Fuck Your Weed Store

Steve DeAngelo, Harborside Health Center

California is a strange deal where medical cannabis is concerned. Proposition 215 is over 18 years old, and was an extraordinary law that spawned the modern cannabis revolution. It was simple and to the point, and allowed for the proliferation of the cannabis market we see today. It laid the foundation for people to not to be treated as criminals for their choice to use cannabis as a medicine.

In 2003 the Californian State Legislature begrudgingly passes SB420, which laid out some basic framework for how the medical cannabis program here works. It set some boundaries in place, some of which have been challenged and overturned in the CA Supreme Court.  This law established the current “collective” and “cooperative” loose framework that currently governs the entire billion dollar cannabis industry in the State. To make a long story short every cannabis business in California is classified as a cooperative or collective, all assumingly operating as not-for-profit businesses. It is nuts. I wrote more in depth about it in a piece entitled, “What the hell is a medical cannabis collective anyway?”

There is NO State licensing for any type of cannabis businesses. The ONLY licensing in the State are for cannabis dispensaries, and those are all licensed by local authority. The evolution of cannabis laws stems from a groundbreaking ordinance passed in the City of Oakland in 2005 that first regulated cannabis dispensaries, as the City was overrun with weed stores and felt the need to bring them under control. It was an interesting time as the industry took a very “every man for themselves” attitude and groups began to position themselves to be one of the lucky four out of dozens to receive the first licensing for a cannabis business in the state. Because dispensaries are retail businesses open to the public they garnered a lot of attention, and were the focal point of regulation by cities and towns looking to control the situation.

Cities and counties watched as Oakland licensed cannabis businesses. Shortly after liberal strongholds of San Francisco and Berkeley followed suit, passing regulatory ordinance for cannabis dispensaries that were operating in their town. At the same time you saw jurisdictions rushing to ban these types of businesses as they began to spring up around the state. In Los Angeles you saw the epitome of a shit show as hundreds of businesses opened up with no regulation; and the city still struggles to this day to find order in the chaos.

Dispensary laws have evolved throughout the state in many different ways, with regulations varying from municipality to municipality. There is no rhyme or reason to the laws and no uniformity of implementation.

But here is the real kicker…. there are NO real laws governing the production of cannabis and cannabis products. People who provide cannabis medicines to dispensaries have ZERO protections through licensing anywhere in the state. It is as if the cannabis is supposed to magically just appear.

Cannabis is a hot button topic, and most places have passed either dispensary regulations or prohibition laws out of necessity. They have not come willingly to the table on most occasions to address the issue. None have really had the courage to confront the issue of cannabis production. Some have tried and failed, like Oakland’s famed four huge grows program that is blamed for the Federal crackdown of 2011; and Mendocino’s attempt at a zip tie program that allowed for 99 plant collective gardens, which was also attacked by the Feds and shut down. But there is no license to grow weed, to make hash, or to produce edibles and other finished products anywhere in the state. Producers of medicine like myself are largely left to fend for ourselves. We are forced to operate under the radar and do our best to remain undetected in our communities. It is very much a don’t ask, don’t tell situation.

What has resulted is a lot of power given to the retail sector of the market….. the weed stores. They have become the gatekeepers in the industry and have gained a lot of political advantage due to their ability to be out in the open under the protection of their licensing. This has given them the ability to play kingmaker and use their power to control vast parts of the industry. They currently have this advantage due to an unlevel playing field that greatly favors their business model; but you can be sure it will not stay this way forever.

Think of your normal marketplace for any commodity. In the normal world retailers are usually just facilitators of goods. Very few dominant retailers control their markets. You have Best Buy in electronics. Staples in the office sector. Macy’s in the fashion sector. Wal-Mart is an obvious powerhouse. But in general, most retailers are regional outfits that serve certain communities and provide an outlet for desired goods. In most markets the companies that produce the goods hold a lot of power.

For instance… take booze. A liquor store cannot exist if it does not have Budweiser and Jack Daniels on the shelf. Sure… major retailers like BevMo can command better pricing through large volume purchasing, but for the most part in that industry producers of beer dominate the landscape. You never see a “Jim’s Liquor Store” Nascar. You see a Budweiser one. The companies who produce high demand products dictate the marketplace. Small batch producers of beer with less demand have to compete more rigorously for their place in the market, but the craft brew and small batch wine industries continues to explode, garnering more and more of the market from traditional behemoths like Anheuser-Busch. The point is that the average booze store does not have a hell of a lot of power.

Or could you imagine an electronics store without Sony products? Impossible. No Playstation? Please.

The development of world class products that consumers want is what drives the market. Innovation creates demand, and demand forces retailers to carry certain products. Every store that has electronics for sale has to offer Playstation, or they sacrifice a large base of potential customers. The larger the store the better the pricing they can get, which is where retailers can control the market. But believe Sony would get by without Best Buy, yet best Buy could never survive without Sony. The demand for their products is too high. People seek them out because they make great products. Have you played a PS4 lately? Holy shit that is a lot of fun.

The cannabis market in California is currently flipped upside down. Due to political necessity the dispensaries have been afforded with licensing and legitimacy. I know a lot of good people who operate dispensaries that understand how lucky they are. They have also risked a lot to get their businesses open and to maintain success in an extremely murky environment. There is no doubt that dispensaries have paved the way for medical cannabis in California through being on the front lines of an often heated debate. They have been the public face of this industry for a long time now, and often under the most scrutiny. But they also are the ONLY groups who have actual licensing to operate their cannabis business under clear regulatory framework.

Producers of medicine are forced to self-regulate and hope for the best. There is no real safety provided through having legal guidelines that govern a business. It is crazy if you actually sit back and think about it. With all the billions of dollars in weed grown, hash made, edibles produced, and don’t forget the lube, it is nuts to think this all happens under the undefined premise that we are all a bunch of collectives. This collective makes the weed. This collective produces finished products from the weed. This other collective distributes it to another collective that sells it. It is mind boggling. On most days I am not sure how we made it this far. It is both beautiful in its lack of definition and mind numbing all at the same time. But the bottom line is that the entire production sector has no licensing to legitimize their efforts.

So here is the rub…. A lot of the conversation being had about the upcoming ballot initiative being developed for 2016 is aimed at protecting the interests of people who have licensed businesses. These groups believe they deserve a two year window after legalization where only they can compete in the marketplace. They want to adopt the same principle that we saw happen in Colorado where only medical licensed businesses could operate for the first two years. You know how that worked out there? Recreational weed prices have stayed relatively inflated and most of these businesses who got the head start have sold out to the highest bidder and no longer even operate the businesses.

The distinctly unlevel playing field has done nothing to help the end user realize higher quality or better value. It has simply enabled a select few to manipulate the market and has given way to unsavory business practices where competitors work to undermine one another. It has been anything but a free market. Now that the two year mark was passed at the end of last year we will see more businesses compete for market share, and an increase supply will result in lower prices and higher quality offerings. It will be good for everyone who smokes weed.

If the influential dispensaries have their way, we will see a repeat of this mistake here in California. But because they are the only one’s who will be licensed, they will also attempt to control the production sector through increased vertical integration, while locking out many growers and manufacturers of cannabis products. It would be a swift kick in the nuts to people who have risked everything to provide high quality medicines through the collective scheme over the years with no real protection. It will give further advantage to the lucky few who happen to open in areas that have decided to allow for their use, while shunning those in less tolerant parts of the state. It will pigeonhole a lot of the industry into a very few pockets, and will create a more defined oligopoly than we see right now. It is unacceptable.

In all reality, fuck your weed store.

