What’s my Viper’s Dream? Well I’m glad you asked!
I have wanted to do a post like this for a while, one where I can truly bear my heart and soul and my dedication and passion for cannabis. There are hints of this in my introductory post, but their narrative is a tad personal so I made that one a supporter only post. If one donates even one time they get access to these posts!
I have named this post after a popular old school reefer song I quite enjoy by Fletcher Allen. There’s a great version by Django Reindhart that's easy to find.
I want to share some of my personal thoughts and beliefs about the future of cannabis and what I believe is/will be for the best as well as some stuff about where I see stuff not going well.
There are so many moving parts to the landscape that is cannabis, largely due to the forceful decades-long suppression program implemented by the U.S. government (and adopted by many others). The infusion of cannabis with capitalism as a structure has also changed the landscape and brought in many outsiders and many money chasers.
I’m sure it is already apparent at this point in the writing that I don’t believe cannabis and capitalism need each other or belong together.
I think we’d all be lying if we said that capitalism has markedly improved any cannabis community or environment even on a small or local level. Largely, what has happened is the creation of a bloated, over taxed industry full of suits, and largely lacking the compassionate vigorous characters of a true community.
The laws and the climates surrounding them and the markets are all composed so that they favor particularly socially mobile individuals(something predetermined before the legal cannabis industry as we know it came).
Of course White people, men, people who are already wealthy and established, etc are those most likely to be able to even start in the industry and gain notorierty.
There was a significant amount of time where all of the following were occurring:
African descendent people were kept from making or saving any money or passing such money and property along
Afro descendent individuals were targeted disproportionally for cannabis
Women were not allowed to have banks
Black individuals have been forcefully “urbanized” and kept away from natural skills and green spaces
The labor of African people was so severely exploited that there were many industries and corporations which live now founded on that stolen labor
There are a great deal more things entangled in the above but these some ultra basic points that display how within one single human life time and at least two or three before there has not been a truly equal moment in these exchanges.
All of this and more means that only White cisgender men have been given free rein of the industry with maybe less wiggle room if you’re a poor white man but even that is negligible when the general social climate favors your mobility.
To be frank white guys are seen as the default people. I see so many unremarkable white employees at cannabis businesses in places where there are lots of Black people and non Black people of color. I would even bet my bottom dollar many of those folks have more soul and need for those positions than their white counterparts. You mean to tell me this white dispensary phenomena is basically everywhere and yet somehow it's a mere coincidence and it doesn't factor into a larger equation and conversation regarding racial income divides? That Black folks as a whole are un-hireable?
That every person who has ever applied to a dispensary is either a cis white guy or a cis white woman? I know hundreds of people who are not cis or white and amongst them many love cannabis and culture around it and compared to their aforementioned counterparts there are less of them who have been able to break into the industry. (and not for lack of desire or trying)
The LGBTQ community, especially Black individuals have done more for cannabis than we are given our fair share for. In return I experience primarily if not direct racism, transphobia, homophobia etc, then over/undertones which are impossible to ignore.
The cannabis community is super chill and accepting at least that’s our desired way of being seen but for me it’s a struggle to get dispensary employees, smokers I’m just meeting, plugs, etc to not be absolutely weird if not down right disrespectful.
If everybody else can just buy their weed or whatever, what is different about myself and others who have experienced this sort of treatment? It is clearly about our race, ethnicity, gender experience, sexual orientation, etc and not just a mistake in communication, clarity, or a matter of sensitivity.
I don’t want to carve out space to accredit myself for speaking on real deal stuff I have experienced throughout my life and that is well embedded in the history of this country and could be seen even now with a glance outside but...
I grew up in the deep south. I am an Alabamian by birth and I have a rich appreciation of southern culture and my home.
I am not thin skinned by any means and I have experienced more than my fair share of discrimination on many different basis and occasions. I was raised to know how to move in public to not be a threat or to not be a thief or to not be “suspicious” because the presence of a Black person is associated with these things. Especially in capitalist environments like stores. It's unfortunate how many times I have been unable to stand up for myself because I was scared of being killed, having the cops called (which could also lead to my death) or just too broken down from being demeaned. There are so many high profile accounts of Black children being killed for even the assumption they had no money (when they really did). If you think this is not relevant to cannabis and the culture and the climate then you are lucky to have that privilege. But for me I have always lived and known that this is a world apart which I live in.
