FREE THE WEED 35
A Column by John Sinclair
Highest greetings from Amsterdam, where people in the cannabis community are looking on in wonder as the United States takes its first tentative steps toward legalizing marijuana for use by all thinking persons over 18 years of age.
Like they say in New Orleans, a lotta people don’t know that marijuana is not actually legal in the Netherlands, although over-the-counter sales of cannabis has been allowed under what they call a “gray area” in the law which amounts to a sort of super-decriminalization policy that not only eliminates arrest but lets smokers buy and ingest the sacrament in designated coffeeshops without police interference.
But growing, distribution, wholesale transfer and delivery are still fully illegal, growers are tracked down and arrested, distributors are intercepted, delivery remains fully clandestine, shopowners are prohibited from stocking more than 500 grams of cannabis products on the premises at any one time, and even the consumer is limited to purchases of no more than 5 grams per trip.
So the mouths of the men and women in the Netherlands cannabis industry water with envy while they watch the people of the states of Colorado and Washington provide for full legalization of marijuana and its open distribution in dispensaries and other licensed public outlets.
Dutch tokers have enjoyed and taken great pride in their peculiar form of cannabis decriminalization for more than 40 years, but the Dutch government has always refused to move the rest of the way toward legalization and now the pioneering role of the coffeeshop culture is being usurped by two of the United States, with several more sure to follow soon.For example, in an historic new development in America, the General Assembly of the state of New Hampshire recently voted in favor of House Bill 492, which calls for the legalization of personal use and home cultivation of marijuana by persons 21 years of age or older and the establishment of regulations for the retail production and sale of cannabis.
This makes the New Hampshire House the first state legislative chamber ever to vote in favor of regulating cannabis and, as a NORML report hopefully speculates, “signal[s] that politicians are finally beginning to acknowledge the will of their constituents." Democrat Governor Maggie Hassan, however, has already voiced her opposition to House Bill 492 and intends to veto it if it reaches her desk.
But she’s just following the bad example of her party’s leader, President Barack Obama, who told The New Yorker recently that he is “troubled at the disproportionate number of arrests and imprisonments of minorities for marijuana use” but has no plans to rescind the nation’s idiotic marijuana laws which trigger those arrests.
The President admitted that he doesn’t think marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol, “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer… [but] I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.
“As has been well documented,” the President said, “I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life.”
The New Yorker points out that the Obama administration “has given states permission to experiment with marijuana regulation…. The president said it was important for the legalization of marijuana to go forward in those states to avoid a situation in which only a few are punished while a large portion of people have broken the law at one time or another.”
Obama said in the interview that users shouldn’t be locked up for “long stretches of time” when people writing drug laws “have probably done the same thing.”
“The experiment that’s going to be taking place in Colorado and Washington is going to be, I think, a challenge,” the president said. Yeah, a challenge to the federal government to dare to ignore the expressed will of the electorate and keep on harassing, arresting, prosecuting and imprisoning people for smoking pot and trying to get their heads right.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Once public approval of marijuana legalization moves over 60%—it’s reached 58% now—legislators and elected officials will start falling all over each other to move legalization into reality, and it’ll be a whole new day not only in the U.S.A. but all over the western world.
In line with the thoughts expressed in this particular column, I’ll be traveling from Amsterdam to Denver, Colorado to gain some experiential knowledge into how the new law is working out for people like ourselves. I’ll be playing at the Neal Cassady Birthday Party at the Mercury Café and then nosing around Denver and environs for a couple of weeks, and I’m looking forward to reporting from there for my next column.
I’ll be getting into Colorado just two days after the Denver Broncos play the Seattle Seahawks for the National Football League championship in the Super Bowl, which some pundits are calling the first ever Marijuana Bowl—since, as NORML executive director Allen St. Pierre points out, it features "the two most pro-cannabis-legalization cities in the U.S." He suggests that the game should be renamed "The Super Oobie Doobie Bowl."
Bob Troutman reports (courtesy of my pal Michael Donnelly, a Flint native and long-time resident of Portland, Oregon) that “Super Bowl bets between Denver and Seattle mayors are in. If the Seahawks win the game, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray will get a quarter pound of ‘Hickenlooper Mile High OG Kush.’ Should the Broncos win, Mayor Michael Hancock will receive an equal amount of ‘Seattle Armageddon Space Needle G-Force Indica.’”Talk of the Marijuana Bowl inspired Nick Creegan of FOX Sports to write a thoughtful piece exploring some of the contradictions inherent in the present scheme of state-by-state legalization under the dark ugly cloud of the federal prohibition of cannabis.
For one thing, Creegan writes, “It is still illegal for NFL players who live in the state to use marijuana because it violates the drug policy under the current collective bargaining agreement. The same will go for Washington when their pot doors open this spring.“The NFL is getting pressured by lobbyists to stop penalizing players for smoking pot, saying it could be helpful for getting through concussions and other injuries.
“The lobbyists are also calling attention to the fact the league is fond of the alcohol industry, such as their relationship with Anheuser-Busch. They pitch Bud Light as the ‘proud sponsor of the NFL’ and even had some ads in rotation showing Budweiser and Bud Light bottles going head-to-head in what they called a ‘Bud Bowl’ game.”
Creegan says that last September the Marijuana Policy Project in Denver put up a 48-foot-wide billboard next to the city's Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium, insisting that the NFL needs to "stop driving players to drink" and the "safer choice" for athletes was actually pot. A petition was launched by the group in efforts to get NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to change the league's marijuana policy.
Finally, Creegan ponders whether “pot legalization in a state [is] making teams more successful” and points out that “For the states where marijuana is outlawed completely, they've actually had a difficult time in the postseason. The Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints and Cincinnati Bengals all come from states that have not decriminalized pot. Go figure.
"If you noticed, the more marijuana-friendly localities really kicked butt," he concludes. "I don't know what it really means in the grand scheme of things, but it's a nice bit of karma if nothing else."
FREE THE WEED!
January 21-22, 2014
© 2014 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.