If you truly love cannabis and freedom the only obvious answer is a truly level playing field. No one deserves an advantage cemented into a law through barriers for others. Your advantage is that you have been operating in the marketplace for a number of years. You do not deserve special treatment. What you deserve is the right to exist and compete in an open and free market where you provide great products and services at a good value, and customers go to you because you are the best. Not because you are their only option due to restrictive licensing and permitting schemes.

You are not going to use your good fortune to lock us out of the market. Miss me on that shit. If you are so great then consumers will reward you with their business. But the days of the retailers having a stranglehold on this industry are coming to an end. People who produce great weed and desirable products will command their share of the market, and begin to dictate what supply and demand is. Your subpar weed for too much money will no longer even be on the menu. You will either have to step your game up or get trampled by better offerings at greater values. It is free market principles that will decide who succeeds and who fails.

It is funny to see those who have claimed to fight for prohibition for many years now begin to circle the wagons and lobby for prohibitive barriers in the process to protect their interests. What is even sadder is that they do not have the courage and confidence to believe they can be successful in a truly free market. But it is the only answer. We cannot continue to believe that further limitation will somehow protect our romantic views of what the industry should look like. What the industry should look like is yet to be determined, and strangling that process through delays and restrictions is not going to work.

I hope that the individuals crafting any language here in California or other states consider the realities, and do not cater to these well-funded interests from within our industry. Everyone deserves the right to compete for the exploding weed market. No one deserves the right to segment and control certain parts of the market just because they have been standing around the longest and happened to be at the right place at the right time.

What will benefit the cannabis user and create the real legalization principles we have all fought so diligently for is an absolute free market. At some point we must look beyond our small world and understand how large a global cannabis market is, and allow the industry to begin to meet those demands through innovation and competition. Anything less is just uncivilized.

Now is not the time for us to become the prohibitionists. I believe in myself and my products, and know I can compete with anyone. I am not scared of the future. I welcome it with open arms and you should too.

What You Want and What you Need May Be Two Different Things

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The process for legalizing cannabis in many states for the 2016 election has begun, and it is shaping up to be quite the clusterfuck. Don’t get it twisted. This is going to be a long and difficult process. To be clear, I do not envy any of the groups who are throwing their hat in the ring to try and develop and get language on the ballot that we can all agree on. The reality is that will just never happen.

Just looking at the California landscape is enough to make you want to shoot yourself in the face… much less Massachusetts, Ohio, Arizona, Nevada, Maine, and maybe even Missouri. But there is no questioning that California is the biggest, and most difficult, piece of the puzzle. Why? Because the toothpaste is already out of the tube here in California and putting it back in anyway whatsoever is going to ruffle some feathers. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people who make their living producing and distributing cannabis here in the Golden State. We are coming up on 20 years of medical cannabis infrastructure that has become an entrenched part of the landscape and political process here. No one is giving up what they have worked to build easily and there is real fear that bad language could topple most of the people working in the industry now, leaving a system in place that is neither fair or a workable solution.

The mistrust and infighting has already begun. It is only going to get louder and more pronounced as time goes on.

There is a group trying to develop a campaign module called Reform CA, comprised of Prop. 19 holdovers and those who believe they have some authority to speak on behalf of the industry in California because they have been standing around the longest. It is anything but an open and transparent process though, as even a well-known asshole like me has been left in the dark about what exactly they are up to. The idea is simple. They believe if they can show they have a coalition of major stakeholders on board they believe the big money funders will run the campaign through them. But this group is already fraught with major issues. They do not trust this other group ,and are aligned with this guy who is talking shit about that guy. It is the same old song and dance.

Add to that the fact that they were not even savvy enough to lock down their own domain names going in, as I personally own www.reformca.org and .info, and you can see how this might turn out to be another half-hearted ill-conceived plan of doing the same old thing and expecting different results. I plan on using the reform.org domain to set up an interactive site where people can come together to and share ideas as to what the language for California should be. Talk about a daunting task, but as painful and difficult as having this conversation is going to be, it is a necessary exercise in order to hopefully find language we can all live with.

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ReformCA.org will be developed into an ongoing dialogue concernng the upcoming legalization efforts in California

The Reform CA group held a conference in Oakland the other day that sort of summed up the whole deal for me. The egos and wannabe cannabis rockstars all gathered in a room to tout their theories on what we needed to do to be successful. They discussed how we were going to use different platforms to get the message out and how we could learn from the efforts in other states. It all seemed fair enough until the Keynote Speaker and former Proposition 215 operative Bill Zimmerman took the stage and basically told the entire crowd of over 100 stakeholders how their input did not really matter because the Drug Policy Alliance was running the show, and they should all just shut the fuck up and fall into place now before they got crushed in the process. Needless to say, that did not sit well with most of the people in the room who had dedicated varying portions of their lives to weed and California.

Now Bill Zimmerman told some people who confronted him that he was there speaking on DPA’s behalf, a claim which Drug Policy Alliance representatives adamantly denied when questioned about Zimmerman’s aggressive and inflammatory remarks. It is unclear whether that fact was a miscommunication on Zimmerman’s part, or an afterthought, given that his speech was widely rejected and seen as a lightning rod of criticism for the DPA effort.

I will be the first to say that I like Drug Policy Alliance, for better or worse. I think of all the groups at the table DPA is a quality organization with good leadership that tries to do the right thing. I dig Ethan Nadelmann, and most of the people who work for DPA. I also understand that, like Zimmerman was trying to convey, DPA has a lot of resources and ability to make the effort a reality and get a good law on the ballot for us to be successful. Where I depart from Bill Z is in the area of input and attempted consensus. After discussing the matter in brief with figureheads at DPA, I was assured that they would be soliciting input from the community that they had worked so closely with for over 20 years.

That being said, there was also real doubt by DPA that any real consensus could be found, as their initial input with respected members of the cannabis community had resulted in a wide array of input and ideas on how to best implement a law that ends prohibition and ensures an industry we all can live with. The fact is that there is never going to be language that meets the needs and desires of everyone involved in the weed game in California. It is too vast and too evolved to give everyone everything they want. It ain’t gonna happen.

The reality we all need to face is that we are not going to get a perfect law that is super-duper for everyone. What we must figure out is not what we WANT, but more so what we NEED. I would love to have a law where every adult in California could grow 100 plants and do whatever they want with their harvest with no taxes or need for a commercial licensing structure. But that is not a political reality, and no one putting up several million dollars for the campaign is going to get behind something that is a gamble at the ballot box. If we want to put a law like that on the ballot we better start putting all of our money in a hat and putting it on the ballot ourselves. I can tell you that is not going to happen. I have been in the industry working on fundraising and whatnot for a long time, and I can tell you that it is not going to work out. There is so much mistrust and deceit in the ranks of the cannabis movement that getting the folks who may collectively have the money to pull off such a feat on the same page is impossible. The last person to put his million dollars where his mouth was was Richard Lee, and everyone damn near crucified the guy for trying to make Prop. 19 law because they feared how it would affect their bottom line. Richard Lee has been noticeably absent from the 2016 process thus far.

People need to come down off of “Mount I am Always Right” and begin to look deeply at the politics and social norms that govern our society where cannabis is concerned. We must put aside our “my way or the highway” points of view and begin to understand that we are not going to get a perfect law. We must begin to decide what we NEED to continue to be successful and build a community of cannabis producers and providers, while realizing that we may have to concede some of what we WANT in an effort to do so.

How do we come up with characteristics of a law that creates a level and fair playing field for all, while still  preserving a lot of the industry that currently serves millions of cannabis users well? What can we live with? What is unacceptable? Where are areas we need to be progressive and forward thinking? And where are areas we might want to take a more conservative approach?

