Radical Rant: My 2016 Festivus Airing of Grievances

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“I got a lot of problems with you people!” – Frank Costanza

Being a person of reason, I do not subscribe to any of the mainstream religions. Thus, when this time of year rolls around, I am celebrating a Festivus for the rest of us.

As is traditional for Festivus, we begin today’s celebration with the Airing of the Grievances. While I’m excited as hell about legalization for one-fifth of the nation’s population, I still got a lot of problems with a lot of people.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage

Where to start with this guy? Here’s a fully loaded bag of douche who thinks that his state’s heroin epidemic is a matter of black guys named “Shifty” and “D-Money” driving north from New York City to impregnate white women.

Now this ideological descendant of Harry J. Anslinger thinks that the voters of the Pine Tree State didn’t know what they were doing when they legalized marijuana. In a radio interview Tuesday, the Republican Maine governor explained that the federal government “reissued their form for concealed weapons. And they make it very clear on the form in bold that it is illegal to possess and smoke marijuana.”

LePage says he needs legal advice before he signs off on legalization, because he swore an oath to uphold his state’s and the federal constitution. He worries that approving state legalization will put him afoul of the federal constitution, leading to his impeachment.

Never mind that when it comes to voters approving an initiative that raises the minimum wage, LePage says, “This is a recommendation to the legislature of what the people are feeling. You know, if you read the constitution, legislature can just ignore it, or they can modify, they can work with it.”

California Assemblyman Rob Bonta

It’s a bipartisan year for Festivus, as I’ve got a lot of problems with Democratic Assemblyman from Oakland Rob Bonta for his proposal to ban marijuana advertising from all roadside billboards in California.

While California’s Prop 64 banned billboard advertising of marijuana, it only did so on the interstate freeways that cross state lines—a nod to the federal Cole Memo that insists that marijuana commerce remain in-state. That leaves tens of thousands of miles of California state highways and interstate loops that are wholly within the Golden State where marijuana may be advertised.

But not if Bonta has his way.

“We feel that all highways, and not just ones which cross state lines, are inappropriate venues for cannabis advertising,” said Bonta at the introduction of his coincidentally named Assembly Bill 64, “particularly as Proposition 64 required an adult audience for advertisements other than billboards.”

Yes, we wouldn’t want the marijuana billboards getting in the way of the innocent children’s view of the Coors Light billboards, the Skyy vodka billboards, the pharmaceutical billboards and the strip club billboards, now, would we?

Oregon’s Health Authority

It’s been a frustrating year for Oregon’s marijuana retailers and producers. On the recreational side, Measure 91 passed in 2014 and provided that the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) would regulate and manage the production, testing and distribution of cannabis products. But on the medical side, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) handles those duties.

From the beginning, OHA has issued contradictory and shifting standards for cannabis commerce. They mandated extreme testing regulations before ensuring that enough testing labs statewide could meet those requirements. They set deadlines and then moved them. They made standards for packaging and labeling and then changed them. The issued and re-issued different testing standards.

It’s a strange flip of the script when medical marijuana people are seeing the liquor commission as the competent cannabis regulatory agency compared to the health authority.

Kevin P. Saunders

There are so many of the Stoners Against Legalization from the 2016 campaign to choose from. I could have gone with the leader of the veterans’ organization who insulted my six years of National Guard service. I could have gone with the kooky attorney who invented ludicrous legalese to frighten tokers into voting for their own continued criminality. I could have gone with the pot princess who only showed up around election time to pen viral anti-legalization pieces online.

But for sheer chutzpah, this time I had to go with Kevin P. Saunders, erstwhile mayoral candidate in Marina, California; owner of the Coasterdam dispensary; and lifetime Starbucks reject.

It’s bad enough that Saunders is a medical marijuana profiteer who sought to keep non-medical marijuana prisoners in cages to maintain the medical monopoly. But then Saunders was caught faking a quote from Bernie Sanders to make it appear that the Vermont senator opposed California’s Prop 64, when, in fact, he had stated numerous times that he would vote for it.

When called out on the fake quote, Saunders on Facebook dismissed the lie, writing, “it’s a wobbler at best,” and excused it by noting it was “political funny season.” Then, when prodded, Saunders dropped the bombshell that “I get paid to win! And that’s what I’m doing! The DAs, Chiefs and ‘powers that be’ have put me ‘out front’ and are paying well during the last push.”

A medical marijuana profiteer admitted he took money from law enforcement to keep healthy people in cages over their marijuana use. I believe it is now time for the Festivus Feats of Strength.

Previously in Radical Rant: Is It Still Civil Disobedience If It Makes A Profit? 

Click here for all of Russ Belville’s columns.

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