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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Spotlight - Greece - #freemybuds - June 2019


By Ben Horner

The Lesvos Plant Medicine Conference Center Library (LPMCCL) is a library start-up devoted to plant medicine. LPMCCL focus is creating digital access to historical text and the latest plant medicine research for farmers, their children and “hemp-care” tourists visiting Lesvos, a Greek island  in the Aegean Sea. Theophrastus, the founder of Western plant medicine, and Aristotle, student of Plato, studied natural life on Lesvos —  Theophrastus began Botany and Aristotle documented Biology on the crossroad island between East and West.

LPMCCL founder, Jerome Poynton, has completed the first phases of the project by introducing the concept at the International Library Convention in Chicago in June of 2017. In 2018, Mr. Poynton, with the help of medical marijuana experts in the USA, began developing a worldwide market, LPMCCL Medical Cannabis Chocolate, to fund plant medicine librarian salaries. Currently LPMCCL full spectrum, cannabis chocolates are being sold in Michigan at licensed medical marijuana provisioning centers. Under the library’s label more products for the American and European market are in development to fund project vision.


On May 10th 2019 Mr. Poynton, released a call to ‘Young Farmers’ on Lesvos — with an interest in entering the world-wide green cannabis wave — to conference in seaside farming village of  Vatera, on Lesvos’ — in Harry and Stephanie’s family-owned café on the beach.  Many farmers were spoken to individually and a small group met to learn about the library and discuss the possibilities of creating a hemp/cannabis olive oil to serve the farmer’s interest and the vision of  Lesvos Plant Medicine Conference Center Library.  

LPMCCL announced the Young Farmer medical hemp/cannabis ‘growing’ program of Greek legal cannabis to create full spectrum, whole plant cannabis oil infused in Lesvos olive oil, making a unique “hemp/cannabis infused olive oil edible” blend for direct international export. The goal is to raise the value of olive oil on the Island for cultivators.

Attending were several young farmers from the island. These youngsters are subsidized by the Greek government to encourage the next generation of agriculture. Olive groves and sheep are the primary source of farming on the Island. Due to Italian dominance in the olive oil commerce in Greece, the market for olive oil is economically depressed. Jerome explained his plan to develop hemp cannabis farms in and around the olive groves. Setting a goal to experiment with different strain varieties. The farmers questioned how to get approval from Greek authorities for scaled hemp farming in the spring of 2020?  A select group of volunteers agreed to test seeds this year and develop procedures for testing and compliance come Spring.


The following day, Poynton traveled inland, up serpentine mountain roads, to tour a new olive press. Overlooking the groves a local family installed a state of the art press, which is one of the few producing uncut olive only for commercial use on Lesvos. Discussions for cannabis-infused, medical grade olive oil to export around Europe and to the USA were optimistic and frank. 


Operators interested in licensing Lesvos Plant Medicine Library products should contact Jerome Poynton at: LesvosPlantMedicineLibrary@gmail.com



By Meghan Smith

Cannabis culture is sweeping the globe, and the veil of false stigma is finally beginning to lift. However, sadly with the federal ban still in place, canna-businesses are struggling to market their brands and businesses on social media. Platforms such as Youtube, Facebook and Instagram have been famously restrictive of any canna-content, and use an array of AI technology and algorithms to monitor, police and silence the masses. Approximately one out of every six americans support the legalization and mainstreaming of Cannabis, yet can’t voice their opinions on social media without being targeted. 

The past few years have seen a multitude of changes surrounding how these platforms have addressed canna-content. Facebook for example, did not even allow for cannabis related pages to show in users’ searches until approximately a year ago. Thankfully, the social media giant has finally changed their search restrictions and now allows for verified legally ran businesses to show in search results. This is a very small step in the right direction, yet there are still so many leaps and bounds to be made. Cannabis marketing experts say that there are ways to promote your business or products on social media, you just have to get creative. For example, avoiding certain keywords and phrases, and avoid posting pictures of the actual flower. 

Social media is a powerful digital marketing platform, so these restrictions are severely impacting businesses’ abilities to reach their clientele. Facebook and Instagram do allow for the sale and/or marketing of certain cana-products such as CBD products, seeds, and paraphernalia. However, they still do not allow for the marketing of cannabis itself, even within states with full legalization such as here in Michigan. Facebook, as well as Instagram have recently even launched AI software that scans feeds for anything that resembles cannabis. It is becoming harder to distinguish what is allowed and what is considered a “policy violation” on the various platforms. Facebook does not outline any specific parameters besides to state “Ads must not promote the sale or use of illegal, prescription, or recreational drugs.”.In May of this year, Facebook’s chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer recently demonstrated the media giant’s new watchdog AI software at their annual developers conference. The program was able to distinguish a blown up image as being cannabis with 93.77 % accuracy. Instagram frequently uses a process called a shadow ban, which essentially hides certain hashtags from showing up in searches. Basically, even if your post is set as a public post, the only people that will see the hashtagged content are your immediate followers.

In an attempt to minimize their own risk of social media bans, a lot of canna-companies have taken to paying weed-fluencers to do the work for them. It takes the heat off of their profiles, but at a greater financial cost due to having to pay the influencers to take the post ban risk onto themselves. Another strategy is to work with publications, such as magazines and newspapers. Because the content is considered editorial, it can be shared on social media via their pages and platforms which again minimizes the risk to the company’s pages. LinkedIn seems to be the only mainstream social media platform that does not actually ban cannabis content, however it is not generally a preferred marketing platform. There are also cannabis specific platforms such as Potsmoking.com, and Grasscity Forums however those platforms do not even come close to the reach that Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube command. 


Individuals using their own private accounts to market or advertise cannabis products can be at risk of post bans, and repeat offenders may even have their pages permanently deleted. I personally have had my own accounts banned for periods of time due to my various roles in the industry. So why exactly is it that we live in a legal state, operate legally licensed businesses, yet are not allowed to use social media to market our businesses or products? Well the answer ultimately lies with the federal government’s refusal to lift the blanket ban on the nation as a whole. Until they lift the schedule status of cannabis, platforms are too reluctant to take in any revenue for cannabis advertising.

Recently it was announced that an official lawsuit has been filed against Facebook Inc, the social media giant that controls both Facebook and Instagram. Felicia Palmer, founder of the longest-running hip-hop news website in the world, SOHH.com, and her new company, Cannaramic Media, Inc, filled the lawsuit with the help of Litigation attorney, David C. Holland, Esq., who serves as the Executive Director for the New York chapter of national marijuana advocacy organization, NORML. The filing came in response to multiple advertisements, intended to promote their educational Cannaramic Online Summit, were rejected as well as their follower profile banned temporarily. The suit comes at a perfect time, it was filed the same day that the White House announced that they will be monitoring Facebook censorship. 

We the people here in Michigan voiced ourselves loud and clear by voting to legalize cannabis, however we still can’t utilize the world’s largest marketing platform!? Doesn’t seem fair does it? Just one more way for the federal government to try to keep us quiet, but we won’t be silenced so easily. We will continue to brand, and we will continue to advocate. Keep up the good fight fellow Ganjapreneurs! #FreeMyBuds

Michigan News - June 2019


Medical Marijuana Delivery Services Granted Licenses

Three licensed provisioning centers in Michigan, BotaniQ and Utopia Gardens of Detroit, and Lake Effect of Portage, have been granted licensing to launch the state’s first legal home delivery services. “We know a lot of the patients we’re going to be delivering to -- a lot of them are in wheelchairs,” said Jevin Weyenberg, general manager of Lake Effect in Portage. “Convenient access to medicine -- you can never put a price on that. It’s life-saving for some people.”



Patients will only be able to receive the maximum daily allowance of 2.5 ounces, and delivery will only be permitted to the patient’s home address, which also must match the address on their medical card. Delivery services will be permitted within municipalities that have opted out of cannabis based businesses. Each provisioning center must hire their own delivery drivers, carefully document all inventory, as well as track the delivery with GPS.

Wayenberg further stated, “It’s the first time it’s ever been done in the state of Michigan legally, We want to make sure everything is secure … we want to make sure we’re a hard target for any criminal that might try anything.” Once their program is officially launched Lake Effect will take deliveries throughout Kalamazoo county.
Utopia Gardens, on Detroit’s east side near Belle Isle, will be offering online ordering services, and will deliver within a 20 mile radius including Ferndale, Royal Oak, Birmingham and Plymouth. “Patients are getting tested product -- licensed, tested product. The quality is there, the test results are there, The patients are getting quality drugs and we’re delivering them in a safe manner.” said owner Stuart Carter.

While you can find various delivery services on websites such as Weedmaps, those services are all operating outside of the state’s regulatory control. Both Weyenberg and Carter hope that their licensed service will help to cut down on the black market delivery services. “We want to be able to compete with them. They are taking some of the business via that route because there’s demand for it,” Weyenberg said of Weedmaps. “There’s just a massive amount of demand, and the demand manifests itself in a lot of different ways. Delivery is one of them.”


State Launches Online Medical Marijuana Certification Approvals

Beginning in May the state began to allow for online medical marijuana certifications. Medical marijuana patients applying online, will receive instant approval or denial, and can use their approval email to purchase medicine at provisioning centers accompanied by a valid state issued driver’s license or identification card. The approval email will remain valid until the hard card has arrived, or for 10 days after the date of the approval. In order to use the online service, a patient must first register for an online account, as well as the physician that is approving the patient for their card. Once both Physician and Patient have successfully created their online profiles, they can submit the online application.



“A process that used to take several weeks now can be done in a single day,” said MRA Executive Director Andrew Brisbo. “We are excited to offer this new online approval option for the state’s medical marijuana patients.”


State Police To Crack Down On Cannabis Black Market

The Michigan State Police have announced that they intend to really crack down on illegally ran, black market cannabis businesses that have been recently blossoming at the expense of legally ran cannabis businesses. The Marihuana and Tobacco Investigation Section are teaming up with law enforcement and prosecutors to begin targeting the illegal businesses. 

