March 20, 2012

Presenting Cannabis Issues to American Youths: Talking Points

Baobab: Tree of Generations, South Africa
"The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next." Abraham Lincoln
Recently, I was asked to give talking points for a high school presentation about Cannabis. This question was difficult and yet so important, I took my best stab at it. I thought it may help others organize their thoughts and presentations, so I am posting my notes here.

Marijuana Legalization talking points for High School Students:

When speaking with high school students, I always take a moment to look at the World from their perspective. Their World is a very dark place, their options are bleak when considering their future. These kids want to know truth and have no time for anything less. Here is an article from the NORML Women's Alliance touching on this issue. Drug Education should reflect reality not deny it.

Not one person I have met wants to be presented with anything less than the full truth. There are so many inconsistencies in what is happening in the World and the information being reported. People today are developing stronger individual media filters and figuring out their own truths. Many are following the money closely to unravel economic breakdowns and corruption, others are working to restore constitutional rights.

Constitutional Law and The New Jim Crow, a book by Michelle Alexander

It's very important to me, kids understand what has happened in the War on Drugs on a legal and constitutional level. First, when a citizen of the United States is convicted of a felony, that individual is stripped of their right to vote or participate in any political processes what so ever, be it local, State or National politics. The New Jim Crow points out the number of non-violent drug offenders serving time in Federal prisons and shows how these United States Citizens are no longer allowed to vote, get credit, buy houses or get normal jobs. Their very livelihoods have been stolen from them and recovery is near to impossible in their minds. Consider also the prison system has been privatized and is run by a corporation with shareholders ultimately pushing for a higher payout on their dividend returns. The United States Government pays these corporations a per diem rate per prisoner.

Constitutionally, Marijuana is important because it is the most stark example of government stripping a citizen's inalienable rights slowly over a period of time. For instance, medical marijuana patients are not able to get a gun, are not protected from job discrimination and are giving up their rights to proper search and seizure and due process just by presenting cannabis patient identification. Already, police raids happen on private residences where neighbors smell it. These arrests are very similar to a home invasion where armed men commit violent acts against another human being and then steal their property, cause bodily harm or worse.

All of these States who have managed to get voter approved initiatives written into regulation are doing so based on the individual State's constitutionally protected right to govern themselves outside of interference of the Federal Government. For more information on State Laws and Initiatives visit NORML's Medical Marijuana StateLaws Page.

The next issue broken down would be what does legalization really mean? I did a whole piece on the differences between legalization, decriminalization and regulation here: Medical Marijuana Laws 101 The article is meant to be a crash course in the basics.

The Science of Cannabis

Every human being out there has an Endo-Cannabinoid system, a neurological receptor system for Cannabinoids. When the Cannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBN) connects with CB1 and CB2 receptors, messages are sent to nerve systems to either speed up or slow down whatever process needs work, thereby making it medicine. That is the good news for teenagers. The bad news - this receptor system is officially under construction until around 25 years of age. Inundating these delicate chemical receptors while in their development stages could lesson the effectiveness of cannabis as a medicine when it is needed later in life.

The Economics of Cannabis

The Cannabis Industry has created more jobs in the past 10 years than any other industry sector out there in United States markets. As this budding industry expands, it will change the way people think about medicine. Unlike pharmaceutical pills received with specific dosage instructions, a patient has to create an individual relationship directly with the plant itself. Cultivating individual plant / patient relationships will expand an already healthy activist movement in spite of federal efforts to continue prohibition.

Industrial Hemp (the other cannabis cousin) would save millions of family farms all over the country. Industrial hemp products used as a source for fuel and energy would create enough sustainable business in the country to stabilize our markets. Very little would have to be done to change old manufacturing factories into hemp processing plants. America could be the leading producer of hemp textile products, building materials and diesel engine oil for transportation re-emerging in global commodity markets with a more sustainable gross domestic products than the war machine products America pimps out today.

For kids today, options for creating a sustainable livelihood strategy are limited to 1. Join the Military 2. Join a Street Gang 3. Prison 4. Working for less than what they are worth in non sustainable business sectors. It's important these kids understand what is happening in their World, so they are able to co creatively design better options for their generation and those to come. Cannabis offers solutions for the future.

Debunking the Gateway Drug Theory

Marijuana as a gateway drug has been used for a long time as a way to keep the general public fearful enough to maintain prohibition. The fact of the matter is drug use can be attributed to many factors no matter the order in which the individual chose to take any drugs: environment, influence and addictive personality traits.

Here is an example of a study done in Pittsburgh on the issue. Marijuana is no gateway drug article Here is a CBS news report quoted as saying: "There seems to be this idea that we can prevent later drug problems by making sure kids never smoke pot," lead researcher Dr. Karen Van Gundy, associate professor of sociology at the university, told CBS News. "But whether marijuana smokers go on to use other illicit drugs depends more on social factors like being exposed to stress and being unemployed - not so much whether they smoked a joint in the eighth grade." University of New Hampshire study It seems the only way to keep kids off drugs is wrapped up in having strong role models, ample opportunity for spiritual growth and a comfortable environment.

Pharmaceutical use in America poses another aspect to this paradigm many choose to ignore. When a person addicted to opiates (ie: morphine, vikadin) is no longer able to obtain a prescription, they often turn to black market heroin. Doesn't that make opiates a gateway drug to heroin? Check out these statistics on pharma use in America: Project America: Pharmaceutical use statistics What cracks me up about giving these numbers to teenagers is the column describing the adults telling you marijuana is a gateway drug. 64.1% of Americans aged 45 - 64 are using prescription medications. These are the same people perpetuating the gateway drug facade.

