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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Legalize It: Notes From the Film Screening in Denver and the Power of Proposed Amendment 64

By Ben Horner (From the November 2012 Edition of the MMM Report) 

Denver, Colorado-

Upon arriving at the Denver, one quickly realizes that this city is one of America’s strongest and most progressive. Magnificent snow capped mountains loom in the background of the impressive skyline. Modern skyscrapers and historical architecture stand tall against nature’s majestic backdrop. This is a cosmopolitan Mecca. More importantly, Colorado is one state that is leading the way in progressive marijuana law reform. Amendment 64, if passed by the voters, will fully legalize marijuana for personal use and cultivation on private property. In this proposed constitutional amendment there is framework of a regulatory system for retail locations, as well as guidelines for an excise tax of up to 15%. The first 40 million dollars of revenue received will be reserved for the general education fund. Polling data currently indicates the voters are strongly in favor of passing the amendment – 51% in favor, 42% against, and 7 yet undecided (According to the October 5th University of Denver poll.)

At the United Presbyterian Church located at 1400 Layfette Street, Christian ministers hosted an advanced screening of Legalize It, a film by Award-winning filmmaker Dan Katzir, which
was produced by Ravit Markus and Lati Grobma. Following the documentary was a cordial debate with respect to Colorado’s Amendment 64. Although the movie documents California’s failed Prop 19 (Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol), the story really shows an inside picture of the internal struggle passing the people’s enacted initiatives and the toll it plays on the progressive leaders that spearhead these campaigns. Legalize It focuses on the people directly behind Prop 19. The movie outlines the raw courage and personal sacrifice made, as well as the tremendous sacrifices and efforts made by the many others who volunteered for the campaign. Richard Lee spent all of the money he had generated from Oaksterdam University.

Unfortunately, the opposition was the very people that should have been their allies. An opposition group formed against Prop 19, which is based around some African-American Christian ministers, California’s cannabis growers, and the Mexican drug cartels. The growers and thug drug dealers resist due to fear of a shift of their share of the marijuana production market going to large corporate enterprises. Signs urging voters of Cali to
“Vote NO on Prop 19” were placed at dispensaries around the state. The opposition dismayed the leaders of the campaign for Prop 19. They truly underestimated the greed factor and internal corruption within the movement. Did they not realize that the biggest victims in the drug war are cannabis consumers, children, and minorities? Inevitably, as most know, Prop 19 failed. This was due primarily to a lack in funding and unified grassroots support in addition to the misguided opposition.

To their credit, Richard Lee and all that fought to legalize marijuana pioneered the cause with new ideas and political strategies. The people involved changed public perception
regarding marijuana and the drug war. They brought national spotlight to the issue. Although the advanced screening still had some preproduction work yet to be done, I would highly
recommend the film.

Following the screening, representatives for and against Colorado’s Amendment 64 discussed the issue. Ben Cort, who a drug rehab counselor and represented the opposition
against Prop 64, expressed his concerns. He opined and suggested that a constitutional amendment was not the right vehicle, as the particular language proposed in the amendment
creates a federal supremacy issue. He expressed that his greatest concern is for the youth. He cited a Rand study which projects an increase in youths who use marijuana
if legalized. Betty Aldworth, of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, argued that there are approximately 10,000 pot-related offenses in the state last year, and not all of those were problematic. She pointed out that disparity of race and income ratios of those crimes are indicative of social injustice and inequality. Amsterdam has had huge growth of black market after barring coffee shops from sell marijuana to tourists. Ms. Aldworth countered that Colorado people should be able to make their own choices;
the language of Amendment is flexible regarding regulation.

