Opinion: Cannabis Tourism on the “Beast Coast”

With a multitude of popular tourist destinations, New England has been a vacation hot spot for over a century. From Cape Cod and the islands in Massachusetts to Acadia National Park in Maine, New England offers a variety of coastal attractions, amusement parks, museums, historic cities, music festivals and more to keep a tourism industry bustling in spite of recession or tense political atmosphere. Whale watches, beach resorts, camping, shopping, dining and the arts are found throughout every part of the Northeast, providing entertainment for almost every class, gender and culture. What could possibly make this spot more enticing with all that New England has to offer? Legalized weed – that’s what.

Yes, Colorado has been the primary cannabis destination since they legalized recreational use back in 2012, but their draw as a tourist destination appeals to the outdoorsman or winter sport enthusiast more than anyone else. But what about those “green” vacation seekers who are looking for a little bit more than just greenery? Well, with Maine and Massachusetts legalizing recreational use and Rhode Island, Vermont and Connecticut poised to follow suit in the near future, New England has quite a bit to offer, and here’s why I believe that the “Beast Coast” will soon be the leading cannabis destination in the world.

Have you ever visited Six Flags in Springfield, Massachusetts, and plunged down some of the largest water slides and roller coasters in the country? Or have you ever attended a show at one of the many historic venues throughout the Northeast (Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel, The Middle East, The House of Blues, The Xfinity Theatre, or Harry’s Farm) where many of the top national acts visit on their tours? Have you ever gone on a whale watch and traveled alongside the largest mammals in the world, under the clear blue sky of a Cape Cod summer day? Have you ever done any of those things – on weed?

Never fear, because 2018 could be the year that you take that first vacation to somewhere that is not only fun, but is also cannabis friendly! Recreational shops should be in full operation in both Maine and Massachusetts by next year, and even now in Rhode Island, where recreational legalization is still pending, there are a number of cannabis-related events happening every year. For example, 2017 will be RI’s inaugural year to host one of the infamous High Times Cannabis Cups. The Secret Cup will also be returning to Rhode Island this year at an undisclosed location. And let’s not forget the Wonderland Tea Party, a cannabis “bake off” that takes place in the mists of an Alice in Wonderland-themed costume party that also will be coming back to Providence this Halloween. It’s a pretty intense showing for a state that’s still on the cusp of full-out legalization.

Just over the border from Little Rhody is good old Massachusetts where they’re taking their sweet time fleshing out all of the details for the new cannabis laws and regulations, but they will work out the kinks soon enough. As far as cannabis-related events, there are a few staples in the region. The New England Cannabis Convention has made Boston a recurring stop on its tour, and the Boston Freedom Rally, one of the largest cannabis rallies in the world, will be in its 28th year. There are literally hundreds of other “non-cannabis” related attractions that may be enjoyed in their fullest by the regular or casual consumer: The New England Aquarium, the Museum of Science, the Museum of Fine Arts, Faneuil Hall, the Hard Rock Cafe, duck tours and Fenway Park — and that’s just in Boston! Cape Cod boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, some of the finest seafood and one of the most eclectic artist communities in the world, known as “P-Town” to the locals.

If that doesn’t float your boat, you can head out west to enjoy Six Flags New England for one of their many holiday events or get wet and wild in their Hurricane Harbor Water Park. If it happens to be August while you’re in town, you can always head just around the corner in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, and check out Milltown, one of the largest classic car shows in the country. It offers two days of kick ass music, camping, entertainment, and – you guessed it – cars. Greenfield, Massachusetts, hosts Wormtown’s Strangecreek Campout every May, which is a four-day event that offers fun for the entire family and boasts one of the best music festival lineups in the Northeast. And if you are just looking for some woodsy adventure, you can go to the Thunderbolt Mountain Coaster at Berkshire East Mountain Resort to tempt your fate on their combination alpine slide/roller coaster. There’s also a lot of open space for hiking, fishing, and whatever other kind of outdoor activity tickles your fancy. There’s no better way to experience Mother Nature than with Uncle Herb – assuming that you don’t get eaten by a bear.

Speaking of bears, the University of Maine is located in Orono, just about two hours out of Portland, one of the hippest little cities on the East Coast. Portland is not only a beautiful city, but it offers some great shopping, restaurants, music and a most excellent craft beer scene. Further inland, you can check out the Great North music festival in September, or traverse the mountains to one of Harry Brown’s famous festivals out on the hill, which he does every June and August. The festival scene is quite amazing in Maine, probably due to the fact that people don’t get many opportunities to venture outside during the winter so they take full advantage of the warm weather whenever given the chance. If you are the “snow bunny” type, in season you can always go blaze your own trail down any one of Maine’s famous ski slopes.

Maine will also be establishing cannabis-related social clubs in those towns that decide to allow it. This could bring a whole new meaning to the words “bed and breakfast.” I don’t imagine that you’ll be able to purchase alcohol in these establishments, but it would be a nice tip of the hat to the old coffee shops of Amsterdam. After a long day of combing the beach or racing down a black diamond, who wouldn’t want to take a break and unwind at the old Chiba House? Nothing tops off a great day like a couple of puffs of some “Grade A” Mary Jane.

