ACTION ALERT: Call to say NO TO SB 289 in California. No DUI for weed.

SB 289 is a terrible measure that automatically convicts a person of DUI for having any drugs, including weed in their system. This means if a person is in an accident and they test them and they smoked weed a week ago, they are automatically at fault in that accident because they would have a DUI.

This measure is aimed at opressing minorities and poor people some more with terrible policies and non-scientific convictions. It is a clear abuse of power and must be stopped. Do your part today.

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SB 289: Zero-Tolerance Drugged-DUI Measure
Hearings on Tuesday 4-30-2013
Call Today & Leave this message: “No to SB289”.
Be polite (we want them to do something for us)
Be Brief ((let them answer more phones for us)
Do this like your driving depends on it, because it does.

Senator Lou Correa 916 651-4034

State Senate Public Safety Committee

Senator Loni Hancock 916 651-4009

Senator Marty Block 916 651-4039

Senator Kevin De León 916 651-4022

Senator Carol Liu 916 651-4025

Senator Darrell Steinberg 916 651-4006

Senator Joel Anderson 916 651-4036

Senator Steve Knight 916 651-4021

Legal By Summer

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Over the past few months I have been stating that I believe “weed will be legal by summer.” Some have laughed and some have cheered. Others have marginalized this statement as an unproductive “rumor.” So here we are about 75 days from summer and I still believe that things will be very different for weedheads in the near future.

Now when I say “legal by summer” I am not expecting the do-nothing Congress to actually change federal law over the next 75 days. Shit…I cannot expect them to figure out how to fund the government or do the most basic legislative tasks with the unprecedented gridlock we see happening these days. I do not expect for 7-Eleven to be selling weed over the summer, or that weed will be 100% “legal.” That would be terribly naive.

What I do expect to see is a very real and meaningful policy shift from the US Department of Justice, and a definitive statement that effectively ends the unnecessary and overzealous federal enforcement policies in states that have allowed for weed.

I understand the skepticisms that I hear from those who have been “duped” by supposed changes in federal policy before. I know that the Ogden memo gave many false hope, including the entire Colorado legislature that passed their regulations as a result of that policy. But the Ogden memo, as flawed and politically calculated as it was, opened a lot of doors for cannabis laws too. The issue is that when the door opened a crack, we did a poor job of self-policing our industry and the policy was used by many as a free-for-all anything goes opportunity that resulted in some bad behaviors and poor decisions from many in the cannabis community. So it was not surprising when the Cole memo rescinded any statement made in the Ogden memo, and the crackdown began to happen.

But I do not believe that type of wishy-washy policy shift is what we are about to see. Why? Because there is less to lose for the administration right now, Eric Holder is on his way out, and the poll numbers of people who support legalization, and an end to federal interference in state law, are steadily increasing and in some cases are staggering. The Pew Research Center just released a poll that showed that 60% of voters think the Feds should not interfere in states that allow for it and 72% believe enforcement costs more than it is worth; 52% believe it should be outright legalized for adults.

Politicians are creatures of habit and their habit is to go with the flow. The flow is undoubtedly going our way and we see political, social, and legal support for weed growing at astounding rates.

The big and obvious shift were the passage of two adult use legalization bills in Colorado and Washington. The incredible victories were a product of good campaigns, but more so, they are indicative of a major evolution of public opinion since the highly-publicized and discussed 2010 Prop. 19 campaign. I think that campaign began an unstoppable dialogue that has resonated in our society. When 46% of Californians came out to support adult use legalization it was a shot across the bow of prohibition. It showed that we were way closer than anyone had imagined and gave us that light at the end of our long and dark tunnel.

This effort resulted in the Colorado and Washington’s successes, which took the conversation to a whole new level. We were no longer talking about how close we were, but that we had actually arrived. In Colorado, weed got more votes than Obama. That is a hard one to overlook for any politician.

