|Steve Elliott ~alapoet~
By Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town
Northern California Correspondent
Here’s my little story. I’ve been smoking marijuana for more than 35 years, off and on. I started smoking relatively around the same time I started marching against the Vietnam War. Getting high made going to school easier and while my adolescent body was changing, grass mellowed some of the insecurities that came with a raging metabolic hailstorm that I call being a teenager.
I sometimes think, without pot, I might have been more of an uncontrollable angry young man than I was. Without the occasional ganja-time-outs, I might have been more destructive to myself and society, than I was.
I’ve been jailed and made to feel like a criminal for the act of smoking weed.
I’ve also partied my ass off with some very famous people who smoke pot and had exceptionally great times with good puffing buds at concerts, parties, and those special moments like a Hawaiian sunset that were enhanced by smoking the pakalolo.
Now in my mid-50s, I suffer from severe migraines and a bad back that was damaged while working in an elderly care unit. Those two conditions allow me to receive a California Medical Marijuana card.
So who I am? A very deserving patient who gave of his body to help others or an old dope smoker who doesn’t want to stop banging the gong?
|Americans for Safe Access|
|Assemblymember Tom Ammiano withdrew AB 2312, which would have established statewide regulation for the medical marijuana industry in California|
Last Monday, June 25, San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano withdrew the bill AB 2312, that would have established a state-wide regulation panel to oversee the state’s pot industry as opposed to having each of California’s 58 counties make their own rules. It would have been a major step for consistency in cannabis legislation.
But like all legislation, cannabis or otherwise, it wasn’t perfect. It didn’t satisfy all parties involved.
That was Monday.
Lucky for me, because I do not watch Reality TV, I am part of a cannabis distribution network. I get to see all the emails that are lobbed back and forth between certain groups and individuals. (That is, at least, until this goes to print.) These past few days have been a donnybrook of name-calling, blame, and the worst condescending little snippets aimed at those with a different opinion.
There’s this whole underlying feeling to the comments and threads that one side ‘gets it’ and the other side doesn’t.
Subjectively, I was able to watch an almost Doppelgänger of this a few weeks ago with the very spirited debate that was happening in Washington State over their bill I-502. On the sidelines, as a writer and activist, I pored over threads and emails where both sides (and possibly a third point of view that was in the discussion innocently looking for information) were hammering and lambasting each other. There was name-calling and questioning of who is a real activist or not.
Not to sound like a Swiss chocolate maker, I was neutral. I could see what all the participants involved were bringing to the table. Beyond of the fear of the Man taking over, I, me, wouldn’t pass the DUI test for cannabis in your bloodstream that was in the bill, even without medicating that morning.
But the Fear of the Man looms large. It may be realistic but unless you’re talking, “It’s mine and you can’t have it!” I’m not sure what the issue is. Someone rich is going to end up owning it eventually.
I grew up in the farmland. Do you think those families that struggled for centuries through winters and famine, that their endgame was to sell their ancestral stead to Monsanto or McDonald’s? But when Big Money came a calling, folks sold.
We’re worried about controls, regulation and who is going to end up owning the soul of the plant? The Way of the World is from small things one day do big things rise. It’s brutal but unavoidable. At least in the corporate America we live in now.
I understand the problems and limitations of passing progressive legislation. Here’s the understatement of the century: It is really hard to get people to do new things when everything’s been a certain way for most of their waking life.
But now it has hit home. My Bay Area friends and activists are picking up where the activists in Washington left off. Battle lines are being drawn. Dissensions among the ranks are running wild. The Old Guard is seen as being rusty and antiquated. Anyone adamant about marijuana strictly being medical is being labeled as myopic, wearing blinders, and holding the movement hostage in their unwillingness to tax and regulate marijuana because, “Viagra is not taxed, cannabis is medicine too.”
Then you have the Id of the movement, the ever explosive Mickey Martin, calling out both sides. Mickey, if I’m not mistaken, shares the same point of view that many people in states that do not allow Medical Marijuana have: Make it fucking legal already.
• So, who are we?
• What do we want?
• What’s next?
