February 12, 2017
Police Bastard – Confined (VINYL) has arrived after many months of waiting.
A big Thank You to all of you who have pre-ordered the VINYL or have contributed as Iron Man Records Patrons. I would like to acknowledge the ongoing insanity of the following and their kind financial support for this madness:
Suzy Tweddle, Deborah Ritchie, Scott Roe, Margaret Calleja, Thomas Rathgeber, Dan, Lee Parsfield, Chris Scales, Muir Mathewson, Michael Howe, Jonathan Harris, Dave Barnard, Bill Fadden, Mike Burgess, Joachim Palm, Lyle Bignon, Thomas Burke, Ben Cartlidge, Matt Grimes, Toby Conyers, Chris, Andy Cavendish, Steve Wyatt, Andrew Dubber, Frank Knoblich, Vaughan Roberts, Ian Robertson, Marcus H, Seth Faergolzia, Ricky Lee, Kathryn McCormack, Ade Cartwright, Sunwoo Jung….
Almost all orders have been posted out in the last few days, and Patrons will get their copies this week.
It’s been a bit mad at this end, I have never had to post out so many records in such a short time before. It’s been a task in itself just trying to get the orders to the post office.
If you would like to buy Police Bastard – Confined on VINYL try the Iron Man Shop here
If you would like to become an Iron Man Records Patron go here
This record is possibly the best record the band have released to date and there are only 500 copies on Vinyl so get one while you can.
The work continues on new recordings and new material. The band will be back playing live later this year, hope to see you then
February 3, 2017
The general history of art and literature shows that the highest achievements of the human mind are, as a rule, not favourably received at first. Iron Man Records would like to invite you to consider becoming a Patron.
Iron Man Records has dedicated over 20 years to supporting, promoting, and working with, some of the most interesting artists you may never have heard of, sometimes with a budget you can stick under a glass.
February will see the release of Police Bastard – “Confined” on Vinyl.
One of CVLT Nation’s Top Crust Albums: “Thought-provoking monologues and confrontational lyrics bring you on a cold, doom-laden journey of perpetual war, psychological mind control and disillusionment.”
April will see the release of John Sinclair – “Beatnik Youth Ambient” on Vinyl.
Ambient, chill out music from the restless creative mind of Youth with spoken word and poetry delivered by John Sinclair.
John, has been described as an Archetype of the 1960’s art, music and literary synthesis, and who today continues his work for cultural transformation. A psychedelic poet, a living legend, a veteran of the counterculture, a survivor of the Marijuana Wars, and one of the last bohemians still standing. As a co-founder of the Detroit underground newspaper The Fifth Estate, manager of MC5, and Chairman of the White Panther Party described on Wikipedia in these modern times as a far-left, anti-racist, white American political collective founded in 1968 and dedicated to cultural revolution, John Sinclair’s mark on the boho rock & roll underground has been unique.
Youth is one of the UK’s most influential producers and has been honoured with an Outstanding Contribution Award by the Music Producers Guild. His career spans more than 30 years and is one of the UK’s most consistent, credible and influential producers, Youth has also hand drawn the beautiful cover artwork.
Please consider becoming a Patron to support the work. Incredible amounts of time, effort, and money has gone into making these records happen. Iron Man Records would like to invite you to give your support to the artists involved and their work.
Among the rewards, Patrons will get a copy of each release as soon as it is available and Patrons will get their names printed on the sleeve of all future releases generated with their help and support.
You have to build the world you want to live in, and while you may not want to consider running a record label yourself, you can directly influence what happens next. Patrons enable Iron Man Records to continue the work supporting struggling artists.
Please consider getting involved. If you want an alternative to what you see going on around you, you have to make it for yourself. Let’s make something happen https://www.patreon.com/ironmanrecords
December 23, 2016
Looking back on this year, Iron Man Records has had an interesting one. Three recurring themes emerged.
“The only way to support a revolution is to make your own” — Abbie Hoffman, Woodstock Nation.
“Reality is not enough; we need nonsense too. Drifting into a world of fantasy is not an escape from reality but a significant education about the nature of life.” Edmund Miller, Lewis Carroll Observed
“It’s dangerous to understand new things too quickly” — Josiah Warren, True Civilization
Make of that what you will. Some of the significant things that happened this year included:
John Sinclair published a book called It’s All Good: A John Sinclair Reader. Stories of tragedy and triumph that will take you on a trip through the Wonder Years with music lyrics and poetry. Stuart Maconie’s Freak Zone attempted to find out how to live a psychedelic life with the poet and activist John Sinclair as BBC Music’s My Generation celebrated the 1960s.
Dr Marshmallow Cubicle – Occupy was released on Iron Man Records, 23rd April, 2016.
In the early hours of 10th April 2016, Howard Marks died peacefully in his sleep. Iron Man Records had the pleasure of meeting, working with and listening to Howard Marks. He really was exactly as you would hope: A truly decent bloke, funny, humble and just Mr Nice. His life and work will live on…..“You might control a lot of things Drugs Tsar, but you’ll never control my mind…..” Howard Marks from the song Let Me Grow More Weed he recorded with P.A.I.N
Robert Anton Wilson meets Steve “Fly Agaric” Pratt was released on Iron Man Records, 23rd June, 2016
The entire Iron Man Records music catalogue was made available on Bandcamp. To start with all releases are £5 or you can Stream the releases and listen for free. All Releases are available on most of the download and streaming platforms already but for those of you who want an alternative to Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, Google, Youtube, Facebook and all the other main providers, Bandcamp seems good.
Some people wonder what on earth I do for a living. Well, I earn money working as a Tour Manager and I spend all of it keeping Iron Man Records going. I spend the rest of my time trying to stay sane, despite serious provocation from people who are totally convinced or totally stupid, and often both at the same time. Have a read and make up your own mind: Back In Five Years and My life is a pile of receipts in a deserted restaurant on a cross channel ferry
Simon Reeves at Framework Studio spent three days recording Oliver Senton reading Cosmic Trigger 1 by Robert Anton Wilson for a forthcoming audio book. Iron Man Records somehow managed to neglect it’s responsibilities to The Cosmic Trigger play but was happy to help see Oliver Senton looked after during these recordings.
Test pressings arrived for John Sinclair – Beatnik Youth Ambient which includes a beautiful recording of Howard Marks’ last lost words called War On Drugs with an ambient soundscape masterpiece from Youth…and also Police Bastard – Confined. Both records will be released in 2017.
Iron Man Records has ambitious plans to make a big impact in 2017. And with Patrons helping out, I feel positive we can make a big change. I guarantee there will be no funding appplications, no idiotic culture bids, no creative consultants, no government, business or arts advice types involved. Just you, me, musicians, madness and music.
