It’s been a while since I wrote for Cannabis Culture Magazine. In the beginning, it was just a few of us in a small office in Vancouver’s Gastown, and I was the assistant editor to Dana Larsen.
I still remember the excitement and dismay that day in the mid-90’s when police raided the magazine’s headquarters, taking all of our computers and setting the magazine’s publication back weeks. In my mind, the raid was the culmination of several confiscations of Cannabis Culture from head stores and grow ops all across the country. Albeit with a less literary bent, I had entered the ranks of such greats as James Joyce – whose Ulysses was banned in the UK, Australia and the US – and Boris Pasternak, whose Doctor Zhivago was banned in the USSR.
I remember the raids on Hemp BC as well. Burned into my memory is an image of Marc Emery spitting in a police officer’s face after that same cop physically abused employees of the store who were peaceably demonstrating against the removal of pipes and bongs. I can also clearly see, to this day, Marc giving the peace sign from the back of the paddy wagon as it drove away. The image would become iconic, captured by an on-the-scene photographer.
I am grateful for all the amazing and mind-blowing experiences I had, meeting the leader of the Maoris while covering a national election in New Zealand, connecting with former White House bureaucrats who blew the lid off of drug-war style social engineering in black neighbourhoods, and hanging out with so many twisted and enlightened people that I couldn’t begin to name them all.
By the beginning of the last decade, I’d moved on to a senior writer position after having a hand in the founding of Pot TV and the Cannabis Nation Radio Hour. I devoted every extra minute to running as a candidate with the Marijuana Party and BC Marijuana Party, while co-founding Fane of the Cosmos on Kootenay Coop Radio (a show which continues to this day, see http://www.faneofthecosmos.ca). Cannabis Culture Magazine, at the time, was more than a conduit of ground-breaking information, it was a forum for well-earned bragging rights to a continent-wide network of activists. I hope I don’t sound egotistical when I say that many of the activists who participated in various efforts where first “discovered” in my column “busted-up dates”, which covered some of the most abusive and outrageous marijuana arrests ever documented.
Another area of interest for me was free trade and its relationship to the war on drugs. When I first began researching this connection, I attended a televised speech by Tony Clarke who was closely associated with the anti-free trade and activist organization “The Council of Canadians”. At the speech, I waited in line to ask Mr Clarke if he had ever heard of a connection between the drug war and free trade. Perhaps it was my self-introduction as a writer for Cannabis Culture, a relatively obscure pot mag at the time. But he did something totally unexpected, and at the time I felt crushed. He laughed at me. In fact, he laughed so hard that everyone in the auditorium began to laugh. I had hoped for an ally but had found humiliation. I had become the reviled innovator, the one with a new idea that doesn’t fit with conventional opinion.
But it didn’t stop me. I wrote an article, published in CC magazine, titled “Multinational Corporations Will Kill for Drugs” which was reprinted a half-million times, and translated into Spanish and German. After that article international think tanks, like the Organization Geopolitical Drug-watch, did research which further confirmed my line of thinking, leading to further articles. The ball was rolling, and eventually – with the help of a Bolivian Journalist – I interviewed Bolivian President Evo Morales and discovered that he fully echoed the ideas first outlined in “Multinationals Will Kill … (see “Bolivian Peasants or Narcoterrorists”). Through CC magazine, I had influenced the way the world understood itself. I would never receive mainstream credit for my efforts, but I could be satisfied, at least, that I had made a difference for the better among peoples under fire in the drug war, that they might more fully understand the politics behind what was happening to them, and so better defend themselves against oppression.
Unfortunately, my writing on free trade also resulted in a rift in the marijuana movement, between libertarians and socialists. For although libertarians are strongly opposed to the drug war, they are also big supporters of free trade. Hindsight has given me the wisdom to wonder if I couldn’t have approached the topic in a way that would have united the movement along ideological lines instead of separating it. I see all the energy that is wasted by marijuana activists in fighting over issues that ultimately have little to do with freeing our culture from government oppression, and I hope that we will one day be able to see past them and put our efforts where they belong.
I should clearly state here that I think many of the ideals behind free trade are laudable, but that free trade agreements have typically contained anti-drug provisions that bind countries to membership in worldwide anti-drug organizations that operate as arms of free trade bodies. I have spoken with world-famous free-trade thinkers who openly oppose many of the provisions in free trade agreements as destructive to the fundamental ideals which free trade was originally meant to embody. One way to get everyone working together, possibly, would have been to push for a truly compassionate, anti-prohibitionist, respectful form of free trade that truly acknowledged and supported the ideals of its original thinkers.
Hindsight has also given me the wisdom to wonder if the movement could ever be truly united. The old adage that “trying to lead activists is like herding cats” is apt. It is, of course, our intrinsic rebelliousness against authority which makes us who we are: freedom fighters one and all. Perhaps it would take more energy to make us cooperate than it would for us to work separately toward the same goal.
It is with these thoughts in mind that I return to writing about drug policy issues. I hope to publish pro-pot articles in as many different kinds of magazines as possible, and am thankful to Cannabis Culture for giving me a forum for expressing my thoughts openly along the way. In my blog, I plan to post updates on stories that may appear elsewhere, in other publications, as well as provide perspective to what I am writing for the CC website. I hope that my articles will inspire unity, will encourage us to work together, or even just to work well apart. With the conservatives in power, we are on the cusp of decades of heightened drug war oppression in Canada. I hope in at least some small way to strike a blow against the ignorance and hatred that is the War on Weed.