Massachusetts Cannabis Knowledge Forum

This is going to be a great event….I promise.

www.CannabisKnowledgeForum.com

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KNOWLEDGE

Thanks for your interest in the Massachusetts Cannabis Knowledge Forum. We are excited to bring to you three exciting and unique days of cannabis knowledge with some of the industry’s leading experts. For those interested in opening a dispensary, working at a dispensary or production facility, or being an active part of the medical cannabis community and industry developing in Massachusetts, this is a must have cannabis knowledge experience.

Participants will enjoy interactive learning experiences with speakers who have dedicated their lives to developing the cannabis movement and industry. Come and ask the experts questions about how the industry works and how you can be a part of this exciting opportunity.

  • The Ganja of Guru and world-renowned author of the Marijuana Grower’s Handbook., Ed Rosenthal, brings you decades of firsthand experience in cannabis cultivation and breeding. He will present the basics on cultivation for hardship cultivators, as well as principles of commercial growing for those interested in dispensary production. Come and meet the legend himself and ask him about your garden, or future gardens. Ed has written about cannabis cultivation for forty years and has been a leader in the development of cannabis cultivation technology. He is also an expert witness for marijuana related court cases

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Guru of Ganja Ed Rosenthal

 

  • .Sociologist and host of the Boston Pot Report, Keith Saunders, Ph.D, will provide background on the Massachusetts cannabis community, economy, and social and legal norms of the local cannabis community. His work on the ground with Massachusetts cannabis activism, including ongoing support of the Boston Freedom Rally, gives him a unique perspective as to how the Massachusetts cannabis laws and regulations may be implemented, and how they will affect the Massachusetts community.

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Boston Pot Report Host Keith Saunders

 

  • Author of Medical Marijuana 101 and Director of T-Comp Consulting, Mickey Martin will present the basics of medical marijuana, understanding the Massachusetts medical cannabis regulations, preparing and dispensary application and industry best practices. He has worked on cannabis business development for over a decade, and has helped several clients succeed in the competitive application process. Mickey operated the nation’s first major brand of edibles, and has developed best practices for producers of cannabis medicines that have become industry standard.

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Medical Marijuana 101 Author Mickey Martin

 

  • Founder and Chief Operating Officer for Steep Hill Labs, Addison Demoura, founded the nation’s first cannabis analytical lab, He will be speaking on the importance of quality assurance and technological innovations in the cannabis testing industry. His work in bringing quality control and potency testing to the industry has revolutionized the way patients access and understand their medicine. Steep Hill’s innovative program has helped in creating better understanding of the industry by providing third party oversight and detailed information about the medicine patients consume.

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Steep Hill Lab Founder, Addison Demoura

 

All tickets include over $70 in books and materials. They will get a copy of Ed Rosenthal’s Marijuana Grower Handbook ($29.95)Mickey Martin’s Medical Marijuana 101 ($14.95), Aunt Sandy’s Medical Marijuana Cookbook ($18.95), as well as a course binder with documents on Understanding the Massachusetts Medical Cannabis RegulationsMedical Cannabis Best Practices, quality assurance and handouts for approaching cities and your community about the benefits of medical cannabis.

The event will be held on July 12th in Lowell, MA; on July 13th in Boston; and July 14th in Dartmouth. Sessions will begin at 9 a.m. with a 90 minute break for lunch at noon and end around 4 pm. the ticket price is $200 and will be made available through Brown Paper Tickets.

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THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST. WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU AT ONE, OR ALL, OF THESE GREAT EVENTS!

I HEART STEVE COHEN

I have a confession to make….I HEART STEVE COHEN.

In a house judiciary committee this wee, Representative Steve Cohen, again, took the United States Justice Department to task on their policy on weed in America and challenged the evils of prohibitin on the national stage. Bravo! Bravo, Mr. Cohen! You sir, are my new hero and I would be honored to shake your hand. Below is the text and video of Steve Cohen giving Eric Holder the business:

And one of the greatest threats to liberty has been the government taking people’s liberty for things the people are in favor of.

The Pew Research Group shows that 52 percent of Americans think marijuana should not be illegal, and yet there are people in jail and your Justice Department is continuing to put people in jail for sale and use on occasion of marijuana. That’s something the American public has finally caught up with. There was a cultural lag, and it’s been an injustice for 40 years in this country to take people’s liberty for something that was similar to alcohol.

You have continued what is allowing the Mexican cartels’ power and the power to make money, ruin Mexico and hurt our country by having a prohibition in the late 20th and 21st century. We saw it didn’t work in this country in the ’20s; we remedied it. This is the time to remedy this prohibition, and I would hope you would do so.

THANK YOU, STEVE COHEN FOR TELLING THE USDOJ TO, “QUIT TAKING PEOPE TO JAIL FOR WEED!!!”

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More IS Better

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A week from today, Los Angeles is set to vote on the future of medical marijuana in their City. There are 3 competing ballot measures to regulate the industry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The dumbfounding part is that people in our own industry are backing this play….Which brings me to Measure E.

Measure E was put forth by a coalition of UFCW, Americans for Safe Access, and the Greater Los Angeles Caregivers Alliance. It also limited the number of collectives the the 135 listed as pre-ICO/illegal moratorium, but did not raise the tax rate. When the City made the power move to put their initiative on the ballot, ASA, UFCW, and GLACA all folded their efforts to back the City’s in an unprecedented and puzzling move that can only be seen as protectionism at its finest. There is no other explanation for a group spending their hard earned money to gather signatures for an initiative only to abandon their own initiative in favor of a more expensive model.  It is simple collusion with City Hall at its finest.

The problem is that these folks are now in bed with those who have spent the last 5 years undermining their businesses and trying to get rid of them. Way to go.

Which brings us to Measure F, which to me is the no brainer of the choices on the ballot if you are for MORE ACCESS. Silly me….I thought that is what we were standing on the street corner fighting our asses off for all of these years.

Here is what the LA Times says about Measure F:

Measure F, by contrast, sets no limits. It includes some strong rules and protections — in some cases stronger than those in D. But the city simply can’t sustain an unlimited number of dispensaries. Supporters of F say there would be de facto limits as a result of the requirements about how close dispensaries could be to schools, parks and one another, and that the final number would be in the hundreds. But what guarantee is there? Certainly nothing in the law.

So when the conservative hacks at the LA Times state that Measure F is bad because it provides too much access, even though offering stronger protections, my liberal freedom-loving radar goes off and tells me to do the opposite of what these right wing zealots are pushing. I am seriously surprised that more of the activist and reform community leaders are not joining me in my support of Measure F. I am seriously disheartened that a large contingency of activist groups and community leaders would turn their back on MORE access. It is appalling.

Of course, there is the CANORML lack of position at all stating that people should vote on all three. Great…way to take a stand there. There is also the mudslinging position of dispensary operators who would be protected by Measure D in the press trying to paint their competition as outlaws and thugs. Here is what one dispensary operator told the LA Times:

Yami Bolanos, who runs PureLife Alternative Wellness Center, is backing Proposition D, which would shrink the number of pot shops to about 130. Only dispensaries like Bolanos’, which opened before the adoption of a failed 2007 city moratorium on new shops, would be allowed to continue operating.

At the City Hall rally and news conference, Bolanos accused some newer shops of catering to drug dealers by not requiring doctor’s prescriptions and selling more than 8 ounces of marijuana per visit to customers, more than twice what her store allows.

“Who needs 8 ounces, unless you’re going to break it up into dime bags and sell it in the street?” she said.

Apparently Yami has completely lost her mind and has taken the position of a prohibitionist. Who needs 8 ounces? People traveling long distances to access their medicine from places like Bakersfield with no access who may not want to come down every week, so they stock up. People who do juicing, or make edibles may use larger quantities. People who find a strain that works for them and want to stock up on it may buy 8 ounces. What business is it of yours anyways? When SB420 passed in 2003 state lawmakers, another scared and normally conservative group of humans, thought 8 ounces was a good number. Why is a dispensary operator supposedly on the side of patient access questioning patient need and rights in public like this?

Because of money and power basically. There is no other explanation.

But here is that basic rule of thumb for me on this….MORE IS BETTER.

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I will be damned if I have worked my ass off to defend access to cannabis over the years so that some wannabe good ol’ boys club can dictate the market to their own competitive advantage. That is just bullshit. When the defenders of Measure D try to paint the non-protected dispensaries as some sort of scofflaws and “people who just got here 10 minutes ago” it is easy to point out that for one, most of these places opened up right after the moratorium under the City’s own stupid hardship clause in 2008, meaning they have been open for the better part of 5 years; and two, most of the original dispensaries protected by Measure D have changed ownership or have been bought out by management groups.

The bottom line is that Measure D arbitrarily closes hundreds of dispensaries based on a bad law in an irrelevant time, and severely limits access. Measure F, on the other hand, does not attempt to close down the dispensaries operating pre-ICO, and even allows for new great operators to apply for a permit. As a person who has been shut out of the business for 5 years by the feds, I would not mind an opportunity to apply for a dispensary permit in LA down the road if I chose to. That my friends is called FREEDOM.

I have heard some conspiracy rumblings that some weirdos think that Measure F contains a “poison pill” for language in it stating it does not authorize the breaking of Federal law. This is a statement in response to the Pack v. Long Beach decision, and I personally included similar language in the initiative I wrote for Sac County. The fact that these are the straws folks are grasping at shows clearly that Measure F is the BEST OPTION for more access to cannabis and a more competitive and level playing field.

Measure D closes down hundreds of dispensaries. Measure F does not. This is not hard to figure out….

The folks backing Measure D are working to shut down their competition, whereas Measure F makes no attempt to shut down the proponents of Measure D, or anyone else for that matter who complies with reasonable restrictions.

I have even heard an activist who I respect greatly say “1,000 in Los Angeles is too many.” When I remind them that the City of Denver, Colorado has a population of about 600,000 people and they have 235 dispensaries who all do well and compete and have succeeded in driving prices for cannabis way down, and that Los Angeles is a city of 11 million people (18 million in the metro area) that by that rate Los Angeles should be able to sustain several thousand dispensaries and still manage to thrive, they have no immediate answer.

Yeah…Real life has played out and the sky did not fall, Chicken Little. So now what is your big excuse? Too many? You mean too much access?

We live in a world where free markets help increase competition and in turn, drive innovation and value. IMO. Measure F is the only measure that allows for our true American freedom principles to thrive and is the only real choice on the ballot for anyone who loves cannabis freedom.

I have a lot of friends who would do quite well if Measure D passes, but the ones who believe in themselves and believe in their business do not see legally handicapping the industry as the solution. In fact, it is the problem.

I have no idea which measure will pass, but I know as a community we should ALWAYS back the measure that provides for MORE access….MORE IS BETTER. Duh…

More Access. More Jobs. More Weed. Vote Yes on Measure F. Fuck the rest….

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?

Are we doing okay? Could we be better?

Step back from the inner workings of the weed culture and environment for a minute. Let’s look at the issue from a more abstract and less involved point of view. If we were looking at the weed movement and industry as an arbitrary third party, simply judging whether or not we are doing an okay job at making weed legal, what would we think? Are we doing okay? Could we be better?

The numbers are not great for us….it was over 75 years ago that the Marihuana Tax Act was signed into law, virtually outlawing weed. It was turned overturned in 1969 by Timothy Leary’s case. Shortly there after Nixon signed into law the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 which contained the Controlled Substances Act as Title II, outlawing weed for reals. That was 43 years ago. Since that time the amount of Americans incarcerated at any given moment has increased eight fold from roughly 300,000 people to nearly 2.5 MILLION PEOPLE IN PRISON.

Those are beyond staggering numbers really. The only way to explain carrying out a policy that has incarcerated millions of non-violent drug offenders, destroyed the lives and communities of mostly minority populations, and has resulted in one of the biggest wastes of resources in our nation’s history, is that it is PURE EVIL. There is no other valid explanation.

The drug war is a bag of shit we have been sold by evil people who have cashed in on the misery of those who are incapable of defending themselves against injustice. We have created a culture where law enforcement is seen as the enemy of many because we have pitted them against their neighbors in some holier than thou mission to rid the world of people using drugs. The results have been nothing short of DISASTER.

Not by coincidence, NORML was also founded in 1970 by Keith Stroup. You will be happy to know that not much has changed there in 43 years. Stroup is still running the place, and weed is still highly illegal. More people are being arrested than ever before for weed and an alarming amount of our population knows very little about it. I was reminded yesterday by NORML’s new Board Chair that “the philosophical foundations of NORML are that responsible adult use of cannabis needs no apology, excuses, or medical justifications.”

While these platitudes were a welcome diversion from more recent ignorant statements made by the organization’s Director, Allen St. Pierre,  it seemed hollow and empty. That somewhere along the line the structure had been removed from its foundation, and what was left was a very unstable and not very well respected organization that was willing to apologize, make excuses, and medically justify the shit out of weed. The fact that they have really failed to change leadership or direction in over four decades is a little creepy, and very disturbing to me. Add to that the appointment of WeedMaps founder Justin Hartfield to their Board, and one has to wonder WTF is really going on over there?

I look at NORML because they have worked to position themselves as the leading organization for the legalization movement, and because they are often the face of the movement in the national spotlight….so spare me the “if you don’t like it start your own organization” speech. As long as you are in that position, you also take on that responsibility.

But NORML is far from alone either. They just happened to have been at it the longest. But if we look at Marijuana Policy Project, they were formed in 1995. The organization was founded by three former employees of NORML, Rob Kampia, Chuck Thomas, and Mike Kirshner . Nearly 20 years later. Rob Kampia is still the Executive Director of the organization, even after a highly-publicized sex scandal forced him into therapy for being “hyper-sexualized” after reports of his abusing his power with female staff emerged. MPP is the largest pro-cannabis organization by budget. To their credit, MPP has done a good job of fundraising for the cause, and have had some decent accomplishments over the years, including the historic passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado this year, though you might not have known it throughout the campaign, as Kampia was noticeably absent from the public eye until it was passed. Then he came out for his victory lap, of course.

Medical marijuana was passed in California in 1996, over 16 years ago. The industry has grown slowly but surely over that decade and a half period and currently 18 states and D.C. have medical cannabis laws on the books. Unfortunately, only a couple of those states allow for real access to cannabis in any way through dispensaries, and most programs have turned out to be more restrictive and burdensome than need be. The quasi-legal industry that has developed has left a bad taste in the mouth of many who are outside of the weed bubble.

Perceived abuses in the system have been a turn off, as many in the states where cannabis is most prolific (CA, CO, WA, OR) believe they have been duped by weedheads pretending to be sick. It has been a delicate dance over the past years to expose the community at large to a more open weed culture through medical acceptance; and in the process, we have heavily weighted our time, energy, and resources into convincing people that every stoner is seriously ill. Unfortunately, that is not necessarily producing the results desired, as we still see alarming rates of people going to jail 16 years after the passage of Prop. 215 and waining support for medical cannabis programs. We still see law enforcement invading the privacy of good citizens because they say they smell weed. We still see families being torn apart and draconian mandatory minimum sentences being handed down for marijuana arrests.

In 2002, Americans for Safe Access was founded by medical patient Steph Sherer to be a voice for patients in need of cannabis therapies. This organization has been effective in lobbying for patients rights in many areas, and being an active part in litigating medical cannabis cases and policies. But the organizations limited vision and unwillingness to embrace adult use legalization has led some to question their motives and intention. Their support of restrictive permitting practices has come under fire, and I personally question their strategies these days.

The bottom line is that ASA has made its way through quasi-legalization funding from growers, dispensaries, and weedheads. Recent large donor contributions and changes in the legal landscape have certainly changed the look of the organization, and their mission and vision. I certainly do not see them as a grassroots effort to support the legalization of weed, in any manner. I see them as a force working to limit the access to weed and to carry on the status quo of just not taking seriously ill people to jail for weed. Their rescheduling efforts would serve no interests but those of large companies who wish to compete in a pharmaceutical cannabis industry.

So we have this hodgepodge of question marks that make up the major fabric of the public face of weed reform at this time. We have a dramatically shifting social and legal landscape where weed is concerned, with AMAZING acceptance happening at incredible rates. There is a large conversation happening in our society right now about marijuana and the wisdom of continuing to take people to jail for weed, yet it is very difficult to make sense of what our movement is doing to forward our position in this conversation.

There are so many strategies, directions and philosophies being thrown at the wall right now that it is virtually impossible to hear ourselves think. I read articles where two or three different people from two or three different organizations are interviewed, and sometimes it does not sound like these people live on the same planet, much less are in the same “unified” movement. We have got to get on the same page and set some clear messaging and boundaries in place for our movement. Right now our public presence is borderline ridiculous. It is tough to know who is who, what is what, and what the fuck we are talking about anymore.

From an outsider looking in, I am sure it seems disorganized, fractured, and somewhat incapable. The phenomena that has become more prevalent is the willingness of non-cannabis reform persons who are in positions of celebrity or power to be more  aggressive and better spokespersons for the cause than our own self-appointed deities. The needle is moving on legalization because more folks are coming out of the weed closet, and are having the courage to ask why we are taking people to jail for weed. The ongoing “budget crisis” in America has resulted in some very real discussions about the resources used to enforce our drug laws. The reality is that the world is changing quick.

So are we doing okay? As a movement, do we feel we are putting our best foot forward, have the best folks in positions of leadership and public relations, and are giving our 100% best effort to ending cannabis prohibition?

I would say “okay” is probably about right, and probably a little generous. I would much rather be doing great, or even good. I would love to see us, as a community, find a more cohesive and well-oiled effort to put forward. I am just skeptical it can be done under the current framework and tired ideas of yesterday. There is a great deal of talent in this community, and I feel it is not being harnessed in a manner that will produce real and meaningful results. We have allowed for decades of history and personal rivalry interfere with the mission of ending prohibition. Too much focus has been wasted on pet projects and limited efforts.

We must begin to find more strength, courage and a more powerful voice. The extremely limited chorus of confusion is not working. We have become a monster of sorts, that is fed with money and that shits out incompetency on the regular. We can do better than this, and we should. Okay is just not good enough any more.

And honestly, we are actually pretty fucking far from okay….just ask the 1 out of every 100 adults in prison right now, or the 1 out of 30 that are in jail, on parole or probation. This shit has got to stop. Quit taking people to jail for weed….

RECDICINAL- Where do we draw the line between enjoyment and therapy? Or do we?

I use cannabis as a medicine. It helps me with the pain from two knee surgeries, and the seven screws and a steel plate in my left heel. It also helps me to focus better and get more done, as a Ritalin baby of the 80’s who was hospitalized with severe ADHD at a young age. There is no doubt I use cannabis as a therapy for the many challenges I face with my health.