Since the passing of recreational laws in November, black market numbers have soared, including more than 200 illegal services listed on Weedmaps alone. The black market rush has severely impacted, and undercut the state sanctioned businesses that pay tens of thousands in legal fees, licensing fees, and taxes. Some provisioning centers have reported up to a 40 percent decrease in sales since the recreational laws were passed in November. Weedmaps does not require proof of licensing in order to advertise on their platform, and as a result many lobbyists are now pushing for licensing proof to be provided before any business within the state can advertise on any platforms within the state.

In an attempt to figure out how to approach the illicit market, legal experts have began talks with the State Attorney General’s office to help law enforcement interpret the new recreational cannabis laws and regulations. One of those experts is Barton Morris, an attorney with the Cannabis Legal Group of Royal Oak whom stated “There is so much confusion about what is lawful and what is not, and there is so much disagreement about how to enforce the law. The black market has been significantly growing and growing and growing. They are all trying to sell as much as they possibly can before law enforcement cracks down.” 


Lansing Says Medical Marijuana Won’t Bring In As Much Revenue As Expected

Officials in Lansing are saying that despite the influx of hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical marijuana licensing fees, the medical marijuana program will not be a main money maker for the city. Stating that the cost of running a medical marijuana program will cancel out the revenue brought in from these fees, and that additionally the state excise tax that was implemented is slated to bring in less revenue as expected due to the passing of the recreational laws.

However, Lansing is not actually able to legally turn a profit from the fees and, businesses ultimately need licensing in order to grow, test, transport or sell cannabis products. Now Lansing officials are under pressure to prove that they are not turning a profit from said fees. If a city assess any fee collected as revenue, it is then considered a tax versus a fee, which requires voter approval.

Currently, Lansing is collecting $5,000 annually (the highest amount allowed under the  Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act) from licensed businesses. They are projecting only around $200,000 in the fiscal year of 2019, by stark contrast to the more than $730,000 collected in 2018 at the beginning of the state’s licensing program. They do anticipate that for the fiscal year of 2020 that number should increase to approximately $500,000 however.

These projected numbers were pulled from an executive budget proposal which is up for approval by the City Counsel later his month. As this is the first time an executive budget has been proposed, it is difficult to measure the true cost of the medical marijuana program, however they anticipate that legal costs alone will approximate close to $75,000 for the next fiscal year.


National News - June 2019


Politics and Corruption in NJ Waylay Weed

Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) are on the same side when it comes to marijuana in New Jersey.  In late March both the Senate and Assembly were scheduled to vote on legalization.  Now, two months later, Sweeney has announced that the bill will not move forward, instead it will go to the ballot in 2020.  What happened?



In March a task force created by Gov. Murphy to investigate the states controversial tax breaks met with a whistle-blower who stated that her former company lied to win incentives.  At the same time, an investigation by ProPublica and WYNC found that one of Sweeney’s major backers, South Jersey insurance executive and political boss George Norcross III, was awarded $1 billion dollars in tax breaks among his company, business partners, and brother.  Nearly two thirds of the total tax breaks awarded in Camden.  With political scandal comes media frenzy, and more work.

“The biggest problem we have right now is a lack of oxygen to talk about these things.  The Senate President and the Governor aren’t sitting down and talking to figure out how to get it done,” said attorney Bill Caruso, a founding member of New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform.  “The legislators and staffers are distracted from trying to get the hard part done, which is the fistfight to get those last two or three votes.”

If legal weed does go to the ballot in November of 2020 the schedule would likely be worked into the bill, which would be barebones, leaving lawmakers to hash out the details later.  This means New Jerseyans may have to wait as long as 2022 before they see their first legal shop.


Players Seek to Change NFL Cannabis Policy

As legal marijuana use gains traction in U.S. states, many nation wide institutions still hold to the old ways.  The National Football league maintains a strict anti-drug policy for it’s players which includes cannabis use, medicinal or otherwise.  Under the current 2011 contract, players are tested once annually between April and August.  The first positive result requires the player to enter into a substance abuse program without any suspension, and flags them for random drug tests throughout the year, including the offseason.  A second, and each subsequent, positive leads to a two-game fine, then a four-game fine, next a four game suspension, finally ending with a ten game suspension for the fifth failed test.  According to Spotrac.com, in the past five years 117 players have been suspended for positive test results, lost $43.9 million in salary, and 552 days of playing time.  While strict is a relative term, and these punishments may seem like a dream come true for anyone working a minimum wage job for an employer that terminates on the first offense, it still highlights the inconsistency in marijuana policy nationwide, and the players want it to change.

