By Rick Cusick
Last year, while walking down the street in Newark, New Jersey, I was approached by a camera crew and asked if I would like to ask a question of the three candidates for Governor in the upcoming gubernatorial debate. I first I demurred and began to walk away but then, realizing the opportunity, I turned back and [link|http://open.salon.com/blog/freedomisgreen/2009/10/09/high_times_magazine...|posed a question for the camera].
“There’s a bill before the state legislature right now to allow medical marijuana New Jersey,” I said. “Do you support this measure and as governor would you sign this bill into law?”
The incumbent, Governor Jon Corzine, said with blunt certainty, “I’ll sign it.” And independent Chris Daggett also agreed, but the big surprise came when the Republican candidate Chris Christie said that while “We don’t want a situation like they have in California, where you can get marijuana if you have a headache,” the conservative admitted that he didn’t want to get in the way of sick people getting their medicine and said that he too would sign the medical marijuana bill. This made news. “The devil,” he cautioned, “would be in the details.”
Flash forward one year: after outgoing Governor Jon Corzine signed the controversial bill into law at the final hour and as Governor Christie came into office, New Jersey became the 14th state to legalize medical cannabis. For the last ten months, the Christie Administration has done everything possible to impede the enactment of this law, creating speed bumps aplenty and carving out the most narrow and restrictive medical marijuana law in history. Activist organizations like [link|http://www.normlnj.org/|NORML NJ] and the [link|http://www.cmmnj.org/|Coalition for Medical Marijuana in New Jersey] (CMMNJ) have pushed back hard and dispensaries, limited or otherwise, should open in 2011, but candidate Christie’s disingenuous opportunism has always stuck in my craw. He may have said “The devil will be in the details,” but what he did not say was that he would be the devil who would provide the details of obstruction. When candidate Christie cynically claimed he didn’t want to get in the way of sick people getting their medicine, he lied.
Last week when NORML NJ asked me to entertain at their Halloween fundraiser at Pistol Pete’s Saloon in Pleasantville, NJ, I saw a way to address my frustration. I wrote a good, old-fashioned protest song called “State of The Garden” hours before the show and while furiously rehearsing and trying to remember the words, I realized, in my interminable geekiness, that the song needed a kazoo. I got in a cab and rushed down to the kazoo store and bought two instruments and a harmonica holder. Utilizing duct tape, I cobbled together a freakishly Frankenstein-esque kazoo accompaniment and returned to my feverish prep. Over the next two hours I settled on cue cards but, in a cruel twist of fate, I blew out both kazoos as show time approached. I was kazooless, caught in a kazoo crisis, and decided to hum.
When I got to the venue my friend and fellow activist, Jennifer Lande, introduced me to her boyfriend, Jason Mescia and mentioned that he was a musician.
“Really? What do you play?”
“Saxophone,” Jason said.
“You wouldn’t happen to have a saxophone on you,” I snarked.
“I never go anywhere without a saxophone,” he deadpanned.
Of course, he could have been a really bad saxophone player – they’re out there – but when we stepped into the parking lot and I played the song, Jason picked up his horn and blew some of the most dulcet, bluesy and beautiful tones I have ever heard – five minutes before show time! I took this as a sign from a beneficent God – Most Cool and Very Hip. He was saying, “Dude! You don’t need a fucking kazoo… You need a saxophone!”
Who am I to argue with God?
Below is a link of a video of our impromptu performance. You can bet I’m sending it o the Governor.
Rick Cusick is the Associate Publisher of HIGH TIMES.
The State of The Garden
By Rick Cusick