But I also smoke weed. Sometimes a lot of weed. Like more than a doctor would probably agree was a medical dosage by any means. I am not alone either. A lot of people smoke weed for enjoyment, and to enhance the mundane bullshit of life. There is nothing wrong with that. Weed is fun. It makes food taste better. It makes me giggly. It helps me to think about weird and awesome shit. It can lighten up my bad mood, or mellow out my tense emotions.

Now I hear the “all use is medical” crowd firing up their keyboard to tell me that food, and giggles, and weird and awesome shit are all just part of the medical benefits of cannabis. That because it “lightens me up” and “mellows out my tense moods” this is all clear medical usage. Save it for someone who is still listening to that line of bullshit. All you are doing is digging your hole deeper.

We do not do ourselves any favors by trying to justify that every joint ever smoked has been for a medical application. In fact, we embarrass ourselves more times than not with that flawed logic. I have said it before and i will say it again…”We are not that sick.” We have won the argument that sick people should be allowed to use weed. Where we are losing the argument is by telling the world that everyone who smokes weed any time ever is sick. It just does not hold water…and it lacks courage.

I smoke weed because I like it, and I will be damned if I have to wander around acting like I am in dire pain every time I want to burn a fatty with my friends. I do not have to, and it is embarrassing to think that so many people do. It is like watching rats in a cheese maze. We have found that we do not get electrocuted if we eat the medical cheese, so now all cheese is medical. Super.

The reality is that the maze is fucked up and evil…period.

We are entering a even stranger reality where Colorado, Washington, and hopefully more states soon have, or will pass adult use legalization measures. There is a delicate dance happening where “medical use” norms and regulations will be intertwined with adult use norms and regulations, and an awkward posturing by many will certainly happen.

Those who have built their empires on a strict “medical only” market and who have used their “higher ground” medical rhetoric to demean adult use legalization efforts will be faced with tough choices. The doctors who have built up huge practices of patient authorizations for weedheads will be challenged between money and ethics in many ways. The evolution will be interesting to watch, no doubt.

But make no mistake about it…after weed is legal for any adult to use as they please, very little of the current medical cannabis infrastructure will continue to exist. Very few of the current folks who are incredibly ill will ever go to a doctor for weed again. Nobody is going to pay $50-$100 for a recommendation when you can use your ID to get in the weed store. Sorry. It is just not going to happen. But when all you need is an ID to get in the weed store, 10 times as many folks will come…which is nice.

But what will be an incredible evolution in the medical sector will be not just the majority of patients who will suddenly get well, but the majority of non cannabis doctors who will begin to open up to cannabis therapy in an environment where “medical” is not a term used so loosely on the end of every blunt. When the stigma of the current system and its perceived abuse disappear, and real clinical testing can be done to uncover more of the mysteries of the cannabis plant, we will see AMAZING growth in real medical applications of cannabinoid therapies. The problem is that this will not ever happen in the current environment.

But the good news is that recreational adult cannabis use is coming. We can soon put down our medical defensiveness and light up in peace.

Sometimes we just want to smoke a fucking joint because we are grown ass people and because weed is awesome. I shouldn’t need a doctor to tell me that weed is awesome. In fact, I do not…

As weed emerges from the darkness into just another boring thing that people use to make the world more fun, exciting, and bearable, just watch the medical onion get peeled back. The once very rigid folks who declared on national television that the “do not support recreational cannabis use” will be the first ones on the recreational bandwagon. They will likely also take credit for the whole thing and tell us how they invented purple weed. I cannot wait.

It has always been a no brainer to me. Quit taking people to jail for weed. I do not give a shit if they are a patient, or a spiritual user, or just a weedhead like me. For us to continue to use medical patients as our justification for ending prohibition is silly. Medical classification of any product is the second strictest classification next to outright banning something. If we continue to ask for highly regulated medical only cannabis, we should not be surprised when we are stuck with a lot of highly regulated medical only cannabis. Pull your head out of your ass for a minute and realize that is bad strategy on many levels.

A recent California poll showed a majority (54%) support legalization for adult use. What was the one area where cannabis support had dropped in the poll since it was last taken? Support for the current medical law. It dropped 5% points since the survey was last done in 2010. Why? Because people think we are full of shit. That is not speculation. That is just fact. We are LOSING support for medical cannabis because some folks do not think that the doctor at the rap concert is legit. I know it seems crazy, but it is true.

In my humble opinion we MUST begin to embrace wholeheartedly adult use recreational whatever you want to use it for weed use. We must not try to blur the lines any more than we have and we should begin to act like freedom loving adults who demand to be treated as equal citizens who happen to smoke weed. It is our duty to change the conversation and the way our society views marijuana.

There are still a lot of uneducated and misinformed people out there who hate weed, and believe it is evil. Those people suck, but we do not help ourselves by giving them the ammunition of saying “See. This is not what we all voted for. We voted for seriously ill people to use cannabis in a very restrictive environment.” We must move past that argument and challenge the prohibitionists on their rationale. No one in their right mind thinks that people should go to jail for weed when presented with the facts. We have to begin to demand that these policies prohibiting and criminalizing weed end once and for all for anyone and everyone who likes weed….for medicinal use, recreational use, or even for recdicinal use.

Anything less is a compromise I am not willing to make. You should not either. You are just embarrassing yourself for tomorrow. Weed will be legal. May as well get with the program now before the world passes you by….again.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

I hear a lot of praise and patting on the back happening for the victories in Colorado and Washington in 2012; and rightfully so, as they have changed the conversation where weed is concerned. These efforts have forced our society to take a hard look at our policies for marijuana and drug enforcement more closely, and not a moment too soon.

But what I also hear is a lot of revisionist history that fails to give credit where credit is due.

To be honest, I am pretty deep into cannabis awareness, and even I was unaware of the level of involvement the Marijuana Policy Project had in the Amendment 64 campaign in Colorado while it was happening. The campaign did a good job of distancing themselves from MPP and their Executive Director, Rob Kampia, whose sexual escapades has given the organization a less than stellar reputation. This article entitled “The Breast Massage Will Happen” from the Washington City Paper goes into explicit detail about the abuse of power and creepy culture of the organization, and their “hyper-sexualized” leader.

