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Thursday, August 30, 2012

VGIP Vote Green Initiative Project by Ben Horner

VGIP Vote Green Initiative Project

         Now is when we really need to get motivated to make ourselves heard by the powers that be in Michigan State and local government. After the midlevel court decision was issued on People vs. McQueen there has been some serious set backs in maintaining a unified front to fight for our rights to use and enjoy cannabis.

         I hope all will make a strong showing this September 19th and make a strong shoving in front of the State Capital building. If we make a strong turnout then Lansing will be more inclined to respect our strength. Now is the time to get folks excited about voting this November and question those that are running about Medical Marijuana and cannabis law reform.

         In November, there will be ballot proposals to amend local laws in Detroit, Ypsilanti Flint, Grand Rapids, and Kalamazoo to reduce or remove penalties of basic possession of Marijuana for adults. All of these local efforts can help move us towards total legalization, and an end to the government’s war on marijuana. In the marijuana only victim is a peace loving cannabis consumer and his family.

         Many patients and caregivers fear that “secret meetings” held in Lansing will screw them out of their rights protected under the MMMA. During our investigations we where able to confirm that there had in fact been a series of meetings with Michigan Senator Jones with Tim Beck and Jamie Lowell, formerly of MACC (Michigan Association of Compassion Centers). They explained the political strategy that was adopted and pointed to MPP (Marijuana Policy Project in Washington DC) as a major partner in the endeavor.

Interview with Tim Beck:
Question: At what point did you target Senator Jones and why?
Beck: When the Republican Party took complete control of state government in January 2010, I knew the community was in serious danger of having the MMMA destroyed. I recognized immediately when the Senator was appointed to chair the Judiciary Committee, he was going to be a big player in any cannabis legislation coming down the pike. I felt it imperative a bridge to the man must be built.
With the help of a prominent Lansing lobbyist, I was able to secure a meeting with Senator Jones, to try to scope out things and hopefully create a positive working relationship with the man.
At this meeting, I found Senator Jones to be a very plain speaking, honest man, whom you would get a straight answer from, even though the answer may not be what you want to hear. In that same sense, the Chairman respected me and told me his door was open. He described me as the most "sensible" medical cannabis activist he ever met. As the months went by, I made a special point to further nurture this relationship, as legislative issues evolved.

Question: What ground has been gained by these negotiations?
Beck: I have been able to obtain special inside information as to future political moves and from time to time, Senator Jones asks my opinion about various cannabis issues. Sometimes he follows my advice and other times he does not. I get the impression Senator Jones is comfortable with me, because he knows my personal discretion and sense of fair play precludes any potential embarrassment for him.

Question: What should Michiganders prepare for and how does this relate to cannabis law reform in general?
Beck: It is inevitable legislative change is coming by the end of this year. I believe the Walsh bills are going to pass. The doctor patient relationship per medical cannabis recommendations will be more defined and at least some law enforcement agencies will have access to the registry. There are plusses and minuses to both these and other changes contained in the bills. That said that they prefer to view these changes as a cup half full, rather then half empty.
Action by the Legislature will serve to further legitimize our law in the eyes of the 85% of the voting population, which does not use cannabis. If all goes well, there is a good chance some form of legal dispensary system will be created in 2013. However, if Romney is elected President in November, all bets are off as to the future of the dispensary industry.

Interview with Jamie Lowell:
Question: There seems to be some confusion regarding recent lobbying for medical marijuana. Some folks fear that we might be putting patients and caregivers in a position of compromise. Can you shed some light on this?

Lowell: I am not aware of any lobbying efforts, from within the community, that would compromise patient and caregiver rights and protections. Preserving the caregiver system and not changing the MMMA, is something that the entire community tends to agree with.
         There are the well-known Walsh Bills, that contain restrictive and prohibitive language, but no medical marijuana organization in Michigan, endorsed them as they were voted out of the House. Patient advocacy organizations, such as Cannabis Patients United, significantly contributed to getting changes to language in the bills that worked to lessen their potential impact. The original version of the bills would have gutted the entire Act. CPU and others, successfully, worked to stop the most damaging aspects of the bills in their original form.

Question: What is the deal with the dispensary bill and who is behind it?
Lowell: The dispensary bill or "Provisioning Centers Act" is a local option bill that works in conjunction with the existing caregiver system created by the MMMA. A municipality may choose or not choose to embrace the zoning for commercial medical marijuana activity, but the bill cannot affect the rights and protections for patients and caregivers to participate in medical marijuana activity in their own residences.
         5580 is an additional Act that does not affect any rights or protections in the MMMA, but helps to functionally carry out the intention of, those who may benefit medicinally from cannabis, as recommended by a licensed physician. 5580 only requires a simple majority to pass, as opposed to the super-majority required to change the MMMA.