But I think the silence by the administration to this point is telling. In December, Eric Holder was questioned by NPR’s Nina Totenberg about their response to the laws in Colorado and Washington State and after he chuckled about when they might have that response he stated this:

ERIC HOLDER: There are a number of ways in which we have to look at this. The United States, the federal government can’t force a state to criminalize something. So decriminalization has to be viewed with one set of eyes. The structure that might be put in place to take advantage of the sale of marijuana has to be viewed, I think, with another set of eyes. I think we’re going to have to try to determine, with the sets of eyes that we have, what the policy pronouncement we’re going to make with regard to those two components of these new laws.

So it is clear they are considering a policy shift and are recognizing their limitations to enforce state laws. That is an obvious sign to me that they are working on a carefully crafted policy shift to allow states to set their own policy on this issue. If the answer was going to be “Fuck you. We will vigorously enforce the Controlled Substances Act” then that would have been stated early and often, as it has in the past.

But the world has changed…and they know it. The question now is how do they acknowledged that we stepped in shit by prosecuting and jailing people over the years, and walk it back without looking like the gigantic assholes they are for putting people in jail for weed? How can they step back from the wave of changing public opinion and not have to apologize for years of evil policy enforcement? That is the trick. How can they craft a policy that gives freedom to weedheads, growers and distributors with0ut admitting that they have erroneously imprisoned hundreds of thousands of people for weed? It is a conundrum. On top of that, will they need to release prisoners who are in jail for weed crimes? Maybe just the ones from states where their actions are now legal?

Who knows? There are a lot of factors to consider, so it does not surprise me that here we are five months after election day and they have not made any clear statement to date besides Obama saying “We have bigger fish to fry.” Yeah..no shit.

But the reality is that they are considering them…and that will lead to change. What degree of change is hard to predict, but I firmly believe we will see a paradigm shift in federal policy and an opening of the floodgates for states to do as they please on this issue. It does not make sense to continue to throw good money after bad when you are losing support at such a drastic rate. If anything, they will need to give ground if they want to keep any of their silly drug war infrastructure an militarization in place. Things are changing that quick.

We have seen an incredible amount of prominent members of our society come out for legalization lately, and the walls of prohibition continue to crumble. It seems every day there is another figurehead willing to come out in favor of removing criminal laws on marijuana. Look at these recent statements by two ex-presidents:

We could have fighting and killing over cigarettes if we made it a felony to sell a cigarette or smoke one, so we legalize them. If all you do is try to find a police or a military solution to the problem, a lot of people die and it doesn’t solve the problem.

-Bill Clinton- Breaking the Taboo

Or this from former president jimmy Carter:

“Putting everybody in prison because they have marijuana is a very major step backward, and it ought to be reversed not only in America but around the world,” he said.

Indeed the world is changing…and changing very fast.

The administration seems to have its hands full these days with a million very hot-button topics. Form chained CPI for Social Security, to drones, to sequestration, to immigration…and the list goes on; there are a lot of issues that the administration may want to distract from. What is a better distraction than legalizing weed? So I would not be surprised to see an extremely calculated policy change that is timed to change the conversation as these other battles heat up. It is how political capital. works.

So when I say LEGAL BY SUMMER, I do believe that over the next 2.5 months this policy will come down the pipe and that it will favor a reduction in weed enforcement. How drastic that may be is anyone’s guess, but I believe it will empower the states to take a more forward role in the issue and allow for decisions to be made by the states in regards to cannabis enforcement or legalization. I think they will still be actively involved in the trafficking of marijuana from state to state, as that is where they can certainly justify their enforcement. But I think the days of raiding state and locally licensed providers of weed are numbered; and in turn, I think we will see a number of states pass laws allowing for weed without the fear of federal enforcement looming.

This will not be a painless transition. Nothing is in this Country. Even the evolution of booze after prohibition was a slow and gradual process. In fact, today is the 75 year anniversary of the day beer resumed flowing after prohibition, as described in this informative article on NPR. 

April 7 marks the 75th anniversary of the official beginning of the end for Prohibition. On the date in 1933, legal beer production resumed in the United States, sparking celebration among brewers and imbibers alike. Historian William Rorabaugh, author of Alcoholic Republic, puts the event into historical context….

