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.

Losers Never Win… Legalization Is No Loser

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Election Day 2014 has come and gone. The people have spoken, and despite a somewhat frightening wave of Republican victories that speak more to the cowardly strategies of the Democrats than the strength of right wing positions, the weed vote went incredibly well…. again. Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia all voted to legalize cannabis for adult use rather handily. There was not even a very close result. Alaska won by 4 points- Oregon won by almost 9 points- AND DC WON BY ALMOST 39 POINTS. None of those are nail biters. Any politician in America would take those results in a heartbeat.

The funny-not-funny vote of the night was in Florida where Amendment 2 on MEDICAL marijuana failed to meet the 60% threshold needed to pass. To be fair 57.6% of the people did vote Yes, but in Florida it requires 60% to pass an Amendment, so the effort failed there by a lousy 2.4%. But I think there is a valuable lesson here…. medical cannabis is not necessarily the overwhelmingly popular issue it once was. Initial polling had support for medical marijuana in the state of Florida at nearly 90%… so what happened?

What happened was billionaire Sheldon Adelson put $5.5 million dollars into an effective campaign that told people they were being bullshitted. The narrative was that the law was not truthful and was littered with “loopholes.” The opposition campaign seized on the reality that even though there are still a lot of people who hate weed, there are even more who hate being lied to. They successfully portrayed the Amendment as a front for adult use and effectively demonized the thought of cannabis caregivers actually being drug dealers who would somehow be protected by this ruse. The message was certainly effective enough to stifle enough of the vote that it resulted in failure. Check out the ad below to see how the opposition chose to spin it:

Do you see what they did there? The argument was never against medical cannabis, or cannabis at all. It was to inform people they were being supposedly lied to. They framed the argument so that the average voter would take pause, and they banked that they could create enough doubt to keep the Amendment from passing with that strategy…. and they were right. “It isn’t what is seems.” That is where the political strategists who designed the No on 2 campaign hung their hat. On making voters feel like they were being duped. I do not believe that 42.4% of Florida believes that sick people should not have access to cannabis. I do think that many were willing to believe that the whole medical deal is a sham and that they should vote no to avoid being bullshitted.

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The irony of passing three adult use legalization initiatives, but failing to pass a medical marijuana amendment is too much to ignore. I have long said that it is time for us to move past the medical only debate and to shift our time, energy, and resources towards adult use, which would encompass medical cannabis and take away the never ending questions of “Who is sick enough to smoke pot?” and “Is this really medical, or am I being bullshitted?”

I have done a great deal of outreach in communities all over the United States, and even the most staunch supporters of cannabis have looked at me point blank and said, “But the whole medical deal is kind of bullshit, right?” I then go into my whole speech about preventive medicine and forcing people to maybe fudge an illness to avoid prison for growing plants; but I shouldn’t have to. The reality is that on some levels they are right. A lot of the activity the cannabis community dubs “medical’ just does not meet that standard in our society, and creates more questions than answers for a lot of people. I think this is what moved the needle in Florida, and what will continue to undermine medical only efforts going forward.

In states where we see new medical programs coming into place, what we see are super burdensome regulations and laws being put forth meant to “ensure this is only accessed by the truly sick and dying.” Limiting patients rights to cultivate, to have caregivers, and to have a free and competitive markets are all hallmarks of people wanting to make sure that they are not being bullshitted by these potheads. If they want medical they will get medical. How is that working out New Jersey? Exactly.

The reality is that people do not hate weed like they used to. What they hate is feeling like they are not having an honest conversation. I believe that our community continues to stretch the medical conversation too far. The results are twofold… 1) It creates a lot of doubt for people who have no skin in the game. Your average voter and citizen is not necessarily opposed to weed, but they do know they have never gone to the doctor at a Cypress Hill concert.; and 2) It does a huge disservice to those patients who do have serious illnesses for which cannabis can be beneficial, as they are lumped in with the perception that what the cannabis community is pushing as medical does not always meet that standard of medicine as defined by our  collective culture.

The lesson learned from last night’s election are simple… People are ready for legal weed.

