THIS MONTH IN THE GANJA GAZETTE

This month’s issue of the Ganja Gazette is awesome. Take a gander at what’s happening with marijuana and politics, new music and video game reviews, the history of weed in America, and of course, a slew of coupons and deals for you. Have an idea or a story for the Gazette? Email Tim

  • Specials and Coupons – July 2015
    Specials and Coupons – July 2015
    You know, cause you're awesome
Specials and Coupons – July 2015
You know, cause you're awesome

Every month, you will have access to awesome deals and coupons through The Ganja Gazette! Make sure you check back regularly for the sweetest deals out there.





  • The History of Weed in America
    The History of Weed in America
    Cover Story
The History of Weed in America
Cover Story

If the recent stream of superhero movies proves anything, it is the American public loves origin stories. We love finding out how things started, and we especially love it when the subject of these tales happens to coincide with an underdog coming out on top. Look no further than the national holiday of 4th of July, where we celebrate with beer and burgers and fireworks and sparklers and you’ll see this. We celebrate our country’s birthday because our founders were the underdogs. A tale cultivated when a group of men decided to rise against the oppressive government before them. Our culture loves the little man overcoming his plight, and we love struggle. The entrepreneurs we celebrate, every tale of innovation we cultivate, the success stories we hear as our cultural myths. All of these come down to origin stories.

The American public loves a story built upon turmoil. It is not a surprise then, that people love pot. The history of cannabis in America is the epitome of an underdog story. From the users to champions of the counterculture, weed has always been at the bottom fighting to the top. The future of pot presents exciting story, much can be learned from its history. It doesn’t hurt that the progression of cannabis in the U.S. is also fascinating.
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When studying the history of cannabis, it is important to note the primordial elements of the substance. The plant has been around for millenniums and despite Americans’ intense love for patriotism, there is nothing original originally American about cannabis just because we have a very historic and deep background with it. The United States has taken the ganja and run, both criminalizing and polarizing it almost more than any other country. We were not the first to do so, and we certainly won’t be the last. Ganja is one of the oldest crops cultivated by humans and the most pervasive, continuing its influence on human agriculture from Chronomagnum man to now.

Pot became a popular plant in the United States as a result of the Mexican Revolution. During 1916, when Gen. John J. Pershing’s troops were chasing the forces of Poncho Villa, they noticed an interesting demeanor and ritual about the Mexican soldiers. Pancho’s men were significantly more chill than the U.S. forces because of their afternoon habits. Every day, at the end of their travels and fighting, the Mexican soldiers would engage in an evening toke. Together, they would enjoy cannabis as a means of decompressing from the day. At the end of the Mexican conflict, U.S. soldiers not only stole the victory to the south of our border, they also took with them a plant and a custom of the hispanic vigilantes. Marijuana blazed its path along trails across the country following the steps of these euphoric American soldiers. It spread like wildfire, and established prevalence in in places like Big Easy and the Big Apple.

In the early days of its American influence, there were not many issues with marijuana. The public used it at cafes and private gatherings, prompting conversations on philosophy and recreational enjoyment. Rooftop gardens in NYC served as the breeding ground for not only bud, but interesting ideas as well. Men and women would come together high to laugh, share stories and talk. In the beginning, marijuana was treated without much disdain, except by one. The government. Big Brother stormed the scene like they always do, and imposed their intolerant and criminalistic stance. Society became oppressed by Uncle Sam’s heavy fist, and the substance that was once used for enjoyment and merriment quickly became an illegal and unsavory activity. The government went further and decided that it would be easier to push root causes aside and scapegoat an easy target. New Orleans was a particular impetus in this. Crime was surging in the city, and the local government needed a fix. Why not blame marijuana? Why not blame a readily available substance that could point to explanations for crime?

