Free The Weed 63 by John Sinclair

May 22, 2016

Highest greetings from Amsterdam, where I’ve just returned for the summer (if all goes well) to continue my efforts to set up my personal foundation called Stichting John Sinclair in order to make a proper repository for my life’s work, my intellectual properties, copyrighted writings and albums, and artifacts of my creative endeavors including my poetry and book manuscripts, master recordings, and related materials.

I’ve always preserved the materials created by my work as an artist and activist with an eye to the future when I’m no longer here, and in the past I’ve created an archive at the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan for most of the materials and artifacts I’ve amassed over more than 50 years of activity so far. When I moved from Detroit to New Orleans 25 years ago, I left my Detroit jazz archives with the Museum of African American History so they would be available to Detroiters into posterity.

Now I want to create something that’s more than an archive and also more directly under my intellectual control so I can preserve my works in poetry, music, journalism, recording, performance and broadcasting in perpetuity and in a single digital realm. This has been my dream for years, to gather all my things together in one place and make them available long after I’m gone. You can call it an ego trip if you want to, but any sort of artistry is a true ego trip in the sense of following the mental trips one’s self takes and follows in the course of making something in art and of one’s life.

There’s also the evidence of my work outside the art and music world as a cultural and political activist, a relentless opponent of the War On Drugs and a zealous proponent of marijuana legalization all my adult life. I had the honor and the pleasure of kicking off the marijuana movement in Michigan 50 years ago, and in my old age I’m trying to hang on long enough to see the battle won once and for all.

I helped campaign for the first marijuana ballot initiative in California in 1972 and returned to Ann Arbor to make the first feeble attempt to launch a Michigan Marijuana Initiative, beginning a trajectory that hopefully will culminate as a result of the current efforts of MILegalize in full legalization in our state following the November elections this year. At the same time I had the privilege of assisting in the institution of the $5 marijuana law in Ann Arbor, and I was on the Diag for the first Hash Bash and helped for several years to make sure it continued to take place on the first Saturday in April every year.

In more recent years I’ve appeared in support of marijuana legalization at MassCann in Boston, in Seattle and Oregon and Denver and Maine, and frequently in Michigan in many diverse settings. Now, since I first came to Amsterdam as High Priest of the Cannabis Cup in 1998, I’m part of the cannabis culture here in the long-time marijuana capitol of the world, and I’m striving to unite all these strains of my life in one location under the aegis of the John Sinclair Foundation.

I’ve been blessed in my work and my widespread travels over half a century to make legions of friends all over America and Europe, and I’m calling on them now to help me build my foundation. My friend and long-time supporter Sidney Kuijer of the Ceres Seed Company and the Hempshopper stores has backed my internet radio station at RadioFreeAmsterdam.com, my own website at johnsinclair.us and my FaceBook page for most of the present century, and he’s agreed to serve as the head of the Stichting John Sinclair.

My friend and roommate in Amsterdam for the past several years, drummer, deejay, webmaster and producer Steve “Fly Agaric 23” Pratt, now in Bristol, is playing a key role in the organizational effort and is creating a new website for the Foundation that will integrate the several sites I work from now, including the site he maintains for us called Fattening Blogs For Snakes.

The Fly is also going to direct our crowd-funding project on Indie-Go-Go that launches this month and will run for the next 60 days, working with another friend and Stichting board member in Bristol, guitarist, nightclub manager and former charitable fund-raiser Dylan Harding. Another board member, Jerry Poynton, now in Athens, organized and maintains the literary estate of his late friend Herbert Huncke, the original literary character who helped bring together and inspire Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs to create what became known as the Beat Generation, to which we all owe our present existence—including the central place of marijuana in our lives.

In Amsterdam we’ve just gained the valuable participation of Kai van Bentham, an ex-Canadian community arts organizer and web specialist, and Marianna Lebrun, bassist, translator and activist. Finally, my long-time friend Hank Botwinik, mime, actor, and veteran media manipulator, has agreed to join our board of directors and help us reach our organizational goals. Hank and I started Radio Free Amsterdam together with our late comrade Larry Hayden on January 1, 2005, and he sponsors our programming stream at streema.com.

