Yes on medical. Yes on adult use. Yes on weed.

What a glorious day to be a weed activist.

All across the nation today citizens have the right to cast a vote for freedom and sensibility. Weed is on the ballot for medical use in three states, and for adult use in three more states and even a city! Weed is everywhere in the national dialogue today and I have heard more than one political pundit say “We could be having a very different discussion about the war on drugs on November 7th.” Yes…indeed we will.

The passage of one, or more, of these adult use measures could force our nation to have a real and honest adult conversation about taking people to jail for weed. That is a conversation we win when all the facts are laid out there. Drug warriors have succeeded in making the subject taboo for so long that we often forget how easy of a victory the weed conversation is for our side. “Weed is safer than alcohol. Taking people to jail for it is expensive and evil.” Done.

I was a little disheartened to see that Americans for Safe Access, the nation’s leading medical cannabis activist group, could not find the courage to stand up for adult use legalization efforts on their voting guide website (http://votemedicalmarijuana.org/), which can be found here. Why does this bother me you may wonder. Because a group that claims to support more access to more affordable cannabis for patients should be excited and supportive of an effort that opens up the cannabis market and makes this safe plant much more available and affordable. They clearly are not. They have made a political calculation to protect their “reputation” vs. actually making the right choice for patients, and those who use cannabis. It is sad that a group with a national voice could not find the backbone to declare that folks should vote yes for adult use legalization. But, alas, it is clear that this movement is continually fragmented by divisive positions that attempt to put medical cannabis on a pedestal, as if they are not with the rest of us weedheads. Disgusting.

For me, it is a no-brainer. Medical should be a given. What kind of jerk would vote against allowing suffering people to use a safe and effective plant-based medicine? BUT…a “medical only” classification for cannabis is the second most restrictive classification next to all out prohibition. So it would beg to wonder why anyone who truly believes in the safety and ability of cannabis to heal would want anything less than 100% adult use access, without the limitations of what is medical and who is sick enough to use it? To not publicly support an effort to make cannabis more readily available is simply supporting prohibition. The silence is deafening.

 “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

-Martin Luther King Jr.

The fact that we have three possible victories for ending cannabis prohibition altogether on the ballot is a huge victory in itself. These efforts have changed the national conversation on cannabis and have forced us to take a long hard look at the way we deal with weed in this country. The conversation started in 2010, when the great Richard Lee stood up and decided to put his money where his mouth was and take a shot at adult use legalization. Prop. 19 narrowly failed here in California, but the effort inspired many to carry the torch to other states and it laid the groundwork for the three efforts to legalize on the ballot today.

These campaigns have also revealed some stark realities for the weed community. First and foremost, we are not all on the same page by any means. I have no idea what some people in this movement are thinking sometimes. I never imagined, in all my years, that I would be having arguments with people who like weed whether or not to pass an effort that legalizes weed. I never thought that when I made a conscious choice to support groups like ASA when they formed that they would turn their back on legalization when we got to that point. I assumed we were all fighting for the same cause…cannabis freedom.

Not limited cannabis freedom. Not medical only cannabis freedom. Not an “I gots mine. Screw you” type of freedom. Not a “one issue, screw the rest of the world” type of freedom. Not an “if I cannot have everything I want then forget it” cannabis freedom. Not an “I am okay with people going to jail as long as I can get MY medicine” cannabis freedom. Not an “only these few people can grow weed for sick people” cannabis freedom. NO!

I thought the goal was to make cannabis free for any adult to use as they would like without fear of arrest, or losing their standing in the community. I am pretty sure when I decided to be a weed activist that the end game was to quit taking people to jail for weed and end the injustice and morality of our current policies on weed. I still believe that, and will continue to work towards that ultimate goal of real and meaningful cannabis freedom.

At the end of the day the vote is simple….”Will this vote make cannabis more free for adults to use as they please?”

Not “Is this effort perfect?”; or “Will this effect my business?”…but “DOES IT INCREASE CANNABIS FREEDOM?” If the answer is “Yes,” even if it is not as much freedom, or the exact kind of freedom, you had in mind then the vote should also be YES.

Vote Yes for Weed today and let’s move that ball down the field. We are almost there.

Inspired: Why this week's election could be the straw that broke prohibition's back.

I got up early today and watched one of the better news discussion programs on the air, Up with Chris Hayes. On the program today they did a piece on Amendment 64 in Colorado to legalize adult use marijuana, and had on the great Mason Tvert, Executive Director of SAFER, to make the case for his initiative and the cause. For those who do not know Mason Tvert, he is  an outright leader of marijuana reform, and has helped to revolutionize how our society views weed by making the simple statement, “Marijuana is Safer, So Why Are we Driving People to Drink?,” which is also the title of a book he co-authored. But what was inspiring about Mason’s message this morning was the look of confidence that he has just 48 hours before the election with polls showing Amendment 64 poised to pass, leading by 10 points. To see Mason on a national television program making the argument in a bold and dynamic way made me realize, “Holy shit! We are probably gonna win this thing this week!”

I do not want to jinx it, as it is far from a done deal; but there is a real good chance that on November 7th, Colorado, Washington, and I still got mad hope for Oregon too, we could be having a much more forward and impacting conversation on really ending prohibition than we have since at least the 70’s. if not longer. That is EXCITING, and gives me a lot of hope. In a world short on good news at times, I look forward to, even just for a minute, basking in the glory of a victory for cannabis freedom.