It is a difficult task for anyone to take on alone, and at the end of the day some people will be ultimately butthurt no matter what is decided upon. There are many different policy wonks and outlaws working on ways to fuck the football, and the discourse is sure to get ugly at times. But ugly is part of the process. Long and drawn out difficult discussions may seem tedious and unproductive, but they are actually where we normally make most of our progress. Sometimes it takes a pointed and volatile discussion to ensure everyone is heard. At times it will be contentious. People will get called names and there will be loaded questions to answer. But we must put it all on the table and get it out of our systems so that we may grow.

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I am on the edge of my seat as I watch it all develop. The show has just begun and there are already some interesting fireworks popping off between the reformers. I am preparing for the fight, and finding ways to make my voice be heard in the process. Obviously when you are thought of as the resident industry asshole it is difficult to get a seat at the table; but I know how I can influence the conversation and look forward to my role as a provider of information and direction. Whether anyone will listen to me is yet to be seen, but that has never stopped me from making my voice heard… and I would suggest others do the same. Stand up and be accounted for, or do not be surprised if you are run right over.

I do not subscribe to the type of blind allegiance Bill Zimmerman chose to spout off to the crowd the other day. It was short-sighted and disregarded the hard work and opinions of those who have been on the ground making the cannabis industry and movement a reality. I was pleased to hear that DPA disowned him and his hyperbolic bulshit and were committed to working with the community where that was possible.

The other assholes who think they are holding some power in this deal are just as big of pricks IMO… they just did not have the balls to project their rhetoric over a microphone in a room of advocates and stakeholders. It doesn’t mean they are any less guilty of undermining the process though. Whether it is DPA, MPP, NORML, ASA, or a loose coalition made up of weirdos from all of these groups and then some, there is a definite aura of cloak and dagger bullshit already beginning to happen. It is frustrating to say the least, but not surprising. I have been watching this pissing contest for decades now, and it is only more pronounced now that so much is at stake.

I will say that of all the powers at be at the table I am comfortable with Drug Policy Alliance for the most part, if they are sincere in their willingness to take input and craft language based on the realities on the ground in California. That being said, if they propose language that resembles the piece of shit they submitted to the California Secretary of State for consideration in 2014 that support will erode quickly. But hopefully given the victories in Oregon and Alaska coupled with the issues we have seen in Washington and Colorado, DPA will go back to the drawing board and come up with language that we all can live with. I am somewhat optimistic of that.

We, as a community, need to figure out what it s we NEED though. Not what we WANT or believe in our little self-centered worlds we deserve, but WHAT DO WE NEED? What are the basic rights and freedoms that this language should include to ensure we all have an opportunity to be a part of the future of the cannabis industry? What are possibilities and what are non-starters? What can we live with and what is entirely unacceptable?

Then we have to figure out how to mold that into a cohesive message that can influence those who will be writing the language on our behalf. As much as I appreciate and respect the suits and academics that make up most of the policy organizations, the reality is that not one of them has ever grown or sold an ounce of weed in their lives. They do not drive around with a trunk full of turkey bags making sure the crop gets to the end user. They have never made an edible or blasted a gram of wax. They just do not get what it takes to make up this vibrant community of outlaws an entrepreneurs. So it is up to us to get that message of what we NEED to those who will likely be putting forth the ballot initiative that will govern and define our industry for decades to come.

That is the challenge. So go look yourself in the mirror and have a long heart-to-heart conversation with yourself as to what you NEED, and fuck what you want. That is irrelevant for the most part, and not likely to do anything more than frustrate you in the end. Know going in that we will all be disappointed in one way or another, and hopefully, at the end of the day, we can find some sort of broad consensus for what will eventually become law in California, and the many other states working to make weed legal for adults to use for whatever they please. Know it will be a tough and contentious process, and that is okay. It is okay for us to agree to disagree on some points, as long as we can find some middle ground in areas of great importance.

I am not one to roll over and go quietly; but I also realize that I am one nobody in a sea of somebodies who has an opinion that is just that… an opinion. You can be sure you will hear that opinion repeatedly between now and election day 2016, but even I know that there are certain inevitabilities that I need to come to terms with and get over if this is all going to work out. I would suggest you also climb down off of your high horse and look at the situation through realistic, and not rose-colored, lenses.

The fight is sure to get ugly, and I am okay with that as long as at the end of the day we find a solution we can all live with. Selah.

Why we could end cannabis prohibition in 2015 if we really wanted to…

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Don’t go getting all excited. The reality is that we probably will not end cannabis prohibition this year… but we could if we really wanted to.

The human experience loves suffering. It is as if fate has sealed the deal on the long and drawn out painful experience. We expect it. We relish in it. It gives us something to bitch about, and it keeps our dark places filled with grief. On some levels humans need to suffer. It gives meaning to the moments when we do not. But often we are mired by expected tragedy, and we invite failure and misery to dinner like an old friend. We lack the confidence and trust that things can really change, and that we can do anything to create that change.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. We are powerful.

Usually change happens rapidly… in bursts. We see history change in a moment, and what was today is often not tomorrow. It is anyone’s guess what day will signal the true end of the war on weed and the prohibition of cannabis; but believe that day is coming. The walls continue to crumble and the lies of drug warriors continue to fall on deaf ears. There is no turning back now. The toothpaste is out of the tube. There is no putting it back.

But how long will it take us to evolve as a society? What will it take for us to move from selective freedom in select areas to an open and free cannabis experience? How many more people will have to go to jail or lose their kids before we finally say enough is enough? How many more people have to suffer at the hands of prohibition before we wake the fuck up and finish the job once and for all? The answer, unfortunately, is too many.

As I see another year come and go I am reminded of my ongoing optimism of years past. I, for one, believe EVERY year will be the last year of cannabis prohibition. I live every day as if it were the last; and I know one day the levy will break and this will all be over. The fight will end one day, and not a moment to soon for me. I am not getting any younger and would not mind getting past the constant battle of ending prohibition.

This movement/industry has come a long way, and we have seen some major breakthroughs where acceptance of cannabis is concerned; but there is also a disturbing complacency within that is fostered by a lack of courage. It is almost as if there are those who would like to continue the quasi-legal grey market of cannabis for a while longer so they can cash in a few more chips before their whole deal goes up in flames. A lof of so-called reformers have no idea what the fuck they will reform if the easy money of cannabis prohibition is off of the table and they actually have to perform to gain support. There is posturing on all sides of the table. Sadly enough, deep down inside, there are some within our ranks who probably hope that cannabis prohibition never really ends so that they can continue to hold on to what ever minimal control they have of their pathetic lives of selling bad weed for good money, or whatever else scam they are into where the black market allows them to get over.

Let’s be clear though… The folks who continue to work behind the scenes to retard the progress of ending prohibition are the scum of the earth. Those who have disregarded the mission in an effort to ensure they have a seat at the table going forward are no better than those who work against us. Believe that there are many people who stand next to us every day pretending to be down for the cause who are just as happy to see things stay right where they are. Don’t let a lot of these fuckers fool you… Many are selfish and greedy pricks who survive off of the chaos and pain fueled by prohibition.

So as that clock hits midnight and you are taking part in whatever silly time honored tradition that makes you feel good, let this soak in for a minute. 2015 could be the last year anyone is ever arrested for weed. It could be the last year that people who need cannabis suffer without. It could be the last year that people lose their kids or jobs for weed. It could be the last year we have to fight- if we all agree to really fight. If we all put down our egos and delusions of grandeur for a hot minute, and actually picked up the sword and drove it home WE CAN END THIS THING.

We do not need to wait until 2016 and hope that a few rich guys decide to back some weakly worded ballot initiative that will allow for more limited freedoms in select areas based on bullshit calculations done by some weird thinktank cats who probably don’t even smoke much weed. We can decide to rise up and be accounted for. We can use our power and influence to move the mountain… if we really want the mountain fucking moved.

Or we can kick the can down the street for another year or ten, and allow for our society to continue to deteriorate in the name of bad laws and ignorant policies. It is likely that many will choose to kick that can again. It is easy money for a lot of people and most are too busy worrying about themselves and their hopeful futures to really do the hard work it will take to end this thing.

This could be the last year of the bullshit…. if we really want it to be. Only time will tell and often it is out of our hands. Fate is seldom wrong.

I for one will be reloading and coming at 2015 like I come at every year…. as if it will be the last year of cannabis prohibition. I hope an army of people join me in the fight to end this thing once and for all. You want to make a resolution? Make one to spend every day working to stop the madness; and if enough of us make that commitment do not be surprised if we are not having this conversation next year.

Selah.

Still Just About A Plant and Some Freedom

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Don’t get it twisted. Weed ain’t even close to legal yet.

While it is nice to look at the progress we have made with adult use legalization happening in 4 states and DC, and with new states implementing medical cannabis laws every day, don’t forget that cannabis is still very much an illegal and dangerous deal for a hell of a lot of people.

There are still hundreds of thousands of people in jail right now for growing, selling, and even just smoking some weed. Thousands of parents have lost their children over weed. Millions of people have lost a job because they smoke weed. Even those lucky enough to escape the harsh punishments of the drug war philosophy on weed have experienced diminished standing in the community, or they have had to hide their choice to use weed from everyone.

After everything, weed is still very much discriminated against and met with fierce opposition and punishment.

Weed is a plant… A safe, enjoyable, and very helpful plant. There is nothing about the cannabis plant that makes it dangerous or even remotely scary. They hysteria and propaganda of Drug Warriors have succeeded in making a beautiful plant into the boogie man. It is nonsensical at its core and one of the biggest scams ever pulled on people. It is a fucking plant.

The plant makes a lot of people feel better. It has healing and therapeutic effects that continue to be documented. It wasn’t even until 1992 that the Endocannabinoid System was even discovered…. nearly 20 years after Nixon began the war on drugs that included the hippies beloved cannabis.

Scientists began to look for receptor sites to explain the action of other drugs and toxins in a similar way. In 1988, specific receptors were discovered for THC (tetrahydrocannibol, the active ingredient in marijuana).

THC isn’t found naturally in the body. The existence of a specific ‘bliss receptor’ for THC implied that it was actually just a forgery of a hitherto unknown natural molecular key. The key was isolated by Israeli scientist Raphael Mechoulam in 1992: arachidonyl ethanolamide, later called ‘anandamide’ (a Sanskrit word for “internal bliss”):

So THC has the ability to mimic the naturally occurring effect of anandamide, often associated with the feeling of bliss. Why ever would we outlaw a safe plant that has the ability to help a person find bliss? The basics of cannabis prohibition defy logic in every way and have resulted in an absolute failure of our society that has been catastrophic. Side effects…. Euphoria. Yeah. Sue me.

We have denied people the FREEDOM to choose to use weed. Why?

We have locked up and punished millions and millions of people’s whose only crime is weed. Have we lost our fucking collective minds? People are rotting away in the bloated prison industrial complex because of cannabis, and somehow our society has become immune to these injustices. There are so many folks out there who have taken the lies of prohibition hook, line, and sinker. People continue to make a mockery of civilization with this absurd lack of freedom to use a useful plant. Who do these folks think they are?

So there you have the bottom line basics…. “It is still just about a plant and some freedom.”

Yet as we see the tide turning there are so many jackasses who see greed, fame, and fortune; and who simply do not care about the plant or the freedom. They just care about the money. It is such bullshit.

I happened to put on Pot Barons of Colorado, a hyperbole filled television series on MSNBC starring apparently gigantic assholes who are all hoping to sell the fuck out to some big money corporations one day, and wander off with their enormous bag of cash. I could only stomach to watch it for about a half an hour before literally wanting to punch Trip Keber in his throat, so I turned it off.

But not before I got to see more than I needed to see, and realized these pathetic get rich quick losers had no clue about weed, and only care about freedom as far as their business is concerned. They want to cry because they can’t get a bank account, but do very little to fight for people who can’t even get a student loan because of their involvement with cannabis. They bitch and moan because their profit margins are so small, but could give a shit that there are tens of thousands of people who can’t even get a job because of their use of weed. These bastards want to bellyache about their struggle to stay afloat in a marketplace that is unstable and changing, and they never take into consideration the reality that what is really unstable is a home where kids are growing up without parents because of the war on weed.

Yes… Cannabis business is a reality; but it is pretty fucking far from the only reality.

Swing a dead cat around and you are sure to hit some asshole who thinks he is “the next big thing” or “God’s gift to cannabis.” Spare me the rhetoric. I have seen more of these selfish and inconsiderate pricks come and go than I care to admit. Yawn. Tell me again about how your new __________ (insert stupid cannabis product and/or marketing idea here) is the “first” and how everyone in the industry before you has been doing it wrong.

It is certainly sad to see people make their quick buck off of weed and do absolutely nothing to fight to really end cannabis prohibition. It is disheartening to know that these fools have no idea what it is like to not sleep because you know the DEA are kicking the door in any day now. Their smug and insensitive bullshit makes me angry.

But I take comfort in knowing most of these scumbags will fail, and they will fail miserably. They will lose everything in their quest to be the king of weed. They will take their investors down with them. It will be fun to watch. Live it up now fellas because 99% of you will be nowhere to be found in a few years. Your well-documented failures will be a blip in cannabis history.

The whole shit show is sure to get better before it gets worse… and yet it is so simple. It is simply about a plant and some freedom.

It isn’t about you or me, or any of these silly-ass companies trying to make a name for themselves. It isn’t about how to morph your non-profit reform organization into a business model down the road. It is not about who is the most successful or who has the biggest weed dick.

It is about a plant… and some freedom. Get it? It is about the basic decency not to fuck with our fellow man because they want the freedom to use this plant to increase their quality of life.

Those who get it will stand up and fight to end this bullshit… Those who do not will continue to suck up time and energy. Get on the right side of history or get the fuck out of my way. The rest of this busllshit is just window dressing.

#UNACCEPTABLE: A Direct Action Demanding the State of Massachusetts Put Patients Before Politics

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Medical Cannabis Patients, Families and Supporters to Protest Massachusetts Department of Public Health on Tuesday, October 14th to Let Them Know Their Inaction is #UNACCEPTABLE. Protest, Press Conference, and Solidarity March.

Boston, MA, October 7, 2014 – On November 6, 2012 Massachusetts residents voted overwhelmingly to allow citizens to have access to medical cannabis. Nearly two years later the will of the people has still not been implemented and patients are still forced to go without cannabis medicine, or to seek it out from often dangerous black market sources. It is unacceptable.

The program has been hampered by incompetence and seemingly political positioning. The DPH received millions of dollars in fees to vet applications, and failed to do so. It took media sources reviewing the applications and publicly acknowledging their shortcomings to realize many inconsistencies and politically charged issues. The DPH was forced to delay the program and rescinded nearly half of the original 20 dispensaries that were selected for approval. Because of their inability to review the most basic of issues in the applications, this has resulted in them dragging their feet resulting in thousands of patients being forced to suffer needlessly.