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The scapegoating of cannabis shifted the substance from a pastime of the poorer classes to a culprit in crime. No research backed this up except anecdotal pieces. Is it not curious that the government turned to cannabis as a source of blame? What is interesting is how this further developed. When American society began embracing pot, there were always detractors. The religious and upper crust were were frightened by the smell and seeing the substances first used by soldiers before trickling down to the lower class was all it took to convince these haughty groups to persecute. Even with some of the fear stemming from these groups, cannabis wasn’t truly demonized until one man. The man, Harry Ansliger

Harry Anslinger stands accused, and rightfully so, of ruining the reputation of ganja for the better part of the 1900’s. The original director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, he started off his career by focusing on opiates and cocaine. At first, they proved to be easy targets for his agency. The stock market crashed, the Great Depression followed, and the government coffers, once overflowing, were now empty. Anslinger, knowing his agency would be the first to lose funding, lashed out. Before the risk of losing financial backing, ganja was just a thorn in Anslinger’s side but with the lingering fear of losing his agency, Anslinger focused on cannabis, and painted it as the proverbial weed choking the life from the entire garden. Previously he dismissed it but with a booming fury that rivaled the roaring 20’s, ganja became the source of Anslinger’s vexation. Cue the restrictive policies and cannabis prohibition. Bring on the onslaught of anti-marijuana laws and sudden arrests. The results of Anslinger’s campaigns against cannabis were many. The most prolific and longstanding, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.

This legislation was not alone in its power but instead built off of preexisting policy, in the Harrison Act of 1914. The Harrison Act made it so that a pharmacist had to tax the drugs they sold. It allowed the government to get its hands in medicine and make sure that illegal substances were not crossing counters. The Marihuana Tax Act built on this. You could sell pot, but you had to tax yourself on all sales even though dealing was illegal. Talk about self-incrimination. Despite all the committees pulled together and findings of the time showing there was no danger to pot, Anslinger pushed forward with his righteous government crusade. Disagree with him? Fine, he would just replace or discredit your voice. Lacking an opinion on pot? No worries, Anslinger was there using shoddy yellow journalism to publish stories that make current tabloid pieces seem tame. He did all he could to discredit the plant.

Over the next two decades, the rates of marijuana-based crime increased and so did the misinformation. Anslinger established his legacy by ignoring positive, factual studies and testimony. He went so far as to criminalize studying pot when doctors in New York continued to prove his mania and blatant hysteria wrong. He did everything he could shut down cannabis, a course of action manifesting in the Boggs Act of 1951. The Boggs Act is unremarkable like much anti-ganja law in its continuation of prohibited use while making it a harsher crime to toke. The act is profound in that it was the first real time the public heard the “pot is a gateway drug” myth.

The government story of regulation is not an uncommon one. The government saw an opportunity to stick its hands into the jar and drew its fingers out with whatever honey it could. In the case of cannabis, the honey came in the form of oppressing the financial destitute and pushing easy sentences on small-time criminals. While the few studies of the time found there were opposite effects between cannabis and criminal behavior, the government didn’t care. Thusly, a cannabis counterculture began to rise.

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The story of regulation has continued up until even present times, yet where government regulates, the people push back. Across pot’s U.S. progression, it would be a sin to not mention all the wonderful things growing against this persecution. In any circumstance, there are some positives. For ganja, out of the oppression there stemmed the impacts of the plant being picked up by Jazz musicians and the Beatnik poets. In the 20’s and 30’s, look no further than Jazz to hear the interwoven symphony of the counterculture and cannabis pushing back against the man. The Jazz musicians picked up marijuana because it slowed down their minds while allowing them to push the limits of their fingers. The chaotic mess of jazz, as it spread in cafes and clubs, meshed well with cannabis. Where jazz perfectly partnered with joints, it had another influence on the plant.; it helped ganja spread across the country even further. The tale of two cities, New York and New Orleans continued with the saga of jazz. These places were origins of jazz and weed but never the final destination.