In 1917, the 18th Amendment established Prohibition, banning “intoxicating liquor,” which it left undefined. Franklin Roosevelt vowed to end Prohibition, but first, he did something easier – he got Congress to declare that beer with 3.2 percent alcoholic content was not an intoxicating liquor. It would take until December 1933 for the 21st Amendment to repeal the 18th. But for eight months, 3.2 beer was the only adult beverage allowed.

So I do expect the process to be a tough and likely timely one…especially in today’s modern political climate. But it is one that will happen none-the-less; and I think it will begin by summer.

This does not mean to abandon all activism and take my word for it. In fact, it means the opposite. It means that the time is here and now. The fight we have been working to get is happening, and we better damned well be ready for it. Sitting on our laurels believing that we have another few years to prepare is a stupid and will result in catastrophe. We must be ready to take destiny into our own hands as soon as the battle begins.

Are you ready for summer?

Older. Not Necessarily Wiser.

Every year we have a birthday and celebrate our existence, and we benchmark the time we have spent here on planet earth. With age comes responsibility, and often it is assumed that knowledge also comes from getting older.

Age is an interesting equalizer with people. The age of someone shows their level of experience in a measurement of time. While certainly the amount of actual days spent somewhere is a factor in experience, when we look at something as vastly mysterious as the meaning of human life, time can be an imperfect measurement indeed. What actually happens in that time frame also matters, and affects the level of wisdom and understanding of a person. It is easy to understand how a person who has been exposed to a variety of life experiences, cultures, and emotional situations may know a bit more than a person who has lived a more sheltered experience.

Work ethic and a hunger for knowledge are also very important aspects of human understanding. A person who is more determined and ambitious to learn about the world we live in will generally have a larger knowledge base to draw from. and in turn, should be wiser for it. Educational opportunity and an openness to learning determine how we grow as people and take in our world. One can assume that a person who is focused on, and who has the opportunity to expand their education might be wiser than a person who is lazy in their studies, or who has little opportunity in their schooling.

The main point being that just because a person is older they are not necessarily any wiser for it. It is a myth that simply aging will bring wisdom.

My birthday is always a simple reminder that I do not really know shit, and that I should work harder to learn more because my days here are obviously numbered. It is always the time when I evaluate if I have done enough, have been good enough, or have worked hard enough. Have I made a difference in my world? Or has my time been wasted?

It is healthy to examine one’s self and better understand if you are living up to the morals and objectives that you have set forth. Are you achieving your goals? What are areas that we can do better? What opportunities have we missed, and how can we avoid missing more opportunities in the future? How can we step up our game and take it to the next level? Have we kept our word and have we been a good stewards of our community? Can we be better?

My birthday has always been an exercise in self-examination for me. If this is how we keep score here on earth then I generally want to take a minute and see where I am on the game board.

So what does this have to do with weed?

I thought you would never ask. As an activist community, and a movement, and as an industry WE NEED TO DO MORE SELF EXAMINATION, as well

I am not sure what day would be the exact birthday for the weed movement (4/20?), but it is high time that we all sat down and took a long hard look at where we are, and how the hell we got here. We need to examine closely what is working, and what is not; and commit to changing what is not. How many years have gone by without so much as a change in strategy, or leadership, or methodology?

Why do the figurehead organizations “leading the charge” for cannabis freedom look the same today as they did a decade ago? Or four decades ago for that matter?

Has so much gone right for cannabis users over the past few decades that we see no need for change, or even maybe a dynamic shift in who we send out there to beat the drums for our cause? Is it just me who thinks the standard shtick of this movement has gotten stale; and that the same idiots keep saying the same things to please the same folks with the same money, and that in the translation the needs of the average and ordinary weedhead are getting shoved aside?

It is offensive to watch the folks that pretend to be fighting for weed users’ and cannabis patients’ rights continue to sell out our values to the highest bidder; and to disregard what is best for the masses in hopes of winning favor with the money folks. For us to not take a closer look at why we continue to operate in a “business as usual- don’t rock the boat” manner would be tragic. It is time we stepped out of our comfort zone and began to ask ourselves if we are good enough?…and more so, could we be better?

For us to blindly travel down the same road hoping to arrive at a different destination than we have in decades past is ignorant and idiotic. We are better than that.