Here is some more ammo to debunk the Gateway Theory conversation. Many people who are addicted to hard drugs like meth are using Marijuana to help them end the habit. Here is an article on the subject: Cannabis used to help meth addicts I have personally helped patients ween themselves off opiates with Cannabis medicines. I guess that makes Cannabis a gateway to recovery and good health.

In conclusion, adults should not be talking "to" their teenagers about Cannabis, but exploring the new science together. So much has been discovered about Cannabis and its relationship with human bodies since the movie Reefer Madness affected a generation's perception decades ago. Many adults are learning the Truth about Cannabis just as their children are exploring the issue. Making those discoveries together strengthens the parent child relationship in surprising and effective ways which produce long term benefits.

Kids should be encouraged to find their inner entrepreneurial spirit and cultivate their ideas. The current state of the economy dictates small businesses will be the only sustainable livelihood strategy for the future. The good old days of getting a college degree to work for the big corporations have passed this generation. Security comes when they find their inner light and follow its lead.

Please send me your thoughts, ideas and experiences presenting information to the youth via email at Comments are welcome and appreciated just below the post.

March 07, 2012

Cypress Hill and Guerilla Union bring out the masses for a peaceable march for Safe Access

Hundreds of people gathered today to stand in solidarity with B Real of Cypress Hill, Guerilla Union, Americans for Safe Access and The Medicine and the Music Project at Los Angeles City Hall for a peaceful protest and march for safe access. The protest comes in response to the recent Federal crack down and a proposed ban on medical marijuana in Los Angeles and just before the Smokeout Festival, a celebration of music and culture happening Saturday, March 3 in San Bernardino, CA.

B-Real and Guerilla Union have always considered SmokeOut Festival more than a showcase of musical talent. It's a movement of individuals supportive of decriminalization. "The artists’ have the ability to reach and educate their fans and followers in their respective communities including hip-hop, rock, Latin music or dance. It’s important we employ the collective voice of the music community and bring it to the medical marijuana debate. The SmokeOut for Safe Access rally serves as another podium and another step we need to take to further our success." explains B-Real. "Bringing people together to protest denying save access to medical cannabis patients is a part of the event's greater purpose, to bring about reform of current failed drug war policies and protect patients and businesses in California who voted to establish an industry here."

Don Duncan of American for Safe Access
Teaming up with Don Duncan of Americans for Safe Access and The Medicine and Music Project made sense for this political Rally. Teams of safety monitors and peace keepers were on hand to assure participants were non-violent and respectful of law enforcement officers. Guerilla Union provides signs exclaiming "Marijuana is Medicine" and demanding the reclassification of cannabis as a schedule I drug with no recognized medicinal value.

Don Duncan took a moment to speak with me for TV about some of American's for Safe Access's current projects and what is happening on a Federal Level. ASA is involved in 2 lawsuits against the Federal Government in an effort to reschedule cannabis from a Schedule 1 substance. More information can be found here, on the Americans for Safe Access website. Keep an eye on TV for full coverage. Read the official press release from Americans for Safe Access on their media site.

B-Real, Tommy Chong and Supernatural
Many artists joined activists, attorneys and patients in the March including Tommy Chong, Attorney Bruce Margolin and Daddy X of the Cottonmouth Kings. I had a moment to March with Daddy-X and expressed my gratitude for artists willing to stand with the patients on medical marijuana. Daddy-X knows the power of the voice of the people and hopes to encourage all of his fans to get involved in the political process.

Tommy Chong was well received by the crowd. I heard one fan exclaim, "Thanks for taking one for the team, Tommy!' just upon his arrival, a reference to Tommy's recent time served for selling bongs on the Internet. Tommy served 9 month in Federal Prison for Operation PipeDream, a campaign deployed over 2,000 law enforcement officers costing over $12,000,000. Read more here.

Criminal Defense Attorney Bruce Margolin
Attorney Bruce Margolin, a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney and Director of the Los Angeles Chapter of NORML was on hand to speak to the crowd about the importance of reforming corrosive cannabis prohibition laws. His em impassioned speech was both inspiring and educational, full of praise for everyone who participated for exercising their constitutional right to peaceably assemble. Bruce has represented several high profile clients including the infamous Timothy Leary for everything from marijuana to murder and has spearheaded efforts to regulate marijuana in California. Bruce continues work from his offices in Los Angeles.

The Hemps pose with the 420 Nurses
Henry Hemp and Mrs. Hemp conducted on the street interviews with attendees asking what inspired them to come out for SmokeOut for Safe Access. Some came to support their favorite artists, others represented business leaders and patients making their voices heard in the wake of fierce attacks from the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency in recent months. Many were concerned about their constitutional rights and brought signs demanding the government reschedule cannabis. The steps of Los Angeles City Hall became a sea of signs provided by Guerilla Union and creative pieces made and carried by a very determined crowd. Medical Marijuana is a recognized part of the culture in Los Angeles, confirmed by the diversity of those willing to take time on a work day to come out and stand up against a government refusing to accept cannabis as a medicine.

Comedienne Tere Joyce
Comedian Tere Joyce conducted a live interview with Russ Bellville of the NORML Daily Stash so NORML listeners were able to be a part of the march even if only vicariously. Check out the report on NORML Daily Stash Live show website.

At the end of the March, protestors lingered around a drum circle and networked with each other before dispersing without incident. Law enforcement officers were on hand, but very respectful of the crowd who assembled. As Tere pointed out in her NORML Daily Stash news report, the cops seemed to be OK with marijuana protestors considering the recent treatment of the Occupy movement evacuated just weeks before the event. The mood was definitely mellow. 

Full photo coverage can be found on Facebook here.