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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Patient Robbed By Thugs!

Imagine taking your dog out for a walk and having an AK-47 shoved in your face.  Three local growers went through this very nightmare in the last month.  “Big Mike” found himself zip-tied, duct-taped and gagged to his basement post, while three masked gunmen not only ransacked his house, but took his entire stock.  They destroyed the entire grow room; busted the bulbs, ripped up the tents, knocked over the cloner, and ruined the ballasts – all gone.  “Big Mike” had just harvested a new crop and had five ounces worth already cured.  Based on that, he believes that the “rippers” scoped his pad ahead of time, and came when he was fully stocked. 

He tried reporting the incident to the police, but they simply laughed at him.  One officer told “Big Mike,” that the robbery was not their concern because he shouldn’t have been involved in the business.  They offered no help.

He then filed a claim with his State Farm home insurance. The insurance agency attempted to deny his claim because they say the equipment in his house was used for illegal activities.  Under contract law, an insurance company does not have to replace stolen items used for illegal enterprises.  “Big Mike” did not let the issue go.  Currently, he has filed a suit against the agency and is expected to receive some compensation, but it will take several months to resolve.

These incidents ought to remind us to be very wary that we are not followed or stalked.  “Big Mike” believes he was targeted at his favorite grow shop.  He remembered purchasing a large amount soil and equipment and filling his truck.  He has since altered all of his previous habits.  First, he no longer shops at his grow shop.  He now makes several smaller purchases and buys from a number of local stores.  He advised that growers pay for all equipment in cash; give no one your name, address, or email.  He now takes the long way home; changes roads, drives a different route, and always check the rearview mirror for familiar cars.   Above all, he says, secure your home.  Investing in surveillance cameras, motion lighting, as well as, an alarm system will go along way to keep “rippers” at bay.  However, a couple of bats and a handgun work wonders too. Remember, just because your paranoid doesn’t mean no one is after you.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

FREE THE WEED! By John Sinclair

Hello, fellow vipers and registered marijuana patients and welcome to the 40th annual Hash Bash in Ann Arbor and the 41st consecutive gathering of jubilant smokers on the Diag to celebrate and advance the cause of marijuana legalization.

The first Hash Bash was called on the Diag for April 1, 1972 and there’s a good story to go with that. But the first smoke-in materialized a year earlier as an unorganized incursion into the very heart of the University of Michigan campus, where a boisterous contingent of local hippies met up on April Fools Day to get down and smoke some weed together.

Although I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, this writer was denied the opportunity to participate in the first celebration on the Diag due to my incarceration at the State Prison of Southern Michigan at Jackson, just 40 miles to the west but a whole different world altogether, where I was serving the second year of a 9-1/2 to 10-year sentence for possession of two marijuana cigarettes and working with my extensive collective of lawyers and fellow radicals to perfect my appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court.

At the time Michigan still callously misclassified marijuana as a narcotic— against all scientific evidence to the contrary—and punished convicted smokers with up to 10 years in prison. My actual crime had been giving the two joints as a gift to an undercover policewoman from the Detroit Narcotics Bureau three days before Christmas in 1966, and I was charged under the Sales of Narcotics statutes which mandated a minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum of life imprisonment for marijuana transactions of any sort.

I was determined to challenge the constitutionality of the Michigan narcotics statutes from the moment of my arrest on January 24, 1967, about two years after I had founded DETROIT LEMAR as an attempt to challenge the marijuana laws in the court of public opinion. By the date of my arrest I had been blessed with legal representation by the great Detroit attorney Sheldon Otis and his associate, Justin “Chuck” Ravitz, then just out of law school. They agreed not only to defend me in Detroit Recorders Court against this scurrilous charge but also to take up my cause in general.

Over the next five years, many progressive lawyers and legal workers contributed to my defense and post-conviction appeals, with special thanks to a young Kenny Mogill who wrote the appellate brief that conquered the Supreme Court in March 1972. But we challenged the state’s definition of marijuana as a narcotic and the severity of the prescribed sentences for possession and sale in
Recorders Court
, the Michigan Court of Appeals, and the Michigan Supreme Court for two and a half years

even before I went to trial in July 1969. After the Supremes refused to rule on the issue absent an actual conviction, we went to trial and quickly secured a guilty verdict by waiving our defense in order to keep the focus on the constitutional challenge, but the late judge Robert J. Colombo denied my petition for appeal bond and I was remanded to the custody of the State of Michigan, soon to be shipped to the maximum-security Marquette Branch Prison in the U.P. for the first year of my sentence. The Michigan Court of Appeals upheld Colombo’s denial of appeal bond on the grounds that I was a “danger to society”—that ruling makes another story for another time—and I spent a total of 29 months in prison before bond was finally granted and I was released from Jackson
on December 13, 1971.