Yet, after the campaign, there was Rob to collect his spoils, and claim his spot as the mastermind who has brought the world cannabis legalization. All of the sudden, now Rob Kampia is using this victory as a vehicle to reestablish himself as a major player in cannabis reform boasting recently in an SF Gate blog about waiting until 2016 for the next initiative push, ““It really only takes 23 rich guys who can write $1 million checks, and I know 23 rich guys who can write million dollar checks.”

Now why these rich assholes would give Rob a million bucks is beyond me, but if Rob is anything, he is a prolific fundraiser. He unfortunately is not a leader, or even a very well respected member of the community. But his incredible ego will never tell him that. They guy brings down everybody’s average, really.

Yet for some reason, there are folks who want to credit this asshole with the courage to put Amendment 64 on the ballot. So let’s be clear….Rob, MPP, or any other of these reform organizations NEVER would have had the courage to go all in on a statewide ballot initiative like they did in CO and WA had Richard Lee not had the courage and vision to put proposition 19 on the ballot in 2010. The fact that Richard put the initiative on the ballot and was ABANDONED by almost all of the major policy groups and STILL GOT 46% OF THE VOTE on a very slim campaign warchest proved beyond any reasonable doubt that cannabis legalization was much closer than any of us thought.

Marijuana Policy Project and NORML did nothing to financially back the effort. Americans for Safe Access would not even have the courage to publicly state that they supported the effort, calling it a “separate issue” (eyes roll).

Imagine if MPP and major donors had donated the millions of dollars, like they did in Colorado, to run public education campaigns, and to put more boots on the ground to educate our own community. Just think if the deep pocket donors, like Peter Lewis, who threw millions at the I-502 campaign in Washington would have even given a portion of that to the Campaign in California. Is it possible Prop 19 could have passed with better funding and a more galvanized effort? Quite possibly.

But one thing is for certain….after the Prop. 19 campaign was over the dialogue of our nation, and our collective conscious, had changed dramatically. The campaign opened up everyone’s eyes to the reality that cannabis legalization is certainly possible. This inspiration and motivation were the foundation for the Washington and Colorado efforts. Yet you will not hear the victory lappers give that credit very often. Rarely do they credit the Prop. 19 campaign with dramatically shifting the conversation on cannabis away from the “we are all very sick” mantra that had been the focal point for over a decade, to a “we are grown-ass adults who should be able to use weed” conversation.

The Prop. 19 campaign paved the way for the victories in CO and WA, and it is terrible that we now see folks willing to claim credit for this change in our society, with hardly even mentioning Richard and his bold effort in California  It is unfortunate that we now see people making claims about how they are calling the shots and will decide who legalizes cannabis where next.

But I believe it is worth noting that if it were left up to these folks, and had Richard not put forth a magnificent campaign on a shoestring budget with none of their support, we would likely be talking about 2024 for legalization; and even then these assholes would probably be skeptical of the polling data. Richard put the issue on the front burner, and for that, we should all be incredibly grateful. It would have been even nicer if some of these big box reformers would have came out and actually tossed a couple of bucks in the hat in 2010 to help; but hey…at least they can enjoy the results of the effort, which was a renewed national dialogue on ending cannabis prohibition.

Unfortunately, these groups were supposed to be the ones putting forth that dialogue….not a dispensary operator from Oakland.

Was Richard’s effort in California the first effort for legalization? Certainly not. Was it the one that changed the conversation and put cannabis legalization on the map? Yup.

But do not expect the ego-driven maniacs that hold the cannabis reform purse strings to tell you that. They would much rather keep you believing that their way is the only way, and that we must wait another four years for cannabis freedom. “Just give us your funding and we will keep it safe until we are absolutely 100% positive we can win this thing.” It is very sad.

Will another angel investor step forward and put an initiative forward in California for 2014; or will we allow these groups to kill the momentum from recent victories, and allow people to go to jail, lose their kids, lose their jobs, and lost their standing in the community for another 4-6 years? Is it possible to raise funds outside of these limited resources? Sure. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a galvanized effort to spearhead that massive fundraising effort? Like an organization dedicated to policy or reform or access, or something like that?

Does anyone realize that even though Amendment 64 and 1-502 passed in 2012 that there will likely be no cannabis industry in place in either state until 2014? So it is safe to imagine that if we wait until 2016 to legalize cannabis in California that we are talking 2018 before we ever see an adult use weed store on the Cali map? Yeah….fuck all that noise. The world will be a different place. Marco Rubio will probably be President by then.

For some perspective….if we go back in time 4 years from today to February 10, 2009, there were ZERO dispensaries in Colorado. Today there are hundreds of dispensaries, regulated grows, and did I mention weed was legal there? To think that this will be the same world four years from now, and to leave our fate to chance, is beyond bizarre to me.

The reality is that the world is changing fast, and if we want to be in charge of our own destiny, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels and wait for a sure thing in 2016. If we do, we should not be surprised when we are forced to take what we are given when policy does indeed change. And it will change. You can count on it.

I thank Richard Lee for his willingness to put himself, his resources, and the fate of our movement on the line in 2010 for cannabis freedom. It would be nice if the rest of the yahoos might mention that in their victory laps and groovy back patting videos from here out, and maybe consider growing a sack of nuts while they are at it. Thanks.

Politics, Reality, and Political Realities

“Politics is the art of controlling your environment.” -Hunter S. Thompson

Weed is coming to the forefront of the political spectrum, and it is being seen more regularly as a topic for legitimate discussion. The intersection between politics and cannabis is an interesting issue to see unfold in real time, as elected officials, law enforcement, intellectuals  and activists struggle to define the process on their own terms. There are the obvious politics of the situation, including the “tough on drugs” position, the medical positions, and the economics of drug enforcement, and its role in our society. Those are all potential hot potatoes that, while once taboo to speak of, are being brought to the front of the social and political dialogue more regularly.

The reality is that the world is changing. I may even go as far as saying it has changed.

Does anyone remember the moment when our society went from looking down on gay marriage, to it being widely accepted? Neither do I. It just happened. While there is still a definite struggle in the gay community to bridge the gap to total acceptance, what we are seeing is the reality that our society is MUCH more understanding of this struggle; and no longer views gay marriage and equality as third rail issues. Why? Because the gay community has done an incredible job of messaging and activism that has resulted in people being forced to face their own reality and humanism. They used their opportunity and resources to hammer home the message that it was no longer okay to discriminate against an entire population based on who they love. People cannot argue with that. Those that do are now being marginalized and looked at as the extremist that is on the wrong side of history.