On its American tour of the 20th century, the dank bud found itself in the hands of poets, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Founders of the Beatnik generation who traveled the country, recording their thoughts while spreading pot. These individuals along with countless others spread the substance to more artists, musicians, creatives, and members of the counterculture. It is not enough to have a counterculture, you also need to have a mass momentum if anything is going to shift public opinion. The key to pot’s momentum in lighting up the minds of America was the popular music of the 1960’s.

Folk artists picked up hemp and hash easily. They bought into the substance and moved forward with it at a critical mass. It was Rock that moved marijuana from hippy to high class, mellowed out stoners to the mainstream. You could attribute Dylan and his influence on The Beatles. You could attribute Woodstock. You could attribute any musician at the time, but it was everything. In a matter of years, rock and roll not only stole the musical stylings of jazz but it also took marijuana. Over less than a decade, marijuana went from something barely used on college campuses to skyrocketing, 5%, to over 43% of college students reported use. The seeds were sown, and the crop had spread. The American public cashed in.

Where the American public had begun to buy in, they still had politicians working against them. None more so than Nixon. Nixon wasn’t just a liar and crook about politics. He also manipulated policy on pot to meet his mindset, bending legislation to go against the Supreme Court. In 1969, the United States Supreme Court made an important decision. They voted in favor of Timothy Leary, who protested that the Marihuana Tax Act of 1931 was unconstitutional. He won, but America would soon lose. In response, Nixon began to double down on the “drug wars.” He created the Controlled Substances Act, classifying cannabis as a Scheduled 1 substance, the highest possible. Substances of this nature are known to break the human body in a spiral of addiction. Pot is a Class 1 substance because the government willed it so while once again ignoring their research. Reports meant to reinforce Nixon’s perceptions of the subject were swept under the rug when his self-appointed commissions found the opposite of what he claimed. These reports only poked the Presidential bear further. In Nixon’s mind, when the commission you appoint to study pot tells you it’s nearly harmless, your reaction should not be decriminalizing the substance but instead forming the Drug Enforcement Agency.

If Nixon made the drug war a fight, the Reagan administration dropped a nuclear bomb on it. In 1981, the Reagan’s issued Executive Order 12368. This law was the first nuke. It dropped and began the increasing war against all drugs. (Fun side note: the administration did this because the public disliked Nancy Reagan. Her husband’s administration needed to give her a cause seen through the low hanging fruit of the fight against drugs). How bad was the Reagan’s drug war? Well, in five years the Pentagon increased its anti-drug spending from a mere $1 million to $196 million. Quite the increase and quite the results. The 1980’s saw the advent of rising drug arrest, steep increases in incarceration rates, and a plummeting amounts of logic. Just Say No became the popular catch phrase for hemp haters and D.A.R.E. became less a fun part of a game and more a shitty source of misinformation. Bush ran with what was working and kept it going.

Ironically, in 1989, DEA administrative law judge Francis Young recommended that the government reschedule marijuana. Research found the substance was much safer than being reported, reiterating what research in the 1930’s had shown. As with the rest of this story, the DEA didn’t like that. They squashed Young’s objections on Dec. 30, 1989. Not surprisingly, no one paid attention to this decision. Moving forward from this point, the story of cannabis didn’t change for much of a decade. The 1990’s were an extremely bad time for tokers, with arrest rates for marijuana increasing at an exponential rate until finally the early 2000’s. It was at this point two states, specifically Colorado and Washington, began to work towards the legalization of medical marijuana.

To say the rest is history, is severely underplaying the impact of countless lobbyist, political figures, grass root movements, business people, medical patients and thousands upon thousands of citizens. It discounts the past 15 or so years, the tricky and sometimes precarious process of moving from medical legalization to regulation to dispensaries to recreational. There are countless other pieces of the story to tell in these areas, and the narrative is far from done. With the advent of the 2016 presidential election, the country faces potential rewriting of federal policy and a new examination of what has been happening. It all depends on the outcomes in the currently legalized states versus the opponent or proponent elected and sprinkled with political sway from the House and Senate. How the government moves forward on ganja is far from a written story but one that the American public can have a significant voice in shaping. Even with this ambiguity, it is an exciting time to be alive.