On November 6th, the citizens of Colorado will decide which point of view is to become policy. The contrast of professionalism in Colorado and Washington’s legalization of retail
marijuana is sure to set the standard moving forward.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Renee Wolfe Tribute by Ed Gorski

The marijuana movement suffered a severe blow on Sept 11th at 4:20pm as Renee Wolfe passed onto the other side. Renee was not only a great activist herself, but she inspired others to become activists. I first met Renee at the first MMM Report conference in Ann Arbor a couple years ago. She treated me as if I were her best friend and had been for years. This was Renee Wolfe. She greeted everyone with a “Hello Beautiful” and made everyone she talked with feel special. I had the privilege of interviewing Renee and really got an insight into her amazing mind. She suffered much heartache throughout her life including being diagnosed with MS, losing custody of her son, and being arrested for smoking a joint in front of a police officer but always came out stronger. “You do what you have to do” she told me.
Renee used marijuana for over thirty years and sometimes referred to herself as “Grandma Marijuana”. Over this time she made many friends and overwhelming sadness was felt as word of her death spread throughout our community. A heartfelt movement was shared at the Unity Rally in Lansing as some of Renee’s closest friends took the Capitol steps and mourned for our fallen hero. Renee was no stranger at the Capitol, as she spent countless hours talking to lawmakers trying to convince them of the medicinal benefits of marijuana. She played a key role in the passing of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act and was first in line to receive her card.
A memorial was held at the Clarion Hotel in Ann Arbor and Renee’s influence was apparent as the conference room was packed to capacity with people whose life Renee had touched. The standing room only crowed mourned as Renee’s friends and family told stories and shared fond memories. Although Renee has passed, her spirit carries on in each and everyone she has touched.
RENEE EMRY WOLFE May 3, 1960 – September 11, 2012

Cannabis, Cancer and Domestic Violence by Charmie Gholson

October is both National Breast Cancer and National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and guess what? Medical marijuana is “the answer” to both of these issues—just like love.

The medical marijuana movement, operating as informed health consumers in control of our own healing, has generated plenty of informal, no budget, not FDA-approved research, to provide proof that that Cannabis kills cancer without killing healthy cells. That research and the results haven’t been reviewed or approved by our government; it’s just made the cancer go away.

In fact, in the three short years since we’ve enacted the Medical Marihuana Act, we’ve developed a cadre of our Michigan activists who have pioneered informal cannabis cancer research; every day people just like you and me, who have cured their own cancer with Cannabis. Steven Sharpe, Gersh Avery and Michael McShane are a few of these miracle warriors, walking in a surreal, dual existence of both criminal and healer in the midst of marijuana prohibition.

But even with the ever lurking fear of criminal aggression from law enforcement or the medical society, these dedicated folks now work to educate others. They present their research and findings to any one who’ll listen: hospitals, doctors , media, health organizations.

 It’s a beautiful thing. Healing for the people, by the people.  Fight the power, so others may live.

Mainstream medicine isn’t completely ignoring the Cannabis/ Cancer connection either. A research team at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute is studying the endocannabinoid system with the goal of developing interventions for aggressive cancers. They report that a non-toxic, non-psychoactive compound in marijuana (CBD) may block the progress of metastatic breast cancer.

CBD works by blocking the activity of a gene called Id-1, which is believed to be responsible for the aggressive spread of cancer cells away from the original tumor site.

Senior researcher Pierre-Yves Desprez likened this process to "an orchestra conductor. In this case, you shoot the conductor, and the whole orchestra is going to stop. If you shoot the violinist, the orchestra just continues to play."

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence defines battering as a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person. Usually, it’s an intimate relationship and includes fear and intimidation behavior, often including the threat or use of violence. Battering happens when one person believes that they are entitled to control another, not because they were drunk, or you didn’t do something correctly. It’s just a control issue.

Alcohol abuse has been identified as one of the leading risk factors for domestic violence; the statistics connecting alcohol abuse and domestic violence are overwhelming.  It’s clearly the drug with the most evidence to support a direct intoxication-violence relationship.

Research also shows that alcohol use contributes to aggressive behavior and acts of violence, while marijuana use reduces the likelihood of violent behavior.

In the most basic terms, Cannabis is safer than alcohol, especially if you’re a woman. 

Rick Simpsons Phoenix Tears

National Domestic Violence Hotline

Run From The Cure, full version

Charmie Gholson
Politics. Promotions. Peace.

