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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Free The Weed 56 - by John Sinclair


     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!


—Detroit
October 20-22, 2015

© 2015 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.

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