I’m very excited to see what the future of this industry has to offer in the name of tourism. Colorado has given us a taste of what the tax-and-regulate model can do, but only on a very narrow scale. This is only the beginning of the cannabis era here in the US, and people will flock to whichever free market has the most to offer. Colorado may have experience and time on their side, but New England has an advantage in natural resources, history, art and culture. It seems only logical that the Beast Coast will become the “new” Amsterdam.

Opinion: RI Cannabis Blues – Legalize Before It’s Too Late

For the seventh straight year, Rhode Island legislators have presented a bill to tax and regulate cannabis, much like the alcohol and tobacco industries are regulated. According to Regulate Rhode Island, the Adult Use of Cannabis Act (2017 H-5555) would replace Rhode Island’s existing policy of cannabis prohibition and permit adults over the age of 21 to possess and purchase limited amounts. It would also establish an Office of Cannabis Coordination to develop and oversee regulations and procedures associated with the new industry. This move could effectively take illegal marijuana off of the streets, removing the criminal element associated with black market sales and replacing it with a legitimate business model. In addition, regulation and taxation will help generate jobs and tax revenue, as well as keep cannabis out of the hands of children.

Prior attempts to pass this bill have been met with a “wait and see” mentality, despite watching Colorado and Washington unveil their own cannabis legalization with nothing short of success in all instances. Adolescent drug use has actually declined, and tax dollars have flooded the coffers in those states that have chosen to pioneer the end of cannabis prohibition. Contrary to dire predictions, the sky did not fall and the unemployment rate did not rise. Not to say that there haven’t been a few bumps in the road, but those are being strategically worked through and smoothed out for future drivers.

According to a report by John Hudak of the Brookings Institution, the supporting evidence proves that regulation and taxation can work if implemented properly, following Colorado’s existing model. Both Maine and Massachusetts (along with Oregon, California, Alaska, and Nevada) have already come to that conclusion since the flood gates opened in 2012 and will be implementing their own systems in the near future. In fact, a majority of Rhode Islanders (59%) support the initiative to end marijuana prohibition, along with members of the state Senate and House across both parties. The fact is, there is unprecedented bipartisan support in the State Capitol suggesting that it would pass if put to a vote, but House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello’s office has stated it is extremely unlikely this legislation will be given an opportunity for a floor vote in the House.

So, how is it that this bill with overwhelming political and popular support won’t even see a vote? After all, RI legislators have recently voted to pass horrendous business deals that have cost state taxpayers millions of dollars: 38 Studios which could cost taxpayers $100 million when all is said and done, and the $550,000 branding investment “Cooler & Warmer” which was the equivalent of flushing tax dollars down the toilet. A new state slogan isn’t going to bring people to Rhode Island – you need to improve the economy to do that. Meanwhile, here’s a piece of legislation that will actually generate revenue and jobs for the state by taking advantage of a nascent industry that just so happens to currently be the fastest growing industry in the nation. Yet Nicholas Mattiello and his cronies have managed to halt its progress for seven years straight by defying both science and logic, clinging to an 80 year-old belief system without scrutiny.

Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to the mind-boggling question of why we are still having a debate over ending cannabis prohibition. In the past, Mattiello has declared that he is not against regulation and taxation, but doesn’t want to “rush in” to approving legislation just to beat our neighbors to the punch. To add to the conundrum, his Cranston constituents also support regulation and taxation by a margin of 58% to 41%. Even Governor Gina Raimondo conceded just last year that she would be open to the possibility of a statewide referendum, allowing voters to make the decision. With similar regulations in place for alcohol and tobacco, precedent dictates that this is not about morals and values. The open-mindedness of legislators suggests that they, too, question the validity of the “Reefer Madness” propaganda used to justify marijuana prohibition. So, why in year seven of this debate have we still not made any progress?

As a Rhode Island voter, you should be outraged. Lord knows, I am. Whether you are a user of cannabis or not, the fact that this state is in desperate need of tax dollars to repair bridges and roads, fund our faltering education system, support our civil service men and women, and pay off the ill-advised debts incurred from those bad business deals mentioned earlier is beyond debate. Colorado tax revenue topped $70 million in 2015 (according to Time magazine) and although the final tally is not yet in, the projected tax revenue for 2016 is expected to exceed $86 million! That fills a lot of potholes.

However, the thing that Colorado has in its favor that Rhode Island does not is that the closest state with similar legislation is almost 600 miles away. Once Massachusetts implements their recreational cannabis programs, people in Rhode Island will be able to flock across the border and purchase cannabis with absolutely no benefit to our own state coffers whatsoever. The window of opportunity has closed on this deal, and at this point in the game Rhode Island will be struggling to hang on to whatever revenue we can get. Even if you lowball the tax revenue projections, if we legalized two years ago when the research from Colorado proved that it made sense to do so, you can assume that Mattiello’s “wait and see” approach has cost this state at least $100 million. Let me say that again: $100 Million!

It is time for Rhode Island voters to take action. Legislators who have opposed the end of prohibition have done so against the will of the majority. In any other work environment these individuals would be fired. I therefore am pleading to the voters of Rhode Island to hold those opposing the bill (H-5555) accountable for their actions. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Attorney General Peter Kilmartin need to understand that they are not only operating in defiance of those who put them in office, but they are willingly placing our state at a disadvantage to our neighbors despite facts and science. It is time that we replace those who refuse to represent our will and put those who would do so in their place.