Watch Mason KILL IT on the show below:

As I try to imagine the impact this will have on the psyche of America, I am humbled. I imagine this being the straw that finally broke prohibition’s back.

While I clearly understand this is far from the last battle we will face to free cannabis from the clutches of tyranny, it is a HUGE crack in the armor of the drug warriors efforts to imprison and enslave our fellow man for safe and enjoyable plants. If we can pull this thing off in one, or multiple states, we will have succeeded in proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that the time for cannabis prohibition to end is NOW….and do not be surprised when it does. As we tear down the wall, believe the drug warriors, after being exposed, will try to claim it was their idea all along.

I always hear the cannabis talking heads make statements that, IMO, sound less than hopeful that reform will ever happen. Here is what Ethan Nadelmann of Drug Policy Alliance said on the Gavin Newsom Show on Current TV.

 Nadelmann added that the only prospect for bold reform out of Washington would come in the unlikely event of the Democrats taking both houses of Congress in addition to the presidency.

However, even without a complete overhaul, he thinks that some modest changes come down the pipeline relatively soon. “[I think] we’ll see the emergence of an independent commission to reevaluate the state of drug policy in this country,” he said. “We’ll see more opening to new ideas that are beginning to percolate, but I’m not going to hold my breath for major reform.

Now I understand Ethan’s position 100%, and probably agree with him on most of this assertions and insights on drug policy. I have always said that Ethan is the smartest person in the reform game. But his statement, “I’m not going to hold my breath for major reform,” I just cannot get behind.

I have been holding my breath since the day I took my first rip of cannabis and I have a much more optimistic point of view. Maybe I just smoke a lot more weed than Ethan; but from all measures, based on my personal experiences with prohibition and our society’s view on weed, I already see a MAJOR change in the way our communities understand marijuana and the call for an end to the policy fo taking people to jail for weed grows louder by the day. I have to believe that, regardless of who runs Congress, or the White House, that social pressure on this issue will continue to make it impossible for these laws to survive.

I think the passing of Amendment 64, I-502, and Measure 80 (which I believe will win by a squeaker) will undoubtedly force our government, and citizens, to look at this issue closely and as not just a thought, but a now clear reality in at least one, if not three, states. That is huge. It is epic. It will change the dialogue in a way no activist ever could.

It says, “Screw you. Weed is legal. What are you gonna do about it?”

Now, sure…the Feds could decide to go batshit crazy and blow their load working to shut it down. I just do not see it. I do not think it is a viable option for them any longer. The more they play their “prohibition at any cost” card, the more people are standing up and saying, “What are those costs again? And why are we paying them for weed?”

It is a different age and era. Almost everyone knows somebody who smokes weed these days, and most all of them are good, honest, hard-working folks who just want to burn a doobie and be left alone. That is not a lot to ask, and people are waking up to the fact that we have wasted over a trillion dollars enforcing laws and policies that have done zero to reduce drug use or availability, while creating an incredible burden on our society by imprisoning 5x the amount of people as the rest of the planet. People know it is stupid, and politicians are beginning to realize that people are not as dumb and predictable as they used to be on this issue.

They used to just be able to scream “DRUGS ARE BAD! WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?” Now when they scream “What about the children” the response is “What about the children you are locking up for weed and how much that costs us in blood and treasure?” It is a much different climate than when California revolutionized the way we view cannabis with Prop. 215.

So as this week rolls in, I am taking time to soak it all in. I am proud of those who continue to fight for cannabis freedom, and am honored to call myself their colleague and partner in the battle for justice and morality. When you read the headlines the day after the election and it says “Colorado (and/or Washington and Oregon) Legalizes Weed!” be inspired. Let it motivate you to continue to knock down the walls of prohibition, and know that it is a MAJOR step in ending this thing.

To all the folks on the ground doing what it takes over these next two days to get out the weed vote, I just want to say “THANKS!” You guys are my heroes.

 

TreesActivists on Reddit

Greeting fellow Weed Activists, We are starting a new community on Reddit that we would like you to be a part of. Reddit is a great medium for sharing news, views, and experiences with one another. Feel free to joint the conversation by subscribing here; or visit http://www.reddit.com/r/treesactivists/. We are just getting started and will be adding custom looks and widgets soon. If you want to help out, let us know. Part of activism is reaching people from outside of our circles, and Reddit has proven to be a great tool for that. So help us build a solid community of activists and supporters of TREES FREEDOM.

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Make a difference, or get out of the way….

Undoubtedly. we have a lot of work to do to realize true and meaningful cannabis freedom. It is going to take a huge effort by those dedicated to this cause to see this thing through to the end. We need people on the front lines right now who are willing to do the work and make the sacrifices it takes to make a real difference.

What wee do not need are popularity contest activists, who are simply in the way of real progress, gumming up the works any more…you know who you are. If your goal is to get your name, or your company, more exposure then the work you are doing is called “marketing”, not activism. If you have the need to talk about yourself in the third person, then the work you are doing is “public relations”…not activism. If your “activist” duties only include things that benefit you, or your organization, and you are absent from all of the real work being done on your behalf, you are an opportunist…not an activist.

I make these distinctions, not to single anyone person or group out, but to ask politely that all of the hucksters, charlatans, greed-mongers, and narcissistic  bastards that continue to pretend what they are doing is some heroic act of activism to get out of the way. Your close-up is over, and it is time for the grown-ups to take the prohibitionists to task. Either put your self-interest aside and get back to focusing on making weed legally available to any adult that wants to use it, or get run over. The time for glad-handing and taking victory laps is over. We are on the threshold of something great, and I will be damned if some beauty pageant activism is going to stop us from ending this thing once and for all.

We have lost a lot of time and resources on very little action over the last four decades. This must change moving forward.

We must figure out how to make a bigger difference with the people and resources we have, and quit letting the noise from a lot of fluffy activism stand in the way of us moving the ball down the field. It is easy to step back and look over the cannabis horizon and see what groups, activities, and activists are making a difference….not for themselves, but for weed. You can also pretty clearly see the ones who are just there to shamelessly promote themselves and their bullshit (Hint: Look for the advertisements and video crews).

It does not really serve us well to allow sideshows to detract from the reality that what we do to people who smoke weed in this country is nothing less than a tragedy and we should all be ashamed of the immorality of the current situation. It is not about this weedlebrity, or that well intentioned fellow with the funny hat. It is not about how great this product or that weed shop is. No one gives a shit about how wonderful your shatter is when they are looking at a decade in prison for selling it to their patients. Put the vaporizer down and step away from the scantily dressed nurse for a minute.

Some of us have a job to do that does not include hype and promos. God Bless you and your hustle…for real. But there is a time and a place for everything, and on the battlefield in the war for cannabis freedom, we just can no longer afford the distractions and the circus that has, at times, become cannabis reform these days.

If you are unsure whether the work you do as an “activist” is making a difference, then chances are it is not. Those who spend their free time volunteering, making calls, sending letters, and taking care of our POWs know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what they do makes a real difference. Activism is thankless. The folks that do most of the work you have likely never heard of; and they are fine with that. Making a difference is its own reward and does not need fanfare or recognition. Activism is a lot like pissing yourself in a pair of dark trousers…no one may notice, but it is sure to give you a nice warm feeling.

Make a difference or get out of the way. Please. Thanks.

 

Going for the Jugular

I smell blood in the water.

I cannot help but feeling we are very close to real cannabis reform in this country. I strongly believe that the house of cards of prohibition is set to fall. There is just too much of an overwhelming call for an end to the failed policies of locking people up for weed. There is an evolution happening in our communities where our fellow citizens are waking up to the fact that this shit is JUST NOT WORKING.

Our opposition continues its parade of lies and deception; but their bullshit begins to fall on deaf ears. People are beginning to see the man behind the curtain for what he is…a greedy bully willing to lock people up for decades for a safe and enjoyable plant. People are seeing that we now spend far more on imprisoning weedheads than we do on educating our kids or fixing our roads. There is not a sane person on this planet that thinks this stupid war on drugs is working; but the difference now is that more and more people are willing to stand up and say so. Our opposition is backpedalling and beginning to see the writing on the wall.

So now is the time for the KILL SHOT. Now is the time to go for the jugular and put these miserable prohibitionists out of their misery. Now is the time we need to build a cohesive machine that exposes these criminals and frauds for their war crimes against our own people. We do not need to dance around the subject any longer. It is right there, front and center. It is our job to take this increasing awareness and ensure that we get the message out there that what we do to people who smoke weed right now is downright evil.

This is an easy argument to make. We just have to commit to it.

It goes like this….

“Quit taking people to jail for weed. It is not working. We have 25% of the world’s prison population, but only have 5% of the actual population because we take mostly poor people to jail for weed every day. We are participating in a form of modern day slavery, where we employ armed gunmen to round up people for a safe, and very available plant and lock them in cages for sometimes decades performing labor for slave wages. Anyone who supports and participates in these activities condones these immoral actions, and should be treated no differently than those who bought and sold people to tend their plantations. Release the prisoners and end these evil policies NOW!”

Nobody likes to be viewed as supporting slavery. I know it seems harsh…but that is what it is. Plain and simple. We have allowed an out of control and privatized prison industrial complex to profit from taking people to jail for weed. It is no accident that weed and other drugs are more available than ever. How else could we lock so many people up for them.? It is a ruse and a con. We have been sold a bag of shit.

If we cannot make that message more loud and clear, then chances are we may miss our opportunity. Our community must come together and use what limited resources we have to take the kill shot. Keep hammering the message home. We are right. They are wrong. Weed is awesome.

If we can muster the juice to pull this thing off, weed will indeed be legal very soon. If we fumbledick around and continue to not say what we mean and try to convince everyone that the entire weedhead population is seriously ill, we should not be surprised if we see more decades of evil weed enforcement actions against our friends and family. I, personally, am sick of being worried about having my car searched, or my kids taken, or not being able to get a job, or going to prison for many years because I love weed so damn much.

Let that burn in your belly….and then do something about it.

 

Burnt Out. Fed Up. Exhausted. Not feeling it.

Sometimes it is hard to be a weed activist. Who knew that trying to get people to understand that weed is safe, enjoyable, and helpful, and that we should not take hundreds of thousands of people to jail for it, would be such an exhausting job.

But between fighting with law enforcement, reasoning with Joe Public, and trying to navigate the chaos that is cannabis reform these days, a person can become downright burnt out and fed up. Sometimes it can seem like the walls are closing in and nothing makes any sense at all. Any reasonable person would conclude that taking people to jail is stupid when presented with the facts; but we live in a world of lies and deception. That, in itself, is enough to drive anyone mad. Add to that that our movement lacks identity and inspiration on a lot of levels, and you can see how it is easy for a person to not be feeling it after a while.

So what do we do? How do we get up day-after-day knowing the deck is likely stacked against us, and continue to battle ignorance and hatred for our right to smoke weed?

Easy. Forget all the dumb stuff and focus on the fact that if we do not finish this thing, nobody will. We will continue to see our friends, neighbors, and families get locked up, lose their standing in the community, and have their rights constantly violated if we do not get off our butts and DO THE WORK.

Easier said than done right? I feel you.

Each of us are different people. What I do is try to breathe when I begin to feel overwhelmed. I sit quietly and envision victory and the day when this is all a terrible memory of when we used to lock people up for safe plants. I try to think of the many friends I have who are sitting in jail this day for weed and think about how petty my exhaustion must be compared to theirs. I reflect on where we have come from, where we are now, and where we want to go. I try to remove the noise from the equation and boil the fight down to simplified terms. I take pride in knowing that I am right and that our opposition is wrong. I think about ways that we can celebrate our victories and learn from our mistakes. Then I like to think about how crazy all of this is, and then I usually belly laugh uncontrollably for a few minutes.

It is a constant exercise in mental awareness to do what we do, even in the face of danger and apathy. The rank and file weed activist does not get awards, or even recognition, for their willingness to stand up and be accounted for this issue. The real weed activists do the little things, and offer themselves selflessly to the cause, because they know the cause is just and that their hard work can make a difference; and it does.

Do not ever think that your contribution is wasted or that you are not good enough. The only thing you need to understand is that this is not about any one of us, or any group of us…it is about a wonderful plant. It is about freedom. It is about justice. It is about basic human rights.

Your small piece of a larger puzzle is moving mountains. We are seeing real progress towards cannabis awareness and freedom like never before. What is bizarre is that we are seeing this effort from allies outside of the cannabis movement more and more. Public figures, celebrities, world leaders, and even the most right-wing righties are supporting cannabis freedom and ending the draconian policies of the drug war.

This is because of you…because of all of us. Because we have continued to move the conversation and make people understand that cannabis prohibition is a disaster. That is YOUR WORK.

As we continue to change the hearts and minds of people who have been lied to about weed for decades, we see a real shift in the way our society views cannabis. There is an adult conversation happening more openly, and that is a direct result of your work to create real and meaningful social change.

So while you are sure to get burnt out, fed up, exhausted, and will not always be feeling it, just know that we need you. Take a minute to regroup. Find your center. Look deep into your own heart and know that we have no choice but to finish this thing.

There is no longer time for half-measures. We all must stand up and make cannabis freedom a reality. We are our only hope.

As long as we stay more progressive than our ally Pat Robertson from the 700 Club, we should be just fine.

“I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol,” Robertson told the newspaper. “If people can go into a liquor store and buy a bottle of alcohol and drink it at home legally, then why do we say that the use of this other substance is somehow criminal?”

Pat Robertson, 700 Club

 

Be a part of the Marijuana Majority project…

An exciting and hip new campaign to raise awareness and support for cannabis freedom is launching and it is very cool. The Marijuana Majority is aimed at compiling prominent people and organizations in the community that have made positive statements in regards to legalizing cannabis.

What is very cool is the ability to use social networking to influence other celebrities, politicians, groups, companies, and other folks that can help make a difference in this battle to add their voice to the increasing conversation to end cannabis prohibition. You can join thousands of other cannabis activists in working for social change by demanding accountability and support from the movers and shakers of the world. It is brilliant.

The group leading the charge is dynamic and are some of the finest young and energetic talent the cannabis movement has to offer. It is an all-star team of great activists that understand the issues facing our movement and I believe the project will be wildly successful. Some may challenge the purpose of this project and see it as superficial for one reason or another, but the truth is that the key to ending this thing is for us to make people understand that this is happening and good people who they like and agree with support ending cannabis prohibition.

By compiling a comprehensive list of supporters of our cause, while also creating a vehicle to reach more folks and get them on board, this group can create the dialogue needed to make the marijuana majority larger by the day. I look forward to the evolution of what I feel is a very important outreach medium for cannabis freedom.

Here is a press release from the group on the project:

Press Release: Marijuana Majority Launches!

Posted on 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 22, 2012
CONTACT: Tom Angell – (202) 557-4979 or info@marijuanamajority.com

New Website Tracks Politicians & Celebrities Who Support Legalizing Marijuana

Marijuana Reform Is An Increasingly Mainstream, Majority-Support Position

Site Lets Supporters Tweet Prominent People to Encourage Speaking Out

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Just over two weeks before voters in three U.S. states decide on ballot measures to legalize marijuana, a new website launches on Monday that tracks prominent people and organizations speaking out in favor of changing marijuana laws. MarijuanaMajority.com allows visitors to see just how mainstream this debate has become by viewing and sharing visually appealing lists of elected officials, actors, medical organizations and business leaders who support solutions like decriminalizing marijuana possession, allowing medical marijuana or legalizing and regulating marijuana sales for adult use.

In addition to tracking prominent people who have already spoken out, MarijuanaMajority.com has a social component that lets individual supporters play a role in convincing even more opinion leaders to publicly say they favor reform. Visitors to the site will be able to easily send targeted tweets to celebrities and politicians with just a few clicks, encouraging them to speak out and join the Marijuana Majority. Among the initial “Get Out the Quote” targets are Ben Affleck, Mark Cuban, John Cusack, Van Jones, Bill Nye (“The Science Guy”), Shaquille O’Neal, Rihanna and Kanye West.

“At a time when polls show that a majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana and that mega-majorities support allowing medical marijuana or at least decriminalizing possession, it makes no sense whatsoever that so many national politicians look at this issue as some kind of dangerous third rail of politics,” said Tom Angell, founder and chairman of Marijuana Majority. “By allowing people to see in one place the prominent, respectable and numerous supporters of changing these laws, we hope to convince more elected officials that there’s political opportunity, and not political peril, in jumping on board the marijuana policy reform bandwagon.”

The site launches as national polls show — for the first time ever — that a majority of U.S. voters support legalizing and regulating marijuana like alcohol. Polling also indicates that voters in Colorado and Washington are poised to make history by voting to legalize marijuana on Election Day.

Aaron Houston, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and a Marijuana Majority board member, said, “Anyone who looks at the polls can plainly see that trends heavily favor the marijuana legalization movement. For a long time, young people have overwhelmingly supported replacing failed marijuana laws with a new approach. Savvy politicians who are looking to earn support should realize that a growing demographic wants them to speak out for marijuana reform, and that doing so can only help them at the ballot box.”

Marijuana Majority advisory board member Sean Dunagan, who served as a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) intelligence analyst for 13 years, added, “Ending marijuana prohibition enjoys support from religious leaders like Pat Robertson, business leaders like David Koch, entertainers like Morgan Freeman, world leaders like Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos and — by the way — the majority of U.S. voters. No one who realizes that our failed marijuana laws cause tremendous violence and waste should be afraid to say so. The time to speak out and join the Marijuana Majority is now.”

ABOUT MARIJUANA MAJORITY:

Marijuana Majority exists to help people understand that replacing marijuana prohibition with solutions like legalization, decriminalization and medical marijuana are mainstream, majority-support positions, and that no one who supports reform should be afraid to say so.  More info athttp://www.MarijuanaMajority.com.

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I am sorry you are sick, but I am in jail…

It seems that there is a portion of the cannabis movement that is okay with only sick people having access to cannabis. There is a “we must put the patients first BEFORE we work on ending prohibition completely” sentiment I have observed lately during debates over state initiatives.

I call BULLSHIT. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have been “fighting for patients rights” since way before 1995. We have put nearly all of the movement resources into advancing this concept for many years, and to our credit, we have done a good job of convincing most of America that sick people should have access to cannabis medicines.

But we have also done a poor job of putting forth a cannabis environment that is conducive to the real medical industry and its professionals. The “medical only” market we have created continues to come under intense scrutiny because from the outside looking in, it does not look like a medical situation at all. Most major media done on medical cannabis include a point (or many points) on the increasing skepticism of this growing industry. People just do not see fat blunts and “medical” cannabis cups as true to life medical applications of cannabis.

It is this giant lie we continue to tell ourselves so much that we have begun to believe it is true.

On one hand we have advocacy groups swearing up and down the country that this is all 100% legit medical use, while at the same time representatives of this very medical advocacy groups participate heavily in extremely recreational seeming events, and their staff and followers mock the medical uses of marijuana by consistently taking dosages far beyond any medical applications. These groups have no problem setting up their booth right next to a doctor who may be holding office hours at the local cannabis cup or Cypress Hill concert, but then want to look down their nose at these “recreational users” who are “screwing things up for real patients.”

Spare me the rhetoric. The unfortunate side effect of working so hard on medical only laws and policies is that we have not focused much time, energy, or resources on the real issue of cannabis prohibition….MASS INCARCERATION OF MOSTLY POOR PEOPLE.

Some folks have taken their self-righteous medical only stance so far as to say that they are not for adult use legalization because it could affect their rights as a medical patient. You know what makes a person really sick? PRISON. And not only does it make that person sick, it makes their entire family and everyone who ever cared about them sick too. When a young black youth is arrested for selling weed and gets a five-to-ten mandatory minimum sentence, not only does he risk real actual sickness from living in a dirty infested jail with limited healthcare, but he loses his life and standing in the community forever.

So while I understand that your rheumatoid arthritis is a bitch, just know that sitting in prison for weed is a much bigger bitch. We lock up poor people for weed at alarming rates in this country and terrorize people through unlawful search and seizures all in the name of prohibition. But do not worry, Mr. Medical Only Cannabis Activist…as long as you can have your weed, screw all of those folks, right?

Wrong. DEAD WRONG.

If you are so selfish that you would sacrifice another human’s freedom and right to life to only save yourself and your rights to use cannabis, then you are just as selfish, greedy, and evil as the bastards who made these laws, and who continue to endforce them. If you have convinced yourself that you are so damn sick that it is okay to continue to feed our youth into a violent and dangerous prison system so as not to upset the gentle balance of your safe access then you a.) lack courage; and b.) are a major part of the problem.

Here is a reality check for many who use cannabis “medically.” Your use is not really medical at all…at least by the normal terms and standards of what is medical in this country. So before you go doubling down on your bullshit position, do me a favor…consider these questions:

Question one…In a medical only cannabis market, cannabis will eventually be prescribed by a doctor when medical rescheduling takes place. What medicines prescribed by a doctor on the market now are smoked? Did you come up with none? I did too.