Although the league does not specify what drug the players were suspended for, Willis Marshall, a Detroit resident and professional football player, estimates that 70%-80% of the infractions are for marijuana.  “If it’s steroids, they’ll say it’s steroids or performance enhancing drugs,” he said.  “And it’s probably not alcohol or cocaine because that leaves your system a lot quicker than marijuana.  And I can’t see any players using heroin or meth and being able to play or even practice on those.  So it kind of narrows it down to marijuana.”  Willis produces and sells a line of CBD-infused hair and skin care products under the DaO label.  He believes cannabis is a better choice than opiods, which are rampant in professional sports, “Even in the Canadian Football League, where they don’t test for marijuana, prescription drugs are a dime a dozen in the locker rooms.  They hand them out like candy corn and that’s an unfortunate thing.”

Joining the cause are former Detroit Lions’ players Calvin Johnson and Robert Sims, who made recent news by entering into the marijuana business, with plans for a line of cannabis called ‘Primative’.  “The word Primative comes from the idea that there is this medicine we used for thousands of years before we got into the opioids and stuff,” Sims said.  “We believe that the benefits and the healing from cannabis comes from a simpler time.”  With the contract up for renegotiation in 2022, he is hopeful that the league will loosen it’s policy on marijuana, “Players should have the opportunity to use this.  It’s safe, no one has died from it and it should be made readily available to players.”  


Key Hearing Holds Fate of Cannabis Banking in California

California’s Senate Bill 51 is designed to help marijuana firms acquire traditional banking services, from which they have been denied access thus far.  Specifically, the measure would allow private banks or credit unions to apply for a limited-purpose state charter so they can provide depository services to licensed cannabis businesses.  Most are forced to deal exclusively in cash due to the tight restrictions that make it impossible for them to have a bank account. 

“Banks are scared to death, and they just don’t want the expense and the trauma of exposing themselves,” explains Gavin Kogan, chairman and co-founder of Grupo Flor, a California based retail cannabis and cultivation company. 
  
Last year’s Senate Bill 930, which aimed to create cannabis banks, did not pass legislature.  Some have cited cost issues as the reason for it’s failure, as the it would require the state to hire more employees.  Others believe cost is just being used as an excuse by those who oppose marijuana legality.  SB 51 would potentially create 12 new cannabis banks or credit unions, which would require the state to hire peronnel such as examiners which would cost an estimated $2 million a year.


FDA Newest Weapon Against Cannabis

In March the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along side the Federal Trade Commision, charged three CBD companies for being in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. 301, et seq. (“FDA Act”) and Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 41-58 (“FTC Act”).  Relievus (a chain of pain clinics), Nutra Pure LLC (a CBD capsule manufacturer) and PotNetwork Holdings (a gummy manufacturer) are accused of placing “‘unapproved’ and ‘misbranded’ human drugs and adulterants” and “unapproved and unsafe animal drugs” into interstate commerce, as well as making false or unsubstantiated health claims.  Each received a letter warning them to contact the FDA and FTC within 15 days of addressing their concerns and threatening legal action including product seizures, injuctions, and reimbursement of all sales proceeds.

The major concern is that the FDA and it’s powerhouse alliance with the FTC provide absolutely no giudance on how exactly companies are to comply with either current or future regulations.  Also, Internet sales account for the majority of CBD products sold, and the health and dietary benefits are what makes the products attractive to consumers, so virtually every product will be in violation, with zero pressure on the FDA to define what is and is not allowed.  Couple that with a $6.1 billion dollar budget with federal lawyers on leashes and the potential exists for one hell of an adversary.

The FDA is expected to create rules for CBD, including material information and dosage limits, at which point it will regulate them as dietary supplements, but no timeline exists nor are they under any obligation to act. 

World News - June 2019



President of Mexico Unveils Plan to Decriminalize All Drugs

You read that right, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has a plan to end prohibition by decriminalizing all illegal drugs.  According to his administration’s ‘National Development Plan for 2019-2024’, “The ‘war on drugs’ has escalated the public health problem posed by currently banned substances to a public safety crisis,” it adds that the current “prohibition strategy is unsustainable.”



Cannabis is already on a set path to legalization in Mexico.  Just last year the Supreme Court ruled the prohibition of cannabis unconstitutional.  A bill to legalize marijuana and allow its commercial sale was introduced last November by Sen. Olga Sanchez Cordero and is making it’s way through the legislature.

As for the rest of the drugs, Obrador says Mexico will “renounce the claim of combating addictions by prohibiting the substances that generate them.”  His new plan will divert funding and resources from targeting those who suffer from addiction, to providing medical supervision, personal detox treatments, and regulated prescription doses.  “The only real possibility of reducing the levels of drug consumption is to lift the ban on those that are currently illegal.” the policy statement reads, “and redirect the resources currently destined to combat their transfer and apply them in programs - massive, but personalized - of reinsertion and detoxification.”

Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, executive director of the US based Drug Policy Alliance, praised the move, “Mexico’s president is rightly identifying one of the major drivers of violence and corruption in his country: the prohibition of drugs.  The next step is to translate words into action, by pursuing both a domestic and international agenda of drug policy reform, grounded in respect for human rights.”