Question: What do you want patients and caregivers to be focused on in the future?
Lowell: The State Supreme Court has, fortunately, proven to be the judicial safety net, we all hoped for, but were unsure of until, the Justices favorably ruled in the first two medical marijuana cases before them, people v King and Kolanek, 7-0 in both cases. Since then, the activist judges in the Court of Appeals have rendered favorable rulings in medical marijuana cases, as well.
         These rulings have helped to create a more comfortable environment for businesses and individuals to be more involved with medical marijuana activity. There is a resurgence of participation as a result, and as the Supreme Court, particularly concerning the McQueen case, reverses more COA rulings the activity will certainly swell. As a result, the urgency for 5580 is not as great, as is stopping the erosion of existing rights and protections. The focus should be on the legislature, at this point, to pass an improved version of 5580, in order to offer reasonable direction to local government and law enforcement as more and more participation emerges and is encouraged by the courts recognition of the plain language of the Act and the intentions of the voters who made it the law.
For now, in my opinion, it is most important for community members involved with
Political activism, to focus on stopping the restrictive Walsh bills 4851 and 4834, headed to the Senate floor, then back to the House. Concerned patients, caregivers and other supportive individuals can directly engage their Senator and district House Representative, by appointment in Lansing or, as many of them do, when they are conducting local meetings for constituents at restaurants and coffee houses.
         The bills were not acceptable leaving the House floor, the first time. Now, with the proposed amendments, they would result in less people being able to participate in the program, while allowing more access to the program's private registry by law enforcement, judges and prosecutors.

Interview with Dan Riffle from MPP:

Question: What was MPP's role in crafting the Provisioning Centers Bill, i.e. the Local Option Bill?
Riffle: We worked directly with Jamie Lowell and Robin Schneider from MACC. We helped write the earliest forms of the bill at which time it was called the “Local Option bill.” We did this because after the MMMA was passed some folks where unable to find caregivers and this would help provide safe access to their medicine.

Question: How can this bill help create safe access to MMJ for patients and caregivers in Michigan?
Riffle:Without some legal language compassion clubs and dispensaries were held in a legal limbo. Also, the bill createsSafety Compliance Facilities for testing marijuana for pesticides, molds and medicinal components. This bill protects the caregiver system and the cottage industry, by not changing the components of growing and doesn’t change or negate any of the original MMMA.

Women, families, and the failed war on marijuana by Charmie Gholson

Michigan Women’s Drug Policy Reform Panel

Many grateful thanks to Ed Gorski, Ben Horner and the other dedicated folks at the Michigan Medical Marijuana Report for organizing this third conference in Ann Arbor. As a member of the “Activists Who Live Out of Their Car,” club, I’m grateful it’s held in my own back yard.  I also fully understand and appreciate the hard work it takes to organize--and keep organizing--this conference. What a gift it is to our community.  Thank you!

I organized this panel because it was mothers who both initiated and ended alcohol prohibition in the early 1900’s.  They thought they had found the answer to alcohol abuse—ban that devils juice! But in practice, prohibition made the situation worse, so they ended it. They organized and moved mountains at a time in history when women had to fight for basic rights such as holding property and voting.

I recently formed Michigan Moms United, an organization dedicated to improving the safety of Michigan families through asset forfeiture reform, drug task force accountability and educating Child Protective Services about the rights of medical marijuana patients and caregivers. I know that women and mothers will once again put an end to the disastrous policy known as prohibition.

I hold up the presenters who traveled to share their wisdom about women, families, and the failed drug war in solidarity, and look forward to working together in the future. I also encourage anyone-man or woman- to join us and extend that gift of serving as war protestors. We welcome you.

Racine Skelton is the Founder of Moms for Marijuana Michigan, who works to raise awareness, promote education, and create discussion about the Cannabis plant. According to Racine, Moms for Marijuana is, “a grassroots network of parents and other citizens across the world, who are concerned with the ignorant war that continues to be fought against the cannabis plant, and how it is negatively affecting the future generations of this earth.”

This is one rapidly growing organization. Toke of the Town troublemaker Steve Elliot reported on August 24, “In just a few short years, Moms For Marijuana has grown from a MySpace page (started by founder Serra Frank) to 120 chapters in 14 different countries, with more being added literally every week.

Racine gave us a great introduction to Moms for Marijuana and pledged her commitment to work together in the future. She is admin for the MM4M Face book page. They also have pages for Lansing, Detroit, and Northern Michigan Moms, which are the subchapters of the Michigan page.

These women are very active. They’re hosting a statewide penny drive and will hold a regional conference in Feb. "Our first Moms For Marijuana Cannabis Quilt Regional Conference -- where we will unveil our cannabis quilt -- is a joint venture with Overgrow The Government,” she told the audience. “It will be in Washington, D.C., at The Sylvan Theater on October 15 at noon, which happens to be the day before Americans for Safe Access testifies at the federal rescheduling hearings.”

Lansing activist Robin Schneider spoke about building relationship with and engaging public officials, which is essential if we are to reverse the false rhetoric and fear mongering used to continue marijuana prohibition. Robin is the Legislative Liaison for Michigan Association of Compassion Clubs, and also serves as Legislative Liaison for Michigan Moms United.

Robin urged the audience to fully develop relationships with legislators, rather than heading into a legislator’s office and giving them an earful.  She encouraged everyone to volunteer for political campaigns and, “get to know these people and build relationships with them from the start. Also you can go to their coffee hours that they hold locally, and talk about whatever issue they are there to discuss so that they view you as one of their constituents and not just a person who wants something.”

Communicating with legislators takes a bit of forethought as well, according to Robin. “When meeting with your representative,” she said, “it’s important to keep eye contact, look professional and not playing with your iPad or Face booking during meetings. Really pay attention and make the best of their time. This will show that you respect their time, because they are so busy.”

Brandy Zink offered perspective on working in a male dominated industry and offered some suggestions for women to stay safe and avoid sexual harassment. Brandy is the Michigan Ambassador for Americans For Safe Access (ASA), the former ED of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association and of the Ohio Patients Network. She served with myself on the Committee for a Safer Michigan, and currently works at the Cannabis Counsel in Detroit, and serves on the board of Drug Sense.

ASA is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. Steph Sherer founded ASA in 2002 with the purpose of building a strong grassroots movement to protect patients and their rights to safe and legal access. At the time, there were only 11 medical cannabis dispensaries in the nation, all of which were all operating outside of the law. Steph got a crash course in this provocative, courageous world of patient-defined medical cannabis advocacy and is one of my personal activist heroines.

For more information, please visit

Moms for Marijuana Michigan

Michigan Moms United

Americans For Safe Access

Drug Sense

FREE THE WEED 18 by John Sinclair


Congratulations to the publishers of the MMMReport on the success of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Convention at the Clarion Hotel in Ann Arbor in mid-August. A splendid exposition of medical marijuana products and related services was the centerpiece of the weekend-long affair, with a very busy doctor certification service, legal panels, a workshop on jury nullification, a Woman’s Alliance panel, a political confrontation exploring Republican and Democratic interpretations of the medical marijuana law, and a day-long exploration of organic growing, proper nutrients and perfect soil, plus cooking with Captain Kirk and other pressing issues topped by the first Caregiver Cup Awards and a pair of popular after-parties at the near-by Green Bee Collective.

I was in attendance all weekend in the excellent company of my granddaughter Beyonce and my daughters Sunny & Celia, who were helping with the vending of John Sinclair Seeds, books and CDs at our table in the exposition hall.

John Sinclair Seeds, marketed under the brand names Viper, White Panther, Trans-Love, and Amsterdam, were created by Sidney Daniels & Joeri Pfeiffer of Ceres Seeds and The Hempshopper in Amsterdam as a way of raising money to fund my various projects like Radio Free Amsterdam, the website, the Fattening Blogs For Snakes site, and the distribution of my books & recordings on-line at, iTunes, Amazon, Beatnik Press and other outlets.

We introduced the seeds at the Michigan Medical Cannabis Cup in Detroit last October, and they made their second appearance in Ann Arbor in August. The first Dutch batch of Viper weed is growing in Amsterdam as we speak, and if our efforts at producing a serious strain of smokables prove successful, the 420 Café is set to enter our product in the 25th (and reportedly final) Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam this November, while the Hempshopper will enter the Viper seeds in the Cup as well.

“Spring of 193I—we did call ourselves Vipers,” Louis Armstrong wrote in his autobiography, “which could have been anybody from all walks of life that smoked & respected gage. We always looked at pot as more of a medicine than a dope.” Pops also sponsored a youth baseball club in New Orleans called The Vipers, and the term was in widespread use to describe serious pot smokers in the United States throughout the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

The Amsterdam brand is a potent strain of skunk, and White Panther, a tasty indica-sativa cross, was once known as White Smurf—until the straight Smurf forces threatened to sue Ceres Seeds for copyright infringement. That’s when Sidney asked me, as his friend and the former Chairman of the White Panther Party, if it would be okay with me to rename the strain after our anti-racist organization, and a fruitful partnership that’s resulted in John Sinclair Seeds and the John Sinclair Foundation was born.

