Marijuana: How Does Change Look?


By Jack Rikess

Toke of the Town

Northern California Correspondent

I wish Marijuana could still be honored and treated like it was when I was growing up. In those days, life was delineated by politics and cultures; it was easy to know who your friends were. If they smoked grass, were against the Vietnam War and liked the new long-grooved FM music that was floating off the radio, they were cool.
You were either cool or uncool. Hard to believe how binary we were in those days. 

It was a time of going to demonstrations at the U, with homemade signs and an extra pair of glasses in case yours were smashed during a police blow-back. Girls much older than me, 18 to my 15, wore tight, faded, embroidered jeans with peasant shirts that couldn’t contain the eye-catching outlines of blossoming nipples, all confirming that I was in the right place at the right time. When those same Sirens of Protest offered me a joint, my political career started in earnest.

The Front Blog
Nixon’s War On Drugs began 40 years ago, in June 1971

Nixon got me in ways he never expected. Tricky Dick knew what we were doing. For those of you who can’t remember or weren’t there, it was a mixture of Fad and Fashion with a healthy dose of subversion, anarchy, and great music for mood and tone. 
The motto was ‘Come for the protest and stay for the party afterwards!’ Richard Nixon understood that. Those uppity college kids were destroying Dick’s sporting idea of ransacking Vietnam for all she was worth.
Y’know, takeover a country, let our businessmen scrape all the natural resources off until the locals are left dry where the only hope of recovery is a modern Marshall Plan of America’s own device. The goal was to sack Vietnam, give contracts and spoils of war to your gun and ammo buddies at Honeywell and Dow Chemical, all in the name of Patriotism. 
But the kids and their demon pot were ruining it. On the 6 O’clock News, America watched her young warriors demonstrating and burning their draft cards. These young men, unlike a generation before who could point out where Germany or Japan was on a map, were beginning to say no to killing in a nation that most had never heard of before. Nixon would lose his bet on doubling down on Vietnam for the Big Money. Those protests needed to be curtailed.

Vagabonds and Villains

Nixon had his henchmen round up all the snitches, narcs, a Salt Lake City college president, short-haired DEA agents, ROTC candidates, and a young Karl Rove in a padded room and they weren’t allowed to come out until they had a viable Tricky Dick-like solution that would destroy the anti-war movement.
The brain trust’s resolution? Up the ante on Marijuana. Where you find Marijuana, you’ll find a protester. Make Marijuana a felony and you’ve made protesting a felony; simple Nixon math. And that, kids, is one of the reasons why Richard Nixon left the president’s office in disgrace. But not before leaving a legacy… 
Welcome to the War on Drugs and the beginning of the reversal of human rights.
Around 1973 in New York, under the Rockefeller Laws, processing rolling papers was a mandatory five-year sentence. Anywhere in Texas, if you had long hair and if you were caught with a roach, you might get 20 years. Get caught with two joints anywhere outside of Austin and you weren’t seeing daylight for long time. 
Fast forward almost 40 years later, the War On Drugs slogs on but who really cares?
The War On Drugs, like most wars, rarely hit home until it did. We hide out in our porches and basements, dousing ourselves in waves of our own guilty pleasures, keeping us relegated to our own way of thinking and stopping us from worrying about the other junk, while we trip the light fantastic. We become self-centered and myopic in our desire to get high.

Pacific Standard
Are we naïve enough to think that the War on Drugs won’t escalate like other wars? 
Are we naïve enough to think that the War on Drugs won’t escalate like other wars? Is there a possibility of a hometown surge? 
For example, how long is it going to be until the U.S. military is conscripted to assist in the War On Drugs at home? Right now, our troops are being deployed to assist in South and Central America to bring down the bad guys who are selling cocaine and other drugs. We justify this by believing that Latin America’s coke issue is different than ours. We reason that for us, coke is there to help us dance and party; for them it’s a cash crop industry going back to when  Columbus landed and said, “‘Scuse me, but where the fuck am I?”
Another interesting point about engaging our men and women in uniform for the War On Drugs is that if we don’t like the people behind these Narco-Nations, what’s next? It’s only going to get bigger in dimension and scope. We know the biggest culprit of them all, Mexico. Mexico is moving so much weight that when a couple of tons of Mota rolls into the San Diego Bay, like it did last week, the crime bosses just hold up their hands, smile and say, “Oops.” 


