Sep 192012
 September 19, 2012

ganja jon dabsHIGH TIMES Medical Cannabis Cup Seattle Day 2 – Changing Minds On I-502 And The Triumph of Ganja Jon

Day Two of the Cannabis Cup came and went like a whirlwind.  Thanks to so many fans who found the time to track me down (I tend to be on the move most of the time) to tell me how much they appreciate the show.  It especially warms my heart when those fans are the hard-working activists who are facing not only the reefer mad prohibitionists who oppose legalization, but also the utopic idealists who smoke pot themselves and oppose legalization.  Fighting a PR battle on two fronts is never easy and I’m glad a thing or two I may have written or said might have helped.

I didn’t wade too much into I-502 debating this time around because I do plenty of that online.  But I was approached by one young man  who questioned why I was in support of I-502.  We were alone at my booth for a while having a very respectful conversation.  He was genuinely curious because he was worried about the 5ng/ml per se DUID provisions of I-502, but after some digging, he mentioned someone he knows who has to pee test for probation and they set the level at 50ng!

“That’s metabolites in urine, man,” I explained, “not active THC in the bloodstream.  I-502 sets the limit at the actual active impairing THC in the bloodstream, not the inactive metabolites that show up in your pee for weeks.”  The young man’s eyes widened.  ”Active THC,” he repeated, “that makes me think about this differently.  I though they were talking about that bullshit where you can get caught days after you stopped smoking.”

I was fair, though.  I explained how active THC spikes in the bloodstream shortly after puffing, then drops rapidly and in one-to-four hours after toking, will probably be below 5ng in most everyone who tokes.  However, I warned, big fellas like you and me who are puffin’ tough all day every day?  Yeah, we’re probably going to have a baseline above 5ng even when we wake up.  ”Yeah,” he adds, “‘specially when you’re blazin’ oil, you know what I’m sayin’?”

Yeah, I replied, and guess what?  If you or I was driving around right now, the chance we’re going to get a DUI is exactly the same now as it will be after 502 passes.  I’m not below 5ng, I know that.  But I’ve been driving for nine years on the West Coast from LA to Seattle and cross-country to Denver multiple times, and I just do what we stoners have always done – don’t get caught.  Trust me, dude, if we get pulled over, a cop thinks we’re impaired or just wants to fuck with us, arrests us and draws blood, and we come up over 5ng, we ain’t getting out of that now.

So in politics, ugly as it is, you sometimes have to give a little to get a lot.  Do I like a 5ng per se?  Hell no, but does it increase my risk any?  Not a bit; I’m in danger of DUID now.  But in exchange, we get to finally make weed smoking legal!  Not medical excuses, not decrims with tickets and fines, I mean legal enough that a cop can come to my door and I can smoke a joint in his face and there ain’t a goddamn thing he can do about it.

“Yeah,” he observed, pointing at the much-lighter skin on my arm, “but you know there’s two different justice systems, man.”

Exactly! I responded.  That’s why it is so important to make marijuana legal!  Right now, cops want to shake down young black and brown kids.  They want to get names and addresses and descriptions and fingerprints and records built up so they can catch the next “suspect matching the description” and the prime way they do that is using the excuse of “probable cause” to believe some kid is committing a marijuana crime, or worse, planting marijuana to make the excuse…

“But I’m a patient,” he interrupted, “I can already have a pound and a half.”

Kinda, I explained.  You have a defense in court for a pound in a half.  Washington’s medical marijuana law doesn’t have arrest protection; if a cop wanted to be a dick, he could arrest you for possessing a gram, and after you bail out and go to court, then you can show your recommendation to the judge.  But if I-502 passes, you will have arrest protection for an ounce of medicine.  And don’t forget it also covers a pound of medibles – you know how they use the weight of the brownies and act as if that’s all marijuana?  No more, you can have a pound of brownies or cookies or butter, whatever.  And 72 ounces of tinctures!

We wrapped up the conversation and he told me his name was Courtney, he’s really glad he talked to me and learned the DUID was all about active THC, and he was the owner of a dispensary in town called “Left Coast Cannabis”.  I smiled, realizing that flipping the vote of a dispensary owner is a huge coup, as many patients will just vote the way their “weed guy” tells them to vote.

Later that night, Courtney and Lest Coast Cannabis won a Medical Cannabis Cup for their medical collective that dispenses medicine to their medical marijuana patients.  I encourage all medical practitioners to adopt the Left Coast Cannabis medical dress code; nothing says “medical” like fishnet stockings and medi-pants.  It would certainly make a colonoscopy or a root canal more bearable.

This is why I find it so imperative that we pass marijuana legalization NOW. Medical marijuana is a logical and necessary step, but it is a platform that is collapsing under its own absurdity. I’m not saying that marijuana isn’t medical; I’ll match you story for story and study for study on that issue. I’m not casting aspersions on anyone who gets a medical marijuana recommendation, whether it is for sincere medical use or to treat Arrest Anxiety Syndrome. I’m not blaming the entrepreneurs who recognize that girls in booty shorts draw customers; it works for Hooters, Budweiser, and the Bikini Barista down the street hawking $5 drive-thru coffee.