Trans-Love, our indica strain, was named for the non-profit hippie collective founded by Gary Grimshaw, Rob Tyner, myself and several others in the early spring of 1967. Trans-Love Energies managed the MC-5, presented countless free concerts and benefit dances, published the Sun underground newspaper, and served to unify and strengthen the hippie community in Detroit, Ann Arbor and throughout Michigan in the crucial years of 1967-69. Trans-Love was also the spawning ground for the White Panther Party and an early force in the struggle to legalize marijuana.

I’m proud to have been a founding member of these organizations that helped lay the groundwork for everything that’s good in our denatured and degenerated society of the 21st century, and I try to keep alive their memory and history to advance an image of a better world for the people of today. Non-violence, peaceful sharing among friends and with the less fortunate, great music, open sexual congress, bright colors, free concerts, group dancing, communal living and plenty of joints, with a tab of acid thrown in from time to time to keep raising the level of available reality.

Young people are dying for lack of these elements in daily life today, and it’s important to point an arrow back to our illustrious past here in Michigan in these final days of marijuana prohibition so we can draw on the strengths of the early struggles against these idiotic laws for the strength we need to carry the fight over the top to full legalization of this benevolent herb.

As I was writing this column my daughter Celia came over to where I’m staying with my daughter Sunny to bring me the first copy of her mother’s long-awaited new book, DETROIT ROCKS! A Pictorial History of Motor City Rock 7 Roll 1965 to 1975 by Gary Grimshaw & Leni Sinclair. From Leni’s dynamite photo of the Rev. J.C. Crawford, the Oracle of Zenta, on the front cover to Gary Grimshaw’s classic Rip-Off Press poster of the MC-5 at the Straight Theater in San Francisco on the back, this book smokes from beginning to end with information, history & beauty presented in the photographs & text of Leni Sinclair and the mind-boggling, eye-popping posters of the great Gary Grimshaw.

If full disclosure is required in this particular context, Leni Sinclair was my wife between 1965-77 and the mother of my children, and Gary Grimshaw was my comrade and working partner at the Detroit Artists Workshop, Trans-Love Energies, the White Panther Party and for some years thereafter in Ann Arbor & Detroit. Leni documented with her camera all the important musicians and musical events of those years, and Gary Grimshaw communicated the cultural reality of the period through his posters for the Grande Ballroom, Trans-Love Energies and many other presenters of music & cultural events.

The energy, spirit and daring of those times are encapsulated in DETROIT ROCKS! Like never before, from the title page crediting “Gary Grimshaw, Minister of Art, White Panther Party,” “Leni Sinclair, Minister of Education, White Panrther Party,” and “A Publication of the Detroit Artists Workshop Press, Founded in 1965” through the chapters titled The Detroit Artists Workshop, Trans-Love Energies, The Grande Ballroom, The MC5, The White Panther Party, The Free John Sinclair Campaign, The CIA Conspiracy and The Ann Arbor Years.

This book could easily have been two or three times as long, but in its tightly organized 112 pages designed by Grimshaw and produced by my daughter Celia you will find the essential graphics of the period, from Grimshaw’s powerful Grande Ballroom posters, the covers of underground press publications, iconic photographs of the MC5, Stooges and other important musical figures of the time, the rejected Grimshaw cover design for the first MC5 album on Elektra Records (currently on display at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame), posters for the John Sinclair Freedom Rally and the original Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festivals, and artifacts of the marijuana legalization movement, plus added treats lifted from FBI, Justice Department and Detroit Red Squad files compiled on the hippie movement and the cultural revolution in Michigan.

The one drawback is that it’ll be hard to find a copy of this book for yourself, since the original edition is limited in number . to what the authors call their ”co-publishers”—the several hundred people who wisely responded to the authors’ call for financial backing and pledged their money in advance, sort of as a forerunner of the now-popular Kickstarter method of financing independent works. The authors hope to attract a publisher to pick up the “Publishers Edition” and convert it into a product for mass distribution and consumption, which would be a very good thing indeed.

Let’s give Gary Grimshaw the last word: “The people, events, plces, and hgistiory we have presented in these pages shaoped my life an dthiose of my friends and close community. There is a lot of history packed into each page and, like our community, it is a unique and remarkable history. We effected positicve change into our own futures, we helped to influence law in our own country, and we help VIP backstage passes to the founding of the industry of Rock and Roll. We thought we were going to change the world. And guess what? We did.”