For the past ten years Radio Free Amsterdam has been my central passion in life, and I’ve spent thousands of hours creating original programming for the John Sinclair Radio Show and other series, gathering original radio programs from fellow deejays Bruce Pingree, Leslie Keros, George Klein, Steve The Fly, Elisa Mancini, Tom Morgan, Cary Wolfson, David Kunian and others, editing these shows into one-hour episodes, annotating and attaching playlists for each show, posting the episodes on the Radio Free Amsterdam site, archiving every program posted for perpetual access, and reposting each episode to our live stream server at streema.com.

This is a lot of work for one old guy, but I derive so much pleasure from this activity and it serves both artistic and educational purposes: I believe I’m creating a serious, carefully organized, fully accessible archive of American roots music programming—blues, jazz, gospel, soul, funk, Afro-fusion, reggae and other classic forms—and presenting the music in the classic radio format that gave me my life in music, with knowledgeable deejays sequencing the music and commenting on it from their own unique viewpoints.

First of all it’s something you can listen to as an alternative to the horseshit radio and media programming of today, and my pledge is that if you listen regularly to Radio Free Amsterdam for a year, you’ll have a whole different perception of what good music is about, where it came from, how it developed, and why we should always give it a central place in our lives.

Radio Free Amsterdam is on-going as the central focus of the John Sinclair Foundation, and our fund drive, if successful, will allow us to secure proper licensing for the music we play, upgrade our delivery system and our website, and provide for continuous promotion of the station so we can turn more people on to our mix of Blues, Jazz & Reefer at RadioFreeAmsterdam.com

That’s the end of my sermon for today, but I hope I can convince you, my readers, to check out the John Sinclair Foundation fund drive at Indie-Go-Go and our new website at TheJohnSinclairFoundation.org. We’re seeking people who will join the Foundation as members and support us in our efforts to develop and grow into a self-sustaining alternative institution. And, by the way, FREE THE WEED!
—Amsterdam
May 22, 2016

© 2016 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.

Free The Weed 62 by John Sinclair

May 10, 2016

Highest greetings from Detroit, where I’m spending my last week before crossing the ocean to appear at a Detroit Artists Workshop exhibition in London and then on to Amsterdam for as long as I can get away with it.

April is always a great time for me to be in Michigan, and except for the day-long snowfall at the Hash Bash in Ann Arbor at the top of the month, which didn’t really seem to dampen too many spirits out on the Diag and on Monroe Street for the festivities, I’ve had a great time celebrating the sacred weed in various settings all month.

Following the Monroe Street Fair there was the annual Hash Bash celebration at the Blind Pig where I get to perform with Brennan Andes and Ross Huff from the Macpodz and their musical comrades for the occasion. Oh yeah, and there was the before party hosted by the Third Coast people from Ypsilanti at a big house in the country where I had the pleasure of hanging out with Dan Skye, editor of High Times, listening to music by an impromptu ensemble headed by my old pal Muruga, and then spending the night in one of their splendid guest rooms so I could make it to the Diag on time the next morning.

On April 16 I had the privilege of attending a water purification ceremony organized by Native Americans from the area and conducted by elders and spirit leaders of the Potawatomie nation. This beautiful ritual culminated with the passing of the sacred pipe among all the participants and the offering of traditional Potawatomie prayers for the cleansing of the river and all waters.

As the pipe was offered to each person and passed from the pipe carriers to the people one by one, I was reminded that this is where our practice of toking and passing the joint came from in the first place and how toking and smoking together have their origins in spiritual communion with all our relations and the universe itself.

The sharing of marijuana has become farther and farther removed from its spiritual roots as the cannabis culture has become more and more commodified and commercilaized over the past half century since we were first introduced to weed by our brothers in the ghetto and supplied with our sacrament by growers in Mexico and our intrepid comrades who brought it to us despite the incredible obstacles in their path—particularly their relentless pursuit by the drug police every step of the way.

Now that the police are gradually but inexorably being removed from our lives as marijuana smokers (or whatever delivery system one may choose), I’d say that it’s a good time to return to our roots and embrace the concepts of spirituality and ritual celebration that once served as the underpinnings of our relationship with the weed.

