Pubdate: Wed, 13 Aug 2014
Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Column: Higher Ground
Copyright: 2014 C.E.G.W./Times-Shamrock
Author: Larry Gabriel
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Michigan)
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


Chuck Ream takes his cannabis religiously. In fact he's evangelistic about it.

"When you get out past your own ego, the teaching plants carry the 
message of right and wrong just like the Bible," says Ream. "That 
teaching from the magical plants could be the impetus to save our 
civilization, to move beyond absolute materialism. It's the only real 

It's that kind of zeal that led to Ream receiving the High Times 
Lester Grinspoon Lifetime Achievement Award at the recent Michigan 
Medical Marijuana Cannabis Cup. It's a great honor, but Ream has 
bigger ambitions.

"I would like to change the course of civilization and save the 
planet from ecological destruction," he says.

That may seem a little far-fetched to some, but a few years ago algae 
blooms rendering the water in Lake Erie toxic probably sounded pretty 
improbable. That's a lot of water out there, and it's pretty much 
human carelessness about the environment that caused it. In the long 
run, it may take nothing less than religious fervor to keep the rest 
of the Great Lakes -- the largest repository of fresh water in the 
world -- from a similar fate.

"Now I'm afraid we need to have a knowledge of good and evil," Ream 
says. "We're about to destroy our goose that laid our golden egg. ... 
My religion and the religion of millions of Americans and people 
around the world is absolutely illegal. The oldest religion by far is 
absolutely illegal. If you do want the forbidden fruit, you don't 
have religious freedom; if you want to get the true messages of 
nature in your religion, then that's illegal. We all really know 
these things in our hearts."

Ream has been preaching the gospel of cannabis for a long time, and a 
quick search on YouTube will reveal plenty more of his thinking.

There are a lot of cannabis activists who have similar spiritual 
views, although they seldom come out when activists are busy trying 
to deal with politics and changing laws. Some consider cannabis a sacrament.

Rev. Steven B. Thompson, director of Benzie County NORML, always 
includes a note referring to the biblical tree of life in his emails. 
And indeed in the Book of Exodus (30:23) there is a recipe for the 
preparation of sacred oil for anointing that includes kannabosm, 
which many believe is cannabis.

But Ream's lifetime achievement award has to do with more worldly 
things. High Times says, "Chuck is a tireless advocate for cannabis, 
exhibiting more energy and enthusiasm for the cause than activists a 
third his age."

While Ream will cop to using marijuana for the past 47 years, he 
times the beginning of his public activism to 2004, when he 
campaigned for the Ann Arbor medical marijuana initiative -- which 
won with 75 percent of the vote. When he did that, he left his 
position as a Scio Township trustee, which he was elected to five 
times, four as a Republican and one as a Democrat.

"I was never really a Republican, but that's what I had to claim in 
order to get elected," he says. "They call that a RINO -- Republican 
in name only."

Ream was active in the Ypsilanti and Kalamazoo initiatives to 
decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for adults and 
was a cofounder of the Safer Michigan Coalition to support these and 
other local initiatives. Ream is also a regular speaker at the annual 
Ann Arbor Hash Bash.

Ream also taught kindergarten in the area for 33 years. He says that 
he researched marijuana for 20 years before becoming a public activist.

"All the time I was reading, preparing myself for a life when I would 
be an activist after I was done [working]," he said in his award 
acceptance speech. He went on to say, "I'm proud to accept this honor 
in the name of all the great activists here in Michigan who fight for 
the holy and the useful plant. ...

"Why do I work so hard on this? Well, I love ganja. ... The second 
reason that I work on this so hard every single day is I love my 
country so much. When we fight against the drug prohibition, we fight 
for the soul of our country, and we fight for the civil rights issue 
of our time. We can start by making it clear that Americans have a 
constitutional right to natural plants. We will continue to liberate 
their potential as they continue to heal and liberate us."

This one's for you, Chuck.

Off to a Great Start

The political season is upon us, and the pro-cannabis crowd can count 
two victories already. Voters in Oak Park and Hazel Park said yes to 
marijuana legalization on Aug. 6. That makes three cities in Oakland 
County telling law enforcement to back off. Oakland County 
distinguished itself as the badass anti-marijuana location when 
facilities such as Clinical Relief in Ferndale and Everybody's Cafe 
in Waterford, as well as the private homes of several individuals 
associated with them, were raided in 2010, and Big Daddy's in Oak 
Park was raided in 2011.

Ferndale voters chose legalization in 2012, and a few weeks ago the 
City Council approved a dispensary to locate there. Now there are two 
more legalized cities in the county, with a few more on tap for 
November elections. So far, every time we get to vote, marijuana wins.

One of the interesting things about these victories is that there is 
little if any money put into campaigns once the petitions are in. 
People apparently see the futility of prohibition, and they're ready 
for a new approach. Get ready for a marijuana landslide across the 
state this fall.

Proof is in the Pudding

The prohibitionists always claim there will be a long list of dire 
consequences for lax marijuana laws. But consider that Ann Arbor 
decriminalized pot in 1973, and it hasn't gone to hell in a handbag. 
In fact, it's one of the best communities in the state when it comes 
to things like crime and unemployment. Actually, one of the biggest 
substance-abuse problems in Ann Arbor is drunken college kids.

Now we're getting reports in from Colorado, the first state to 
implement legal, recreational marijuana. Predictions of a rash of 
drugged-driving problems have proved wrong. Last week, the Washington 
Post reported that highway fatalities are near a historic low in 
Colorado since marijuana was legalized.

By the way, the results of a study recently published by the National 
Bureau of Economic Research show that legalizing medical marijuana 
has not led to an increase in adolescent use. You can double down on 
that. A different study published this spring in the Journal of 
Adolescent Health came to this conclusion: "This study did not find 
increases in adolescent marijuana use related to legalization of 
medical marijuana. . This suggests that concerns about 'sending the 
wrong message' may have been overblown."

Save that one for your pain-in-the-butt brother-in-law at the holiday 
dinner table.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom