GROUP HUG: Coming together on 19

So here we are- 12 weeks left until the biggest vote of our cannabis lives- and there is still a lot of discourse and misunderstanding happening within the community over support on Prop. 19. I think it is time for a GROUP HUG. So lean in real close to your computer there and give us all a little squeeze. I for one am tired of the overwhelming discourse on the subject, and while debate is to be expected, I have been on the giving and receiving end of more unpleasant commentary than I care to recall. There is so much misinformation and speculation on Prop 19 that it is difficult to not to let emotion get the better of us.

But what we must all remember is that we are on the same team- TEAM CANNABIS. We are all hoping that our right to use cannabis (medically or not) is realized, respected, and upheld by society. We are all tired of feeling less than equal for our choice to use cannabis. I understand that change is difficult for a lot of people. It is real easy for us to stand back and say, “Well, we have access to cannabis as a medicine, so why do we need 19.” The fact is that all of the hard work that has gone towards making medical cannabis a reality still falls short of cannabis equality. Many people do not feel that they need to embellish their medical history to a Doc just to use cannabis. While it is great for people to think that “all use is medical,” unfortunately many who oppose our struggle see this mentality as the essence of the problem with the current system, and just as we see them rolling back freedoms in Colorado and trying to in Montana, the very same thing could happen in CA- and rather quickly.

Prop 215 did not afford us the protections of collectively cultivating. The state legislature enacting SB420 did that, which set forth the framework for the current structure of dispensing collectives that have brought access to a half-million or so patients statewide. That can be altered or repealed at will and we could be back to the dark ages of cannabis in no time. Also, if roughly 10% of the population uses cannabis and there are 37 million people in CA, then there is roughly 3.7 million cannabis users. Do you see how only 500,000 of 3,700,000 people having the right to use cannabis is just not okay? We can do better. And Prop. 19 takes the next logical step in that direction.

We can fight to the death on the merits of certain provisions or debate wildly on speculation of how and if this will be implemented- but when the rubber hits the road the question is simple; “Do you want to legalize cannabis for adult use.” Yes or no question. If you do then it would make sense to vote Yes. If you are happy with the way things are (which you only could be if you were selfish or unaware of reality), then vote No with the rest of the drug warriors and proponents of making cannabis users criminals.

But let us stop with the madness. We can agree that 19 could be better. We can agree that there will still be a lot of work to do if it passes. We can agree that other initiatives may be better for our community. But the fact is 19 is on the ballot. Unless you have a million bucks to get another initiative on the ballot, which I have heard no one pledge to put up, then it is a futile argument to wish that we could vote on Jack’s or CCI’s efforts in 2012. That is a pipe dream. If the money shows up and a better initiative makes the ballot then I will support that effort in full force, as well. But that is a lot of hope to put on a maybe. No thanks. Let’s get 19 passed, send a message that Californians want cannabis legalized, and continue the battle for complete and total freedom.

This will not end the war by any means. But it will win the battle, which could eventually win the war. We will send a clear message that the community believes adult should be free to use cannabis. Will things change? Sure. They are bound to. They are changing with or without 19, as more cities attempt to pass tax measures and more raids of cultivation sights and underground producers continues to ramp up in an effort to regulate the current medical industry. This is the logical next step. So regulation is happening regardless. Taxing is happening regardless. The question is whether we want to continue to let cities, cops, and opposition leaders to keep playing doctor and trying to decide who can or should use cannabis as a medicine. Stop the charades. Let an adult use cannabis without having to figure out what they will tell the doctor to be allowed to do so. The medical effects of cannabis are real, but many do not believe they are being genuine in their medical use. We should not continue to make people feel as if they need to find an ailment to cure just so they can smoke a joint. Real talk- adults should be able to have cannabis whether or not they feel they are a patient.

We can debate the merits of the penalties that 19 imposes for bad behaviors like furnishing to minors, or we can see the bigger picture of what it will do to the collective psyche of a nation and the people of California. You can continue to hope that the perfect initiative will fall from the sky, as well as the resources to put it on the ballot (and even then I believe many of these opposing voices would still find a reason for concern) or you can put down the ego, step away from the paranoia, and realize that this is a great opportunity for us in CA to move the ball down the field again, just like we have with 215 and 420. We have come so far, but still have a long way to go.

I extend my arms to those who I have fiercly debated and hope that you will find it in your heart ot vote for Prop 19, even if it is not exactly the perfect initiative you had envisioned. I hope you can realize that it is better than where we are and has the potential to make things that much better for the future. Realize that none of us plan on waking up the day after the election and assuming our fight is over. What we want is the right to use cannabis for adults, even if it is on somewhat limited terms to begin. We can continue to fight to expand the reach of legalization over time. We have been expanding the freedoms of 215 over time and have been able to accomplish a lot. Let’s pass 19 and begin the process of expanding the freedom for adults to use cannabis.

Join me in a group hug. Pass it on to a friend. Register to vote. Spread the word. Prop 19 deserves our vote. Anything less is simply unacceptable.

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