The coffeeshop concept that prevails in Amsterdam and the Netherlands is much closer to the traditional practice of marijuana smokers than what we are seeing now in Michigan and elsewhere weed is being permitted to be bought and sold in public. I’ve spent some delightful hours in compassion centers like GC3 in Flint and The Herbal Centre in Mt. Morris, where I just spent the 4/20 holiday, because along with the availability of multiple locally-grown strains of great weed offered by the producers themselves in a cooperative, “farmers market” sort of environment, these establishments also provide smokers with a special room where we can sit with fellow patients and smoke our weed in peace and fellowship.

My experience with the modern dispensaries of Michigan is fairly limited since I have a care-giver who supplies me with my medicine and other caring growers who make me gifts of their produce, so I rarely have to pay over the counter while I’m here. But what I’ve experienced almost invariably is that, despite the fact that their product is marijuana in immediately usable form, the provisioning centers want you to make your choice, buy your medicine and beat it without delay

Frankly, this is the opposite of what I’m looking for in a marijuana provisioning center. What I’m looking for is the opportunity to get together in a congenial setting with other smokers like myself and get high together, share our herb and our experiences, listen to music together, engage in relaxed conversation and, when we move on, take some weed home with us. I submit that this is a more civilized and humane system for taking care of the needs of medical marijuana patients, or humans of any stripe for that matter, than we are afforded here under their present scheme.

The proliferation of provisioning centers throughout Michigan and particularly in Detroit should have led to a superior form of organization for the dispensaries that would include the on-site ingestion of weed in a comfortable, friendly atmosphere, but this prospective organic development has been stymied by the attack on the compassion centers by the Detroit City Council and the DPD. Instead of allowing these innovative installations to evolve and flower into more perfect entities, the City is trying to make sure that regression will be the only course allowed.

In the first place, instead of being ecstatic that over 200 new businesses have opened in the city, many in seriously dilapidated areas, in response to the legalization of medical marijuana several years ago, the City administration is trying to reduce the number of care centers to what Detroit Corporation Counsel Melvin “Butch” Hollowell claims will be “approximately 50 Medical Marihuana Caregiver Centers in various locations in the city.”

As Chris Feretti reports in the Detroit News, Butch holds that “the city’s medical marihuana regulations are lawful, fair and reasonable. We will continue to enforce compliance in the courts, while concurrently processing the applications submitted for medical marihuana caregiver center licenses.”

About 195 applications overall have been submitted. Of those, 74 are seeking to operate in what the city calls “drug-free zones,” Hollowell said. A group of caregiver centers brought suit against the City in March when their applications were turned down outright when the City claimed each of the dispensaries was located in a so-called “Drug Free School Zone.” The lawsuit was filed because the City provided the appplicants no means to appeal, but the suit was dropped before it could be heard.

As Peretti reports, “The federal Drug Free School Zone Act prevents the drug from being delivered, sold or manufactured within 1,000 feet of a school. State law also factors libraries into the rule. The city’s zoning regulations cover educational institutions and goes beyond that, prohibiting shops from operating near child care centers, arcades and outdoor recreation facilities.”

I’m leaving Detroit this week so I’ll have to follow this issue from afar, but while I’ve been here I couldn’t help but notice the many green outlets and how good they looked against the desolate landscape of Detroit. Comrade suppliers, you’ll be in my thoughts and prayers until my return. FREE THE WEED!

—Detroit
April 25, 2016

© 2016 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.

Free The Weed 60 by John Sinclair

May 5, 2016

Highest greetings from New Orleans, where I was greeted for Mardi Gras with the splendid news that the New Orleans City Council is about to pass an ordinance virtually decriminalizing marijuana possession in the Crescent City, largely due to the work of Kevin Caldwell and the organization called Legalize New Orleans and to Council member Susan Guidry, who introduced the measure.

“Under the proposed municipal law change,” nola.com reports, “a first-time offender could get off with a verbal warning. A second-time offender could get a written warning, then a $50 fine the third time” and a $100 fine any time after that. “Police will now be able to use their discretion,” the report continues, either issuing a summons under the municipal code or making a custodial arrest using state marijuana possession laws.

Since Council member Guidry introduced the original ordinance in 2010 that redefined first offense simple possession, “We have found that the police officers 70% of the time are writing out a summons rather than taking someone to jail,” Guidry said. “Most importantly,” nola.com adds, “research shows that the NOPD’s discretionary use of summonses has been applied evenly by race.”