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I believe that we could have put the nail in the coffin last night had the reform community and their financial sugar daddys had the courage to run an adult use legalization initiative here in California. The state has 10% of the nation’s population and is the leading producer of our nation’s agriculture crops. It is also the American stronghold for the wine industry, as its ideal growing climates are good for both grapes and weed. But the big money and local players decided to let it ride and wait for the sure thing in 2016. I have told them all they were fools, and the good people of Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia also called them fools last night. They will still try to sell you a bag of goods about “youth turnout” and “questionable support,” but I think our neighbors to the north in Oregon proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are just plain wrong. We could be celebrating today California, but instead we sit here being threatened by the USDOJ for not having a statewide regulatory model and watch as our own supposed supporters and their “lobbying efforts” work to shut down most of the industry as we know it. But don’t worry… it is only two more years until 2016.

Those could end up being a very long two years.

As marijuana continues to gain mainstream popularity and more focus is put on the industry, know that the lack of definition in California’s law will continue to haunt us. Empowered by a wave of conservative victories in the midterm, it would not be surprising to see the current administration make knee jerk concessions in an effort to negotiate with the Republican congress.

But who knows? Maybe even the conservatives are getting it now that the people want their weed… and at least the conservatives will have the balls to actually do something about it. How long is it before the right wing looks around and says, “Shit… Everyone seems to want their weed. Maybe we should just give it to them and champion that issue before 2016. Where is all that money going anyway?”

I would not be surprised at all to see another California crackdown in the near future. I think we shot ourselves in the foot by not seizing the moment and capitalizing of the momentum from our victories in CO and WA in 2012. We have left a lot to chance, and it would not be surprising to see the CA Legislature pass a much more restrictive adult use and medical regulatory model before the election in 2016 ever happens. In fact, I almost can guarantee it. It will be a “good enough” model that ensures very few can meet the burden of the barriers to entry, and it will be the death of the current cannabis landscape, as well as the hopes for anything of substance in 2016. Maybe I am wrong… Lord, I hope I am wrong. But I have seen these stars align before.

Who knows what the future holds? I do know that today I raise my bubbler to the great citizens of Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia for standing up for cannabis freedom and moving us that much closer to ending this thing. As a person who has worked a long and hard time on cannabis reform efforts it is inspiring to see us changing the hearts and minds of a Nation… one cannabis-loving state at a time if we have to. While I will never be able to wrap my head around what people who oppose cannabis are thinking, it is comforting to know that more and more of my neighbors and fellow citizens are getting it, and that we are that much closer to winning.

I celebrate the victories and I am sorry for the tens of thousands of people in Florida who are still criminals for their right to use cannabis. We mourn for those who desperately need access to cannabis as a medicine there who were counting Amendment 2 to pass. I do believe that the 57.6% of people voting yes is a powerful message, and it is hopeful that your lawmakers might listen.

Hopefully lawmakers everywhere will listen, and get on the right side of history sooner than later. Cannabis is a safe, enjoyable, and helpful plant. There is no more boogie man here. People want their weed. Legalization is winning… Prohibition must end soon.

As a community we need to begin to ask ourselves what we really want and begin to ask for that. It makes no sense to limit ourselves any longer. What we want is weed… and we want you to quit taking us to fucking jail for it. Or taking our kids. Or making us lose our jobs. Or losing student loans. Or our standing in our community. We want a fair and level playing field for the industry where quality, innovation, and value rule the market… not politics. The sooner we get there, the sooner we can end this awkward dance with what is cannabis freedom and who qualifies for it.

Losers never win…. and only a real loser would look at the writing on the wall and not change strategy. Adult use legalization is no loser. Victory or Valhalla.

What the Fuck Are We Thinking?

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What an odd time in cannabis history. No one ever said evolution was painless. In fact, it is quite awkward.

Watching the industry evolve from days of outlaw diplomacy to corporate douchebaggery is a major struggle for me. On one hand there is nothing romantic about people getting locked up in prison for decades for growing weed that is sold at inflated prices due to black market principles. It is just not a workable model for a civilized society. At the same time, the limited and guarded acceptance of cannabis has resulted in programs that are unworkable and expensive that benefit the few, and which are often designed to fail.

Nothing we see now is a level playing field. Until we see a truly free market work in cannabis there will be an odd dance of those who believe in freedom being pushed out by those who believe in limited freedom and who are willing to throw us all under the bus to serve their own agenda. Don’t cannabrand me, bro.

I am not an idealist. I saw this coming a mile away and have done my best to bring caution to the wolves in wook’s clothing. I understand the situation clearly and know it will likely get worse before it gets better. This strange era of positioning and lobbying for our own unworkable limitations will not last forever, but it will go on for some time. It is the monkeys fucking the football for real, as no one on any side of the argument can seem to find the right answer. the answer is simple… It is cannabis freedom.

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Instead what we see are people working to undermine freedom by promoting limited models that promote their business models. The easiest to spot are the CBD oil hucksters out in force to convince the word that their magic CBD potion is totally legal and won’t even get you high. Some of these pricks, like the Hempmeds/Cannvest/Kannaway crews, are shipping their hemp sludge derived “medicines” that were created from industrial machine byproducts to all 50 states touting their legality as nutritional supplements. Their lies are misleading, as routinely their products test far above the allowable THC limits for hemp derived products, and often their refined sludge carries dangerous heavy metals and contaminants. These groups have used slick marketing campaigns to sell their Frankenstein medicines, and have worked to convince the public and government officials that their bullshit magic paste is the answer; and that real cannabis derived products, often containing THC, are somehow dangerous. They have scammed stock investors on the pink sheets enough to afford lobbyists who have worked to pass CBD only legislation in several states.

Do you mind putting a shirt on while you harvest my "medicine?" Thanks.
Do you mind putting a shirt on while you harvest my “medicine?” Thanks.

But you cannot mention CBD only without looking at the Stanley Brothers and their “Realm of Caring.” Talk about a group of Stepford Wives and Children of the Corn. Bajeezus. This sad band of brothers have parlayed their 15 minutes of fame on CNN with Dr. Sanjay Gupta into a full blown international circus of fraud and deception. After throwing “lazy hipies and potheads ” under the bus in their media appearances, they went out of their way to make promises to thousands of families dealing with health issues for their children that they would be able to ship their miracle drug “Charlotte’s Web” to all 50 states this month because they had simply renamed the strain as hemp. Okay… so it was medical marijuana a couple months ago, but now Charolette’s Web is just hemp. Gotcha. Tell me more.

Well they were forced to eat their words after months of teasing families desperate to try their miracle that Gupta told them would save their kid’s lives. They retracted their nationwide offerings stating:

Unfortunately, despite the fact that the U.S. imports more hemp foods than any other country, the common association of CBD with high THC cannabis has caused more scrutiny for these hemp products than expected. For example a Minnesota mother may be facing charges for possessing a CBD product which she obtained for her son. Such tragic events, combined with the ever changing legal landscape of hemp/CBD products, have forced us to reconsider all potential ramifications of our previous distribution plans. Simply put: the last thing we want to do is put the families we serve in jeopardy.

As a result, at the strong advice of our legal counsel, we have decided it is in the best interest of both present and future clients, as well as the longevity of the ROC program as a whole, that we hold our distribution plan to higher standards than the conventional hemp industry.

So your legal counsel didn’t tell you that what you were planning on doing is actually quite illegal until after you made promises to thousands of desperate families? Super. Sounds like a real winner. Let me guess…. these are the same legal geniuses you have writing the CBD only legislation that resulted in the Minnesota mother being charged? Or in other states? Did you guys even write a strategy plan on this model? Or did you just see a window of opportunity after Gupta gave you some legitimacy and try to exploit it for your own gain by cementing in CBD only legislation that serves your model (even though it really does not) and leaves most patients out in the cold?

Maybe everyone should just move to Colorado to get your miracle drug hemp deal. But wait… last report is that the Charlotte’s Web that was planted outdoors as “hemp” is much different that the CW that they had been distributing to families. The cannabinoid profiles are extremely different and do not have the same results for many parents.

The Stanley’s tried to tell parents that the difference came from growing conditions outdoors under natural sun, but that is just not a valid assumption. What is more likely is that what was planted outdoors was not Charlotte’s Web at all, and was instead a modified varietal or completely different strain that was developed to meet the requirements of hemp production…. likely under advice of their crack legal team over there.

Now many parents are forced to perform their own alchemy to adjust cannabinoid levels themselves. More likely even is that this program was put in place to meet the even stricter hemp/CBD requirements that their own lobbyists have helped create in other states. They hoped that this would serve as a model, but unfortunately has resulted in anything but. Now their own efforts will come back to bite them in the ass, as well as the rest of the cannabis community.

The problem with the CBD revolution is that it is based on the premise of not getting high. Those who began this effort were motivated by their inherent fear of the perception that the opposition was concerned with people getting stoned. There are certain conditions where CBD is an undeniable benefit, but the industry has overblown this not in an effort of medical progress, but in an effort to say, “see… we are not even trying to get high.”

It has always been based in an effort to “legitimize” the cannabis industry by downplaying the psychoactive effects of cannabis. Can someone tell me when feeling good and feelings of euphoria became such bad things? Why are we conceding that a safe and enjoyable experience is somehow evil and intolerable in a society where most wake up with the drug of coffee and go to sleep with the drug of booze? Why are we, as cannabis users and supporters, denying our right to use cannabis to enhance our experiences? It all makes no sense to me.

What the fuck are we thinking…?

But don’t stop there. Let’s look at the edibles situation in Colorado more deeply. What we have is a basic unfounded hysteria resulting in backlash and red tape that very well could shut down the edibles market, or at the very least make it unworkable for many. The reports of a kid jumping off a balcony and dying after eating too much weed food and the guy who killed his wife after apparently ingesting edibles are the rallying cry where the prohibitionists have pointed to the “dangers” of marijuana. They have gone out of their way this Halloween to scare the shit our of parents by putting up billboards showing that THC infused candies look a lot like real candies. Yeah… well Jack Daniels looks a lot like apple juice when it is just sitting in a glass, but we do not see the drunken weed haters making this comparison. Vicodin looks a lot like a Tic-Tac too, but where is the outrage there? There is none.

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What we are seeing is a result of our industry’s representatives conceding these perceived dangers and allowing for regulators to take that ball and run with it. Instead of demanding equality and freedom where cannabis is concerned, it is our own industry’s lobbyists who have given ground on this issue to a point where it is becoming problematic. Look…. I feel for the kid who jumped off the balcony, but this type of stuff happens much more frequently under the influence of booze and we do not see a call for booze to be sold in single serving containers heavily labeled and packaged in tamper resistant packaging. In fact, anyone over 21 (and many times not 21 with a fake ID) can walk in and buy enough booze to kill a grown adult any day of the week they want.

But people like Michael Elliott of the Marijuana Industry Group have used their political muscle to empower regulators on this issue over the years, and now is watching his chickens come home to roost. The funny part is watching guys like him scramble when they figure out that in an effort to promote the interests of the few businesses he serves as a paid lobbyist, he actually ended up screwing them too…. then comes the effort to roll back the stupid shit you said just a few months ago. Yes… Let’s concede some strange danger about edibles because Maureen Dowd ate too much weed food and had an out of body experience in a Colorado hotel room. Super.

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But in an effort to win favor with lawmakers and regulators, what we see is these so called industry experts and their lobbyists willing to bend over and let the edibles industry be raped by those who oppose cannabis as some real danger. Look…. weed food can get you super high, but at what point does personal responsibility come into play? Why are we allowing people like Michael Elliott to make the opposition’s case for them, and then are surprised when the opposition seizes that concession to make the entire industry look like a bunch of irresponsible child molesters in need of severe oversight and regulation.

Let me know when they want to start “regulating cannabis like alcohol” as was promised in the historic 2012 election. Last I checked booze were everywhere and there were no burdensome regulations on how they are packaged and the quantity per bottle. Call me weird, but it would seem that a drug like booze that actually kills over 85,000 people a year might be regulated a little more tightly than weed food, but what do I know?

I do know that us willing to agree that somehow cannabis food poses some real verifiable danger to our society in respect to the many dangerous and legal options we already have is stupid.

What the fuck are we thinking?

Which brings me to my next issue, which is home cultivation and caregiver access. Why are there folks who are supposedly on the side of cannabis willing to take the rights of people to grow their own, or to access their medicine through a private caregiver who cultivates for them, away? People like Michael Elliott have conceded that there are dangers in these types of systems that are being abused to “illegally sell marijuana.”

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When he says “illegally” what he means is outside of the tightly regulated tax burdened system that his group has worked to develop. These positions have resulted in states like Massachusetts severely limiting the ability of caregivers to cultivate for patients or for patients to cultivate their own. Most states take statements like these and turn them into unworkable legislation that leaves people unable to legally cultivate plants for themselves or those in need. It is a pay to play scenario that will result in more limitation and knee jerk reactions that stifle personal freedom.

Not a day goes by that an article does not come out from those who oppose cannabis touting some poorly worded statement by some jackass in the cannabis industry about how dangerous these situations are to public safety. The fear of the cannabis community to actually stand up for their rights is embarrassing and at times devastating to our efforts.

What the fuck are we thinking?

