I spent the last three days in Portland, Oregon, the kind of city I could easily live in: manageable, green, easy-going, mellow, polite. And I spent it with a few hundred entrepreneurs and activists, preparing and debating and sharing experiences about the burgeoning cannabis industry. It felt a lot like a gathering more than ten years’ ago of activists and ordinary gay folks, anticipating the possibility of civil marriage rights. It had the same energy, the same nervousness, and the same excitement. And, for me, the big reveal was the staggering level of innovation, imagination and technology that will transform the cannabis market as only American capitalism can.
And the people there defied every stereotype people want to apply to those of us who want to end the destructive, self-defeating Prohibition of a plant that is much less harmful than alcohol or tobacco. We’re long since past the age of Cheech and Chong; past the dumb giggles and condescending jokes, and mercifully beyond the boomer divide that still somehow sees this is as some kind of culture war issue, rather than a sane, pragmatic, gradual reform that will end persecution of so many, and improve the lives of countless more. So, yes, it did remind me of marriage equality – not least because the logic behind it is just as powerful and the opposition just as intellectually weak. If, like me, you’ve had the wind knocked out of you by Obama’s capitulation to neoconservatism, there are still some areas where the last six years can yield some durable domestic progress – and this is one of them. Unless, that is, Obama’s panicked blunder so emboldens the forces of reaction that it puts more of what we have achieved since the Bush-Cheney nightmare in jeopardy.
This weekend, we took our minds off the new Americanized war in the Middle East, and feasted on the poetry of Jericho Brown. I was gut-punched by this poem in particular. A secular meditation on prayer – from the Village Voice advice columnist! – is well worth re-visiting; I’ve rarely heard a homily that revealed and explained so much.
We aired the key to happiness; the cheeky face of a giant fruit-bat; the freedom from body dissatisfaction that veiled Muslim women enjoy; and a view of conservatism very close to my own – by Roger Scruton. Plus: the novel WWII soldiers couldn’t put down
See you in the morning.