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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Free the Weed 72 - by John Sinclair

    Highest greetings from New Orleans, where I’m relaxing after spending the winter in Amsterdam and now enjoying the Mardi Gras season as always. I left Detroit for Holland right after the November election, so I’m being introduced as we speak to life in Trumpville, a place I never imagined for myself.

     A bit of good news followed me out of the Netherlands, where the lower house of Parliament has just voted in favor of regulated marijuana cultivation under government control. But “there is no guarantee the legislation will actually become law,” reports, “because it does not have majority backing in the upper house of parliament.”

     If the upper house of the Dutch Parliament, known as the First Chamber, refuses to support the bill, the issue could become a bargaining chip in discussions to form a new coalition after the Netherlands’ lower house election on March 15.

     The public prosecution department opposes the move, saying it conflicts with international treaties. Dutch police dismantled 5,856 marijuana plantations in 2015, or nearly 16 a day, but estimate that this is only 20 percent of the total.

     The 77-72 vote supports allowing cannabis cafe owners to buy their produce from licensed growers and remove the grey area between illegal cultivation and the licensed cannabis coffeeshops where small amounts of marijuana can be bought over the counter for personal use.

     Dutch coffeeshops have flourished since the 1970s and became a major tourist drawing card, particularly in Amsterdam where more than a quarter of the tourist trade admits to coming for the easy access to the weed. But a government scheme to shut down coffeeshops within 250 meters of a school has resulted in many closures, leaving only 175 coffeeshops in Amsterdam—half the number that existed in the 1990s.

     In the Parliament, Alexander Pechtold, leader of the D66 party that drew up the legislation, called the vote “a historic breakthrough.”

     Meanwhile, back in Trumpville, the incredible gains made by the marijuana legalization movement in the States are being threatened by the chief bully in charge, as White House press secretary Sean Spicer has said that he expects states to see “greater enforcement” of the federal law against marijuana use.

     “I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement,” Spicer told reporter Jordan Fabian, while adding the exact policy is “a question for the Department of Justice.”

     The head (or maybe I should say the ass) of the Justice Department, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has been a critic of recreational marijuana laws in the past, linking it to the abuse of opioid drugs in states across the U.S. But eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and 20 others have laws allowing medical marijuana.

     The intransigence of the federal government with respect to legalizing weed has been unrelenting for 80 years since marijuana was first criminalized in 1937. The main culprit, of course, is the U.S. Congress, which refuses to rewrite the drug laws to remove marijuana from its Schedule 1 status and thus make legalization possible.

      Until this is done by act of Congress the demagogues in national office will retain their power to make life miserable for the rest of us, even as voters in state after state defy their fake science and mount successful citizens’ initiatives against the states’ prohibition of the sacrament.

     Now, in California, where recreational use was legalized by citizen initiative last fall, Tiffany Wu reports that state lawmakers have introduced a new bill to increase protections for California cannabis businesses from federal persecution.

     California Assembly Bill 1578 would prohibit California state and local agencies from assisting federal agencies in enforcing federal law against marijuana businesses for medical or recreational cannabis activities authorized under California law, including “using agency money, facilities, property, equipment, or personnel to assist a federal agency to investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest a person for commercial or noncommercial marijuana or medical cannabis activity authorized by law in the State of California.

     “State agencies would also be prohibited from responding to a request made by a federal agency for personal information about an individual who is authorized to possess, cultivate, transport, manufacture, sell, or possess for sale marijuana or marijuana products or medical cannabis or medical cannabis products, if that request is made for the purpose of investigating or enforcing federal marijuana law.

     Further, state authorities would not be allowed to “transfer an individual to federal law enforcement authorities for purposes of marijuana enforcement or detain an individual at the request of federal law enforcement for conduct legal under state law.”

     State and local agencies in California, Ms. Wu concludes, “would only be allowed to take these actions if they receive a court order signed by a judge.”

     This is the kind of resistance on the state level that we need to see, and with the regressive Trump administration in place, it’s going to take a lot of fighting to maintain even the status quo with respect to laws that have already been passed by the citizenry.
And it’s even more important to maintain and advance our struggle to legalize weed here in Michigan next year when the chance to put the question of legalization on the ballot comes around once again.

     “What happened to the MI Legalize petition drive [in 2016] should bother anyone who believes in democracy,” former Fox Detroit 2 news anchor Anqunette “Q” Sarfoh recently claimed in a speech to the Women Grow-Southeast Michigan chapter in Ypsilanti covered by reporter Ken Wachsberger.

     “That we have a citizen’s initiative system in place and the rules were changed during an active petition drive is troubling,” Q continued. “I believe it to be a blatant abuse of power and a flagrant disregard of the people’s will and right to decide our own laws. We were robbed.
      “It is a travesty that the establishment has denied us the opportunity to grow marijuana in our closets and backyards,” she continues. “We can’t remain silent. When we do, that’s when they get away with so much. Tell the truth.”

     Ms. Sarfoh has suffered from multiple sclerosis for several years and was initially put on Copaxone, Baclofen, Adderall, and Zofran.

     “The first year I was a good patient,” Q attests. “ I took my drugs. I was never sicker in my life. I was constantly nauseated, had headaches and stomach pain.” Then her husband talked her into smoking a joint, which she had been avoiding because her job as an anchor at Fox News subjected her to drug testing.

     “I was stunned at how quickly my pain and nausea went away,” she claims. “I was also surprised that it gave me energy.” So her husband became her caregiver and she “started smoking every day. I would come home from work after six hours feeling sick. Two puffs and I’d be washing dishes, walking the dog.”

     In February 2016, her doctors warned her that she was having a possible relapse, Wachsberger reports, and prescribed a three-day course of intravenous steroids. A month later, with her condition not improved, they recommended that she stop working permanently.

     “On November 1, 2016, Sarfoh became not the anchor giving the news story but the subject of the story,” Wachsberger concludes, when she retired from her position at Fox and became an advocate for marijuana as a board member for MI Legalize.

Thanks, Q. Let’s FREE THE WEED once and for all!

—New Orleans

February 24, 2017

© 2017 The John Sinclair Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

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