The Thistle Volume 13, Number 2: Sept./Oct., 2000.

California Bud, and the legal pursuit of herbal panacea

by Jason Ortiz

Santa Monica, California. Ed passes me a three-foot long peace pipe; as I inhale he helps me light it. “Yo man, there’s these huge crops of dank up north. They have the address and everything on the web, even pictures of the seeds and the plants. Me and my crew are gonna raid it we’re crazy like that. You in man, you in?” At this point I cough violently, a combination of my skepticism and the potent California smoke. “Dude man, what are you talking about? Why would they put pictures of their crops on the web with their address?”

I leave Ed’s car and head back in to work. There on, I find confirmation of Ed’s claim pictures of the Lake County Cannabis Farm. A product of over 50 people’s hard work and the “compassionate use” act, this northern cali growers co-op would later bring me a dime bag of keif bearing a gold label detailing the dangers of smoking cannabis: drowsiness, dry mouth, and an impaired ability to operate heavy machinery. Thanks to Proposition 215, obtaining such an efficacious remedy requires only a doctor’s ecommendation, which ensures the patient is not subject to arrest for the possession or cultivation of cannabis. California definitely has a unique marijuana disposition, one that the federal government doesn’t share. But federally, marijuana is still a schedule 1 drug: an addicting and harmful substance with no potential medicinal benefit. Since growing weed, or even thc-lacking hemp, is therefore illegal according to the feds, growing operations have been targeted by semi-automatic weapon bearing agents and grumpy maximum sentence bearing judges. Often juries are not allowed to hear any evidence regarding medical need in such cases. Even doctors have come under assault: drug tyrant Barry McCaffrey threatened to yank the licenses of any prescribing the plant, although a recent court decision (1) has deflated that danger. Reality check, nugget head how can something be legal in the state yet simultaneously illegal in the country? Well, according to the 10th amendment, it can’t; any power not delegated to the United States by the Constitution is reserved to the states respectively, or the people (2). And while the foundation of our country may have been printed on it, I certainly don’t remember a constitutional hemp clause - our founding fathers grew enough of the valuable crop to make such an idea laughable. But starting when FDR signed the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act, culminating with Reagan’s Just Say No campaign, and exploding in every administration since then, marijuana prohibition and the failing drug war have had a damaging effect on our nation’s health and freedom. Releasing the medicine has been a battle, and not only in California. Alaska, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington state, DC, Colorado, and Maine have all passed laws bringing them closer to a viable medical marijuana solution, despite much opposition. Massachusetts has made multiple attempts itself, and while it has passed a bill meant to initiate testing of medical marijuana, federal interference has made it economically impossible and stalled all progress. Not all states are as receptive, as last year the Illinois house approved legislation attempting to outlaw the transmittal of marijuana information on the web. Other countries take a more enlightened approach; as Canada’s government is endorsing medical marijuana, their police forces are pushing for total decriminalization (3). Back in the US, while only around a third of adults would vote for legalization of marijuana (4), well over half would be in favor of physician prescribed marijuana, with over three quarters of young voters approving. These figures reveal one of many critical conflicts that undermine our country’s democracy and tarnish it’s greatness. The only way to change that is to get involved, to fight for what you believe in, to learn and to educate. At least find a presidential candidate that understands the issues as well as you do. If you suffer from cancer, anorexia, AIDS, spasticity, glaucoma, chronic pain, arthritis, migraines, or any illness for which marijuana provides relief (5), you would be eligible in California for 215 protection and its associated benefits. But beware, Marinol, a synthesized pill version of THC, has been shown to not be nearly as effective as simply smoking “pot.” And federally issued bud (going to less than 10 holdover patients from pre-Reagan compassionate use) comes rolled in perfect jays which must be broken apart so the stems and seeds can be removed before consumption. So make sure you use only the chronic - and if we push hard enough, soon you will do so in the freedom of your own country.

(1) Conant v. McCaffrey,
(4) third (29%), well over half (consistently 60-80%), young voter (18-29), taken from 1999 Gallup survey
(5) Ukiah Cannibis Buyers Club, “Know Your Rights” pamphlet


The Thistle Volume 13, Number 2: Sept./Oct., 2000.