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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Free the Weed 68 - by John Sinclair

I started out last month to state my case against any form of police involvement in our world of cannabis and got sidetracked thinking about my own treatment by the narcotics police and the system that backs them up and completes their work, including prosecutors, courts, bondsmen, probation agents, treatment centers, jails, prisons, guards, wardens, parole officers, and back to the police—not to mention the law-makers, mass media and other cynical myth-makers who have made the War On Drugs possible for the past 80 years.

     This unholy alliance of wrong-doers comprises the worst elements in our society, since their criminality is wholly acceptable by society at large and goes entirely unpunished, unlike the negative activities of illegitimate criminals like armed robbers, murderers, rapists and other violent felons.

     The architects of the War On Drugs bogarted their way into our lives with the passage of the Harrison Tax Act of 1937 and have run roughshod over the lives of millions of smokers ever since. The War On Drugs has invested law enforcement with powers beyond belief that allow the narcotics police to terrorize and persecute us with total impunity, disrupt our lives, prevent us from securing gainful employment, put us in prison and make the lives of our families and loved ones utterly miserable.

     The forces of law and order continue to oppose marijuana legalization by every means at their disposal despite the public’s clearly stated intention to allow people reasonable access to the sacrament. In plebiscite after plebiscite Americans have voted on their own initiative at a rate of almost two to one to legalize, first, medical marijuana for registered patients, and now to legalize weed for recreational, spiritual and whatever other purposes citizens may have to use marijuana.

     The resistance to legalization by the so-called law enforcement community is at the same time reprehensible and simple to understand. The powers granted the narcotics police and the economic benefits that derive from these terrible powers are so great and so well-established in our society that they will have to be wrested from their hands and completely forbidden in the future.

     At this critical juncture in the development of our movement to free the weed once and for all, it will be a huge mistake to allow the police to continue to play any role whatsoever in the cannabis community. They must be forced out of the issue completely and fully stripped of their authority to interfere in our innocent activities as marijuana smokers and care-givers.

     But it won’t be easy, and official resistance is bound to take a diversity of pathways to maintaining dominance over cannabis culture and the cannabis community. This year the State of Michigan, from the phony governor and supported by the entire legislature, first manipulated the citizen initiative process to limit by law the signature-gathering process to 180 days in order to thwart the efforts of MILegalize to place their legalization proposal on the November 2016 ballot.

     Having stopped the citizens’ initiative short of its goal, the state legislature then enacted its own marijuana laws, on the one hand accepting dispensaries and medibles but on the other stripping current growers and care-givers of their future and constructing a byzantine plan to keep the growing and distribution of weed firmly under the control of the government.

     According to the Associated Press news service, “The main legislation would impose a new tax and establish a state licensing system to grow, process, sell, transport or test cannabis. Another measure would create a monitoring system to track cannabis from ‘seed to sale’ and flag excess purchases.

     “A state board would charge application and renewal fees to cover costs including substance abuse programs and law enforcement. The legislation allocates $8.5 million to implement the licensing and tracking systems; the money would come from a fund that is financed with fees that patients and caregivers must pay to get registry ID cards.

     “The money would be split as follows: 30 percent to the state; 30 percent to counties with a marijuana facility; 25 percent to cities or townships with a facility; 5 percent to the Michigan State Police; 5 percent to county sheriffs; and 5 percent for a law enforcement standards commission. The state’s share initially would go to the general fund [and then] would be deposited into a fund to cover workers’ compensation benefits for firefighters with certain types of cancer.”

     Veteran legalization activist, MILegalize Board member and founder of the Safer Michigan Coalition, Chuck Ream speculates that “The dispensary bills were assembled by former Sheriff [and now state legislator] Jones because the police were ‘crying out’ for ways to milk money and new
Activist Chuck Ream
power from the emerging [cannabis] industry. Now they will have new departments, inspectors, auditors, and police, really just to
maintain the black market and the criminalization of cannabis.”

     “We see costs added and fluffed up to the max for utterly unnecessary regulation that no other industry must bear. These purely ‘makework’ bureaucratic jobs pump money and power to the police. There are so many layers of regulation anyone could be destroyed if police wished to target and harass them. Any one of the sets of regulators could destroy any licensee. It is an obvious set up for robbery by the state. All police goals are accomplished.”

     “They keep the current system going,” Ream adds, “the game of huge black markets, arrests, jails, fines, racism, and forfeiture. They get a spiffy new giant complex system of rules to enforce which will generate even more violators who can then be ‘surveilled,’ arrested, and railroaded.

     “They get huge direct growth—employees, money, huge bureaucracy—all funded by sick people in a situation with no insurance coverage. These dispensary bills are designed for money, power—and failure. They are an epic example of legislative bad faith – a middle finger in the face of Michigan voters and patients.”

     Well, I couldn’t have said it better myself. And as Lindsay VanHulle points out in the Detroit Free Press, “A fully developed legal market for medical marijuana in Michigan could lead to millions of dollars in new state tax revenue. Exactly how much is open to interpretation, but some analysts’ estimates suggest it could top $63 million a year.”

     That’s a pretty big windfall for a bunch of politicians who have seen to the arrest and imprisonment of countless thousands of their fellow citizens for growing, distributing, selling and smoking marijuana until the very recent past. There’s no denying that it’s an improvement on the War On Drugs, but they’ve still got their snouts in the trough of marijuana money where they’ve got no right to root.

     One last note: my old friend Bill McGraw published a piece in a recent issue of the Detroit Free Press that reports on a study of urban disintegration in Detroit by UM professor (and Detroit native) Dr. Heather Ann Thompson, who concluded that the War On Drugs and its effects on the citizenry contributed disproportionately to the downfall of the Motor City from the mid-60s to the present. “We can never underestimate the negative impact of either deindustrialization nor white flight,” Dr. Thompson asserts, “But we have given short shrift to the punitive turn—the embrace of mass incarceration—had in destroying cities like Detroit.”

     Think about it. Haven’t we had enough of this shit by now?

October 23, 2016

© 2016 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.


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