News, media, and information on medical marijuana in California and how you can get involved!
As novelist Victor Hugo once said, “there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”
Though he didn’t know it at the time, Hugo could have been talking about the marijuana legalization movement in the United States–and increasingly, Los Angeles is at its epicenter. Once a marker of fringe associations and counterculture ties, marijuana use has a new face, which is proudly on display at public events, such as this weekend’s second annual THC Exposé.
Taking its name from tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary psychoactive substance found in cannabis, THC Exposé bills itself as “the greatest cannabis show on earth,” and is expected to draw thousands to the Los Angeles Convention Center April 23-25.
“Initially, it was an Expo,” says owner and founder, Brian Roberts. “But in the last year it has become more of an exposé, since we need to expose the truth about THC.”
In a statement, Roberts’ company, World War Thirteen, Inc., says it is fighting a propaganda war “that was started by the U.S. Government in 1937 when it arrested the first prisoner of war.” The reference is to Samuel R. Caldwell, who has the distinction of being the first seller of marijuana convicted under the Marijuana Tax Act, sentenced to 2-4 years in Leavenworth Prison.
Roberts refers to the newly-liberated marijuana industry as “an economic powerhouse.” The organizer estimates that cannabis and its related businesses constitute a $16 billion a year industry, many of which will be represented, including cannabis tourism, cultivation and legal & medical professionals.
More than ever, marijuana users are showing their faces–and those faces look–unsurprisingly–like someone you might see at the mall or Home Depot. In a recent on line conversation about marijuana use, readers of blogger Andrew Sullivan, reported their own “cannabis closet” stories. Self-identified users ranged from the leader of a successful law firm to “a 39 year-old homeschooling mom” and a woman who remarked, “My husband and I are both successful, responsible citizens and parents to two teenagers. I have smoked pot occasionally since high school–always thinking on those occasions that I really should do it more often.”
As reader Charlene commented to The 420 Times, “pot users have always been normal, everyday people like you and me. The only thing that’s changing is that we’re no longer cowering in the shadows.”
The growing willingness of users, both medicinal and recreational, to identify themselves with marijuana, has spawned close-knit communities around the cause of legalization as well as burgeoning medical cannabis industry. Hundreds of dispensaries, lawyers, medical establishments, and publications (including The 420 Times) have emerged to serve the needs of this specialized industry. But, it has not been without significant opposition and anxiety from law enforcement and elected leaders.
On April 16, the Los Angeles City Council approved the final piece of a long-delayed ordinance that, when enforced, will cause hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries to close shop. However, this November, California voters will have the opportunity to cast their vote on the full-scale legalization of marijuana. State voters first approved the use of cannabis for medical purposes with the passage of the Compassionate Use Act in 1996, although federal prohibition on marijuana possession has continued to make the legal position of patients and caregivers somewhat precarious.
In spite of the setbacks, however, the trajectory of marijuana legalization is clearly toward greater liberalization. In 2009, the Obama Justice Department announced that it would not pursue enforcement of federal marijuana statutes in cases where users are in compliance with local law.
Dave Brian of The 420 Times, which specializes in issues related to medicinal marijuana, believes that the industry’s spirit is strong. “The high turnouts we’ve seen at community gatherings and industry conventions show that patients and caregivers are determined to move forward no matter what.”