Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Battling the Prohibitionists

Amsterdam.

The excellent reporting in the Metro Times by my colleagues Larry Gabriel and Curt Guyette has kept me up to date on the hope for a greener future in Michigan by means of the marijuana legalization initiative. I’m far away from home this month, trying to make sense of the repressive measures presently being championed and soon to be implemented by the Dutch government.

It’d be a beautiful thing if some of the rich people who back these petition drives — or even some of the millionaires among us who’ve never backed one before — would cough up some funds to help Matt Abel and the organizers of the citizens initiative take their battle against the forces of evil in this issue over the top this year in Michigan.

Whether or not someone gallops to the financial rescue of the struggle to end marijuana prohibition in 2012, however, it’s essential to remember that the issue will finally be decided not by money but by the majority of the citizens who support legalization and will sign the petition and go to the polls and cast their votes against prohibition once and for all.

Almost two-thirds of the voting population of Michigan favored the legalization of medical marijuana four years ago. Now there’s a bigger political base than ever in support of the issue, starting with the 131,308 patient registrants certified by the state of Michigan by the end of 2011.

Even those medical marijuana patients who have little sympathy for recreational use per se will surely perceive the essential fact that the best way to get the police and the state’s attorney general out of their medical affairs is to get them out of the marijuana world altogether.

Once legalization is effected and marijuana prohibition joins alcohol prohibition on the fetid dust heap of history, anyone who uses marijuana for any reason will be free from state intervention in their personal lives — on that issue, at least.

Americans have been so brainwashed about weed by the authorities that have profited so immeasurably from marijuana prohibition for so long that it’s hard to grasp the immensity of the change in the life of the marijuana smoker when the police are no longer authorized to interfere with his or her activity — recreational, medicinal or otherwise.

The first time I came to Amsterdam for the 1998 Cannabis Cup, I remained whacked out of my gourd for every waking minute of an entire week. As the High Priest of the Cannabis Cup, I was gifted with enormous quantities of the best weed I’d ever smoked, and I felt it was incumbent on me to ingest each of the 42 strains of indica and sativa entered into the competition that year. So I did — no problem.

After a couple days of this exhilarating existence, I began to notice that my shoulders seemed to be lowering and my anxiety levels rapidly diminishing. Of course, some of this may be attributable to the medicinal effect of the weed itself, but even more so it was the gradual realization that I would not be accosted by the local authorities and treated as a criminal while I was in Holland.

When I first started smoking weed 50 years ago in the north end of Flint, I was taught extreme caution by my mentors when venturing into the outside world. They would roll up two joints and wrap them in a paper tissue and carry them in their hand for sudden disposal at any sign of police interference. There weren’t so many people who smoked weed then, and we were fairly easy to spot.

Ever since then, I’ve spent my life carefully guarding my stash and devising effective means of transporting it from place to place in the course of daily life. I had some problems involving sharing the sacrament with strangers for a few years, but I’ve been “clean” with the law on this issue since late in 1971. And now that I’m a medical marijuana patient registered with the state of Michigan, I don’t feel quite so threatened in my regular activities.

Still, there’s that cloud of oppression that always hovers overhead, and the person with you may well not suffer from medical conditions that qualify him or her as a marijuana patient exempt from search, seizure and arrest.

Further, as in the case of our state’s leading law enforcement officer, perhaps the copper in question does not adhere to the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act in its fullness and decides to ignore my own medical qualifications to give me some grief for having my medicine in my pocket.

The dread question, “Where’d ya get it?” is no longer pertinent, since my caregiver’s name and address are listed on the back of my card, but there could likely be some sort of irregularity the copper may wish to pursue and then I’m back in the shit again.

There’s been nothing like this in Holland for about four decades — ever since personal use of recreational drugs was removed from the criminal ledger and hundreds of coffee shops selling, serving and providing for the smoking of marijuana on the premises were allowed to insinuate themselves into the Dutch social order.

The coffee shop scene went basically unregulated until the mid-1990s, when the government decided that it was time to institute a system of oversight and control to rein in the unbridled growth of the cannabis industry.

First the purveyors of cannabis across the counter were required to register with local authorities and apply for a license to continue operating. They were made subject to taxation on their profits, and their employees were brought into the official employment scheme.

Since cannabis remained illegal per se under the existing drug laws, the world of recreational use and commerce was considered a “gray area” that was allowed to exist without legal sanction through the grace of the queen and her government.

But now, as decriminalization and outright legalization of marijuana continue to gain significant numbers of supporters in America and the Western world, the current right-wing government of the Netherlands has for some reason decided that cannabis is bad and “drug tourism” is even worse.

In the past few years since the ascension of the current political ruling coalition (within which the “anti-Islam” party is a driving force), the Dutch government and Parliament have dropped all pretense of reasonableness — sort of like the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives — and begun to attack the cannabis culture as morally questionable and quite possibly a source of social degeneration.

Particularly scurrilous in their view are the people who come to Holland from other countries around the world to partake in the openness, convenience and relative social freedom of the coffee shop culture in Amsterdam, or those from neighboring EU states such as Germany, France, Belgium and the UK, who come to Holland to cop and take their purchases back home with them.

I had meant to report here on several revolting developments now under way in The Netherlands but got carried away thinking of how great it would be to legalize marijuana in Michigan in 2012. Now I’ve come to the end of my space and time for this installment so, as my editor frequently says, stay out there, and I’ll add, help end marijuana prohibition.

John Sinclair, founder of the White Panthers, is a poet. His latest book is It’s All Good.

 

 


More articles by:
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Wim Laven
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
David Yearsley
Shock-and-Awe Inside Oracle Arena
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail