Even on this cold and windy day where he saw a decade of his life evaporate before his eyes he manages a smile.

Eddy has fought his fair share of battles for the medical cannabis movement and to him this was just another step in the process to freeing this plant from tyranny. Eddy began cultivating full-time in 1996 when California passed Prop. 215. He was the first person to test the legal system on this new law, as he was arrested, tried, and acquitted for growing medicinal cannabis. He was driven to growing cannabis to serve the medical needs of his loving wife, Linda, who was dealing with a second bout with cancer. Eddy saw how cannabis had given his father a decent quality of life in his final days fighting cancer and he decided that it was his duty to his wife to grow this healing and beneficial plant. Linda Senti lost her fight with cancer in the midst of Eddy’s battle with the federal government. She was not there to see her husband convicted in a short two-day trial that was anything but fair.

In trial Eddy was not allowed to bring forth a religious or medical defense to explain his purpose for growing cannabis. He was railroaded into fighting with his hands tied behind his back, but he was unwilling to accept that he had done anything wrong and refused to accept a plea agreement from the prosecution. He still does not regret his decision. “The only thing I regret is that these conflicts in laws are the reason I am going to prison,” declared the Reverend. “If I had to do it all again, I would do it just the same. I have done nothing wrong.” And in a sense he is correct. The laws that lead him to commit these crimes are unclear and misleading. Without a clear framework many folks like Eddy have been made into criminals for growing medicinal plants. It is unacceptable.

Don’t get me wrong. Eddy Lepp is no Saint. He is from the school of hard knocks, tells crass jokes, chases most women, and curses like he just banged his thumb with a hammer. But he is also a caring, courageous, friendly, and smart man who does not deserve to spend his final days on this planet locked up for growing cannabis. “I think the reason they are so pissed at me is because they felt embarrassed. Because I grew so openly and highway 20 ran right down the middle of it, they felt I was slapping my dick in the face of the DEA. This was never my motivation,” says Lepp. “I never wanted all of this bullshit to happen.”

Eddy took a rough road in his battle with the federal government. Medical cannabis activists and political organizations turned their back on Lepp because of his religious use defense. They saw it as a far too risky political statement and it did not fit within the parameters of their work, even though his farm was named Eddy’s Medicinal Gardens. “These organizations don’t want me to succeed anymore than the government does,” said Lepp. “If I win they are all out of business. You gotta ask yourself, with all of the money donated, couldn’t more have been done to create real change after 40 years of fighting these laws? Hell. I have done more myself to change the laws than some of these well-funded organizations.” He admits that the leaders and staff of these organizations are all likable and that some are even his close friends, but he is frustrated with the lack of direct action he sees from them at times.

And maybe he has done more himself for the movement. Lepp says his legacy lies in the proliferation of cannabis farming and the way that people approach gardening. “When I began growing no one dared grow over 100 plants. Now there are sprawling cannabis farms all over northern California,” says Eddy. “I believe my vision to grow affordable medication with no government involvement did a lot to show others that they too can expand their horizons.” There is some truth in that too. Eddy set the bar so high that many others felt comfortable in growing larger gardens and serving more patients.

Eddy’s work with the Rastafarian religion is a way of life to him. He believes he was born a Rasta. In the late 90’s a bright young man enlightened him in the ways of the religion and he understood he had been living this way of life since he could remember. “My religion is sacred to me,” said Lepp of his beliefs. “I am a very public guy, but my relationship with the creator is a private matter.” His religion helps him to lead by example. He believes in being happy and avoiding anger and hatred at all costs. Which is probably where that constant smile comes from.

Since being sentenced Eddy says his life has not changed much. He is living every day like he is not going to prison because he believes that he is not. “I still don’t believe I am going and I will not give them the satisfaction of ruining the days leading up to my fate,” he explains. “If I go, I go. I will accept and face that when the time comes.”

That time is July 6th when he is scheduled to turn himself over to authorities at Lompoc Prison located 175 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Barring a miracle he will begin serving his time as he awaits appeal. It is insane that he may walk in a prison on that day and not see his home in Lake County for nearly a decade. He hopes that it will take much less time to change the laws that will be imprisoning him. He could win his appeal, he could receive clemency from the POTUS, or he could hope that Timothy Leary’s friends are still around. All of the above are relative long shots, but if Eddy is anything he is optimistic.

No matter what you think about Eddy and his infamous gardens, you must admit he has balls the size of Jeep tires. His effort to legitimize the way cannabis is produced is legendary. His collective gardening experiment may have landed him in trouble, but it helped to open the doors for the current proliferation of people who grow cannabis for patient (and religious) uses. He may be batshit crazy, but he is also very wise. He understands that his case has the ability to create awareness and make real progress for the cannabis movement. More information regarding his whereabouts in prison and his ongoing appeals can be found at www.freeeddylepp.com. The message he hopes to convey with his journey is, “Respect All. Hurt None. Love One Another.” That is not too much to ask.

For everyone’s sake we should hope that his situation changes for the better. If our government is allowed to continue to lock up old men for a decade for growing plants on their own property then we may all be doomed. Can we live in a society where injustices like these are a reality? It is easy to look the other way and be glad that it is not you. But what if it were? What if it were your loved one losing ten years of their lives for growing medicine? Please do your part to write letters, call public officials, and protest viciously to demand the release of Eddy and the many other political prisoners being held by our own government. We must demand that justice and morality be restored to our country and that these horrible wrongs be righted immediately. It is too important to let go. Rise up and be heard. No more mandatory minimums for growing safe and effective medicine. No more drug war. No more senseless acts of tyranny. FREE EDDY LEPP!

GO TO EDDYLEPP.com AND GET HIS UPDATED ADDRESS AND WRITE EDDY A LETTER.

Weed Activist

Attorney and Activist David Pullman on the state of the race for cannabis freedom

October 30, 2010 in Legalization

There are a few days until election day and it looks close. I’m gonna bust my ass for this cause until the day comes, but I’m also taking a realistic assessment of the situation (something I highly recommend to all of those who are voting down Prop. 19 in favor of their fantasy of Hemp 2012 passing). The usual cast of characters has come out against this initiative with a reefer madness that apparently never gets old, but what has really disturbed, disappointed, and disgusted me is that some of the modern day Harry Anslingers of prohibition come right from the ranks of those groovy people that until now I had idealistically called my “family.” There has been a lot of disinformation and division amongst the pro-marijuana community and what arises in me is a deep sadness and a disillusionment from the notion that there is a tribe of us that I’ll inaccurately call hippies (hipsters, burners, rainbows, deadheads etc.) that actually share a higher ideal and a vision for a more just  world, rather than just pursuing our own self-interests.

As a young deadhead, I spent two and a half years in New York State prison for selling LSD (from age 19-22). This is the mighty wrong and the big wound of my life – the time where I suffered alone in the darkness of the dysfunction of society and felt the deep hurt of a brutal injustice burn deep into the visceral core of my being. For my intended audience here, I don’t need to explain why locking me up was an injustice, however foolish my actions may have been. Instead, I want to talk about what that injustice motivated me to dedicate my life to.

When I got out of prison, I moved to California, grew my dreadlocks, flew my freak flag, and channeled by energy towards fighting back against the drug war. I walked from San Diego to Sacramento for hemp awareness, I petitioned for two of Jack Herer’s initiatives, and I formed my own little activist group in Santa Cruz. I felt an alliance with all pot people – we did our drugs/medicines, we grew them and we sold them, but we all, in my eyes, were down with the cause of marijuana legalization and ending the drug war. I felt part of a movement that had been struggling since before I was born to put a stop to the criminalization and incarceration of people whose only crime was to use a substance that alters their consciousness, as had been done throughout the history of humanity. I continue to feel part of that movement and it motivates me every day in my practice as a criminal defense lawyer. On a political level, this movement has mostly seen failures, with a few successes here and there along the way – Prop. 215 being the biggest of them so far. Politicians consistently letting us down, we’ve tried for decades to get a non-medical marijuana legalization measure on the ballot and always failed to even gather enough signatures. Then, along came, Prop. 19, certainly not perfect, but the best chance we’ve ever had or conceivably will have in the near future, and the shenanigans began that have shaken my entire vision and faith in the righteousness of the people that I had thought of as my tribe.

I actually used to be so foolish as to believe that there were two worlds, rainbow vs. Babylon, one full of integrity and beauty and the other one ugly and corrupt. Now, I’ve seen and grok fully that we are all Babylon, the rainbows perhaps moreso than anyone else. The most disturbing and widespread falsehoods about Prop. 19 emerged, not from the prison guards union or the chamber of commerce, as was to be expected, but from a sparkly dreadlocked hipster queen  with a wicked gift of gab and a pen that proved to be mightier than the truth itself. This misinformation was quickly debunked by those who were much more qualified to weigh in on the subject. The distortions were actually pretty transparent, but somehow these anti-19 myths found fertile ground in a big way with that sector of the “family” that just so happen to have an economic interest in keeping their “sacred herb” illegal.

Amazingly, amongst my friends who are opposed to Prop. 19, over 90% of them happen to be those whom I know as medical marijuana growers who profit off of the fact that marijuana is illegal and the price is astronomically high relative to the ease with which the plant could be grown. It is definitely no coincidence that the non-growers might fall temporarily under the spell of the misinformation campaign, but keep an open mind and any falsehoods that they learn about the initiative are easily corrected, while the growers (and there are thankfully many beautiful and noble exceptions – Love You!) are just so inclined to believe and latch onto even the most ludicrous of the anti-19 propaganda (think anything that has to do with Monsanto). Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for growing and selling marijuana. I’ve been a dealer, a grower, a trimmer, and might even hold the world record for the most ganja gooballs sold in one day. But, I always supported the cause of legalization and knew that when the time came, I would put aside my profits and move on for the greater good of the world.

Tellingly, these growers all couch their objections to Prop. 19 in economic terms (gives all the power to corporate mega-grows, takes away the rights of mom and pop growers, Walmart, Starbucks, economy of Humboldt county etc. etc.), reducing what they call the “sacred herb” to a mere commodity and bickering over who gets the right to profit off of it. Aside from the fact that most of these arguments are based on misinterpretations of what the initiative actually does, I don’t give a fuck who gets to sell it. This isn’t and never was supposed to be about profits. Although a lot of good things have come out of the profits we have made, the fact that there were ever any profits to be had is just a perverse benefit that we’ve managed to gain out of the sickness of the drug war. The profits were never supposed to be the the point – they were a fortunate side effect of a very unfortunate situation.

I don’t give a fuck about Richard Lee either. He seems to me to be a great guy with a long history of hemp activism who has been unfairly cast as a villain, but even if he was the biggest asshole in the world, I would still support his initiative. Because this struggle isn’t about Richard Lee and it isn’t about a bunch of hippies (using the term very loosely) who have become addicted to and feel entitled to continue making (relatively) easy money. This initiative is about the people and their freedom to smoke and/or grow whatever the fuck they want without running into a hassle with the law or losing their jobs. If you think Prop. 19 won’t help much or that marijuana prohibition is not a big problem under the current status of decriminalization, I can rattle off to you a list of reasons why my experience as a lawyer proves you wrong. As I’ve been arguing to many people, the overbearing weight of marijuana prohibition does not fall most heavily on a bunch of mostly white, privileged, middle class hipsters with medical marijuana cards and the ability to hire a lawyer. Prohibition comes down most heavily on the most vulnerable and marginalized populations – the poor, the undocumented, people of color, homeless people, street people, people on probation or parole, people with warrants, etc. It is these people that I find myself representing in the courtrooms every day, not the groovy family that I originally thought I was going to be fighting for. Very few of these people have medical marijuana cards. They don’t have money, access, information, and they either don’t want to or they don’t trust that they can get away with pulling off a medical marijuana scam.

There is no doubt that if marijuana is legalized, under any measure, the price will drop drastically and a lot of growers will have to either switch to growing mushrooms or find a legal source of income. Every good cause has its share of economic casualties. We can all probably agree that we should not cut down any old growth redwoods, but what happens when we have a job in that industry or we have a tree on our own property that we want to cut? Do we latch on to some phony claims to justify our opposition to the environmental protection or do we put our own personal economic issues aside and vote for the greater good? That should be a rhetorical question, but in fact it’s not. We usually villainize those loggers or corporations that fight environmental protections to protect their own financial interests, but now we have become just like them, haven’t we?

Legalized marijuana has a long list of traditional foes – the cops, the politicians, the prison guards, the alcohol industry, the moralists. In order to beat them, we need every single pro-pot person fired up, activated, and unified or, at the very least, not getting in the way. In order to pass this or any other marijuana initiative we needed to get every pot person to register to vote, to call their friends and family to urge them to support the cause, to write letters to the editor, to talk to people about it and put a human face on this struggle. Instead, and incredibly ironically, it is the mainstream liberals who are supporting this, while the hippies have joined up with the conservatives in spreading falsehoods and smears about it. I’m confident that just about every one of you who reads this, if you really understood the legal terms of the initiative and the enormity and importance of this issue (this is not just about California) and put aside your own economic interests, would be a full supporter of Prop. 19, warts and all.

