By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on January 7, 2023)
Dreadlocks can’t smoke him pipe in peace
Too much informers and too much beast
Too much watchie watchie watchie, too much su-su su-su su
Too much watchie watchie watchie, too much su-su su-su su
-from “Tenement Yard”, by Jacob Miller
Happy New Year! How about some good news? Via News Nation/Nexstar:
After voters in several states approved recreational marijuana in 2022, the U.S. heads into the new year with nearly half of states having full legalization.
The biggest changes are in the Northeast, where the legalization of recreational pot is new in several states. Rhode Island and New York kicked off sales in December 2022. Connecticut will allow sales to adults aged 21 and older on Jan. 10, 2023. Maryland is preparing to allow adult use starting July 1.
Missouri also voted to legalize recreational marijuana in November. Dispensaries there are still working to get permitted, so recreational sales aren’t expected to start until February 2023 at the earliest. […]
By the end of 2023, a few more states could be added to the list of green states. Oklahoma will vote on the issue in March. The Ohio state legislature is also considering a bill to legalize the use and sale of recreational weed.
Voters in three states – Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota – rejected legalizing weed in the November election. Medical use is legal in all three states.
Only three states have no public-use marijuana program of any kind (neither medical or recreational) according to the National Conference of State Legislatures: Idaho, Kansas and Nebraska.
Nice to see more states joining the “over-the-counter”-culture, with a new shopping list: Milk, bread, eggs, and ganja. In Washington state, we’ve been smoking our pipes in peace since 2014. Well…relatively peacefully. There are still a few bugs in the system:
(via The Center Square)
According to an unofficial tracker by greater Seattle area cannabis retailer Uncle Ike’s, there have been at least 100 armed robberies of Washington state pot shops in 2022, the most in the past decade.
The 10-year high in armed robberies at Evergreen State marijuana stores comes at a time when a federal banking bill aimed at stopping pot store stick-ups failed to pass the Senate.
The spotlight intensified on the issue earlier this year when one of those armed robberies turned lethal. Twenty-nine-year old employee Jordan Brown of Gig Harbor was shot and killed on March 19 when two teens allegedly robbed the World of Weed dispensary in Tacoma.
“It’s certainly a sobering figure,” Aaron Smith, co-founder and executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, said of the increased number of armed robberies at pot shops in Washington. “With crime on the rise and our industry disproportionately affected due to outdated federal banking regulations forcing state-licensed cannabis providers to operate cash heavy businesses, it’s absolutely shameful that another year is passing with Congressional failure to pass the SAFE Banking Act.”
It’s widely accepted that Washington’s marijuana shops are targeted because they are all-cash businesses.
Cannabis is legal in Washington, among other states, but federal law still classifies cannabis – along with heroin and cocaine – as a Schedule 1 drug with a high potential for abuse and little to no medical benefit. That makes it difficult for federally regulated financial institutions to work with state-legal cannabis businesses.
The bipartisan marijuana banking bill known as the Secure and Fair Enforcement, or SAFE, Banking Act would allow marijuana dispensaries to use credit cards, debit cards, and other banking services instead of being cash only.
The bill was supported by Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee and Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
In an April op-ed in The Tacoma News Tribune, Inslee and Ferguson said Congress ought to “immediately…pass the SAFE Banking Act which would, at long last, allow cannabis retailers to more easily use common cashless payment options such as credit and debit cards.”
The federal legislation passed the House but stalled in the Senate and was not included in the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill that passed Congress [in late December].
“This threat to public safety and private property would largely be avoidable with some Congressional action,” Smith continued, “and we’re going to keep working on safe and fair banking until we win.”
That means trying again with the incoming Congress.
“We do expect to see the bipartisan SAFE Banking Act reintroduced in the next Congress and hope that both parties can work together to finally resolve this problem by passing the bill,” Smith said. “Support for cannabis reform is growing a lot slower in Congress than it is among the voting public, but it is moving in the right direction.”
Considering recent events in the House …let’s keep those fingers and toes crossed. Oy.
So I thought I would welcome the newest forward-thinking states to our cannabis club by sharing my picks for the top five Rasta movies, in alphabetical order…seen?