But according to New Orleans Municipal Court and NOPD records cited by nola.com, African-Americans still account for 75% of all misdemeanor marijuana arrests and 92% of all felony marijuana arrests (whether by summons or custodial arrest). “This is unacceptable and not in line with the demographics of our city or the reported demographics of marijuana users,” Council member Guidry said.

Guidry says she hopes the ordinance will “free up police, save money and make application of marijuana laws more fair and just across ethnic and economic backgrounds.” She wants police on the street investigating murders, rapes and armed robberies, “rather than at the station spending countless hours booking individuals on victimless, non-violent crime.

“These marijuana arrests clog our already overburdened court systems and public defender’s office. Also, when indigent defendants cannot afford the hefty state law fines for possession offenses, they end up clogging our jail for failure to pay. Those offenders then struggle to get back on track once released. They can’t bond out and they wind up losing their job, then they get out and they are really in desperate circumstances, and really it makes the severity of the punishment much more than the severity of the crime,” Guidry said.

That’s some of the most sensible municipal wisdom to be encountered today, and this grizzled veteran of the marijuana legalization wars would like to commend and thank Ms. Susan Guidry for leading the way to common sense in New Orleans.

In Detroit, however, the City Council is gallopoing off in the opposite direction, even though the citizenry has voted to legalize marijuana for medical (2008) and recreational (2012) use and the cannabis community has opened up more than 200 public dispensaries to serve the needs of local smokers.

This has happened in the most natural fashion and absent any supervision or regulatory system devised by the city government. Now they want to corral the dispensaries and impose stringent post-facto legal strictures that are based in the usual idiocy of War On Drugs policies.

The Detroit City Council has adopted a report pretentiously titled “Medical Marihuana Caregiver Center Application Process Status Report For Detroit City Council” and identified 211 dispensary locations in the city.

According to Rick Thompson of The Compassion Chronicles, the new medical marijuana rules will begin on March 1 and any dispensary now open in the city has only until March 31 to apply for a business license. Most of the applicants will also have to apply for a zoning variance, Thompson adds, ”as the city was extremely stingy on the number of locations properly zoned for the inappropriately-named caregiver centers.”

There isn’t enough space in this column to go into every detail of the Detroit dispensary ordinance, but Richard Clement, Marijuana Policy Analyst for Council Member George Cushingberry, suggests that anyone interested in viewing the relevant documents visit www.detroitmi.gov/Government/City-Council/George-Cushingberry/Newsletters-and-Documents

Let it suffice to say that the ordinance is full of tricks and traps that are designed to deprive as many people as possible of access to their medicine. First off, all operational dispensaries must apply for their licenses in the month of March—period. Up-front costs include a Site Plan Review for $160, an initial Conditional Hearing for $1000, a Board of Zoning Appeals Hearing for $1200, and, as Rick Thompson points out, the price of the business license itself is yet to be determined.

Once the licensing fee is established, the businesses will have to purchase the initial license in the spring and will be forced to renew their license and pay the fee again in September.

The whole thing is based in the kind of backwards, police-state ideology so assiduously developed in the service of the War On Drugs. For instance, anyone who cultivates marijuana in a residence will be required to register with the city of Detroit as a home-based business. The registration process involves inspection and approval by numerous city agencies.

Further, dispensaries cannot be less than 1000 feet from another such business, from a park recognized by the Recreation Department, from a religious institution that has received a tax exemption from the city, or from a business identified as a controlled use (topless clubs and liquor stores). The City has specified a few industrial districts where dispensaries may be less than 1000 feet from each other to allow for clustering of similar businesses.

What happens if you don’t follow the rules? Rick Thompson asks. “Any premises, building or structure in which a medical marihuana caregiver center is regularly operated or maintained in violation of the standard included and incorporated in this Code shall constitute a public nuisance and shall be subject to a civil abatement proceeding initiated by the City of Detroit.”

What’s even worse, Thompson reports in a follow-up piece, the Detroit Police Department raided more than a dozen medical marijuana dispensaries in February despite assurances that businesses of that type will begin licensing procedures on March 1.

“The Detroit Police raids are a tortious interference with a business expectancy,” Royal Oak attorney Barton Morris told Thompson. “The recent Detroit Police raids are unlawful and unconstitutional. The city should be legally estopped from taking any action to an issue they created and allowed.”

“The current policy to shut down, raid and deny safe access is a losing hand to play,” said Michael Komorn, an attorney from Southfield. “Medical cannabis is a public health issue, not a public safety issue.”

“The City has not only allowed dispensaries to operate by providing them certificates of occupancy, they enacted an ordinance to license and zone them,” Barton Morris pointed out. “At the same time, they send the Detroit police to raid select dispensaries purporting to enforce state law. That is the ultimate hypocrisy.”

“These raids are discriminatory in nature and further persecute caregivers and the patients who need safe access to their medicine,” said Bruce Leach of Kirsch Leach PLC of Birmingham. “So many people will be negatively impacted by these raids; many will be thrown into the criminal justice system.”

It will be interesting to see what happens in March, and we’ll be following this procedure very carefully. Incidentally, this is my 60th column for MMM Report—one every month for the past five years. If all goes well, the column will continue here for at least another five. FREE THE WEED!

—New Orleans

February 20-21, 2016

© 2016 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.

Free The Weed 59 by John Sinclair

May 2, 2016

Highest greetings from Amsterdam, former marijuana capitol of the world, although I intend to be in New Orleans for the Mardi Gras by the time you’re reading this column. Sad to say, Louisiana is one of the most backward sectors of the USA in terms of its marijuana laws, and I’ll go back to a life of full-time criminality as a toker during my up-coming six weeks in the Crescent City.

Here in Amsterdam the attack on the cannabis culture by the Dutch authorities continues to rage, with another round of forced coffeeshop closings completed in the busy Warmoestraat on January 1, including the mammoth Grasshopper shop and the popular Baba.

Across the Damrak—the main drag—the 420 Café (my own headquarters in Amsterdam since the turn of the century) was slated to be closed on New Year’s day along with the Kroon across the street, but the local government granted a 6-month extension which may or may not be extended even further. Who knows? All of these restrictive moves are totally without sense and represent a radical restructuring of a local social construct which has worked very effectively for more than 40 years.

If it weren’t so sickening and stupid it would be funny: Now that 52% of Americans clearly favor legalized marijuana in the United States, the Dutch government—after nearly half a century of permitted public smoking and copping although never actually legalizing marijuana—now wants to try to shrink the cannabis culture and drive it back out of the public eye in order more fully to commercialize and commodify the Dutch tourist industry.

The YouGov.com poll cited above, as reported in NORML News, concludes that “a majority of Americans, including two-thirds of Democrats, believe that marijuana should be legal [and] only 34 percent of respondents opposed the idea.” NORML News adds that “66% of respondents agreed that government efforts to enforce marijuana laws cost more than they are worth…while 62% said that the government should no longer enforce federal law in states that have legalized and regulated the plant’s use.”

The story concludes: “53% of those surveyed, including 68% of respondents between the ages of 45 and 64, acknowledged having tried cannabis.” Wow! It would seem that experiential knowledge in Americans is finally outweighing the horseshit propaganda and outright lies of the authorities. Try it! You’ll like it!

And speaking of exploding bullshit myths about marijuana use propagated by the unholy alliance of whiskey drinkers and religious nuts in power, Christopher Ingraham recently pointed out in Wonkblog that, duh, smoking weed does not make you stupid after all.

It turns out that a popular study released by Duke University in 2012 which found that persistent, heavy marijuana use through adolescence and young adulthood was associated with declines in IQ failed to account for a number of confounding factors that could also affect cognitive development, such as cigarette and alcohol use, mental illness and socioeconomic status.

Ingraham reports that two new studies this month examine the relationship between marijuana use and intelligence from two very different angles: one looks at 2,235 British teenagers between ages 8 and 16, and the other looks at the differences between American identical twin pairs in which one twin uses marijuana and the other does not.

Despite vastly different methods, Ingraham says, the studies reach the same conclusion: They found no evidence that adolescent marijuana use leads to a decline in intelligence; in fact, they found that those who used marijuana didn’t experience consistently greater cognitive deficits than the others.