In the other extreme, you can look at what is being done to shut down a woman’s right to choose across the nation, and see how politics can be the enemy, more times than not. In Mississippi, we are seeing the closing of the ONLY abortion and women’s health clinic in the state. How did they do it? REGULATIONS. They regulated them out of business. I bring this up because this is a very harsh reality that we need to face, as cannabis begins to re-enter mainstream culture. If we trade our values and ethics, and concede too much to gain political support, we could end up with a similar situation.

Look at medical cannabis in New Jersey. The program there has been incredibly burdensome and costly, and several years later, only one clinic has been able to open just months ago; and they are already struggling to make ends meet because of the regulatory costs and incredible red tape of the program. It is more cost prohibitive than it needed to be, and the result will likely be people continuing to seek their cannabis from illicit sources. Just like in Mississippi…what will result is poor women getting abortions from illicit resources. It is a dangerous and slippery slope.

Clear evidence of this is Washington state’s passage of I-502. In December, LEAP advisory board member Norm Stamper was quoted as saying. “”I now question whether Washington state’s initiative needed to be as restrictive as it is.” Of course it didn’t. But there was no telling Stamper and the campaign crew that this was the case, as they touted its rigid standards as necessary for victory, only to be proven wrong on the same night by voters in Colorado. I-502 passed by 10 points. Even if it only passed by 5 points with no DUI per se provision and allowing people to grow their own, it still would have passed big.

But this is often the political reality for cannabis reformers. After decades of being treated like derelicts and deadbeats, any little glimpse of legitimate recognition or interest and reformers are ready to bend over backwards and give up the farm to be taken seriously. The organizations and big money donors that have the funding to put reform efforts forward (I am looking at you Peter Lewis and George Soros) play cannabis reform like a game of poker. While there is no questioning the desire to end prohibition, eventually, the political calculus that goes into our effort are far to humble to reflect actual reality in our society.

In other words, our tendency is to play to the politics, and forget about the social and cultural realities that are driving the conversation. It is easy to be cavalier with your efforts and energy when it is not you waking up every day in prison, or the fear of going to prison. Too often the person making major policy reform decisions has little idea of what things are like here on the ground. They lose focus on the real pain and suffering brought on by our failure to end prohibition, as a society.

They do not see the mothers raising their kids alone because we have taken their fathers away to jail for weed for decades. They do not have to look these folks in the eye or try to answer questions there really are no answers for. Their car is not being searched on the side of the road.

Those who choose to play political Rochambeau do not live in a world of reality. They live in a world of contrived reality and borderline chaos. They live in an environment that amounts to a never-ending bad relationship. They see reform efforts and victories as notches in their belt, and not as an urgent a pressing matter that is destroying the lives of millions of people as we speak. More folks are shoveled into the system every day, as we sit back and talk poll numbers.

But the reality reality is that people are continuing to suffer for no reason. Our world has changed. If the resounding victories for cannabis in Colorado and Washington were not clear enough, just look around you. Weed is being accepted and understood by more people every day. It is an incredible awakening that we are experiencing and the time is now to take the kill shot. We can not conform to political norms to appease the opposition and play it safe. People are looking for action and answers. Our answers cannot be “Just wait a little longer.” Our action can not be measured and weak.

We must be bold and aggressive  We must kill this thing now. We cannot afford to experience the same nightmare that has seen acceptance for medical cannabis grow at a snails pace for the last two decades. We must frame the argument as an urgent matter that needs immediate resolution. Our friends and neighbors are on our side. We have the support of more people than we need to effectively end this thing; but we must begin to demand our freedom, and quit trying to negotiate with terrorists.

The political reality is that we will likely continue to negotiate with terrorists. We have been conditioned to believe we are criminal scum who smoke dope, and our actions show that we have bought into that. The fact that we continue to beg for shreds of freedom, and consider what should be common sense resolutions as huge victories, and throw parties and hand out awards shows our political and societal immaturity. The political reality is that many in our own movement do not believe…really believe…that this CAN happen.

There is a cautious optimism and a lot of patting each other on the back for the ground we have gained; but there is not a lot of willingness to put our foot on the neck of the drug warriors and use the power of our collective voice to kill the evils of prohibition.

The argument is on our side. The support is there for the taking. Whether we begin to create real political pressure through massive awareness campaigns, continue to pressure law makers, or take our issue directly to the voters, what is clear is that there is no better time than the present to execute a more forward approach to cannabis reform. It does not bode well for us to rest on our laurels and hope that change will come to us eventually. We will leave the wolves to run the hen house if we do not take control of our destiny.

Politics will always take time to catch up to reality. We should not be lulled into playing the game of politics. The reality is that MOST people in our society are more than willing to end this thing and end it now. We need to give them the opportunity and platform to express that willingness.

The unfortunate political reality is that a few deep pocket billionaires and organizations control the current narrative, and the failure to organize a cooperative and cohesive effort that is solely aimed at ending prohibition NOW will likely end up coming back to bight us in the ass.

But if we can organize and come together, the sheer number of weedheads that live on planet earth should be able to create enough of a ruckus, and could possibly begin to really consolidate our resources enough to maybe move a mountain or two in the meantime.

What is certain is that the pages of history are being written today on the end of cannabis prohibition and we all must decide where we want to be on those pages. Do we want to be remembered as cannabis prohibition being ended because of us, or in spite of us? As a movement, as an industry, and as a community, we all have a lot of soul searching to do.

Dear President Obama: Grow a Sack of Nuts

Dear President Obama,

I am not trying to be an asshole when I say this, but “GROW A SACK OF NUTS” already.

I thought, when I heard your administration was not going to fight for Susan Rice and her honor, that would have been the least courageous thing I heard from you guys yesterday. But I was wrong.

While it is very sad that you could not find the courage to allow Ms. Rice the opportunity to “serve at the highest possible level” and go to battle with the idiots who oppose her nomination, it is indicative of how you have operated as President to date. You continue to cave to the demands of the far right Republicans, in hopes of earning some favor with those assholes. How has that worked out? I mean besides them calling you a Kenyan socialist and accusing you of running the economy into the ground? Have they come around yet?

I pulled for your re-election. I believed that in a second term that you may grow that sack of nuts and hopefully find your voice, and I still believe that. I know you have not been inaugurated yet, but so far, I am not feeling encouraged. Why? Sure…you have had some tough talk with John Boehner that sounds great in sound bites; but I would bet the final fiscal cliff deal includes you caving on Medicare still. Then there is Susan Rice, which is an epic fail in courage.

