The Kush Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved

CANNABIS CULTURE – I never met the good gonzo Dr. Hunter Thompson, but I have a feeling
we’d have been buds. Sure, he strayed way past grass into shopping lists of impossible drugs and armaments, and had a reputation for terrorizing visitors with a psychedelic fury for life, but he always had a sense of fair play. Especially when the horse race was rigged.
Folks, there’s no more rigged race running than the current state of  ‘legal marijuana.’
The odds have been stacked against the plant people for a few decades, and it’s no surprise to any friend of flowers just how awful the petro-pill-swilling, bed burning, house snatching, phone-tapping, network-robbing, cage-locking, tinder economists have become, but things are starting to get downright gonzo. Let me explain.
Since early September, the BC Supreme Court has been hearing The City of Vancouver VS Karuna Health Foundation, a legal brawl between over 4 dozen dispensaries and a city afraid to look itself in the eye.
Despite helping pay over 1,000 rents a month during the worst housing crisis in the city’s history, providing a fully stocked array of opiate alternatives during the worst overdose epidemic in the county’s history, lowering crime, and providing some of the best and easiest medical cannabis access in the world, Vancouver dispensaries are being attacked by a city that depends on them.
Court documents detail the City of Vancouver staying, delaying and outright blocking at least 80% of potential pot shops in the last two years.

Why? The City argument is so:

On Wednesday cannabis wasn’t medicine.

On Thursday cannabis was medicine. But only if it arrived by mail.

On Friday it was both.

On the following Monday a woman who miraculously survived cancer using cannabis (no thanks to those standing in her way) cried to me during the trial’s lunch break, “they’re trying to kill me.”

Joanne Crowther wiped tears from her eyes and told me. “I’m trying to grow, but I can’t do it all. I can’t make it all myself. If I can’t get my oil quickly, I’ll die. What I get from [government licensed producers]doesn’t work. What am I supposed to do?”

The stores at war with the city’s hurdles are now, and have always been, a proxy for patients. Patients support shop supply with home production overages. Patients pay for the medicine on the shelf. Patients pay when shops are shut, and access denied. The patients always pay.

Joanne choked out a brave smile, and we stepped into the rain so she could puff.

When a cancer patient generously offers a toke of her scarce supply of life saving medicine in a sign of compassion, generosity and empathy while pouring her heart out, it’s enough to make you want to point a canon at the courthouse steps. She’d rather see you breathe a quick sigh of relief than take one herself.

Why should the fear and loathing be hers?

On the advice of my attorney, I flew to Los Angeles the next day.

Dan Bilzerian, the electronic age’s Edgar Rice Bouroughs fantasy turned into followers, was foraying into fire with a giant party and product launch, the new face of state-sanctioned, federally-illegal, international cannabis. Layers of fiction built on a deep relationship with primal desires for health and vitality.

The party packed his incredible and well-suited home with equally styled women, modern, sexy and iconic. Machine-gun strapped security patrolled the large, wide walls and waterfall, and a frenzied staff stacked an incredibly generous supply of food, music and liquor. But not weed.

In a state with some of the best cannabis on the planet, at a launch for a premiere pot company, there wasn’t a cage-free nug in the house. There were sealed displays of flower, tinctures and vapes in a full-sized mock dispensary, as well as some CBD pens floating around, but every ash tray on all levels of the massive modern mansion was roach free.

I sniffed out a head who kindly shared a doobie but wouldn’t partake with me. He said we’d all get pot in our parting gift bags, then buzzed away quickly, as if he was scared of his own grass.

I blessed Shiva with some cigarette smokers who snuffed their butts and left me laughing at the LA skyline while the rest of the guests got drunk and complained about how they weren’t more famous.

Bilzerian’s endorsement of Ignite came with an incredible deal. A 80’s Canadian mining company with a stock listing becomes a pot company if Dan can use his influence to pump up excitement in a licensed weed company that wants to sell stocks instead of sativas. To meet regulatory requirements, a Canadian medical Licensed Producer is brought on board, turning patients into profits.

It’s an amazing deal for everyone feeling recreational. Dan was nice to me, and throws a hell of a party, but swarms of social media sycophants, bottomless sushi, and commodity bubbles don’t get you high. They certainly aren’t medicine.

I kept moving through the mansion trying to find some gas, but the tank was empty. Not one trichome head in the whole place. Most every guest shrugged at my question, thinking nothing of a budless chronic bash.

“Have a drink, maybe?” guests suggested.

Floor by floor I exhausted my options, grinding to a halt.

Giving up, I cried out. “I need weed!”

“Need!?” came an instant, concerned call from a nearby guest. His fit was heady, and his concern was genuine, the same pained and compassionate look of every top notch medical grower I’ve ever met. He was already opening his backpack.

“No,” I explained. “Only for art. I have a feeling you understand the need, though.”

He smiled agreeing, and introduced himself quietly. We split hairs over cultivars and chemovars.

He blessed me with some top-notch nugs, and claimed a Canadian capital fund was courting him, too. He arrived at the party to show off his flower to any serious heads or investors unafraid to blaze, but I was the only one he’d met, so instead he was leaving with two of Dan’s lovely guests and a backpack full of the best weed in the building.

After twenty minutes fruitlessly trying to find rolling papers, security grew tired of my press pass and premium pot, and escorted me out. We forgot to roll past the gift bags.

I paid the flower from my new friend forward to a few girls, and a pained soldier with a deep stare I met on the way out. He was driving an Uber, because he couldn’t stand any more gunfights. Money was too tight for medicine.

On the advice of my attorney, I left the airport and went straight back to court to catch the day’s end of trial.

The City was arguing patients had plenty of LP options, and shouldn’t worry about not being able to find their dangerous black market products come October 17th, the one’s keeping Joanne Crowther alive.

I left the courthouse and walked into the strong handshake and kind eyes of Neil Magnuson, director of the Cannabis Substitution Project. CSP gives away free care packs of infused edibles and joints to people trying to reduce or remove opiates and other streets drugs from their lives.

Neil tells me some people are driving an hour to access his service, and the line of locals today stretched down the street. “We gave over 200 packs away, which is great. But we had at least a hundred people waiting who we couldn’t help.” Neil relies on illegal shops and suppliers for the project’s cannabis donations.

On Friday the City argued that no one has a right to cheap medicine. And the police raided an organization providing free cannabis to opiate addicts.

On Monday the judge adjourned the case. Patients will have to wait to know if their supply of medicine will ever be safe.

As stock jockeys whip less than 45 federal cannabis production licenses down the stretch of consolidation, speculation and deceitfully harsh regulation, from medical to recreational, the only people left in the dirt are medical patients.

It’s time we all screamed “woah!” to prohibition’s whip.

Let the horses run hard and free, let the crowds roar and cheer, gamble and gasp, so long as no one’s left out of the party, or sent to the glue factory.

There’s plenty of grass on the field.


Featured image courtesy San Francisco Magazine


Anil Sthankiya is an award-winning screenwriter/producer, and the Managing Editor of Pot.TV.