All of this is to say that this shit is deep so before you speak on something you didn’t even know people experience, consider how shallow and small that is and try to open yourself to this person's reality.
I promise there is no shortage of white folks, men or women in this industry. We need more Black people, we need more non-binary people, we need more trans people, we need more real patients, we need more very poor or raised very poor individuals and we needed them all the while.
When these demographic dimensions are written off as simple hegemonies then the same old song and dance can continue.
If one of us is not free in cannabis, then we are all not free. I believe in human interdependence and that until every individual can have equal access too low or no cost cannabis products of fine quality that we are not where we need to be.
I don’t believe a damn thing on this planet which is native to it should cost, especially when it's an essential like food, water, shelter, medicine, etc. all of which are native to this planet and in my opinion a right of being/birth.
I have spent many years as an activist in many movements and many capacities and one thing I’ve learned is that much of everything is entangled and especially in liberation and liberatory praxis.
There are obviously clear lines between racism and cannabis prohibition, there are obviously clear lines between access barriers for cannabis patients and entrepreneurs who are Black and the general lack of access to resources offered to our communities, and there are just as obvious lines between the over representation of white people in the industry and all of the aforementioned.
White guys aren’t better at understanding, working with, consuming, tending to, or otherwise interacting with cannabis than the rest of us. So there’s no reason everyone I see working at these pot shops fits pretty much the same small set of criteria. I don’t understand how there is even room to debate when time and time again fear of Black access has delayed medical and recreational bills and worked to limit access in those areas identified as majority Black communities.
Segregation is an ongoing reality for Black folks at all levels and in most any encounter. Athletes who are “too good” to be given full points. Brilliant minds whose unique perspectives are censored. Incredible musicians who are never credited. Schools and neighborhoods which are zoned in such a way as to funnel Black families through certain neighborhoods and school systems. Entire parts of this country only settled to be in a place where there were no Black people and where it was illegal for Black folks to come (like the PNW). Why would anyone try to pretend that this is a nation of absolute and unilateral benevolence? Especially people who claim to love cannabis. I think what is beautiful about cannabis is what it reveals to us about reality and the very nature of being.
Cannabis can show you things you have never seen before and if it hasn't shown you that the drug war is evil racist propaganda that just supports very popular industries of policing, weapons manufacturing, and petroleum monopolies then you aren’t paying attention.
Further, if you are aware that racism is a tool of cannabis prohibition since its very inception then why contest the reality of those most persecuted for cannabis.
It is so unfortunate that many of the regions from which legendary cannabis comes have been under regimes and public ideologies which favor prohibition and militarized policing of this medicine and in general. Regimes which are largely directly or indirectly trained, armed, led, supported, backed, etc by the U.S. government.
How are American soldiers amongst the many groups of people who brought cannabis from Asia, Asia minor, and Africa and yet also in support of regimes and actions which ultimately restrict cannabis cultivation in places it’s been cultivated or growing since time immemorial.
How can they come home and be welcomed into open arms in the cannabis industry when the Taliban, an organization who have been eating from this countries pockets for three decades have banned cannabis cultivation in regions essential to cannabis history and cultivation. Likely the very reason that there even is cannabis for any of us to enjoy in the first place.
There is so much which is not right about the way this is being done and how the propaganda this nation created spread with its false image of purity and the idea that a good nation was tough on cannabis spread to places where cannabis was their culture. Some places where people would normally consume cannabis saw huge rises in amphetamine use amongst other things.
So clearly something is happening and a bunch of rich racists have contorted the world into a misshapen hell-scape where only some can thrive. Every nation and people from which cannabis comes which has been damaged by the violent prohibition deserves to be given reparations for the loss of life, the loss of liberty, and the loss of essential access to life saving medication. There are some nations on this planet where cannabis has grown for thousands of years and now people are killed for possessing or distributing cannabis.
Such a backwards development is only a response from centuries of multilateral colonization which drained the resources, culture, and artifacts from many places and continues to prevent access to those things for descendants.