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  • Politics, People, and Pot
    Politics, People, and Pot
    Letter From the Editor
Politics, People, and Pot
Letter From the Editor

Politics, People, and Pot

Think about the most American thing you can. What is on your mind? Is it apple pie? How about baseball? How about freedom, bald eagles, or fireworks on the 4th of July? It could be any of these things because pop culture, for the longest time, has told us these items are inherently American. If you ask me what the most American thing I can think of is, the answer I will provide you will always be the same. Politics.

From day one, our country was founded on principles. The history books would tell you those principles were freedom and liberty. Justice for all brought down by a sect of founding fathers who conveniently left out countless classes from the implementation of the “for all” part. The history books promised righteous crusades seen in token images of a bunch of old men gathered around in powdered wigs seeking absolution from the sins of the past government. These scenes have much less to do with forgiving the transgressions of the past and more about the political powers afforded. I am sure the founders were caring individuals. I am thankful for the freedoms they established for us across this country, the principles they helped implement. I am blisteringly aware however that over time if at least not in the beginning, our country has been intimately defined by one thing. Politics.

Politics. Separated from all morals and righteousness. Separated from the people and the parties. Separated from whatever ideology you cling. Politics has defined our country well before our founders stated we were a country. Politics is as American as apple pie in saying that where apple pie is iconic, politics are the fundamental beast allowing us to understand how to create icons in the first place. Politics. They run in our temperament and define us. They are who we are as a republic and as a people. Whether we care about them or not, whether we vote or not, whether we buy into them or ignore them, regardless of how we perceive politics, they continue to turn. A spinning wheel, churning out policy and agendas, lobbies and scandal, progress and detriment to the American public. Where the beautiful images evoked by iconic American figures, everyone from Rockwell to Warhol, are wonderful depictions of the American spirit, the images we often associate with America miss the mark. These images forget to take into account the pervasive influence of politics. Our nation, the most iconic thing about it hasn’t changed since day one because our spirit has always been our governance.

This continuity of governance does not mean the government hasn’t changed. Changes have been rapid and incremental. They have ebbed and flowed. These changes are distinctly true in matters of cannabis and the counterculture surrounding it. Ganja wasn’t always viewed as it is now. No, the current strain of American thought on pot stems from the hybrid mixing of government regulation and misunderstanding. Government acts against pot sometimes carried out so clandestine that not even the cheesiest conspiracy theory can match the actual story. How the American public views pot has changed as the days have passed and waned. Stemming from this, during this month of independence, we are going to focus on a few topics.

Politics. People. Pot. The three main components we should care about because these three define much of our cannabis culture. Politics defines how people feel about consuming consume ganja. How educated people are and what peers and partners speak about cannabis. The politics around pot are shifting, and it is important we understand how. To achieve success in changing politics, we must focus on its past, and the people. Where weed comes from lends a powerful asset to understanding where it is going. Where weed is going heavily depends on people.

People are at the heart of the matter. We the people. In this issue, you will hear the story of countless people. The politicians who are influencing the conversation on cannabis and the politicians who are staunch opponents of the plant. You will also read about how politicians have shaped the use of weed across the country. For years, politics have defined how people have consumed, the problem is these politicians leave behind the needs of their constituents. The people, the actual populous politicians, are supposed to represent, they often suffer based on the action of a few people with hidden agendas supported by anything from pocketbooks to ego. Politics shape pot’s distribution. People consume it.

Lastly, there is pot. Something we’ve dedicated to exploring here at the Gazette but something mired in a battle between the people and the politicians. Pot is a product. A leafy plant with a proverbial and physical potency that echoes across the human body, reverberating in the mind. Pot is just a product. The politicians determine what happens with cannabis and how people use it. What happens with pot, as a product, legal or illegal, depends on our politicians, but the people elect the politicians. People who matter.

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From the beginning of the history of America, we have had two of these three things. (Pot has been around for much longer than the founding of America but for its tale in our culture, check out the History of Ganja story for more information on this). We have always had people and politics. The outcome of these two mixing has sometimes created powerful and explosive results. In the future, we have the power of dictating these results when faced with matters of pot. Now more than ever, this generation is poised at the precipice of advancement of cannabis.

And I am excited. I am excited about these politics and our people. Excited to see what we can produce and create. Enthralled by the idea of what will come next. We sit at a potent and powerful crossroad.

The question is no longer one of whether we legalize pot. The question is how much longer will the politicians deny the will of the people. As history in America shows, when the majority buys into an idea, it is only a matter of time before the politicians get aboard. The sad fact is that some people, people like our medical patients, they might not have time if the politicians keep up the denial. Thus, we force the politicians’ hand. Thus, we the people use our voices to create change.

Jefferson famously stated that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Right now, I believe the minds of the patriots must lift the minds of the politicians. We don’t need blood. We need bud. The need is spreading. Let’s make sure our politicians listen to our voices crying out for legalization and study of medical uses. It’s not just political for we, the people, to share our voices on legalizing. It’s patriotic. And what can be more powerful in a month when we celebrate America than taking steps towards legalizing pot.

  • The Curious CannaNoob’s – July 2015
    The Curious CannaNoob’s – July 2015
    CannaSpa Personal Lubricant
The Curious CannaNoob’s – July 2015
CannaSpa Personal Lubricant

Unexpectedly, I had to journey back to Ohio for 3 weeks to deal with some family matters – which left me in quite the predicament. There was going to be an eleven-hundred mile gap between my honey and me, and I’m tasked with testing and reviewing CannaSpa’s THC Infused Personal Lubricant. Needless to say, I’m a bit hesitant and reluctant to share the ensuing words, as I’ve never openly discussed masturbatory habits in a public forum. Nevertheless, there’s a job to be done…pun intended.

After having such a positive experience with CannaSpa’s THC Salve last month, I had high hopes for the lube. So did my member, for that matter. Now, I’m not one for patience typically, especially when in the heat of the moment, so when I began fumbling with the bottle prior to application, I was rather disappointed to see that the recommendation was to apply an hour before any “activity.” Thinking quickly, I told myself that there would be nothing wrong with a little double dipping in this case. In addition, this would give me the opportunity to fully vet the performance enhancing effects of the lube. So without the level of detail that would put me in danger of making this review sound like a romance novel, I gave myself a generous palmful of the green, dank oil and started tugging away. While no tales of initial euphoric effects can be attributed to the first application, this part of the story does indeed have a happy ending.

My initial thoughts: The oil is certainly an effective lube, and it’s got some lasting power. The odor was similar, if not more intense, than that of the THC Salve – dank and earthy. I felt like I was touching myself in the middle of a rainforest. As far as performance enhancing properties, I don’t have much to note here. I’m hoping this changes in the next hour.

As the second hand slowly makes it’s next 60 revolutions, I have a beer to lighten the mood. I’m also paying keen attention to any residual response in my nether region. I can’t really report of any “little blue pill” effects, but as I open the cap, pour out a generous application, and escape to my rainforest paradise, my love muscle springs back to life without much coercion. Again, sparing of details, I finish the job I sought out to do. I was impressed with the staying power of the oil – a mixture of olive oil, coconut oil, and THC – one application was more than sufficient (a very important aspect in a lube product). It also appeared that my staying power had increased in the second go-around, a result that can always be appreciated, even if it can’t be attributed to the THC infusion.

In the end, this is a solid product, regardless of whether or not there were any positive performance results. I would use this lube for any sexual encounter, whether it’s auto-erotica or some fun between the sheets with my honey back in Denver. I’d certainly recommend it to anyone looking for yet another avenue to introduce THC into their activities as well. I’m proposing we change the designation from a lubri-CANT to a lubri-CAN!