This movement is no spring chicken. Some of these players have been fighting this fight for a long, long time. That certainly makes them older. I am not sure about any wiser. Often it seems as if we are fighting yesterdays battles on different terms and ignoring the evolution of the world we live in. I think we lack youth and expression on many levels, and have given too much to tradition, with little expectation of results.

We have allowed our movement to ride a long on cruise control with the same few folks dictating the direction, energy, and rhetoric. We MUST ask ourselves if this has been effective, and if we believe we can improve, we certainly should.

Weed will be legal soon, whether by our works, or in spite of our efforts. That choice is up to us to make. We can let the sheep in sheep’s clothing continue to sell us out to the highest bidders; or we can begin to demand accountability, ambition, and evolution.

When can we knock off the dog and pony show, and consolidate the best and brightest this industry has to offer into a powerful force to knock down the final walls of prohibition and lead us to the promised land?

As I turn a year older today I will certainly reflect on my place in society, but I cannot help but wonder how many more birthdays will have to go by where we still take people to jail for weed because maybe we could have done more, worked harder, or have been better. I hope that this is the last birthday I ever have under cannabis prohibition and the idiotic drug war, and you should too….

 

Ethics and Morality in the Struggle Against Good and Evil

There is no shortage of drama in the wild world of weed. Why should today be any different?

Yesterday I got a message from a cannabis activist who claimed she had worked for an organization that was collecting donations for an inmate in prison. She claimed that she had evidence that this group had collected donations in this person’s name and had not given him as much as they had taken in. I was presented with some loose figures, surrounded by ominous language about reporting people to  the Department of Revenue and IRS. To me the tone seemed very vindictive, and not necessarily a call for help for the person who was in jail.

But I take these things seriously, as I would not want to be getting fucked over if I were sitting in Federal prison for weed. So I forwarded the info on to some associates in the area to see if I could track down some truth.

Here is the kicker…..I tell the lady making the accusations that I am going to write the inmate to see what his take on it was. She warned me to “Be careful not to upset him” and that she had tried to tell him but that “he was in denial.” HUGE RED FLAG.

Talk about scruples….

I am now presented with an accusation that these folks are stealing from this inmate, but a warning not to upset the inmate and that he may be in denial because they are the only ones giving him money. Apparently just not enough money. But the claims that his denial is based on his “dependency” on the alleged thieves is odd. If these folks are so evil then why are they the only ones putting money on his books, even if it is not as much as you think they should?

Come to find out this broad is an ex-employee of the organization and used her access to their books for what seems on the surface as a vindictive effort. If a lot of this apparently happened in 2011, and you worked there during the whole deal, but now want to make these disparaging claims AFTER you are no longer receiving your paycheck from the organization, that also raises a HUGE RED FLAG.

If the actual person who you are saying is being taken advantage of does not believe that and trusts the folks who you are accusing to the point of you having to say he is “embarrassed” and “in denial”  then maybe it is you who should be embarrassed or who is in denial. Who knows?

I bring up this point because I have seen a lot of this type of vendetta going around, and it disgusts me. In case some of y’all have not noticed, we are actually fighting a real war with real enemies that want to put us all in prison.

My gut on this tells me that it is more of a personal issue than a true-to-life bleeding-heart effort to support this inmate. But for shits and giggles, let’s assume that this person is on the up and up, and that I am just way off on this one. It is rare, but it happens.

Let us take for granted that this is actually happening and that there is an organization collecting donations for an inmate and then keeping a large majority of said donations for themselves. Just that statement reminds me of every large charity organization out there because that is what they all do, really. But in this context it is obviously different. We are talking about funds targeted for a certain individual…and individual sitting in prison helpless.

Any person or organization of people who would perpetrate such a fraud are certainly evil. There is no questioning that. Obviously we all know that the world is full of evil folks, and while I am not convinced that the people in question in this case are those evil people, I do know that evil people do exist in this movement; and that people have raised money for folks who had no intention of giving it to them. So let’s speak directly to that issue.

Sitting in prison is likely one of the worst experiences a human can have. It is demoralizing and depressing. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. Every day is a terrible one and the only ray of light you have are the few people on the outside who still give a shit about you. It is a vulnerable and often lonely place to be.