True dat, my brother, true dat indeed.

August 17, 2012

© 2012 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.

Rememebering 911 (wtf) by Ben Horner

Almost every American remembers where they were when the planes smashed into the World Trade Center in New York on the eleventh day of September 2011. The horrific images on the TV mesmerized everyone as they watched one of the most devastating attacks on U.S. soil, which included a devastating assault on the pentagon.  As the towers collapsed, we watched and listened to the newsmen and newswomen comment on the days tragic events. Controversy and unanswered questions faded into a state-sponsored media blackout. All major networks went into wartime emergency protocols, working directly with military industrial complex.

President Bush eventually mustered up the courage to face the American public. Armed with a list of terrorists (Muslim extremists from the Middle East), he declared war against Al Qaida. General Powell and Condoleezza Rice sold the war to the world as the White House rallied the American people. By the end of October, less than two months after the attacks in September, The Patriot Act was approved by Congress and signed by Bush, giving the government and the military authority to supersede the U.S. Constitution, including warrantless detention and domestic surveillance.

Family members of victims of 9/11 are deeply concerned that official investigations and findings made by the government did not reveal the truths. Bob Mcllvaine’s son, Bobby, was killed on 9/11.  He went to the 9/11 Commission to discuss the investigation.  His response to the investigation was, “It was obvious the investigation was a sham.” Kristen Breitweiser, Patty Casazza, Lorie Van Auken, and Mindy Kleinberg, AKA The Jersey Girls, headed the 9/11 Family Steering Committee, which was highly critical of the commission and its work. The widows called for a new independent panel. "I'm very disturbed, and I want to get some answers," said Breitweiser. "I want to know what the truth is." She called the 2004 findings "an utterly hollow report.” Even the commissioners themselves were concerned about the results. Governor Thomas Kean, Chairman of the 9/11 Commission stated, “We think the Commission, in many ways, was set up to fail. Because we had not enough money, we didn’t have enough time, and we have been appointed by the most partisan people in Washington.”

Richard Gage, AIA is the founder of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, and he insists that there is indisputable forensic evidence which proves the three towers that collapsed did so because of a controlled demolition. His organization boasts 1700 architects and engineers that call for a new investigation. Many of his concerns revolve around World Trade Center building 7, which was not hit by an airplane, but also collapsed into its own footprint. The 9/11 commissions neglected to investigate this building collapse as part of their report. Building 7 housed the Securities and Exchange Commission, IRS, CIA, DOD, and many other financial institutions. Richard and his colleges believe the recorded collapse of all the towers follow the characteristics of a controlled implosion, and he is convinced that all of the towers were packed with weapons grade thermite.  Residue from the debris has the signatures of thermite, and has been tested by multiple laboratories. The molten metal that pooled underneath the wreckage of the World Trade Center supports the conclusion. Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth chooses not to make any assumptions as to why the buildings were imploded with military grade explosives, and why the official investigations ignored the hard evidence that contradicted the official version of what happened on 9/11.

It seems unlikely that a new investigation will take place regarding what happened on that horrible day. The mainstream media and government officials often marginalize people that openly question the official version of the story by labeling them as crazy conspiracy theorists. Some believe that the attacks on the trade center were a false flag attack instigated by Bush, Cheney, and their neo-con advisors. The neo-cons include Paul Wolfowitz- State and Defense Department official, R. James Woolsey-Jr. Director of Central Intelligence, Richard Perle-Assistant Secretary of Defense, Jeane Kirkpatrick--Ambassador to the United Nations, Scooter Libby-Chief-of-Staff to Cheney, Condoleezza Rice-Secretary of State, Richard Armitage-Defense Department official, and Elliot Abrams-Republican foreign policy adviser among many others. Also included in that group of friends was Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater.

Certain powerful families in Michigan have strong connections to the NeoCons, including Bill Schuette. Mitt Romney recently defended Blackwater regarding an alleged killing of 11 Iraqi civilians during the war.  Many of these folks have mingled amongst the Michigan power elite. Schuette and Mitt Romney are linked through DeVos family via Dow Chemical, one of America’s key producers of military components, and Blackwater, America’s leading mercenary company. These folks are part of the ultra rich that control the media and influence the public to support their corporate empires. Some of the family members of the victims of 9/11 hold them more responsible for the event then the accused Muslim hijackers. They ask, “What would you do if it was your child that died? Would you want to know the whole truth, even if the truth hurt?”