BUT…now you go on an interview with Barbara Walters and when confronted with the reality that two states passed weed legalization measures, and your response is some double speak about, “It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal.”

Look here, Barry. We are not talking about some guy walking down the street with his joint. It is ALREADY not a top priority for your precious Drug Enforcement Agency. No one ever even remotely mentioned it was. You are talking in circles…again. Break down your comment for a minute…

“It would not make sense…” – doublespeak for “I have no idea what the DEA will do”

“for us to see a top priority…”– doublespeak for “I never said it wasn’t a priority, at all. Just not a top one.”

“as going after recreational users…”- doublespeak for “I still might arrest sellers, growers, and producers.”

“in states that have determined that it’s legal.”– doublespeak for “I got my ass kicked by weed in the election.”

But all hope is not lost. We just need to look back to May to see that Obama does have the courage to change his mind publicly on social change issues like he did on gay marriage. Here is a quote from an interview he did with ABC in May discussing his shift in opinion, and in policy:

“I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or Marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” he said.

“It’s interesting, some of this is also generational,” the president said. “You know when I go to college campuses, sometimes I talk to college Republicans who think that I have terrible policies on the economy, on foreign policy, but are very clear that when it comes to same sex equality or, you know, believe in equality. They are much more comfortable with it. You know, Malia and Sasha, they have friends whose parents are same-sex couples. There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we’re talking about their friends and their parents and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently. It doesn’t make sense to them and frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.”

That is right. Obama was against gay marriage when he took office in 2009, and did an about face on the issue when he had the political coverage to do so. Maybe some od Sasha and Malia’s friends parents also smoke weed and do not deserve to be treated like criminals either. You ever think of that? So it is not unheard of that Obama can transform his public positions when he needs to. That is encouraging.

What is not encouraging is the other stupid remarks he said about weed to Barbara Walters in his first statements about weed legalization. He went on to say:

“”This is a tough problem, because Congress has not yet changed the law,” Obama said. “I head up the executive branch; we’re supposed to be carrying out laws. And so what we’re going to need to have is a conversation about, How do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it’s legal?”

But this is where he lacks serious courage, and is kind of full of shit. He kicks the can over to Congress, as if he is powerless over the law, as it stands. Yes, Obama…you head up the Executive Branch. You head up the US Department of Justice. You are the Commander in Chief. If you tell your army of drug warriors to stand down on weed, they will listen. Just like they listened when you told them to stand down on immigration for dreamers, and to not enforce the Defense of Marriage Act.

Even further are the powers relegated to the Executive Branch regarding the Controlled Substances Act. Your Attorney General and Secretary of Health and Human Services can remove cannabis from the list of scheduled drugs…if you wanted to. So spare me the “it’s Congress’ fault” rhetoric for a minute, and grow a sack of nuts. The only one continuing to take mostly poor people to jail for growing and sellin g weed is YOU.

You are better than this. You do not have to play the “I hate weed” game. You go on to respond to accusations of your admitted weed use in your youth, as if you are ashamed, when in every account of the situation it would seem you had a great time as leader of the Choom Gang. You stated this:

“There are a bunch of things I did that I regret when I was a kid,” Obama told Walters. “My attitude is, substance abuse generally is not good for our kids, not good for our society.”

You know what is REALLY bad for our society? Taking poor people to jail for weed.

You said, “substance abuse generally is not good for our kids, not good for our society.” That is not even what we are talking about, player. We are talking about responsible adults using a substance far safer than the many legal substances that we allow adults to use responsibly every day. I think we all agree that substance abuse is bad. You will not get an argument there. Nobody is saying that kids should have weed in their school lunch. You are ducking the issue.

The issue is that adults should be able to use weed without being treated as a criminal, or losing their standing in our society. I got kids too. I am not encouraging them to smoke weed. But I am more worried about the fact that if they do decide when they are old enough to try weed that your goon squads will not use their paramilitary force to haul him off to prison. Do you get that?

Furthermore, I know for a fact that weed will be far easier for my kids to get in its current non-regulated market where distribution is left to folks who do not have any problem selling to underage kids. At least if pot is sold in a regulated and controlled environment the kid will have to find some asshole of age to buy his weed for him, just like they do booze now. It is way harder for kids to get booze than weed right now, so your “protect the kids” theory does not hold water.

But if you want to keep giving people the impression that you are not soft on drugs, so that you can spend that political capitol on other issues, then so be it. I think it is cowardly.

This is an issue that tears at the fabric of our society. We are the world’s leading jailer by far because of these disastrous policies, and you do not have the courage to stand up and say, “Enough?” Why? What is stopping you? Weed beat you in Colorado by 50,000 votes. Not really a back burner issue any more, eh? The fact that you choose to ignore the reality and face this issue head on makes me sad. We are at a point in history where it is time to change course. We can no longer afford, financially or socially, to take people to jail for a safe, enjoyable, and helpful plant. It is just not working.

The one encouraging quip that you interjected into your conversation on weed with Barbara WaWa was this…you used the phrase, “”at this point,” you do not support legalization. To me, that sounds like you may be finding your sack of nuts and may get back to us soon with a different position at  a different point. At least that is what I am hoping.

I did not expect you to run right out with your Grateful Dead tie-dye shirt and a fatty; but I did expect for you to make more educated and understanding responses. I think you will eventually do the right thing on this issue…the question is how much blood and treasure do we have to lose between now and then? How many more otherwise good kids who got caught up in the “illegal” weed game have to lose their freedom before you say enough?

The time is now. You can end this thing. So walk back into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and begin to grow that sack of nuts that you will need to stand up to decades of prohibition and the monsters that choose to keep these evil policies in place. The next time you get the “What are you gonna do about weed in CO and WA?” question, hopefully you will have a more courageous and responsible answer.

The “I do not think kids should smoke weed” response is neither relevant, nor adequate. If you really care about the kids, grow a sack of nuts and quit taking them to jail. Anything less than ending this thing is once and for all is unacceptable. We are better than this as a society, and as our leader, you have got to find your voice for cannabis freedom…and soon.

Yours Truly…The Weed Activist

Love…The Weed Activist

Cannabis Warrior: You gotta be shitting me…..2016? Excuses Suck.