To date, patients still do not even have a simple identification program for law enforcement to verify their patient status. The planned caregiver program is non-existent due to cumbersome and unnecessary regulations. Patients cultivating their own cannabis have no way to know if their gardens are legal or if they are violating the law, as DPH has no guidelines or registration. Dispensary groups approved for the inspection phase continue to be limited by unsure direction and confusion from the DPH. Patients with serious and life-threatening illness are being denied access and are suffering diminished quality of life (and even death) as a result of the State’s failure to implement the program.

This is no longer okay and we demand the Department of Public Health immediately begin to open up the program and allow for patients to access safe and quality cannabis medicines through experienced caregivers able to serve multiple patients; and clean, well-lit dispensary facilities.  We demand DPH limit restrictions on hardship cultivation and allow more patients the opportunity to grow their own safe medicine. We demand the DPH expedite the current dispensary applications waiting for approval, immediately issue permits in counties without access as required by law, and allow for at least 35 dispensaries statewide to serve the needs of the tens of thousands of Mass residents who qualify for medical cannabis. Hundreds of patients and activists will gather on October 14th to make these demands heard at the MA Department of Public Health offices in downtown Boston.

What: #UNACCEPTABLE: A Direct Action demanding the State of Massachusetts put Patients before Politics.

When: Tuesday, October 14, 2014: 11:00 a.m.- Protest Rally • 11:30 a.m.- Press Conference (Community Leaders, Physicians, Patients and Families to speak out) • 12:00 p.m.- Solidarity March to State House

Where: Massachusetts Department of Public Health • 250 Washington Street Boston, MA 02108

Why: To demand the DPH and state quit putting politics before patients and implement access to medical cannabis immediately. To bring public awareness to a cause that has forced people to suffer needlessly, including children and families dealing with major health issues. To call for immediate change and progress.

END

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Separate Togetherness- How cannabis cowards and wannabe politician activists with funding agendas have made the prohibitionists argument for them

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Cannabis reform is difficult. Finding methods and strategies to overcome decades of lies and deception is no easy task. Add to that the entrenched tribal views of the folks involved who have aligned themselves with this group or that organization and what you generally end up with is a bunch of egoheads infighting about who is the best and most worthy of funding.

Do not get it twisted. The goal of most reform groups and organizations is not cannabis freedom… it is funding. It is the same slutty whore dance that politicians do to finance their campaigns. It is a willingness to say and do whatever it takes to get some well-to-do prick to give you a boatload of money so you can further your mission, which again is to raise more money. It is cyclical. A lot of the reformers we see do very little in the way of actual reform and spend most of their time and resources raising money.

I am not naive about this. I have written about it many times at the national level. I have watched the shit show for too long not to see the writing on the wall. But I still like to give most people the benefit of the doubt when I first meet them. I would like to believe that there are some folks left whose ultimate goal is making the world a better place for cannabis users and patients.

So as I began to organize a direct action protest in Massachusetts I was confident that I could enlist the support of the many small local groups who make up the activist landscape there. After watching the entire system implode on itself for the last two years, it was obvious there was a need for a coming together and raising our voices in disapproval. Motivated by the desperate and frustrated pleas of several patients who were left in the cold by the MA Department of Public Health’s bungling of the program, including the parents of sick children who deserved access to safe and effective medicines to treat their child’s health issues, I began to organize #UNACCEPTABLE.

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The Direct Action event will be held October 14th at the DPH beginning with a rally, followed by a press conference, concluding with a solidarity march through downtown Boston ending up at the MA State House. I began organizing the event with some local activists and patients who were suffering. The action is clear in its mission… “Demanding that the State of Massachusetts put PATIENTS Before Politics.” Nearly two years after citizens overwhelmingly voted to allow patients access to medical cannabis the State has failed to implement a safe and convenient program. Patients are still forced to access dangerous black markets for medicine. This is unacceptable…

Simple enough, right? Seemed like a no-brainer to me. Here is a statement that the entire community should be able to stand behind and support. So I began to enlist the help of the local organizations in Massachusetts.

I sent out an email to Matt Allen, the head of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance (MPAA), as his recent press conference was in line with the action we were planning. We also contacted MassCann, the local SSDP chapters, the Cannabis Reform Coalition, and any other folks we believed could help us get the word out. The idea was to make it an open and inclusive event where groups and individuals could speak out about what has been an absolute nightmare in implementing a program for medical cannabis patients. I expected that these groups could find a way to put their differences in opinion aside for one day and work towards pressuring the DPH into actually implementing a safe and sensible program as was voted on by the citizens of the Commonwealth by a whopping 63% in 2012.

I was a bit taken back when Matt Allen and MPAA responded:

“Not sure if it makes sense for us to collaborate on this or if it would be more effective to keep doing stuff on parallel tracks, which can sometimes be even more effective- like if we can get the administration from all sides.”

So I followed up by responding:

The goal of collaboration would be to show a unified front. It would simply be you sharing the event on your network, and speaking if you would like. If organizational obligations keep you from doing so I certainly understand. I just wanted to give you the opportunity to be a part of this further action to put some pressure on DPH.

Yesterday I received a follow up call from Matt Allen on this matter and it became clear what his underlying issue was. He informed me his “advisory board” had decided not to participate or support the #UNACCEPTABLE Direct Action event because they could not be sure that since the event was “not in their control” that the other participants involved would be capable of representing the values of the organization. He stated, “We can’t be involved with people smoking in public. We have a reputation to uphold to allow us to continue to work on policy issues.” He then kept going on about how he did not want MPAA’s delicate image to be tarnished by the confusion of associating with other groups who support legalization. He mentioned MassCann no less than 5 times before I had to kindly remind him that I was not a part of MassCann, that they were not organizing the event, that it was a patient focused action, and that his wanting to be considered separate and seemingly above their group was short sighted, as adult use legalization would make medical access a no-brainer.

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The guy even had the nerve to tell me, “Well the Boston Freedom Rally is not a very good look for the community.”

The Boston Freedom Rally has been an amazing event creating awareness for cannabis freedom for 25 years, and has helped more to push real reform in the state than any of the sad sell-out strategies that Mr. Allen believes his organization is responsible for. He went on to say that if it were not for MPAA there would have been no Question 3, which is utter bullshit. That law was funded and orchestrated by Peter Lewis and his liaison Graham Boyd, and they simply used MPAA to give the effort that grassroots and folksy feel. Matt Allen, who at that time was the only Board member for MPAA and the sole beneficiary of any funding it received, wrote ZERO parts of the law that was enacted by the voters. His willingness to claim credit for the effort is laughable at best.

But let’s let him have the credit, as I politely did yesterday on the phone with him. So if this is the law YOU got passed and two years later NOTHING has come of it, then you too would be responsible for the shitty implementation of said law, no? I mean if this was your baby, and it left so many holes for the DPH to drive their “I hate marijuana” truck through, then do you take responsibility for that too? If you are taking credit for getting the thing passed then do you also take credit for it sucking? If not, why? You can’t have it both ways, Matt.

What I found striking in every time I have spoken with Matt is his outward and shallow effort to raise funds for his pathetic organization. He actually began his conversation yesterday by telling me how frustrated he was that “all of the dispensary groups who are trying to get approved in the state won’t give MPAA money, when he knows they pay lobbyists $10k a month.” The jealousy in his voice was undeniable and it was obvious that his sales approach to these folks was not working. Which is why he has taken up shelter under the flag of the local ACLU now… yes, the same group responsible for the limiting legalization law in Washington State, another effort funded by Lewis.

Funny… I wonder why their involvement with legalization efforts is okay and MassCann’s is not?