Side note: I’m excited to get back to Denver and try this out with my lady. I’m guessing that her anatomy will be more conducive to processing the THC contained in the oil. I was working through osmosis, while she can ingest it in a different fashion. I’m expecting much better results on her part, and then I’m gonna buy some stock in CannaSpa.

  • The Acts of Creation
    The Acts of Creation
    With The Early November
The Acts of Creation
With The Early November

Everyone manages some level of creation in their life whether it’s work, hobbies, or play. Within these acts of creation, I notice music is one of the greatest triggers to the human mind. Whether listening to songs while running, in the garage working on a car, at work as background noise to drown out lulls or when trekking across the country. People have used music for decades to escape and find a comfortable flow. There is nothing better than writing while listening to a good album. Nothing more detrimental than trying to force words out from the tips of your fingers when the wrong music is playing in the background. As a writer, I learned this long ago but I am certain these feelings echo across the minds of many creators, whether these creations are art or simple acts of filling spreadsheets for work.

Everyone has a different taste when they are creating, and everyone needs a different form of music whether they are altering their mental state or the physical world around them. Blessed then, are those who have realized that cannabis can be a further enhancer, increasing the significance and effects of the right music. It is no less ironic than that cannabis spread across America due to musicians, beginning with the jazz artist and progressing because the counterculture of rock and roll. Music and marijuana have been irrevocably intertwined since their beginnings and in their spread of influencing the masses.

I recall this because, for me, the right mixing of the ganja and a great album can be the impetus for pushing through writer’s block. After my last contributions to the Gazette and some other personal pieces, I reached one of those dread places of being blocked. My mind couldn’t feed the right mental notes to my keys and in turn, my finger produced no harmony. What I was writing came across in a harsh cacophony of sound, nothing resembling what any audience wanted. Imagine then when one of my coworkers asked me to review a new album that had come out that they loved. At first, I was frustrated by being told what to write. The album was a blessing in disguise. One high and a few listens later, and my writing mojo returned.

The Early November is an interesting band. They hadn’t crossed my radar prior to reviewing this album but have existed for well over the past sixteen years. To best review their new album, Imbue, I decided I should first to listen to their three preceding records. Signed to Drive-Thru Records in the early 2000’s, I knew I was getting in for some pop-punk elements that emerged during these times. What I found on their first record was impressive. The band is indeed a rock band and a decidedly wild one. Their first few albums and tracks let loose with a youthful idealism and reckless chaos found in younger musicians. Listening to their first few pieces was a great introduction to all they offer They were raw, unfiltered, and creative. The music provided rock, and it struck a chord with me, many actually. Listening to their past work I found a few tracks that I did not like due to the rapid and sometimes unexpected changes in pacing. Still, I was excited to listen to their fourth album and the subject of my review; Imbue.

Thankfully, they saved the best for hopefully not last in an album that I enjoyed, mostly, from cover to cover. Not only did I like the album but I found it a healthy renovation on some of their stylings. The Early November is remarkable for its ability to condense an impressive number of styles onto one release while still managing to find a flow that makes sense. In Imbue, the band throws back to both their roots while introducing a diversity of composure to their musical madness. Imbue is the band’s most polished and natural album released, proving that they have found the right amount of restraints to their past chaos but teetering on the edge of letting loose. Overall, this album showcases the artist’s best efforts of songwriting and storytelling. The chord arrangement to pacing to chorus verses provided a recognition of all they’ve accomplished so far and how years of experience have created a comprehensive musical force.

The album has a few great tracks that like the entire composition, vary piece by piece. Narrow Mouth opens the record with a loud chorus backed by strong 90’s alternative rock vibes. It’s not grungy, just poignant in pounding its way into your eardrums. While the second track doesn’t carry over as much resonance, third to bat lies Magnolia. This track serves as a good look into the past by mixing pop-punk into the present. From there the album varies slower trackers with darker vocals that are reminiscent of some of the grimmer pop-punk of the late 90’s and early Warped Tours. There are also more electronically inclined tunes that make for good crossover songs, easier on the ears and lending themselves to first-time listeners that might be on the fence about the band or their style.