By Mickey Martin

I was invited to attend a meeting last night in California regarding an effort to put forth a “California Super Initiative,” in the future. It was a meeting of many prominent California reformers and reform group representatives. It was also an interesting group of mostly familiar faces who have decided to form a coalition to move forward on legalization efforts in California. It all sounds groovy so far, right?

What was puzzling is not always who is on the guest list, but also who is not. I am aware of many people that are working on this issue who were, for one reason or another, not included in this process.

As I sat down for the meeting, I understood the challenges. I have been a rather prominent fixture in cannabis reform circles for a minute now, and I know firsthand the personalities and stark differences that challenge the cannabis community. There is the old guard and the new guard. There are the radical and the cautious. There are the arrogant and the humble. The haves and the have nots. And then there is me….

I have often searched for my place in this movement, and have struggled to come to terms with the fact that maybe there is no “place” for me. I do not belong to any of the cannabis tribes, and have taken many positions that have put me at odds with those who are also my allies. I am no stranger to conflict in the cannabis industry. I have always been fine with standing alone in opposition and speaking my mind.

Mahatma Ghandi said:

Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.

A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.

The room was abuzz with excitement of cannabis and the hopes that California can become the next Colorado, and to a lesser extent Washington State. Everyone sees the writing on the wall and knows it is not a matter of if, but a matter of when weed will be legal for adult use in California and the Nation.

Libertarian Party Vice Presidential Candidate, Judge James Gray, lead the conversation with a call for commitment from the group. His effort to rally the troops was noble and Judge Gray is a very likable person. Enthusiastically people began to express their support and commitment to “unity.” Judge Gray committed to following through with whatever the group brought forth, and asked for a show of hands from everyone who would also make that commitment. Most in the room were on board. Super…

But then came a more detailed and robust discussion about the specifics of the effort. The debate over 2014 or 2016 ensued, as folks tried to figure out when the best time might be to put a “super initiative” on the ballot. There was a discussion at first about how 2014 could work; but that discussion faded into a chorus of excuses about how it would be impossible.

“The funders will not go for it. We cannot afford to lose again. We could not get the language together by next August. We need to do a medical initiative first.” And on and on it went…..as one person after another came up with a reason why we could NOT legalize cannabis in California in 2014.

I cannot remember feeling more defeated and disturbed in a long time. The thought of waiting another 4 years to put forth an initiative in California makes me literally want to cry. I came to terms with the debacle of 2012, and have moved on. I am inspired by the effort in Colorado, and was more hopeful that our community could pull it together in California by 2014.

Maybe they still can, but for all accounts, it seemed the majority of the reformers were leaning towards 2016. For me….I cannot even begin to think about weed being illegal still in another four years. That is just nuts to me.

It is a position that lacks courage, but more so, it lacks integrity. The thought that we have given up on legalization in California for the 2014 election in 2012 is insanity.

Admittedly I had to excuse myself from the meeting early from a mild panic attack, and missed the last hour of the festivities. Maybe they came around and have decided to pursue sound strategies for an initiative in 2014; but upon my exit there was still a lot of head shaking and choreographed disbelief when anyone mentioned the thought of a 2014 voter initiative.  I could not wrap my head around it.

Here we are with more momentum than we have ever had in our collective lives; and the plan is to wait 4 years? HUH? Did I miss something? Colorado won with 55% of the vote. That is not just because of the Presidential Election year. That is because in 2010 Richard Lee had the courage to put Prop. 19 on the ballot, and CHANGED THE DEBATE on adult use legalization.

The past two and a half years have been a barrage of media coverage and positive sentiment towards legalizing weed. There has been no shortage of people standing up and calling for an end to these disastrous policies. We have seen a sea change in the way people discuss marijuana in our society. The walls of prohibition are crumbling around us…..but sure, let’s wait until 2016 to make any real efforts towards change. Weird.

Some have called me an idealist. I am okay with that.

As the world passes our movement by, and I see people who I respect parroting the wishes of the cannabis rich and famous, I cannot help but feel like I am on a different planet. An alternate reality, where people refuse to recognize the obvious and acknowledge the truth. Where people have shrouded themselves in what they want to hear, and what they believe, so much that they have become blind and deaf to the world around them. It is frustrating.

As I walked out of the room, I began to wonder if I would ever be back; or if I ever could be a part of a coalition. Maybe I was doomed to an independent existence that would not be deterred by group think.

I understood that I would likely not be a part of this coalition, at least…..and I was okay with that.

I can tell you for sure there will NOT be a 2016 initiative. I just do not see it.

If you have no idea how long 4 years is, look at it in terms of Facebook. In 2008, Facebook only had 100 million users- today it has well over a billion and has a presence on nearly every website in the world. In 2008, MySpace was the most popular social media site. You were probably rocking an iPhone 3G or had no idea what a smart phone even was.

In 2008, even Richard Lee did not know prop. 19 was a possibility.

So forgive me if I am a little weary of committing to an initiative four years from now. I will commit to 2016 no sooner than November 15, 2014. For now, I am still holding out hope for 2014; or better yet….an entire collapse of the laws against weed and a real restructuring of how we do policing in this country in regards to drugs.

I do not see our society allowing this charade to go on for another four years. The drums of freedom are beating too loud to ignore. We are at a great moment in history and a zeitgeist for weed.

So to those who want to continue to promote continuing down the medical path for another few years while we patiently wait for the presidential election, all I can say is “Good Luck With All That.”  You wanna talk “writing on the wall” for a while?….when will people ever get serious?

I am going to say this once, and once only…..after adult use passes 95% of cannabis users will suddenly get better. I just do not see everyone going to the doctor unless their is an incentive in the form of extra plant numbers allowed, or less taxes paid. Someone even said last night, the 18-20 year-old kids will still be medical…..great. Glad to know that is your target audience.

You can be mad at me for saying it if you want. But the fact that when a lot of folks fail to recognize certain realities that we face, it is hard to have serious discussions about plans and strategies in that context. If we are going to continue to play the “there is nothing to see here” game, I do not have a lot of time and energy for that.

The best phrase I heard last night was from an great activist who said “There will always be an excuse to wait.” Well, from where I was sitting, it seemed like there was a million of them.

I cannot thrive in an environment that I do not understand. I apologize to the group for wasting their time. I wish them well in their collective and unified efforts. To me….Excuses suck.