Countryman– Writer-director Dickie Jobson’s 1982 low-budget wonder has it all. Adventure. Mysticism. Political intrigue. Martial Arts. And weed. Lots of weed. A pot-smuggling American couple crash land their small plane near a beach and are rescued by our eponymous hero (Edwin Lothan, billed in the credits as “himself”), a fisherman/medicine man/Rasta mystic/philosopher/martial arts expert who lives off the land (Lothan, who passed away in 2016, was a fascinating figure in real life).
Unfortunately, the incident has not gone unnoticed by a corrupt, politically ambitious military colonel, who wants to frame the couple as “CIA operatives” who are trying to disrupt the upcoming elections. But first he has to outwit Countryman, which is no easy task (“No one will find you,” Countryman assures the couple, “You are protected here.” “Protected by who?” the pilot asks warily. “Elements brother, elements,” says Countryman, with an enigmatic chuckle). I love this movie. It’s wholly unique, with a fabulous reggae soundtrack.
The Harder They Come– While the Jamaican film industry didn’t experience an identifiable “new wave” until the early 80s, Perry Henzel’s 1973 rebel cinema classic laid the foundation. From its opening scene, when wide-eyed country boy Ivan (reggae’s original superstar, Jimmy Cliff) hops off a Jolly Bus in the heart of Kingston to the strains of Cliff’s “You Can Get It If You Really Want”, to a blaze of glory finale, it maintains an ever-forward momentum, pulsating all the while to the heartbeat riddim of an iconic soundtrack. Required viewing!
Rockers– Admittedly, this island-flavored take on the Robin Hood legend is short on plot, but what it may lack in complexity is more than compensated for by its sheer exuberance (and I have to watch it at least once a year). Grecian writer-director Theodoros Bafaloukos appears to have cast every reggae luminary who was alive at the time in his 1978 film. It’s the tale of a Rasta drummer (Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace) who has had his beloved motorcycle stolen (customized Lion of Judah emblem and all!) by a crime ring run by a local fat cat.
Needless to say, the mon is vexed. So he rounds up a posse of fellow musicians (Richard “Dirty Harry” Hall, Jacob Miller, Gregory Isaacs, Robbie Shakespeare, Big Youth, Winston Rodney, et. al.) and they set off to relieve this uptown robber baron of his ill-gotten gains and re-appropriate them accordingly. Musical highlights include Miller performing “Tenement Yard”, and Rodney warbling his haunting and hypnotic Rasta spiritual “Jah No Dead” a cappella.
Stepping Razor: Red X– Legalize it! Nicholas Campbell’s unflinching portrait of musician Peter Tosh (who co-founded the Wailers with Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer) is not your typical rockumentary. While there is plenty of music, the focus is on Tosh’s political and spiritual worldview, rendered via archival footage, dramatic reenactments, and excerpts from a personal audio diary in which Tosh expounds on his philosophies and rages against the “Shitstem. “
One interesting avenue Campbell pursues suggests that Tosh was the guiding force behind the Wailers, and that Marley looked up to Tosh as a mentor in early days (I suspect that it was more of a Lennon/McCartney dynamic). A definite ‘must-see’ for reggae fans.
Word, Sound, and Power – Jeremiah Stein’s 1980 documentary clocks in at just over an hour but is the best film I’ve seen about roots reggae music and Rastafarian culture. Barely screened upon its original theatrical run and long coveted by music geeks as a Holy Grail until its belated DVD release in 2008 (when I was finally able to loosen my death grip on the sacred, fuzzy VHS copy that I had taped off of USA’s Night Flight back in the early 80s), it’s a wonderful time capsule of a particularly fertile period for the Kingston music scene.
Stein interviews key members of The Soul Syndicate Band, a group of studio players who were the Jamaican version of The Wrecking Crew; they backed Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley, Burning Spear, and Toots Hibbert (to name but a few). Beautifully photographed and edited, with outstanding live performances by the Syndicate. Musical highlights include “Mariwana”, “None Shall Escape the Judgment”, and a spirited acoustic version of “Harvest Uptown”.
OK …if you’d rather chill, here’s a mixtape. Headphones and munchies on standby: