The Big Oxmox advised her not to do so, because there were thousands of bad Commas, wild Question.
It’s not all bad. Seattle has an incredible program that, instead of incarcerating low level, repeat drug offenders, connects addicts to treatment services. LEAD is a pre-booking diversion program treating addiction as a public health issue. #smallsteps
Oregon has joined Alaska, Colorado, D.C., and our own great state in the Brotherhood of Ganja, officially legalizing marijuana on July 1. In several ways, the Oregonians are doing it better than us, allowing home grows (four plants each), setting the tax at 17 percent (as compared to our newly lowered but still obnoxious 37 percent excise tax), expunging the records of those with cannabis convictions, and even letting citizens fly with weed within the state. Oregon also allows the most pot per person of any of the legal states: up to half a pound of Grade A herb (eight ounces) as compared to our paltry single-ounce (or 28-gram) limit. Adults 21 and over can carry up to an ounce of cannabis and have a pound of edibles in their homes, as well as 72 ounces of cannabis-infused liquids. To get a sense of how much weed you can possess, the Portland Police Bureau’s handy reference guide compares chronic quantities to the city’s famous Voodoo donuts.
As for buying weed at a retail outlet: Not so fast, Portlandia. Because of bureaucratic red tape (green tape?), Oregon’s recreational stores may not be up and running until fall 2016. Governor Kate Brown is considering signing a law that would allow sales of recreational cannabis by existing medical dispensaries to begin October 1. Of course, Rose City residents are always welcome in Rain City if they’re running low in the meantime. Visitors will have to smoke all their legal ganja before they head back to P-Town, however: Ya can’t bring cannabis across state lines in either direction.
Rush Limbaugh. Just the mention of his name can make you throw up in your mouth a little bit. The Great Bloated Reefer Madness Fiend was at it again last month on his why-is-this-still-on-the-air radio show.
“I don’t have any experience with this so I’m unable to render an opinion,” said Limbaugh. “Maybe I should go smoke some and find out what this is all about and be able to render an . . . [indecipherable mumbling]Oh, yeah, eat a brownie. That’s what ‘wake and bake’ means, right? Yeah, there’s an NFL player who had a Snapchat or Instagram post. He woke up and he’s all happy, and said, ‘Time to wake and bake,’ and somebody said, ‘Wow, that guy does the weed.’ So that’s what wake and bake means. Bake some cookies or brownies, I guess. Have you had them? . . . [heavy breathing]What do they taste like? . . . [more gasping, munching sounds]I do wonder what they taste like.”
OK, a few notes and we’ll move on. First, “waking and baking” is not about edibles—“baking” is a reference to adding a heated element, such as fire, to cannabis, then inhaling through a device. Secondly, the “waking” part of a wake ’n’ bake, in stoner’s parlance, means rising each morning and taking a hit off a pipe or bong. Lastly, Mr. Limbo, I highly suggest, if you truly haven’t already, trying some of the wacky weed. Unlike the oxycodone you so covet, it’s not addictive, and might even calm you while the last of your rapidly dwindling minions abandon your show.
The Very Ugly
It bears repeating that, until marijuana is legalized federally, hundreds of thousands of Americans will continue to be arrested for possession of the plant, and our veterans and loved ones will not have access to its medicinal properties.
In our least favorite state, Oklahoma, Marine veteran Kris Lewandowski is facing a life sentence for possession of less than an ounce of weed—which he was using to help cope with PTSD. Lewandowski, who served three combat tours of duty that included stints in Afghanistan and Iraq (thank you for your service), was attempting to wean himself off a fistful of pharmaceuticals that he’d been prescribed for a variety of ailments, including severe PTSD after being honorably and medically discharged from the Marine Corps.
In June 2014, neighbors called the police after Lewandowski had what his wife described as a PTSD flare-up. Comanche County sheriff’s deputies responded to a report that Lewandowski had been chasing his wife with a knife. Cops searched the house, finding six small cannabis plants that did not total a single ounce; in Oklahoma, that’s bad news no matter how many tours you’ve served. Among other offenses, including a disputed domestic-violence charge, the war veteran and father of three was charged with felony marijuana possession and cultivation, and could potentially serve a life sentence under Oklahoma’s draconian weed laws.