The 2nd Annual Providence Prohibition Party – The Smallest State’s Biggest Hemp Fest!

The cold weather broke just in time for the Rhode Island General Assembly to come to an end. Though they left much on the table this year, including a fiscal budget, labeling bill and the latest legalization bill, can you really blame them for abruptly closing the doors in anticipation of such an exciting summer? Most significant is the 2nd Annual Providence Prohibition Party, which is put together every summer in honor of the state legislature’s inability to take any action on a common sense marijuana bill. I am positive that our senior representatives all want to be present at this event to get a better feel for the true desires of their constituents surrounding cannabis.

Lately, voter turnout has been nearly nonexistent in anything less than a presidential election because many feel their vote doesn’t matter. Unfortunately for us, RI politics are a shining example of why this is the general consensus. Five years into this bill, which we believe has majority support in the RI House and Senate, we have yet to see a vote. To make the slap in the face more painful, the RI population isn’t even allowed to vote on this issue since RI doesn’t have a ballot process. It is up to our state representatives to take action and vote on this bill, yet House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has made it his personal mission to sack this measure by not allowing our appointed representatives the opportunity to do so, instead holding the bill for further study.

This is the reason for this event. This is your opportunity to come out and show your representatives that you want this measure to pass. There will be various resources at this event for you to better understand the politics and deception behind the past 75 years of prohibition in the US. There also will be opportunities for attendees to participate in petitioning their representatives to put an end to marijuana prohibition in RI.

However, this event isn’t just another political rally. There also will be vendors, food, carnival games and some of the best local acts in PVD.  This year’s lineup includes Sasquatch (from Sasquatch and the Sick-a-Billy’s) and his Ghost Town Revival, Viking Jesus (winner of Motif‘s Best Alternative Rock Band in 2014 and this year’s Singer/Songwriter), Viennagram (Motif‘s 2015 Best Live Act), Cannibal Ramblers (Motif‘s 2015 Best Blues Act), Cosmic Factory and The Dead LA (two of the best rising bands out of the local rock scene). Needless to say, this year’s event should be an extravaganza that will make last year’s historic party look like your Great Aunt Agnes’s 97th birthday bash (which was actually a fun time).

Join 13 Folds on Jul 25 for their 2nd Annual Providence Prohibition Party, which will be at Dusk (301 Harris Ave, PVD). Support local artists and entertainers, hang out with some great people and send a message to your local politicians that will help reinforce our community’s stance on legalization in RI. I hope to see you all there.

High Society: In God We Trust

On May 23, cannabis activists Anne Armstrong and Alan Gordon will host a special celebration at Roger Williams National Memorial in PVD. What is significant about this event, however, is that it will involve an ancient religious ceremony — the “Celebration of Holy Fire — which includes the use of cannabis in various forms. The event will start at about 8pm and last for 45 minutes, though I suspect that the spectacle will last a bit longer with the amount of media attention Anne and Alan have been recently receiving.

In an attempt to find out more about this celebration, I set out on one of my usual nightly journeys and curiously enough, was able to corner both Anne and Alan to ask them a few questions about their upcoming event.

Dave Sorgman: You both are conducting this ceremony as representatives of The Healing Church. Can you tell me a little about this church and what you do?

Alan Gordon: The Healing Church is a Cannabist church of Judeo-Christian origin. Other Cannabist sects include Rastafarians (also Judeo-Christian) and Hindu Shivites.

Anne Armstrong: The Healing Church practices the religion of compassion. True religion (from the root ligare, which means ‘to bind up,’ as one would splint a broken limb or graft a branch onto a tree) is meant to reconnect us to our Divine Origin. Our minds and bodies are created with ‘ligand receptors’ throughout, and it is these physical sites where the Hebrew Biblical entheogen KNH-BSM (plural, in Hebrew of KNH-BS, literally ‘cane aromatic’) connects our hearts, minds and bodies to that sacred realization of YHVH.

Our mission is to spread the message of compassion, to teach the lesson of the loaves and the fishes, which is that when we share, everyone has more than enough, and to be an instrument in the hands of the Blessed Mother to bring about the Healing of the Nations.

DS: I understand that this ceremony has biblical roots. Can you explain what those roots are and how/where they are referenced in the Bible?

AG: Oh, the Bible is full of explicit references to cannabis, and implied references based upon the former. Anne’s forest-through-the-trees approach is the best way to grasp it, before cherry-picking the Bible for individual “trees,” however.  I can’t stand when people cherry-pick scripture to make an argument. That’s a tactic of racists and bigots, and we favor a broader over-standing of the Bible.

AA: The very first reference to the Tree of Life, ‘Eitz Chayiim’ in Scripture is right after Adam’s sin – “and the LORD said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the Tree of Life, and eat, and live forever.” So the humans were shut away from the Tree by an angel with a flaming sword that could sever the limbs of any who dared approach.

Immediately following, we see the first murder – the farmer Cain (one of the first linguistic references to something that also birthed the words Cana, Canaan, and Canon, the length of the measuring staff of the New Temple) misuses his crop and the LORD is displeased.

In the next chapter, we read about a miraculous Anointing Oil, made with nearly six pounds of the flowering tops of aromatic cane – KNH BSM in Hebrew. This oil was used to create the ‘Messiah’, or Anointed One, whose role it was to heal the people with various preparations of KNH BSM and to burn offerings to make the ‘Aroma Soothing to the LORD’ on the Altar. The descriptions in the Torah resemble a medical textbook and they describe conditions that are known to be healed dramatically by cannabis oil.