Thanks again for all your support and have a fun Christmas.
December 14, 2016
John Sinclair – “Beatnik Youth” on Double CD
Released 14th April 2017 by Iron Man Records.
(Please note: Due to a so-called “Blockation” at the pressing plant, everything is running months behind schedule. The planned release date of 11th November 2016 has had to be put back to 14th April 2017. Apologies for any choas this may cause, but circumstances at the pressing plant are beyond our control)
All Press enquiries to Sean Newsham : firstname.lastname@example.org
Catalogue Number: IMB6032
Release date: 14th April 2017
Label: Iron Man Records
- Testify (9.10)
- Good Stuff (4.32)
- Everybody Needs Somebody (7.09)
- Change My Life (5.14)
- Ain’t Nobody’s Business (3.36)
- My Buddy (5.13)
- That Old Man (3.53)
- Brilliant Corners (11.29)
- Culture Cide (11.38)
- Red Dress (Ruby My Dear) (6.25)
- Sitarrtha (6.16)
- Do It (6.16)
- War On Drugs (6.18)
John Sinclair, the renegade poet, scholar and cultural revolutionary releases “Beatnik Youth” on 14th April 2017 on Iron Man Records. The double CD contains over 80 minutes of music from the restless creative mind of Youth, with some fine spoken word and poetry delivered by John Sinclair.
John, has been described as an Archetype of the 1960’s art, music and literary synthesis, and who today continues his work for cultural transformation.
Youth is one of the UK’s most influential producers and has been honoured, with an Outstanding Contribution Award by the Music Producers Guild. His career spans more than 30 years and is one of the UK’s most consistent, credible and influential producers.
You can pre-order the Double CD, Vinyl and T-shirt here: http://ironmanrecords.bigcartel.com/artist/john-sinclair
From Detroit to New Orleans and from Los Angeles to Amsterdam, John Sinclair is still the king-size, psychedelic old-gangster poet, a living legend, a veteran of the counterculture, a survivor of the Marijuana Wars, and one of the last bohemians still standing. As a co-founder of the Detroit underground newspaper The Fifth Estate, manager of MC5, and Chairman of the White Panther Party described on Wikipedia in these modern times as a far-left, anti-racist, white American political collective founded in 1968 and dedicated to cultural revolution his mark on the boho rock & roll underground has been unique.
In 1969, with Richard Nixon in the White House, Vietnam in chaos in the wake of the Viet Congs near-suicidal Tet Offensive, and American cities still scared and scarred from urban riots, even the comparatively harmless agitprop pranks of White Panther cultural revolution had those in power reaching for their metaphoric and sometimes actual revolvers. Authorities remembered how John had organized the MC5 playing outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, the only band actually able to perform before Mayor Daley’s rabid police department violently derailed the massive anti-Vietnam war rally with teargas, billy clubs, and helicopter support.
John was deemed a danger to society and set up like a bowling pin. After handing a couple of joints to a hassling hippie who turned out to be an undercover narcotics agent, John found himself on the bad end of a ten year jail term. At the same time though he became a cause celebre. Free John Sinclair became one more battle cry in an embattled era. Protests, propaganda, and a giant concert in Ann Arbor headlined by John Lennon and Yoko Ono ultimately resulted in John’s release in November 1971. Lennon even wrote a song about him called ‘John Sinclair’ which he included on his ‘Sometime In New York City’ album.
In common with much that happens with John, a meeting with producer Youth (Paul McCartneys ‘Fireman’, Primal Scream, The Verve etc & Killing Joke bass player) that sowed the creative seeds was a matter of stoned synchronicity. As former Track Records boss Ian Grant tells it, Alan Clayton told me he had John Sinclair coming round tomorrow. I said “The John Sinclair?” One night Zodiac (Mindwarp) was on the bill with the Dirty Strangers and Youth was very taken with John. “I want to make a jazz album with John” he said. Since then, the two met at Youths house whenever he was home, and when John was in the country, and recorded the album.
And through the course of those recordings John, always so associated with the 1960s, took a serious step into the ways of the 21st century, with the same intoned poetry, but with melodic backing vocals, highly inventive production, even a nod to hip-hop, but still remembering his first loves of blues, be-bop, and classic rock & roll.
Beatnik Youth is one more step in the Big Chief’s long zig-zag trip that seems set to continue all the way to the far blue horizon. Summing up John Sinclair, you can only say with certainty that the beatnik goes on.
Youth has been responsible for numerous hits from artists including The Verve, Embrace, Echo and the Bunnymen, Crowded House, The Orb, Sir Paul McCartney and The Charlatans. Among his recent projects was the co-production of Pink Floyd‘s final and largely instrumental album, The Endless River. Youth also remixed David Gilmour‘s current solo album, Rattle That Lock. The Verve’s Urban Hymns brought Youth a BRIT Award for Producer of the Year after three consecutive years of nomination.
Youth says “I’m very proud of the longevity of work on Killing Joke and The Orb, how those recordings still sound fresh… and what I’ve done with The Verve and Richard Ashcroft, and Paul McCartney (The Fireman) and Pink Floyd. It’s only really working with those guys, with my insecurities, that I felt as though I could go, ‘yeah, I am a producer’.” His “university” was Killing Joke after he left school, and it “doesn’t really get more intense than that”.
As a young musician Youth, whose real name is Martin Glover, cut his teeth doing bass sessions for Adrian Sherwood productions and for artists such as Kate Bush whose phenomenally successful Hounds of Love album had Youth on bass. He was also a founder member and bassist of the band Killing Joke. After leaving Killing Joke (and a short experiment with the band Brilliant, managed by Bill Drummond and featuring June Montana, Jimmy Cauty and other key innovators of electronic and indie dance music), Youth began working with Alex Paterson and Cauty as The Orb, a collaboration that was responsible for the introduction of chill-out ambient house music.
Cauty and Drummond eventually moved on to form The KLF, leaving Youth and Paterson to experiment extensively in the post punk British dance music and Acid House scene. This led to the release of two classic albums as The Orb – U.F.Orb and Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld, which incorporated Little Fluffy Clouds, a track that defined ambient house and chill-out and brought these genres firmly into the mainstream.
Youth’s skills as a producer were now being noticed by a much wider audience, not least because of his remix work with band like Siouxsie and The Banshees, Malcolm Maclaren, A Guy Called Gerald, Fine Young Cannibals, Marc Almond and U2. In 1993, he collaborated with Sir Paul McCartney who had developed an interest in remix culture. This resulted in Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest, an ambient album – and the first of three critically acclaimed albums – released under the name of The Fireman.
