We dig harvest time for 3 reasons. Numero uno—It’s the only time of year turkey bags are on sale at the hydro store. Dos—There’s hella weed around. And three—It’s time for the annual High Times Cannabis Cup over in Amsterdam. Oh and in case you’re wondering. Nah, stoners don’t cook turkeys in them turkey bags, dude…they fill ‘em with weed, man, because they’re all air-tight and shit…so they keep all that beautiful new weed smell from escaping (during transit).
So like the Cup is coming up and if you haven’t heard, the laws over in Holland regarding who can and can’t smoke weed in their coffee shops have been in flux. Back in May, the Dutch government banned tourists from buying weed in coffeeshops. It was a crushing blow to the industry, of course and most coffee shop owners were rightly outraged, as were tourists and stoners world-wide. If Dutch citizens wanted to smoke weed in a coffee shop they needed to register at the establishment so they could score a “weed pass” that grants ‘em permission to buy weed.
Luckily, the newbie centrist Dutch government just dropped a provisional pact killing the whole weed pass program. We hear the latest agreement allows each city to decide for itself whether or not to ban tourists from legally purchasing and smoking weed at coffee shops. What does this mean for Cannabis Cup lovers and HIGH TIMES mag? Well, when all this shit went down, Amsterdam declared that it wouldn’t participate in the system. So it means business as usual and so it looks like the Cup is on!
But, weed laws swing like a pendulum both abroad and at home. With ballot measures to legalize weed for recreation use in 3 states (OR, WA, CO) and measures to legalize it for medical use in 3 more (AR, MA, MT) plus the 25 Anniversary of the Cannabis Cup on the horizon we took the time to holla at High Times Mag’s Editor-in-Chief, Chris Simunek to get his take on current pot laws.
Chris Simunek: I don’t know man, we’re just going to have to wait and see. The Dutch have been threatening to eradicate pot tourism ever since I started working with High Times. I think money might win out over moral posturing. It usually does this side of shariah. I mean, the museums and the canals are nice and all that, but when that gringo pothead tourist money dries up, folks in that town are going to be carving their own shoes in balsa wood again.
STUFF STONERS LIKE: How do you see all these changes in the law affecting the culture in Amsterdam?
Chris Simunek: I guess you would still have the cheese and the bloody Jesus paintings in the Rijksmuseum and all that.
STUFF STONERS LIKE: Marijuana laws seem to move like a pendulum…do you agree? Where are we currently as a nation?
Chris Simunek: It goes back and forth to a degree, but it is always moving forward. I guess Mitt Romney believes that drugs like marijuana, coffee and Coca-Cola block the communication between the human body and the Holy Spirit, but even if he gets elected and declares total war on medical pot like he promises, it will be a roadblock, not an end. And anyway, if you spend time with them as I have at various political conventions, you would know that right wing conservatives and especially Tea Party folks are some of the most anti-prohibition people you will ever meet. After promising to leave such matters up to the states, Obama has been cracking down on medical pot way harder than GWB did, so you don’t know who to trust. There are some politicians on the state level that are gung ho for legalization because they see dollar signs, but the other folks, I guess they want to hold on to all that money currently going to law enforcement, the industrial prison industry and foreign narcotics interdiction. (Check out what the DEA is doing right now in Honduras if you want to make yourself sick). But marijuana will win in the end for the same reasons that the civil rights and women’s suffrage movements won years back, and the gay rights movement is winning now—because this is America, and though it is filled with a whole lot of fucked up deluded assholes who feel that it is their right and obligation to hold other people down to assuage their own misguided paranoia, there is a greater amount of people who are not so immune to enlightenment. It takes time—it’s not the first thing on most peoples’ list to worry about the next guy’s problems—but Americans eventually come around if the injustice is obvious enough, as is the case with marijuana prohibition. The naysayers die out, their numbers dwindle, and the ones left throw their hands up in disgust and say, “Fine, go ahead, sit at the front of the bus, have dick-to-dick sex, smoke that Kush until you choke, just stay off my property or I’ll shoot your ass!”
STUFF STONERS LIKE: Are you into taxing and regulating weed or just legalizing it all out for adults 18 and over?
Chris Simunek: I’m not “into” taxing and regulating weed, but if there has to be a profit motive for the government to legalize it, then I would prefer that to the current model where they’re making all their money by putting people in jail and seizing their property. The very idea that, in the “land of the free,” a for-profit industry has been created around the taking of freedom away from those who choose to smoke, grow or sell a plant that grows natural out of the ground, will one day be looked back upon as being absurd.
As far as regulation, I think pot should be no harder to buy than wine, with the same age restrictions. So long as you’re not dab-driving, weed is pretty harmless as an intoxicant, and something of a miracle drug for all sorts of ailments.
STUFF STONERS LIKE: How do you feel about the medical v recreational debate? At one point it seemed as if the popular method for legalization was to legalize weed for medical use…prove it’s worth…then leverage that win to further the cause. But one outcome could be that once medical weed become legal…big pharma moves in and takes over. Thoughts?
Chris Simunek: Yeah, that could happen. Some say it is happening now with the drug Sativex, and that the crackdown currently underway aims to clear the field for just that. But there is absolutely nothing morally, spiritually or physically wrong with using marijuana recreationally. I don’t want my bus driver ripping bong hits behind the wheel, but people get far more loaded on alcohol, and even Jesus used to like to knock back a few. Big pharma moving in and displacing the medical pot industry is a strong possibility.
The medical community—and I mean real doctors and scientists, not the nurses on Venice Beach—are only beginning to grasp its potential, including its proven ability to shrink cancerous tumors in laboratory animals. When you are talking about treatments like chemotherapy, you are basically walking a line between killing a tumor and killing a patient. If a substance as benign as cannabis can be proven to help in the same sorts of situations, as some researchers believe now, can you imagine what potential applications there could be for it? If it proves possible to derive a pharmaceutical version of cannabis wherein the plants’ genetics are manipulated to better target illnesses like cancer, autism or epilepsy than smoking a joint might, then it would be a welcome addition to the Pharmacopoeia, but it should not be allowed to displace the plant. If there is someone who finds that smoking a joint does just fine for their glaucoma or their PTSD or whatever, and they can grow it in their backyard, why should they be forced to go to Duane Reade to pay for an expensive pill?
STUFF STONERS LIKE: How important is it that people are allowed to grow their own?
Chris Simunek: About as important as it is for people to be able to grow their own tomatoes. Unless they need it because they are sick, and then it is more important.
STUFF STONERS LIKE: How do you feel about how the Obama administration has handle medical marijuana? Seems sorta like the guy who ran with the “Choom Gang”, who sorta led STONERS to think he’d relax federal medical marijuana policy…may be more critical of medical marijuana than his predecessor, eh? Do you think Obama will start his change the federal marijuana messaging before the general election?
Chris Simunek: I never really expect the President of the United States to do anything extraordinary, do you? So long as he doesn’t sink us into two unwinnable wars or hand the White House over to the right because he thought it was a good idea to get a blow job from an intern under his desk, he will have exceeded my expectations. The election is about 60 days away and he’s still coming down hard on the dispensaries, so I don’t see him putting out any commercials of him ripping bong hits and air-guitaring Hendrix solos anytime soon. He said at the beginning of his tenure that he wasn’t going to interfere with state-sanctioned medical marijuana, and then he did. I don’t trust liars, do you?