I want cannabis to be freely available on every corner of this earth from the tundra to Tahiti to Timbuktu to Tampa to Thibodeaux and beyond. I want it to be utilized as a soil healer.
I want to see wild cannabis returned to the world and to be utilized to fight invasive species and more.
I want there to not be a totally different landscape everywhere you go for cannabis.
Not that I want it to all be the same, rather I want there to be at least some version of most tools, products, chemotypes, etc available for everyone.
I think a world like this would see true cannabis innovation and a true cannabis community be built and cultivated. The whole world could be the cannabis community or at least much of us.
Further, I don’t want to see cannabis patents and cannabis monopolies. I want to see open source, free to the public, fair use, cannabis and beyond.
I want there to no longer be a luxury on cannabis so that the advancements it can offer us may be brought to fruition. As it stands cannabis is a cash grab full of horny capitalists. The further cannabis is turned into something not controlled by the community the less it will be what makes and has always made it great.
The brilliance of cannabis is not in its exclusivity, it's in its ubiquity as an experience. The only way to highlight that is for everyone too, even briefly, have an opportunity to enjoy that. Something which is unattainable with myth, misinformation, lack of formalized training and equipment and the related access, and targeted prohibition campaigns actively working against this possible future.
I promise if those folks being excluded from cannabis right now had the access some of these white folks here have they would be showing up and showing out. If you think cannabis is amazing now imagine what it’d be like if we all could participate unencumbered by the hurdles put before us but not all.
There are so many voices and faces and beings who are not in the conversation or at the table and it's this lack of presence that keeps cannabis relatively slow, sectarian, and limitedly educated instead of empowering speed, open exchange of information, and community education.
Because as long as some of us can be pacified with licenses, med cards, recreational bills, headies, and whatever access we have then the point of criticality during which we are liberated will never occur.
Instead, a state as hollow as the constitution which claimed equal creation and brandished the whip in the same breath arises; some are at peace but the lot are just suffering and pawns.
We have been convinced settling, making concessions, and taking multiple generations to do something is absolutely necessary. It is not and the speed at which change happens is directly relative to the seriousness of the initiative and the rate at which people are allowed or encouraged to collaborate. Humans are marvelous in their powers of transformation, creation, and synthesis. There is clearly something “hidden” blocking the path.
But I think it's finally time that changes and those persecuted for so long by even mere general association to cannabis can have the prowess, love, respect, access, and note of their white counterparts from the hippy trail, corporate America, the military, pharmaceutical industries, etc receive.
Another aspect of my dream is that as we shift towards a less commercial view of cannabis we can create space for cannabis education and access on even the neighborhood/village level. In some places I can see this being sometimes in shared space with a traditional pharmacy. But in others I envision a new dispensary where the focus is on loving, understanding, and cultivating the love of cannabis. Not selling cannabis. Not advertising it. LOVING. UNDERSTANDING. And CULTIVATING LOVE for.
I want cannabis to completely eliminate the plastic industry so that a true tackling of plastic pollution which has now become embedded everywhere. Our bodies even in utero now have been found to sometimes contain micro-plastic particles. That’s terrifying and it will not be fixed until big petroleum is stamped out and the only way to do it cheap, fast, safe, humanly, biodegradable, etc is with cannabis.
Lastly, I want to see that cannabis and its genetics are preserved and honored forever. There’s a lot of details to that but I believe doing so would enrich our understanding of healing herbs, encourage general conservation, and ensure the future of our beloved medicine.
If this is evil, if this is wrong, I don’t want to be right. I don’t believe a small, personal share in Black or rainbow capitalism will do me any good and it certainly will not do all it could for my neighbors. But if I expanded that into cannabis access and education for all then what comes will be magnitudes greater and longer lasting.
I dream of free weed. I know it's possible. Cannabis was free when we found it, how could we ruin it by making it harder and harder to come by in so many wats.
If you believe in this dream then please support my work, read it, share it, etc.
If you believe in a better future even though some parts of right now feel good for some folks then support that belief with action.
We can change our world and we can start now and not wait until the eleventh hour which we are steadfast approaching.
Trickle down economics is not real and it will not work as a solution to the inequities of cannabis or anything else. It is a time waster and a pacifier ; It is a lie which benefits the empowered and the powerful.