Over the years, Youth has notched up a staggeringly large and varied list of production and remix credits for artists such as Yazz, James, Primal Scream, Gun’s N’ Roses, Blue Pearl, Art of Noise, P.M. Dawn, Shack, De La Soul, Erasure, Beth Orton, Bananarama, Maria McKee, Suns of Arqa, The Shamen, Kool and the Gang, Texas, Pete Murphy, Tom Jones and Dido. He remains tireless in his quest for inspiration, excellence and innovation in recording great music and also finds time to paint, illustrate and publish poetry.
John Sinclair the White Panther firebrand who stoked the MC5’s insurrectionary manifesto has roots that stretch back to jazz and the beats, as a writer, avant-garde champion and poet. John has travelled the world, collaborating with like-minded souls; a living embodiment of the original free spirit that fought to emancipate a generation, one of the few still flying the freak flag.
Since the early 90s, Sinclair has released albums of his poetry, but Beatnik Youth is possibly some of John Sinclair’s best work to date.
This poorly served generation needs it: that militant energy which released the bats in the 60s is crucially booted into the 21st Century in a riotous celebration of personal freedom, cultural trailblazers and marijuana.
The following Iron Man Records Patrons have made this release possible:
Suzy Tweddle, Deborah Ritchie, Scott Roe, Margaret Calleja, Thomas Rathgeber, Dan, Lee Parsfield, Chris Scales, Muir Mathewson, Michael Howe, Jonathan Harris, Dave Barnard, Bill Fadden, Mike Burgess, Jachim Palm, Lyle Bignon, Thomas Burke, Ben Cartlidge, Matt Grimes, Toby Conyers, Chris, Andy Cavendish, Steve Wyatt, Andrew Dubber, Frank Knoblich, Vaughan Roberts, Ian Robertson, Marcus H….
Become a Patron too https://www.patreon.com/ironmanrecords
December 4, 2016
“Thought-provoking monologues and confrontational lyrics bring you on a cold, doom-laden journey of perpetual war, psychological mind control and disillusionment.”
Cover Art by Mark “Skinny” Orton
Pre-order your copy on VINYL now. Only 500 copies to be pressed on Double Gatefold VINYL. Released January 23rd 2017
All pre-orders will be £10 plus postage and sent out ahead of the release date.
A big thank you to all Iron Man Records Patrons who helped make this possible.
Suzy Tweddle, Deborah Ritchie, Scott Roe, Margaret Calleja, Thomas Rathgeber, Dan, Lee Parsfield, Chris Scales, Muir Mathewson, Michael Howe, Jonathan Harris, Dave Barnard, Bill Fadden, Mike Burgess, Jachim Palm, Lyle Bignon, Thomas Burke, Ben Cartlidge, Matt Grimes, Toby Conyers, Chris, Andy Cavendish, Steve Wyatt, Andrew Dubber, Frank Knoblich, Vaughan Roberts, Ian Robertson, Marcus H….
“CVLT Nation’s Top 6 Crust Albums 2013: Police Bastard are pretty infamous at this stage, so no need for any introductions with band member links to Doom, Sore Throat, Filthkick, Sensa Yuma etc. Their new album ‘Confined’ sticks to their cynical view of the world mixed with innovative guitar textures and driving industrial intensity. Thought-provoking monologues and confrontational lyrics bring you on a cold, doom-laden journey of perpetual war, psychological mind control, disillusionment and omnipresent bullshit. For a band that has been knocking about on and off for twenty years, they could be forgiven for reverting to the formulaic. However, they rethink and deliver a furious maelstrom of complex dark hardcore, best served cold.” – CVLT Nation (Dec 19, 2013)
“The album starts with “The Curse Of The Cross”, an anti-theistic slice of brutality, which leaves the listener in no doubt that Police Bastard mean business. You even get a quote from Richard Dawkins about teaching the bible as fiction. Musically they give us huge chugging riffs on “Brought To Our Knees”, which tackles the blandness of multi-national companies infecting the high street, set against the backdrop of the widening gap between rich and poor. For those that like their anthems loud and stompy, “Sick Sick System” will no doubt win a seal of approval with its knock about Punk mayhem and catchy refrain, ‘sick sick system, same old bullshit’. Elsewhere on the album, we get subjects as diverse as being captivated by virtual reality (Word Confined) and environmental disaster from the hand of mankind (Cries From The Earth). Album closer “Fortress” sees organised religion attacked once more, and poses the question, how long before it crumbles…..” – Zak, Ryans Gig Guide (Dec 01, 2013)
“….From Mark Orton‘s cover art through the final song, “Fortress,” Police Bastard have presented an album that uses hardcore’s battering ram approach to push through a series of songs that depict how humanity has destroyed the Earth. Lines such as “We’re sealing our fate” hammer home the idea that mankind has taken the world to the edge of existence, and we’ll all soon perish, should we not change our ways. Thankfully, Confined manages to never lapse into Earth Crisis-like preaching, choosing instead to quote the likes of John Gray‘s Straw Dogs: “Long after the traces of the human animal have disappeared, many of the species it is bent on destroying will still be around, along with others that have yet to spring up. The Earth will forget mankind. The play of life will go on.” While the music is basic hardcore which occasionally aims for bigger sonic targets, the lyrics and presentation are what make Police Bastard worth checking out……” – Rock Star Journalist, Rock Star Journalist (Nov 22, 2013)
Ten songs recorded in early 2013 and released through Iron Man Records, Birmingham.
The Curse Of The Cross
Brought To Our Knees
Sick Sick System
Cries From The Earth
Bite The Hand
We Are The Dead
All Lyrics: Pid and John
All Music: Police Bastard
Layout: John Doom
The album was Recorded, Mixed, Produced and Mastered by Simon Reeves at Framework Recording Studios.
Label: Iron Man Records
Format: VINYL Double Gatefold Limited to 500 copies
July 21, 2016
Highest greetings from Amsterdam, where I’m enjoying one of the finest summers ever with lots of sunshine and not so much rain. As a Flint native, I’m accustomed to long hot summers with plenty of heat, and as a former resident of New Orleans, I know what heat and humidity are all about.
There’s nothing like that here, and it stays kind of chilly most of the time even after the sunniest days, but it’s great to have more sun than rain in one’s life here in Amsterdam, and I’ll take it!
I had a great experience the other night when I went with my friend Leslie Lopez to the Nord to visit his little recording studio. I used to spend a lot of time with Lopez in the basement of Café the Zen, where his studio used to be, and we made an album together down there several years ago. It’s called Let’s Go Get ’Em if you ever want to hear it, and you can download it at CD-Baby for a modest payment.