For a person, or group of people, to use a tragedy like this to solicit funds for personal gain is unspeakable. It is a crime against human nature that cannot be fathomed by any person who has an ounce of morality. The people who would put forth such a ruse are the lowest scum of the earth and do not deserve to walk on the same planet as the rest of us. They are the lowest common denominator and this is just not something I could ever do. It saddens me to think that there are people that would.

From the situation that was presented to me yesterday, I have taken away some valuable lessons.

One is that people are fucked up. Either the person trying to destroy another’s reputation by making unfounded accusations, or the ones being accused, are fucked up people. Regardless, the world is full of fucked up people.

Another lesson is that trust is difficult.  Finding people who you can put your faith in that will do the right thing, even when no one is looking or after they are gone, is terribly hard. Depending on people and having them disappoint you is incredibly frustrating.

The final lesson is that I am not the morality cop of the weed industry. At least not any more. If people want to be unethical and immoral that is their prerogative. I do not have the energy or time to try and police all of the bullshit that goes on around here any longer. It is not good for my soul. People are going to be people. If they cross my path, we can deal with those realities as they come, but please leave me out of your fucking drama from here on out. Thanks.

And do the right fucking thing for once. It might feel good even….

Lifting Up the Less Fortunate

It is undeniable that we are all inter-connected on this planet. Like it or not, what one of us does affects the other. In turn, we also have certain responsibilities to our fellow man.

It is no secret that this world is full of the “haves” and the “have nots.” It has been that way since the beginning of time, from what I can tell. But that does not mean the “have nots” are any less valuable or any less worthy of our respect and love….and resources. It is our duty to lift up those who are less fortunate and help them where we can.

As we enter Thanksgiving week, I am reminded of how much hunger and suffering there really is in the world. I know families that are struggling to figure out how to pay the rent, much less if there will be a feast at the house on Turkey Day (or a sack of weed). It pains me that I cannot do more to help everyone. I hate that I live in a world where one guy has a private jet, while the other is starving. I am not saying we all deserve a private jet, but I think in a world with so much, everyone should have food. That is not a hard concept to understand.

As a society, we become less civilized when we simply ignore the less fortunate. The fact that we can walk right past people who are outright suffering in a flippant manner, jump in our fancy car, and drive to our warm and toasty home with little, or no, care for those we see suffering is barbaric. Yet, we all do this every day. The world has become more cold and callous in many ways.

Do not get me wrong, though. Not all is lost. There truly are many good people doing many good things; and many people are struggling in one way or another themselves. There is a lot of great work that is done to help the less fortunate, but even some of the larger charity organizations get caught up in the mix and lose focus of their mission. Often, a lot of would be funding goes to executive and administrative needs, rather than to those suffering. That is sad. But at the same time, there is a lot of great work done.

Unfortunately it is just not enough. There are just too many people without a warm meal and a place to stay. That disgusts me really.

Even in the world of cannabis, we could do a better job of lifting up the less fortunate. There are many patients who cannot afford the current prices of cannabis. A lot of good organizations have organized care programs that provide for the less fortunate; but often it is not enough, or patients are too embarrassed to ask for help. What is sad is that if we truly legalized weed it would be MUCH more affordable and accesible for everyone.

But in the current quasi-legal gray market we have established, there are still many who fall through the cracks. We owe it to the community, and to ourselves to do a better job of ensuring people in need can get good weed without having to cough up their rent money for it. It is great if you are already doing something, but overall we are not really doing enough. We can, and should, do more…..

If not us, then who? Who are we waiting for?

I am making a pledge this Thanksgiving to give a substancial donation to my local food bank, and to find at least one less fortunate person I can share some weed with. If we all made this commitment, we could make a serious effort in lifting up the less fortunate, and as a result, we would have a much happier and healthy society.

Do your part….If you have enough, then be a swell person and kick down to the “have nots.” It will not kill you to have a little less, so that others may have just a little. The less fortunate are not always homeless, or desolate either. Chances are someone you know is struggling. Reach out and see if you cannot make their life just a little better this day…and every day.

Together we can make a real difference.