But I digress… Here is a group who has done virtually nothing to defend the rights of patients in the state for the last two years. They have bent over to appease the Department of Public Health and have made concessions in the regulatory process that have ended up in the ZERO access that we see now. No legal action. No protest. Nothing. Finally after pressure from people in the community wondering why they were doing nothing they decided to do a press conference a couple weeks back and finally pretend that they were disappointed in the process. Well way to go. It has only been two years of you sitting on your hands, but alright… you did something. The organization has not even updated its website in the past year plus, and has been sporadic in its efforts at the local level.

Let me guess…. the Newton dispensary is the only one who is paying your ransom right now because that is the only effort you have worked on at the local level since your other marks lost their permits. Does that sound right? You run a pay to play operation, and so if a group does not give you the money you do not have the time and energy to do the work. But you still want to say this is about the patients? That is laughable….

Which gets to the bigger picture philosophical discussion I hope we can have as a community. How can we demand that public officials and lawmakers quit playing politics with patient rights when those who claim to represent our community are as, if not more, guilty than them? When an organization such as MPAA only puts its time and energy into helping in areas where the dispensary stakeholders have given them funding, what does that say about us as a community? When a group decides to exclude their efforts from cannabis legalization in an  effort to appear holier than thou in the eyes of regulators who could give a shit, how does that help our cause?

MPAA is not alone. There are many organizations that take part in selective support and “we are not with those weedheads” bullshit efforts. I know Matt Allen has long been courting Americans for Safe Access for funding after his organization was cut off from MPP funding a couple years back. I am not sure exactly where his funding is coming from right now, but it is easy to guess based on the effort put forth. I would call on the organization, a nonprofit corporation filed as both MPAA and MPAA Foundation with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to make their funding records public so we may all really see who and what is driving the organization. I believe what you will find is a puppetmaster.

The sad reality is that MPAA, and many other organizations who claim to be working for “patients” and “reform” are simply not. They are working for funding and are willing to sell you out to achieve that funding. Many of the people and organizations that are put forth to protect us are the very ones making the prohibitionists arguments for them. They are willing to concede your right to access and use cannabis freely to go out of their way to make the point that cannabis is somehow dangerous and in need of more regulations. They continue to help lawmakers and regulators build the barriers to entry to the industry that has resulted in rich money hungry and politically well-connected being the only people who can afford to pay to play any more… and if those rich bastards do not cough up some money to their organizations they will not represent them in public either. It is sad and pathetic, and more unethical than the politicians themselves who take money from people to help their company make more money by fucking over the public. At least the politicians do not pretend they are some sort of activist here to help you.

So as we move forward on what is sure to be a historic direct action demanding that the Commonwealth implement a program that allows those in need access to cannabis medicine, we will not miss the participation of those who believe they are better than the rest of us and who will not be seen in public with us. We do not need some sell-out wannabe politician activists who are too worried about their image to get their hand dirty as a part of our effort anyway. Their inaction and limited support over the past two years proves that they have no respect from actual patients, the groups seeking licensing, or the DPH. They are nobodies who have sold themselves a bill of goods in hopes of getting one of these big money player to cut them a check.

With friends like that who needs prohibitionists?

P.S. Mat Allen can feel free to continue to disparage me to others behind closed doors. I will not take it personally. I am no wallflower. I embrace the controversial nature of my activism and stand behind my beliefs.. which is more than I can say for him and his group.

 

The Sky Has Not Fallen So Get On With It…

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So close and yet so far…. I am growing tired of fighting for the inevitable.

Weed is going to be legal. Everyone knows it. Even our staunchest opponents agree legalization is inevitable. So what are we waiting for? Why is there this awkward transition into what we all know is much better for our society…. an end to the drug war and the militarized police state it has created.

As we watched Ferguson explode over the unnecessary death of an unarmed black teen, it was a stark reminder that the role of policing in this country has drastically changed over the years, as the drug war has escalated and targeted mostly poor and minority communities. We lock up 25% of the world’s prison population but only have 5% of the actual population. That is a pretty big red flag for a country that calls itself the “Land of the Free.” Maybe it should be the “Land of the Free Unless You Are Poor and/or Brown.”

We see the call for reform and a change in policy from everywhere these days, and there have certainly been efforts by groups to end the draconian methods of enforcing so-called justice that have gotten us into this mess. The US Justice Department has made some efforts to change policy and reform sentencing, but it is a far cry from where we need to be.

An easy start would be to just make weed legal. There is an overwhelming shift in public opinion towards allowing for cannabis to be grown and sold, and the ongoing quasi-legal state mandated programs across the country have proven to be anything but the disaster that law enforcement and drug warriors promised would happen.

For nearly 20 years medical marijuana has been a staple of the California landscape, and many other states have followed suit in one way or another. In Colorado and Washington State we have seen clear benefits of adult use legalization, with very little harm to report. What we have seen instead are good paying jobs, tax revenues, and an increase in public safety as more people shift from booze to weed because they can.

This is not rocket science. This is clear benefit to harm ratio stuff. To simply put it, is there more good than bad happening? The answer is clearly yes.

The sky has not fallen. People have not lost their minds, or given up on life. There has not been an outbreak of dangerous crime surrounding cannabis. Addiction rates are not through the roof. Youth use of weed is not increasing drastically, as predicted.

The lies we have been told for decades about why weed should be kept illegal are falling on deaf ears. The numbers don’t add up.

Those who oppose legalization continue to try and retard the growth of the developing cannabis industry, and clear move for social change in drug and law enforcement policy. There are many who see their meal ticket threatened and are working feverishly to preserve some level of status quo so they can keep making criminals and drug addicts out of your average weedhead. These days are ending and they know it as much as anyone.

We like weed. We are good people. This is bullshit. The sky is not falling, asshole. Let’s wrap this shit up and legalize weed. Then we can talk about all these tanks and other petty drug crimes that we have created a war on our neighbors over.

The time is now. Let’s knock off the bullshit already.

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SB 1262 is BAD for weed and BAD for California

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Reasons why SB 1262 sucks:

  • Leaving regulation to local authorities will ensure very few will be able to be licensed for cultivation and production licensing, which are currently non-existent. It will create opportunities for corruption in every local jurisdiction in the state.
  • The Department of Consumer Affairs is a terrible regulatory agency for a comprehensive system for cannabis. They do not even want the job, which will ensure they are hostile and limiting in their approach.
  • The requirements for provisional licensing will ensure most growers and producers will not be able to meet the requirements by January 1, 2015 as there are currently NO licenses for production anywhere in the state, leaving the entire program likely to fail with no licensed supply to meet the demand of dispensaries.
  • The destruction of the collective and cooperative model will make it difficult for patients in areas without dispensary services to access low cost medicine conveniently.
  • Patients cannot share medicine any more without it being a crime, unless they are licensed. Creates criminals out of nearly everyone.
  • Caregivers who serve more than 5 people need a license, meaning many who depend on collective providers will be without access.
  • Those who do not meet the rigid requirements for licensing, including needing local authorities to sign off on all grows that have operated in the shadows until now, will ensure most people producing today will be forced back to the black market…thus creating far more criminals.
  • Requiring all deliveries be made by two or more people is unnecessary.
  • All weed must be stored in a locked room, safe, or vault. This makes zero exception for retail displays or stock, meaning every time you buy cannabis a person has to go into the locked room to get it for you. This creates a security risk with every transaction.
  • Reporting on inventory discrepancies within 24 hours means every .5 gram that goes missing must be reported, creating an administrative nightmare.
  • Posting all applicants info on line puts everyone at risk, and creates a public database to be accessed by press or employers that can be used against applicants.
  • Edible regulations are an absolute burdensome nightmare based in fear.
  • Lacks protection for property owners

The bottom line is this will be an absolute disaster and decimate the current industry. It will make new cannabis criminals where there currently are none and is a desperate hail mary by groups like ASA and CCIA who beieve something is better than nothing. I support sensible regulations, but not regulations where barriers to entry are too high to include most people currently involved in the industry. This will be the beginning of the end should it pass.

