By Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town
Northern California Correspondent
I am totally Fed up.
If you haven’t heard already, ex-presidents, prime ministers, eminent economists and the Big Dudes of the business community will be meeting to discuss how the world’s drug policies “just ain’t working.” The quote is mine.
The Global Commission on Drug Policy will host a press conference at the prestigious Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York on Thursday, to pull the trigger on their findings that describe the Drug War as a failure and call for a “paradigm shift” in approaching the issue.
The commission will demand that the focus change from criminal justice towards a public health approach. The global advocacy organization Avaaz, which has nine million members, will present a petition in support of the commission’s recommendations to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
The commission cites such factors as the cartel-related violence in Mexico, President Barack Obama’s comment that it was “perfectly legitimate” to question whether the War On Drugs was working, and the wider global economic crisis. These factors have the world leaders questioning whether it is time to change our course when it comes to the War On Drugs.
I think they’re saying “It’s not working,” too.
|Danny Kushlick, Transform: “What we have here is the greatest collection thus far of ex-presidents and prime ministers calling very clearly for decriminalization and experiments with legal regulation.”
Danny Kushlick, head of external affairs at Transform, the drug policy foundation that has consultative status with the U.N., said “What we have here is the greatest collection thus far of ex-presidents and prime ministers calling very clearly for decriminalization and experiments with legal regulation.
“It will be a watershed moment,” Kushlick said.
As of Wednesday, the pollsters including Nate Silver say Obama has about 46 percent of Americans voting for him. And get this: He has 46 percent of Americans voting against him. This will be an election, as the way it’s been for the last few election cycles, in which there’s a run for independents. You know, those crazy undecided voters who usually live in a retirement community in Florida or are slugging slag in Ohio, who by default usually decide our elections for us.
Even with Mitt “Ken Plastic-Genitalia” Romney, Sarah “I’ll Show The Kids But Not The Husband” Palin, Tim “Wake Me Up When I’m Over” Pawlenty, and the Besty Ross of the Tea Party sampler, Michelle Bachmann running, President Obama doesn’t have a lock on this race if the economy doesn’t start handing out some new jobs soon.
So where is our President who had the intestinal fortitude to stand up and say confidently to the lamestream media when asked, “Of course I inhaled! That’s was the point!”?
Why is President Obama, who seemingly had a real understanding of the cannabis culture, allowing the Feds to run roughshod with “Operation Shake and Bake” (my terms), over the rights of the medical marijuana community and businesses in America?
Why are world leaders and Richard Branson (I bet he’s bringing the herb) meeting, discussing a changing globe and the need to change with it, including statements made from our President for the need to transform?
And why is our President somewhere in another universe allowing the Feds to create a State of Fear when it comes to marijuana?
In the last 10 days, the Feds have amped up their behind-the-scenes attacks on the medical marijuana community throughout the states. Starting with financial institutions, the Feds pressed for audits of banks that do business with dispensaries and the like. Then there were the closing and limiting of dispensaries up and down the State of California. Credit card company American Express canceled its service in dispensaries.
In Arizona, their U.S. Attorney, not to be left out by his colleagues in other states, wrote a “you-better-watch-out” letter warning the fledgeling medical marijuana industry that if you open your doors, we’re going to be there to shut you down, or worse.
Even their wacky, “Arizona’s higher than Chong” Gov. Janny Brewer is trying to rescind Proposition 203, voted on and passed by the people because… she doesn’t like it.
Even as a few doors of opportunity and progress open for medical marijuana patients and the industry, more and more activists are fighting the Drug War on two fronts: locally and federally.
It might be time for us who are trying to make a change, not to go backwards, but to say — as most oppressed groups eventually reach — “We’ve had enough. We’re Fed up!”
Then the question persists, “Whose side are the Feds really on?”
In the last weeks my people (don’t ask) have found connections between Big Pharma owning fields and gardens full of raging cannabis all over America. They’re gearing up like other outlaws for the possible Green Rush profits coming their way.
Meanwhile, medical marijuana activists, patients, new dispensary owners stand in lines, fill out forms for the latest regulations that change daily, and jump through the state’s hoops in order to move ahead.
Big Pharma has the cooperation of the Feds to look the other way when they grow. Plus, I’m guessing when Bristol-Myers mines the earth for a garden, they’re planting more than 99 plants at a time.
It’s life in prison for making hash in Oklahoma. A birdwatcher in Florida spends a night in jail after getting the major TSA treatment with the more than personal pat-down and the standard alien probe. State’s rights are being trampled on like Snooki in Italy.
The number of marijuana busts is up in some major cities, even when progressive bills and ordinances are passed. California releases murderers, rapists and carjackers most Mondays through Fridays now. But pot smokers — those sly, evasive bumps-on-a-log that commit the sin of self-medication — those are the people who need to go behind bars. Like Dr. Mollie Fry and her husband, who were locked up doing a nickel over a bogus federal charge?
What more do we need to hear? How much more can President Obama do to let the people down who voted for him?
For awhile there, it was looking good. After eight crazy years of the complete dismantling and the selling off of America, we had hope in the fresh young senator from Illinois. You could feel that there was change in the air. The markets were falling and homes were burning in escrow and Vegas, but it felt like he could get us through.
Then he said this thing about medical marijuana on the campaign trail. Something about medical marijuana being a low priority item and we have better things to do than to go after these people. Dispensaries open up, hiring thousands of people in several states.
And you know what? Crime didn’t break at at these dispensaries. The Johnny Dillingers didn’t come in with guns blazing. Neighborhoods weren’t shot up. Children still went to school and didn’t become beach bum stoners. OK, there was an occasional magic brownie Wednesday morning treat mix-up. Oops.
Life was good. For a moment, it looked like real change.
Then there were busts, bank audits, strip searches, doctors in jail, Big Pharmville games going on, Feds amping up raids, all the while as cities take taxes and activists pay. And that’s since May 1.
I want my President back. The one who was full of hope, change and smoke (and I mean that in a good way).
Mr. President, whose side are you on?
There are men and women with much more world experience than you meeting in New York this week to tell the world that the way we’ve been doing business, isn’t working.
Forty-three million Americans experience marijuana on some level, according to NORML, yet the President smiles and smirks when asked about medical marijuana in town hall meetings. It was the first question asked by the MTV crowd when he did a sit-down with them.
We’re concerned — yet it feels as if he’s not taking us seriously.
So listen to the straights. There’s a whole bunch of world leaders who don’t know a bong from a gong, and they’re saying there needs to be a change.
We’re changing. We’re coming out. We’re paying taxes and filling out forms with our names and address on them.
We’re doing what we’re supposed to do for change.
Mr. President? Barack? I love the old you.
Please don’t change. Or please do change back. Whatever.
Just let us have our medicine before you give it over to Big Pharma.
|Photo: Jack Rikess
|Toke of the Town correspondent Jack Rikess blogs from the Haight in San Francisco.
Jack Rikess, a former stand-up comic, writes a regular column most directly found at jackrikess.com.
Jack delivers real-time coverage following the cannabis community, focusing on politics and culture.
His beat includes San Francisco, the Bay Area and Mendocino-Humboldt counties.
He has been quoted by the national media and is known for his unique view with thoughtful, insightful perspective.