We have been through so much together.
I have given the better part of my life to fighting for cannabis freedom. I have learned to use my voice as a powerful voice for change. My sacrifice has been my choice, and I am humbled by the people who have joined me on this journey. It has been a wild ride indeed.
As a community, a movement, and now an industry we have learned to evolve and have pushed cannabis to the point of acceptance and honor. I look around me and know I have made a difference. I am proud of what I have been able to accomplish and will always cherish the impact I have been able to create through my writing and education of the masses. I like to think that my raw and uncut commentary has helped us to all grow as individuals and collectively. I have done my best to keep it real, even if the real often hit too close to home for many. I have tried to keep things funny, because if we can’t laugh at ourselves we are lost. I have also tried to make people understand, and more so feel. It is so important for us to cut through the fake and insincere bullshit and get to the core of the human experience to really get it. That is never easy, but it is always a worthwhile journey.
Many people have observed me over the years and have wondered what it is that drives me. It is simple. Justice, morality, and the truth. I began my journey in cannabis reform because for one I really like weed. It makes me feel good. But even more, I began to fight for this cause because I saw it as a huge injustice that was so clearly immoral and which lacked any real truth. How could we be locking up good people for using a safe, enjoyable, and helpful plant? None of it made sense to me.
I have been incredibly lucky to have come up in the middle of a watershed moment in history. I really began to understand the fight when I moved to California in 1995. I moved here with a girlfriend whose mother hated me, and spent my first few months in town mostly homeless unless my girl’s mom was out of town. I lived on the street in the Haight, and then Berkeley, and then onto Santa Cruz for a couple of months. While in Santa Cruz I was offered a position gathering signatures for Prop 215 for $50 a day. At that time it was more the $50 a day that drove me than the fight for cannabis freedom, but I began to understand the politics of it all and saw firsthand the challenges faced. People either loved or hated the idea of weed. Most of the people who sneered at me when I asked for their signature were uneducated and simply did not understand that weed was not the evil thing they had been told it was. The overt ignorance was amazing.
I have sold weed since I was twelve. From hustling in Junior High to swinging sacks in Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park, the weed game has been all I have known since my youth. I grew up a screw up. I learned a lot of hard lessons. I spent time in mental institutions, group homes, and was incarcerated for over a year when I was 13. I got a GED and went to a predominantly black college from jail when I was 14 years old. No one ever said I was stupid. But I always had something to prove. I always pushed boundaries. I took risks with little care about the consequences. I did a lot of stupid shit when I was young that I am not proud of; but in these moments I learned a lot. A lot about me. A lot about people. A lot about the world we live in. I also learned to survive.
I have also been incredibly lucky. The universe has put me in places and positions where I have had more real and meaningful experiences than most. I have always been surrounded by amazing people who I could learn from and who would help me find myself. I spent a lot of days unsure of myself, often letting the world get the better of me because I did not understand the power I possessed. I often had a chip on my shoulder because I believed that I had been dealt a raw deal. As I grew older I learned to embrace and cherish those experiences, and knew that I had been given an incredible gift. Through my many different trials and tribulations I had grown strong; and once I could grasp that the life lessons I was given were a blessing and not a burden, I began to find my voice.
I was raised by a single mom with Multiple Personality Disorder who worked 80 hours a week selling real estate to keep me and my sister in a nice house with nice clothes and in good schools. It was hard for me to comprehend my reality at that time, and I resented how alone I would feel. Ever since I can remember my life has been filled with absolute chaos. It would be impossible to explain in a simple blog posting, but to me, the world has always been one long running joke. I have woken up every day just waiting for the punch line.
As I became more deeply involved in cannabis reform, I felt at home. Nothing has been more unsure and chaotic than the cannabis movement. When Tainted Edibles began to explode it was a very natural progression for me. We woke up every day thinking it would be our last waiting for the Feds to kick the door in. Nearly seven years later they finally did, but not before we were able to help make cannabis a mainstream topic and touched millions with our products. We pushed the boundaries in everything we did, and helped create the industry you see now. We put it all on the line and never looked back. We built an empire on weed chocolate and were a household name in weed circles. I had never been prouder of anything I had done in my life, and in an instant it was all taken from me.
Then came the battle with the Federal Government. I remember the feeling like it was yesterday when I got the call that “the power was out and the basement was flooded.” That was the code that the day had finally come. I was in Bellingham, WA at the time visiting my wife’s family 30 miles from the Canadian border. My youngest son was only 4 months old and I still vividly remember the look of panic on my wife’s face when I told her that my two business facilities, our house, my partner’s house, and one of my employee’s house were being raided by swat teams complete with tanks and helicopters. I had no idea what to do, but my gut told me I had to fight. After contacting my attorneys and local activists to respond, I began to write. I wrote an open letter that laid it all on the line. In that moment I understood the magnitude of this battle and the reality of cannabis prohibition. I was facing a decade in prison for making weed brownies for sick people. It was a traumatizing and humbling experience. I watched as every major media source in the country picked up the story and told incredible lies about me and my company. I lost a lot of faith in humanity and understood clearly that what we were told in the press was anything but the truth.
I thought about fleeing to Canada, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t ask my family to live on the run and I did not want to face this without them by my side. I chose to take the long drive back to the Bay Area and face the music. We organized a press conference before I turned myself in after 7 days as a fugitive where I blasted the Feds for their actions. I looked the world in the eyes and told them “we are good people with good intentions and do not deserve to be treated like criminals for providing safe and effective medicines.” Thus “Likes Weed. Good Person.” was essentially born.
I had been an activist for many years but I tried to stay out of the spotlight to protect our company, so we supported those on the front lines with funding and our presence. Now I was forced to take a leading role in the fight for cannabis freedom, as our case became a very public battle. We organized protests at every court date and I began writing a blog called Free Tainted where I began to share my most intimate thoughts with the community at large. The blog was read by many, including the US Probation officer in charge of doing my sentencing memo who told me he used to read it in his garage. He was moved by our story, as he understood that I believed in what I did, and was caught in the middle of the battle between state and federal laws. This resulted in him downward departing from the Government’s attempt to give me 37 months in a Federal penitentiary and ultimately the judge agreed and gave me no time in prison, but instead one year on house arrest and one year in a halfway house. It was an amazing victory for our community who had seen dozens of providers get sent away for long draconian sentences for providing cannabis medicines. You can read about the day I was sentenced here. For the record, no edible company has been raided by the Feds since we gave them that black eye; so to all the kids out there killing it these days, you are welcome.
After being sentenced I was unable to touch weed, so I began doing consulting. I learned to use the skill I learned from graduating with honors in business from St. Mary’s college and the skills from developing Tainted for 7 years to help other people create sound business plans and navigate the murky waters of the cannabis industry. I helped to develop self-regulatory models to protect organizations and began doing government relations work to help public officials better understand the benefits of the industry. I developed business models for every aspect of the industry, and worked to promote the industry from every angle. I was able to stay deeply involved in the industry through my entire period of federal confinement.
I then began to write my own blog called Cannabis Warrior. I began the blog to get the millions of thoughts I have out of my head and into a space where I could let them go to be digested by the world. I never wrote for anyone but me. It was a cathartic exercise that helped me to not explode. I never even intended for anyone to read it, or for it to become as popular as it did. I just needed to put it out there and let it go. The idea was to examine and chronicle the industry from the inside out. This was around 2010, right after Obama’s first memo when everyone and their mom was jumping in the game and all of the sudden the industry was one sexy slutty magazine ad after another bikini car wash. I began to write a lot about the people who make up the industry. I understood that if we did not begin to examine ourselves internally that someone else would. It is important to take care of housekeeping. Also we were knee deep in the beginning of the battle for Prop 19 and it was necessary to look closely at the deep and often humorous dialogue that was forming the debate. These were the days of Stevie D’s failed Weed Wars TV show, the beginnings of lab testing, and the evolution from outlaws to entrepreneurs. Everyone had a gimmick. Everyone was the next big thing. All of the old investment hucksters decided to open a dispensary and play the I wanna get rich off weed game. It was a ripe time for writing about the cannabis industry and it has only gotten weirder since. I couldn’t keep up with the bullshit that was going on, but did my best to provide a real and often humorous insight to the happenings of an industry that was exploding.
Needless to say, my writing has not made me a lot of friends and that was okay. I never really needed a lot of friends. I can hardly make time for the few that I have. But I kept writing and finding ways to make people understand the bullshit that was happening in this godforsaken movement. I wrote tirelessly day and night, and every day more and more dirt would come across my desk. While at times it was exciting, mostly it was difficult and ugly. It was hard to absorb all of the madness on a daily basis and still try to function in my normal life. At some points I became consumed and people began to look to me to police the industry, as if I were some strange belligerent and profane watchdog. People never got that I did not write for them, but that I wrote for me. That the words I put on the page were only there to keep me from my own insanity. My blogs have never had one advertisement for anything because I did not need the money for ads, and I wanted the words I wrote to be pure and not influenced by those who paid me.
