The Airing of the Grievances

A Fesitvus for the rest of us….one of my favorite traditions. Please review and take in my airing of the grievances for 2013. Feel free to add your own in the comment section….

FrankFestivusPole

THE AIRING OF THE GRIEVANCES:

1. Weed is still not totally legal. (Though two states, a country, several cities and a federal stand down was a hell of a year)

2. People are still going to jail for weed at alarming rates in many areas. This must stop. However we get there, I just want to get there.

3. People are still losing their kids for weed. This is pure madness by any civilized standard. We must put an end to cannabis abductions.

4. Parents are still having to worry about treating their sick children with safe and effective cannabis medicines. What kind of evil people would put parents of sick children through this?

5. Folks are still losing their job for weed. If it were not for weed most companies would not even piss test people. We should end prohibition and at the same time end having to give body fluid to people for employment.

6. People are still looking down their noses at cannabis users. We must continue to shift the paradigm through admitting we are good people that like weed. For too long it has just been the fringe willing to step up. You garage weed smokers need to be accounted for. We all know you get high, dummy.

7. Why the fuck are people still hungry?

8. Too many losers running around claiming to be experts in this fucking industry who do not know shit except how to steal other people’s work and talk suckers out of their money.

9. Meth torches…..

10. Weed is still not totally legal…..

A New Hope: Cannabis Policy Reform Act of 2014

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So here we are again. Trying to make weed legal in California. Who ever knew that it would be so difficult?

Well…I did. California is not your average state. This is a huge state with over 38 million people. Within the state there are several regional aspects that make the state almost like 10 states in one. There is the liberal Bay Area, the Sierra foothills, the agricultural Valley, the central coast, the emerald triangle, the republican stronghold of San Diego, and then of course the monster that is Los Angeles in all of its glory with Hollywood, Venice and Compton wrapped up into one.

To give you a little perspective…Colorado and Washington both have about 6-7 million people. That is the population of the WEST SIDE of LA. Not all of LA by any means…but just the West Side. So if we wanted to run an initiative on the West Side of LA, I think we could pull it off; but the entire state is a much bigger and more complex task. Which is why there are so many ideas of how to get this thing done.

Let me recap briefly the situation to give a little background. In October I wrote a piece called Welcome to the Hotel California where I spelled out some issues with two initiative efforts being put forth in Cali.

The first is Jack Herer’s CCHI campaign. This is an initiative I like for the most part, but that just does not realize the most important aspect of any effort when dealing with initiatives….electability. The group decided to keep the language that Jack left them, and make no adaptations based on the political realities from recent elections or shifts in our society and culture over the past few years. Their argument is that Jack was infallible and that like Moses, left the perfect documents behind even though he will not make it to the promised land. The problem is that the campaign is being ran unprofessionally, and is mired in chaos. I saw one of the campaign directors, Mikey Jolson, at the Emerald Cup this weekend and let’s just say that he seemed less than confident in his chances at this point. But when you disregard all advice  and throw caution to the wind, can one really be surprised when folks decide to not back their effort?

The second initiative is the MCLR, which is being put on by Dave Hodges, John Lee, Bob Bowerman, and the ever creepy Dege Coutee. That last name on there is enough to disqualify the effort for me, as I think that broad is a parasite. But beyond that, the effort is less than stellar and the language filed is super muddy. They are very proud of their “crowd sourcing” of the document, but this is where I saw the language have the most issues. Why? Because you cannot give everyone everything they want in this industry. What you end up with is 30 pages of garbage language that attempts to hang on to everyone’s pet project from yesterday. The initiative is cumbersome, and will not get the support of any real money players who can get it on the ballot.

Enter the THIRD initiative. PAY ATTENTION HERE. The Control, Regulate, and Tax Marijuana Act was written and filed by an attorney at Drug Policy Alliance in conjunction with Peter Lewis’ liaison Graham Boyd. This is an EXTREMELY restrictive model that is unacceptable to anyone who has worked in the cannabis industry for more than 10 minutes. The big issues are it allows for only 4 plants, sets super high tax rates, bans certain extraction methods, and gives a lot of power to law enforcement. It is basically prohibition light and a huge step backwards for California. I am not sure how anyone would think giving Cali residents less plants than Colorado residents would EVER fly. These folks have obviously never been up the hill. But here is the kicker….THEY HAVE THE MONEY, DUMBASS. I wrote Graham Boyd, who helps oversee Peter Lewis’ estate and asked him if they were putting money behind this effort. Here was his response:

Hi Mickey,

Thank you for your kind words about Peter.  It’s very hard to lose such a good friend and mentor

You’re right about the initiative.  We haven’t made any decisions about going forward with a campaign.  We’ll get the ballot title and summary, test viability, get input from stakeholders and a few other things before making a decision in February.  I would welcome your input.

Best,

Graham

So do you get it now? The two initiatives that are filed ARE NOT GOING TO GET THE SUPPORT OF DPA OR PETER LEWIS’ MONEY. They WILL NOT make the ballot without it. They are such poor efforts that DPA filed this piece of shit as an alternative, and what I hear Peter Lewis was directly involved in the development process before his unfortunate passing. It is a very real possibility that unless there is a better option on the table that the big money will push their shitty language onto the ballot. They see the writing on the wall and know that 2016 is a big risk with the pace things are evolving on the ground. Here is what Graham Boyd said about it in a recent news article:

“The main thing is growing public support. I think you can look at the list of 2016 states and argue that any of them could go in 2014,” Boyd said. “If the public is ready in 2014 and something happens before 2016 and that lift tails off, we may find ourselves saying we missed the wave.”

So make no mistake….they are looking very seriously at this effort and may push it forward regardless of cannabis community support.

Enter the Cannabis Policy Reform Act of 2014. This is language developed by proponent Ed Rosenthal, in conjunction with many influential California reform leaders. The core of it is based on the RCPA2012 effort, which is awesome. It adds a more comprehensive regulatory model, which is well-thought and extremely reasonable. It allows for 2600 indoor watts per individual to grow at home…and up to three individuals per household. That is an 8 lighter if you got two roommates. Or 100 sq. ft. per individual, or 300 sq. ft. outdoors if there are three adults. That is awesome for personal use levels. If folks want to cultivate more they can on agriculture zoned or commercial properties. It sets more than reasonable tax rates and includes all aspects of the industry to chip in. It also differentiates between medical non-taxed cannabis, and high-cbd medicines which will also not be taxed in the recreational market. The Act removes criminal penalties and deals with the industry in a civil infraction manner. The language is damn good. Even I was impressed with how well-thought it was. I probably would not have written it much different if I had done it myself.

So this effort is a hopeful alternative that DPA and Peter Lewis’ estate can put their funding behind that is conservative enough to actually pass, while still supporting the movement/industry’s norms and needs. The goal is to convince the big money players that this is the direction we want to go. Their development and filing of their own language shows that they will not be supporting the two that were previously filed; but there is still hope that they may decide to move on this language. Ed is a respected advocate for cannabis freedom and can generate support from the cannabis community. I will be putting any support I have behind this language. I would encourage the rest of the community to do the same.

The language is below for you to read for yourself. Digest it and take it in. I understand there are folks who have already dedicated time and energy into the two efforts being put forth. It is disappointing to realize that we may have been spinning our wheels. But I can assure you that this is our best option going forward.

I would encourage everyone to reach out the Ethan Nadelmann and Graham Boyd and encourage them to support the Cannabis Policy Reform Act of 2014. If they want to put millions into putting something on the ballot, this is by far the best language and the most capable option that is out right now.

Only time will tell, but you can either start kicking and screaming now, or do not be surprised if you wake up January 2015 limited to 4 lousy plants and a bunch of unnecessary red tape. The choice is ours. Squeaky wheels get oil up in this bitch….

CANNABIS POLICY REFORM ACT OF 2014

This initiative measure is submitted to the People of the State of California in accordance with provisions of Article II, Section 8 of the California Constitution.

An initiative measure to add Chapter 6.7, entitled “Cannabis Policy Reform”, to Division 10 of the Health and Safety Code and adds Section 420 to, and to add Chapter 14.5 (commencing with Section 25400) to Division 9 of the Business and Professions Code, to amend Section 68152 of the Government Code, to amend Sections 11014.5, 11054, 11364.5, 11370, 11470, 11479, 11488, 11532, 11703, and 11705 of, to add Division 10.3 (commencing with Section 11720) to, and to repeal Sections 11357, 11358, 11359, 11360, 11361, and 11485 of, the Health and Safety Code, to add Part 14.6 (commencing with Section 34001) to Division 2 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, to repeal Section 23222(b) and amend 40000.15 of the Vehicle Code, and to amend Section 18901.3 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to cannabis.

SECTION 1: Title

This Act shall be known and may be cited as the Cannabis Policy Reform Act of 2014.

 

SECTION 2: Findings and Declarations

The People of the State of California hereby find and declare all of the following:

(A) Existing marijuana laws have created a violent, criminal drug market.

(B) Millions of criminal justice and court resources are spent each year enforcing marijuana laws that could otherwise be spent on preventing violent crime.

(C) Existing marijuana laws have a disproportionate impact on African-American and Latino communities.

(D) Marijuana has been used medicinally to relieve pain and treat medical conditions by thousands of people in California for more than fifteen years.

(E) Regulating, controlling, and taxing marijuana like alcohol will save criminal justice resources, reduce violent crime, reduce racial disparities, and generate revenue for California.

(F) Industrial hemp isproduced in at least 30 nations to produce thousands of products including paper, textiles, food oils, automotive parts, and personal care products.

(G) Hundreds of millions of dollars of industrial hemp products are sold in the United States.

(H) California manufacturers of hemp products import tens of thousands of acres worth of hemp products from other parts of the world that could have been produced by California farmers.

 

SECTION 3: Purposes and Intents

The People of the State of California hereby declare that the intents and purposes of this Act are:

(A) To remove all existing civil and criminal penalties for adults 21 years of age or older who cultivate, possess, transport, sell, or use cannabis subject to the provisions of this act, without impacting existing laws proscribing dangerous activities while under the influence of cannabis, or certain conduct that exposes children to cannabis.

(B) To ensure that the proper regulatory apparatus for cannabis sale and cultivation is implemented.

(C) To prevent the distribution of marijuana to minors.

(D) To prevent revenues from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels.

(E) To prevent the diversion of marijuana to states where it is not legal.

(F) To prevent state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of illegal drugs or other illegal activity.

(G) To prevent violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana.

(H) To prevent drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use.

(I) To prevent the growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands.

(J) To clarify and standardize regulations statewide regarding personal use and production, as well as the commercial manufacture and sale of cannabis and its derivatives.

(K) To raise tax revenues for California for education.

(L) Nothing in this act is intended to require any individual or entity to engage in any conduct that violates federal law or to exempt anyone from any requirement of federal law.

(M) To make cannabis available for scientific, medical, industrial, and research purposes.

 

SECTION 4: Definitions

Section 11018 of the Health and Safety Code is amended to read:

11018. “Marijuana” or “cannabis” mean all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, its seeds or resin.  It does not include the mature stalks of the plant, fiber produced from the stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of the plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of the plant which is incapable of germination.  It does not include industrial hemp as defined in Section 11018.5, except where the plant is cultivated or processed for purposes not expressly allowed by Division 24 (commencing with Section 8100) of the Food and Agriculture Code.

 

Section 11018.5 is added to the Health and Safety Code, to read:

11018.5. “Industrial hemp” means a fiber or oilseed crop, or both, that is limited to non-psychoactive types of the plant Cannabis sativa L., and the seed produced therefrom, having no more than five-tenths of one percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) contained in the dried flowering tops, and that is cultivated and processed exclusively for the purpose of producing the mature stalks of the plant, fiber produced the stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of the plant, or any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the mature stalks, the flowering tops, fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of the plant which is incapable of germination.

 

SECTION 5: Repeal of Marijuana Prohibition

The following sections are herby repealed from the Health and Safety Code: Section 11054(d)(13), Section 11054(d)(20), Section 11357, Section 11358, Section 11359, Section 11360, Section 11361, and Section 11485. Section 23222(b) of the California Vehicle Code is hereby repealed. Cannabis related activities are hereby removed from the prohibitions contained within Health and Safety Code Sections 11014.5, 11364.5, 11364.7, 11365, 11366, 11366.5, 11379.6, 11470, 11488, 11488.5, 11570, 11703, 11705.

(b) Health and Safety Code Section 11361.5 is amended to include prior violations of Health and Safety Code Section 11357, 11358, 11359, 11360, 11361, as well as cannabis related violations of Health and Safety Code Section 11365, 11366, 11366.5, 11379.6, and Vehicle Code Section 23222(b).

(c) Section 11421 is added to the Health and Safety Code to read:

11421. Except as provided herein, it is lawful, and not a crime, public offense, or cause for incarceration, for an adult to use, possess, share, cultivate, process, transport, distribute and sell to other adults, or otherwise engage in cannabis related activities. It is lawful and not a violation of California law to sell cannabis to a person 21 years of age or older. It is lawful and not a violation of California law for a person 21 years of age or older to smoke or consume cannabis in one’s home, in any privately owned property, or in public in a manner that does not endanger others. It is lawful for adults 21 years of age or older to cultivate cannabis. Cannabis may be cultivated on privately owned property with the consent of owner, resident, or tenant of such property.

 

SECTION 6: Cannabis Regulation

Sections 11422, 11423, 11424, 11425, 11426, 11427, and 11428 are added to the Health and Safety Code, to read:

11422(a). The California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) shall promulgate rules and regulations concerning the industrial, research, scientific, medical, and commercial cannabis regulatory regime.  The ABC shall have exclusive power, except as herein provided, to control, license, permit, or otherwise authorize the commercial and industrial cultivation, manufacturing, processing, testing, transportation, distribution and sale of cannabis and to collect license fees or taxes on account thereof.

(b) The ABC shall fully implement the regulatory regime created herein within 12 months from the passage of this Act. The commercial cultivation, processing, transportation, distribution, and sale of cannabis shall not be lawful until 12 months from the passage of the Act.[ER1]  All regulations promulgated and enforced by the ABC shall be unified, to the extent possible, with the California Alcoholic Beverages Control Act.  This includes, but is not limited to, age verification measures to ensure only adults aged 21 and over can purchase marijuana, an allowance of safe onsite consumption of cannabis at cannabis related businesses, environmental protections, and penalties for diversion to minors.

(c) The ABC shall have exclusive power to suspend or revoke any specific cannabis license if it shall determine for good cause that the granting or continuance of such license following analogous procedures as those used for alcohol and set forth herein. These regulations shall include appropriate controls on the licensed premises for commercial production, cultivation, processing, transportation and sale of cannabis.  This includes, but is not limited to, age verification measures to prevent the diversion of cannabis to minors, prohibitions on the use of firearms at cultivation, processing, or distribution facilities, and regulations concerning zoning, land use, locations, size, hours of operation, occupancy, protection of adjoining and nearby properties, and other environmental and public health controls. These regulations may not include bans, actual or de facto, of the conduct permitted by this Act.

(d) Any regulations created and enforced by the ABC shall not infringe on the individual rights set forth in this Act.  Any taxes, regulations, fines and fees imposed pursuant to this section shall not be imposed on adults, aged 21 and older, with personal amounts of cannabis.

 

“Personal amounts of cannabis” includes all cannabis produced from a personal garden, or three pounds of dried processed marijuana, whichever is greater.

 

(1)   An indoor personal garden using electric lights will be measured by the total wattage used by the lights in all phases of growth. The total watts used by the lights can be no more than 2600 per individual.

(2)   An outdoor personal gardens or greenhouses are permitted. Their total size can be no more than 100 square feet per individual.

(3)   Up to three individuals can maintain a personal garden located on a residential property. More than three individuals can maintain a personal garden collectively or cooperatively in an area zoned industrial or agricultural. A residence on this property does not preclude cultivation of such a garden.

(4)   The presence of persons younger than 18 years of age in a household does not make the cultivation unlawful nor shall it be used in any manner to diminish parental rights or justify the removal of a child from the home unless the child’s physical health and wellbeing is in actual imminent danger.

(5)   These size limitations do not apply to medical gardens.

 

(e) The California Department of Food and Agriculture shall be designated by the ABC Commissioner to oversee the commercial and industrial cultivation of cannabis.  These agencies shall work together to control commercial and industrial cannabis cultivation. The regulations promulgated pursuant to this subsection shall be consistent with the provisions of the Food and Agriculture Code related to the production of consumable plant crops and vineyards. This shall include provisions for the permitting, tracking and inspection of all cannabis that is cultivated for commercial or industrial purposes.

(f) The California Department of Public Health shall be designated by the ABC Commissioner to oversee the cultivation and distribution of medical cannabis pursuant to Section 11425. These agencies shall work together to regulate the cultivation and distribution of medical cannabis and the issuance and enforcement of the Class M license pursuant to Business and Professions Code Section 420.1(m).

(g) The ABC shall consult with the California Environmental Protection Agency to create any rules necessary to protect the environment, including regulations limiting the use of pesticides, controlling water diversion, and preventing other forms of pollution generated by the commercial and industrial cultivation of cannabis.

11423(a). The ABC shall work with the California Board of Equalization and any other executive and legislative entities to develop a fee and taxation structure that can be implemented for cannabis in a manner similar to that of alcohol subject to the provisions of this Act.

11424(a). Local jurisdictions shall have the right to restrict personal gardens that are in visible from the street or other publicly accessible property. Counties and cities retain the ability to regulate land use, zoning, and nuisances of cannabis related activities in a manner consistent with this Act and subordinate to all State implementations of this Act. Local jurisdictions may not pass ordinances that restrict commercial cultivation in agricultural districts; neither may they ban access in their districts to medical cannabis by qualified medical cannabis patients.

All proposed regulations by local government agencies specific to marijuana businesses or proposed businesses otherwise within proper zoning and otherwise compliant with state and local law are subject to a referendum to be held at regular elections on any proposal to restrict cultivation, processing, or its sale for on-site or off-site use. The proposals are not enforceable until they have been approved by vote.

(b) This Act authorizes the State of California to prevent the diversion of marijuana to states where it is illegal and generally control the importation and exportation of cannabis through the provisions of 21 U.S.C. Section 873.

11425. This Act shall not adversely affect the individual and group rights and protections afforded by California Health and Safety Code Sections 11362.5 through 11362.83.  Schools, employers, and/or landlords may not discriminate against, nor penalize a person, solely for their status as a qualified patient or primary caregiver unless failing to do so would put the school, employer, or landlord in violation of federal law or cause it to lose a federal contract or funding.  A person may not be denied medical care, including organ transplants, on the basis of their status as a qualified patient.  A patient’s use of marijuana shall not constitute the use of an illicit substance.

11426(a). Except as authorized by law, every person under the age of 21 who possesses, cultivates, or transports, cannabis in a manner as defined by section 11422(d), is guilty of an infraction. (b) Except as authorized by law, every person 21 years of age or older who furnishes cannabis to a person under the age of 18 shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.  Except as authorized by law, every person 21 years of age or older who furnishes cannabis to a person under the age of 21, but 18 years of age or older, shall be guilty of an infraction. Cannabis related conduct that contributes to the delinquency of a minor may also be punished by Penal Code section 272.

(c) It is an infraction to consume cannabis while operating a vehicle, boat, aircraft, upon a school or public bus, on school grounds other than at a college or university, in a children’s playground, on a public street or sidewalk, in any manner that endangers others.

(d) Driving while impaired by cannabis shall be punished by Vehicle Code Sections 23103, 23152(a), and 23153.  Impairment occurs when a person’s mental or physical abilities are so impaired that he or she is no longer able to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances. This is the sole standard to be used in determining driving under the influence allegations.

11427(a). Except as provided in Section 11427(c) the unlawful cultivation of cannabis shall be punished as a misdemeanor or an infraction.  Unlawful cultivation occurs when cannabis is grown on public or private lands without consent of the owner or government agency supervising that property or the unlicensed cultivation outside of the regulations promulgated pursuant to Sections 11422(a), 11422(b), 11422(c), 11422(e), 11422(f), 11422(g) and 11424(b). Nothing in this Act shall prevent prosecution under other statutes related to environmental protection.

(b) Except as provided in Section 11427(c), the unlawful sale of cannabis shall be punished as a misdemeanor or an infraction. The unlawful sale of cannabis occurs when cannabis is sold outside of the regulations promulgated pursuant to Sections 11423 and 11424(b).

(c) The following activities may be punished as either a misdemeanor or a felony:

(1) The sale of marijuana to children under the age of 16.

(2) The diversion of marijuana to states where it is not legal.

(3) Cannabis related activity that is being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of illegal drugs or other illegal activity.

(4) The use of violence, coercion, or duress in the unlawful cultivation or unlawful distribution of marijuana.

(5) Gross pollution or environmental destruction caused by the unlawful cultivation of marijuana.

(6) Cultivation on public land or on private property where prohibited by the owner.

11428(a). No public agency shall alter, amend, assess, condition, deny, limit, postpone, qualify, revoke, surcharge, or suspend any certificate, franchise, incident, interest, license, opportunity, permit, privilege, right or title of any person because of cannabis use or other conduct permitted by this Act.

SECTION 7

Sections 420, 420.1, 420.2, 420.3, 420.4, 420.5, 420.6, 420.7, 420.8, 420.9, 430, 430.1, and 430.2 are added to the Business and Professions Code, to read:

The regulation of commercial cannabis cultivation, processing, transportation, distribution, and sales shall fall under the purview of the ABC. The ABC shall issue licenses authorizing the cultivation, processing, transportation, distribution, and wholesale and retail sales of cannabis, cannabis seeds, and cannabis plants.

420.1. The classification of the licenses administered by the ABC is initially set as delineated herein.  The ABC, or the Legislature, may later modify these licenses in order to better effectuate the purposes of this Act. The ABC shall issue licenses to all qualifying applicants. Unless otherwise provided herein, a holder of any valid license may hold any of the other various licenses permitted herein, except they may hold a license for only one class in Class A, Class B, Class C, or Class D.

Commercial cultivators and processors involved in germination, cultivation, processing, packaging, conversion, extraction, and wholesale sales of cannabis to licensed manufacturing, processing, or cultivation facilities that produce only CBD-containing cannabis need not apply for a special license. Vendors of products containing only CBD also need not apply for a special license. Both these groups must register with the ABC and maintain regular business licenses. These businesses are subject to inspection for compliance by the ABC.

(a) A “Class A” license shall apply to outdoor commercial cannabis cultivators who cultivate 43,560 square feet (one acre) or more of plant canopy. This license shall authorize the germination, cultivation, processing, packaging, and wholesale sale of cannabis to a licensed manufacturing, processing, cultivation, or retail facility. A holder of this license may sell cannabis to any licensee holding a valid license authorized pursuant to this section and licensee may hold various classes of licenses.  All holders of this license must declare how the cannabis will be processed consistent with similar regulations enforced by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Holders of this license must comply with all environmental rules and regulations pertaining to the cultivation of an agricultural crop produced for human consumption. Any processing occurring at the cultivation site may be subject to additional zoning requirements, and inspection by the local health department. The holder of a Class A license may not be issued more than one Class A license. This license shall be subject to the provisions of Section 11422(e) of the Health and Safety Code.

(b) A “Class B” license shall authorize the same privileges and restrictions as a Class A license, but shall apply to cultivators who are cultivating up to 21,780 square feet of plant canopy. The holder of a Class C License may not be issued more than three Class C licenses. This license shall be subject to the provisions of Section 11422(e) of the Health and Safety Code.

(c) A “Class C” license authorizes the same privileges and restrictions as a Class A license, but shall apply to cultivators who are cultivating up to 10,000 square feet of plant canopy. The holder of a Class C License may not be issued more than three Class C licenses. This license shall be subject to the provisions of Section 11422(e) of the Health and Safety Code.

(d) A “Class D” license authorizes the same privileges and restrictions as a Class A license.  This class of license shall apply to cultivators who use in excess of 2600 watts of light in their indoor garden or who process amounts of cannabis commensurate with that amount of plant canopy, or who cultivate in excess of 100 square feet of plant canopy outdoors or who process amounts of cannabis commensurate with that amount of plant canopy.  This license shall be subject to the provisions of Section 11422(e) of the Health and Safety Code.

Holders of this license shall be subject to additional regulations relevant to the indoor cultivation of cannabis.  A holder of this license must maintain the requisite electrical and plumbing permits as required by the city and/or county in which the indoor cultivation facility is located. This license may also be subject to controls related to electrical consumption and the disposal of waste associated with the cultivation facility. Outdoor cultivation is subject to relevant zoning laws.

(e) A “Class E” license authorizes the manufacturing and packaging of processed cannabis.  The ABC shall develop the rules, regulations, and procedures necessary for the inspection, tracking, and labeling of all licensed cannabis manufacturing facilities and the cannabis contained therein. This license may be issued for continuous use or for specific seasonal operations.  The California Department of Public Health or local health agency may be designated to enforce the provisions of this class of license.  The ABC shall create separate subclasses of the Class E license for the manufacturing of edibles and the manufacturing of extracts and concentrates.  The holders of this license may distribute cannabis to a licensed retail or wholesale entity.  All cannabis subject to the Class E license must be clearly labeled to show the following: compliance with the California Health and Safety Code for food packaged and labeled for human consumption, the THC and CBD (cannabidiol) content of the cannabis, and a warning that reads: “For Adult Consumption Only, Not For Children”.

(f) A “Class F” license authorizes the sale of cannabis for consumption on the premises where sold. The cultivation, production, processing, distributing, and manufacturing of cannabis is not subject to this class of license. This license shall be used for any establishment exclusively dedicated to adult cannabis use and sales as well as to any bona fide eating or drinking establishment seeking to permit cannabis consumption on premises. This license authorizes the on-premises retail sale of cannabis and on-premises consumption of cannabis indoors and/or outdoors. A city or county may mandate that air- cleaning equipment be used for premises seeking to permit indoor cannabis smoking in their jurisdiction.  The number of Class F licenses issued may be capped by the ABC pursuant to population density in a manner identical to similar caps as related to alcohol. The ABC shall promulgate regulations necessary for the tracking and inspection of all retail sales of cannabis.

(g) A “Class G” license authorizes the sale of cannabis only for off-premises consumption where sold. This shall include seeds, clones, and larger plants. The cultivation, production, processing, distributing, and manufacturing of cannabis is not subject to this class of license. This license shall be used for any establishment exclusively dedicated to adult cannabis use and sales as well as to any establishment not primarily dedicated to the sale of cannabis, such as convenience stores.

(h) A “Class H” license is a private club license that authorizes the same privileges and restrictions as Class C, Class D, Class E, and Class F licenses and applies to members and guests only, for production and consumption of cannabis only on the premises where sold.  The ABC may issue further regulations related to this class of license including a cap on the number of members that a private Class I club may have. It is subject to the same taxation regulations as other licenses.

(i) A “Class I” license is a license authorizing the scientific and medical research of cannabis. The cultivation, production, processing, conversion, extraction, testing and other related activities are subject to this research license. This license does not confer the right to transfer or sell consumable products containing THC except for use in specific research projects.

(j) A “Class J” license is a special event license is issued to event producers who do not qualify for a Class G license. It authorizes the sale of cannabis during an event to guests and attendees for on or off premises consumption. This license shall be used for farmers markets, festivals, parties, and other similar events.  This license only becomes valid when the license holder has obtained event insurance. Holders of Class J licenses will be subject to the same taxes as other retailers.

(k) A “Class K” license is a license authorizing the brokering of cannabis and cannabis-containing derivatives between the various classes of license holders.

(l) A “Class L” license is a license authorizing the testing and labeling of cannabis produced and distributed by other classes of license holders.

(m) A “Class M” license is a license authorizing medical cannabis dispensaries pursuant to California Health and Safety Code Section 11362.5 through 11362.83. This license shall also be used for the commercial cultivation, processing, distribution, and sales of medical cannabis. This license shall be subject to the provisions of Section 11422(f) of the Health and Safety Code.

420.2 The ABC shall levy fees on the issuance of licenses pursuant to this Act in a manner designed reasonably to cover to costs of assuring compliance with the regulations to be issued.

420.3 The ABC shall issue and enforce regulations concerning commercial cultivation, manufacturing, distributing, transporting, testing, and selling of cannabis that provide for all of the following:

(a) Adequate security measures to protect against the unauthorized access or diversion of cannabis from the cultivator, processor, distributor, transporter, tester, manufacturer or seller in a manner not permitted by the Act. These regulations may include recordkeeping provisions to ensure transparency of finances and non-diversion into a criminal market.

(b) The holder of a Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D, Class E, Class H, Class I, Class K and Class M Licenses must submit to an inspection and tracking system to ensure non-diversion and that all cannabis produced by the licensee that is sold is assessed pursuant to Part 14.6 (commencing with Section 34001) of Division 2 of the Revenue and Taxation Code. The license holder must also provide a detailed crop security plan, along with satisfactory proof of the ability of the licensee to provide for that security.

(c) Holders of all Classes of licenses shall be subject to an inspection and tracking systems to ensure that cannabis is not sold by a licensee if that cannabis has not been manufactured subject to an assessment provided for in Part 14.6 (commencing with Section 34001) of Division 2 of the revenue and Taxation Code.

(d) The holder of any commercial license may be subject to regulations adopted by the ABC pursuant to this chapter.

(e) Punishments for violations in actions against licensees shall be in substantial accord with those applicable to the regulation of alcohol sales, including penalties for permitting persons under 21 years of age to purchase THC containing cannabis products and other appropriate regulatory provisions concerning such matters as the time of sale, deliveries, and signage. It is the intent of the people in enacting this act that the regulation of cannabis sales be consistent with the statutory guidance regarding alcohol sales in Chapter 16 (commencing with Section 25600) to the extent that consistency is feasible.

420.4. Beginning 60 days after the operative date of the regulations issued pursuant to this chapter, the ABC shall begin to enforce the provisions of this chapter.[ER2]

420.5(a). The ABC will appoint a Cannabis Appeals Board. The Cannabis Appeals Board, (the “Board”), shall exercise the powers as are vested in it by this chapter and may adopt such rules pertaining to appeals and other matters within its jurisdiction as may be required.

The Board and its duly authorized representatives in the performance of its duties under this chapter shall have the powers of a head of a department as set forth in Article 2 (commencing with Section 11180) of Chapter 2 of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code. 26081. Any person aggrieved by a final decision of the ABC issuing, denying, suspending, revoking, or ordering any penalty assessment against a registration for the cultivation, manufacture, testing, transportation, storage, distribution, sale, purchase, or possession of cannabis may appeal to the board, which shall review the decision subject to the limitations that may be imposed by the Legislature.

(b) No decision of the ABC shall become effective during the period in which an appeal may be filed, and the filing of an appeal shall stay the effect of the decision until such time as a final order is made by the board.

(1) The review by the Board of a decision of the ABC shall be limited to whether:

(A) The ABC has proceeded without, or in excess of, its jurisdiction.

(B) The ABC has proceeded in the manner required by law.

(C) The decision is supported by the findings.

(D) The findings are supported by substantial evidence in the light of the whole record.

420.6. Each order of the Board on appeal from a decision of the ABC shall be in writing and shall be filed by delivering copies to the parties personally or in the manner prescribed by Section 1013 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Each order shall become final upon being filed as provided in this section, and there shall be no reconsideration or rehearing by the Board.

420.7(a). Any person affected by a final order of the Board, including the ABC, may apply only to the Supreme Court or to the Court of Appeal of the appellate district in which the proceeding arose, for a writ of review of the final order. The application for writ of review shall be made within 30 days after filing of the final order of the Board.

(b) No court of this state, except the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal to the extent specified in this article, shall have jurisdiction to review, affirm, reverse, correct, or annul any order, rule, or decision of the Department, or to suspend, stay, or delay the operation or execution of it or to restrain, enjoin, or interfere with the Department in the performance of its duties, but a writ of mandate shall lie from the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal in any proper case.

(c) No decision of the ABC that has been appealed to the Board and no final order of the Board shall become effective during the period in which application may be made for a writ of review, as provided in this section.

(d) The filing of a petition for, or the pendency of, a writ of review shall not of itself stay or suspend the operation of any order, rule, or decision of the Department, but the court before which the petition is filed may stay or suspend, in whole or in part, the operation of the order, rule, or decision of the ABC subject to review, upon the terms and conditions that it by order directs.

420.8.  The writ of review shall be made returnable at a time and place specified by court order and shall direct the board to certify the whole record of the ABC in the case to the court within the time specified. No new or additional evidence shall be introduced in the court, but the cause shall be heard on the whole record of the Department as certified to by the Board.

420.9(a). The review by the court shall not extend further than to determine, based on the whole record of the ABC as certified by the Board, whether:

(1) The ABC has proceeded without or in excess of its jurisdiction.

(2) The ABC has proceeded in the manner required by law.

(3) The ABC of the Department is supported by the findings.

(4) The findings in the ABC’s decision are supported by substantial evidence in the light of the whole record.

(5) There is relevant evidence which, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, could not have been produced or which was improperly excluded at the hearing before the Department.

(b) Nothing in this article shall permit the court to hold a trial de novo, to take evidence, or to exercise its independent judgment on the evidence.

430. The Board, the ABC, and each party to the action or proceeding before the Board shall have the right to appear in the review proceeding. Following the hearing, the court shall enter judgment either affirming or reversing the decision of the ABC or the court may remand the case for further proceedings before or reconsideration by the ABC.

430.1. The provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure relating to writs of review shall, insofar as applicable, apply to proceedings in the courts as provided by this article. A copy of every pleading filed pursuant to this article shall be served on the Board, the ABC, and on each party who entered an appearance before the Board.

430.2. Whenever any matter is pending before the Board or a court of record involving a dispute between the ABC and a registrant, and the parties to the dispute agree upon a settlement or adjustment of it, the court shall, upon the stipulation by the parties that an agreement has been reached, remand the matter to the Department.

SECTION 8

Section 4. Part 14.6 (commencing with Section 34001) is added to Division 2 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, to read:

PART 14.6. CANNABIS TAXES

CHAPTER 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS AND DEFINITIONS

34001. It is the intent of the people in enacting this part to utilize any revenues generated from the commercial regulation of cannabis for the public benefit by enacting a tax on cannabis.

34002. This part shall be known and may be cited as the “Cannabis Tax Law.”

34003. Except where the context otherwise requires, the definitions set forth in Part 1 (commencing with Section 6001) govern the construction of this part.

34004. The Cannabis Tax may be imposed on all classes of license other than a Class I or Class M license.

 

CHAPTER 2. IMPOSITION OF TAX

34011(a). All businesses that sell cannabis related products shall be subject to a tax based on their gross sales of the THC related products. This tax is not a substitute for any other taxes. It will be collected in addition to any other taxes that apply, except as provided in Section 34011(b). There shall be a minimum of three sectors of cannabis production.

(1)   Cultivation and manicuring

(2)   Wholesale sales

(3)   Retail sales

In addition there may be a fourth sector: Processing into edibles, concentrates or other products for consumption. There may also be other sectors that have not yet developed but that may develop in the future.

The businesses from each sector shall pay the tax at the rate of six percent (6%) of gross receipts from sales of THC containing products whether produce or processed products.

 

Vertically integrated companies shall pay the tax on the “virtual sale” of the product as it transfers from one sector to another. Direct sales by farmers to the public will not be subject to a wholesale tax, but shall be subject only to the retail tax.

 

For the purpose of this section a farmer is defined as a business that derives more than seventy-five percent (75%) of gross cannabis income from cultivating cannabis.

 

 

For the purpose of this section a “virtual sale” is defined as a transfer from one sector to another. In each sector, the “value or cost” of each transfer will be determined as a percentage of the retail price and the customary industry mark-up policy. These taxes cannot be collected before the final product is sold.

 

(b)  Exemption for medicinal preparations.   Products licensed solely for medicinal use pursuant to Section 420.1(m) may be exempted from taxes under Section 34011(a) at the processing, wholesale, and retail levels upon the determination of the Department of Health.   This category shall include (1) products whose cannabinoid content exceeds 66% CBD (cannabidiol); (2) herbal balms, poultices and cosmetics formulated for external use only; and (3) other purely medicinal products designated by the Department of Health.  This exemption shall not apply to any product that is also licensed for non-medicinal use or is mainly used for non-medical purposes.

 

(c) Class L facilities shall be subject to a one percent (1%) tax based on the gross receipts received for their cannabis testing services. This tax is not a substitute for any other taxes.

 

(d) Cities or Counties shall be allowed to impose up to an additional five percent (5%) sales tax on retail sales of non-medicinal THC marijuana products. This tax will be configured with the regular sales tax. Patients requiring cannabis for the treatment of serious debilitating illnesses shall be exempt from all retail taxes on cannabis upon the approval of their primary care physician. The State Department of Health will oversee and issue identification for these patients.

 

(1)   Should a county impose a sales tax, it will share the revenue from the tax with the city in which the sale was made with the county receiving sixty percent (60%) and the city receiving forty percent (40%). Cities and towns within a county that imposes a special-marijuana sales tax would be precluded from adding additional taxes on the sale. This tax will be configured with the regular sales tax at the time of purchase but the full amount of the additional tax will be retained by the county and city.

 

(2)   Should there be no sales tax imposed by a county, cities within the county are permitted to impose a special-marijuana sales tax of five percent (5%). This tax will be configured with the regular sales tax at the time of purchase but the full amount of the additional tax will be retained by the city.

 

(e) Neither the county or city, nor state agencies may impose any cannabis-specific or cannabis business–specific taxes other than those specified in this initiative.

 

CHAPTER 3. COLLECTION AND ADMINISTRATION

34021. To the extent feasible or practicable, the provisions of Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 6451), Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 6701), Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 6901), and Chapter 8 (commencing with Section 7051) of Part 1 shall govern returns and payments, determinations, collections of fees, overpayments and refunds, and administration under this part.

34022. The ABC shall enforce this part and may prescribe, adopt, and enforce rules and regulations relating to the administration and enforcement of this part. The ABC may prescribe the extent to which any ruling and regulation shall be applied without retroactive effect.

 

CHAPTER 4. DISPOSITION OF PROCEEDS AND ADJUSTMENT OF THE TAX

34031(a). 34031. Any amount due to the state under this part shall be paid in the form of a remittance payable to the State Board of Equalization.

The Cannabis Tax Fund is hereby created in the State Treasury. The Fund shall consist of all revenues deposited therein pursuant to this Part.

(b) Moneys in the Fund shall be appropriated as follows:

(1) Forty percent (40%) to the county government in which the funds were collected. If it was collected in a city, the county and the city will divide these funds equally.

(2) Thirty percent (30%) to the state’s General Fund.

(3) Twenty percent (20%) to education, divided as follows:

a)      Five percent (5%) to preschool education for student instruction.

b)      Five percent (5%) to primary school education for student instruction.

c)      Five percent (5%) to secondary school education for student instruction.

d)     Five percent (5%) to community colleges for student instruction.

 

(4) Five percent (5%) to research programs to:

(a) Evaluate the safety and efficacy of marijuana for medical and social purposes

(b) Assess and advance scientific methods for addressing drug abuse, driving and employment safety concerns

(c) Evaluate the impact and implementation of this act.

(5) Five percent (5%) to drug education, and drug abuse prevention and treatment programs.

SECTION 9

Section 18901.3 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

18901.3. (a) Subject to the limitations of subdivision (b), pursuant to Section 115(d)(1)(A) of Public Law 104-193 (21 U.S.C. Sec. 862a(d)(1)(A)), California opts out of the provisions of Section 115(a)(2) of Public Law 104-193 (21 U.S.C. Sec. 862a(a)(2)). A convicted drug felon shall be eligible to receive food stamps under this section.

SECTION 10

No reimbursement is required by this Act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this Act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.

SECTION 11

The provisions of this Act are severable. If any provision of this Act or its application is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application.

SECTION 12. The provisions of this Act shall become effective November 5, 2014.

 

Today we are all Uruguayan

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It is summer in Uruguay and weed is legal.

Uruguay is a small country of about 3.3 million people. It is one of the most developing and prosperous countries in South America. It is also the first country on the planet to outright legalize weed for adult use.

This is a bold statement to the world and a historic development in the quest to end cannabis prohibition. Uruguay will regulate the legal cannabis market, allowing any adult to purchase up to 40 grams (1.4 ounces) of cannabis per month from pharmacies, or grow 6 plants for their personal use. The program is aimed at proving a regulated cannabis market is a safer alternative to the failures of the continued drug enforcement resources being wasted fighting to keep cannabis illegal.

This courageous experiment is a game changer. It forces the world to look the evils of cannabis prohibition in the eye, and face the fact that it is an absolute failure. It puts the international community on notice and will force the hand of the United Nation’s, which is already very divided on the US led Drug War according to a rare leaked document published by the Guardian. Uruguay’s decision to move forward in fully legalizing cannabis will make the issue more difficult to ignore and suppress. The world will have to have an honest dialogue about weed and the rights of grow-ass people to use it as they please. I for one cannot wait.

Anyone who has looked at the subject with honest eyes knows that the war on drugs has been one of the biggest debacles of recent history. It has made criminals out of our friends and neighbors and has sparked some of the most violent conflicts in human history to control these illegal markets. It is absolute madness to believe that we should continue these policies; and Uruguay’s decision to legalize cannabis is the first, and likely most difficult, step in many that will hopefully be taken to change how we manage and control the drug trade on planet earth.

Uruguay declaring their independence from the madness is a wake up call for every one. It draws a line in the sand that cannot be ignored or dismissed. It provides a basic human right to people who enjoy cannabis, or who use it as a medicine, and will expose what a fraud the war on cannabis has been for all of these years.

Prohibitionists know this. You will hear them scream and yell. They will do everything in their power to undermine this program and declare it irrelevant; but the evidence will be there for all to see. The sky will not fall in Uruguay. Society will not collapse. There will be no outbreak of deranged crazies. More kids will not be lighting up. None of their drug war myths of what might happen if we legalized will come true, and they will be forced to face their decades of bold-faced lies.

The scariest thing for drug warriors to imagine is going to happen. Uruguay is going to legalize weed and their society and economy will be better off as a result. Their lies and fear mongering bullshit will never happen, and they will be left holding the bag of deception they have created over the years. It is going to be awesome.

Uruguay’s courage and eventual successes will be a historic crack in he walls of prohibition. It will continue to crumble as more countries find their voice and follow their lead. The end is near and they all know it.

I salute Uruguay and stand with them. Today we are all Uruguayan. These policies will not destroy themselves and Uruguay’s efforts will make it an undeniable reality that the global community can no longer ignore.  This shot heard ’round the world rings loudly and will accelerate the ending of prohibition in ways that we cannot even begin to consider in this moment of joy. Thank you, Uruguay for your strength and courage. May all nations rise up to meet you on your journey and join you in ending one of the most disastrous policies our world has ever known.

#legalbysummer

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Family Values: How the war on weed has become a militarized war on families.

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The war on cannabis is a complete and utter failure. There is no getting around that. We have lost. Weed is not going anywhere. There is not any less of it then when we began the war on drugs over 40 years ago. There are not less people using it, and if there are that is a tragedy in itself because those people are likely using booze instead. We have spent over a trillion dollars imprisoning our neighbors and militarizing local police forces to fight this “war.” What the fuck are we doing?

Yet regardless of the obvious failures, every day we allow for armed gunmen to storm the homes of people, often good family people, to save us from the evils of weed. Somehow the logic is that if we discover a person growing safe, enjoyable, and helpful plants that the best way to protect our community is to drive a tank full of soldiers armed to the teeth to the residence and use militarized war tactics to enter the home, subdue the family, tear apart their home in search of whatever it is we say we want to look for, drag the parents off to jail, and lock their kids up with strangers in foster care centers.

I will never figure out how we believe we are solving a problem by making a dozen more. We create poverty and a black market for cannabis. We use our limited resources to pay for enforcement. We use SWAT teams to cut down gardens. We destroy families, creating further poverty. We force children to be raised without their parents. We lock people in cages for draconian mandatory minimum sentences for weed, and then wonder why our prisons are all overcrowded. And for what? What problem is ever solved by these actions?

Who is winning here? Because it certainly is not our communities, our society, or the people directly affected. We are creating a society of mistrust and anger. We cannot keep stealing people’s children in the name of your failed war on cannabis. This must stop now.

I recall when I was raided by the federal government in 2007. We were lucky enough to not be home at the time armed gunmen swarmed my home and businesses. But I remember returning to my ransacked home to find my kid’s rooms tossed and every drawer opened with my kids belongings strewed all over the room. The look on my wife’s face and the sound of her voice is one I will never forget, as she said “why would they do this to my babies rooms?” We imagined what it would have been like to be home and have these armed thugs awaken our children from their sleep at gunpoint because I made weed brownies for sick people. It made me sick to my stomach.

It is that sickness that sits with me EVERY DAY.

Yeah…I was lucky. But so many others are not. So many good families are torn apart by these unjust and immoral laws. For a long time it was a reality that I could not face. I understood the grave risk that my work in the cannabis industry put my family in. I still understand that and face it every day as an activist and part of the growing cannabis industry. I know that I am still at great risk of being torn from my family and locked in a cage for years for my involvement. It weighs heavy on me at every moment of every day.

My wife is an amazing human, which is probably the only thing that allows me to carry on. After the raid while I was awaiting my fate through the judicial process my wife and I had some very real and pointed conversations about the risk my involvement with cannabis brought to our family. My wife could not imagine having to raise our two young sons with me in prison for a decade. There was certainly a robust discussion of me walking away forever and not looking back. I even prepared a resume and began looking for work in different industries. It had certainly changed our reality.

My decision to press on and follow what I believed in was, and continues to be, one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. If you ever hear me tell my story in public, like clockwork, when I get to the part about my house being raided and my kids rooms being tossed my voice will crack and I will be overcome with emotion. I have to take a breath every time because that wave of anger and sadness overcomes me. I am paralyzed by it. The fear of losing my kids and my freedom for my fight for cannabis freedom is too much for me to comprehend at times. Which is why in all my writings, I touch on the subject very little…It is my biggest fear and my ultimate weakness.

I carry on not because I am selfish and do not care about my kids. I carry on because I love my kids (and all kids) enough to fight and make sure this does not keep happening to our community. We have been extremely lucky in our journey for justice; but most are not. Most people facing these charges for cannabis do not have the support and community that we had fighting for us. Most are very alone and facing a very scary situation with little or no direction or support. These laws target the most vulnerable poor and minority communities and destroy the family foundation in areas so desperately in need. It is something we can no longer ignore. It is very real and we are all lesser people for allowing these practices to continue in our name.

So my continued fight for cannabis freedom has little to do with me, or even my family. It has to do with a moral obligation to right the wrongs of yesterday and make sure we end these injustices once and for all.

I largely overlooked the people losing their kids issue for a long time. Because my kids were not directly affected by my raid, it was easier for me to avoid the subject. That was until I met Daisy Bram.

As a writer, a lot of things come across my desk. The audio in the Youtube video below was sent to me. I opened it and began to listen to this mother scream for her babies, as agents removed her kids because she had a medical cannabis garden in her home. Take a minute to listen to it, and like me, I am sure it will change your life forever.

I heard in Daisy’s screams the voice of my own wife…..of my friend’s wives….of my mother. I heard a mother desperate to keep her children, while heartless officers separated newborn babies from her loving arms. I could no longer ignore the reality that this was nothing more than complete terrorism of the American family unit.

I wrote a story on the issue and posted the audio for all to hear on my blog. I began feverishly posting it in cannabis circles in hopes of raising awareness. I also got to know Daisy and began working to help her where I could in organizing support for her case. I am saddened to say that Daisy is still fighting this battle and her kids are still removed from her. It breaks my heart.

But it also inspires me because Daisy Bram is one of the strongest women I have had the pleasure of meeting. I cannot say I could remain as composed and as active as she has throughout this mess. She has endured some of the most unjust treatment from the “child protective” agencies and continues to fight for her freedom and the return of her children. She has not wavered in her stance and has become a powerful voice for change. I encourage everyone to get to know Daisy, and learn from her experiences through all of this, and to continue to support her in her ongoing struggle. You can find more about her case at here Facebook page HERE.

Daisy was certainly not the first person to have her family torn apart over weed; but her sharing of her experience and the undeniable tragedy experienced through listening to her cries for help in real time during the raid gave me an insight that I could no longer ignore. Her story has also given courage to other families to speak out about their situations.

My recent path has led me to begin the development of a new group called Parents 4 Pot. It was not my intention, as like I mentioned, I often try to not think about the kid deal because it scares the living shit out of me. But fate is seldom wrong…so I try not to stand in its way. The stars have aligned and I am honored to be helping create an organization dedicated to being a voice for families who are facing issues regarding cannabis.

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In doing so, we are hoping to create a support network for families affected by the tragedy of cannabis prohibition. In just a short couple of weeks, as the word has spread about the organization, we have been made aware of several stories of families being torn apart by cannabis laws. Below are just a few of these stories that have come our way that we are hoping to raise awareness for, provide support for, and to keep from happening ever again to good people who like weed:

JOSHUA E. MASON: TENNESSEE

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This is an incredible story worthy of some attention and support. Josh is a father of a three-year-old daughter whose home was raided for a small garden, and some cuttings. He was subjected to a no-knock raid where heavily armed military style tactics were used to subdue him in front of his child. He lost custody of his daughter for a period of time and has been railroaded through the legal system trying to maintain his freedom. Josh has been forced to pay a large fine in a very short period of time, or face 15 years in prison for his garden. He literally has until next Monday to come up with a $4k donation to the drug fund, or his case will be sent to the Grand Jury and he could lose his legal counsel. Did I mention they could revoke his bail and remand him to custody? It is nuts. This is how our legal system works…you pay to play. Unfortunately our prisons are filled with people who have no money to pay. For more information on Josh’s story and how you can help visit his GoFundMe page HERE and kick down some money to keep this family together. Wanna make someone’s Christmas? Here is your opportunity.

JASON WILSON AND DANIELLE GIESEN: ALABAMA

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This young couple was busted growing in Alabama and spent the summer in jail awaiting bond, during which she found out she was pregnant. They are being forced to pay heavy attorneys fees and for expert witnesses in hopes of avoiding prison sentences of up to 15 years each. This is a first offense for both of these kids and they are being told they will both do many years in prison even if they do take a plea bargain. They have worked hard to be upstanding members of their community since their arrest and deserve to be given a second chance. In many places like Alabame cannabis crimes are enforced more vigorously than rape or even murder. It never ceases to amaze me that a District Attorney, another human being, could see a poor struggling family who broke an unjust and immoral law as criminals worthy of spending decades in prison. I cannot comprehend it. Where did our society go so wrong? If you would like to help this young family ensure they have good legal counsel and the evidence they need to be judged accordingly for their actions, please donate to their cause HERE. Nothing is more sad than seeing young parents just starting their life being railroaded by a system gone terribly wrong. Help folks like this find justice.

TODD STIMPSON: NORTH CAROLINA

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Todd Simpson is the father of two daughters, one of which is very ill with a large tumor wrapped around her organs. He maintained a small medical cannabis garden and was raided by North Carolina law enforcement at gunpoint, where his daughters were also forced at gunpoint to put their hands on their heads and were detained during the search of the property. Todd has an interesting case because he actually purchased tax stamps from the State and paid the taxes on his cannabis crop. He is now facing charges for his cultivation, while also dealing with his daughter’s health issues. Below is a news piece on his case that is heartbreaking. To find more about Todd and his case check out their awesome website at:  http://www.brmcrc.org/.

MELANIE TREINEN

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Melanie shared her story with me also. While she is not facing years in prison, her case is also very relevant to the larger picture. She is a cannabis patient who used cannabis to relieve severe medical symptoms related to pregnancy (hyperemisis) where she would be constantly ill and malnutritioned during pregnancy. After complication due to pharmaceutical options during her first pregnancy she discussed the option of cannabis tincture with her physician who agreed it was a better option for her rare condition. The risks of malnutrition outweighed the risk of cannabis. Since it was recommended by her physician she shared her experience with social workers at the hospital. She was then blindsided by the system and faced with an investigation into her cannabis use. During this time the agency removed her children for 8 months. She was pushed around by the system and encouraged to succumb to their drug treatment programs. She found her voice and demanded to be evaluated, to which there was no evidence of addiction or drug problems found. The judge actually ended up apologizing for the actions of the agency in her case and her kids were returned to her. But for eight long month she was without their love, and they with hers. She was worried for their safety and forced to have her life examined by people claiming to have some moral higher ground. The CPS system is severely broken, and it has become profitable for many of these agencies to remove children from parents for cannabis. The system is designed to attack poor families who cannot defend themselves and it is stories of mother’s like Melanie that let us know we have a lot of work to do to end these practices. For more information on Melanie’s situation check out her petition on change.org HERE.

SO WHAT CAN WE DO? I am glad you asked….

And these are just four cases that have touched me over the past week, or so. there are literally thousands just like them that have yet to be heard, or which may never be heard unless we give them a voice. It is up to us to help change these laws and end the evil practice of destroying families over cannabis.

No one is going to do it for us. The system is rigged and we must demand it be destroyed. These are our friends, our neighbors, and our families. These are not criminals who deserve to be in prison. These are good people.

We are better than this as a society. We must come together and be a voice for real change. It is no longer okay to sit back and hope it does not happen to us. It can happen to you and if you do not speak up and demand change it WILL happen to you. We have the power to create change and we must.

I am proud to be organizing Parents 4 Pot as a group where parents can feel safe to come together to create meaningful change. Through raising awareness, becoming active, and supporting those in our community in need of assistance we can make a difference. Please join us in our mission and help us put an end to the destruction of the American family due to the failed prohibition of a safe, enjoyable and helpful plant.

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When being "nice" is no longer an option

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I try to never sugar coat things for people. Why? Because I find it only makes it that much more difficult on them when the truth comes to the surface. We are all adults here. You do not need me to coddle you and tell you everything will be okay. If you want to have that conversation call your mother.

Let’s start with folks outside of the weed movement. Our communities are filled with people who are “okay with weed being illegal.” Due to years of conditioning that weedheads are scofflaws and criminals, we often let people’s rhetoric go unchecked. Sometimes out of “respect” or sometimes because we are just too lazy to have a confrontation and reveal we are the stoner in the room.

Don’t do that any more. Our silence is their victory.

Challenge people’s position if they want to make cannabis users lesser people, or if they try to make weed out to be something evil. Do not give them a pass. Step right up and say “I like weed and I am a good person. Your position on cannabis is inaccurate and frankly, it is offensive.” Put them on notice. Quite being passive and letting this prohibitionist dialogue make the rounds without pushing back.

The time for being “nice” is long gone. We have spent the last few decades being nice and all we have gotten for it is a bloated and evil prison system that sucks up poor and minority folks at alarming rates, and a system that ruins their lives over weed and other drugs. When you wonder if you should say something, think about the poor kid getting pocket checked for his weed and hauled off to jail right at that moment because that happens nearly every hour of every day in this nation. That should make you angry. We are locking up our friends and neighbors for weed, and it is no longer acceptable.

It is our duty to make those who support these policies feel like complete shit. We need to make those who believe in the drug war myths, and who still spew the ignorant hyperbole of yesterday, feel like outcasts. Those views should no longer be welcome in our society, and it is up to us to demand that it stop now.

Being nice has gotten us nowhere fast. Begin telling people that it is no longer okay to treat us like criminals, or to search our property, or take our kids, or fire us from our jobs, or to treat us like lesser citizens because we like a safe, enjoyable, and helpful plant that has harmed no one.

Within our own circles we also have a lot of work to do. Our ranks are often cluttered with folks who are either just really stupid, or who have ill intentions to use our cause as a stepping stone to their fame and/or fortune.

There is a concerted effort to keep confrontation to a minimum in this industry, as people feel that any issue that may arise shines a bad light on our movement. But when we fail to confront issues, we allow for chaos to rule the day.

Don’t do that any more. Our silence is also our approval.

When people exploit our issue and use it to take advantage of others, or to sell their goods, we all lose. Not only is the message muddled, but our credibility is also tarnished. People say, “See. This whole industry is full of people like that. This is not about freedom or rights. It is just about drugs and money.” The good nature folks who have dedicated their life to this cause and plant are lumped in with the cannabis idiot circus because we have decided that being “nice” is easier than making waves.

So I have made it a point to have that difficult conversation within the movement, as well. It is not always easy, but often necessary. I have dedicated a lot of hours of my life to making weed legal for adults to use as they please, and I take personal offense to those who want to make that more difficult for me by exploiting the message and cause for their own personal gain.

I am the one who has to show up at City Council meetings and explain that this bullshit is not representative of our movement and industry. I have to justify your behavior and action to the masses, and try to explain why we are all not full of shit because of what you do. It is me who has to write letters to journalists to give the other side of the story when you have outright lied and inflated your position. It is us here on the ground who gets to clean up the mess left behind by your lofty ambitions and shitty planning.

So forgive me if my “nice” is turned off. I can not stomach standing by while you shit all over the chess board again.

Those who question my commitment to this movement because of my failure to be “nice” are likely not part of this movement at all.

Do more. Work harder. Make a difference. Be a good person.

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Can you feel it? We are getting close. It is happening. The cries of our opposition are telling.

It is now time for the kill shot. It is time to step up and do more. We all have that in us. Whatever you are good at, do it more- do it better- work harder.

The war is over if we want it to be. Drug warriors are noticeably worried about the end of cannabis prohibition. Hell…the leaders of our movement are noticeably worried.

Why? Because the world has changed. Yesterday will be gone soon; and we will be faced with the challenges of tomorrow. But it must happen. We have got to allow our society to evolve, and we need to be be the driving force for real and meaningful reforms.

I challenge you to take the next few months and work harder for cannabis freedom than you ever have in your life. Stay up late and get up early. Burn the midnight oil for this cause and I assure you we will see real results over the coming year. We must turn up the volume and begin to hold people’s feet to the fire. What we see happening is real. We are winning, but have not yet won.

It will take all of us doing the work to end this thing once and for all.

We are surrounded by wolves in sheep’s clothing, so we must remain vigilant. Everyone who claims to love weed is not necessarily our friend; and some are certainly enemies of freedom. There are many who are here to ride our cause all the way to the bank, and could give a shit about how we get there as long as they get theirs.

This movement is in serious need of some self-purification. It would be great to see those considered leaders of this movement just put down the donation bucket for a minute and take the time to do some house cleaning.

Manage the movement you lead and stop managing the organization you run…..or get the fuck out of the way for those of us who love weed and demand freedom. We are coming. We will not stop. We cannot continue to sit by and hope change will come to us.

In order to make a diference we have to have share common goals. Our goals as a movement must be pure and true. We cannot continue to be constrained by the failed visions of yesterday.

It is time for real action, and that will take some real leadership.

The movement will always be fractured and splintered in its current form because there are just too many hurt feelings from years of ineffectiveness and sometimes treachery. It is hard to make a difference when at the core, the different tribes of our movement have such great disdain for one another.

I am not one to push the myth of unity. Not with this group. I have been standing here too long to have any real hope for that.

The movement is full of agendas and motives. The old guard and new guard do not even speak the same language. The ground is moving beneath our feet and we have to decide if we are going to allow for the noise and confusion to retard our progress.

But let’s stop blindly wandering towards cannabis freedom. Let’s find a more focused message and more clear strategies that will result in the real death of prohibition.

Quit hiding behind the fears of what could be or maintaining the status quo. Take our direct actions and pointed messages farther than we ever have before. Challenge the status quo. Do not think for a minute that our opposition is not working hard to keep cannabis freedom as limited as possible.

We can decide if we want to make a real difference or not…..if ending the madness is important enough for us to have the tough conversations and do the real work. Or if we are going to allow pageantry and parlor tricks to continue to rule the day.

This community does not need more distractions…we need actions. We need people willing to use their talents, their communications and their energy to be an active voice for change. We need to hit the ground with an army of informed people to meet our opposition wherever they may be.

It is imperative we have soldiers in every community to step up and get out to meetings and to organize in their communities. We need people willing to challenge people’s thinking by saying loudly and proudly “I LIKE WEED AND I AM A GOOD PERSON.”

In order to push change, we have to make it embarrassing to be on the wrong side of history. We don’t just want an end to these archaic policies, we want a fucking apology.

It is no longer okay to stand on the sidelines and wait for the rest of us to do the work for you. You have got to do your part if we want to make this happen. If we want to really end weed prohibition, and free our brothers and sisters from prison, we have got to get moving like never before.

The walls are crumbling so grab a sledge hammer and jump right in. I have never been more optimistic than I am right now.

There will always be those in our ranks who lack heart. We cannot let these forces overpower our message of cannabis freedom. We are too close to be done in by those we believed were our friends. The end of cannabis prohibition is near, and I refuse to let those using our issue for fame, fortune and power to continue on without a fight. Either pick up a sledgehammer or do not be surprised if the sledgehammer start swinging at you, and your house-of-cards empire.

Do more. Work Harder. Make a difference. Be a good person………Or get run over by those of us who will.

I like weed and I am a good person.

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Ending cannabis prohibition can happen; and it can happen sooner than any of us think.

While we have seen great progress over the past months, there is still a lot of work to do to push this thing over the edge to its imminent death. The work begins with you and this simple message:

I LIKE WEED AND I AM A GOOD PERSON

If every person who enjoyed cannabis has the courage to stand up and be accounted for, we can end this thing. If we combat lies and misinformation with the real truth, that people like me and you like weed and we are good people who do not deserve to be treated like criminals or lesser citizens, we can end the madness.

Have that conversation. You will be surprised at the response.

Unfortunately, we live in a society that has spent the last four plus decades demonizing people who smoke weed, and more so, locking them up. A lot of people still live in that world. Many people have bought into the lies and automatically treat cannabis users like misfits and outlaws.

But when we stop them in their tracks and look them right in the eye and say “I LIKE WEED AND I AM A GOOD PERSON” they fold. They cannot argue with that. It is hard for a person to look another person in the eye and judge them for their weed use. People make broad generalizations, but when they have to equate their argument with a real person standing in front of them, they become cowards.

I do not care who it is. Talk to everyone. Let them know. We are here and we are not going anywhere. We do not deserve to have our car searched, or our kids taken, or lose our job, or be treated like lesser people for our choice to use weed. Tell your friends, family, the person in line at the grocery store, or even the moms on your kid’s soccer team….”I SMOKE WEED AND I AM A GOOD PERSON.”

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You will be amazed at the response.

Where we have failed is that we have allowed our fear of being treated differently, or arrested, to silence us. We have allowed the prohibitionists to run wild for so long with their tales of crime and addiction that we have lost the argument. When we do not stand up and call bullshit on these lies they fester and infect the dialogue of our population.

You hear it all the time….People are still wandering around talking about “the gateway theory” or painting stoners as “lazy and incompetent.” When the truth is WE ARE EVERYONE. We are your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and the person who makes your coffee in the morning. Most of us are extremely productive and GOOD PEOPLE.

You have nothing to be ashamed of ANY TIME EVER. If a person wants to think less of you because of your weed use then they are simply an inferior and misinformed human. It is sad, but it happens.

Most of these hypocrites are boozers who have no problem tying on an alcohol buzz and becoming a totally different person. They have been fooled into believing that since their drug of choice is legal that it is somehow better. What a bunch of idiots.

Alcohol kills people….LOTS of them. It causes people to neglect their relationships and make terrible decisions. It always amazes me when some half-drunk person begins talking about the evils of weed. That is when I look them in the eye and say “I like weed and I am a good person.” It causes them to reflect and think.

I am a good person. I have a good job, I work hard, I am a good father, and I handle my responsibilities. It is hard to argue that weed makes me any less of a good person.

In fact, it is easy for me to see how the calm and relaxing feeling that cannabis provides me actually makes me a better person. It is easy for me to look a person in the eye with confidence and let them know that I demand respect as a weedhead.

The days of being scared and ashamed are over. It is time for us to stand up and shine. We are right and they are wrong. We like weed and we are good people. We will no longer be kicked around and treated like crap. Society is behind us. we are winning.

So do me a favor….Take the message far and wide. Have the courage to have the conversation. Be that voice of reason and use your personal identity to support the cause. People know you, and they like you. If they all knew good people like you smoked weed they would be less inclined to hold onto their antiquated views from yesterday.

It is simple…..Say these words to whoever will listen and watch the world change before your eyes.

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Paranoia Don't Kill My Vibe

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What is wrong with the cannabis movement?

We are literally watching cannabis prohibition die before our very eyes; but if you looked around you one would think that Richard Nixon just got re-elected. It is one of the strangest sights I have ever seen.

Last week the US Department of Justice and US Attorney General Eric Holder dropped THE most groundbreaking policy changes in the history of cannabis. They decided to stand down on challenging laws for adult use legalization measures in Colorado and Washington State, and handed down directives that spell out clearly the allowance for state run cannabis programs. I spell out these changes in a piece called “The world has changed. Act like it already” here.

This should be a time for celebration. It is a HUGE victory for cannabis freedom.

But the rhetoric we are hearing coming from prominent activists, reform organizations, and so-called leaders is anything but. For some reason, many in our community have decided to take the “Fuck this. We are screwed. They are setting us up,” position. It is the wildest thing I have ever seen.

First we have David Downs writing these terribly evidenced pieces in the East Bay Express and Smell the Truth blogs where he is trying to claim that US Attorney for the Northern District, Melinda Haag will “continue her crackdown despite the feds.”

What a load of shit. Downs usually does better work, but one can tell that there is a desperation for any story that can shed light on what this will really mean for our community. BUT LOOK AND READ WHAT WAS ACTUALLY STATED:

Lili Arauzhaase, speaking for the US Attorneys Office in the Northern District told us:

“At this time the US Attorney is not releasing any public statements. The office is evaluating the new guidelines and for the most part it appears that the cases that have been brought in this district are already in compliance with the guidelines. Therefore, we do not expect a significant change.”

So big D-Downs calls Haag’s office the day the memo comes out and gets this Lili person on the phone. Awesome. When he questions her about Haag’s response to the memo, she says “we are not releasing any public statements.” What that means is that there IS NO OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM HAAG. That is pretty clear from the beginning there, right?

But the person goes on to defend her boss’ work, stating “…for the most part it appears that the cases that have been brought in this district are already in compliance with the guidelines. Therefore, we do not expect a significant change.”

Downs takes this and runs with it. “THE SKY IS FALLING! HAAG SAID SHE DID NOTHING WRONG AND THERE WILL BE NO CHANGES! THE SKY IS FALLING.” What a delightful story to splash across the blogosphere to get people to read your stuff.

The problem? It is not exactly what was said, nor is it anywhere near an official statement. It is a low level staffer trying to save face from a reporter looking for an angle.

And even what was said shows no backbone of confidence….last time I checked “for the most part” meant we have been wrong on some accounts and “no significant changes” meant that some changes were apparent. And remember, this is backpedaling minutes after the memo dropped in a non-official statement from the person answering the phones. Even this knee-jerk “we did nothing wrong unofficial statement” shows clues of change. In fact, it states there will be change, just not “significant,” whatever that means.

But I expect this type of hyperbole from David Downs. I love the guy, but at the end of the day he is a reporter and his job is to sell interest in his story. The more sensationalist one can make a piece the more hits it gets, and interest it draws, and more ads are sold. Pretty easy equation there.

He also fails to mention that each district will have to develop specific guidelines for their district and submit them to the USDOJ in Washington for review. Holder mentioned it in his historic statement on sentencing reform just two weeks before the cannabis memo stating:

This means that federal prosecutors cannot – and should not – bring every case or charge every defendant who stands accused of violating federal law.  Some issues are best handled at the state or local level.  And that’s why I have today directed the United States Attorney community to develop specific, locally-tailored guidelines – consistent with our national priorities – for determining when federal charges should be filed, and when they should not.

Maybe we should let Melinda Haag do her homework on this and develop specific guidelines before we rush to judgement based on some loose phone conversation with a peon, no?

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But the disappointing part is that Americans for Safe Access, the nation’s largest medical cannabis advocacy organization decided to jump in on THE SKY IS FALLING party and gin up some good old fashioned paranoia for their followers. Here is what ASA spokesperson Kris Hermes added to Downs piece to really send the community into a tailspin:

Kris Hermes, spokesperson for advocacy group Americans for Safe Access called the Haag office’s statement: “unsettling.”

There’s huge disconnect between national Justice Department policy and local U.S. Attorney practices, Hermes said. For example, Attorney General Eric Holder has told Congress that federal prosecutors were only going after medical marijuana operators who were also breaking state law.

“Of the hundreds of dispensaries that the Justice Dept. has shut down by way of threats to their landlords, in almost all of those cases, there was no violation of state law,” he said.