Imbue was a good introduction to The Early November. Easily enough to get entangled into and playable to the point that it helped provide a jolt to the creative brain. It served as a smooth and well-put together listen, even going so far as peeking my curiosity towards the band’s prior music. I would recommend this album to both those who might have once loved The Early November, the Warped Tours of old, or anyone looking to try a new rock band. Imbue is worth the listen from front to back and where some might find one track or two that doesn’t fully engage them, in whole this album is worth a whirl.

You can check out Imbue, and other albums by The Early Novemeber on iTunes, Spotify, and most music providers. For tour dates, music videos, merch, and more, check them out on the web at http://www.theearlynovembermusic.net/

Have an album that you think we should review? Hit us up! Email Tim at tim@buhvdesigns.com

  • BUZZ FEED
    BUZZ FEED
    What Games are you Playing?
BUZZ FEED
What Games are you Playing?
  • Candidates and Cannabis
    Candidates and Cannabis
    The Word on the Street
Candidates and Cannabis
The Word on the Street

While America didn’t create the game of politics, and we might not even be the best at it compared to some of our peers, politics courses through our blood. From the ideals of our forefathers to the partisan stalemate of recent years, it’s tough to find a facet of American history that has not been manipulated in the hands of politicians. In even the most basic issues, these individuals clamor in efforts of extending their reach and control.

Where the government loves to get involved in everything from social issues, to economics, to your personal life, they have a profound knack of muddying the waters when it comes to the War on Drugs. There is no lack of evidence that they have made a mess of this fight, especially concerning issues of cannabis. Look no further than the failed D.A.R.E. program providing no proactive education. Look at the shockingly high incarceration rate in the US when compared to the rest of the world. Study even further how many of these rates sadly relate to minor cannabis possession charges, often heavily skewed in racial disparity. Look at the inability to conduct the proper research on cannabis because of ill informed governmental power grabs, preventing cures that have been found colloquially, from taking center stage. The government has made a mess of pot, and even some of them are starting to admit this.

To see the government awakening, look no further than a Representative from Oregon. He recently launched an indictment of the May riots in Baltimore as a result of the drug war and how he is lobbying to lead this issue to productive outcomes. There are politicians on the side of the plant, and others remain radically opposed. When considering the current state of American policy on our leafy green and the potential to change this in future elections, it is important we educate ourselves on these issues. When elections take place, we must know how we can individually vote for change.

This American holiday season of July, let’s look a little further at the political landscape of marijuana in the fold of the American political complex. What we find is fascinating. The people continue to vote for the same politicians that continue to ignore the voices of their majorities. The best case scenario is each state allows voters to make the decision. Sometimes, however, it is not in our hands. In these cases, it is important we know who our elected politicians are and the powers they have. These individuals must be stopped or swayed, pushed and prodded by the voices behind the votes. The American public’s votes matter. Here are the politicians we should watch.

Presidential Candidates

Bernie Sanders – Independent

You have to love Bernie Sanders. Many won’t, including a majority of the largest media outlets who continue to ignore him. Despite their avoidance of him and despite whether you agree with his politics, the guy is a stellar candidate because he is consistent. Good ol’ Bernie knows where he stands and doesn’t compromise this even in the face of talking heads and push back from larger political players. While it’s unseen how far he will progress, he is nothing but true to self.

Sanders ranks at the top of the Presidential candidates in how highly he favors marijuana. He admits to smoking when he was younger and is a firm believer in the power of medical marijuana (legalized in his home state of Vermont.) Where he is of the mixed opinion on recreational use, he agrees that the War on Drugs has been nothing but a failure. Of all the current presidential contenders, Bernie stands the most progressive on pot.

