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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Free the Weed 72 - by John Sinclair

Highest greetings from downtown Detroit, where I’ve been ensconced in a splendid inner-city apartment by my old friend Joel Landy, who used to run the printing press at the Detroit Artists Workshop some 50 years ago. Now he’s arranged for a place for me in my old neighborhood while I’m in Detroit, and I’ll be broadcasting from here on my internet radio station, RadioFreeAmsterdam.com for the next several weeks. 

     Special thanks to another old friend, the prominent boogie woogie pianist, Chuck Berry keyboard man, producer and attorney Bob Baldori of Okemos, who hooked me up with Joel again after an incredible length of time. I first met Bob when his band called The Woolies played the Grande Ballroom in its second or third week of operation in October of 1966; we came together again in Lansing in the early 1980s and have been close friends for the past 35 years or so.

     I’m going to be playing with Baldori at the Hash Bash in Ann Arbor on April Fools Day, and I particularly want to welcome everybody to this 46th edition of our annual celebration and public plea to FREE THE WEED that takes place on the first Saturday of April on the UM Diag and along Monroe Street. 

    
    Weed smokers in Ann Arbor held the first Hash Bash on April 1, 1972 to thumb our collective nose at the State of Michigan’s new “controlled substances” law, passed in December 1971 and put into effect on April Fools Day 1972. My own challenge to the constitutionality of the state’s drug laws, which classified marijuana as a “narcotic” and provided sentences of 10 years for possession and 20-to-life for sales or distribution, was successful in the Michigan Supreme Court on March 9, 1972 and for three glorious weeks there was no marijuana law in the State of Michigan whatsoever.

     You can imagine the celebrations that took place during that 3-week period, with music, dancing, and open smoking of the sacrament, but the ugly hand of the law was about to descend again at the beginning of April and we wanted to demonstrate that we weren’t going back to being controlled by the drug laws. So we got a bunch of people together on the Diag on a sunny afternoon and smoked a lot of joints.

     The next spring we elected two members of the Human Rights Party to the Ann Arbor City Council and passed the local ordinance limiting punishment for marijuana offenses to a $5.00 fine, issued in the form of a ticket with no arrest. This ordinance was also adopted in Ypsilanti and East Lansing and opened the door for the eventual city by city legalization of marijuana in the state of Michigan that’s taken place in the past several years.

     Now I’ve been around for a long time and I’ve made hundreds of friends all over the western world since I was a teenage rhythm & blues fanatic in Flint in the second half of the 1950s. Now I’m based in Amsterdam half the year and I’ve made a lot of good friends since I enjoyed my first visit there as High Priest of the Cannabis Cup in 1998.

     As you know, during the past year I’ve been dedicated to establishing the John Sinclair Foundation to support my projects and serve as a repository for all my literary and musical copyrights and other intellectual properties in perpetuity. Our progress was guaranteed by the gift of a substantial sum of money raised by Bob Whitall and Dennis Hayes at my 75th birthday party in Ann Arbor last October and gifted to Stichting John Sinclair, my non-profit foundation based in Amsterdam.

     To help me establish my foundation properly I’ve assembled a close group of friends and caretakers in Amsterdam led by Sidney Kuijer, proprietor of Ceres Seeds and the Hempshopper stores, who’s helped me with my projects for the past 10 years; Hank Botwinik, a professional mime, actor, internet genius and my original partner at Radio Free Amsterdam at its founding in 2004; Steve “The Fly” Pratt, my drummer, producer, frequent roommate, blogmaster and now Director of the John Sinclair Foundation; and two new friends: Tariq Khan, a Dutch rapper, record and video producer, and community activist; and Christian Greer, a professor at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and scholar of psychedelic culture.We’ve also formed an Advisory Board of more than 50 friends and colleagues who have pledged to assist us in our efforts. 

     We engaged our friend Kai van Benthem to design the new website for the John Sinclair Foundation and upgrade our internet radio service at Radio Free Amsterdam, and the new site is just about to launch with everything you ever wanted to know about me available on the one site. This has been a dream of mine ever since there’s been an internet, and now I can have all my records, books, and achievements right next to my seed company, this column, Radio Free Amsterdam, my archives, and a bunch of historical information.

     Here in Detroit I’m still celebrating the availability of my book It’s All Good: A John Sinclair Reader from Horner Books and the release of my new record Mobile Homeland, produced by Tino Gross in a CD version on Funky D Records and as my first 12” vinyl album issued by Jett Plastic Records, headed by the 17-year-old record mogul named Jared Cowal whom I’ve known since he was five years old. Now he’s putting out my new record—on vinyl!

     I’ll be doing a series of appearances, readings and performances in support of my book and record throughout April, starting with performances at the Clarion Inn in Ann Arbor after the Hash Bash as part of the Hash Bash Cannabis Cup and at the Blind Pig later that night with the Macpodz. On April 2 I’ll be doing a reading from It’s All Good at the Crazy Wisdom Bookstore, 114 S. Main St. in Ann Arbor at 4:20 in the afternoon.

     The next weekend, on both April 7 and 8, I’ll be part of the bill at the Funky D Records Revue at Callahan’s Music Hall north of the city along with Tino G & The Howling Diablos, Robert Bradley, Rebecca Saad and the Funky D Horns, with Linda Lexy of Radio Free Amsterdam and Doug Podell serving as emcees. The next day, at 4:20 pm on April 9, I’ll do a reading from It’s All Good at the Cannabis Counsel headquarters at 2930 E. Jefferson in Detroit.

     Other things are bound to come up, but for sure I’ll be present on 420 (April 20) at the Clio Cultivation Club with my man Buddy at 4:20 in the afternoon, and later that night I’ll hopefully be celebrating the grand opening of my Coffeeshop John Sinclair in Dr. Bob’s Psychedelic Healing Shack on Woodard Avenue near 7 Mile Road. Of course you’re all invited to participate in any or all of these events.

     That’s the end of my space for this month, and I’ll promise to return to my usual topics in next month’s installment, but I thought I’d begin my seventh year in this space with these personal thoughts and reminiscences in honor of the Hash Bash. Thanks for your indulgence, and Free The Weed!

                                 
—Detroit
March 23, 2017

© 2017 The John Sinclair Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

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