Speaking of payment, the economics of marijuana consumption has been a hot topic in the mainstream media and among internet commentators. Of course, those of us who came to the marijuana liberation struggle from a spiritual perspective, with a special interest in the medicinal uses of the sacrament, have always known that marijuana would turn into big business once people got a chance to use it without punishment. But it’s really booming now.
For example, A story published by the Cannabis Law Group looks forward to the “all-but-inevitable legalization for recreational use” of marijuana in California this fall and reports that “investors are preparing for the day when legalization comes.
“In fact, such explosive growth is expected in the cannabis business and so much profit is expected to be generated, the situation is being described as ‘a new California gold rush’ as new businesses open, new products come into the marketplace, and new investor money comes in.”
The story explains that “the cannabis industry is an underground industry which is tremendously profitable. It’s now becoming investible for the first time. As cannabis businesses come out of the shadows, industry revenue is expected to leap from $2.7 billion in 2014 to around $11 billion by 2019.
“New and innovative products are being developed every day, including a whole new product category consisting of the world’s first cannabis distillery, as well as new vaporizer and accessories products.“
On a smaller but not insignificant scale, the state of Louisiana is looking into growing and selling medicinal marijuana products now that the Louisiana Legislature has approved a bill that legalizes the use of marijuana for people suffering from a specific list of debilitating diseases.
“The so-called medical marijuana legislation authorizes LSU and Southern University to grow and produce cannabis to be consumed in a liquid form,” Tyler Bridges reports in The New Orleans Advocate, asking in a headline: “How Much Might LSU, Southern, Companies Profit? How Will It Be Distributed?”
And what about the private companies that are now “emerging to try to profit from the new industry by partnering with the universities”? LSU and Southern both report getting calls from representatives of companies that want to rent or sell land or provide a growing facility, while others are inquiring about financing the entire venture with the expectation of earning a profit. “It’s a money-making venture,” Bridges quotes a Southern University official.
On an even deeper level, Karen Turner writes in the Washington Post that “Microsoft Becomes The First Big Tech Company To Get Into The Legal Weed Industry” by “partnering with a cannabis industry-focused software company called Kind Financial to provide ‘seed to sale’ services for cannabis growers that allow them to track inventory, navigate laws and handle transactions—all through Kind’s software systems.“
Tunrer notes that “the partnership marks the first major tech company to attach its name to the burgeoning industry of legal marijuana,” but I’m sure it won’t be the last. Wait until the big pharmaceutical companies get their hands on cannabis!
In fact, one of my favorite sources, Wonkblog, just published a piece by Christopher Ingraham about “Why Pharma Companies Are Fighting Legal Marijuana.” They’re fighting now but, so far as I can see, it’s basically a holding action to keep down progress toward legalization of weed while they figure out how to coopt our natural medicine and bring it into their own highly profitable domain.
But there’s a lot of fascinating information in Ingraham’s story, which points to “a body of research showing that painkiller abuse and overdose are lower in states with medical marijuana laws.
“In the 17 states with a medical-marijuana law in place by 2013, prescriptions for painkillers and other classes of drugs fell sharply compared with states that did not have a medical-marijuana law.
“In medical-marijuana states,” Ingraham reports, “the average doctor prescribed 265 fewer doses of antidepressants each year, 486 fewer doses of seizure medication, 541 fewer anti-nausea doses and 562 fewer doses of anti-anxiety medication.” That’s a lotta missing doses!
“But most strikingly,” he concludes, “the typical physician in a medical-marijuana state prescribed 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers in a given year.”
For many of us this is great cause for celebration. But guess what? “These companies have long been at the forefront of opposition to marijuana reform,” Ingraham reveals, ”funding research by anti-pot academics and funneling dollars to groups, such as the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, that oppose marijuana legalization. Pharmaceutical companies have also lobbied federal agencies directly to prevent the liberalization of marijuana laws.”
Big Pharma makes a strange bedfellow for the law enforcement and prison guard unions that typically lead the charge against marijuana legalization, but when the pharmaceutical industry adjusts its chops to the taste of selling lega cannabis medication, they stand to make big profits while their allies will lose their ill-gotten powers for good.
In closing, It may be kind of a sick thing to say, but the War On Drugs, like legally-enforced racial segregation—with full recognition of their evil intent and inhuman effect—actually resulted in the creation of some beautiful lifeways and cultural constructs developed outside of and in opposition to the Americo-Puritan paradigm that in many ways were far superior to the ones we have now.
Under legal segregation black business and entertainment districts thrived, and there was a palpable sense of community among the citizens of the black ghettoes that hasn’t existed since the one-way street of integration was bulldozed through the black communities of our nation.
By the same token, the culture of interdependence, cooperative farming, underground economics and spiritual sharing that grew up in the wake of the insane marijuana laws created a life for many of us that no longer exists, even though we can buy our weed over the counter now in many locations. But the cost of freedom from imprisonment has been to surrender our identities and become mindless consumers of whatever the pot industry wants us to purchase.
On a personal note, my friend Maryjane Bunker has recently left the Grannies For Grass group to pursue a pair of initiatives of her own: Cannabis Information & Education, an on-line service she writes me “is reaching 3.8 million this a.m.,” and Puff, Puff, Paint, an organization set up to integrate puffing and painting in the process of art therapy. I had some great times when she brought me to Grannies For Grass events, she’s an accomplished and very generous grower, and I wish her every possible success in this next stage of her adventure.
P.S. I started out to say that when I visited Leslie Lopez’s studio in the Noord, it was in an abandoned police station! And we had quite a few laughs sharing a joint and listening to music where the police used to do their ugly business. FREE THE WEED!
July 21, 2016
© 2016 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.
June 24, 2016
Highest greetings from Amsterdam, where I’m spending the summer in a very interesting section of the city called the Bijlmer that used to be a terrible fear-ridden slum on the outskirts of town but has been redeveloped by the government as a sort of art-centered multi-cultural neighborhood populated by people of many descriptions, from dark-skinned immigrants to young white urban professionals with real jobs and a certain quotient of bohemians both black and white.
The interesting thing is that, unlike in the States, the immigrant population of the former ghetto was not expelled to make the renovated area “safe’ for white people but was included in the redevelopment plans and rehoused as an integral component of the upgraded neighborhood. The oppressive 1950s-style Stalinistic eight-storey project dwellings were razed and replaced with buildings of no more than four floors and the whole thing painted in bright colors marked by diagonal stripes of orange, yellow, green, bright blue, and lots of third-world murals.
I’m staying in the spacious apartment of a new friend named Tariq Khan, a Dutch Rastafarian with big dreads who started out as a rapper called MC Lazy but now is an energetic artistic and cultural activist with his own recording studio in the building around the corner that also houses a hip-hop radio station called Hot Twenty that’s staffed by local youths. Tariq also produces and directs video shoots for many purposes and conducts youth workshops for community groups, but his day job is working for the Sensi Seeds empire at the Hash, Marijuana & Hemp Museum one day, the Cannabis College the next and the Sensi Museum Gallery on Thursdays, where he joins my old friend Joseph who mans the vaporizer and gets people high all day.
What a job! Joseph has been around for a long time and knows everybody who’s into anything in terms of the cannabis culture—he’s even regarded as a spiritual leader in some advanced quarters—so I turned to him when I was desperate to find a place to lodge for the summer after my week-long residency in the Sensi guest quarters was up at the end of May. He hooked me up with Tariq, and Tariq took me straight to his place in the Bijlmer and set me up like a champ.
Sensi Seeds is a remarkable enterprise started by a guy named Ben Dronkers in Rotterdam a long time ago, first as one of Rotterdam’s initial coffeeshops and then as a way to get marijuana growing in Holland by supplying top-quality seeds and encouraging local growers to plant and harvest them. Over the past 30 years Sensi has grown into a mammoth operation known as “the most comprehensive cannabis seed bank in the world,” dispensing millions of seeds to funky farmers all over the world and then pioneering the revitalization of the hemp industry as well.
As the Sensi Seeds website explains, Ben Dronkers started growing marijuana in 1975 and began saving the seeds he found in good quality weed, eventually collecting and categorizing all the cannabis seeds he could find. From the end of the 70s until the mid-80s Ben travelled the world from Central Asia and the Hindu Kush to the Himalayas, down through the subcontinent to Southeast Asia and around the tropics, seeking out the best genetics and focusing on regions famous for their ancient cannabis traditions.
Around 1984 Ben began several cross-breeding programs in order to develop new cannabis hybrids. He gained access to the first examples of the new stabilized hybrids from the US—including Haze and Skunk—and took the final step required for the creation of new, world-class hybrids in Europe. By 1985 he had founded the Sensi Seed Club, expanding and centralizing the process of creating hybrids and keeping meticulous records of plant genealogy and interrelations.
In 1991, Ben bought another seed company from a breeder who had also been working with the US hybrids since the 80s and merged the two companies to form the Sensi Seed Bank. In 1994 he founded HempFlax, a company dedicated to growing and processing industrial hemp, and successfully revived the once-thriving Dutch hemp industry. in 2006 Ben acquired the Flying Dutchmen seed company when his friend the owner decided to retire, and he consolidated its venerable stock with the existing Sensi Seed Bank to make an even more comprehensive collection of cannabis strains.
The great thing about Ben Dronkers and Sensi Seeds is that it isn’t just about raking in the profits like most of the people in this great industry of ours. Sensi has garnered millions of dollars in sales over the years, but—aided and abetted by his friend Ed Rosenthal, the great American cannabis activist—Ben has dedicated a significant portion of his earnings to the creation of public benefit institutions like the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum, the Sensi Museum Gallery, and the Cannabis College, which was initially a project of Flying Dutchmen. Among many other things, The Gallery displays Old Masters painted hundreds of years ago which depict ordinary men and women enjoying the smoking of cannabis.
Now these institutions are lined up on the Achterburgwhal in the Red Light District in the center of town, making up a sort of Green Light District of their own along with the Sensi Seed Bank itself and the Sensi Corner Store, formerly the Sensi coffeeshop where I used to hang out and got to know all these incredible people that make up the Sensi empire.
One of my fondest memories of the Sensi coffeeshop was the day I sat down with Ben Dronkers at a table inside and listened while he carried on an intense conversation with a South American man who turned out to be a minister in the new government of Bolivia led by the former coca famer and now head of state, Evo Morales. Evidently Ben and Evo had met and even toked down together on Morales’ visit to Amsterdam before the Bolivian election, and Ben was making a impassioned plea that the new government consider completely legalizing marijuana and establish Bolivia as the world center of cannabis enlightenment.
Dronkers promised that he would move his entire cannabis empire to Bolivia and encourage the international growing community to do likewise, bringing incredible amounts of new revenue to the small South American nation and transforming it into a haven for the worldwide cannabis community of suppliers, growers and consumers.
I listened with rapt attention as Ben’s argument unfolded, but the Bolivian minister calmly explained that there was no chance that the church and moral authorities would let them get away with it, no matter how great an idea it might be. Ben was visibly dejected, but I guessed he was accustomed to official rejection of his visionary ideas and the conversation passed on to more mundane topics.
Well, there were several other topics I’d meant to discuss in this month’s column, but I got carried away thinking about the greatness of Sensi Seeds and now I’m out of space for this time. Of course I continue to feel that one day cannabis will be granted its rightful place in our world of oppression, but it’s never going to be an easy proposition and we’ll just have to keep on fighting every way we can until that happy day. FREE THE WEED!
June 24, 2016
© 2016 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.
June 15, 2016
WORDS: Robert Anton Wilson and Steve ‘Fly Agaric 23’ Pratt
MUSIC: Steve Fly, Tim Egmond, Martin ‘Youth’ Glover, Rick Rasa, Hagbard Celine, Garaj Mahal.
PRODUCED BY: Mark Sampson and Steve Fly Pratt
MASTERED BY: Simon Reeves at Framework Studios, Birmingham
RELEASED on IRON MAN RECORDS June 23rd 2016.
Special thanks to: Robert Anton Wilson, Christina Pearson, Rick Rasa, Chu, Mark Sampson, Kai Eckhardt, Matt Black, Martin ‘Youth’ Glover, Paul Krassner, John Sinclair, Tim Egmond, Toby Philpott, Prop Anon, Nick Larson, Caleb Selah, Pete Maybe, Jenni Vyskocil, Faustin Bray, Bob Tesch, Lance Bauscher, Jack Sarfatti, Nigel Blunt, UB40, Robin Johnson, Tom Jackson, Raymond Wiley, Daisy Eris Campbell, Janne Svensson, Gregory James, Ben Kappel, Brien Harvey, the Maybe Logic Academy staff and students.
While getting firmly hooked on the series of Cosmic Trigger books during the mid 1990s, I literally dreamed of meeting the mysterious author, Dr Robert Anton Wilson. He was an early anarchist hero to me, a truly free man, and he remains one of the funniest scientific philosophers of all time. And yet, he, and his great works remain underground for the most part, bubbling away beneath the surface, patiently awaiting rediscovery and reenactment by brave new readers from next generations and with fresh interpretations. I hope this recording can introduce his ideas to at least one such reader. We need to act on his wisdom now!
After an auspicious solar eclipse experience in August, and a house fire in December moments before the millennium fever of 1999 went into overdrive, i had a rare moment of clarity, and decided to sell my prized turntables and scrape the money together for a ticket to go and see this guy for myself. Only six days after the sad passing of Terence Mckenna, i set off to New York where i next caught the Greyhound bus to New mexico, and my destination, the so called the ‘Prophets Conference’ only two days before my 24th birthday.
Little did i know that RAW had fallen ill that week due in part to his post polio syndrome, together with the grief of losing his lifelong companion, writer and activist Arlen Riley Wilson. The announcer at the conference informed the crowd Bob would not make it, and i went into an altered state of total shock awareness. After the conference was over i straddled that Greyhound up to San Francisco and fell in awe of the San Francisco bay area. I hung out at Wired Magazine radio station, worked for Sound Photo Synthesis, jammed on turntables with jam jazz super group Garaj Mahal. Plus i met Dr John Lilly, Jack Sarfatti, Saul Paul Sirag, and some other friends and associates of RAW, all seemingly by happy coincidence most of them were presenting at the Guilding The Lilly event at 3220 Sacremento street.
When my visa time limit came up, unlike Columbus, I returned to the UK. One memorable summer day in 2000 i received an email from the Prophets Conference asking if i would like to be a carer for Bob during his next lecture in Palm Springs, 16-18th December 2000. I eagerly responded ‘yes’ and started to save up my dole money.
Bob’s fine lecture at Palm Springs can be viewed on youtube and you can hear him say at one point “I had a Manhattan with my lunch” which i purchased for him when sat together with Paul Krassner and his wife Nancy before his show. This may have led to him using slightly more taboo words than usual, which became part of the reason why the conference wrote him a letter explaining that they had received complaints about his language! and were unwilling to invite him to any more conferences, unless he more or less cleaned up his act. For fucks sake. Bob writes about this in his book T.S.O.G: The Thing That Ate The Constitution. I was sacked from the Prophets Conference a few months before Bob. My crime was much less punk rock, i failed to get Bob to the stage with adequate time to spare before he was scheduled to speak, which set a few people panicking and resulted in the boss lady of the conference screaming at me in front of Bob.
After his lecture, Bob gestured me over and invited me up to his room to conduct an interview, which i hinted at earlier. This was partly due, i think, to the fact that he saw how badly i was disgraced earlier and so took a little pity on me. I gifted Bob with a copy of the “The Stargate Conspiracy”, a pretty lame book in retrospect, but a text i figured he should take a look at as he had a few mentions in it, along with almost everybody else at the fringes of paranormal and psychic research in the 1970s.
I offered Bob some dried mushrooms picked at my local spot called Wychbury Hill. He gracefully passed on them with a kind smile and nod. They didn’t go to waste though, years later while reading an article by Richard Metzger (Dangerous Minds) who visited Bob’s room shortly after my interview–i discovered Richard ate the shrooms’ and reported that they were good and strong. Success. His friend Alex Burns, also from Disinformation, managed to get us all super high with some High Times Cannabis Cup winning weed, named William’s Wonder.
I pressed the button for the apartment number Bob had sent and waited, and waited…and after what seemed like an eternity i heard the crackle of the intercom and a familiar voice “yes”.
“It’s fly agaric, erm’, i was in touch with you by email about coming down to visit”. After another long pause he said “So…do you wanna’ come in then?” “Yeah, sure” i said, and he buzzed open the steel gate. I walked around the small inner garden area, up some steps to the front door which was already ajar. I stepped through the door.
Once through I slipped my shoes off and walked past his study on the right, and his small library area to the left. He was sitting on a couch, next to some large sliding doors, with a fresh clear view looking out over the Monterey bay. “Hi Bob, thanks for having me over.”
“Would you be so kind as to grab me a coffee, it’s in the pot” he said. “Sure”. I fetched a mug, which had a quote from Hannibal Lecter printed on it, filled it with black coffee and set it down on the table, sitting opposite Bob. “Thanks, fly. So, you’re going to make a recording right?” he asked. “yeah, if that’s cool with you.” I unpacked my minidisc recorder, and set up the microphone on the table.
The apartment reflected a humble man, with moderate furnishings, a couch, two chairs, a television set, stereo, coffee table and a dresser decorated in what looked to me like traditional Japanese artefacts. There were framed pictures hanging up and ornaments that indicated this really was Bob’s residence. On my way out I recall seeing a certificate from a UFO convention, plus I’ll never forget the cute Loch Ness monster ornament laying out on top of the cable box, which at one point during the interview he politely asked me to straighten out for him.
We had two smoke breaks out on the balcony, where i kissed the sky with a specially rolled up bomber. Bob passed my offer due to already feeling high as a mountain goat on his marijuana brownies, which he consumed for medical purposes to help relieve the pain from post polio syndrome. It would be fair to say we were both pretty high and cheerful. I went the whole nine yards and cracked open a four pack of guinness, which was probably a mistake due to the slight fogging of my memory caused by the alcohol.
Bob talked and talked, weaving his unique prose to my unrehearsed questions, turning them into delightful examples of his unique mind at play. He mixed hilarious tales with some serious facts and produced his unmistakable discordian dance of delicate metaphors. There were times when my mouth opened and nothing came out, due to my processing what he had previously said. I had to remain mindful not to interrupt or talk over him, which i’m prone to do at times. There seems nothing worse to me than an interviewer who can’t listen, and sings the eternal song of “I”.
The audio interview is regrettably only the first half of the full recording, the other half of which remains lost in an ocean of badly indexed minidiscs. Fortunately, i made a transcription of the full recording, which was published at the Maybe Logic Quarterly magazine in 2008. However during the interview my disc space ran out, but we carried on talking for at least another 45 minutes. Hence my regret at getting half drunk. Some of the subject matter i recall from that chat included Saul Paul Sirag, Jack Sarfatti, Paul Krassner, David Bohm and the Physics Consciousness Research Institute. He commented at length on 9/11 describing a friends experiences in New York, and the high weirdness that day, and the days that followed. I talked about some of my musical projects, about Garaj Mahal, graffiti art, Ninjatune and my fascination with jazz and synchronicities connected to the music John Coltrane.
