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Friday, March 2, 2018

Free the Weed 85 - by John Sinclair

Highest greetings from New Orleans, the cradle of American civilization as we know it, where I’ve made my annual pilgrimage for the Mardi Gras and as much time after Lent begins that I can get away with.

For the past few years I’ve headed back to Detroit in mid-March to take part in the annual THC Expo at the Roostertail, and this year will be no exception as I intend to be on hand to celebrate the Detroit Caregiver Cup with my friend & publisher, Ben Horner and the people from MMMReport, as well as the rest of the festivities for the weekend.

It won’t be long after that when the 47th annual Hash Bash takes place on the UM campus in Ann Arbor, followed by the 2nd annual Hash Bash Cup at a hotel just outside of town that turns into Cannabis Central for the weekend. I’ll be able to share more information about this great event in next month’s column.

Everything else considered, this is going to be a very special year for me before it’s over because in November we’ll be voting to legalize marijuana in Michigan at last and finally eliminate the fear of arrest for smoking weed and getting high. It’s all but certain that Michigan voters will continue to express their support for the sacred weed, although for some reason—at this writing—the state Board of Canvassers has not yet certified the petition submitted by MILegalize and the Committee to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol although the specified period for the announcement has long passed.

It’s not entirely out of the question to anticipate some sort of ugly extralegal hanky-panky on the part of the State of Michigan with respect to allowing the citizens to vote on this issue in the November election. They changed the rules in the middle of the game in 2016 and prevented the issue from reaching the ballot, and of course the entire history of the marijuana laws is one big lie from start to finish.

Michigan is a place where the state government determined that marijuana was a narcotic drug and created a punitive structure that called for a prison sentence of 20 years to life for selling, distributing or giving away the weed and ten years in prison for simple possession of marijuana.

This law held sway until March 9, 1972 when the Michigan Supreme Court, ruling in the case of People v. Sinclair, declared that marijuana was not a narcotic and the prescribed prison sentences constituted cruel and unusual punishment. Anticipating this ruling, the Michigan legislature reclassified marijuana on December 9, 1971 and created a new class of drug called a controlled substance that carried a one-year maximum for possession and four years for sales or dispensing. This new statute took effect on April 1, 1972 and was greeted by the derision and disrespect of the smokers gathered on the Diag at the University of Michigan to smoke weed openly at what became the first annual Hash Bash.

Soon the cities of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and East Lansing passed local ordinances that reduced the penalties for marijuana crimes of all sorts to the issuance of a ticket carrying only a $5 fine, and Ann Arbor State Representative Perry Bullard attempted to legalize marijuana in the state legislature. But both Democrats and Republicans, spearheaded by African American legislators from Detroit like Rep. Daisy Elliott and Sen. David Holmes, resisted all reasonable arguments and scientific claims advanced by the marijuana legalization proponents and held fast to the anti-marijuana idiocy that’s held every since.

We’ll hear more anti-marijuana propaganda from the opponents of the 2018 legalization proposition because it’s worked so well for them for so many years and they’re more desperate than ever to keep their ill-founded legal system and the vast police-state apparatus they’ve developed in place even if the voters force them to give up their arrest and imprisonment powers.

I’ve said all these things many times before, but they can never be repeated enough until we have wrested the marijuana culture completely out of the hands of the police and their backers in the pharmaceutical complex, the alcohol manufacturers, the court and prison system, the drug rehabilitation industry, the federal and state legislatures and the corporations and lobbyists who own them—the whole gruesome mechanism of an oppressive social order that has grown so powerful on the backs of American marijuana smokers and the brave and resourceful people who supply us with what we need to get healthy and get high.

Once again it is important to note that it is the governmental bodies at all levels, from city councils to the federal legislature, that have created and enforced the depraved legal strictures against marijuana for the past 80 years, and that indeed remain the sole resistant force standing in the way of freeing the weed at all levels. They will never provide the solution to the problem of freeing the weed, and they will always seek ways to keep us from succeeding in our goal.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but take the ultimate bad example of the Detroit City Council, which is showing its ugly ass again in the face of the citizens’ vote against the draconic ordinance it passed to limit severely the access of medical marijuana patients to their medicine at designated cannabis caregiver centers. A ballot initiative last November to replace this 2016 ordinance was overwhelmingly passed by Detroit voters but has now been overturned by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Robert Colombo Jr., who claims that citizens are not allowed to alter zoning ordinances by voter initiative.

I must point out here that it was this guy’s father, Detroit Recorders Court Judge Robert J. Colombo, who presided over this writer’s marijuana possession trial and sentenced your reporter to a prison sentence of 9-1/2 to 10 years without appeal bond on July 28, 1969, despite the fact that my appeal was successfully upheld by the Michigan Supreme Court and the marijuana laws declared unconstitutional—but only after I had been imprisoned for 2-1/2 years.

The former police officers and church officials who make up the majority of the Detroit City Council are committed way beyond reason to defying the citizens’ wishes with respect to making marijuana available to people in the City of Detroit and surrounding communities who want and need it. They’ve shut down scores of compassionate care centers under the dictates of a gangsteristic licensing scheme and continue to oppose the views and expressed wishes of the majority of their citizens who want to be able to get their weed when and where they want it.

The elected state officials aren’t any better, and who knows how far they will go to prevent full legalization from taking effect. Even our own forces have constructed the proposed new law along the lines of alcohol regulation and expressly bar citizens from smoking in public. This means we still have some way to go in order to Free The Weed for real, once and for all, and I can promise you this: I’ll be there upholding the banner of freedom for the weed as long as I’m blessed with my life on this earth.

—New Orleans
February 25-26, 2018

© 2018 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.

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