I still think there’s time to pass this thing, or at least restore my faith in the inherent goodness of this subculture that I am part of. I encourage every one of you to look into your heart and be honest about why you really are against this. Then call all of your friends and family and tell them you’ve had a change of heart and you’ve seen the light and realize that we all have to vote YES on this. Maybe once in a generation do the economic and political realities come together in such a way that something like Prop. 19 stands a chance of passing. Now is the time. We won’t get another realistic chance for a very long time. Bring the herb out of the closet and into the sunlight where it belongs! Take the illegality and the money out of the marijuana business! Do it for a better world! If not, I love you, but I also think you’re being kind of an asshole.

Weed Activist

WEED IS TOO DAMN HIGH! Yes on 19 for lower weed prices…

October 30, 2010 in Funny Stuff, Legalization

Weed Activist

NO LOVE for the anti-19 haters. Sorry.

October 30, 2010 in Legalization, Miscellaneous, Video

For all of you who have lied and deceived people on their freedoms and have lied to convince people to vote against 19, I dedicate this song to you. You will gets NO LOVE after this is all said and done. “It’s a little to late to say that you’re sorry now. You kicked me when I was down. But what you say is don’t hurt me no more. You showed me nothing but hat. You ran me into the ground- but WHAT COMES AROUND GOES AROUND.” You haters can lose my number after the election. We will not be “moving on” and “coming together.” Forget that shit. You haters have taken your BULLSHIT too far. You made that bed, now lay in it….

Weed Activist

INSPIRING!: Every little bit can help….Do YOUR part!

October 30, 2010 in Funny Stuff, Legalization

CW: This is a great post I just found on Facebook about an activist working to pass Prop. 19 every chance they can get. GREAT JOB, N.D. Kerwin…..You got mad Cannabis warrior respect….much love. Everyone should be this dedicated.

Went down to the Mac Store today so they could tinker with my laptop and while they were busy doing that I pretended to check out all their display models…little did they know that I was actually setting the Yes On 19 website as the default page on all their browsers. Mua ha haaa :)

Weed Activist

NOT COOLEY! No on Cooley. Bad for MMJ….Real Bad…

October 30, 2010 in Funny Stuff, Legalization, Video

Weed Activist

Peter Tosh Family Endorse Prop. 19. Legalize IT!

October 30, 2010 in Legalization, Video

Weed Activist

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Billy Gartside

October 30, 2010 in Funny Stuff, Legalization

Thanks for this gem:

Debating Prop.19 with a prohibitionist is like playing chess with a pigeon. They knock over the pieces, shit on the board and then fly back to their friends claiming that they’ve won.

-Bill Gartside

Weed Activist

Amanda Rain: An open letter to Stoners Against Legalization

October 30, 2010 in Legalization

DO NOT LET PARANOIA GET THE BETTER OF YOU!

I understand paranoia. After working for a dispensary that was under the watchful eye of the DEA, having called out undercovers that were at a dispensary operator meeting getting them to leave, and years of training medical marijuana patients how to handle police encounters to prevent being arrested and stay out of jail, I get how the imagination of the unknown can play tricks on a person, especially when they’re involved with a questionably legal activity. I also get that there is great mistrust of government in our community, and broadly for good reason. However, there are limits to what is probable, reasonable or viable, and it’s important to separate fear from what is real.

To help clear the haze and bring some grounded sobriety into this debate, I’ve addressed some of the biggest fears I’ve heard below. After that I speak to my own experience of this issue, the story of my full-back tattoo (with pic:), and why I’m moved to vote yes, Yes, YES on Prop 19. I close with some commentary on Richard Lee as someone who personally works for Oaksterdam University in LA.

My beautiful community, I ask for your consideration, open mindedness and imagination (absent the paranoia;) as you read my offerings…I consider you some of the most creative, inventive people I know. If anyone can turn the fear into hope and the unknown into infinite potentiality, it is you! I believe in you!

At the same time, I believe in Prop 19. I also feel strongly with all the passion within me (and those who know me you know that’s a LOT! ;) that Prop 19 is in our highest good. For those who know the growth process intimately, sometimes transitions are scary, unknown and maybe even a little uncomfortable for a moment, but you also know that once you’re through to the other side you’re freer, lighter and better off than before, and in the case of Prop 19, safer and more protected.