FREE THE WEED 19 by John Sinclair



Highest greetings from New Orleans, the place I like to call the Cradle of American Civilization As We Know It. I’m sharing my 71st birthday with daughter Celia, seeing many of my hundreds of friends from my 12 years as a resident here, participating in the Cutting Edge music conference, playing some gigs with Carlo Ditta and Tom Worrell, and recovering from my trip to the Pacific Northwest and Los Angeles earlier this month.

I flew from Detroit to Portland, Oregon right after Labor Day for the annual Hempstalk Festival, where the great American poet John Trudell and his band called Bad Dog were featured on stage for an audience of about 10,000 marijuana patients and recreational smokers who danced, celebrated, cavorted, shopped for cannabis-related products and heard a wide range of speakers urging the passage of the marijuana legalization initiative that’s up for the vote in November.

My host was the organizer of Hempstalk, Paul Stanford, who also hosts a regular television talk show called Cannabis Common Sense from the community TV studios in Portland and directs the Hemp and Cannabis Foundation and its THCF Medical Clinics, with offices in 9 states helping patients obtain their state's permit for legally possessing, using and growing medical marijuana.

THCF has produced over 500 episodes of its live weekly TV show for cable television in Oregon, Washington, California, Colorado and Michigan, and may be viewed on demand on the THCF websites. If you look you’ll find rhe show with John Trudell and myself from early September. I also made an appearance on Paul’s TV show when I was in Oregon in March for the ill-fated What The Fuck Festival.

But speaking twice now of the legenday John Trudell, I should treat you to a new poem of his sent to me by our mutual friend Michael Donnelly, who put me up and drove me everywhere during my week in Oregon:


A Hollow Noise


the billionaires are robbing the millionaires

the millionaires are robbing the middle class

while together, they are all robbing the poor

all the while implying god vouches for them                             

in god we trust, as taking gods name in vain

introducing demons and evils into the realm

humanity herded into invisible caste systems

shooting up religious programmed behavior

narcotic-ing with guilts and fears and blame

then if those narcotics wear off or don’t take

there are the laws of the authoritarians state

to keep everyone in place or make them pay

the rules of patriotism are effective weapons

when used politically against the disagreers

manipulating emotions into distorted chaos

corporate jihadist’s frenzied economic terror

turning citizen believers into the new infidels

cannibalizing, as a way of maximizing profits

using elections as links in their chains of debt

with good cop bad cop political party blinders

and promises of honor and other lies that bind

deeper and deeper into the abyss of desperate

until the thing called freedom is a hollow noise

trying to remember what it feels like to be free

trying to forget that feeling free can’t feel free

—John Trudell
September 18, 2012

After Portland I took the train up to Seattle to sit in on the first Seattle Medical Cannabis Cup and play some gigs with a funky little trio called The Damn Shame and the great Seattle guitarist Simon Henneman, sitting in with his fine quartet at a place called Lucid and assembling a splendid ensemble for the Sunday night showcase at the Racers Club.

Relaxing in the High Times Medication Area at the Seattle Cannabis Cup I encountered a couple of brothers from the True West Compassion Club in Holland MI, fresh from attending the San Francisco Medical Cannabis Cup in Oakland CA and dropping in on Seattle before heading back to the West Coast of Michigan. Another homie in attendance was the legendary cannabis chef from Ypsilanti known as Captain Kirk, whose confectionary entry won first place honors in the medibles Cup competition at Seattle. Congratulations, Captain!

The state of Washington is also about to vote in November on a legalization measure, and additionally the state of Colorado is considered almost certain to free the weed when its citizens cast their votes this fall. There’s a lot of excitement building in these states and also here in Michigan, where four different municipalities are trying to straighten things out for their citizens in the face of the criminal opposition to the medical marijuana laws by the Tough Nerd administration and its acting General, William Schuette.