The twin data “fails to support the implication by the authors of the Duke study that marijuana exposure in adolescence causes neurocognitive decline,” the study concludes. “On the contrary, children who are predisposed to intellectual stagnation in middle school are on a trajectory for future marijuana use.” In other words, Ingraham summarizes, “rather than marijuana making kids less intelligent, it may be that kids who are not as smart or who perform poorly in school are more inclined to try marijuana at some point in their lives.”

This is really quite a provocative story, and the author makes some very interesting speculations. “If marijuana use were responsible for cognitive decline,” Ingraham wonders, “you might expect to find that the more marijuana a person smokes, the less intelligent they become. But this paper found that heavier marijuana use was not associated with greater decreases in IQ.

“Marijuana is a drug,” Ingraham reasons, “and just like any other drug—alcohol, nicotine, caffeine—there are risks and benefits associated with use. But exaggerating the extent of those risks and benefits won’t help create smarter policies. For proof of this,” he adds, “simply review the history of the drug war.”

Well, yeah. Let me call on my own experiential knowledge gained from smoking marijuana virtually daily since early in 1962: Weed can make you smarter, more aware of what’s happening around you, more sensitive to your environment and your fellow humans, more receptive to visual arts, music, poetry, arts activity of all kinds. It can help you open your mind to new experiences, new companions, new cultures, new perceptions of reality.

These are things I know from my own experience and from observing others who are daily tokers like myself. With the current drive by the burgeoning marijuana industry to sell their products to squares and as many people as possible, someone should warn the potential smokers that they are in for a whole new ride and about to enter a significantly different mental universe than the one to which they’re accustomed.

Don’t get me wrong—this is a good thing, something I’ve looked forward to for more than 50 years of turning on my friends and colleagues, and my belief is that people should be able to get as much of the finest weed available as often as they may want to have it, and as conveniently as possible. And this leads me exactly to where I wanted to end up this column: spending my final 200 words on expressing my disgust for the recent “Medical Pot Shop Law” introduced by the Detroit City Council.

As Christine Ferretti has pointed out in The Detroit News, medical marijuana dispensaries do not exist under current state laws, but the experiential reality is that something like 150 such dispensaries have opened up within the Detroit city limits since the City legalized marijuana use in 2012. (Detroit legalized medical marijuana in 2005.) As Ms. Ferretti put it, “Some have opened and have been operating with strict standards to monitor products and treat patients; others are not.”

The demand for licensing of these outlets by the city—despite their lack of legal existence—has been spearheaded by the Metropolitan Detroit Community Action Coalition, a group of community, block club and faith-based groups who have come together to combat medical pot shops.

“Right now what we have going on makes absolutely no sense,” city councilman James Tate remarked. “We have no regulations whatsoever.” So he proposes to set strict licensing requirements for dispensary operators and specify where marijuana access facilities can legally locate within the city, establish required distances between each of the potential dispensaries and specify a distance between the shops and other controlled uses, including party stores and adult cabarets as well as the city’s parks, schools and churches.

I’ve got an instant solution for them: Let the merchants sell the weed to the people who want it. If you don’t want any, don’t buy any! Don’t smoke it! Relax! You don’t have to do this. Let it go! Free The Weed!

—Amsterdam

January 20-23, 2016

© 2016 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.

Free The Weed 58 by John Sinclair

May 1, 2016

Highest greetings from the south of England at the end of 2015 and highest wishes for the New Year, which may indeed be the one that brings us legalized marijuana in Michigan and takes us closer to our goal on the national level: FREE THE WEED!

Dear friends, let us pray that 2016 will be the year that begins to blow away the web of distorted myth from the topic of marijuana and starts the process of according full recognition and respect to the reality of marijuana and its many beneficial uses in our sick social order.

This whole process of demonizing marijuana and its users in order to forge a police state around us is only about 80 years old, originating in the demented propaganda and ugly mythology spewed forth by Harry Anslinger, America’s first “drug czar,” in order to convince Congress to criminalize marijuana by means of the Harrison Tax Act of 1937.

The War On Drugs itself was initiated by Richard M. Nixon and his henchmen, Attorney General John N. Mitchell, future Supreme Court Chief Justice Wiilliam Rehnquist, chief of staff Bob Haldeman and counsel to the president John Ehrlichman, who explains:

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar Left, and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black. But by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” [Emphases in original text, courtesy of Citizens for Peace, Prosperity and Justice, 2015]

But the reality of marijuana use goes back thousands of years, as I just read in the Cannabis News Network bulletin published by Sensi Seeds in Amsterdam:

“Cannabis has a long history in India, veiled in legends and religion. The earliest mention of cannabis has been found in The Vedas, or sacred Hindu texts. These writings may have been compiled as early as 2000 B.C.

”

“According to The Vedas, cannabis was one of five sacred plants. The Vedas call cannabis a source of happiness, joy-giver, liberator that was compassionately given to humans to help us attain delight and lose fear. It releases us from anxiety. The god, Shiva is frequently associated with cannabis, called bhang in India.

“According to legend, Shiva wandered off into the fields after an angry discourse with his family. Drained from the family conflict and the hot sun, he fell asleep under a leafy plant. When he awoke, his curiosity led him to sample the leaves of the plant. Instantly rejuvenated, Shiva made the plant his favorite food and he became known as the Lord of Bhang.”

This is more like it! But after about 4,000 years of blissful, healthful, revelatory, pleasurable and harmless use of marijuana by people in the Old World and the New, U.S. authorities spearheaded by Jpseph Anslinger created a whole new identity for marijuana as a dangerous narcotic and of marijuana smokers as vicious dope fiends.

Anslinger’s agency underwent several changes of identity as well. According to Wikipedia, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was established by Richard Nixon in 1973 as a single federal agency to enforce the federal drug laws as well as consolidate and coordinate all the government’s drug control activities. As a result, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), the Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE), approximately 600 Special Agents of the Bureau of Customs, the Customs Agency Service and other federal offices merged to create the DEA.

Whew! That’s a lot of law enforcement to be directed for the past 42 years against people who like to get high on marijuana and other recreational drugs! And the whole apparatus was erected atop a foundation of outright lies and deliberate misrepresentations generated by the highest law enforcement agencies in the nation and backed by the armed forces of federal, state, county and local governments everywhere in the country.

Isn’t it time that we demobilized these armed forces of the War On Drugs and eliminated them from the law enforcement community? Isn’t it time for the emperor to go back in the dressing room and put some clothes on and come back out to confess his sins and begin to make reparations?

Here’s a tiny start: As I began work today I read an Associated Press dispatch from Sari Horwitz reporting that President Obama had just commuted the sentences of 95 drug offenders, saying they have “served their debt to society.” Ms. Horwitz adds that “It is the third time this year that the president has used his unique clemency power to release federal drug offenders”—22 in March and another 46 in July.

But one in 100 adults is behind bars in America, according to the Coalition for Public Safety, and more than 33,000 federal drug prisoners have filed applications for clemency, A total of 163, or about ½ of 1% have been granted. That’s not very many, but as Ms. Horwitz points out, “The latest round of clemencies come as lawmakers in Congress are debating several bipartisan bills to change sentencing laws.”

Another positive sign popped up, as reported by NORML, in the depths of the Omnibus Spending Bill recently passed by Congress that includes provisions which will continue to limit the federal government from taking punitive action against state-licensed individuals or operations that are acting are in full compliance with the medical marijuana laws of their states. To wit: “None of the funds made available in this act to the Department of Justice may be used … to prevent … states … from implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

Unhappily, Senate-backed amendments seeking to permit military veterans access to medical cannabis and to permit state-licensed marijuana business greater access to banking services were not included in the final version of the spending bill.

An unexpected breath of fresh air came last month from the venerable Detroit News, which editorialized as follows under the headline Protect Access to Medical Marijuana: “The Senate failed to pass legislation again this year that would legalize non-smokable forms of marijuana under the state’s medical pot program. That means nearly 180,000 medical marijuana patients in Michigan remain in limbo, as do their caregivers and suppliers.

“It’s unfair to patients working within the law, adopted by a 2008 ballot initiative, to continue withholding safe access to their legal medicine. The Legislature must legalize edible, topical and other forms of the drug, and approve a regulatory structure in which the industry can operate….”

“It’s unfair to declare medical marijuana legal, but then not provide the regulatory framework to assure that patients and their caregivers don’t become accidental criminals.”

Somebody say Amen! Free The Weed!

—Bristol, England
December 17-19, 2015

© 2016 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.