Are you looking forward to the potential of Cannabis legalization in California come 2016? So am I! Have been for quite some time now. Since 2009 I have actually dedicated my life to sharing and educating people about the truths and potential of Cannabis Hemp. Its one of the main reasons I am writing this article today. The future of Cannabis legalization in California may seem almost destined to pass with flying colors in 2016. I assure you, it is not going to be as simple as it is perceived. What some may consider legalization, doesn’t necessarily equate to the legalization you may be expecting. Now with that being said, there are only a few ways to ensure that real legalization happens in 2016. And almost all of them start and end with you. Yeah you, the reader. Not just you, me and everyone else also.
First things first. If you’re sitting back waiting for the (DPA) Drug Policiy Alliance, (Norml) National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws, (ASA) Americans For Safe Access, and other so-called activists groups to deliver legalization for you. You probably would not get to excited about the final result. Do you believe they will form an initiative that favors the average patient, or consumer over the current medical marijuana industry leaders and stake holders? If you do, you have been sadly mislead. Why? Because these very organizations are ran and supported by, you guessed it, the very Industry leaders and business owners who enjoy their absorbent profits from the current unregulated model. How could I possibly know this? I have seen it first hand. I have traveled up and down this state to several cannabis events sponsored by these groups. I have seen the subversion they use to promote the Industry over the plant itself. I specifically recall the big ASA lobbying event at the state capitol a few years back. Where they specifically advertised the weekend as a patient lobbying day. So I wanted to check this lobbying day out for myself. I figured at least it would be an educational experience. Which it was, for several reasons.
When we arrived at this local union hall in the middle of nowhere in Sacramento one of the first things I noticed was there was a lot of dress shirts and Dockers. Everywhere! They all had their ASA lobbying day badges around their Necks looking professional. They had very nice and lavish charter buses they had rented to bus the “Patients” from other districts to Sacramento. Where were these patients? After clambering around during their meeting recording what I could with my camera I had seen virtually no patients. Every word out of their mouths was about lobbying there representatives the following day at the capitol building . All about regulating the medical marijuana industry. The thing I found most interesting was after the meeting I wanted to speak with some of these patients and get there take on the meeting. Almost every single person I spoke with was a patient in the legal sense, but not your everyday average patient. They were all Industry insiders, and Dispensary owners there to lobby their representatives for more restrictive regulations in regards to the medical cannabis industry. I think one of the most telling signs was how excited Don Duncan got once Stephan Deangelo and his Brother showed up at the capitol building. My point is, they tell you one thing to your face, and do another behind closed doors. They verbally promote legalization, regulation and reform. But not the kind that benefits the everyday consumer and patient. If you are relying on them to author something that will meet your needs as a Consumer or a Patient. Think again!
One of my favorite Hemp activists Chris Conrad wrote a really good piece back during the TaxCannabis prop-19 debate. ( http://weedactivist.com/2010/07/25/another-word-on-jack-and-prop-19-from-chris-conrad/ ) (Excerpt) – Initially Jack deeply hated Prop 215. He literally stumped up and down the state cursing out hemp activists who backed it. He screamed at us, called us traitors for working on medical use, and claimed that Dennis Peron was secretly against legalization. When 215 was filed, Jack filed the California Hemp Initiative (CHI) on the 1996 ballot to block it. and changed the name to “California Hemp _and Health_ Initiative” so people signing it would think they had signed Prop 215, to mess with the signature count. When I called him on it, he said he was trying to keep Prop 215 off the ballot because, among other things, “people will stop working for legalization and we’ll be stuck with medical forever. No hemp, no legalization; that will be the end.” Later he circulated the CCU petitions for pay, then before the election came to support it completely. Now some people actually credit Jack for ‘passing Prop 215. Jack vociferously opposed Senate Bill 420, but he loved the dispensaries it allowed to open. ( click the Above link to read the entire piece).
Jacks words – “people will stop working for legalization and we’ll be stuck with medical forever. No hemp, no legalization; that will be the end.” Jack Knew it then, and they also knew it then. Guess what ? They still know it now! This is exactly what we have been dealing with for the last 19 years. The industry leaders and club owners don’t want there quasi legal black market profits going anywhere. So enter the DPA, Norml and ASA with their attempts at dividing the legalization movement as a whole. They certainly don’t want the everyday average consumer to be able to cultivate their own Cannabis at home, over buying their middle man marked up products in their stores. Do you think (Norml), (ASA) and the (DPA) want everyone in California cultivating a possible 99 plants legally? Do you think they want to lose that revenue stream? Not just the dispensary owners and industry leaders but the activist groups themselves? No they don’t! and they are very active right now at subverting attention away from the CCHI 2016 initiative for other initiatives that have not even been written yet. Yet they all love to invoke the legacy of jack Herer. Like Stephan Deangelo of Harborside in Oakland Ca. One of the Worlds largest dispensaries in the world by the way. He constantly speaks of how good friends him and Jack were, and how they shared the same vision in regards to legalization and cannabis, Well I will have to beg to differ here. I personally asked Stephan Deangelo during the CCHI 2012 signature campaign, at Harborside’s yearly shindig called The Deep Green Festival if he supported the Jack here Initiative. He simply replied, I do not support any initiative until they have already registered for the ballot. So the man who makes the most money, and the most profits in California, from the Patients of the medical cannabis industry no less, won’t support or finance any legalization effort until it has already officially made the ballot. Share the same vision my ass!