Hilary Clinton – Democrat

Although considered the serious forerunner for the Democratic candidacy and having made some liberal moves in her past offices, Clinton is still fairly anti-pot. She has avoided releasing a definitive statement on the subject, a decidedly political decision, but has stated she wants more information on the impacts and effects of the substance before swaying one way or other. The problem with her statement is two-fold. First, research already exists on the substance, including limited research done within the U.S. Second; the government doesn’t let people study pot. Her backward opinion that we need to research something we can’t is a seemingly common sentiment amongst politicians. As a candidate, Clinton is one of the individuals more likely to allow further explorations into testing the recreational, and research, areas. She still needs some education however before we trust her on cannabis.

Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz – Republican

Three of the current Republican candidates offer promising thoughts when considering the prospects of legalizing. Bush, Rubio, and Cruz have all made some form of a statement declaring that they have no favor for the prospect of legalizing on a national level. (It should be noted federal legalization is something that will not likely to happen in 2016 regardless of the Presidential winner.) Where these individuals don’t favor federal legalization, each has stated they would be willing to allow states to decide on legality. If their word stands true (key there being, “if”) each of these might be good candidates for President in a pro-pot future.

Chris Christie – Republican

Christie wins no point here based on his direct belief in the “pot’s a gateway drug” myth. In recent interviews, Christie has expressed the scary sentiment that he opposes legalization on both federal and state levels. Where his beliefs are antiquated and markedly false, some might call them a blatant lie based on over 70 years of misinformation, sadly he has bought into this propaganda. In terms of legalization, rescheduling the drug and all things ganja, Christie is the scariest of the candidates. Chances are where other prospective Presidents might turn a blind eye to the substance on a state level Christie would likely flex what muscle he had to repress the growth of the plant across America. Christie is the least pro-pot of all candidates venturing instead into anti-ganja rhetoric.

Other Notable Politicians

Earl Blumenauer – Oregon, Democratic House Representative
Joe Heck – Nevada, Republican House Representative

These two amazing House Representatives handle bringing the Veterans Medical Marijuana Amendment to the House. Although their amendment marginally failed passing on May 1, both of these individuals have been largely pro-marijuana for quite some time. They speak on both state and federal levels in addressing the issue. Representative Blumenauer is notable for his outspoken views on the subject. He frequently releases statements on the state of marijuana across the country, praises pro-cannabis changes, and called the recent unrest in Baltimore proof of the failed War on Drugs. Do not expect either of these individuals to back down on this issue especially when fighting for the rights of the troops to consume medical marijuana in combating PTSD.

Steve Daines – Montana, Republican Senator
Jeff Merkley – Oregon, Democratic Senator

Where the House’s May 1 vote on allowing doctors to speak with veterans about medical marijuana failed, these two Senators struck an enormous victory for cannabis on May 21. The Senates Appropriation Committee voted in favor (18-12) of allowing VA physicians to recommend marijuana to patients. This amendment, authored by members of both parties and receiving four Republican votes, will still need to pass the Senate before advancing. From there, if it passes the Senate, this will lead to a reconciliation between the then opposed House and Senate. It is great to thank these individuals for their work, but this one battle is far from over.

Marty Walsh – Democrat, Boston Mayor

Although not in DC, Walsh is important to watch because of his power to influence policy in one of the largest, and oldest cities, in the country. Walsh, the current mayor of Boston, has been one of the most vocal opponents of cannabis, making campaign promises to fight the legalization of the substance in Massachusetts. Walsh, like most other politicians, sadly bases his precedents on the “gateway drug” myth. The issue with Walsh is that he has made the fight personal due to his background. Walsh is a self-admitted recovering alcoholic who spends his free time helping addicts find access to rehabilitation and shelters. By making the battle personal, Walsh makes it hard to argue facts against his personal experience. Boston and its influence on its greater home state will be important to watch in the coming years.

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