See, there is a market for weed. Who is going to own that market is the reason that everything is so fucked up now. Mexico is big player, but so are we. We love to grow weed in America. Will our troops start to police us in the name of patriotism? 
Is it possible that our troops would open fire on us like they did at Kent State in 1970 or at the Bonus Army Riot in 1932 when the veterans demanded the money they were promised? I guess it just depends on the hearts and minds of the American people. 
When it comes to Cannabis, whose side are the American people on?
There’s a belief that the growers of Northern California are self-serving and their interests rest only on the side of making money. While the selfish do exist, the growers I know want a long term solution for cannabis. They want to come out of the shadows, leave the forest alone, get their water and electricity legally, and get this: pay taxes
Even a few cops were on board for that momentary bandwagon that wheeled through in those heady days of 2010 when it seemed that we had a possible answer to the problem of marijuana being illegal and simultaneously being California’s Number One Cash Crop? 
In 1996, we voted to legalize medical marijuana in California. No one gave it to us. I’ve met many of the people, activists and politicians that wrote that legislation. I’m paraphrasing — fuck it, I’m basically making this up — but from the people I’ve spoken with that authored many of these bills, their thinking at the time was, let’s get this through and we can deal with the little imperfections later.

In 1996, we voted to legalize medical marijuana in California.

So we had a bill that passed that allowed for marijuana to be dispensed as medicine. The question of how, where, and when this would all roll out, wasn’t really discussed. But somehow it passed. They figured out that maybe something that fits in our concept, “Of what to do when not sure of what we’re doing,” was to open something like what we already have.
A deal was reached. The modern idea of a dispensary or access point was born. It was decided that a location like a drugstore or liquor store where marijuana could be sold with a doctor’s prescription was the answer. Wait, doctors can’t prescribe marijuana, only suggest or recommend marijuana because of the Law of the Land. 
So that needed to be worked out. Then someone read the bill a little closer and realized that the new medical marijuana proposition, though pretty good when it came to the patient’s rights and all that, was missing one thing. There wasn’t any language about transportation of said weed;  you could buy it, smoke it, possess it, you just couldn’t travel with it or get it to bring home.
Back to the old drawing board. 
That brings me to my friend, Pebbles. Pebbles has been working tirelessly over the PAST SEVERAL DECADES to bring medical marijuana to the people that need it. I didn’t say patients because the vast majority of pot smokers in the United States aren’t patients. They’re just generally good people who live in states that do not have medical marijuana, yet pot on some level helps them get through the day.  
Pebbles says that unless we go for complete legalization the way we exactly want it, no compromise, everything else is noise. I agree with her.
But short of that, what is our choice? And frankly, what does it matter what the average American pot-smoker thinks, when someone else holds the rights to their stash (plants)?


Washington State heads are having a lively debate over a bill called I-502. If I’m not mistaken, one of the main issues with I-502 being discussed is the DUI clause. Among a few other sticking points is the argument that the DUI clause isn’t realistic. Others argue that while the bill isn’t perfect, it is better than past legislation.
I could be really wrong on this, but what I want to know is, what is the solution for replacing the current language of the bill regarding the DUI aspect of the bill? What is the counter-argument when it comes to answering society’s questions like, can you partake in cannabis, drive and still be seen as a responsible user? This is an issue that needs to be address as other states will grapple with the same kind of attacks from their local crusaders opposing cannabis reform. 
What have we learned over these last three short years when it comes to how we want our weed regulated? We don’t want the laws like New Jersey has with restrictive legislation that limits the access to marijuana and treats the program like witchcraft, fighting the implementation of the duly passed laws.
Do we believe that these bills need to be more comprehensive and air-tight like a doob-tube when it’s time to say yay or nay on the local level? The prevailing fear is that the more articulated and thought-out the bill is, the easier it is to shoot it down by the jokers who know how to play the political game. 

Hail Mary Jane

Don’t forget, Marijuana Rights and Gay Rights are very similar in the fact that the people who theoretically say they want them are slow on the uptake when it comes to passing laws that support these subcultures. Activists believe that the general populace is against new stuff, so
these bills need to go easy on the straights, otherwise they’ll just say no to us and our demands.  
Are we learning from our mistakes? Or is Pebbles correct in her assessment that unless we treat marijuana like we treat anything that is legal in our society, as in, it’s here and let’s just get on with it… we’re falling short and leading ourselves over a cliff we do not have to go over?
I live in San Francisco where marijuana is nuisance. People smoke it on the buses and roll joints in public. I call it living in the Era of Grassnost. Some of my fellow San Franciscans actually act like weed is already legal. And why not? We have dispensaries and dealers everywhere. We have the best pot and even the biggest loser knows where to score. So why should we care whether anyone else has access to weed?
There’s going to be hundreds of thousands of patients in the Southland of California that will not have access if the dispensaries were to close. As much as I believe that L.A. blew it, they deserve access to medical marijuana just as much as they do in Ames, Iowa.
As activists and smokers of the herb, we shouldn’t rest until it is legal everywhere like Budweiser and prescription drugs. We can’t have these discrepancies from state to state, or even from county to county. People do cross borders. 

THC Finder
Chris Diaz, 22, was threatened with life in prison for medical marijuana. He ended up getting three years.

There’s the chronically infirm Californian Chris Diaz, who while visiting his ailing grandmother in Texas was pulled over for a burned-out tail light. When Chris was apprehended with 7 grams of cannabis and 11 grams of hash, he stood up to your Heat of the Night bigoted cops and said, “This is medicine! I need it!” 
After being threatened with life in prison and having the cops offer to his parents a pay for play deal, only to raise the agreed price, twice, Chris has started a three-year sentence, doing hard time in solitary after a lifetime of being hospitalized in California for his many medical illnesses. Chris is 22. 
What about all the prisoners in jails in America? Okay, I know that of all the Western countries, we have the greatest percent of our population in stir. I know that when marijuana legislation comes before the voters, it is the correctional brotherhoods and small-dicked wardens that give the most cash in hopes of squashing the medical marijuana movement to keep their prisons full like a cheap Vegas motel.
But why? Why do we still accept that marijuana shouldn’t be legal?

10 Zen Monkeys

Marijuana shows up everywhere in the mainstream, on The Simpsons and in episodes of How I Met Your Mother. Jack in the Box commercials rely on stoners and club goers for their demographics.
Who doesn’t know someone who hasn’t at least tried marijuana in college/at a party/ with some friends/from your kid’s sock drawer/from your parent’s top drawer/from one of the 45 million heads who claim to smoke it? 
Our current president could have smoked out Tommy Chong in the Day. Bush and Cheney had three DUI’s and a coke bust between them. When does the hypocrisy stop about who we are and who we think we want to be? 
I don’t know if we have the maturity to handle marijuana. It’s a plant! It’s a medicine! It gets you high! Oh, my! It is not like Viagra. (Snicker, snicker, we have even less maturity when it comes to talking about the boner drug). With Viagra, just like aspirin, oxy and especially alcohol, when someone’s OD’d it’s not that bad: it’s approved by the FDA.
Not so with weed, too mysterious. Even though it’s provided by God and has been part of our regimen since we discovered the Bic lighter, we still don’t know what her many uses are. 
Shame on us then.
But we don’t see it that way. We choose to remain unenlightened. To pretend that we don’t know what’s going in an effort to avoid making a decision. Or, what I’ve suspected all along, this race is fixed, or in the very least, we’re being set up.

Gaia Health

If it is a race, the winner will be companies like GW Pharmaceuticals and others who want to control the plant because they know of her deep medicinal value. In the next few months the announcement about the advancements that are being done with CBDs and CBNs are going to be endless to the point of nausea.
The drug companies are going to act like they just stumbled upon this and had no idea that the marijuana plant could hold so many different applications for science, that you’ll just be amazed. I guess the hippies were right, it is medicine too. Oh BTW, the opening price for the new stock, Medi-jane Pharmacies (Stock Symbol:MJRX) opens at a gazzilion dollars. Who knew?
And if it isn’t a race; it is a boxing match. In the boxing world, it isn’t the boxers who make the bread; it is the Don Kings of the world.  
Every election year the slow-con shill comes out from under his hiding PAC to announce, “Coming to a town near you! One Day Only! The election of all elections! And just like the last ones we told you about, this one’s going to be tight too! If you care about the issues that affect you, your wallet and kids, Vote for This Guy! Give us money because
it’s going to be squeaky close if you don’t. The other guy’s gonna probably cheat too, so give more money because of that too!”

ABC News

Who is Obama’s Don King? Why did Obama reverse his position on marijuana? He’s not Elliot Ness; someone either really rich or really big got to him. Finding out who runs Obama puts us in a better position to counter-attack the nearly irrational logic that governs a capricious Department of Justice. 
Anyone who thinks this is about weed is mistaken. This is about corruption, the Law of the Land, States’ Rights versus Federal Rights, it’s about that Obama isn’t the new Bush, it’s about an unsliced ganja pie worth billions and the ownership of a plant that doesn’t know that she’s being strangled from up above.
Marijuana is going to change, morph, and take on fresh packaging that may cause me to puke. It’s not going to stay static. It’s not going to be the little innocent plant the way I’ve always remembered it.
I don’t know what is going to happen with marijuana. I suspect the richest kid in the field will end up owning it. That’s the way of the world.
But as of today, we still have the seeds. We still own the plant on some level.
I am concerned about the direction that marijuana is taking but I trust that my fellow activists and those at home will agree that our main desire is access to the plant without being thrown in jail. 
Now, we just have to figure out instead of being fragmented and departmentalized, how to join forces on this issue, unite, and take back something we’ve always had.
New Idea! The First Constitutional Cannabis Congress. We the people, want our herb when we want it…

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.