The point is, if you rely on industry leaders, and activists groups to do the work for you, you’d better get ready for a heaping pile of disappointment. Trust me when I say they will let you down every time. In the words of Jack Herer – “You guys have to be warriors for your own freedom. You can’t depend on me or anyone else to do it for you. This freedom comes from our willingness to put our acts on the line and teach people all the comprehensive information we have learned about cannabis hemp.” We don’t need big money, we need big motivation and big determination from an educated base of citizenry. The CCHI 2016 is organizing up and down, and throughout the entire state as I write this article. We are organizing a base of volunteers and supporters to get the signatures necessary to qualify for the November 2016 ballot. Please click the link at the top right of the site for more information on how you can get involved with the fight to liberate cannabis 100% for everyone.
Let me start by saying that I have been to my fair Share of County, and City supervisor meetings. Even a few planning commission hearings as well here in Fresno. The most prominent notion in regards to Medicinal Cannabis that is thrown around is the notion that every single cultivator of Cannabis is a Criminal, or is somehow involved in Criminal activity associated with Cannabis. By either abusing the medicinal cannabis program set in place and not following the guidelines, which they do not seem to want to draft any sensible regulations on behalf of the patients. Nor do they seem to care, quite frankly. Then there is always Margret Mimms and our local supervisors favorite and most popular line of defense, Any and every single plant is illegal at the federal level, therefore we have a zero tolerance policy on the basis of all cannabis cultivation is a federal crime. If I had a $100 bucks every time I heard them say “it’s all illegal on the federal level”. I would be wealthy man.
Well in no way shape or form should Margret Mimms, or any other California law enforcement officer be enforcing or even suggesting Federal law within the state of California. Let alone a county supervisor. It is the duty of the Sheriff, as well as the district attorney to enforce state laws. The federal Government cannot compel state law enforcement. The Supreme Court has even stated that Congress cannot require state officers to enforce federal law. The court said that ” the constitution contemplates that a states government will represent and remain accountable to its own citizens.” So when are they going to be held accountable for suggesting we enforce federal law within our states borders, Over the laws passed by the citizens of California?
Well I hate to be the bearer of Bad news, (Not Really) But, These are exactly that, nonsensical notions with no factual statistics to support them. Do not get me wrong though, there are plenty of illegal grows on state and federal property that need eradicating and proper policing. There are also people within the system that do abuse it. You will find that in just about every system though. And yes those are criminals in which I believe deserve the full brunt of law enforcement. What I do not understand is why local law enforcement and county supervisors seem to conveniently confuse, or purposely bunch criminals and qualified patients together. Coincidence? Two birds, one stone. It’s pretty convenient on behalf of the supervisors. They just allow Law enforcement to do what they do best. Policing. And it allows our county and city supervisors to never have to tackle the tough job of working on sensible regulations that are desperately needed for the Fresno citizens that are LEGAL California Prop-215 and SB-420 medicinal marijuana patients. It’s a win, win, for everybody but the patients of course.
The worst part of it is. That the very criminals you are trying to prevent are the very same people set to make larger profits from the criminal black market, effectively increasing crime. Because you successfully eradicated the patient’s ability to either purchase from a licensed facility, known as a collective or a dispensary. And through this outdoor cultivation ban you are once again going to completely diminish the LEGAL California Prop-215 and SB-420 medicinal marijuana patients ability to produce quality outdoor medicine for themselves on their own property. Prop-215 Patients ability to cultivate their own plants outdoors is crucial to not only greater access, cheaper medicine, better quality, but increased safety as well.
Forcing patients to only cultivate indoors is far too expensive for the average patients who are usually on fixed incomes. Most are on disability and cannot cultivate for themselves. Hence the need for Collective grow sites that require larger numbers of plants for those who are disabled and cannot produce their own medicine by their own means or on their own property. We are not just talking about putting a few light bulbs above a few plants in the bath tub. To equal what can be produced outdoors, patients would have to spend upwards of 5000 to 10,000 dollars to produce a room that is up to code and efficient enough to produce what can easily be done by Mother Nature. Not to mention the high amounts of energy consumption that must also be paid annually for each harvest. Along with things like, soil, nutrients, pots, and so many other hidden costs that simply make it ineffective to ban outdoor cultivation. If we want to stay true to the requirements of the compassionate use act, Banning outdoor cultivation is not an effective method of creating greater access for qualified patients. However it is an effective method of avoiding the tough questions and hard work of coming up with sensible regulations for patients, and law enforcement to abide by. Thus making it easier to identify the criminals.