The truth is that we are not. We are allowing those who favor prohibition to drive the conversation and when we help do their work for them by compromising the truth for hysteria, we all lose. When these assholes try to work the system to favor their own business models, only to have the whole rug pulled out from under them because they really do not understand politics as much as they led you to believe, the progress we all have worked hard to realize is instantly diminished.

It is sad enough that we have to deal with the Kevin Sabets and Patrick Kennedys of the world, but to have our message of cannabis freedom undermined by those who supposedly are on our side is ludicrous. I for one am tired of having to clean up these messes and work to convince people that these myths being put forth and supported by would be industry “experts” are simple fallacy.

This is not that difficult… cannabis is incredibly safe in comparison to most everything. Should there be limitations and regulations? Sure. But they must be reasonable and they must be founded in reality. We can no longer afford to have our own people making our lives more difficult by trying to give an inch to the crazies, which always results in a mile.

No we do not need CBD only laws to make sure people are not getting high. No we do not need to go out of our way to make a Scarlet letter for cannabis foods and ensure they are packaged in bulletproof containers. No we do not need to keep people from cultivating their own cannabis to avoid some perception of a dangerous diversion scenario. It is all stupid drama contrived to make issues where there are none. I will say it again… in the name of Jack Herer “SHOW ME THE BODIES.”

We must be cautious moving forward to not negotiate the freedom we are working to achieve. It makes no sense to help those who would be just as happy locking up people for weed create a market where weed is so severely limited that it leaves most people criminals and keeps the market inflated to black market pricing.

The reality is that a free cannabis market regulated sensibly with allowances for innovation and without so many impossible barriers to entry will result in higher quality and more affordable cannabis available to those who love and need weed. The rest of this window dressing is for the birds. The sooner we pull our heads out of our ass and begin asking for what we really want, the sooner we can get past all of this unnecessary drama and bullshit.

Selah.

#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.

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:

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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):

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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).

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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.

What to do when you are friends with snakes…

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It happens to the best of us. One minute you are just kicking it with this seemingly cool person, and the next minute you realize they are really a snake. It is a tough pill to swallow.

First there is a sense of disbelief. You can’t believe your one time friend could actually be a down and dirty low-life snake in the grass. It can’t be, can it? Could this person, or group of people, who you trusted and admired sold you out for some financial compensation and fancy trinkets? Have you been lied to this whole time? Do ethics and morality mean nothing?

Do not worry. We have all been there. It is difficult to admit that we were wrong about people and supposed goodwill organizations. We often deny the truth because we do not want to have to admit that we were so incredibly wrong; but generally in the end we have to come to grips with the fact that our one time friends are snakes.

Like with any dangerous and poisonous snake working to destroy everything that is right and just, the best solution is to cut the head off.

It might sound harsh and be difficult to imagine, as you have probably grown sorta fond over your snake friend over time. But a snake is a snake, and will do what snakes do. Snakes do not care about you, and in fact prey upon your seeming affection for them.

There is the parable of the old woman and the snake to reflect upon:

An old woman was walking down the road when she saw a gang of thugs beating a poisonous snake.  She rescued the snake and carried it back to her home, where she nursed it back to health.  They became friends and lived together for many months.  One day they were going into town, and the old woman picked him up and the snake bit her.  Repeatedly.  “O God,” she screamed, “I am dying!  Why?  I was your friend.  I saved your life!  I trusted you!  Why did you bite me?”

The snake looked up at her and said, “Lady, you knew I was a snake when you first picked me up.”

Do not be naive where snakes are concerned. There is no room for error. You cannot afford to risk everything you have worked for to foster some perceived affection for a snake. We have come too far to allow a bunch of snakes to wander in and destroy the fabric of this community.

Make no mistake… divide and conquer is happening. Big money and wannabe big shots are infiltrating every sector of this community and exploiting as many as they can to help them in their snake missions.

Do not be fooled. Your gut is right.

Yes… it is true. That person has lost all integrity and joined the legion of snakes working to control and manipulate the market through fraud and corruption. they will try to ease your fears and tell you that this is “just business.” It is anything but. It is fraud. It is unsavory business practice. It is evil. Do not be a sucker.

Demand ethics and morality in every person you deal with. There are many great people woven into the fabric of this community that will stand with you. The snakes are not your friends. They never were and they never will be.

They are snakes.

The human experience is full of disappointment, and none are so difficult as the feelings of betrayal and mistrust. I am sorry this is happening to you, but understand that it is better for you to find out now before the snakes could do their damage.

Now chop their head off…