I wrote Cannabis Warrior until 2102 when I was attacked by someone who took issue with the things I wrote. First I had a tracking device placed on my car and was followed by some people. They called me and told me everywhere I had been that day, where I lived, and they told me I needed to take down my Bullshitter of the Week pieces, so I did. But I still kept writing. About a year later, I came out of my house to all of my tires being slashed on my car one morning. I tried to write it off as some local vandals; but I kept writing. Next I was leaving a dispensary in Sacramento and a man walked right up to my car and pepper sprayed me through the window. I almost wrecked my car trying to escape. But I still kept writing. Finally I got a letter in the mail with pictures of my kids and my wife dropping them at their school, with a threat pretending to be a Mexican drug cartel telling me I needed to stay off of the internet. After talking with the police and the FBI, I took down my blog and most of my social media for a few months.
About a month after removing Cannabis Warrior from the internet I started this blog. If you go to the “about” page there is no mention of my name to this day. I started new social media accounts under the name Weed Activist. I posted to email lists under the name Weed Activist. I began writing less controversial stuff under the name Weed Activist here because I still needed to write. I have a somewhat distinct style of writing and posting on social media though, so after a couple of months most had figured out it was me. My wife had calmed down. We sold all of our cars and moved to a different area. I installed security systems and took every precaution I could think of. Feeling a little better, I opened up my social media pages again and began writing more of the hard hitting pieces I had become known for. I had decided not to let the terrorists win.
While I do not write every day like I used to, I do take the time to write about things I know are important. I still try to educate people and help create a sense of understanding about what the fuck we are all fighting for. I still ruffle a lot of feathers with my antics both here on my blog and on social media. I have also made a lot of memes, which I found to be a great medium for both humor and insight. If a picture is worth a thousand words then a picture with words is worth even more. It has become quite the hobby and keeps people both entertained and informed. I have become known for my whimsical banter and willingness to call shit like it is. Through all of this #FUCKMICKEY was born, which has become a mantra for those who both hate me and love me.
With that comes a lot of responsibility and a lot of hurt feelings. A lot of people really want to kill me. A lot of people just hate my guts. Some people like me, and a few really love me for my work. It has been a fun and funny journey indeed.
But even the funniest shit is only funny until it isn’t anymore. Everything gets stale eventually. It is a natural progression. My partner and brother J7 wisely once told me, “Always leave them wanting more”….. so I will.
This will likely be my last posting on WeedActivist.com. I will be taking some time to reinvent myself and find a new cage to rattle. I am exhausted and my heart is no longer in it. I am no longer interested in pissing in the wind and hoping to make a difference in this industry. Whatever happens will just have to happen. I can no longer give my time, energy, and resources into playing cannabis industry watchdog. It is obvious that the folks who live their lives like scumbags and con artists will continue to do so, regardless of what I write or what funny meme I make about them. This is America and money talks. Altruism and goodwill will only take one so far. The pricks will be pricks regardless, and if they have enough money they will probably figure out how to be successful. That is fine by me. Who gives a shit anymore? Let the monkeys run the zoo and the wolves take over the hen house. Good for them.
For me…. I need to figure out me for a while. I need to focus on my projects and learn to be a killer again. I have to quit being distracted by the politics and the mayhem, and just get back to business. I used to run one of the most successful companies in this industry, and I am going to figure out how to do that again if I have to lie, steal, and cheat like everyone else to do it. I am about $100k in debt and have not a lot to show for it but the respect of some and the hatred of many. While that is super and everything, it doesn’t pay my bills or put my kids through college, and mostly it just doesn’t make me happy anymore.
I have given up a lot of myself to this movement and industry. I have fought tirelessly for what I thought was right. I have put my best effort towards making the world of cannabis a better place, and for now I just cannot do it anymore. I must step back and begin to think about me, my family, and my future. I have realized that I am a big fucking fish in this small fucking pond, and that my talents are being wasted chasing my tail with people who mostly do not even give a fuck. It has been an honor to serve and I will always be an intricate part of the cannabis universe; but I must change. Tomorrow must be different. I must regain my sanity and begin to accomplish bigger and better things.
To all that have followed my blogs and writings over the years, I humbly thank you. To those who have shown me kindness and given me strength, you will always have my loyalty. To those who are dirty rotten scumbag losers who have found themselves looking down the barrel of my gun, you may sleep better tonight.
I am certainly not gone, but I have changed… and not a moment too soon. Selah.