I’ve been a movie buff all my life and a cannabis supporter/activist for decades, so it was a many-layered delight this past June to be in the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors’ Chamber as an extra on the film shoot of Mary Jane the Musical III. The Arcata Interfaith Gospel Choir was invited to lip synch the chorus of a song they were shooting at that location. “Regulate us! Regulate us! Regulate us, yeah!” Standing up on cue, singing/lip synching as the recorded chorus was played into the room — we did that about 15 or 20 times over the course of about two hours. I was fascinated by the technical details I could glean. It was truly fun to be there. Everyone made us feel welcome, and I didn’t find it tedious.
But through take after take I did find myself musing on just what it was I was singing. The song speaks of cannabis users “coming out of the shadows” (yes!) and asks for protection, regulation and taxation. I found myself wondering about the ways this could be a “be careful what you ask for” moment in the cannabis movement. Of course, the pleas in the song were made to the Humboldt County Supervisors, undoubtedly the best option for seeking reasonable, even considerate accommodation.
But cannabis decisions are being made on the state and federal levels too. In those arenas we must be careful what we ask for.
The tidal pushes and pulls of decades of arrests, raids, fear, profit, kind bud culture, trespass grows and mom and pop gardens — all are warped by the continuing federal drug scheduling of cannabis as a great danger with no value. Big money must be the glue that maintains such an obviously irrational designation. The feds do not have a good track record with this plant. I don’t know which regulation or market scenario makes me shudder most — trapped in the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms), our old bedfellows the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), riding the tortoise of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), or the horrors of being marketed by big tobacco or big Pharma.
I invite even the most politically uninvolved cannabis supporters to throw a bit more energy into this complex transition period leading to legalization. Let’s help shape the way that comes to pass. A number of organizations await your input. Here are some, apologies to any I left out; CalNORML, ReformCA, Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform and California Cannabis Voice. Now is the time.