UK Cannabis Growers Narc on Selves in Protest

It all started with Carly Barton, a 32-year-old art lecturer with fibromyalgia related chronic pain, the United Kingdom’s first licensed medical cannabis patient.  Frustrated with no access, and with no legal avenues, she started to grow her own medicine illegally, like many others in places where the law does not facilitate for cannabis.  The difference?  She sent a letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid, the cabinet minister responsible for law enforcement policy, effectively telling the government she was breaking their laws.  In an interview with Talk Radio Carly stated, “If I can grow my own, safely, I can be well.  Unfortunately that carries a 14 year prison sentence.”  Her self-outing sparked a media frenzy and has inspired hundreds more to join in the protest by self-incriminating.



“From what I understand, police are behind the amnesty,” said one protester, who wished to remain anonymous, “They won’t raid if they don’t have to.  For genuinely sick people in need of medicinal cannabis, they’re on our side.”  As of mid-May, no patients had received responses from authorities after identifying themselves, according to Barton.  The issue lies when a neighbor or third party alerts police, who are then obligated to respond.  For many, the risk is more than worth it.  Another anonymous protester put it plainly, “This is our chance to do something.  I need to take this risk.  I need to step in front to show the authorities that I am not a criminal.  That’s why I’m not hiding.  I’m not doing something bad.  I’m doing something for my health.”


Rohrabacher Predicts End to Legal Roadblocks

At the International Cannabis Business Conference the key note speaker, Dana Rohrabacher predicts that a series of bills will be picked up early next year, combining the different cannabis bills together to solve issues for states new marijuana laws, the federal hemp laws and banking rules. 



Currently, Rohrabacher is the spokesman for CBD Global, INC. He went even further to say, “Before the next election I believe it will be passed. Trump has said he will sign the legislation. Trump will be the lead sled dog and take a giant step forward.”

Low THC cannabis is legal in Switzerland. The Swiss limit on THC is one percent, and in many European countries the limit is less. Investors are securing this new legal market, with Companies like Mile High Labs out of Boulder, Colorado pioneering American and European strategies. 


Italy’s Minister of the Interior Declares War on “Cannabis Light”

“A war starts today, street by street, shop by shop, district by district, city by city.”  Those were the words of Matteo Salvini, Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, while at a meeting of representatives from drug recovery organizations this past May where he vowed to close all “Cannabis Light” shops in Italy.  “Cannabis Light”, defined as cannabis with THC levels below 0.2%, was approved by the Italian government in 2017.

Paolo Monasterolo, CEO of Estonia based Adalia Holding, believes the move is more about the coming European Parliament elections than keeping people safe from low potency marijuana, “being Italian, I’m ashamed to see such behavior from the Italian Ministry of Interior, which is pure propaganda in times of European elections.”  Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development, Labor, and Social Policies, Luigi Di Maio stands in opposition to Salvini’s call, “You can’t get up in the morning and close shops.  We should work to have shops opening.”  

 According to Marco Cappiello, co-founder of CBD manufacturer Encta, “Salvini can’t just shut down the legal hemp industry.  At most, he can allocate extra resources to check the legality of what’s being sold in the retail shops.  They’ve been doing that already for awhile, so there’s really nothing new here.”  Despite this, three shops were reportedly closed the day after the minister’s declaration of war.  The Italian Supreme Court of Cassation is expected to weigh in and provide clarity regarding “Cannabis Light” products soon.


John Sinclair - Free the Weed 99 - June 2019

#99 - By John Sinclair

Hi everybody, it’s nearing the end of May and still too cold for comfort, but I’m writing my 99th consecutive column for MMReport and next month I’ll celebrate number 100 in this series. That’s quite an achievement for a beat-up old man like myself, seeing that I was almost 70 years old when I started writing here in the first issue of this magazine released at Hash Bash 2011.

I’m still struggling with a plethora of physical problems in my old age but I’m making big progress and even starting to take some steps across the room without my walker holding me up, so that’s something else to be happy about as well. Shoot, I’m just happy to be alive and still kicking, and I’ll enjoy this blessed state as long as they let me.

When we started the marijuana legalization movement in Michigan more than 50 years ago, our dream was that we could get the boots of the police and courts off of our necks and put an end to their right to arrest and imprison us for getting high and getting other people high as well.

The community of marijuana users was a small one that grew person by person as we passed our joints from one friend to another and then made sure they would be able to get high when they wanted to by supplying them with portions of our own hard-come-by stash. The weed came from Mexico in relatively small amounts and found its way from user to user in a slow and organic process that became faster and larger as the years went on.

The marijuana community experienced natural organic growth as more and more people learned how great weed was and the beautiful things it did for one’s physical health and mental outlook. Marijuana use spread exponentially until millions of people were smoking it and singing its praises. Musicians were especially susceptible to its allure and found that smoking weed enhanced the creative process in amazing ways.

Our cannabis culture, predicated strictly on getting high and sharing, burgeoned throughout the sixties, culminating 50 years ago in August 1969 when half a million obviously stoned music lovers gathered in the mud at Woodstock to get high together and dig some incredible music. 

Although hippies had consistently been aware of the growth of our alternative culture year by year throughout the decade, the massive gathering of long-haired dope fiends at Woodstock was the first indication experienced by square America that something big was going on which they couldn’t understand—or, as the Bard put it, “something is happening but you don’t know what it is, do you Mr. Jones?” 

The first to understand were the right-wing maniacs in the White House led by Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, and Attorney General John N. Mitchell. They began the hasty erection of an impenetrable wall around the citadel of American mainstream culture by declaring a “War on Drugs” aimed at hippies and at the black community, the two seedbeds of effective opposition to the government and its ever-spreading war in Vietnam.

The War on Drugs transformed hippies from innocent seekers of truth and mental enlightenment through music, marijuana and LSD into serious criminals subject to harassment, arrest, prosecution, conviction on felony charges, and lengthy prison sentences. Every marijuana smoker was a target of local, county, state and federal narcotics police, for the simple reason that the authorities chose without any scientific basis to classify marijuana as a narcotic.

The next sector of the establishment to catch on to what was happening with the hippies was the music business, which quickly built a whole new empire on the bands and singers that had played at Woodstock and their comperes.

Within an incredibly short time the music community was transformed by the entertainment industry from a loose culturally aligned group of bands and creative artists seeking new forms for musical and emotional expression to a money-hungry constellation of recording stars reaping millions of dollars from their record contracts and radically altering the shape and content of their music to find a uniform sound more easily graspable by the masses.

Concomitantly the generation of hippies from the sixties was growing older, graduating from college, coming home from the armed forces, bearing children, getting jobs and facing the reality of making a living in America. By the mid-1970s they had been transformed into a new generation of hard-working consumers making good money but subject to drug testing in order to keep their jobs and climb the corporate ladder.

By this time the cultural movement that had arisen in the ‘60s was over and its advances and insights thrown onto the junkheap of history by the corporate media that had taken over completely from the underground newspapers and “underground” FM radio stations that had emerged as central components of our movement. 

Cultural venues were no longer intimate clubs, dance halls and ballrooms holding from a few hundred to a couple of thousand people who danced and listened to the music of bands who worked without the benefit of a hit record on the radio. Now the music was presented in large concert halls and sports arenas without a trace of intimacy or human communion, at exorbitant prices and in ugly settings with terrible audio and visual presence.

Perhaps worst of all from this writer’s perspective was the beginning of the end of the original cannabis culture we had created during the hippie period and its transmogrification into a crass commercial proposition centered on which weed was the “best” and how much money could the grower and retailer get for it.

Now with the coming of legalization the commercial proposition is maturing and getting bigger and bigger, threatening to overwhelm the surviving remnants of the classic cannabis culture like the concept of care-givers that was ensconced in the Medical Marihuana Act passed by the voters in 2008. Recently the big marijuana corporate sector has been taking out full-page ads attacking care-givers and grass-roots growers and calling their weed dirty and unhealthy.

This is some sick shit, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to get worse and worse. That’s why I keep harking back to the “good old days” of the cannabis culture and try to make sure that some of the roots of our movement continue to persist and grow, however tenuously. 

My good friend and co-conspirator Dr. Christian Greer has let me use a couple of paragraphs from a current work of his to close out this ruminative column. Christian is examining the marijuana culture and the phenomenon of cannabis legalization from the perspective of cannabis sacramentalism and says:

“Over the last half century, despite persecution by governments at every level all around the world—and there is no way to underemphasize the violence committed by the law against cannabis users—hip people developed a refined culture of street-level cannabis sacramentalism.

“In the modern era, to be certain, the repeal of cannabis prohibition on the federal level will lead to an even greater increase in the number of marijuana users, and it is not improbable that a portion of these people will assign spiritual significance to what their predecessors in the ‘60s called ‘the holy herb.’

“While the legalization movement has grown from medical to what they call ’recreational’ use, we should be clear that the phrase ‘recreational marijuana’ is a legal euphemism coined by state legislators during the prohibition era of the War on Drugs campaign. Indiscriminately imposed on a variegated ecology of ‘hip’ social customs and practices, this piece of legal jargon obscures the religious dimension of cannabis use.”

Well, amen to all that, and let’s try to cling to some of the positive modes of marijuana history despite the commercialism that surrounds us and keep up the pressure to Free The Weed!

—Detroit
May 19, 2019


© 2019 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.

Herbert Huncke's America - Edited By Jerome Poynton Literary Executor - June 2019

NEW ORLEANS, 1938
BY
HERBERT E. HUNCKE


I recall a night in New Orleans on St. Charles Street—walking. It had been raining—the streets were glistening—pools of rainwater reflected the night. Sounds of drops of water dropping and splattering on the leaves of the magnolia trees. The streets were deserted—only an occasional passing automobile. I was crossing a side street when as I glanced up I saw a man approaching. He was about my own height. He was of stocky build, inclined a bit toward fat—wearing dark trousers and a white shirt open three buttons at the neck—exposing a heavy growth of black hair. His complexion was swarthy—his eyes were small and dark brown. His hair was black and oily which he wore combed straight back from his forehead. His hands were in his pockets—a dangling cigarette hung from the corner of his mouth.

As I gave him a light for his cigarette he stood in front of me— wavering—sort of off-balance—placing his hands on my shoulders— squinting his eyes—staring into my face—saying, “You look like a nice guy. I bet a person’s color doesn’t make any difference to you. Want a drink? Come on—I’ll buy you a drink.”

I was strictly on the bum—any situation had—so to speak—to be taken advantage of—also I was curious about the man.

We turned off St. Charles Street—walking in the direction of—I believe—South Rampart Street near a railway depot. Reaching Rampart Street we entered a saloon—almost the first we encountered. The interior was lighted by a single unshaded lightbulb hanging suspended in the center of the room. A large neon-trimmed jukebox occupied space along one wall. Several tables surrounded by straight back chairs were placed around the room—at one slouched a dark-skinned Negro—wearing blue denim overalls —his arms and hands hanging limp toward the fore—his head resting on the tabletop. At the bar—which was painted bright orange—two men stood talking. A record with a lot of horns and beating drums was on the jukebox.



We stood at the bar drinking wine. The man was telling me something about cockroaches. He kept saying, “Never kill a cockroach—never kill a cockroach.” Several were walking around the spots of spilled wine and beer —waving their antennas. Suddenly he said he wanted to get laid. “Let’s go and find a bar where there are some women—come on—I know where one is—it’s not far—just around the corner.”

We departed Rampart Street for about two blocks. The street was bare —lined solidly on either side with stores. One street light shone dimly—set high up on a pole—two men were walking—hands in their pockets—talking —hurrying—just out of the glow. We turned down a side street a short distance into a store—the glass windows painted black on the bottom halves. Inside—another unshaded lightbulb—a few tables—no jukebox but a number of people—some standing at a short bar of unpainted lumber. A few were women—rather bedraggled appearing—none young—clothing rather shapeless—hanging askew. They were speaking, almost shrilly, moving around—laughing, watching everything with their eyes. One came slightly stumbling toward us—carrying a wine glass—saying, “Is you going to buy me a drink—honey?” She was thin—not young—her hair sticking out in stiff wisps from beneath a black hat. She was short in stature—light brown in color—with small facial features—her mouth narrow—open showing bad teeth—two or three missing in front.

The man bought her a drink. They began talking—joking lasciviously at one another. He asked her what she charged for a lay. She said, “A dollar —I’se a good lay, mister—I’ll show you a good time.” He replied, all he had was seventy-five cents—and he wanted me to go along and watch. She agreed. She led us out of the barroom down the street to a small brick building set back a small space from the street—lighted inside the hallway at the top of a flight of stairs by a gas-jet flame—into a room just off the top of the stairs—holding a large brass bed—a dresser and mirror with a kerosene lamp burning, sitting on the surface in front of the mirror—a straight-back chair and a small table—a large white crockery pitcher—a bowl set on top of a bedside stand.

Without removing her hat she flopped backward on the bed—pulling her skirts up around her waist. He approached her clumsily—finally lowering his weight down on her—his pants partway down to his knees. They began squirming and panting. She began repeating obscenities— supposedly to excite him—interspersing remarks about him being good— also saying, “Come on, daddy—oh—daddy—you’se good—you’se make baby feel good.”—moving rapidly and frantically. This lasted a long while —until perspiration was rolling down their faces making a squelching sound as they would come together.

Suddenly he stopped—arose from her—mopping his face with a handkerchief—then fumbling pulling on his pants—saying, “I ain’t going to pay you—nothing happened—you ain’t any good.” She stood up—her clothing half-falling into place as she sort of tugged at it—saying, “Please, mister, I did the best I could—it’s hot—you been drinking—please, please white man—I needs the money—a half dollar—that’s half—a quarter so I can buy a drink.”

I had been sitting. He motioned for me to leave ahead of him. As I walked through the door he followed close behind. We moved rapidly down the stairs—back out to the street in the general direction of St. Charles Street. Reaching a better-lighted area—we stopped—saying good night. He gave me a dollar just before he stumbled away—disappearing into the night. I never knew whether he gave the woman any money or not.



Weed, Blood, and Money - June 2019


    Well, hello there! Starting this month, I’ll be writing a series of articles on a personal favorite topic: the assholes who would like to stop you and I from enjoying legal cannabis. Many of us have wondered exactly who the political opponents of cannabis are and what their problem is, but not all of us enjoy the readership or the editorial leeway to get profanity-laced answers out to the people. Or an attention span that keeps 140 browser tabs open at any given moment. But never fear, reader, for I have two thumbs and all of the above, and I truly despise these people. I can also write at or above an eighth-grade level, often in the style of an unfrozen caveman or a very bad dog. And I hate their guts. So that’s who the frick I am.



The drug war has been an insane, expensive disaster from the jump-off. The evidence for the health and wellness benefits of cannabis, in particular, is clear as day for anyone with the eyes to see it. It has never been easier to talk to someone whose life has been improved by cannabis, or to someone whose life was ruined by cannabis prohibition. And who even cares enough to try to stop cannabis legalization? What kind of pathology is at work here? Some people just aren’t gonna get into it, and nobody else wants to waste their cannabis on you if you won’t appreciate it. Thank you for minding my beeswax for me, but your beeswax appears to be all melty now. Settle down and act like you’re a human being, please.