I would suggest you contact your state legislators today and encourage them to not support this legislation. Fuck SB 1262. Bad for weed. Bad for California.

DPA Calls For Action to Stop SB 1262

It is nice to see one of the major reform organization working to stop the SB 1262 Debacle. All others should join them immediately. This will be terrible for cannabis freedom.

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Dear Mickey,

California bureaucrats are trying to pass unworkable regulations that could ruin medical marijuana across our state. And we need your help to block the legislation.

Urge the Assembly Appropriations Committee to oppose the bill that will jeopardize medical marijuana in California.

This harmful legislation would maintain the unworkable bans and local regulations that have denied seriously ill patients access to their medicine. And it also does not protect cultivators or providers from prosecution by making licensure almost impossible in some areas of the state.

And it discriminates against hardworking Californians who were previously incarcerated by barring them from legitimately participating in the medical marijuana industry. This would unfairly impact people in low-income communities of color, because although there are similar rates of involvement in marijuana sales across racial lines, the overwhelming majority of people who are arrested, charged, and convicted are poor, black and/or Latino.

The proposed rules in the bill are worse than what we have now and would completely disable the program. Yet it’s gaining support with lawmakers and could be passed into law if we don’t act fast.

Time is running out to kill this bill and it could be voted on by the Assembly Appropriations Committee at any momentTake action and write the committee today.

There are major problems with this legislation. And police chiefs are encouraging lawmakers to support it because they want to use this as an opportunity to stifle the progression of medical marijuana policy.

At a time when federal prosecutors are cracking down on medical marijuana and putting patients’ access to their medicine in danger, this bill being considered by lawmakers is the opposite of what California needs right now.

Write our lawmakers today and tell them to oppose unworkable regulations and protect medical marijuana across California.

Sincerely,

Lynne Lyman
State Director, California
Drug Policy Alliance

Wolves in Wook Clothing. Why ASA continues to want YOUR cake and wants to eat it too. The SB 1262 DEBACLE.

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I have been here since nearly the beginning. I unfortunately know the story all too well. I have seen the California cannabis landscape evolve at every step and have been knee deep in politics and activism across the state for many years. Which gives me a unique perspective on the proposed regulatory bill making its way through the CA Legislature known as SB-1262.

I wrote a piece detailing my issues with SB 1262 entitled “You are all criminals. Welcome to the new California. SB 1262 must die.” In this article I went over many points of major issue in the proposal that will make more criminals out of CA patients and providers, and create a liability for physicians that will ensure many less people qualify as patients. Since then most reform groups have pulled their support for this effort, but not Americans for Safe Access. They continue to cheer lead for the end of the CA cannabis community and the making criminals out of thousands of people. It is bizarre to say the least.

In May, Americans for Safe Access put out a piece encouraging its supporters to blindly follow this Bill that would make it more difficult to get their medicine and would likely make most of them out to be criminals. The article was entitled “Support SB 1262 in California.” In this article they state the following:

ASA recognized the potential in SB 1262 early in the process. We worked with the Sen. Correa and other sponsors to significantly improve the bill, and ASA was the first in the medical cannabis field to endorse it. SB 1262 is a milestone in the medical cannabis debate in the state legislature. This is the first time that the California Police Chiefs Association and the League of California Cities have not opposed medical cannabis regulations. Having these two powerful lobby organizations standing beside patients and behind a regulatory bill is unprecedented. ASA regards this broad and influential coalition as a key strength of SB 1262, and we call on advocates and lawmakers to join us in supporting SB 1262.

NOTE: This endorsement has since been removed from their article. What remains is the following:

Contact your California State Senator and ask him or her to vote yes on SB 1262 this week. SB 1262 is a bill by Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) that would regulate commercial medical cannabis activity in the state. In its newly amended form, the bill places state regulatory control and licensing in the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and sets common-sense standards for cultivation and distribution. ASA supports SB 1262 because our research and experience show that sensible regulations preserve safe and dignified access to medical cannabis for patients, while reducing crime and complaints in neighborhoods.

It is funny when cowards run from themselves, but the bottom line is that Americans for Safe Access is still supporting this effort as detailed in David Downs’ article entitled “Do or Die for Mystery Pot Law.” In this article Down’s details how all other group’s of notable mention have pulled their support, while ASA remains steadfast in their undying love for this debacle:

“It’s a little unsettling given how important this is and how little time we have,” said Don Duncan, California coordinator for the 30,000-strong advocacy group Americans for Safe Access.

But ASA is staying on-board with SB 1262, which is sponsored by state Senator Lou Correa, a Democrat from Southern California. The bill is scheduled to be taken up by the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee in August, and has to be approved by the entire Assembly by the end of the August, or it’s over for this legislative session.

Now to hear Don Duncan say it is unsettling because of how little time we have is simply disingenuous. Americans for Safe Access have worked fr years to block the work of Tom Ammiano’s efforts to provide a regulatory framework that makes sense because they did not like the licensing agency, which was the Alcoholic Beverage Control,” as this would erode their position of “medical only access.” They understand like we all do that cannabis will be legal for adult use very soon and decided to retard that move by ensuring ABC could not regulate cannabis and easily make the transition to adult use.

Down’s article goes on to state:

As of press time, the most recent version of the bill is still supported by the police chiefs, the league, and ASA. But California NORML, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition oppose it unless it’s amended.

The DPA argues that the current version of the bill would make things worse for Californians. For one, anybody with a past drug felony would be disqualified from getting an industry license. That provision would place additional burdens upon many Californians — particularly African-American and Latino residents — who’ve already paid their debt to society.

In addition, many of the industry’s biggest and best actors wouldn’t qualify for a license, for technical reasons, such as an outstanding federal case (Harborside Health Center in Oakland) or the lack of official city permission to grow (which is pretty much every urban farmer in California). The bill also provides statewide approval of controversial new city bans on medical pot dispensaries.

“The issues are extremely glaring, and, frankly, I’m not sure they can be resolved,” said Amanda Reiman, DPA’s California policy manager. “The police chiefs think medical marijuana is a sham and look at this as an opportunity to stifle the progression of medical marijuana policy. The rules are worse than what we have now and would completely disable the program.”

It is good to see that at least some reform organizations have the courage to make statements that tell the truth.  Amanda is 100% right in stating, “The rules are worse than what we have now and would completely disable the program.” Furthermore it would make criminals out of thousands of law abiding citizens, create mass confusion at the local level of government, and ensure less people were able to access their medicine. Why the fuck any organization who was supposedly on the side of patients and providers would support this debacle is beyond me, but then I have long suspected Americans for Safe Access was indeed the Wolves in Wook clothing.

For a little historical perspective on my position on Americans for Safe Access, just know at one time I was their biggest supporter.

In 2007, our company donated tens of thousands of dollars in merchandise and literature to the organization when they were in the midst of their rebranding. I worked closely with the organization, even housing and distributing their merchandise in our own company offices in Oakland. I traveled throughout the state on their behalf soliciting dispensaries for donations to support their mission. I still respect Steph Sherer and Don Duncan for what I learned about activism and organizing while we worked together. I also appreciate the work Americans for Safe Access did when we were raided by Federal agents in 2007, and I owe them a debt of gratitude for helping me organize a response to the charges and allegations that were made against me and my company during that most difficult time. Their timely and organized response likely resulted in my not going to prison, and I will always be grateful for that.

