by Chris Ryan
If your plan consists of merely trying to treat cannabis as if it were alcohol or tobacco, you will loose my support.
Cannabis is a HERB.
It is not brewed. It is not distilled. It is not fermented. It is NOT like alcohol. Alcohol KILLS thousands of people every year. Cannabis, by contrast is not only non toxic, but the latest findings show that it is a powerful anti-caner agent.
Cannabis does not need a government subsidy to survive, the way tobacco does. It is not a particularly labor intensive plant to grow, in fact, it grows wild naturally in all 50 states.Tobacco does not. Tobacco is accountable for thousands of deaths annually, and cannabis is NOT.
So if you plan to say that your strategy to end the pothibition is to simply treat it like alcohol or tobacco, you are making a MAJOR MISTAKE!
There are OTHER ways to go about thinking about how cannabis regulation ought to be changed.
One thing that you need to keep in mind is that by treating pot like alcohol you are adopting the "fallback" position of those who seek to keep pot illegal. It means that you are adopting the plan that your opposition WANTS you to adopt.
Any good successful Politician, General, or Coach will tell you that if you allow your opposition to set the "Game Plan" or Strategy, that you have effectively LOST your battle before it even begins.
Since the AUTHORITIES who want to keep pot illegal are willing to entertain the notion that you can treat weed like booze, doing so automatically defeats our program.
In addition to this, there is a little known alternate model that is available to us in our efforts.
It is known in the US as the "DSHEA", or the "Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994". The DSHEA is the federal law the regulates OTHER MEDICINAL HERBS, stuff like Cammomile or Comfrey, that is commonly sold in health food stores. It is also the law that prevents the United States Food and Drug Administration from exercising regulatory control of these natural plant medicines the way it regulates over the counter patent medicines and prescription drugs. As a result, it provides an excellent model for how We could end the pothibition WITHOUT having to either follow the schema of BIG GOVERNMENT or BIG BUSINESS.
This is actually quite important.
If you examine the recent (less than satisfactory) "Successes" in Colorado and Washington, you will find many disturbing things. In both places the state has mandated the establishment of a state run "Pot Commission" to "REGULATE" pot sales and distribution. I find this particularly unwelcome, as (at least as I understand it) the state has already attempted unsuccessfully to "REGULATE" cannabis by simply declaring it illegal. If that effort has failed, then the validity of the state trying to regulate cannabis in some other fashion is equally questionable.
If you examine HOW the new face of pot regulation is managed, you will find that in Colorado, the state wants, (in it's medical gardens applications) a barcode attached to every plant, and a state installed video camera that watches the pot plants that are being grown. This is ludicrous when trying to "CONTROL" a plant that naturally grows wild in all 50 states.
In the state of Washington, the state has mandated a noxious and unrealistically low test to determine the standard of "intoxication" for "Driving Under The Influence" as 5 nanograms per milliliter of canibinoids in a blood sample. This is ridiculous, as it means that if you smoke a joint today, you cannot legally drive your car for the rest of the week.
Such standards are the product of allowing our opposition to set our game plan for us, and are ultimately self defeating.
Another thing to bear in mind is that the people who have taken the lead in changing the pot laws for a long time are the people who have been providing you with your pot for the last 50 years or so.
Many of the plans for de-regulating the pothibition carry some variety of clause that states that anyone who does not have a squeaky clean background cannot pass the state mandated background check for getting legal employment in the newly emerging cannabis industries that are coming nationwide.
Again, this is a MISTAKE. The reason is pretty simple. If the person who is the most experienced and knowledgeable person regarding a given topic, (in this case, cannabis sales and distribution) is not allowed to work in that business or industry, then that industry is loosing the input of it's leading experts.
If that happens, then a LOT of FUMBLES, MISTAKES, and ERRORS will take place as people who do not know what they are doing are forced to "reinvent the wheel" so to speak.
And in the process, the state has succeeded in "Throwing the counterculture under the bus". If that is the outcome, or even the potential outcome, of any cannabis deregulation, then that effort has failed, as it is keeping the people who are most interested in cannabis from working in that emerging industry. I say that "WE" as cannabis activists, do NOT want to keep ourselves from being barred from the very area that we are struggling to free. Consequently, such an approach is a failure by definition.
And again, it IS a problem.
Ask almost anyone who has been fighting against the pot laws for a long time, such as your friendly neighborhood reefer man who has been distributing weed for the last 20 or more years, and you will almost invariably find that they have been busted at least once at some point. Under laws that require not having been busted in order to become a legal cannabis trade worker, you are prohibiting those experienced cannabis trade black-market employees from getting work as a legal market employee. It also means that the persons who know the most about pot cannot work in their field of expertise, and THAT is a MAJOR disservice to the leading experts in the field.
Consequently, I say to you...
The WAY that you change the rules is actually MORE IMPORTANT that the fact that you are changing the rules.
If you allow a poorly thought out change to take effect, then you will have set a bad precedent, and as the experience of the last 70 years of pothibition have shown, a bad precedent is very hard to overcome.
DO NOT allow those who are inessential opposition to "US" to set the game-plan and or policies that "WE will have to live by, unless we want to get more of the same as we have been getting, (albeit dressed in kinder and gentler clothing).
I have been working on this issue for the last 40 years. I am the founder of the Ohio Hempfest, a national co-founder of "Anti-Racist Action", a co-founder of the "Critical Mass" bicycle rights protests in both Columbus OH and Chicago IL, a "Yippie!" and a former apprentice of the late Abbie Hoffman.
With all of this experience and an enormous background in political activism, I think I know a few things that people who have been working in this field less than I have been have not learned yet.
As a result, I feel compelled to state my case, which you have just read.
I thank you for your time and attention, and urge you to seriously reconsider just HOW you want to de or re regulate cannabis.
If you do it RIGHT it will become a powerful tool of freedom and liberation. If you do it wrong, then you re throwing the counterculture that brought cannabis to your attention under the bus and merely empowering big brother and the institutionalization of "Marlbud".
Sincerely Yours In Revolutionary Struggle,
Chris "The Anarchist" Ryan, (Yippie!)
Founder of the Ohio Hempfest and one of the "Nebraska Three", (Along with Jay Statzer and Dana Beal).
Again. thank you for your time and attention.