Throughout Scripture, we see repeating patterns of apostasy, usually culminating in a chastisement, and then the restoration of the offering of Holy Smoke to YHWH. Interestingly, many of these chastisements came to pass during a time of pestilence and rot of carbohydrate-high food sources and they would abate when KNH BSM was available in sufficient quantities that hempseed could be staple food for humans and their livestock.

Jesus the Messiah was the embodiment of the Anointing. We know that the three Magi brought the other ingredients of the Anointing Oil and that the baby was anointed at His birth. We know that all his healings followed the Old Testament pattern of KNH BSM restorations and we know that he made it clear that the healing and enlightenment that his life and resurrection brought into the world are for all the people, not just a chosen few.

The Book of Revelation tells us that at the end of this Age, there will flow a river, clear as crystal, with trees on each side that bear fruit every month, and her leaves will be “for the Healing of the Nation.”

The Tree of Life is being restored to us, if we can show good faith.

AG: Now that Anne’s given us the overview, we can look more closely at the real specifics. The Bible is chock full of subtle references to “Kaneh-Bos” (Hebrew, lit. “Cane Aromatic”, plural Kaneh-Bosim), but the most important instance is in the recipe for the ancient Hebrews’ Holy Anointing Oil at Exodus 30:23, which was the center of all their religious rites  —  it was used in virtually every ritual.

Although Exodus prohibits Kaneh-Bos for most people, the Bible contains many examples of people using the oil unlawfully, but being found innocent due to their good faith.  For example, in the Book of Numbers 11:26-29, two men named Eldad and Medad illegally anoint themselves, but are praised by Moses for breaking his laws, regardless.

This Biblical medicinal plant is depicted in scripture just like modern cannabis, anatomically, and was heavily restricted with many disputes over the restrictions  —  just like modern cannabis.  It made an “aroma soothing to the Lord” when burned, and ironically, the tribe’s healthiest grazing animals, when their fatty tissues were thrown on the altar fire, made the same aroma (indicating that the reason the animals were so healthy is because they had grazed heavily upon Kaneh-Bos, the only ingredient in the soothing-smelling anointing oil that grazing animals will eat in the modern world).

DS: In reference to the actual ceremony, how exactly is the ritual performed and will any virgins be sacrificed or otherwise objectified?

AA: We will start by blessing the Well of the Prophesy. From this Well will flow the Waters of Life to the four corners of the world. In this sacred spot, where the door of sanctuary was established to be a signpost until the end of the age, we will anoint and bless the Well, and then move to the grassy area where we will offer prayers and songs of thanksgiving, hear a teaching about the restoration of KNH BSM to all who can keep the faith, anoint and incense the faithful, and share a sip of Bhang – Kefir.

AG: Virgins? Ha! Good one! We will not be sacrificing or degrading any virgins, animals or people. Our ceremony consists of prayers, a topical application of the Holy Anointing Oil, followed by a sip of bhang kefir (a fermented milk drink, with cannabis and honey added, similar to the bhang lassi drink imbibed in India on for Holi day celebrations), followed by sharing of burning Kaneh-Bos vapors.

DS: The Roger Williams Memorial is a national park, falling under federal jurisdiction, which maintains a stance of prohibition against cannabis. Seeing that cannabis will be used during the ceremony, are you at all concerned that there will be some sort of  legal repercussion for the activities scheduled to take place?

AA: The First Amendment protects all religious practice unless there is a compelling public interest, and it prohibits the State from preferring one religion over another. Our Roman Catholic brethren serve alcohol to children as young as 7 in the Chapel located on the grounds of Grand Canyon National Park, and there has never been any interference from the Parks Service or the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco. Even during Prohibition of alcohol, it was clear that no law could trump one’s religious right to commune sacramentally.

AG: We are secure in our belief that the US government will protect our freedom and not interrupt it. As per the ABC6 news coverage of the event, the National Park Service understands its duty to weigh fundamental supra-legal religious rights against mere statutes. They are aware of the case laws of Hobby Lobby which broadened religious protections even for people who subvert others’ rights in the name of religion, as well as a Supreme Court case called Att-Gen v UDV,  in which the justices unanimously ruled in favor of a church that used DMT, a powerful hallucinogen.

From a political perspective, if the Feds tried to interrupt a harmless religious action at the birthplace of religious freedom, they could no longer hold any pretense of Constitutional enforcement.  Roger Williams not only founded US religious freedom, but global freedom  —  it is the US Constitutional protection that has inspired virtually all modern nations to adopt religious freedom. In a sense, that park is the global birthplace of that freedom, and not just for the US.

DS: What kind of obstacles (if any) did you run into trying to obtain a permit to hold this event?

AG:  Great question! The National Park Service relied upon the US Attorney’s advice throughout; they had a razor-thin line to walk, and so they asked a lot of questions about safety, church membership and how we would get home safely.

In the end, they realized that we cannot be given a special right not available to others based solely on our religion, because that would violate the Establishment Clause by lending government support to just one faith. On the other hand, they cannot deny us our right to practice. The Park Service’s ultimate solution was one in which a prayer service permit was issued with a proviso that we not break cannabis laws. We sought clarity about the Supreme Court’s unanimous sense that religious use was not breaking a law, and the Park Service provided that clarity by saying their words addressed our clearly-worded concern. They simply can neither give explicit express permission nor denial. Constitutionally protected activity requires no permit, since the right is inherent. We told them we would gather to share cannabis, and they gave us a permit for a large crowd, and they told the TV news they had to protect our Constitutional rights.

The driving safety issue was resolved in a funny way. I started to write up some long promise about how we would ensure safe driving, but Anne said, “We don’t have to answer to that.” As it turns out, the Park Service allows the Catholic Church to serve religious wine to underage drivers, with no supervision by government or even the church, except for an honor system before God that people seem unwilling to break.

Ultimately, the biggest obstacle was fear of punishment for assertively asking for what we need —  protection of a fundamental right. Cannabis users have been so programmed that their nutrient is a vice, we sometimes have a hard time standing up for ourselves.  That time is over, now, though  — a new day has dawned.

DS: There are many skeptics out there who are going to assume that this is an attempt to abuse religious freedoms in order to justify blatant drug use.  Is there any truth in their assumptions and how do you answer to such skepticism?

AA: That is as offensive a question as asking a Catholic if they are going to Mass in order to get drunk. KNH BSM has a longer and deeper tradition of religious use in many of the world’s religions than alcohol, and if a skeptic asked such a question, I would pray that their ignorant bigotry would pass once they read a book or two.

AG:  I started using cannabis in 1983, and have never really heeded the ban in the first place, so the idea that I converted in bad faith, just to get cannabis, is absurd from that perspective. Further, I have turned myself in with cannabis 11 times, in PA, NC, GA and federally, without even invoking religion, relying on other legal defenses entirely.

Anne has been a devout Jew, then Catholic, for decades, and is so fervent a believer there is no way anyone who knows her could think she was faking. The pro-life movement is not one traditionally associated with Cannabist faith, due to freedom of choice issue overlap, but Anne and I personally oppose the choice to abort, and Anne was even arrested for praying outside a clinic long ago. Her faith is unstoppable and sincere, as is mine.

When Italy’s Supreme Court allowed Rastafarians to possess cannabis, there was fear of mass conversion, just to use cannabis. It never happened. We all imagine some white kid with a couple Bob Marley albums and a red-green-and-gold tam trying to pretend he is Rasta for legal privilege, but in practice, even where allowed, it just does not happen.

DS: What’s next for The Healing Church as you prepare for May 23, and what are your expectations for this event?

AG:  We are excited to announce a partnership with the New England Cannabis Antidiscrimination Taskforce (NECAT) to assist those suffering discrimination, whether in the workplace, real estate rentals, or government agencies.

AA: I pray that our event will help spread awareness of our inalienable rights and help those suffering in prison for their faith to find the voice to petition for their freedom. I have been ordained clergy since Earth Day, 2002, and I intend to establish a ministry to those incarcerated, just as the Catholics are allowed to receive their communion while in prison.

DS: Thank you both for your time and efforts that you have made to spread knowledge and awareness about cannabis and the cannabis culture, here in New England.  I wish you the best on your endeavors and hope for a great turn out at the event.  I look forward to seeing a successful celebration that will hopefully pave the way for future atavists, looking to enlighten the masses.

Creed of The Healing Church

Cannabis is the Tree of Life, KNH BSM, and her story runs through scripture, from Genesis, where access to the Tree was denied, through Revelation, where the Woman clothed with the sun triumphs over the dragon and the plant with leaves for the healing of the nations. In the fullness of time, Eitz Chayiim is restored to us, but her flowering tops are sacred to the LORD and must never be an item for trade. They are to be shared the way a mother shares food among her children. KNH stalks and seeds may be traded for the clothing and nourishment and industry of the world as long as no one is excluded from opportunities. These are for the healing of the environment and for the restoration of social justice. But the flowers are consecrated unto the LORD, never rendered into Caesar and never to be used as a means for one human to subjugate or dominate another. This is anathema. Alan Gordon, The Healing Church’s Canon has spent the past two decades researching and writing about KNH BSM, the chastisements at the threshing floor, the riddles of the 70 and 72, and the coming Anointing. We speak flaw the two outside the camp who Anointed themselves. May the Anointing remain on us, Selah.

High Society: The Dangers of Procrastination

Over the past four years of which I am aware (though I am informed we are in our fifth year) RI has been engaged in a battle to legalize recreational marijuana. Even though there is record public support for such a measure (57% of people surveyed support recreational use), each attempt to pass a bill has been met with complete disregard by RI legislators. In fact, on Thurs, Apr 30, the House Committee decided to once again hold the latest bill for further study.

Over the past two years, I have been forced to write almost identical articles explaining my disappointment in our state representatives for their gross failure to comply with the wishes of their constituents. Each article focused on the misconceptions, science and existing models surrounding the cannabis industry. There’s really no need to revisit those comments here; instead I would like to focus on the actual dangers that this state faces from such a lack of insight.