But 2007 was  long long time ago, and Americans for Safe Access was a much much different organization. Besides the powerhouse figureheads of the organization, Sherer and Duncan, there is little remaining of what was at that time. In those days ASA got the lion’s share of their donations from medical cannabis providers like myself and many dispensaries throughout CA. They had just established their Washington D.C. office and were working to expand their political horizons to serve the folks who paid their bills. As they rebranded the organization and began to work towards doing more political lobbying and fundraising work over grassroots on the ground activism, they began to solicit money from more of the big name donors who were known to fund major projects in the cannabis reform movement. It was obvious they were shifting focus to encourage more large money donors, as it was difficult depending on dispensaries and medical providers who were under constant attack and being forced to shut their doors.

The initial shift was subtle, as a lot of the same names and faces were still in their roles with the organization. But over time their was an obvious sea change in who the organization was serving and what they wanted their image to look like.

Fast forward to late 2011, when I began to notice the most drastic of the change that I now clearly see as impeding cannabis freedom. When the Federal government announced their “crackdown” on the medical cannabis and began targeting high profile providers who donated to them regularly, the sky literally fell over there. Panic ensued and there was a call to circle the wagons to avoid losing everything. You could see it in Steph Sherer’s eyes, as she was on the ground in California a lot working to organize one response or another to what they viewed as an assault on not only patients and providers, but also their revenue. Purse strings were pulled quick by every organization in the state, as no one knew if that day may be their last. DEA raids were happening, including the high profile raid of Oaksterdam University and their dispensary. Letters were being sent to the biggest names in the game, including Harborside, BPG, Vapor Room, and many more, forcing them to close their doors and/or fight Federal charges. The IRS began a systematic crackdown charging incredible tax rates based on decades old drug kingpin tax laws. It was a highly volatile time for sure.

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As the calendar of 2012 began to pass, there were several efforts to put an initiative on the CA ballot to legalize cannabis for adult use on the heels of a narrow loss in a non-Presidential election year by Proposition 19. Three campaigns were working to secure funding for language that would have made cannabis legal for adults over 21. Money was being thrown at campaigns in Colorado and Washington to do just that, and it was obvious CA would have had a chance at also making history if funding groups came to the table.

Enter Americans for Safe Access with United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) in tow stating that they had the funding to put a medical cannabis regulatory initiative on the ballot and intended to do so. The  California Medical Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act was filed by Don Duncan of ASA and Ron Lind of UFCW in January 2012 that would have created erroneous regulations for the industry and cemented UFCW’s place at the table as the only union allowed for the industry. It would have drastically reduced who could afford to pay to play in the industry and would have made a nightmare web of bullshit that probably wouldn’t have even passed if it did make the ballot. It literally LIMITED ACCESS across the state.

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But I do not believe there ever was funding for the initiative and the entire thing was a smoke screen to run out the clock on the other efforts towards legalization for adult use.  For the price of a shitty website and a few lofty press releases, they created enough doubt in potential donors to definitely not back any of the adult use efforts, thus ensuring cannabis would only be medical in CA for the foreseeable political future. California has 1/10th of the population of the nation and by far produces the most cannabis. When a lot of the interests you serve make their money on the status quo, it is easy to see how this could influence organizational decision making.

Mysteriously during this time Don Duncan also gave up his controlling interest in his West Hollywood dispensary to a well-funded group fronted at one time by TV star Montel Williams and funded by people with deep deep pockets who had also bought the controlling interests to dispensaries in Sacramento and Berkeley, and were applying for a dispensary in Oakland for which Duncan sat on the Board and even took their required regulations test for them. So is it a coincidence that this happens and ASA begins serving the interests of the few more prominently? I think not. There is collusion happening behind these closed doors at a level any honest person simply cannot comprehend.

Here is communication from Abatin’s attorney stating so:

Abatin.Communication.DonDuncan

Don’t believe me about their initiative efforts? That is fine…. Let’s talk Los Angeles and Measure D. Here is what weed journalist David Downs said about Measure D the day after it passed:

Los Angeles voters chose to drastically reduce the number of storefronts selling medical marijuana yesterday, passing Measure D…. Measure D supporters – including the City Council, advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, and a dispensary union the UFCW Local 770 — celebrated the win for regulations in the biggest medical marijuana city on the planet.

So here we have ASA nd UFCW celebrating “drastically reducing” the number of places for people to get their cannabis. They put an effort on the ballot behind closed doors that was aimed at shutting down the majority of dispensaries besides a select few who were operating before an arbitrary and illegal deadline was placed by the LA City Council. These groups worked in conjunction with hostile lawmakers and the chosen few dispensing groups to put their competition out of business and again LIMIT ACCESS.

I wrote a piece about this seemingly bullshit move in 2013 called “More IS Better.” In it I detail my opposition the the ASA/UFCW’s coalition to LIMIT ACCESS in LA. I wrote:

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.

This is and was a glaring reason to assume that the goals of expanding access for patients was no longer the focus of Americans for Safe Access, and instead a shift to focus on providing a competitive advantage for a select few who can compete is their new objective. What they did in LA was unnecessary and counter productive to cannabis freedom. Did I mention that the current version of CA SB 1262 mentions several times Measure D directly, ensuring it’s ability to limit access? Yeah. It is like that.

But let’s get back to where we are now with CA SB 1262.

Tomorrow ASA is organizing a lobbying day at the CA State Capitol. They are calling on medical cannabis supporters to come out and let lawmakers know how they feel about the proposed regulations. They have walked back their full-throated support for the bill, now even calling it “controversial.” As noted earlier they are still publicly supporting the bill and encouraging lawmakers to do so.

Here is their statement on their Lobbying Day scheduled for tomorrow (Monday Aug. 4):

citizenlobbyday.ASA.duncan

 

It is clear that they have gotten a lot of feedback, as they make sure to state “It does not matter if you support or oppose, or are undecided….” They are hedging their bets wherever possible, while continuing to support an effort that will literally shut most every aspect of the current cannabis system in CA down and turn it over to only a very few who can afford to play the game and meet the slim requirements of the bill.

They continue to call for their legion of blind supporters to make their voice heard, while literally selling us out to the interests of the few, the connected, and the opposition. It is an amazingly underhanded effort at the core, and one I can only relate to absolute treason. There is no reason any person who supports cannabis freedom should ever give a dime of their money, any resources, or energy to supporting. It is clear that the new name of the organization should be Americans for Limited Medical Only Access (ALMOA).

ASA.screwed.1

I strongly encourage anyone who cares about cannabis freedom to come out and voice their opposition to this crap. If you can make the ASA Citizen Lobby Day event super. If you cannot, contact your state legislators by phone and email immediately. Let’s organize direct action responses to this Bill while we still have time. Things will move rapidly. It is up to us to ensure we do not have to live under a homogenized rich person’s vision of what the industry should look like.

We must ensure any regulations being put forth take into consideration the current network of small batch producers and friendly patient services that exist everywhere in the state. 

We cannot let the only voice being heard is those who are in bed with the CA Police Chief’s Association and the CA League of Cities, who have openly opposed any sensibility in the CA legal process year after year. ASA should be treated with the same disdain and opposition with these groups as long as they are supporting this effort to LIMIT ACCESS and MAKE CRIMINALS out of thousands of people for doing what they do this very minute. The time to act is NOW, or do not be surprised when this piece of shit is your reality in a few days.

I hate to say it, but our biggest enemies these days are within. The people we need to worry about are right here, pretending to be your friend while selling you down the fucking river for thirty lousy pieces of silver. I just do not get it. But regardless, BEWARE OF THE WOLVES IN WOOK’S CLOTHING. They are everywhere.