Second question….What medicines prescribed by doctors are whole plant medicines? I came up with none. What did you get?

Third question….What medicines are prescribed where you can get as much as you want to use over any period of time? What medicine does a doctor tell you to roll up as fat of a portion as you want and smoke away? Oh yeah…there are no smoked medicines. Well what prescription do they tell you it is okay to use as much as makes you feel good and pass it around to your friends? Did you come up with none again? Me too…

Fourth question…Which prescribed medicine are you allowed to grow at your house? None again? Damn…

One more question….What medicine prescribed by a doctor allows them to write prescriptions with no oversight or scrutiny from the FDA and DEA? None again? Damn…

The point I am making is that most of these medical only crusaders do not understand that their use, as it currently stands, is NOT MEDICAL AT ALL. If we continue to fight for a more medical cannabis environment, while ignoring the horrors of mass incarceration because we believe this is a more palatable and winnable argument for our cause, then we are sure to end up painting ourselves into a corner we never wanted to be in in the first place. You will eventually get the old, “You guys said you wanted medical only marijuana. Well here you go. Enjoy your Satixex or go back to being a criminal.”

Some have tried to say that these are two different and separate issues. Nothing could be more patently wrong. The medical use of marijuana is NOT a separate issue from adult use legalization. True herbal cannabis will never be truly free as a medicine to use as people want until we realize adult use legalization. We will  see an out of control pharmaceutical industry find ways to influence lawmakers to limit the very definition of medical cannabis, and ensure that you can only buy cannabis medicines from them. If patients truly want real and meaningful access to herbal cannabis at much lower costs, then cannabis legalization for all is the ONLY ANSWER.

Some of you need to quit with the medical charades too. Nothing is sadder than a bunch of stoners faking back injuries and standing around talking about how sick they all are to justify them taking 20 fat dabs and eating a 500mg brownie. The jig is up. People do not believe you any more and you are making us all look bad. Even my brother with cancer who had three of his ribs removed does not pul the medical card as much as most of you.

And before all of the true-to-life medical cannabis patients who do suffer greatly jump down my throat for this piece, just know that it is the interference, noise, and chaos of this integrated quasi-legalization movement masquerading as some group of healers and alternative medicine experts that is really standing between you and the medical industry buying into the medical applications of cannabis.

I have spent the past year plus talking to cancer research doctors and oncologists at Stanford Medical Center. While all of them understand the medical benefits that their patients see from using cannabis, none want to be associated with the medical cannabis industry as it stands because they do not see the current situation as being medical at all in any way. So that is not me speaking…that is a team of some of the most qualified cancer researchers in the world.

The cannabis movement continues to bury its head in the sand and tries to believe that if they continue to repeat the same mantra over and over that somehow things will get better. Well, while we have provided limited protections for those in our society who can afford to pay a doctor to write them a note for weed, the fact is that over the past 15 years+, since Prop. 215 passed, MORE PEOPLE HAVE GONE TO PRISON FOR WEED…not less.

So while we may be winning the medical only battle (which I have shown will result in limited variety and availability to less and less qualified people as time goes on), WE ARE LOSING THE WAR ON CANNABIS FREEDOM. While we continue to divert huge portions of our movement’s resources to justifying the medical only approach, hundreds of thousands of poor, and mostly minority, people go to prison for weed every day.

Until we can step back and understand that we are not even asking for what we really want because we have been led to believe that we must “save the medical patients first” then we should not be surprised when what we get is a very limited medical market with people still going to prison for weed…A LOT. If we spent as much money and time exposing the tragedy of mass incarceration and the failed war on drugs as we have on trying to convince the world we are all very sick and that only 10 joints of the chronic-bubonic will save us, weed would be legal already.

This movement needs to re-prioritize its message ans its implementation of resources to be more effective in ending the war on cannabis. It is not a “do this first and we will get to that later” issue any more. LATER IS NOW. It has been damn near two decades since we began the big “we are all very sick” march towards legalization. Maybe it is time to switch gears, accept that people do not believe us any more, and begin to attack the tragic aberration that is the mass incarceration of our own people. WE CAN END THIS MADNESS…but we cannot until we begin to really ask for what we want…and more so..what we really need.

So while I am very sorry you are not feeling well, my friends are sitting in prison rotting away for weed right now. Their situation is MUCH MORE dire than yours. So when a person says “we have to save the patients first” remind them that by saving everyone, we save the patients; and we save the lives of thousands of good people being railroaded by a prison industrial complex gone bad. It is no longer okay to ignore the opportunity cost of not addressing the core issue of mass incarceration.

This is a fight we can win, and it begins with us demanding that they quit taking ALL people to jail for weed….not just the sick…and certainly not the “sick.”

Is rescheduling the answer we are looking for?

According to Americans for Safe Access Chief Counsel, Joe Elford, “medical marijuana patients will finally get their day in court.” The group will present to the US Court of Appeal scientific evidence proving beyond a reasonable doubt that cannabis does indeed have medical value.

As with any court case and legal decision there is bound to be a winner and a loser. If the government wins (again) then the court will decide that cannabis has no medical value. That seems like a far stretch to make, but we have not made it through decades of disastrous prohibition without lies and misinformation, so I would not be a complete surprise. But the other option, the court deciding to reschedule cannabis as a medicine, could be a more interesting dilema for the weed community.

