The Cannabis Vote: What Are The Choices?


Photo: Skreened

By Jack Rikess

Toke of the Town

Northern California Correspondent

Without a doubt, President Obama has let down the medical marijuana faction of his constituents. Not to go over old ground but the promises, and yes, I say promises, because when you’re campaigning on change, and the last guy lied, lied, lied — I need to believe what you’re saying is the truth.
When the President said he and his peeps would back off from the states that have voted for medical marijuana, I believed him. 
And now all I think is Hillary Clinton was right. Obama is under qualified and can’t move mountains. 
I voted for Obama for many reasons, medical marijuana only being one of them. 

I spoke to a dispensary owner and a manager from another dispensary in San Francisco about the impact of the memo from the Department of Justice that came out last week. First of all, neither would go on record like they might have in the past.

​The dispensary owner, who had more at stake (he owns the joint), was scared and stressed. “I can’t expand or think about the future in terms of investing until I know for sure what Obama and Holder are going to do regarding raids and harassment.”
The dispensary manager had a different tack on this pointy issue. “The Justice Department expects us to be scared. Like we’re supposed to be shaking in our boots. They’re running up the wrong marijuana tree. What they’re doing is making it harder for patients, returning veterans, the people who really need it. The issue is about access. At least, it always should be.”
I asked both if they’d vote for Obama in 2012. Both said they’re going to have to wait.
As one said, “What are the choices?”
2012 is an open field. At this point in time, I’m not sure who to vote for and if it really matters. 
I thought about voting for Ron Paul late one night, seriously stoned, thoroughly disgusted with Obama, and this was before the Justice memo. But he’s too out there for me. While I agree with some of his Libertarian ideas, his kid scares me too much to set up that dynasty in the White House.
Then it was announced that the most rigid state in the union that voted for medical marijuana, New Jersey, was going to finally allow dispensaries to open. Seven dispensaries. Hey, it’s a small state. 

Photo: Forbes
N.J. Gov. Chris Christie: “I have been struggling — as has my administration — to try and find a way to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish … which is to provide compassionate treatment to people who are suffering”

​But it took a big guy to go ahead with this in the face of everything that is happening with our Department of Justice. That’s why it is so perplexing that New Jersey Governor, the new maverick of the United States, Chris Christie, gave the green light to green bud in his state. He said he did it because the Feds said it was okay. Crazy? No?
After two years of hemming and hawing after passage of the bill, New Jersey has opened their doors to the future. Unlike Arizona, Nevada and other states that have totally disregarded their voter’s insistence that if they got off the couch to vote for a medical marijuana initiative, it should be implemented. Apparently in some states, democracy is a judgment call.  
But it all adds up to that mosaic of modern day marijuana, it seems daily we’re going forward and backwards, at the same moment, arguing over the same issue in different locations. 
On a Monday the Feds are raiding a dispensary that you thought was golden. On Tuesday in a state you thought was really conservative, their legislature is voting on medical marijuana. It’s crazy.
It’s a ganja taffy pull. A gooey mess stretched from coast to coast.
Then the guy who you’re supposed to believe in lets you down. The same guy that brought tears to your eyes and a thrill up your leg that election night so many disappointments ago has left you hanging. 
I’m one of those guys that say, “If you don’t vote, you have no right to bitch.”  But who to vote for is the question.
Obama is vulnerable. If you think it’s bad for just us little Medijaners?  You should see my gay friend Ruben from Mexico who’s doing his second tour of Afghanistan; you don’t want him to get started. This dude is all about Telling without Asking. If you want to know what it’s like to be let down by a politician? Ask a gay, undocumented Marine who might die for this country but can’t walk the streets of Phoenix without the proper papers or have his lover have hospital visitation rights if something happens to him.
There’s a ground swell forming in the lefty ranks of our President’s former fans that like me, who might not show up in 2012 for him like we did in ought eight. 
The Republicans can’t stand the smell of their defeat and are seeking a last minute savior. As much as Governor Christie vehemently denies that he’s not running, at the 11 o’clock hour, when all you have is Michelle Bachmann preparing America for the coming Rapture… Christie might do in a pinch. He does have that Americana quality of seemingly being his own man. Americans can be told to believe in a guy who does it his way in lieu of the same old thing. 
Could I vote for him?
I don’t think so. Would I think about it?
If President Obama and Eric Holder come after dispensaries in San Francisco, that would be a game changer. We, the medical marijuana base in San Francisco, use our soapbox to speak on medical marijuana on a national level, not just for us.
If the Department of Justice is trying to roll back the clock to a time of their own specificity, not in the present with the rest of us, I could see voting for the most pro-cannabis candidate out there. 
Then again in 2012, I might just do a write-in for Jack Herer and let my freak flag fly do the voting for me.  

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

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.