1. It’s hard to watch the cannabis community divided against itself, especially with people like Steve Cooley running for Attorney General. A wise woman once told me, “If to be divided is to be conquered, than to be separated is suicide.” Instead of having a concerted effort to make sure that we defeat Cooley, which takes getting out into the general populous and swaying their votes, some within the community are focusing their voices and efforts on defeating Prop 19. When patients on a daily basis are still getting arrested down here in Southern California for small amounts, large amounts and everything in between, it’s as if these dissenters, while some long time activists I’ve spoken to call these people traitors, are taking their privilege of residing in more accepting liberal areas and leaving the rest of us without shelter. People in the North may be more prone to believing that medical makes you legal because local authorities there are more accepting, but that illusion down South is costly. Cooley says that all sales of cannabis are illegal, medical or not doesn’t matter to him. If elected, he will work to dismantle medical marijuana as we know it. What’s been happening in Los Angeles would then be happening statewide. For those concerned with what Prop 19 would do to the medical market, imagine if Cooley succeeds in “eradicating medical marijuana dispensaries” – those are his words, not mine. Prop 19 would put it on the law books that sales of cannabis are legal under state law, which would take the wind out of Cooley’s sails, because if you can regulate for adult use, why not medical – this will benefit the activists in more hostile areas in their lobbying efforts with their local governments to get regulations, and thus greater protection from law enforcement, to protect patients, cultivators & providers.

2. While SB 1449 makes it a civil infraction for under an ounce while it leaves sharing cannabis (not sales – that’s still a felony) as a misdemeanor. Moreover, most of the incarceration for cannabis happens because of sales, or intent to distribute, which can be having a good sum of money with a small amount of cannabis or other combination, that is filling our prisons. While Prop 19 doesn’t legalize all sales between just anyone for any amount, it is a huge step in the right direction. The amounts that people will be able to grow, accumulated over time, will amass to a significant amount of cannabis, as per Attorney J. David Nick’s analysis (which I came to myself from my experience training people on how to deal with cops and the legal knowledge that comes with that). People will have an affirmative defense in court for amounts larger than an ounce for adult use (medical is exempted). Considering that Prop 215 doesn’t make you fully legal (see #4), we’ve still been able to win many freedoms from having an affirmative defense in court. The affirmative defense from Prop 19 will advance legal precedent for the freedom of cannabis consumers that much more.

3. Medical laws are exempted. Not that it’s even necessary in that adult use is separate/different than medical use, to make absolutely sure there’s no confusion, Prop 19 exempts Prop 215 and SB 420, which are Health & Safety Code 11362.5 and 11362.7-9, in Purposes 7 (personal use) and 8 (cultivation & distribution). Letiticia Pepper, the attorney that is cited as saying otherwise on the SAL blog is not credible. Every attorney in the cannabis industry knows that H&S 11362.5 & 11362.7-9, while she insists that medical is not exempted and will be affected. Even the “official” opposition to Prop 19 say that medical won’t be impacted by Prop 19, in addition to the Legislative Analysts Office (LAO) which does non-partisan analysis of propositions for elections. Credible leaders within the medical movement all agree that Prop 19 will not impact medical status, limits or otherwise.

4. Medical patients are NOT legal under Prop 215 & SB 420. What it does is give patients, cultivators & providers an affirmative defense in court. That means that if caught, it’s up to the cop’s discretion how to handle each individual case. Just the other week I spoke with a college student who is a “legal” patient that had her recommendation essentially ripped up by the cop who then arrested her for a small amount of concentrated cannabis. We call this legal?! Under the status quo of Prop 215 & SB 420, patients, cultivators & providers are guilty until proven innocent, not the other way around. Cultivators are the least protected under the law, the most likely to get busted and most likely to do time for it, which I personally find unacceptable. I feel our growers deserve greater protections from going to jail or prison for pot! While Prop 19 doesn’t take us all the way there, it opens the door and makes it legal under CA law, clearly and explicitly, that growing cannabis can be regulated and thus legal (and licensing fees and business costs are still cheaper than court and better than incarceration). Since most of the enforcement happens at a local level, having local laws regulating cannabis sales means that cops will have to back off! I’m personally tired of listening to police & politicians indict the medical movement as a farce because people who don’t need it medically are getting it and using it (they also use this as justification to ban dispensing collectives), when there’s really little we can say to refute that. Prop 19 will mean that everyone over 21 can have pot legally (in the truest definition of the word legal – innocent until proven guilty); then cops & politicians alike won’t be able to play doctor anymore.

5. Right now, under Prop 215 & SB 420 (CA Health & Safety Code 11362.5 & 11362.7-9), ALL sales are in a complete gray zone. Still, cities & counties already have the legal authority to set rules on cannabis dispensation and over 40 cities and counties already have for medical purposes. And yes, cities and counties get to regulate the “health, safety, morals, and general public welfare” whether we like it or not. (Side note: it’s interesting to me that some people involved in the cannabis industry are so accustomed to the lawlessness of it that when they get a chance to become legal, they seem to prefer to stay criminals for profit margins, which I ultimately find rather disturbing considering how unspeakably awful jails and prisons are, and that paying licensing fees and taxes would still be less than having to defend oneself in criminal court to prove their innocence and medical status.) Some localities are also already taxing medical cannabis in addition to what the State Board of Equalization takes from sales taxes. The many cities and counties that have banned often cite the vagueness and lack of clarity in the law under Prop 215 and SB 420 and when faced with regulating what they see as questionably legal, they opt out. Prop 19 will make it clear and put it on California’s law books that sales are legal and give patients, growers & providers the opportunity to work with their local government (where they have the strongest influence vs. the state and federal level where corporations play politicians like puppets hanging on their purse strings). I’ve seen the political process work on a local level. Also, considering the acceptance of cannabis, the significance of the industry on the economy of Northern California, and that people are already well established in their relationships with their political leaders, there will be a willingness amongst politicians in the North to make Prop 19 work for their communities.

6. Big business isn’t going to come in and take over. Corporations will not take the legal risk of doing something federally illegal, period. I don’t care how big a conspiracy theorist you are, think about it for a minute. Do you really think that a large American corporation will risk losing their assets to the feds through asset forfeiture? They have too much to lose. That’s why we’ve not seen RJ Reynolds in medical, nor will we see them in cannabis until it’s federally legal. New York ended their state prohibition on alcohol 10 years before the federal law was repealed. Since we can’t even get the feds to reschedule cannabis for medical use, we’re likely at least another 10 years off from adult use being legal countrywide (while I do look forward to seeing that day!). That means, in real world terms, the people who are currently leading the way in medical (Steve DeAngelo, Chris Conrad, Jeff Jones, Richard Lee, Rob Raich, Debby Goldsberry, etc. etc. etc.) will have the opportunity to shape how adult use evolves. All the cities I’ve seen interviewed on this have said they want to see cannabis dispensed to adults out of a similar venue as medical – specialty places dedicated to cannabis – not the corner 7-11 or heaven-forbid Wal-Mart. AND large-scale grows are already happening under medical – imagine these grows coming into being without the additional market of adult users (and tourists:) to add more demand to keep up with production. Whether you like it or not, Oakland has already approved 4 warehouse sized grows for medical purposes. This is happening with or without Prop 19. That is not a reason to vote against Prop 19. In addition to the new/increased auxiliary businesses that will be created, the adult-use commercial market is going to be slow to establish itself similar to Prop 215 (passed in 1996, explosion of dispensaries didn’t happen until 10 years later). Lastly, I will say that if you don’t like the way business is done in America, that is a separate issue that needs to be addressed in its own right – that is not a reason to vote against Prop 19. Since Prop 19 leaves it to local governments, that means we have time to organize and work with our local authorities before big business will be willing to enter the market (after it’s federally legal – still a number of years off). That means in real-world terms and analysis, what we have before us with Prop 19 is the opportunity to shift the way business happens in America by shaping how cannabis sales occur in California. That’s HUGE!!!! That is the forest beyond the trees…

7. While it is possible a decrease in profit margins may occur over time, it won’t be immediate since Prop 19 has to be implemented on the local level. The only immediate result is that adults over 21 won’t be a criminal for small amounts of pot, smell won’t be probable cause anymore (WOW that thought makes me excited as that’s the hardest thing to manage!), and cops & politicians won’t be able to play doctor with patients anymore! The commercial regulation part of Prop 19 is most likely to be challenged by the feds if a challenge occurs, while the individual rights will remain (and medical is exempted, so adult use limits WILL NOT apply to patients with doctor’s recommendations). If commercial regulation survives, I don’t think the bottom will completely fall out of the market, nor will the niche market of high quality cannabis disappear. Just as with wines, the high-end wines still have a market, still bring in a high dollar amount, and plenty of mid-size wineries exist. There’s no reason (besides stoner paranoia) to think high end cannabis will lose its reverence and value within our community. And I have to say, we have more power than we own, more voice than we share, and more ability to shape our world that we exercise. We can act like the “default world” doesn’t exist all we want, but that doesn’t make it disappear, and that won’t bring us to the solution we want to see for our highest evolution. I keep thinking of how the Kennedys were bootleggers back in the day, then they become legislators, policy-makers that have shaped our world. I happen to know some pretty amazing people involved with cannabis and think they would be great as politicians, especially those with pro-environment stances. Another great possibility with this is that people will become inspired to engage in the political process to shape our future, which is a critical endeavor in this time of transition, and make our world a better place to live in.

