Vivian McPeak is a Pacific Northwest based musician and social justice activist. As the executive director of the world's largest cannabis policy reform rally, the Seattle Hempfest, McPeak has helped influenced regional cannabis policies.
There are some wonderful voices in the hemp movement and Vivian is in a unique position to speak on cannabis related subects.
This week, he wrote the following blog that needs to be read, even if you don't use the herb yourself.
Enough medical marijuana. This is silly. Just legalize it for everyone. By Vivian McPeak Seattle PI April 3, 2011
Marijuana, cannabis, ganja, reefer, gak, lamb’s breath, it doesn’t matter what you call the stuff; marijuana is on fire these days, both figuratively and literally. After decades of being relegated to little more than hippie status, the raggedy old plant has cropped its hairs, thrown on a power suit, and is now trying to convince everyone that she is not only ready for prime time, but that she is the new emerging financial market in America. Just a few years ago, the leafy, green vegetation could not find a job, a home, or even one less-than-unsavory public friend. She hung out in abandoned barns, hid in people’s closets, or was tucked quietly away in some musty basement. Not anymore!
Marijuana is enjoying her time in the big lights. All of a sudden, the demand for her is at an all-time high. The frayed poncho is off, baby, and she is now glistening in her sequined dinner dress, with big plans to take America by storm. There is just one problem; marijuana is still a felonious criminal, wanted from coast to coast. Of course, that has never stopped her before.
It is getting hard to find a news story that does not use some clever catch-phrase to mention the world’s most nefarious plant substance, as the national race to exploit the fruits of the cannabis plant builds to a frenzy. Everyone is scrambling to get in on the Acapulco Gold rush. “There’s ganja in them thar hills!”
Medical marijuana sales are estimated to reach $1.7 billion this year. Last week, the San Franciso, CA-based ArcView Group formed the first investment network in the industry. They plan to connect canna-biz operators with qualified investors.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that this industry is growing and that there are untold riches to be made here,” says Troy Dayton, the ArcView Group’s chief executive.
It is not as if cannabis has not been a strong player in the global marketplace for decades. Pot has been a number #1 cash crop for years. Prohibition, originally intended to eliminate cannabis from the North American continent, had driven prices up to more than $300 an ounce during the last several decades. The result has been an international black market that has embedded itself into American society with stunning efficiency. Simply put, pot is readily available in every city and town, nationwide. The Drug War lost. Cannabis won.
Despite hemorrhaging billions of dollars of precious U.S. resources into cannabis eradication and interdiction, and America now being the largest jailer of citizens per capita in the world, this nation has a glut of pot on the black market. There is so much marijuana being produced these days that long-time black market producers are today slashing their prices in an attempt to stay in business.
The American public is slowly beginning to see through the smoky haze of propaganda and disinformation that its government has been promulgating, to come to the realization that billions of tax dollars have been blithely squandered fixing a problem that never existed in the first place.
The price, however, cannot be measured only in dollars and cents. America has become that which she claims to abhor; a police state. For those Americans who choose to relax, or treat their pain, or have a fun time by imbibing in a puff of pot smoke, the United States is a totalitarian police state that will crush them unmercifully.
As a cannabis reform activist for over two decades, it is stunning for me to witness the conversion that is taking place in this country. It is demoralizing to see that America will most likely legalize marijuana, but for all the wrong reasons. Forget the injustice, never mind the gross human rights violations that have been committed against millions of Americans for years – there is money to be made.
Yes, finally, reform activists are talking a language the American public can connect with: financial gain.
Today I read in the newspaper that Nike is rushing to capitalize on marijuana’s newfound notoriety. Ah, yes, the corporate shoe manufacturer that has its products made in China for pennies is teaming up with Cheech and Chong, the comedy act that has for years reinforced the hurtful negative memes and stereotypes that have been used to justify imprisoning millions of pot smokers. A match made in hemp heaven.
Yes, the corporations are salivating all over their multinational selves. But wait, it ain’t just Nike counting the coins they can make exploiting the pot culture’s extra pocket change, everybody is getting onto the blunt-burning bandwagon. “Canna-biz” entrepreneurs are losing their collective minds calculating the potential profit margins as medical marijuana dispensaries begin to compete with local Starbucks for real estate.
Medical marijuana “access-points” are opening up all over the place in the states that will tolerate them. Ads for “medipot” are appearing on the pages of weekly community publications, who also don’t want to wait for reform before they can reap the benefits of the emerging business phenomenon. New mega-grow-supply stores are popping up and ancillary, supportive industries are taking note.
You would think a seasoned cannabis activist like me would feel elated at all of the newfound notoriety that my old squeeze has been enjoying. Well, frankly, the whole thing leaves me dry. I find it all a massive buzzkill. Why?
I am disgusted because I see some folks becoming millionaires operating their medical marijuana empires while other, less fortunate Americans, are still going to prison over cannabis.
Just a few days ago, a young Montanan, a legitimate medical marijuana patient, Matthew Otto, was found guilty of a single count of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs. Otto, who suffers from chronic back and knee-pain, had been seen by a cop passing a loaded pipe-full of pot to two friends while they were sitting in a car. The total amount of pot recovered was 3 grams – enough for a couple joints the way I roll them.
Mr. Otto now faces a potential prison term of life for passing a bowl of pot to two stoners. This is our America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. This is the America that my father fought for in the Korean War. This is the same America that George Washington crossed the Potomac River over. You know the one, the America that Paul Revere reportedly rode around in shouting, “the Red Coats are coming!”
This is the America where one guy can make millions selling tons of marijuana while another fellow faces a possible life sentence in prison for passing a pipe-load.
Cheech and Chong are hot again too. They will make a lot of money making people laugh about how stupid pot makes them act, but I reckon that Matthew Otto will not be laughing. He will be busy contemplating the end of his freedom. There is only one answer: America needs to legalize marijuana for otherwise law-abiding, responsible adults. Period. Anything less will be perpetuating the most un-American policy our nation has ever engaged in. Otherwise, this stuff about America being a free country is just another piece of Drug War propaganda.
Reposted here by permission.