Let’s talk economics. RI boasts the fourth highest unemployment rate in the nation, at 7.1%. This number means much more than a lack of jobs in the state — high unemployment rates also affect education and community and social programs that depend on tax dollars for their success. These tax dollars also are needed to support local police forces, firefighters, sanitary departments and other public resources such as road improvements, public transportation, and parks and recreations. One look into the devastating effects of the latest recession makes it clear why Rhode Island is failing to meet national standards in all of these categories. What is truly needed is an industry that will not only boost jobs, but provide tax revenue for improvements in all of these departments.

Let’s look at the model presented by Colorado’s Taxation and Regulation Program, which is still in its infancy but producing amazing results. Colorado made a total of $76 million in tax dollars from cannabis-related industries last year, not including industries that allow cannabis companies to do business, like  electricians, carpenters and accountants. The state collected so much revenue from this new industry that Colorado is required to provide tax refunds to residents and businesses who paid their taxes this year. The rest of the tax money has been allocated to Colorado schools, treatment programs and other social programs.  Additionally, it is important to note that the cannabis industry has created more jobs nationwide than any other industry in the US.

Looking at this model, it seems RI could solve many of its current problems by following the same course. But once again, the current legislators have chosen to take the “wait and see” approach. Meanwhile, the rest of New England is looking to capitalize on the cannabis industry. Vermont has introduced a bill to legalize recreational use this year, with both Maine and Massachusetts scheduled to present the topic as a ballot question in 2016. Connecticut and New Hampshire have also presented new legislation that could propel those states toward an end to marijuana prohibition, but both campaigns are being met with the same disregard as those presented in Rhode Island.

Based off existing models, analysts predict that the first new England state to legalize recreational cannabis sales stands to make millions in additional tax revenue based on tourism alone. RI, which is right in the middle of possibly the largest and most active consumer market in the US, has the potential to capture cannabis markets from MA, NY, CT, NH and even make an impact on consumers from ME and VT, the largest known region of cannabis consumption in the US. If we concede to other states looking to pioneer the recreational cannabis industry in our region, we may as well concede to our satisfaction with the current state of desperation that the RI legislation has left us in. Isn’t it time that we took an initiative to improve our economic situation as opposed to watching this opportunity slip through our fingers?

High Society: The Relationship of Companion Legislation on State and Federal Levels


I am chronicling the crusades to end marijuana prohibition in the US, while attempting to promote common sense changes that  may have been overlooked. In doing so, I’ve discussed two major bills (on local and state levels) introduced during the first quarter of 2015 legislation. Bill H5777 (The Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act) was introduced to the RI general assembly earlier this month and looks to be building momentum into the initial hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. The other significant bill, The CARERS Act – The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States, was introduced in the US Senate and had its House of Representatives companion bill revealed this week. Though individually both bills fail to meet the full support of the various communities within the marijuana reform movement, when viewed as companions to one another, they provide a strong framework for a future end to the war on cannabis.

To demonstrate how both bills relate to one another, let’s examine the  CARERS Act, which answers the needs of the various medical marijuana programs on a national scale. This would set precedent over any state-sanctioned regulations and relieve present complications state programs encounter when operating without federal approval. This latest version of the CARERS Act provides the much-needed protection from federal prosecution to allow state programs to facilitate the growing demand for medical marijuana treatment, regulation and research for potential advancements. Of course, individual states will need to allocate the time and resources to perfect state-run medical marijuana programs, but without federal legislation this is a risky (if not futile) venture.

With the medical marijuana battle being fought on the federal level, local governments can focus more on the other three factions of the cannabis reform movement: those against reform, those in support of recreational reform and those who seek to revive the once-booming hemp industry. H5777 will allow the full cultivation of hemp as an agricultural product, repealing over 75 years of discriminative laws that unjustly put the prosperous hemp farmers out of business. On a recreational level, this bill allows adults to possess up to an ounce of cannabis at any one time and cultivate one plant for personal use. Though this is not the “hands off” approach that idealists would prefer, it allows recreational users the ability to consume in a safe, private manner without fear of state-level prosecution.

In response to the moral conundrum, H5777 outlines an abundance of regulations and obligations concerning the RI regulation/taxation program. Not only are there bans on advertising, but 40% of all taxed recreational marijuana will be dedicated to substance abuse treatment, anti-drug education and law enforcement training. There are also a number of articles that detail penalties for underage use, operating under the influence and other moral standards that relate to the proper facilitation of a recreational marijuana program in Rhode Island. These sections hope to discourage “Wild West” scenarios feared as a result of legalized recreational use.

In short, neither of these first quarter bills will provide a magical “cure all” solution to the marijuana debate. There are those who will push toward the extreme of one side or the other, but history (as well as logic) dictates that only through compromise will marijuana legislation be perfected.

High Society: the Federal Arena

As US states vie for their right to end their part in the prohibition against marijuana, Congress has initiated a new contest in the federal arena with the introduction of the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act (CARERS). This act was introduced in the senate on March 10 by senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), with the intent to end the federal government’s ability to interfere with state medical marijuana programs and research. With 23 states currently implementing such programs, a more sensible approach toward marijuana legislation is very much needed, yet recent history has shown that the federal government would prefer to institute a policy of zero tolerance that better resembles domestic terrorism than it does common sense legislation.