I’ll be back in Detroit on Election Day to submit my ballot in favor of full legalization within the city limits and, of course, to cast my vote for the reelection of my president, even though I couldn’t disagree with him more on his stance behind the endless War On Drugs. While I know he knows better from being a serious toker while in college, and despite the disappearance of a political advantage for proponents of this idiotic crusade ever since over half of the voting public has now endorsed full legalization in the United States, reports like the following from NORML may shed some light on the president’s recalcitrance:

Former DEA Heads Urge Justice Department To Oppose Statewide Marijuana Initiatives

(Washington, DC)—Nine former directors of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sent a letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder urging his office to actively oppose several statewide ballot measures that seek to depenalize the personal use and possession of cannabis by adults.

"We urge you to oppose publicly Amendment 64 in Colorado, Initiative 502 in Washington, and Measure 80 in Oregon," the letter states. "To continue to remain silent conveys to the American public ... a tacit acceptance of these dangerous initiatives." Signatories include every former director of the DEA since the agency's inception.

Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, Initiative 502, and Measure 80, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, all seek to amend state law to allow for the limited possession and distribution of cannabis to adults. Both Amendment 64 in Colorado and Initiative 502 in Washington hold solid leads among likely voters. A recent Survey USA poll of Washington voters showed I-502 ahead by a margin of 57 percent to 34 percent.

The DEA letter did not specifically address separate state initiatives in Arkansas, Massachusetts, and Montana that seek to regulate the physician-recommended use and distribution of cannabis.

Holder's office previously spoke out in 2010 against Proposition 19 in California after receiving a similar letter from past chiefs of the DEA. That measure sought to allow for the limited possession and cultivation of cannabis for adults. The measure was defeated at the polls by a vote of 46.5 percent to 53.5 percent.

I’d tack on my usual screed about the contemporary police state built up on the framework of the War On Drugs and how the only people who have a real interest in continuing  this ugly assault on the dope-smoking citizenry are the components of the vast so-called law-enforcement
Community, but I’m out of space for this issue so I’ll just sat goodbye and urge you once more not to forget to vote on November 6, wherever you are. That’s where democracy begins—with your vote.

—New Orleans

September 25, 2012

© 2012 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.

Vote Green Initative Project Oct. by Ben Horner

Vote Green Initative Project

By Ben Horner

On November 6th, I urge all readers to vote in the presidential elections. The VGIP and the MMM Report magazine officially endorses Barak Obama for re-election, over challenger Mitt Romney. In the years after the now infamous Ogden memo, medical marijuana has flourished in a growing number of states across the nation. In this memo the federal government determines to stand down and not interfere with state medical marijuana programs, assuming that they follow all the rules and stay within compliance.
There have been exceptions and there has been an increase in federal raids involving grows and dispensing operations that reach certain scales. This noninterference mentality from the current administration has been a key.  Large operations invariably violate provisions listed in the do not do list of the Ogden memo. 
In contrast, Mitt Romney has been openly critical of medical marijuana and has said publically that he will fight marijuana legalization “Tooth and Nail!” Third party candidate Gary Johnson has the best platform for marijuana reforms, but he has little chance of winning. Obama is the most practical at this time.
            In the State of Michigan, sheriffs, prosecutors and the House of Representatives are all up for election. The VGIP is working on several projects this October, including reaching out to these candidates. The goal is to share this information via the next issue of the magazine and with social media.
            I have worked hard this year to form the Coalition for a Safer Flint. Together with Charles Schneider III, Brian Morrissey, Jerry Haynes, Brenda Davis and the political masterminding of Tim Beck and Chris Chiles, we managed to place a question on the ballot in the city of Flint. The amendment is to accept persons of at least 19 years in age using or possessing less than 1 ounce of marihuana on private property. Similar ballot initiatives in Detroit, Ypsilanti, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids stand to rock the public’s consciousness and take us another step towards an end to prohibition of cannabis.
            Please consider helping us with some of our VGIP meetings in October. Below are some functions that we could use your help with. We often provide meals and transportation money for volunteers. Please call Brenda at 810.820.8953.
October 15,16, 17 Lobbying volunteer work.
Please contact us to learn more 810.820.8953

October 18th Flint Public Library, Coalition for a safer Flint
1026 E Kersey St, Flint

October 28th Clarion Hotel in Ann Arbor, MMMA Stakeholders Meeting
2900 Jackson Rd, Ann Arbor