Both Kris and his wife Whitney were arrested and charged with felonies, and were told their children were being taken to Child Protective Services. The police told Whitney her kids could avoid that fate—and she’d avoid the felony charge—if she pressed assault charges. Though she opposes the domestic-violence charge, she understandably took the deal. “They’re trying to use me as a victim and to make it look worse on his case,” said Whitney in an interview with Truth in Media. “My husband has absolutely never laid his hands on me ever. He is not an abusive man, ever . . . quite the opposite. He is extremely doting.”
Since the arrest, the family packed up and moved to California (with the Oklahoma DAs approval), where Kris legally obtained a medical-marijuana card to treat his PTSD. After inadvertently missing a court date—while under supervision at a Veterans Administration psych hospital!—Lewandowski was arrested in a guns-drawn raid as he was picking up his kids from preschool. The veteran is currently in police custody at the Orange County Jail, where he awaits extradition to Oklahoma to face his charges. There’s a GoFundMe campaign for those wishing to help with the family’s legal defense, as well as a Weed for Warriors Project. Lewandowski’s next hearing is scheduled for July 22. #SupportOurTroops.
UPDATE (July 20, 2015):
According to the Weed for Warriors project, all felony charges have been dropped against Marine veteran Kris Lewandowski, he has been released from jail, and the remaining charges have been transferred to veteran’s court. Lewandowski had been charged with marijuana possession which he had been growing to treat his PTSD. Under Oklahoma’s sentencing guidelines, he potentially could have served life in prison for the possession and cultivation of cannabis.
As I write this on April 20, 2020, I’m impressed by how far the legalization movement has come since Washington and Colorado first voted to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012. I am still alarmed we’ve not yet overturned prohibition at the federal level, but let’s take a look at how far we’ve come.
Seventeen states have now legalized cannabis, including Minnesota, Florida, and, surprisingly, Arizona. The third time was a charm for California, which finally legalized weed after ballot initiatives were defeated in both 2010 and 2016. (In each of those elections, competing ballot measures confused and divided the already-stoned masses.)
Of the 17 states to fully legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis, only Hawaii and Massachusetts passed their laws through the legislative process. Aloha State Gov. David Ige said it best: “Sure, we could have had a ballot initiative, but we’re trying to save paper.” In 2018, Oregon became the first state to repeal legal cannabis, overturning the measure it passed in 2014. (Make up your mind, Dank Ducks.)
And who would have thought that Las Vegas would become the World’s Cannabis Capital over Denver, Seattle, or Berkeley? With dozens of 420-friendly resorts, StarBud cafes on every corner, and Amsterdam-themed casinos, Vegas, thankfully, is for adults again. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas . . . because no one can remember what the hell happened in Vegas.
Marijuana is now a $26-billion-a-year industry, successfully eclipsing organic food, cosmetics, and the NFL in sales. It has also garnered more than $9 billion a year in tax revenue, funding roads, infrastructure, drug education, and the nationwide Green Electric Train system. New Jersey has shown the most dramatic turnaround, from bankruptcy in 2017 to a huge surplus after turning its Jersey Shore boardwalk back into a smoky, lowbrow bacchanal. An often-overlooked benefit of the new economy is jobs, more than 250,000 of which have been created, including web developers, specialized security, “manicurists,” and cannabis chefs.
The Green Rush has led to products and services no one could have imagined back in 2012, including the word’s first digital vape phone (iStoned), Tesla’s HempRoadster, CannaAspirin (a Privateer Holdings and Bayer joint venture), and Virgin’s Flying HotBox Airline. WeedTourism is also booming with Bud ’n’ Breakfasts, guided Ganja Artwalks, and Stoned Symphony Nights. Mergers and acquisitions have been fast and furious in Internet marijuana businesses (which, unlike the plant, can cross state lines): Leafly was purchased by Yelp, WeedHire by Monster, Weedmaps by Groupon, and Higher Ground by Time/Warner. Surprisingly, the top celebrity-endorsed weed strain was not Willie Nelson’s Reserve, Snoop Chronic, or (Bob) Marley’s Natural, but Kardashian Kush, which—according to all reviews—consistently knocks you on your gigantic ass.
Edibles currently make up 55 percent of the market, CBD oils and concentrates another 15 percent, and elixirs 23 percent, leaving flower (buds) to make up only 7 percent of marijuana sales.
In 1995 not a single state had passed a medical-marijuana law, and only 25 percent of those polled believed in legalizing the drug. By 2015, 23 states had legalized medical cannabis. As of today (4/20/20), 42 states have now passed medical-marijuana laws, leaving only eight without any form of medicinal-cannabis law on the books. (We love you, Oklahoma, but rally yer wagons: Even gay marriage is fully legal in your state now.)
Today over two and a half million Americans receive some sort of support from cannabis-related products. Shockingly, five states have even allowed health-care providers to cover and reimburse medical-marijuana patients under their policies, including the newly formed Green Group Health Cross.
Perhaps Obama’s defining moment was not his (overturned, then re-implemented) Affordable Care Act, but his last-minute 2016 Executive Order that took marijuana off the Schedule 1 list of the Controlled Substances Act and downgraded it to Schedule 2. Although Schedule 2 drugs are still deemed to have high potential for abuse, cannabis is now clearly recognized for its medical benefits, and available for prescriptions.
This controversial move by a “What the Hell Have I Got to Lose” president has allowed clinical research roadblocks to be removed, delivering conclusive proof that cannabinoids are effective on chronic seizures, shrinking brain tumors, slowing Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and even helping with erectile dysfunction (who knew?). This last finding moved the last bastion of elderly white Congressmen holding up medical-marijuana legislation to act in several Southern states.
After being cultivated for more than 12,000 years, hemp was finally fully legalized in 2018 with the Industrial Hemp Farming Act. Bred for its strong fiber, the sober sister to sativa has now replaced timber and concrete as the main building material in new home construction. With only trace amounts of THC, hemp is being used for clothing and rope, and hempseed oil now makes up over half the nation’s fuel supply. Hemp toilet paper, however, was a colossal flop, and we’ll leave it at that.
THE WAR ON DRUGS
The U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling, Black Guy vs. DEA, stunned the nation by allowing states that have legalized marijuana to release and expunge records for individuals who had been convicted of nonviolent marijuana-related crimes. This ruling opened the floodgates for hundreds of thousands of (mostly African-American) men who had been incarcerated for crimes which are now minor infractions or fully legal. The case has led to nationwide changes in drug policy, redirecting an estimated $50 billion a year that had been previously spent on the War on Drugs to address more serious crimes (not to mention giving each and every U.S. citizen free cable for life). Writing for the majority, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts commented, “In this particular case, it pains me to be consistent with my own values of states rights, individual liberties, unobtrusive government, and the pursuit of happiness.”
IT’S NOT ALL GOOD
As with any major public-policy change, there have been missteps in the movement. After plowing his golf cart into a set of extras on SuperBad 4, actor Seth Rogen became the first celebrity convicted of Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana. Blowing into a drugalyzer, Rogen registered a record THC level of 50 nanograms per milliliter. (Anything over five nanograms is the legal limit in Colorado.) America’s “If some is good, more is better” philosophy is kicking many smokers in the head, with THC levels skyrocketing to record heights. And while cannabis has still not been responsible for a single death the world over, the trend of “dabbing” (combusting highly concentrated cannabis with blowtorches and dab-rigs) is not only making pot smokers look like crack addicts, but energizing the “This is Your Brain on Dabs” antidrug crowd.
An active opposition still funds anti-marijuana campaigns (including Recall Cannabis efforts in legal states), primarily funded by the Koch Brothers (RIP), who left behind a massive Memorial Justice (MJ) endowment.
Sadly, many of our war veterans still do not have access to medical marijuana, which even back in 2015 had been proven to treat PTSD, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Since marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, veterans fear being drug-tested, losing their jobs, or having their children and pensions taken away in the event that a less-favorable administration increases enforcement.
ACTIVIST NETWORKS AND THE MOVEMENT
Like MLK, Rosa Parks, Gandhi, and Harvey Milk before them, new activists are launching a marijuana movement involving personal rights, legal justice, and public involvement. These “Green Raiders” include Sen. Alison Holcomb (a key player with the ACLU and Initiative 502); now-Senator Barbara Lee (D-CA); New York Stock Exchange President Troy Dayton (previously of the ArcView Group); “Fuckit I Quit” Governor Charlo Greene (AK); U.S. Cannabis Ambassador Rick Steves; and newly appointed Hemp Czar Vivian McPeak (previously of Seattle Hempfest). This green group of pot evangelists is leading the way on organic standards for the industry, living wages ($25 an hour), thriving community unions, carbon-neutral chronic, and, most important, citizen empowerment on a host of vital issues.
Overall, legalization in 2020—as a (still) relatively new public experiment—is going swimmingly. With 20/20 vision, it’s clear the end of prohibition is in sight.
This article first appeared in the Seattle Weekly
“weedWatch” Parody of Apple Watch Advocates “Time for A Change”
Seattle, WA – Coinciding with the marijuana holiday 420 and the release of the Apple Watch on April 24th, a Seattle-based multi-media company, Higher Ground, has created a parody ad to bring attention to marijuana legalization. The ad (“WeedWatch”) features a photo of the iWatch with the simple text, “Time for a Change: Legalize It.” A variety of marijuana-related icons and apps are featured on the device’s face.
One of the most innovative features of Apple’s Watch is the ability for users to customize the face of the device, and add additional information. In Higher Ground’s parody, they have taken the liberty to do just that! The watch face is full of humorous and advocacy-related apps including NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), SXSW, Leafly (a Yelp-like mobile app for marijuana), 7-11, Cannabis News Network, and Doritos. The time? 4:20.
“The Apple Watch is a revolutionary product, and the legalization of marijuana in States across the country is also a revolutionary movement,” notes Higher Ground Editor-in-Chief Michael A. Stusser. “The message of our parody is as simple as the solution to the War on Drugs: Legalize It. It’s time to end Prohibition, and legalize, regulate and tax cannabis at the federal level.”
Based out of Seattle, where recreational marijuana was legalized in 2012, Higher Ground is attempting to “Elevate the Dialogue” and broaden the movement nationally. While legal in Washington, Colorado, Alaska and Oregon, the use, sale or distribution of cannabis is still a felony at the federal level, and over 600,000 Americans are arrested every year for marijuana-related offenses. The parody ad is being strategically placed in weekly newspapers (and on-line) in states where marijuana initiatives are being proposed, including Ohio, California, Nevada, Maine, Michigan, Massachusetts and Arizona. It will premiere as a full page ad in the Marijuana Green Pages.
The launch of the Apple Watch continues to garner significant media coverage, as it is the first new product device from Apple since CEO Tim Cook took over the company. PreOrders for the iWatch began on April 10th, selling over a million units, and will begin shipping on April 24th. Using guerilla-style marketing, Higher Ground’s WeedWatch campaign will appear on posters, leaflets and mobile billboards adjacent to Apple stores nationwide.
ABOUT HIGHER GROUND
Higher Ground produces the world’s first satirical news program about the legalization movement, along with a newspaper column and website. A multi-media company, Higher Ground creates highly-produced video assets including a flagship program (a mix between The Daily Show and CNN, just without that annoying Wolfe Blitzer fellow), a syndicated column on the legalization movement, a comprehensive and entertaining news website, events (Cooking with Cannabis!), along with viral social-media parodies.
Higher Ground has created a variety of videos and parodies that attempt to vaporize stoner-cliches (including a ReMix of Cheech & Chong’s iconic “Up in Smoke”), while also educating the public on the changing landscape of legalization. Along with their YouTube videos, the company has repurposed posters from the Reefer Madness era with an Original Artists Series, updated MadMen (whose characters smoke from vaporizers instead of cancer-sticks), and even crafted a Seattle Seahawks logo entirely out of marijuana in honor of the Beast Mode strain (named after running back Marshawn Lynch). Stusser’s Higher Ground column also runs in the Seattle Weekly.
Higher Ground explores and celebrates the elevated aspects of getting high. Founded during a revolutionary time of economic and spiritual transformation in the legalization movement, the brand will document and chronicle this incredible time in our history, and advocate for the legalization of cannabis (along with civil rights, gay rights, and human rights), and embrace the end of – yet another – prohibition.
For more information, contact Michael Stusser at firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week, three U.S. senators introduced a bill that attempts to amend many of the outdated medical-marijuana conundrums at the federal level. The bill would end the prohibition of medical marijuana, reclassify the plant from its current designation as a Schedule 1 narcotic (a status that suggests no medical value and high potential for abuse), and allow for more cannabis study and research. While the bipartisan bill doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of passing, it’s a great conversation starter.
Inspired by those ballsy senators—and in fear of the awful Senate Bill 5052 that is currently wending its way through Olympia—I’ve decided to take my own shot at solving Washington state’s own clusterfuck. So without further ado, I present the framework of my own Omnibus Marijuana Bill.
Let my people grow! I mean, really. Every other state that’s legalized marijuana has allowed citizens to grow for personal use, and we should too. It’s a no-brainer. Put a limit on the number of plants per person (six per adult, perhaps, or higher if used for medicinal purposes), and, like tomatoes and snap peas, allow folks to play in the garden. (Probably not a great plant for community pea patches, but fab for collective gardens for medical patients, many of whom are too sick to tend to the crop themselves.)
Regulate medical dispensaries. The state estimates that there are more than 1,000 dispensaries, operating all willy-nilly. While many are clearly fly-by-night operations that don’t check ID, a good number have been instrumental for decades in helping the medical community find strains and products and oils that help patients. So it just makes sense that any longstanding, established dispensary should be allowed to continue operating. Hell, I’ll pick a random number that can be allowed: 420.
No medical registry. The bill from Republican Sen. Ann Rivers that the state Senate just passed calls for the creation of a statewide registry for medical patients. Puh-lease. Patients don’t fear putting their names on the dotted line because they’re faking their illnesses to get cheaper weed, but because admitting to a felony at the federal level is a pretty bad idea. Patients can lose their jobs and have their children taken for this kind of admission. No registry.
Whack the taxes. Right now there’s a triple-decker tax structure in place: Recreational weed is hit with a 25 percent tax when it moves from farmer to processor, then again from processor to retailer, and again to the end customer. Pretty much everyone agrees a single tax is the best idea here—so pick a single sin-tax percentage and go with it. Too high, though, and I’m staying with my dealer.
Medical cards. Any patient with a qualified doctor who recommends (not prescribes) marijuana to alleviate suffering for terminal or debilitating conditions such as cancer, epilepsy, PTSD, and chronic pain should be allowed to purchase it tax-free at licensed medical dispensaries, just as citizens across the country (except Illinois) can receive their tax-free prescriptions for Ambien, Valium, Prozac, and whatever that purple pill is.
Free hemp now. My Omnibus Marijuana Bill is so comprehensive that I plan to roll hemp legislation into it, thus killing two buzzed birds with one stone: Legalize hemp for farming, commerce, and production, and just ignore the absurd bans on industrial hemp. Don’t be silly; the fibrous stuff doesn’t even get ya high.
Rec stores must stock medicinal products. Most of the individuals working to bring cannabis out of the shadows and into the legal mainstream were from the medical community—and riskily toiling long before the greedy Green Rush Potrepreneurs got in line for a Weed Lotto Ticket to make marijuana moolah. The least these green-lit licensees can do is stock their shelves with a small percentage of medicinal items in their inventory.
No pot, no pay. Cities and counties that ban marijuana outlets—either recreational or medical—will get absolutely no tax revenue from sales of marijuana. Period. In addition, as they are restricting both the will of the people and access for medical patients who may not be able to drive to places that do allow marijuana sales, these cities must build a FastTrack Elevated Electric Train system for their residents to travel from their homes to the nearest marijuana-friendly city.
Let’s get loungey! Pot lounges and cafes where adults can smoke marijuana are a safe and social way for folks to get fired up. Hell, even the Seattle City Attorney likes the idea. Allow for cigar lounges and smoky pool halls too! You don’t like ’em? Don’t patronize ’em! We’re not looking to be Amsterdam with a cannabis cafe on every corner—though if Howard Schultz wants to get into the franchise game, Starbuds is a damn fine name. Probably shouldn’t allow alcohol in cannabis clubs however; people get crazy on that shit.
This article first appeared in the Seattle Weekly.
Journalist Michael Stusser (host of Higher Ground) pops into the passenger seat to discuss the new era of marijuana with Cheech Marin. The results are hilarious and surprisingly informative in this “Up in Smoke” Re-Mix. And don’t worry, the great Tommy Chong doesn’t get left out! Watch till the end for a special shout-out.
Alaska? YES! Oregon? YES! Washington DC? YES! Guam? YES? Higher Ground? YES!
And while the referendum in Florida did not pass, let us give you some good news from the Sunshine State (where 58% of the voters supported medical marijuana initiative!). The issue brought out young voters, and they supported the measure big-time. Politicians from BOTH parties must now pay serious attention to States where marijuana is on the ballot, as young citizens will flood to the polls, and paying attention to geriatric politicians and other progressive causes as they vote on various important issues.
November brought a significant set of votes and victories. And once California joins the recreational realm in November of 2016 (after pioneering the medical dispensary vote in 1996), the catnip will be out of the bag. It’s a long ride, and looking up for the legalization movement.
For further analysis on the elections, votes on decriminalization, and future of legalization, here are the 5 fab articles on the subject.