It’s never been difficult to identify the people who didn’t want me, personally, to use cannabis. It was always the same guys trotting out the same talking points every time they got half a chance: police, politicians, principals, parents. Popes, priests, and pastors. Nobody ever wanted to see any of these alliterators show up at their house party. People plan their lives around ideas, and ideas need people to propagate them to ensure their continued success. But some ideas are good, and some are bad. It’s easiest to implant a bad idea in someone’s head when their defenses are down, when they lack the faculty to apply some basic critical thinking to the issue. People who aren’t going to ask too many questions. That’s why all of these “P” groups like to get at you when you’re a child. Your brain is still developing. “Because I said so” is still a perfectly acceptable answer, and your follow-up question is “Can I go play Fortnite now?” Please keep your “P”-ness away from my child.

But even though these people disapproved of cannabis, it used to be none of them were particularly inclined to pony up their own money in order to stop me from enjoying it. Like really, all you had to do was give me $40 for that eighth I just got. And $5 for these wraps? Now you got nine Hot-N-Readies standing between me and my next trip to the guy’s house for more weed. Problem solved for two hours. But times have changed. Cannabis is winning the war. Cannabis opponents are in full retreat nationwide after a series of crippling strategic defeats. Friendly legislators in the hold-out states who still wield enough power to kill legislation are being cut off, surrounded, and overrun. You can’t filibuster a voter referendum. Rules committees can’t toss ballots in the garbage. Sit down, fuckos, you’re done. Instead, cannabis opponents are looking to settle in for a long war. They’ve cliqued up and re-aligned under shadowy soft-money organizations to oppose ballot measures, spitting in the face of democracy in its purest form. They’re furiously cranking out garbage science and paying to get it published anywhere they can. They’re directing and funding stay-behind operations to terrorize citizens in States where cannabis use is legal, often as they slink out of office themselves. My heart goes out to the dozens of people who were hoping to buy cannabis in any of the boring little towns passing municipal bans right now. Except for Howell. Have you ever been to Howell? Cody, just move, dude.

The opposition to cannabis is all about money. That’s why mercenaries do anything. I’ve written about this previously, but let’s shame our way through the money list again quick. The five major industries paying to oppose cannabis are all doing so for no nobler reason than bare-ass greed. These industry groups can be divided into two categories. The Police-Industrial Complex is represented by police unions, prison guard unions, and private prison corporations. The second category is reserved for the real scumbags. They’re drug-pushers, made bloated and wealthy by muscling alcohol and pharmaceuticals onto the legal market.

It’s not hard to see what motivates either group. For law enforcement, prohibition means more federal and state money for enforcement. More cops putting more people in more prisons. For rival drug-makers, legalization would mean more consumers spending more money on cannabis products, instead of on pissy yellow lagers or whatever the sexy new high copay “-azepam” is. For both groups, investing in prohibition now is an obvious way to ensure profitability and job security in the future.

Totally unrelated. The nicest thing it’s possible to say about an India Pale Ale is that it smells like weed farted in it. Nobody really likes IPAs. Hops isn’t a flavor. Did you ever ask grandma for a hops birthday cake? Do you want some hops-flavored gum? Hops edibles? You’re goddamn right you don’t.

And that’s a whole lot of money. But you can have all the pig feed in the world, if you don’t have hogs you ain’t makin no bacon. Jim Beam could write a check out tomorrow to my old Pastor McHaircut with the used Cadillac and the used Cadillac salesman patter, but he can’t stop a ballot initiative getting passed. I’ve been to that church. These days he’s reaching 40 people a week, and not a one with fleece less white than snow. That’s not muscle. Now please excuse, reader, a brief shortcut through the weeds.

Libel /ˈlaɪbəl/
noun

  1. Law .
    a.  defamation by written or printed words, 
        pictures, or in any form other than by
        spoken words or gestures.
    b.  the act or crime of publishing it.
    c.  a formal written declaration or   
        statement, as one containing the  
        allegations of a plaintiff or the grounds of
        a charge.

(Libel. Dictionary.com Unabridged, 2019)

The Supreme Court has also come up with a test for “actual malice”, which is required for an award of damages in an action for libel involving public officials, public figures, or matters of public concern. In America, truth is an absolute defense to libel proceedings.

Pig /pɪɡ/
noun

a person who is financially wealthy and does not share his wealth. 
a police officer.
one who eats to excess.
a chauvinistic male.
a slob.
an overweight person.
a lecherous male.

(Pig. The Online Slang Dictionary)

“The problem with the police is not that they are fascist pigs but that our country is ruled by majoritarian pigs.” 

- Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

Be sure to tune in next month for my senseless assault on Mel Sembler and wife Betty, and for the sick, sad, and ultimately unbelievable story of Straight, Inc.