The cities of Berkeley and Oakland are suing to stop Ms. Haag from closing their permitted dispensaries. More than 50 California jurisdictions have regulated medical pot distribution.

“In San Francisco, if you look at the number of facilities that have been forced to close over the last year, none of them fit the criteria of the guidelines that have just been issued by the Justice Department. None of them,” Hermes said.

“I think we’re being sold a bill of goods and Haag is turning around and doing whatever she wants. The free rein the Justice Dept. has given its U.S. Attorneys has to be pulled in and Haag has to be forced to answer for her actions,” Hermes said.

So Kris Hermes, based on this loosely worded statement from a phone answering schlep given on the day of a new policy change, uses this as the basis to come out publicly and state “WE ARE BEING SOLD A BILL OF GOODS?” Really? This is how our leading advocacy organizations choose to respond to non-official statements from US Attorney staffers?

Seems a bit overblown and unnecessary from where I am sitting. Why rush to judgement? What does one gain by casting doubt on the policy shift on cannabis? Whatever could an organization gain by working to pump the breaks on the most groundbreaking reform ever to hit the cannabis community?

“We are being sold a bill of goods. You should donate more money for us to continue fighting this travesty” is what I hear.

But ASA is not alone. I have heard a number of prominent activists use terms like “cautious optimism.” Let me get right at that….

CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM IS STILL OPTIMISM. WHAT IS HAPPENING IN MANY REFORM CIRCLES IS NOT OPTIMISM AT ALL; BUT AN OVERT ATTEMPT TO UNDERMINE PROGRESS TO SAVE POSITION AND MAINTAIN SOME SEMBLANCE OF THE STATUS QUO TO PROTECT THEIR VERY EXISTENCE.

People see the writing on the wall, and understand it is just a matter of time before nobody needs to donate money to your weed reform group because the world has indeed changed. That can be a hard pill for many to swallow. Something they have dedicated their lives to is disappearing before their very eyes, and they are struggling to come to terms with that.

I fell for their loss…..not.

This is the game we all signed up for; at least I thought we did. Work our asses off to make weed legal and celebrate when we succeed. WE ARE SUCCEEDING.

Yet, in my life I have never been so depressed from interacting with the cannabis community. Instead of being excited that our justice Department is putting clear cannabis reform on the table and calling for a huge overhaul of the sentencing and prison programs, our community has decided to sound the alarms and call the whole thing a giant trap.

“We are being set up” and “Don’t fall for it” are pretty common catch phrases on Facebook and Twitter these days. It is almost like we have no idea what to do with a victory and choose to parlay any victory into a forgone defeat to appease our need for chaos and confusion. I am sure any enforcement action, even if it is some jackass sending a million pounds to Kansas or some shit, will be clear evidence that proves the paranoid losers point of view.

It is a shame to watch this sense of defeat and fear take over the dialogue in this movement at a time we should all be proud of our work and celebrating a historic victory.

I am not naive enough to think that everything will get better overnight; but things ARE getting better…and quickly too.

No…everyone was not let out of prison in the first week; and all lawsuits happening were not automatically dismissed. The world does not work like that unfortunately. But I am more hopeful now than I ever have been before that the beginning of the end is upon us.

I believe we will begin to see some released from prison near the holidays and I think we will see a significant drop in enforcement across the board. I think California will finally take up regulations for the industry this fall. I think state legislatures and initiative backers are accelerating their timelines and we will see more states come online for adult use cannabis and medical cannabis way before any 2016 BS. I believe we will see some cases dropped and others not prosecuted as vigorously. I think there will be REAL AND MEANINGFUL CHANGE.

“But we have heard it all before. It is just more lies,” says the paranoid weenie loser activist wannabe reformer.

No we haven’t. We have never heard this.

I am not sure what some folks stand to gain by automatically rejecting the olive leaf and publicly admonishing the most historic shift in cannabis policy in history; but I hope it works out for them. I hope that wandering around trying to convince people the sky is falling is good for their bottom line or their soul.

But to me you just look like a bunch of paranoid assholes trying to retard progress by stoking the fire of fear with your dumbass paranoia. Bitch don’t kill my vibe……please. Thanks.

The world has changed. Act like it already.

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Yesterday the world of weed changed dramatically, no matter what the paranoid “sky is falling” stoners want to tell you.

The US Department of Justice and the nation’s top cop, Eric Holder, released a memo yesterday that allows for Colorado and Washington to move forward with their adult use cannabis programs without interference (and states with medical programs); as long as the programs do not cross certain boundaries and are well regulated. The announcement is a watershed moment in cannabis reform, no matter what your tin-foil hat conspiracy buddies want to tell you about it being a trap .

Sometimes the world changes. I cannot fathom how a person could read the memo released and come away feeling more paranoid than before. Here is the beginning of the memo for review, and we will get to the real ground breaking shit in the second half in a minute:

Office of the Deputy Attorney General
August 29, 2013MEMORANDUM FOR ALL UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS

FROM: James M. Cole, Deputy Attorney General

SUBJECT: Guidance Regarding Marijuana Enforcement

In October 2009 and June 2011, the Department issued guidance to federal prosecutors concerning marijuana enforcement under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This memorandum updates that guidance in light of state ballot initiatives that legalize under state law the possession of small amounts of marijuana and provide for the regulation of marijuana production, processing, and sale.The guidance set forth herein applies to all federal enforcement activity, including civil enforcement and criminal investigations and prosecutions, concerning marijuana in all states.
(TRANSLATION: THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN AND WE HAVE UPDATED OUR MARCHING ORDERS. THE GUIDANCE IN THIS MEMO APPLIES TO ALL FEDERAL ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITY. THIS MEANS YOU!)As the Department noted in its previous guidance, Congress has determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana is a serious crime that provides a significant source of revenue to large-scale criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels. The Department of Justice is committed to enforcement of the CSA consistent with those determinations. The Department is also committed to using its limited investigative and prosecutorial resources to address the most significant threats in the most effective, consistent, and rational way. In furtherance of those objectives, as several states enacted laws relating to the use of marijuana for medical purposes, the Department in recent years has focused its efforts on certain enforcement priorities that are particularly important to the federal government:

(Some have pointed to this statement as evidence that there is NO sweeping change happening. I beg to differ. I also beg to remind people that while there has been enforcement, there has also been a lot of weed sales tolerated over the past years too.)
  1. Preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors; (Cool with that)
  2. Preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels; (Cool with that)
  3. Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states; (Extra cool with that. Why? Because defining the difference in diversion from states where it is legal to those where it is not seemingly opens the door for interstate commerce from states where it is legal to other states where it is legal, no? Maybe wishful thinking, but I am an optimist.)
  4. Preventing state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity; (Cool with that. stay off the dope)
  5. Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana; (Cool with that, hate violence and guns.)
  6. Preventing drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use; (Cool with that. even WA states flawed DUI bill has not resulted in mass arrests…just Seattle PD handing out Doritos at Hempfest)
  7. Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands; and (Cool with that. If I gotta pay rent, so do you)
  8. Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property. (Cool with that. I was in Yosemite the other day burning fat joints and no one seemed to notice or care. The world has changed)

These priorities will continue to guide the Department’s enforcement of the CSA against marijuana-related conduct. Thus, this memorandum serves as guidance to Department attorneys and law enforcement to focus their enforcement resources and efforts, including prosecution, on persons or organizations whose conduct interferes with any one or more of these priorities, regardless of state law.

Now the big paranoid response to this is that “This is just like the Ogden memo and look how many people got fucked on that one.”

I love our movement’s Utopian rewriting of history on this one. If you listened to our side of the argument, everyone behaved like Saints after the first memo, and this completely out of left field attack was made on our peaceful Dudley-Do-Right community of non-profit weed caregivers. OH THE TRAGEDY!!!

But I was there. I remember the day the Ogden memo came out. I also recall that it inspired the Colorado legislature to develop and implement the program there that has been mostly successful and has allowed for more people to get in the game and make some money under a state sanctioned program than ever before.

I also recall that every jackass with a few thousand bucks of weed and a cash register opened a dispensary in areas with no regulation and when the local planning commission questioned them, or decided they did not want that use in their jurisdiction, they all decided to sue the city, tell the sheriff to eat a bowl of dicks, and disregarded public sentiment based on their belief that Attorney General Eric Holder had given them the right to do whatever they pleased.

I also remember every alternative weekly rag in the State of California filling up with ads of half-naked broads hovering over a smoking bong offering weed sacks for $25. I recall jackass dispensaries doing flier drops at high schools. I remember every weed grower doubling their garden size and pushing their weight to the max. I remember dispensaries setting up shop right next door to day cares and telling the day care operators that they just needed to deal with it.

But the enforcement that followed the Ogden memo had nothing to do with our behaviors. Nothing. It was all just a trap to arrest a very small percentage of the industry and to charge them with crimes so that we could pack the jails with unsuspecting dispensary operators who were complete and total angels. (rolls eyes)

Now do not get it twisted…..I am not supporting or defending the enforcement actions of this administration; but I am also not naive enough to think that our overzealous actions following the memo had zero to do with it all.

Shit rolls uphill before it rolls downhill. If we piss off enough local officials, law enforcement, and concerned citizens they are going to demand that something be done. When we take the position of a free-for-all race to the bottom, are we surprised when local and state officials demand the feds take enforcement actions?

Were there some cases brought where the people who were targeted did not deserve it? YES. Absolutely yes. That is the sad and unfortunate part of law enforcement. From reading the discovery in my case, I can tell you for certain that these dudes know a hell of a lot less than we think they do. It does not surprise me when a good dude like Chris Williams is caught up in the nightmare because law enforcement has no idea of who is who, or what is what, in this evolving landscape of limited weed enforcement.

Now we can choose to be skeptics and see this momentous shift in federal enforcement policy as “more of the same,” or as some have dubbed it “Ogden v.2.0.” That would be a huge mistake and here is why….it disregards the entire second half of the memo and the SWEEPING instructions it gives as to how to interact with state licensed programs. Check it out:

Outside of these enforcement priorities, the federal government has traditionally relied on states and local law enforcement agencies to address marijuana activity through enforcement of their own narcotics laws. For example, the Department of Justice has not historically devoted resources to prosecuting individuals whose conduct is limited to possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use on private property. Instead, the Department has left such lower-level or localized activity to state and local authorities and has stepped in to enforce the CSA only when the use, possession, cultivation, or distribution of marijuana has threatened to cause one of the harms identified above.
(Here is the set up for the kicker. basic translation: We have already allowed states to enforce, or not enforce, the CSA at their discretion for possession and low level stuff)
(But peep this out. Here is where this memo departs from Ogden in a HUGE way.)
The enactment of state laws that endeavor to authorize marijuana production, distribution, and possession by establishing a regulatory scheme for these purposes affects this traditional joint federal-state approach to narcotics enforcement.(The world has changed) The Department’s guidance in this memorandum rests on its expectation that states and local governments that have enacted laws authorizing marijuana-related conduct will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems that will address the threat those state laws could pose to public safety, public health, and other law enforcement interests.(Since the world has changed, we are going to have to trust that states with these programs know what they are doing) A system adequate to that task must not only contain robust controls and procedures on paper; it must also be effective in practice.(If the state has an effective program that is really working, we must respect it) Jurisdictions that have implemented systems that provide for regulation of marijuana activity must provide the necessary resources and demonstrate the willingness to enforce their laws and regulations in a manner that ensures they do not undermine federal enforcement priorities. (If the local and state authorities are doing their job and making sure their programs do not violate one of the 8 points above, then we should leave them alone)In jurisdictions that have enacted laws legalizing marijuana in some form and that have also implemented strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems to control the cultivation, distribution, sale, and possession of marijuana, conduct in compliance with those laws and regulations is less likely to threaten the federal priorities set forth above.(If these states put their best foot forward in regulating these systems, we should leave them alone) Indeed, a robust system may affirmatively address those priorities by, for example, implementing effective measures to prevent diversion of marijuana outside of the regulated system and to other states, prohibiting access to marijuana by minors, and replacing an illicit marijuana trade that funds criminal enterprises with a tightly regulated market in which revenues are tracked and accounted for.(Further clarification….”If the program is working and not crossing our boundaries then we should leave them alone). In those circumstances, consistent with the traditional allocation of federal-state efforts in this area, enforcement of state law by state and local law enforcement and regulatory bodies should remain the primary means of addressing marijuana-related activity. (PAY ATTENTION HERE! STATE LAWS AND THEIR ENFORCEMENT SHOULD TAKE PRECEDENT!!!!) If state enforcement efforts are not sufficiently robust to protect against the harms set forth above, the federal government may seek to challenge the regulatory structure itself in addition to continuing to bring individual enforcement actions, including criminal prosecutions, focused on those harms. (Just as important….IF YOU FUCK UP AND DO NOT DO A GOOD JOB OF ENFORCING AND REGULATING YOUR SYSTEM WE WILL BE FORCED TO TAKE ACTION. I am guessing they are talking directly to us here my fellow Californians.)

The Department’s previous memoranda specifically addressed the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in states with laws authorizing marijuana cultivation and distribution for medical use. In those contexts, the Department advised that it likely was not an efficient use of federal resources to focus enforcement efforts on seriously ill individuals, or on their individual caregivers. In doing so, the previous guidance drew a distinction between the seriously ill and their caregivers, on the one hand, and large-scale, for-profit commercial enterprises, on the other, and advised that the latter continued to be appropriate targets for federal enforcement and prosecution. In drawing this distinction, the Department relied on the common-sense judgment that the size of a marijuana operation was a reasonable proxy for assessing whether marijuana trafficking implicates the federal enforcement priorities set forth above. (BIG ONE HERE! We know we issued you a memo before about medical marijuana that may have given the impression that ONLY small users and sick people were not to be targeted. We sort of told you that if a place was big enough that they might be a good target….now read the NEXT paragraph where they say they were wrong!)

As explained above, however, both the existence of a strong and effective state regulatory system, and an operation’s compliance with such a system, may allay the threat that an operation’s size poses to federal enforcement interests.(This is fucking money right here. “However…we were wrong. If there is a strong regulatory system in place that the organization is in compliance with then the size of their operation should not matter. That is huge.) Accordingly, in exercising prosecutorial discretion, prosecutors should not consider the size or commercial nature of a marijuana operation alone as a proxy for assessing whether marijuana trafficking implicates the Department’s enforcement priorities listed above.(You can no longer send letters and press forfeiture or criminal charges on people just because they are big and popular. The place has to actually violate one of the issues listed above. This is a shot across the bow of Northern District US Attorney Melinda Haag and I am sure Harborside and BPG are extremely thrilled.) Rather, prosecutors should continue to review marijuana cases on a case-by-case basis and weigh all available information and evidence, including, but not limited to, whether the operation is demonstrably in compliance with a strong and effective state regulatory system.(Instead of making some bullshit decision to prosecute based on size you must actually do some work and see if the group is in compliance or not with state law. That is a huge fucking victory.) A marijuana operation’s large scale or for-profit nature may be a relevant consideration for assessing the extent to which it undermines a particular federal enforcement priority. The primary question in all cases – and in all jurisdictions – should be whether the conduct at issue implicates one or more of the enforcement priorities listed above. (Your marching orders are listed above and your cases should only involve issues that violate one of the 8 reasonable principles listed above).

So when I hear the lunatic fringe of cannabis dismiss this memo based on their “once bitten-twice shy” view of the situation, I have to wonder if they are reading the same memo as I am. When I hear the “Don’t fall for it. It is a trap” bullshit floating around, I have to step back and wonder if some people will ever really allow the world to change.

Is there a reason to move forward with caution and to hold the administration’s feet to the fire? Yes. Of course.

Is there also a reason to celebrate this huge victory and be hopeful that the world has indeed changed in our favor? Do we benefit more by automatically rejecting this historic policy shift in hopes of being right that it is some big trap? Does it make sense that the USDOJ would put forth such a robust memorandum and waste the administration’s political capital, only to trap a few more unsuspecting weedheads in the depths of their bloated prison system? Really? I just do not see it like that…..

The infamous Ogden memo was released in Obama’s first year in office. it was watered down and weak, and it was unfortunately misinterpreted heavily by both people in our movement and industry, as well as law enforcement and prosecutors. It was a politically correct and wishy-washy declaration that left a lot to be desired. It was carefully worded to not give too much power to either side of the argument, and it resulted in some bad behavior and terrible enforcement.

But it also allowed for the industry to flourish in many ways too. There is no denying that. The Ogden memo changed the game then, which is why it was so disappointing to see the administration pull back on it and appease law enforcement and NIMBY politicians with bullshit enforcement aimed at limiting Ogden’s impact. But there would be no Colorado or Washington systems in place without the Ogden memo, so remember that too in your “the sky is falling” hyperbole.

Now let me explain the last paragraph of the new memo for those who choose to disregard the entire content of this directive to look for their cynical place in history. Here is the part of the memo that declares that the USDOJ is not allowing a free-for-all and will still support the prosecutors overall decisions:

As with the Department’s previous statements on this subject, this memorandum is intended solely as a guide to the exercise of investigative and prosecutorial discretion. (This memo does not change the law because we cannot do that. It is meant to provide direction to our US Attorneys) This memorandum does not alter in any way the Department’s authority to enforce federal law, including federal laws relating to marijuana, regardless of state law.(We are not giving up our right to enforce Federal laws if we want to.) Neither the guidance herein nor any state or local law provides a legal defense to a violation of federal law, including any civil or criminal violation of the CSA.(This does not give away pour right to prosecute if we really want to. we can still hang your ass if you get out of line)Even in jurisdictions with strong and effective regulatory systems, evidence that particular conduct threatens federal priorities will subject that person or entity to federal enforcement action, based on the circumstances.(Even if you are in a state with a good program, but threaten our system based on the 8 points above, we will come and bust your ass.) This memorandum is not intended to, does not, and may not be relied upon to create any rights, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law by any party in any matter civil or criminal.(This is a memo, and not a change in law. We cannot do that, so this memo is not evidence of guilt or innocence should we drag your ass to court.) It applies prospectively to the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in future cases and does not provide defendants or subjects of enforcement action with a basis for reconsideration of any pending civil action or criminal prosecution.(This memo is meant to direct US Attorneys to not prosecute most weed cases that are in compliance with state laws; but if we do, this is not a legally binding document that will get you off the hook. It is a suggestion to our staff.) Finally, nothing herein precludes investigation or prosecution, even in the absence of any one of the factors listed above, in particular circumstances where investigation and prosecution otherwise serves an important federal interest.(If one of our own decides to come after you, this document was not created for you to defend yourself with. If you fly across our radar, we can still come and fuck with you if we want.)

This is the paragraph that has everyone’s panties in a ruffle it would seem.

I do not get it. This is boilerplate “we reserve the right to do our job regardless of what this memo says” stuff. Of course they are going to make this qualification. They are not going to leave their people blowing  in the wind.

All of the flack they caught from the lack of this clarity in the Ogden memo has made them certainly clarify their position. I do not think we could expect them to say “this memo is now the law of the land and if our enforcement divisions or prosecutors charge you with a crime, just show them this memo as evidence that you are free to go.”

I understand that some people will not acknowledge change has happened until there is a 100% stand down and our brothers and sisters are all released from prison. I appreciate that vigilance; but it also fails to recognize the momentous progress we have made and the fact that the world IS CHANGING rapidly.

If we cannot get on board and act like the world is changing then who will? If we cannot understand the huge victory this memo was for our community and continue to move forward and make these changes real and lasting in our community, then who will?

The world has changed. Act like it.

Or run around acting like everyone is out to get us and that this is just some trap to take your weed garden again. I will choose to have my glass be half full on this one. Join me is a toast to cannabis freedom.

I am going to write Eric Holder a thank you card today. Positive reinforcement can only help.

Fear and Loathing in Medical Cannabis

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I often wonder how we got here. I mean…I know how we got here from standing here for so long. But how did we really get down the rabbit hole into this incredibly complex interwoven jumblefuck of laws and policies we call medical cannabis?

….the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry

Medical cannabis is wonderful. For those who use cannabis as a therapeutic agent solely, cannabis is a miracle. I know a lot of these folks…People who use cannabis sparingly to mitigate their symptoms to increase their quality of life. There are real cannabis healing miracles happening all over. Medical cannabis is amazing.

But is it enough?

Of course not. In fact, it can be quite debilitating. Sure….California, Colorado, and Washington have fairly robust and easy to access programs in place. But the programs we see developing in other states is incredibly burdensome, and to many, just not worth the hassle.

Why? Because the categorization of “medical” is the most restrictive category to all out legalization.

So in many states we see the “You want medical? We will give you medical” phenomena.

Look at New Jersey. After several years they finally opened a dispensary only to have it shut back down due to lack of medicine this summer just months after opening. Maine has a very limited program in place. with a very small portion of the population there signing up as patients, and they have had issues with pesticides because of the strict medical organic cultivation standards required there. Washington DC has a rigid program in place that only allows patients on their death bed access. Connecticut requires a licensed pharmacist risk their license to dispense there. Rhode Island finally has its first dispensary open after a four year struggle deciding what was medical enough. Massachusetts has vowed to implement a rigid program. Illinois has vowed to implement an even more rigid one.

Do you see a pattern here?

We are going backwards. Access is becoming more difficult…not easier. There is theoretically more of it, as more states come on line; but it is getting more difficult and less cost effective for people to even participate in. They are adding more and more limitations to programs and making it more difficult for patients in many ways, including making cannabis WAY more expensive. New Jersey’s dispensary was selling medicine for $600 an ounce? YIKES!

We continue to build barriers to entry into the system. Not just for people who need a million bucks just to get started in some states; but also just the average patient. What patient on SSI can afford $600 for an ounce? Or even $300 for that matter. It can be a lot.

Yet we continue to sell the medical angle almost exclusively. It is like our old fall back. It has worked, and we continue to double down.

Instead of saying, “I like weed, and I am a good person,” we are quick to point out how CBD is “not even psychoactive” and is a “miracle for everything that ails you.” It is like we are so scared of being lumped in as a pothead for our love of being high that we have decided that it is easier to say “See…I am not even trying to get high. I just really need my medicine (in huge amounts many times a day).”

Yeah. I need my medicine too…..it happens to be getting high.

Why do I have to be a bad guy because I like weed for more than just medical reasons? I have medical issues, but I certainly do not just use cannabis solely as a medicine. I smoke weed to make life more enjoyable.

I quit drinking over 5 years ago (best thing I ever did). Booze are not a good option for me. Weed is. I am not ashamed of that. I refuse to be.

Yet we still see a large majority of our time, energy, and resources being put towards promoting the restrictive classification of medical marijuana and only promoting its therapeutic uses, when the real argument is that we should end prohibition and stop the madness.

Change the dialogue and change the game….

If we begin to move away from demanding our medical rights, to insisting upon our right to use cannabis safely as an adult for whatever we see fit, we CAN get past this medical cannabis regulatory nightmare. We CAN make it happen. We can end mass incarceration.

Or we can continue to beg for the world’s strictest and most expensive regulatory models, and not be surprised when decent weed still costs $60 an eighth for another couple of decades. The choice is ours and ours alone.