8. Any impact of Prop 19 will not be immediate and the market won’t bottom out the way Rand predicted. Their study was based on Tom Ammiano’s bill of $50/ounce tax, not Prop 19. Also, it doesn’t account for increased expenses that are the cost of doing business, like health insurance, licensing fees, payroll taxes (like ‘em or not, unpaid taxes can land you in jail/prison :/). I’ve continually been impressed with our community’s ability to reinvent itself and stay ahead of the curve; I think Prop 19 will be no different. I whole heartedly believe that we can both thrive and turn the possibilities that are before us with Prop 19 into game changing win-win scenarios that are mutually beneficial for our community and the country/world at-large. And for those who still want profits over legality (or freedom as I like to call it), there are 49 other states they can sell their cannabis to.

9. The other complaint lodged against Prop 19 is that it creates a new law affecting 18-20 year olds. What Prop 19 did here was model the law that currently exists for providing alcohol to people 18-20 year olds. However you feel about kids and drugs, even 18-20 year olds, the ability of youth to use illicit drugs legally will never pass a vote of either the people or state legislators. Remember, the drug war is for the kids after all, mmmkay? Or at least that’s what they want us to believe, but that still has resonance with the soccer moms who are the swing voter in this election. Keep in mind that those who are medical patients will still be medical and therefore protected under Prop 215. Prop 215 stands and cannot be amended by Prop 19, so anything that is currently legal, illegal, or in a gray zone under 215 will remain the same. That said, you should know that under the medical laws, as it currently stands under Prop 215 & SB 420, you can have your kids taken from you by CPS. Sadly, it happens all the time.

10. Some are complaining about the size limits of Prop 19 for personal use, while cumulatively over cycles of growth in 5×5 spaces, that will add up to much more than 1 oz, all of which is legal to possess (not travel with per se, but possess). This means that adults over 21 will have an affirmative defense in court for amounts greater than the limits Prop 19 sets. Again, medical is exempted and guaranteed under Prop 215, so if people want/need more for medical purposes, they can have that.

11. There’s a fundamental lack of understanding of legal language. Purpose 13, for example, is written in standard legal language and asserts the right of California to care for the “health, morals, public welfare and safety within the State,” thus reasserting California’s right, not the Feds, to enact the initiative as part of its duty for this care. This is the States’ Rights provision that claims our ability to regulate cannabis despite federal law. Still, some activists have needlessly looked at this provision with fear and skepticism. And for those who say that medical is going to be impacted, I have to wonder if the piece that’s missing for them is that Prop 215 and SB 420 are the equivalent to CA Health & Safety Code 11362.5 & 11362.7-9. The other side of the fears in the medical community are from those who are currently profiting from it and fear losing some of their pie instead of seeing the forest beyond their trees and that there will be enough fruit to fill even more pies than they could ever possibly eat.

12. Opportunities like this don’t come around very often. The last time California had this chance was 1972. The way that politics works is that people only fund that which they think will win. Donating money to political campaigns is not a tax write-off, making it less attractive to large funders. Future initiatives and efforts are likely to be impacted by our vote on Prop 19.

13. Prop 19 has a provision within it to allow it to be amended at a later time by either a future voter referendum or state legislation, which means that unlike Prop 215 that has challenges we are forced to live with because we can’t amend it, we can change things that don’t work in Prop 19. Considering the last time legalization was on the ballot was 38 years about, and it only took 7 years to get SB 420 passed about Prop 215, I’d much rather take my chances passing Prop 19 and fixing it later, than wait another 20+ years to free this crucial plant for our health, environment and well-being. Just Say NOW!!!!!

14. When we look at who is against Prop 19, we see cops, prosecutors, the prison lobby, the feds, etc. To vote against Prop 19 is to align with those who would rather see us in prison than be productive members of society. It is personally beyond me how anyone who is a friend to cannabis and cannabis consumers (patients or not) can in good conscious vote against a bill that would bring us a step closer toward being fully legal and protecting those in our community who take the most risks.