Here is an article from the Wall Street Journal on the court case:

Appeals Court to Consider Benefits of Medical Marijuana

By Sam Favate

Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2012/10/08/appeals-court-to-consider-theraputic-value-of-medical-marijuana/

For the first time in 20 years, a federal court will review scientific evidence on the therapeutic value of marijuana, as a legal challenge by a group of doctors, medical professionals and patients makes its way to the U.S. court of appeals in Washington, D.C., next week.

Americans for Safe Access is hoping the challenge will change the government’s classification of marijuana from a dangerous drug with no medical benefits, the Guardian reported. Other groups, such as the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Nurses Association, the Federation of American Scientists and the American Academy of Family Physicians support either medical access to marijuana or its reclassification to one that has a medical benefit.

“Medical marijuana patients are finally getting their day in court,” Joe Elford, chief counsel for ASA, told the Guardian. “This is a rare opportunity for patients to confront politically motivated decision-making with scientific evidence of marijuana’s medical efficacy.”

Last year, the Drug Enforcement Agency rejected the ASA’s petition to reschedule marijuana, saying there wasn’t substantial evidence the drug should be removed from schedule 1. The DEA cited a five-year-old assessment from the Department of Health and Human Services that said there was no consensus in the medical community on the medical applications of marijuana.

In its reply brief, the ASA says the criteria used by the DEA and HHS to determine scheduling are flawed.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hear arguments in the case on Oct. 16.

So the question I ask now is the same question I have been asking for many moons, “If we win, then what is next?”

Does anyone believe that if cannabis is rescheduled to the equivalent of Vicodin (Schedule 3), or Marinol aka Dronabinol (Schedule 3), or even schedule 4 or 5, that patients will be able to grow a garden of cannabis to use as a medicine? Does anyone believe that the current means of access that we have in limited states would continue with little to no changes in the system? Do we believe that after cannabis is turned over to the “bringing a new drug to market” folks that a.) raw cannabis will be an option; b.) that smoked cannabis will be an option; and/or c.) that anyone but a heavily licensed corporation with the money to jump through the hoops of government regulation will be able to produce and provide cannabis for medical use?

Those are all very fair questions. Of course it is necessary to reschedule cannabis as a medicine, and maybe, if cannabis is rescheduled, taken out of the hands of the people, and the current quasi-legal systems in limited states are shut down in favor of pharmaceutical weed, the cannabis community can begin to focus more on ending the mass incarceration of our neighbors for weed, and focus our fight on ending prohibition for adult use once and for all. Maybe if our hand is forced to quit pretending everyone is sick to grow weed because the only way to get medical weed might be from an approved government overseen resource, people will get back to the basis of this battle for cannabis freedom….freedom.

Medicalization is not real freedom. It is actually the second most strict form of prohibition. Think about it.

So while I see many in the community rejoicing this opportunity to bring cannabis to the scheduled drug table, I just do not see what all of the excitement is about. To me, I think watching the industry that has developed for patients and providers evolve into a shell of itself overrun by big business is very sad. I think rescheduling without adult use legalization leaves us MUCH more vulnerable than we are right now. While it will allow for patients in areas with no access to possibly have access to some form of non-smoked cannabis medicine, likely extracted in some form,  it may also be a sea change for the hundreds of thousands of patients who now do have safe and convenient access to a variety of whole plant and smokeable medicines.

So what is the answer? The answer is adult use legalization. It always has been. We have focused a lot of time, energy and resources pushing for rescheduling to justify the medicalization of cannabis, and somewhere in that battle we have forgot that rescheduling does not really do much to solve the actual problem of taking people to jail for weed. In fact, it could increase substantially the people going to jail for weed, as the companies that invest an average of $1.3 billion to bring a new drug to market will likely demand stricter control on the ground to protect their market share. If any person or group is truly for patients having more access to less expensive cannabis, then legalization is a no brainer. If people who continually preach about the safety and efficacy of cannabis really believe that we need a whole new pharmaceutical system in pace to assure cannabis is safe, then I am not sure we are talking about the same plant.

But maybe I am wrong. Maybe cannabis will be rescheduled and the government will concede that people should be allowed to grow their own, purchase it from a locally run dispensary or collective, and that everyone should blast a fat dab. Who knows? What I do know is that I am no nearly as excited as some who are out taking the usual premature victory lap.

New direction for NORML?

Wait…Are you guys serious?

UPDATE: The REAL details put forth by NORML on the situation. many thanks to Norm Kent for clearing up Steve Bloom’s premature and inaccurate reporting. 

Dear friends,
Having seen the posts this morning concerning Allen St. Pierre, the Executive Director of NORML, I am writing in my capacity as the Vice Chair of NORML.
Please post this for the sake of accuracy. Sometimes a lie can get half way around the world before the truth catches up with it.
The purpose of this communication is to verify and affirm responses posted to each of you by Paul Armentano, our Deputy Director, and Keith Saunders, one of our Board members.
Very simply, as of this date, Allen St. Pierre has not been terminated as the Executive Director of NORML. At this time, there is no guarantee that this will ever happen and the publication is premature and inaccurate.
Since this matter has gone public, I believe the public is owed an explanation as to what is transpiring.
First, in-between its board meetings, the Executive Committee of NORML has the full authority to act for the Board.
Second, at the conclusion of this year’s successful NORML conference in LA, members of the Executive Committee met with Mr. St. Pierre and advised him that at our next Board meeting in Key West on November 28, 2012 the following motion will be presented to the Board:
“Shall the Board of Directors approve  appointing a search  committee for a new executive director?”
Third, the Chair, Paul Kuhn, asked Mr. St. Pierre if he was in accord with this motion, and Mr. St. Pierre summarily and demonstratively rejected the proposal, saying he had no intention of resigning from NORML, and that he had never published comments to Mr. Kuhn or others offering to do so.
Fourth, in fact, Mr. St. Pierre, who himself is a member of the Board of Directors, suggested that Paul Kuhn should resign from his position as Chair, and he would ask the Board for such a vote.
Therefore, as it stands now, to be as fair and honest as possible to everyone, there will be at least two countervailing motions on the table for the Board of Directors at its next meeting, one asking for a search committee  to seek out a new ED, and one asking to remove the Chair, and maybe even members of the Executive Committee.
It is not my goal to wash our dirty linens in public, but it is also not my desire to see false information disseminated with the damaging residual consequences that brings forth. So I publish these comments to bring people up to date on actually what has happened and what may happen.
So there we have it.
Thank you.
Norm Kent,
Vice Chair,
NORML
In an earlier report by Steve Bloom Celebstoner.com reported last night that NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre was fired yesterday by the NORML Board of Directors. Here is an excerpt from the story:

After making the final speech of the 41st-annual NORML Conference in Los Angeles at the Omni Hotel on Saturday, during which he said, “I’ve hit a nadir with NORML,” executive director Allen St. Pierre was fired by the Board of Directors, CelebStoner has learned.

Though no announcement has been made, St. Pierre’s absence from the post-conference party at The Hemp Museum was conspicuous.

St. Pierre has been battling with a contentious board for several years. The recent takeover of the board by Paul Kuhn left St. Pierre more vulnerable.

I am not sure if anyone saw this as a big surprise. When you are the leader of an organization that is consistently criticized for lack of leadership and vision there is a pretty big problem. Allen St. Pierre has led NORML to the brink of collapse and has had very little real accomplishments to show for his 7 years of work as the Executive Director. Of course the entire reason for NORML’s ineffectiveness is not completely Allen St. Pierre’s fault, but his leadership also has brought little to nothing to the table for them.

The big question now is who will replace Allen, and even more, will they be capable of making NORML more dynamic, innovative, and effective? Is there a person out there who can lead the charge towards cannabis freedom without drama, hurt feelings, and dissension in the ranks?

As NORML looks to replace Allen my hope would be that they do not just grab the first guy standing around the water cooler to fill that role. Cannabis activists, and NORML supporters deserve a real change. Not just in person, but also in philosophy, direction, and the way they understand the social and political environment that we are leading this battle in.

The word on the street is that NORML is flat broke. Celebstoner states that they have “long run deficits,” as MPP and DPA have received most of the reform funding over the past years. So obviously just bringing on some high-priced empty suit to fill the role is not the answer. It seems that NORML will have to figure out how to run a more lean and powerful team if they want to compete. They will have to begin to put their resources into more strategic planning and implementation of reform campaigns, rather than over-payed leadership that is little more than a showpiece for the organization.

But maybe we have come to a fork in the road. Maybe the folks at NORML, and MPP, and DPA, and LEAP, and SSDP, and all of the other organizations fighting for the same reform dollars need to look deeply at their organizations and ask themselves if we can continue to afford to split up the resources to pull in so many directions when we are fighting for the same thing? I think the community is tired of having so many different groups sending fundraising emails, throwing fundraising events, asking for donations and using those resources for vastly different, and mostly lackluster, efforts to end the drug war and to promote cannabis freedom.

NORML could consider merging with another reform group to combine forces and create a more powerful organization; or better yet, could we merge all of the organizations into a cannabis super power, like the NRA or something? Maybe, but doubtful.

My guess is that the NORML Board will appoint one of its own and continue down the path of ineffectiveness. There is very little fire in the belly of the folks at NORML these days, so it would not surprise me to see them opt for the status quo. I would hope not, but 40 years of history tell us differently. Maybe they can hire Keith Stroup back! Oh wait…he never went anywhere did he?

My opinion, as a lowly weed activist, is that I would like to see a real change in direction and the way NORML does business. I would like to see less focus on patting themselves on the back, and more interest in attacking our enemies’ position with agressive tactics and messaging. Sitting back throwing a conference in a different weed city every year and “answering the phones” is not progress. It has become more of a pageant than a march for cannabis freedom.

I am not sure who would be the greatest person to fill the role of NORML Executive Director. Only time will tell. I just hope it is someone that I can find inspirational, and whose conviction and dedication may actually lead us to ending cannabis prohibition. I do not think that is too much to ask.

UPDATE from NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano:

This report is not true. Allen St. Pierre remains NORML’s Executive Director. There have been no changes made regarding the NORML leadership. Only a vote by the Board could institute such changes and no such vote has taken place. It is unfortunate that Steve’s speculation is causing major confusion among those who follow this issue and NORML.

Paul Armentano
NORML Deputy Director

 

Apparently Steve Bloom from Celebstoner.com got his cart out in front of his horse on this one….again. But there has also been no denying that St. Pierre will be fired at the next Board Meeting. In two statements from NORML Board members there has been NO word that NORML does indeed intend to go forward with St. Pierre as ED.