Highest greetings from Amsterdam, where I’m enjoying one of the finest summers ever with lots of sunshine and not so much rain. As a Flint native, I’m accustomed to long hot summers with plenty of heat, and as a former resident of New Orleans, I know what heat and humidity are all about.
There’s nothing like that here, and it stays kind of chilly most of the time even after the sunniest days, but it’s great to have more sun than rain in one’s life here in Amsterdam, and I’ll take it!
I had a great experience the other night when I went with my friend Leslie Lopez to the Nord to visit his little recording studio. I used to spend a lot of time with Lopez in the basement of Café the Zen, where his studio used to be, and we made an album together down there several years ago. It’s called Let’s Go Get ’Em if you ever want to hear it, and you can download it at CD-Baby for a modest payment.
Speaking of payment, the economics of marijuana consumption has been a hot topic in the mainstream media and among internet commentators. Of course, those of us who came to the marijuana liberation struggle from a spiritual perspective, with a special interest in the medicinal uses of the sacrament, have always known that marijuana would turn into big business once people got a chance to use it without punishment. But it’s really booming now.
For example, A story published by the Cannabis Law Group looks forward to the “all-but-inevitable legalization for recreational use” of marijuana in California this fall and reports that “investors are preparing for the day when legalization comes.
“In fact, such explosive growth is expected in the cannabis business and so much profit is expected to be generated, the situation is being described as ‘a new California gold rush’ as new businesses open, new products come into the marketplace, and new investor money comes in.”
The story explains that “the cannabis industry is an underground industry which is tremendously profitable. It’s now becoming investible for the first time. As cannabis businesses come out of the shadows, industry revenue is expected to leap from $2.7 billion in 2014 to around $11 billion by 2019.
“New and innovative products are being developed every day, including a whole new product category consisting of the world’s first cannabis distillery, as well as new vaporizer and accessories products.“
On a smaller but not insignificant scale, the state of Louisiana is looking into growing and selling medicinal marijuana products now that the Louisiana Legislature has approved a bill that legalizes the use of marijuana for people suffering from a specific list of debilitating diseases.
“The so-called medical marijuana legislation authorizes LSU and Southern University to grow and produce cannabis to be consumed in a liquid form,” Tyler Bridges reports in The New Orleans Advocate, asking in a headline: “How Much Might LSU, Southern, Companies Profit? How Will It Be Distributed?”
And what about the private companies that are now “emerging to try to profit from the new industry by partnering with the universities”? LSU and Southern both report getting calls from representatives of companies that want to rent or sell land or provide a growing facility, while others are inquiring about financing the entire venture with the expectation of earning a profit. “It’s a money-making venture,” Bridges quotes a Southern University official.
On an even deeper level, Karen Turner writes in the Washington Post that “Microsoft Becomes The First Big Tech Company To Get Into The Legal Weed Industry” by “partnering with a cannabis industry-focused software company called Kind Financial to provide ‘seed to sale’ services for cannabis growers that allow them to track inventory, navigate laws and handle transactions—all through Kind’s software systems.”
Tunrer notes that “the partnership marks the first major tech company to attach its name to the burgeoning industry of legal marijuana,” but I’m sure it won’t be the last. Wait until the big pharmaceutical companies get their hands on cannabis!
In fact, one of my favorite sources, Wonkblog, just published a piece by Christopher Ingraham about “Why Pharma Companies Are Fighting Legal Marijuana.” They’re fighting now but, so far as I can see, it’s basically a holding action to keep down progress toward legalization of weed while they figure out how to coopt our natural medicine and bring it into their own highly profitable domain.
But there’s a lot of fascinating information in Ingraham’s story, which points to “a body of research showing that painkiller abuse and overdose are lower in states with medical marijuana laws.
“In the 17 states with a medical-marijuana law in place by 2013, prescriptions for painkillers and other classes of drugs fell sharply compared with states that did not have a medical-marijuana law.
“In medical-marijuana states,” Ingraham reports, “the average doctor prescribed 265 fewer doses of antidepressants each year, 486 fewer doses of seizure medication, 541 fewer anti-nausea doses and 562 fewer doses of anti-anxiety medication.” That’s a lotta missing doses!
“But most strikingly,” he concludes, “the typical physician in a medical-marijuana state prescribed 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers in a given year.” For many of us this is great cause for celebration. But guess what? “These companies have long been at the forefront of opposition to marijuana reform,” Ingraham reveals, ”funding research by anti-pot academics and funneling dollars to groups, such as the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, that oppose marijuana legalization. Pharmaceutical companies have also lobbied federal agencies directly to prevent the liberalization of marijuana laws.”
Big Pharma makes a strange bedfellow for the law enforcement and prison guard unions that typically lead the charge against marijuana legalization, but when the pharmaceutical industry adjusts its chops to the taste of selling legal cannabis medication, they stand to make big profits while their allies will lose their ill-gotten powers for good.
In closing, It may be kind of a sick thing to say, but the War On Drugs, like legally-enforced racial segregation—with full recognition of their evil intent and inhuman effect—actually resulted in the creation of some beautiful lifeways and cultural constructs developed outside of and in opposition to the Americo-Puritan paradigm that in many ways were far superior to the ones we have now.
Under legal segregation black business and entertainment districts thrived, and there was a palpable sense of community among the citizens of the black ghettoes that hasn’t existed since the one-way street of integration was bulldozed through the black communities of our nation.
By the same token, the culture of interdependence, cooperative farming, underground economics and spiritual sharing that grew up in the wake of the insane marijuana laws created a life for many of us that no longer exists, even though we can buy our weed over the counter now in many locations. But the cost of freedom from imprisonment has been to surrender our identities and become mindless consumers of whatever the pot industry wants us to purchase.
On a personal note, my friend Maryjane Bunker has recently left the Grannies For Grass group to pursue a pair of initiatives of her own: Cannabis Information & Education, an on-line service she writes me “is reaching 3.8 million this a.m.,” and Puff, Puff, Paint, an organization set up to integrate puffing and painting in the process of art therapy. I had some great times when she brought me to Grannies For Grass events, she’s an accomplished and very generous grower, and I wish her every possible success in this next stage of her adventure.
P.S. I started out to say that when I visited Leslie Lopez’s studio in the Noord, it was in an abandoned police station! And we had quite a few laughs sharing a joint and listening to music where the police used to do their ugly business. FREE THE WEED!
FREE THE WEED!
July 21, 2016