But a fellow like this, while well-meaning, is not someone providing the service and expertise one would expect from a pharmacist, but rather a bartender. And I have no problem with that, either, but we can only tell the general public it’s medical for so long before our own excesses become the case against us. Soon enough, there will be cannabinoid pharmaceuticals – GW Pharma’s starting human trials on some in 2013 – and THAT will be your “medical marijuana”, further painting our use of flower and oil as the domain of hedonists, not healers.

I mean, would you let a dentist or surgeon near you who advertised like this?

Legalize marijuana, make that $75 the cost for a “marijuana consumer’s card”, and the whole scene with Mr. Greenbear trying to get you high makes more sense to the public and becomes a little more socially acceptable, so long as he’s only turning up at adults-only events. I think the public would have a problem with Mr. Greenbear hawking wine coolers or cigarillos, though; did we learn nothing from the anti-Joe Camel and anti-Budweiser Frogs parental backlash?

The highlight of the night was the awards presentation. I got to announce the award for Best Medible, which went to a dispensary named after Captain Kirk. (See, wouldn’t “Dr. McCoy” at least be more “medical”?) But the most awesome moment of any of the Cannabis Cups I have covered was to be backstage when our friend, the lovable Pirate of Pot, the one and only Ganja Jon, won the Best Concentrate award with his brother for their preparation of butane hash oil. It was just a couple of years ago he was a shy, frightened kid facing three days a week of kidney dialysis, doing his first media interview on the issue of medical marijuana and organ transplant. Through a harrowing transplant and the loss of his non-functioning eye he kept up his commitment to the cannabis community, becoming a cannabis expert in his own right on the rapidly-evolving subject of cannabis concentrates. Now he’s at the top of that field and I couldn’t be more proud.

“I woke up in the morning trying to recover from the most sensational dab hit of my life, provided by Ganja Jon…Remember the name Ganja Jon, as he will be winning a Cannabis Cup sooner than later.” - Johnny Green at the HIGH TIMES Medical Cannabis Cup in San Francisco June 2012. (Johnny Green side note – CONGRATULATIONS GANJA JON, YOU ARE A DAB MANCHILD!)

Published with special permission from RadicalRuss.Com

About Russ Belville

I am the executive director of 420RADIO.org and host / producer of The Russ Belville Show - The Independent Voice of the Marijuana Nation at http://radicalruss.com - live from Portland, Oregon. I was the winner of The Search for the Next Great Progressive Talk Radio Star and a former host on XM Satellite Radio and Portland's AM 620 KPOJ. I was the Outreach Coordinator for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws from 2008-2012, which included lecturing all across America on marijuana legalization, writing political analysis for HIGH TIMES Magazine, and producing over 1,000 hours of video content for The NORML Network.
  • Jay

    I am all for marijuana being used medically. It has some of the best healing and therapeutical properties of anything I have ever tried. I also like using it recreationally and how it makes me feel after a hard day of work. I think the current MMJ scene certainly appears less and less of a legitimate medical outlet and rather, as the author pointed out, like a collection of connoisseurs and bartenders. I absolutely have nothing wrong with this, but if cannabis remains restricted to this, then public disapproval of marijuana will surely continue as it seems more and more people abuse the system. Not to mention how pharmacies are working to separate the medical properties from cannabis, so if it is restricted for medical use in the next several years, we can assume the plant as a whole will be restricted while non-narcotic cannabinoid medications will reign. How will patients who enjoy their bud honestly feel about this happening?

    I just think it should be legalized so everyone can either enjoy it as a treat or as a patient who uses it only for medication. Why don’t Americans, and the rest of the world, deserve this? in most places, Alcohol- which people only drink to have fun really- is legal and it causes long-term and extreme damage to the body and mind that cannabis will never hold a stick against. Not to mention tobacco and cigarettes, which are obviously unhealthy but remain legal and heavily consumed.

    Legalize it, people. Even if I-502 has some iffy flaws, it can be fixed after it is established. Many of the risky policies we have passed years ago have been adjusted to become fantastic policies. Why would this be different? Give Washingtonians, CO and Oregonians a chance and a choice. If these initiatives fail I believe Cannabis’s days are numbered; either disapproval will ride or the medical properties of cannabis will be separated and using cannabis for its other properties may never be legalized.

    Yes on I-502. Put our cops in better places, permit tax money for good things and allow everyone to enjoy the plant I fell in love with for 3 years, and managed to continue holding great jobs and making good choices in my life while using.

  • lisa d

    who the hell would go see a dummy bear like that who represents a clinic like that. The doctors must be the same way..