In one of the emails that I read, it was suggested that we, California cannabis activists, hold a caucus or convention. Each group puts items on the table that they would like to see in a cannabis bill. Then as a group, we vote on the top five suggestions and rally behind those as a coalition.
A response to that was, “A pox on your caucus.” My first thought was, how great was that? How often these days do you get to use the word ‘pox’ in a sentence?
After the antics of the past week my question is, how do we come together on this issue?
Right now it seems like we are experiencing what the Native Americans went through as the white settlers needed their lands.
Tribes were broken up and sent to reservations spread out all over the U.S., thereby splitting up the resistance and ability to organize. To make a point I am simplifying a tragic period that persists to this day.
Who are we? There isn’t a ‘we.’ There are only individuals with different agendas who come from various backgrounds working, supposedly, for relatively the same objective. We have so many natural enemies from the police, mildew, a regressive society that is looking forward to the return of the McCarthy era, that for us to tear each other apart, verbally, would only make sense if we were learning from our heated debate.
What do we want? You tell me. I came up in San Francisco where HIV decimated the lives of many beautiful great young men. It was the images of the survivors on their Big Pharma cocktails that enabled the first legislation to be passed allowing for Medi
Many of my fellow activists come from that time period. I know the comfort that marijuana gave to those not-yet-patients under law. Marijuana is medicine!
I’ve seen certain types of cancer being cured by marijuana with my own eyes.
Besides for my doctor’s recommendation for migraines and a crushed spine, last year I had some dental surgery. I was given some antibiotics by my dentist that he had prescribed for me ten years ago that worked. I took the first pill in the office right before departing, then a second one a little later when I arrived home.
I had a violent reaction that completely took over my body. It was way beyond seasickness, but that is the closest I can relate it to. I later found out that a friend of mine’s father had died from the same kind of reaction earlier this year.
I quickly realized that I was having a reaction to the prescribed drugs. Every time I moved it felt like I was going to puke up my skeleton. If it wasn’t for a few hits every couple of hours to stabilize the nausea and numb the pain, I don’t know what would have happened.
I’m not saying marijuana saved my life, but it mellowed me out. I didn’t freak out and it reduced the waves of nausea I was experiencing. It was definitely medicinal for me at that moment.
With that said, there’s a good chance I’m going to watch the Daily Show tonight high. Why? Because it makes the show more enjoyable for me. What is that? Recreational? Or, like Ambien, is it a great way to come down from a busy day and get good solid night of rest without having the Amby side-effect of late night amnesiac power-buying on eBay?
So what do we want? I think we want it both ways yet there is a big fence down the middle separating the two ideologies.
OK bitches, here you go.
Take it to the Supreme Court. Stop with the state-centric agendas and play in the big leagues. Unlike other lower courts, the Supremes have to give an opinion or a reason why they are for or against the proposed bill. State that the marijuana laws are unconstitutional because it denies the lack of access to our medicine.
We need to challenge the law, the Supreme Court, to see where we stand. Find out nationally what we have to do instead of each tribe fighting their wars separately. Take it as an issue of medical freedom like Roe v Wade.
Did we ever believe in the Sixties that abortion would have been made legal? Do you think that the activists were skeptical then? Religious freedom is in our Constitution, but not medical freedom.
Because we use marijuana, we’re subject to illegal seizures, unequal protection under the law, and, like what is happening with Chris Diaz in a stinking Texas prison, we’re faced with unusually cruel punishments. One day spent in jail for using medicine has to be one of the greater crimes against humanity.
Even with California being a medical marijuana state, people here still go to the jail every day.
I’m not too naïve to suggest, (RIP, R.K.) can’t we all get along? I don’t think that’s possible. We just have to think bigger.
We realized that abortion is a medical right.
I never thought that the Bush appointed conservative Justice Roberts would have come out for health care.
Who are we? What do we want?
We’re Americans who have fought for a Constitution that guarantees some inalienable Rights, like the pursuit of happiness. We want our marijuana knowing that it can equally relieve pain and help in our enjoyment of the world around us.
It’s just that simple. (Along with clarifying how each state will handle the regulatory issues of cultivation, transportation, distribution, and commerce.)
Now get out there and have fun.
|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.