I was made to feel welcome during the 3-4 hour visit, and Bob did not whinge or complain once. I only felt him get slightly agitated during the interview after i blindly asked him a series of four readymade questions from somebody else, the last of which was “how do you plan to take physical action?” which, when i said it, sounded rather inappropriate for a man suffering from post polio syndrome most his life, and who uses a wheelchair to get around. It hit a small nerve, he coughed and raised his voice a little “I don’t mean to ball you out but, it’s just that i hear that kind of question a lot.” He went on to describe how he attends protests and gatherings when he can get a ride there, and contributes to Amnesty International.
In 2015 I was digging for a minidisc of DJ Fly material for use on my Fly By Night radio shows, produced for Radio Free Amsterdam. While sifting through the discs I noticed one with writing in light pencil that read: R.A.W 10th September 2002. I popped it into the player, and to my delight it was the first half of the interview. I edited and boosted the sound files to the best of my ability, and added a selection of music from friends and past collaborators, resulting in what you hear right here.
I uploaded two short excerpts from the interview to my Soundcloud account and was planning to release the other parts when a friend, Mark Sampson of Iron Man Records, stepped up. In March 2016 Mark kindly offered to master the audio and release it on his independent record label Iron Man Records. So the circle is complete and I hope you enjoy the words and music. Long live the optimists.
– Steve Fly, June 2016
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!
May 22, 2016
© 2016 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.
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!
April 25, 2016
© 2016 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.
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!
February 20-21, 2016
© 2016 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.
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!
January 20-23, 2016
© 2016 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.
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!
December 17-19, 2015
© 2016 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.
April 30, 2016
Highest greetings from Amsterdam at the beginning of the traditional Cannabis Cup week, where for the first time since 1988 there will be no High Times Cannabis Cup in the marijuana capitol of the world and no Thanksgiving Day awards for the best weed grown in Holland.
I first came to Amsterdam for the 11th Cannabis Cup in 1998, where I served as High Priest and performed at the Melkweg club nightly with my band of Blues Scholars from New Orleans. I had such a good time that I begged High Times to bring me back the next year, and that’s when I fell in with Michael Veling of the 420 Café. He sponsored my visits to the Cannabis Cup for the next three years and convinced me to relocate from New Orleans to Amsterdam after the 16th Cup in 2003, offering me a more or less permanent base of operations at his coffeeshop ever since.
So I’ve been on hand for the past 16 Cannabis Cups in Amsterdam, long before the legalization of medical marijuana in America and the establishment of what are now several Medical Cannabis Cups in the U.S., plus full-scale Cannabis Cups celebrating legalized marijuana in the states of Colorado, Washington and Oregon. They even have a Medical Cannabis Cup in Clio, Michigan that has caused quite a bit of excitement for smokers in the Flint area for the past two years
But there’s no more Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, the home of its origin. The International Cannabis Cup was moved to Jamaica this year, where weed has finally found official acceptance, and was held in conjunction with the local ganja community as “Rastafari Rootzfest” last month at a space, the magazine says, “just a few yards from Negril’s gorgeous Seven Mile Beach where warm sunshine and spliffs ruled the day.”
High Times reports that “several thousand” persons attended the “Rastafari Rootzfest” last month, certainly netting the sponsors a tidy sum in admission (or “judges”) fees. And the money-making aspects of the original Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam have been shifted to the ever-growing number of medical and recreational Cups in the U.S.A., where the costs don’t involve shipping a staff of people across the ocean every November and dealing with the transportation arrangements of 1200 or more so-called “judges” in a foreign country each fall.
So it’s very interesting to be in the coffeeshops of Amsterdam this week in the absence of the Cannabis Cup and the hundreds of eager marijuana tourists it has brought from the U.S.A. and around the world every Thanksgiving week for the past 27 years. Business in the shops doesn’t seem to be suffering per se, but it’s quite a different vibe from that generated by the smokers on a mission who’ve been attracted by the High Times event every year since I’ve been coming here.
But now it seems to be back to normal, which is pretty hip to begin with, and several local coffeeshops have banded together to initiate their own festivities this year under the name of the Amsterdam Unity Cup, held at the Melkweg the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I attended the Tuesday event last night but there wasn’t anything happening at all except for a deejay in the Oude Zaal playing a lot of corny records at high volume to an audience of none.
My friend William, long-time cannabis manager at the 420 Café and its Dutch Flowers annex, explained that the group of coffeeshop people were taking an exploratory approach this year to see if they could make it happen in the absence of the traditional organizers, the High Times collective from New York City.
If all went well logistically, William surmised, the local cofffeeshop veterans would make a better publicized effort next year at this time to deliver on their promise to “bring you the people’s choice of the finest strains from the best coffee shops Amsterdam has to offer” while claiming that “The traditional dates have been taken over for the new annual Cup event in & aromund Amsterdam.” You can get more information at amsterdam-unity-cup.com.
The evacuation of Amsterdam by High Times represents an ugly victory for the city and the federal government in their lengthening campaign to shrink the cannabis business community in the Netherlands and try to shed the image of the world’s hot spot for drug tourism in the hope of attracting the more lucrative family-oriented tourist trade enjoyed by most western destinations.
Unlike the western United States, where the newly legalized cannabis industry is beginning a concerted effort to introduce normal Americans to the pleasures and benefits of marijuana in an effort to increase sales, the Dutch authorities want to drive the cannabis tourists away and shun their voluminous business which is said to amount to 25% of all tourism dollars spent here.
The present government seems to feel that the Netherlands have suffered for more than 40 years under the stigma of being the number one destination for marijuana smokers all over the world. The unique Dutch tolerance of the marijuana smoker as a full citizen is regarded with scorn and apprehension by virtually every western nation save Spain and Portugal. The highly civilized approach to marijuana smoking adopted by the Dutch hasn’t even begun to penetrate the thick skulls of the American authorities, who remain loath to allow smoking the sacrament on the premises where it may be traded.
I’ve related these facts before in this space, but the Dutch system allows the purchase and consumption of cannabis products on the premises of specialized cafes called coffeeshops, which are allowed to stock 500 grams of marijuana and hashish for sale over the counter. Consumers may purchase up to 5 grams of cannabis in a coffeeshop and take it with them—as in a Michigan dispensary—or enjoy the great local custom of taking a seat, sipping a coffee or juice drink, rolling up joints and smoking them alone or with friends, reveling in the companionship of fellow smokers in a warm and relaxed atmosphere.
This system has worked without fail for the marijuana smoker in the Netherlands since 1972 or so. Free-style marijuana coffeeshops were established and proliferated throughout Amsterdam without restraint (numbering 750 at the highest point) until the government decided the cannabis explosion had gone too far without the guiding hand of the authorities and began the process of registering and regulating the coffeeshpp industry about 20 years ago.