“This bill we are introducing seeks to right decades of wrong and end unnecessary marijuana laws,” Booker stated at a capitol news conference before introducing the bill to the senate last week. “Our federal government has long overstepped the boundaries of common sense, fiscal prudence and compassion …”

Cory Booker’s ideology is exactly what the CARERS Act looks to uphold through a slew of substantial changes to federal marijuana laws. Most notable of these changes is the reclassification of marijuana from a Schedule 1 (the most dangerous drugs) to a Schedule 2 drug, which would land cannabis an association with the currently “less dangerous” drugs, such as cocaine, opium, Oxycontin and morphine. Though this reclassification insults our intelligence by posing cannabis as a threat to society, it would be the first federal acknowledgement that cannabis has potential medical benefits. This act is another common sense initiative; there are not only a number of current studies that support claims of medical benefit(see www.crmcr.ucsd.edu), but as of October 2003 the federal government holds a patent on the cannabis plant’s medicinal compounds.

Until the prohibition era began in the late 1930s, medicinal cannabis could be found in almost every US homeopathic pharmacy. Early editions of American medical journals recommended hemp products for inflammation, pain relief, nausea and other common ailments. Though there is a plethora of documented case studies, historical accounts and set cultural precedents, the medicinal acceptance of cannabis remains under debate; however, the reclassification of marijuana from a Schedule 1 to a Schedule 2 drug would ease restrictions on the research that will help realize the full potential of this miracle plant.

Other aspects of Senate Bill S. 683 more or less follow suit with the basis of rescheduling marijuana as a less threatening drug, but focus more on the details of how to implement a new “less aggressive” marijuana policy.  For example, under this new legislation, states would be able to decide whether to participate in medicinal marijuana programs based on their own perceived merits and without the fear of federal prosecution of legislators, doctors, businesses or individuals who participate in such programs. The CARERS Act will also allow banking institutes to expand banking access to businesses that participate in the medicinal marijuana industry, which currently operate on a “cash only” basis, by eliminating the fear of prosecution as money launderers for an illegally traded substance. Easier access to medicine for treatment of military veterans and a complete declassification of “low THC” strains of cannabis are other potential benefits of this new bill that will open up a number of other medical and industrial opportunities.

Ultimately, what the CARERS Act means to the legalization effort is that the federal government will be forced  to recognize that marijuana prohibition has been founded on the basis of inaccurate and misleading information.  Some would even venture to call these “lies.”  Though this is not full blown legalization, the CARERS Act is a step in the right direction toward ending the negative stigma associated with cannabis use. Hopefully, such legislation will encourage those individuals who seek to bring similar initiatives concerning the cannabis plant to come forward without fear of persecution by their peers, so that we can finally put an end to this perpetual war on weed.

High Society — The Fight to Liberate RI


On March 5, Representative Scott Slater and Senator Josh Miller will introduce to the RI legislature a bill to regulate, control and tax marijuana. This is the third consecutive year that such a bill has been introduced in Rhode Island, yet no progress has been made toward ending marijuana prohibition in RI.

This bill is extremely well-thought-out in dealing with the regulation of sales, growing and taxation for a state-run cannabis industry, with a few added details concerning the production of agricultural hemp (included in this year’s presentation). The Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act truly addresses the concerns of all of those who have consistently opposed such legislation due to fears of drug abuse, addiction, driving under the influence and adolescent perception and experimentation in a legal cannabis market.

Most important, I feel, is this last detail concerning RI youth and the message that will be sent to children about cannabis use and how it affects a not yet fully developed brain. This bill not only restricts all advertising, but allocates revenue for treatment, education and media campaigns similar to those used to confront the tobacco and alcohol industries. By properly educating our youth about the realities of cannabis and parental involvement, we can deal a fatal blow to adolescent drug use without penalizing those who are old enough to formulate their own educated opinions and decisions on drug use.

There are also strict limitations and penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana, much like those for alcohol, although these provisions are more difficult to enforce than those associated with alcohol use because those under the influence of marijuana are much more difficult to detect than those under the influence of alcohol. In fact, there have been numerous studies that have proven alcohol to be a much more dangerous and toxic substance than cannabis in any form. Anyone opposed to marijuana legislation because of public safety will feel that this bill takes their concerns into consideration.

Finally, this new bill avoids manipulation of existing medical marijuana legislation; in past bills there were amendments that put fear into the hearts of those who have invested time, energy and money in adapting these pre-existing laws into their professional and/or personal lives. But it is to these people that this bill may hold the most significance. For without a truly free and legal cannabis market, there will always be manipulation of the existing healthcare system. Hopefully, when legislation to end cannabis prohibition passes, we will start to see healthcare providers and insurance companies take the initiative to offer the same monetary coverage and privileges granted to those who use publicly accepted but more dangerous drugs.

Though this may not be the end-all legislation that every cannabis advocate dreams of, The Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act is a significant step in the right direction. No, this bill does not answer every concern or satisfy every desire that would be fulfilled in an ideal world, but it does give us a strong foundation to build upon. Hopefully the Rhode Island legislature will take advantage of this opportunity this time around rather than squandering yet another year holding for further study.

High Society: The Cannabis Chronicles, Episode 1

Over the past two years, I have had the pleasure of interacting with a variety of individuals who share the common goal of ending marijuana prohibition. Do not be mistaken, however, as even though these individuals find themselves on similar crusades, their definitions of victory differ. These differences can be categorized into four basic categories:

1. Those opposed to legalization for fear that it will tear apart the very foundation of human society and destroy the world as we know it. These people cling to archaic beliefs founded on lies and propaganda like bees to honey, refusing to acknowledge the ways modern medicine, science or history pertain to the cannabis discussion. Though their arguments are circumstantial, they often carry the most weight because these individuals tend to be in the wealthiest sectors of society and/or hold power in the political arena.