During this period my comrades in the White Panther Party—later called the Rainbow People’s Party—spearheaded a campaign to gain my freedom that included almost weekly benefit concerts and dances to raise funds for my legal defense and keep my case before the public. The April Fools gathering on the Diag in 1971 had its part in this process, which culminated on December 10 when John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Stevie Wonder, Bobby Seale, Phil Ochs, Archie Shepp, Commander Cody, Bob Seger and a host of others congregated at Chrysler Arena for the John Sinclair Freedom Rally. We also pursued my appeal in the courts and lobbied intensively in the state legislature for a new marijuana law. In fact, the Freedom Rally was scheduled in December to try to bring pressure on the legislature to pass a bill removing marijuana from the narcotics statutes and establish greatly reduced penalties for its sale and use. To make a long story short, the bill was passed on December 9, the Freedom Rally was staged December 10, and I was released three days later.

The new marijuana law stipulated that marijuana was to be considered a “controlled substance” with a maximum sentence upon conviction of one year for use and four years for sale. The existing law was to remain in effect until April 1, 1972, but on March 9 the Supreme Court overturned my conviction and declared the existing law unconstitutional, thus creating a beautiful period in Michigan when weed was completely without legal proscription for the next three weeks.

On April 1st the first Hash Bash took place as an act of defiance against the reinstatement of any laws against marijuana—as a declaration that we wouldn’t accept any form of interference with this important component of our way of life. It was a tremendous celebration, and three days later Ann Arbor elected two members of the Human Rights Party to City Council and took the first step toward enacting the infamous $5.00 fine for all marijuana violations in the city.

I always wondered who came up with the name for the Hash Bash, but it wasn’t until five or six years ago when I ran into my old comrade Walden Simper at the Berkeley Patients Collective and she told me she was designing the poster for the gathering on the Diag when the name HASH BASH appeared on her mental screen and she penciled it into the design. It’s been there ever since.

In closing, I’d like to dedicate this first column to the memory of two great Americans who have recently passed on: the heroic attorney for the people, Leonard Weinglass, and the prophet and pioneering mass producer of LSD, Augustus Owsley Stanley III whose products were surely present on that day in 1971 when the Hash Bash came into being. Thank you, gentlemen, for all the good you have done.

John Sinclair

Up In Smoke! By JC Trout

Patients, caregivers, citizens, stand and unite! We are under attack! Senator Rick Jones aims to destroy our state’s Compassion Clubs (CC). Earlier this year, Jones wrote and presented Senate Bill 17 (SB17), which seeks to outlaw all compassion clubs that accept membership fees, from allowing their members to medicate on site. This bill was presented under the guise of public safety, suggesting that medicated individuals are leaving these clubs intoxicated and driving home. The MMMR has been following SB17, and Jones has already managed to get his bill passed by the Committee on Health Policy as of March 8th. It is now up for consideration by the Michigan Senate.

Alarmingly, there has been no statistical or factual information offered by Jones as proof that CCs are a safety hazard. It would also seem if Jones were truly considering the public’s safety, then his bill would also seek to keep people from drinking at “alcohol” bars. Heck, he didn’t even have evidence that proved marijuana negatively affects driving ability; and if he had, the data that is available would toss out his entire claim. Of course, when it comes to discrimination, fact and truth are not necessary.

Many bloggers claim Mr.Jones is playing a procedural game with Senate rules. In order to change an existing act requires a 75% majority. To avoid that super-majority requirement, Jones has focused on section 7 (Scope of Act, Limitations) under the claim that SB17 will only narrow the scope of acceptable medical use. Since the legislature can narrow any law with only a simple majority (51%), Jones hopes to pass SB17 under the Senate’s nose.

However, the MMMA provides protections outside section 7 that have the potential to quash SB17 as well. Section 4 (Protections…), for instance, protects patients and caregivers from “…arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner, or denied any right or privilege...;” which would include the constitutional right to assemble and the privileges provided by the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act of 2008.

From a bird’s eye view, conservative law makers have been attempting to destroy the only growth market in this economy – medical marijuana businesses. Earlier this year, a rash of busts were pasted all over the newspapers, claiming that dispensaries were illegal businesses because they did not follow the Caregiver Patient system set forth in the act. Now the tables are turning on the Compassion Clubs (CC), who under the guise of “compassion”, have thus far enjoyed a positive face with the public. With SB17 under consideration, it would seem that CC doors will be under threat to close much faster than their dispensary counter-parts. If CC’s do not address these issues more proactively, it is a safe bet that the word “audit” might be in their future as well.

Surely, most CC’s will simply prohibit patrons from smoking on the premises, but this legislative attack signals the multi-pronged strategy our law-makers will employ to keep our market from blossoming. More importantly, if this bill is going to be stopped, the movement is going to have to quit quibbling over this very debate and protect our interests. WE ARE the ones who are going to have to write the letters, make the phones calls, send the emails, and protest in Lansing. WE ARE under attack!