They’ve tightened things up considerably ever since, as I’ve reported in this column, until now there are probably les than 200 coffeeshops in Amsterdam itself. Tourists have been barred from frequenting coffeeshops and buying weed in quite a few smaller towns along the eastern border, and there’s even been an attempt to force Dutch smokers to register with the government.
When I left Detroit last month they were talking a lot of crazy shit about registering and regulating the 150 to 200 marijuana dispensaries that have sprung up in the city. What they need to do is convert the dispensaries to coffeeshops where people may gather peacefully and enjoy their weed and each other in peace. The City should enable as many shops to operate as possible, establish a modest licensing fee and tax the sales of products in the shops.
Otherwise, let us alone and let us have our smoke. FREE THE WEED!
November 23-24, 2015
© 2015 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.
April 29, 2016
Hi everybody and highest greetings from the northeast sector of Detroit where I’m recovering from foot surgery with my daughters and granddaughter waiting on me hand and foot to keep me from going stir crazy while I sit here and heal.
While in Detroit for the past two months I’ve been delighted to read page after page of coverage in the daily papers of the proliferation of medical marijuana outlets in the city and several serious think pieces about the burgeoning of the cannabis industry and the imminence of legalization for recreational use as well.
My position is clear: For those like myself who spent 40 or 50 years copping in the shadows from fellow criminals (if you could locate the ones who had the bag), the quick, easy and regular availability of our medicine is a beautiful thing and should be as widespread as possible.
There’s nothing wrong with smoking weed. We should be able to smoke weed wherever we are—in our homes, in our cars, with our friends, in private and in public. There’s nothing wrong with it. The second-hand smoke is not toxic. It doesn’t hurt anybody.
Marijuana is an herb, a simple weed that grows profusely when properly guided and tended. If you smoke it, the smoke will get you high when you take it inside. It won’t get the person next to you high. Sometimes there’s the “contact high” effect where the spectator derives a few giggles from the immediate atmosphere, but it’s usually a pretty pleasant thing.
The alleged dangers of marijuana were entirely fabricated in the 1930s by law enforcement radicals led by Commissioner of Narcotics Harry Anslinger, who created a vast new field of endeavor for police forces, courts and prisons based on the outright lies and deliberate mistruths that were advanced in support of draconic legal strictures against marijuana use and distribution.
Everything they said about marijuana was untrue. It was all a bunch of lies made up in order to give law enforcement total control over marijuana and marijuana users. It was an unmitigated tissue of horseshit swallowed whole by lawmakers, law enforcers, courts, prisons, churches, parents and authorities of every stripe. None of them wanted anyone to be able to get high on marijuana, and they committed every perverse deed they could think of in order to try to prevent the spread of the insidious weed.
Law enforcement bogarted its way into the world of marijuana and prevailed through brutality and sheer force of will until the past 20 years when citizens voted them out of power by legalizing medical marijuana and now recreational use through the ballot initiative process—the backbone of democracy.
The fact is clear that law enforcement has absolutely no business with marijuana and must be completely removed from the marijuana equation. What business is it of the police or state legislators to trace the growing and distribution of marijuana from seed to consumer? To maintain a state registry of marijuana patients and their caregivers? What business of theirs is where we get our marijuana?
With respect to the licensing and regulation of marijuana provisioning centers, it makes sense that a dispensary should be required to have a business license like any other business and to pay sales tax and other taxes assessed on all retail businesses. On the other hand, sales of medical marijuana to marijuana patients should not be taxed at all unless sales of any type of medicine are similarly taxable.
As to where a dispensary may or may not be located, how many feet or yards from a church or school, what hours it may be or must not be open, whether or not there is a drive-in window—these issues don’t have anything to do with the proper provisioning of marijuana. The number of available provisioning sites, their proximity to one another, their profusion or scarcity in a given neighborhood—none of these are legitimate concerns for the authorities.
My favorite bugaboo is the proscription against smoking weed on the premises of a dispensary. This is totally backwards. The Dutch model, which has worked well now for more than 40 years, allows weed and hash to be sold over the counter in amounts of five grams or less to anyone over 18. You buy the weed at the counter, take it to your table and smoke it using the delivery system of your choice. This may go on, depending on the whims of the proprietors with respect to working hours, from 7:00 am to 1:00 am, seven days a week.
The major imperfection in the Dutch scheme is that although cannabis sale and use is tolerated in the coffeeshops, weed is not legal per se. It remains illegal to grow, harvest, distribute and sell cannabis products in bulk to the coffeeshops or any other sort of customers.
So the government must waste law enforcement resources on marijuana growers and distributors, waive the substantial tax revenues that would result from legalizing and taxing such activity, and content itself with accepting the tax filings of the coffeeshops which are, of course, prohibited from keeping accurate sales records because their principal form of sales activity is officially illegal.
What we need in Michigan is not a maze of state and municipal regulations limiting access to marijuana and subjecting smokers to undue scrutiny. We need free and clear access to marijuana without any more restrictions on its use and availability than on a cup of coffee. There’s nothing wrong with it. It can be good for you. It doesn’t hurt anyone. There’s nothing wrong with smoking it.
I hate to be a spoilsport with respect to eliminating the police presence from the marijuana issue altogether, but it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee, as they say. Why not eliminate the prospect of years of bitter litigation and struggle over the question of public access to marijuana and simply adopt a rational, socially efficient distribution system constructed to best serve the cannabis constituency?
I’m impressed by the proliferation of provisioning centers in the city of Detroit, but I miss the Dutch custom of relaxing at a table with your friends and a cup of coffee and smoking a joint together after you cop. Presently you’re guided to the counter, make your selection, pay, and split. This takes all the fun out of the transaction and reduces the experience to a fairly crass consumer episode.
To me the very basis of the marijuana experience is getting high with your friends and sharing warmth and smoke in an intimate setting while listening to some good music of one’s choice. I’ll always be looking for a place where we can do this in Detroit and throughout Michigan.
I’m also a fervent believer in the caregiver system that was voted in by Michigan citizens several years ago. Grow it yourself if you want to, get someone to grow it for you if you wish, or cop at a provisioning center if that’s how you want to roll. But forget about the much-vaunted liquor control model—marijuana is nothing like liquor, and the public has no similar interest in regulating its availability.
Okay, these views don’t respect the popular wisdom but they’re my beliefs and they’re based on my own long experience as a marijuana smoker and they’re based in the facts as known to millions of marijuana smokers in Michigan and around the world. End the War On Drugs once and for all. Free The Weed!
October 20-22, 2015
© 2015 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.