2. Those who champion the cause of cannabis for medicinal use. These individuals seek legalization based on the medicinal benefits of the cannabis plant and work toward providing a legal platform for patients to seek a safer, natural, more effective alternative to modern medicine. This faction of the marijuana movement is focused on saving lives and bringing legitimacy to the claims that cannabis is a miracle drug. These crusaders tend to reject any form of regulation and taxation, which threatens to create higher priced medicine and major competition from a recreational market.

3. Those who favor taxation and regulation, who make up the largest growing segment of the marijuana movement. These supporters see the massive potential to generate jobs and revenue through a legalized recreational platform that can be taxed and regulated at the state and federal level. They tend to focus on the preservation of individual freedoms and liberties, as well as favoring a strong economy. The major concern for this type of cannabis reformer lies in the fear that heavy taxation and costs of doing business will drive potential customers to the pre-existing black market rather than entice black market distributors to become part of the proposed legal market.

4. The final type of cannabis supporter favors a less controversial approach to the reform movement. These individuals seek to rebuild the historic hemp industry, which was a staple in this country’s founding. By generating a cannabis crop with no psychoactive compounds, multiple industrial applications, and a relatively low ecological impact, these crusaders hope to re-establish America’s place in the global market as a source of production, rather than remain the consumers we’ve become. The fact that millions of US dollars are spent each year importing the hemp products that Americans seek to produce should be an embarrassment to our government leaders.

The secret to a successful cannabis reform movement will be in assuaging the concerns and satisfying the desires held by these four groups. It’s a relatively easy task if you observe the discussion as an unbiased civilian, yet for some reason politicians have been unable or unwilling to accomplish it over the past 77 years. But have no fear, as my exposure to such a diverse group of people has allowed me to contemplate this topic from a completely objective point of view. Through this point of view I have devised a common sense approach that considers the various agendas and concerns of all four factions within and opposed to the movement.

These “chronicles” will recount the story of this plan and the journey that we must take to make this plan a reality.

(to be continued)  

Why Oklahoma & Nebraska Hate America’s Children

Colorado just celebrated their one year anniversary of legalized recreational cannabis. Though the results of regulation and taxation did not meet the optimistic predictions of some supporters, the overall outcome has been positive. The state has created over 10,000 licensed jobs within the marijuana industry, not including those created in associated markets such as construction, business services, tourism or entertainment. Crime in Colorado has also seen a significant decrease, with violent crime falling to over 5.5%, accompanied by decreases in property crime, statewide traffic fatalities and adolescent drug use. There was also the added benefit of tax revenue collected from marijuana sales and licensing; the CO Department of Revenue has not yet released a final number, but as of Oct 2014, it had surpassed $40 million. These are pretty convincing statistics to support an ever-growing campaign to regulate and tax cannabis on a national level, yet marijuana still remains illegal as a Schedule-I Drug.

This last fact seems to be the foundation for a new lawsuit filed by Nebraska and Oklahoma last month, challenging Colorado’s right to approve legislation to legalize marijuana within its borders. This lawsuit states that, “Amendment 64 has created a dangerous gap in the federal drug control system enacted by the US Congress. Marijuana flows from this gap into neighboring states, undermining plaintiff states’ own marijuana bans, draining their treasuries and placing stress on their criminal justice systems …”

A spokesperson from Attorney General of Oklahoma Scoot Pruitt’s office issued a statement declaring that the lawsuit filed by Oklahoma and Nebraska “does not challenge in any manner or form Colorado’s legalization of marijuana for use in possession in that state. Rather, the lawsuit challenges only the portion of Colorado’s law that legalized the commercialization of marijuana because those actions have led to an influx of illegal drugs entering surrounding states (like Oklahoma) in violation of their own state laws.”

USA Today has even reported that some towns in Nebraska have seen a rise in felony drug arrests of up to 400% in areas along the Colorado border over the past three years.  Though many of the arrests were not directly associated with marijuana, nor could it be verified that the sources were directly linked to Colorado residents, this data has helped promote a state of panic in response to progressive reform on a sensitive topic.

It seems that there will always be a “demonizing” approach to the manner in which opposition to cannabis reform will debate the justification for marijuana prohibition. In lieu of the many documented economic, social and medical benefits that regulation and taxation have brought to Colorado, pessimists still maintain a sky-is-falling mentality concerning an end to marijuana prohibition. A number of medical studies from worldwide sources show that there are significant medical benefits from the proper use of cannabis, yet it is still classified as a Schedule-I drug with no determined medical use.

I can only assume that the supporters of such federal laws have never heard of the hundreds of cases of children in the US who are currently being treated for debilitating and/or life-threatening diseases with medicinal cannabis. These are adolescents, infants and toddlers, who have mostly been given up on or failed by modern medicine and science.  These are children and families who have been given a second chance at a normal life after being told that there were no other options. The same children championed by opponents to the reform movement and their rallying cry of “What is the message we are sending to our children?”

Now I pose the same question to those who support the pending lawsuit against the state of Colorado. “What is the message that YOU are sending to our children?”