So what? We are all just simply criminals now, and should all be treated as such? That is not very compassionate. I think it is important to note the actual name of Prop-215, the Compassionate use act of 1996. That is why I am writing this today. That is why I am going to read this very post before the Fresno county board of supervisors today. Compassion! I do it for the patients who can’t raise their voices in opposition here today. I do it for the patients that I have personally witnessed amazing life altering changes thanks to cannabis. I am here because I take great pride and solace in seeing the Joy cannabis brings to those who are bright enough to look past the lies and see the truth for themselves. And that is what I ask all of you here today to please consider today, Have some compassion and some consideration for those that you are so blindly throwing out along with the bath water.
This past Wednesday, may 16 2012. The Fresno Planning Commission voted 4-2 on Wednesday to recommend passage of a permanent ban on growing medical marijuana outdoors anywhere in the city of Fresno. I was one of three people to speak against the proposed ban and some of the underlying legal issues. I myself did not submit anything in writing because I felt that speaking from my heart works best for me. I asked the planning commission to please consider who will be effected the most by the passing such a restrictive ordinance. What about the patients who are on disability ? What about the patients who can barely afford to grow a few plants under the sun each season? The patients on fixed incomes who are already having a hard time scraping by ? Such a restrictive ordinance affects the poorest and most neediest of the medicinal cannabis patients here in Fresno, Ca.
I then went on to say that I am not here to advocate for thousand plant grow sites in the city limits. I am here to stand up for the patients right to legally cultivate their own medicine, on their own property. I told them that I was all for sensible regulations on outdoor cultivation within the city limits. But what the city currently had drafted was way to restrictive and would only further restrict patients access to affordable quality medicinal cannabis. Transplanting even a small 2 or 4 plant garden from outdoors to indoors can be very costly. It’s not as simple as ripping the plants from the ground, Throwing them in the bath tub and hanging a light bulb above it. Which by the way where the actual words of a judge here in Fresno recently, and also prior statements of the Law enforcement official giving the presentation before the planning commission just minutes before.
Actually to Give Lt. David Newton of the FPD narcotics division credit, he actually said cheap Led lights, which some growers are switching to, but are rarely used due to little information about production and output. personally there isn’t enough proven evidence to switch anything just yet. I also stated to the planning commission board that I myself do not hate Law enforcement, nor do I blame them for the position they have been in put in. But I am here to advocate Law enforcement does serve and protect the legal medicinal cannabis community like everyone else. I went on to say how I did agree that we needed to work with law enforcement to reign in those who are abusing the medicinal cannabis industry. But we also should not throw away the baby with the bath water. Dont punish the patients for the actions of the criminals.
After Comments from the other 2 whole speakers in opposition Diane Valdovinos ( Local Advocate ) and Micheal Green of Cal pot news. The commission board commended us for our statements. They then proceeded to vote on the ordinance. Many of the members of the planning commission said they understood our concerns but that they didn’t feel it was as restrictive and voted in favor. But one planning commissioner statements specifically hit home for me and made me feel as if we did have a very small victory in the overall battle. Luisa Medina of the planning commission said she was going to vote in favor of the ordinance but after hearing the statements in opposition from the three of us she had changed her mind. I was overjoyed with pride when I heard her say that. The fact that the statements of mine and that of my friends made a difference that day. Though we lost the overall battle, but through education and compassion we changed the heart and mind of just one person who would have otherwise just gone along with protocol and passed the ordinance.
After the planning commission meeting was dismissed we retreated to the front of the city hall building to gather our thoughts. We where then greeted by Luisa medina and Andy Hansen-Smith of the planning commission. they had some great words of encouragement and thanked us for coming out voicing our concerns to the commission. But the real highlight of that evening for me personally was when Lt. David Newton of the FPD confronted me outside of city hall and thanked me for coming. He also told me that I was a very good representative the for medicinal cannabis community and that he actually voted for prop 215 back in 1996. Lt David Newton also said that he looked forward to seeing me again. I jokingly replied, well I hope its at the next city council meeting and not anywhere else. We both laughed, shook hands and parted ways. Now those are the kinds of encounters with law enforcement I would prefer happen.
But for those who believe the opponent has the upper hand and it’s just to large a hill to climb. Dont give Up ! Three dedicated cannabis activists didn’t win the overall battle this past Wednesday, but they are winning the hearts and minds through the power of compassion and education. The key to ending patient discrimination in local counties and city’s here in the central valley is through education and compassion. Through this blog and various other social media I will keep you posted on when the ordinance will be going before the Fresno City council.
By: Dustin F. Lowery