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!
April 25, 2016
© 2016 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.