THE MAD MEN OF POT
Temecula, CA – They say 'politics is show business for ugly people' but the three men taking the panel stage were anything but ugly. Standing tall and looking proudly cordial were most of the authors of AB266, the state bill everyone who isn't dabbing is gabbing about. On the surface it appears to be a total unraveling of Prop 215 and SB 420, a structure, admittedly loose, put in place by the voters of California 20 years ago. It is the construct through which I obtained my doctor's recommendation to be able to legally ingest an herb found by definition in Gen 1:29-30. I was at this meeting because it was personal, unlike my last visit to a political forum.
Part of the reason I was at this meeting was also to bring back some logic or understanding for my reading audience, 99% who weren't there. Taxation without representation was the main motive and since the panel room was filled to standing room only, I wasn't the only person in the cannabis culture to be concerned about the future of access to cannabis. You could say that I was there to get a lay of the land since these were the 'official' movers and shakers in the beginning bloom of the bud biz. In the hundreds of well-heeled and hipsters, I knew only two faces. If cannabis were a train, I had traveled back to the club car from the engine. The government, in the caboose, had also come up to the club car. We all now shared a common ground.
When the Assemblymen were introduced, you could hear a pin drop as people from all walks inside the cannabis culture sought to see where they would be in the landscape, provided AB266 goes through. Like with Congressman Peters, I was there to see the motivation and background for the backers of AB266.
After each took their five-minute 'one minute allotted' introduction, each candidate made his spiel about his part of the deal. The first man, LA's Reginald Jones-Sawyer, Sr. acknowledged that he had some personal pot use from the 70s but had long since quit that lifestyle to become a productive member of society, particularly in politics, laughing it up with the audience as if it were a dirty joke. Besides being a member of the Black Caucus, Mr. Jones-Sawyer, Sr.'s business cards were printed on the obligatory run of the mill union printed card stock bearing the union seal. One hand washes the other. The Assemblyman was the only one to become available enough to offer a biz card to me though, and of course I had a business card for him.
The Assemblyman in the middle was Ken Cooley. Again if you have read this run-up story you know that Mr. Cooley is another very capable public servant. In fact, it was revealed to this journalist that Mr. Cooley was the spark plug who ramrodded the initial rodeo. Mr. Cooley spoke to the personal witness of someone close to him being helped through cannabis use, thus sparking his desire to do something about regulating medical marijuana. Like MGD, Mr. Cooley, occupying the center power position onstage and clearly 'the Man' in charge, is not one to miss a genuine opportunity. BTW, Mr Cooley let it be known that medical cannabis is fine but he wasn't endorsing recreational weed. He wanted regulations set up to test it and make it uniform. After all, it's better to tax the sick, what choice have they got? Plus, they don't vote.
In politics, whether grassroots, NGOs, or professional, noticing body language and pecking order says a lot about the real order of the day regardless of what is said or promised. We saw that in our opening story. Now here we saw it again. Assemblyman Jim Woods, a dentist very interested in having medical cannabis clean up and finance a continuing environmental effect was the clean-up man, the youngest, and also a freshman though not tied directly to AB266. Once again the third freshman Assemblyman spoke of knowing that cannabis was reported to be good for certain ailments, this time through 3rd hand testimony but money for more study was needed [as it always is] before it could be approved widely. Like Mr. Cooley, Mr. Woods had no personal experience with cannabis. Also an agency needed to be in place so that medical pot money could be moved into the mainstream of banking, creating another bureaucratic agency.
To many of the ideas, there was applause in the audience, but not from me. You see Sports Fans, it isn't that the government wants some certification about pot, it's that the government wants to start the process from scratch on your/our dime AND make you wait, instead of researching available data like this, debunking five common myths. Because the government just woke up to something five minutes ago, something I have been using for 50 years; why do I have to wait for them to catch up when they don't even use the plant anyway? If you think there is more than just taxes involved here, you're right. Pick up your copy of Memoirs of Mr. Pete & Mary Jane Green [Amazon] to find out how far back in time this rabbit hole goes. But I digress.
All three gentlemen were cordial in that way people are at the close of a church service when you're visiting, and accessibility was limited as to the amount of questions allowed the Assemblymen due to time allotted. Out of maybe fifteen questions asked, the hundred or so people left each had a question for the lawmakers there. After the session the Assemblymen milled around downstairs but I don't remember any of them going up to network with anyone, anyone at all there, be they patient, vendor, model, entrepreneur, or voter on the roof . For someone concerned about the medical part, they weren't doctors looking to talk to patients, or even voters. The reason, AB266, AB243, and SB643, which must ALL pass in order for the regulations to go into effect, aren't about compassion but about politics and revenue. Marie Waldron's piece, 'Good News From Sacramento' Valley News, 9/25, tells of the many efforts to raise fees and taxes thwarted at the last minute. Prop 215 is about compassion. Jack Herer was right [pg. 267, Memoirs].
All three Assemblymen are freshmen as was the absent Assemblyman Rob Bonta. In political circles, if you can close a big deal in your freshman year, you are 'in like Flynn'. And cannabis is certainly in. Now it's up to Jerry Brown give these freshmen a skip to the head of the class by cooperating in AB266, an effort to smoke up the election waters of 2016.
Next: the Products of Pot State, as the State of Marijuana, Santa Monica, continues...