In addition to my belief that Prop 19 is well written, taking into account the historically conservative political climate that is mid-term elections, the potential for a federal challenge (a big reason for local regulation and not mandated throughout the state – the feds get to regulate commerce), and the need for change now (who knows what 2012 will bring, we’re ripe for change now with failing economies and low approval rates for politicians who are against legalization), the following is what is truly at the heart of my advocacy. Cannabis, and cannabis policy specifically, is what woke me up from my conditioned slumber, the prison industrial complex is what will keep me working on ending the drug war until I take my last breaths… here’s why…

The War on Drugs has been an abject failure, succeeding at one thing – turning the land of the free into the world’s leading jailer. I cannot support the prison industrial complex, I cannot vote alongside the prison guards and prosecutors, I cannot support the continuation of this drug war that has devastated our inner cities, entire countries in South America and people’s lives the world over. Even while Prop 19 won’t resolve everything, it is an important next step in dismantling the War on Drugs, of which cannabis is a cornerstone issue. Our prisons are modern day slavery and every step toward bringing justice to the injustice is an important one that I whole heartedly embrace. The 13th Amendment that abolished slavery has an exception clause in it: “except as punishment for a crime for which one has been duly convicted.” Then we have disproportionate enforcement adding up to more Blacks (prosecuted at 4-10 times more than whites) and Hispanics (prosecuted at 3 times as much as whites) filling jails and prisons while there are more white people who use drugs. It is for the selling of drugs that most people are incarcerated. We criminalize the market (sales) around cannabis yet overlook the use, while enforcement is largely targeted toward underserved communities. I believe that our children are going to look back at our time and wonder why we didn’t do something, similar to the way we wonder how people could even think to enslave a human now. Today, prisoners are moved around the way slaves were traded then. They also work for pennies for our corporations to have commissary. We can’t even keep drugs out of prisons, who are we fooling that we can get them off our streets?

If you ask me why I’m voting for Prop 19, it’s because the injustice has to end. Opportunities like Prop 19 don’t come around every day, or even every few years for that matter (77 years of prohibition and 38 years since our last opportunity for legalization on the state level). Politics is based on momentum as much as it is centered around money. Each piece of change builds upon the next. I know Prop 19 won’t resolve our prison crisis; however, every step toward that direction will build the momentum toward a tipping point that will allow us to reform our prisons, and cannabis being the cornerstone of the drug war with the greatest use among the populous, it is significant and will have far reaching impacts beyond our imaginations, beyond our personal situations, and bring us into a time of personal responsibility, reason in our laws and sanity in our policies.

In 2003-2004, I tattooed my back, my full back, in dedication to this sacred plant, and its resurrection to help heal humanity and the Earth. The wisdom and strength of the dragon rooted in history and tradition that dates beyond our written memory of time takes the scroll that reads Tai Ma (Great Hemp) in Chinese and passes it off to the Phoenix that Ma can rise from the ash of oppressive prohibition and criminality to be born again in fullest glory and beauty for the betterment of humanity and the collective experience of life on Earth.

I ask you to join me in voting Yes on Prop 19 that this Dream become reality, not just for ourselves, but for our children and their children into the next seven generations, that they may have a world worth inheriting. In my fullest of hearts, I believe freeing the cannabis plant is key to that Dream unfolding, becoming and actualizing in its fullest potential.

Some commentary on Richard Lee… As someone who worked for Don Duncan with Americans for Safe Access from 2005-2006, I can say that the explosion of dispensaries came before Oaksterdam University even existed (founded in Nov. 2007). The explosion in LA was well under way by then (2006) and the only other state that OU has been is Michigan, while Colorado is the other state that has experienced explosive growth. As someone who works for Oaksterdam University in Los Angeles, I can say that our goal isn’t to explode dispensaries all over the country. It’s to teach people to be safe and responsible in the cannabis industry, something I can tell you from my days with ASA is seriously needed! Many people get into this industry not knowing anything about business, politics, or even the laws around cannabis in California, yet they get into it anyway. I can also say from personal experience that many people that come through our program leave less willing to get into the industry than they were before they came. Richard is a Republican, and hence a businessman, however, he’s not looking at taking over or monopolizing the state’s industry. If he were, one would think he would have already expanded his dispensary business into other areas, which he has not done and the only reason OU is anywhere but Oakland is that other competent people stepped up to make it happen. I personally think that someone putting the money where their mouth is to the extent that Richard did is admirable…I saw a report that said he earned $1.5 million from OU, which happens to be the same amount he put up to get Prop 19 on the ballot. Putting all the money earned back into advancing the industry it was earned from, to create greater safeguards from prosecution and arrest, to freeing this versatile plant from generations of reefer madness, is more than I can say for most people involved in the cannabis industry.

Weed Activist

SNOOP says get out the vote and says he is VERY HIGH on 19

October 30, 2010 in Legalization, Video

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