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John Sinclair - Free the Weed 98 - May 2019

        Hi everybody, as Ernie Harwell used to say, and welcome to the impending springtime in Detroit, where we’ve suffered one of the coldest winters in the past 100 years and, in the closing days of April as I write this, it’s still too cold to bear.

After six months since marijuana legalization was approved by voters in Michigan last November 6th, we’re still struggling under the outdated and obsolete mindset of the law enforcement industry while continuing to pay for the stupidity and outright cruelty of the baseless anti-marijuana laws that have governed the lives of smokers for the past 80 years or so.

We are still a long way from actually freeing the weed and allowing marijuana smokers the freedom to exist as regular citizens unmarked by the stigma of being accused as dope fiends and citizens of bad character, the way some government officials active in the Resident Rump administration have recently labeled us.

In fact the reverse is true: the lawmakers and law enforcers are the criminals and wrongdoers and persons of bad character with their baseless, cruel, vindictive and insanely punitive approach to policing the marijuana smoker—a person who, in this writer’s opinion, requires absolutely no regulation whatsoever.

Millions of people in this country have been smoking marijuana regularly for a great many years with no measurable negative consequences beyond the punishment we have suffered at the hands of the anti-drug warriors posing as police and law enforcement officers.

We were falsely and baselessly labeled drug users and criminals even though what we were doing was smoking a harmless weed with proven medicinal qualities and the ability to help lift our minds above the strife and turmoil of daily life in an exploitative and unjust social order such as ours.
Instead of continually seeking ways to continue to oppress and punish marijuana smokers despite the will of the voters who have moved to demand legalization of marijuana of every sort in the state of Michigan, the authorities should be debating ways and means of compensating us for the years of suffering we have experienced at the hands of the state government and its many branches.

One bright spot on the horizon in this respect is the recent statement by California Senator Kamala Harris that convicted cannabis dealers should be pardoned, given the opportunity to participate in the industry they pioneered and the burgeoning cannabis industry’s new economic opportunities, as reported by Graham Abbott from the She The People conference in Houston, Texas on April 25, “[Many] of the people who historically were arrested for marijuana sales were young men, young men of color,” Senator Harris pointed out—”the very young men who were trying to make money selling marijuana got criminalized and now have been branded felons for life and excluded from the economic opportunities that are now available because of this new industry.”

“They were ahead of the curve,” she said, and they should be “first in line to get the jobs that are available.”  As California’s Attorney General, Senator Harris was not always in favor of progressive cannabis reforms, but she now serves as a perfect example of the idea that people can wise up and do the right thing even if they’ve been wrong in the past.

Her efforts to suppress the illegal marijuana industry during her tenure as the state’s top law enforcement officer had little effect on the citizens targeted for arrest and imprisonment, as California governor Gavin Newsom has admitted, confessing that illegal grows in Northern California “are getting worse, not better.”

In Mendocino County, north of San Francisco, the sheriff’s office recently raided an illegal cannabis production facility that was processing 500 pounds of marijuana a day and also seized cannabis oil worth more than $5 million in early April. Legalization, Sheriff Allman said, “certainly didn’t put cops out of work.”

Much like Michigan, California sports a confusing patchwork of regulation, where several major cities have laws allowing cannabis businesses but most smaller cities and towns in the state do not. In fact, 80 percent of California’s nearly 500 municipalities do not allow retail marijuana businesses.

Only 620 cannabis shops have been licensed in California so far. Colorado, with a population one-sixth the size of California, has 562 licensed recreational marijuana stores.

In Michigan, before they were ordered closed, the city of Detroit alone had 283 dispensaries that sprang up organically in neighborhood after neighborhood to serve the needs of medical marijuana patients in the city and surrounding suburbs.

Like California, Michigan has a long way to go to straighten out the mess created here by Rick Snyder’s“tough nerd” administration in cahoots with the criminals in the state legislature who gained office as a result of their illicit gerrymandering of the state’s electoral districts back in 2010.

Snyder’s marijuana committee, dominated by law enforcement types and right-wing goons and charged with the task of holding back and refusing to implement the medical marijuana act passed by voters in 2008, has been disbanded by Governor Whitmer and replaced by a new Marijuana Regulatory Agency that says it will more readily and speedily approve medical marijuana license applications and create new licensing rules for recreational adult use.

The governor’s executive order combines adult use and medical marijuana regulation under one agency, reports Beth LeBlanc in the Detroit News, that will have 102 full-time employees and a 2019 budget of roughly $19.7 million. Recommendations for the 2020 fiscal year, LeBlanc says, would increase the agency’s ranks to 150 full-time employees and increase funding to $22 million to handle the additional workload of the recreational pot market.

Just prior to its dissolution, the Snyder committee was chastised by Judge Stephen Borrellofor failing to adequately address medical marijuana licensing in Michigan and essentially forcing him to legislate from the bench.Borrello compared the current market of licensed and unlicensed medical marijuana facilities to the “Wild West,” a result of delayed legislation that should have been sorted out way back in 2008. “There’s no reason why in 2019, other than a lack of political will, we’re having to deal with any of these issues.”

Well, the Republicans’ political will was to oppose the intention of the voting public and use the Licensing Board to delay or prevent the freeing of the weed. Time will tell if the new Whitmer Marijuana Regulatory Agency can or will reverse this idiotic thrust of state government and let us have our medicine and our fun as we see fit. Regulation is not really something we smokers need too much of.

Finally, a happy note: A recent CBS News poll found that support for marijuana legalization has been embraced by 65% of Americans who now think marijuana should be legal. Most view marijuana as less harmful than alcohol and believe it is less dangerous than other drugs. Fifty-five percent of Americans now say they have tried marijuana—a record high.

In closing, I’d like to thank the Detroit Music Awards for granting your correspondent a Lifetime Achievement Award for my work in music in Detroit and Michigan over the past more than 50 years. It’s an honor I appreciate, and I had the additional pleasure of presenting a similar award at the ceremony on April 26 to my dear friend Robert Jr. Whitall for his work with Big City Rhythm & Blues magazine for the past 24 years. Congratulations, Junior, and I know you join me in chanting our slogan here to close the show: FREE THE WEED!

And, if I may, I’d like to propose a new and additional slogan for these perilous times: GET USED TO IT!

April 28, 2019

© 2019 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.

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