Pubdate: Wed, 18 May 2016
Source: East Bay Express (CA)
Column: Legalization Nation
Copyright: 2016 East Bay Express
Author: David Downs


High Times Editor and Writer David Bienenstock Brings His Book Tour to Oakland

Efforts to legalize cannabis are encountering some unexpected 
headwinds this year.

As income inequality reaches Gilded Age levels, and the corporate 
plutocracy further destroys the American Dream, many progressives 
worry legalization's spoils will simply enrich the powerful instead 
of prohibition's victims.

High Times editor and VICE correspondent David Bienenstock keenly 
capitalizes on that fear in his new book, How To Smoke Pot 
(Properly), which has great reviews from Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, 
Slate and the Los Angeles Times. This highbrow guide to getting 
stoned contains more than just joint-rolling tips. It's about how to 
"win the peace" of legalization.

His book tour swings through the Oakland Museum of California Friday, 
May 20, at 5 p.m. Below, we interview 'Bean' - co-founder of our 
affiliate podcast "The Hash" - about cannabis capitalism, what's at 
stake, and what stoners should do about it.

Legalization Nation: What do you mean when you say, 'keep pot weird'?

Bienenstock: I really wanted the book to start a conversation about 
this post-prohibition world, and how do we maintain the really great 
parts and values of underground cannabis culture and bring them with 
us, and share them with the rest of the world, and not see this 
really special culture be co-opted or have the values of Wall Street 
or corporate America imposed on us.

Marijuana opens you up to this consciousness that is a little weird, 
but that weirdness is something we sorely need in society. Marijuana 
makes you sort of question how society is organized. "Who holds power 
and why? Is that power being used well? Couldn't things be 
different?" Cannabis makes you really question everything and 
hopefully come up with a better way to live. It's only weird because 
the dominant culture is so off-balance.

Personally, it made me take myself a lot less seriously. And I think 
that [questioning] on a macro level is something that could really 
help to heal our society and move us in a new direction. But it's not 
going to happen if we separate marijuana from marijuana culture.

There's this idea that, like, "Now we can get past all these old 
stoner stereotypes and show that people who smoke marijuana are just 
like everybody else." I don't think that's true. I like to say, 
"Marijuana is not the cure for being an asshole, but it's a good 
first line treatment."

What's at stake in this era where we're redefining cannabis?

For starters, this culture could go the way of so many other 
underground cultures - look at how rock 'n' roll was co-opted. You 
can go to see a million rock 'n' roll shows, but does it still have 
that spirit of upheaval and challenge to society? Or is it brought to 
you by Coors Light and LiveNation and denuded of its political and 
social power?

If you understand this oppression of marijuana users - your view of 
the world will always be shaped by that. What's most dangerous about 
not keeping pot weird is to let [mainstream leaders] off the hook for 
what they've done to us. We can forgive that, but we should never 
forget. We can never forget that and we should hold the people 
responsible accountable.

If I get one more press release from someone telling me that their 
vaporizer is going to "legitimize" marijuana, I'm going to have to 
smoke weed just to not throw up. Because that idea is so offensive to 
me - this idea that Wall Street is going to legitimize marijuana. 
Marijuana saved one of my best friend's lives, it makes ice cream 
taste better, it sparks creativity. It's more than legitimate. And 
Wall Street is completely illegitimate. And yet they feel like they 
can stand up with a straight face and say they're here to legitimize 
marijuana - that's what we're up against.

This idea that marijuana should be another consumer product, like 
McDonald's - I think that would be a huge lost opportunity. That idea 
is being put out by the same people who oppressed marijuana and 
marijuana culture because they were afraid of that weirdness.

How can consumers help keep pot weird?

Become as educated as you can about cannabis. ... Look at where your 
cannabis is coming from and where your dollars are going. Most of the 
cannabis in the world is still going to be consumed and purchased by 
this culture. If we make the trend to support socially responsible 
businesses, that's what we will see flourish.

If one day the Super Bowl is brought to you by venture capital-funded 
"Marley Natural," will all the work of legalization still be worth it?

Absolutely. The weirdness in pot is inherent in the plant. It's not 
going anywhere. Yes, there will be Big Marijuana [but] they'll be 
sowing the seeds of their own destruction - unwittingly rooting this 
anti-corporate mindset within those who use that product, no matter 
how they obtain it.

So, I think, "We're here, we're weird, get used to it." We're going 
to keep pot weird.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom