From the Archives: The Steps to Legalization (1989)

By Ed Rosenthal

For a long time, activists have been waiting for NORML to start a political legalization drive. Years ago, California NORML had a functional organization. However, currently it’s in the hands of a Board of Directors who combine the worst qualities; uncreative amateurs who have only a marginal interest in the issue. Activists such as Dennis Peron, Jack Herer and Dr. Todd Mikuriya are consistently barred from any policy-making role. The president of the local, Dale Gerringer, complains about the Board, but for the most part appreciates their hands-off approach to his administration.

In March and April, several pieces of regressive legislation were proposed to the California State Senate and Assembly. One bill would have made it a separate criminal offense to possess any amount of marijuana in three separate packages suitable for sale. For instance, three joints or three containers of seeds. Another bill would have made it a crime to solicit to buy pot.

The third bill, which had versions in both legislative houses, would have limited diversion to growers captured with ten plants or less. In California, diversion is a judicial process for people caught possessing or cultivating marijuana for their own use. Instead of going through the court process, the charges are waived as long as the person stays out of trouble for two years. The court decides eligibility based on a preponderance of evidence. This law has saved California’s taxpayers millions of dollars since its enactment, and has saved thousands of Californians the heartache of judicial proceedings and their aftermath.

As the Senate bills began coming up for a vote, Dale became desperate. He could not get to the capital because of medical reasons, and the Board members who were suitable for legislative duty were either busy or uninterested. As a result, Dale asked me to see what I could do.

First I called up the legislative analyst of the bill and spoke with him at length. (A legislative analyst describes a bill and guesses at its effects on government and society.)

He asked me to write a statement about the proposals and let me know how to register to speak before the legislature. He also gave me advice on procedure.

The analyst asked me to write a statement about the measure and my opinion of its effects. I sent this out to him promptly. Then, searching the back of my closet, I found a serviceable suit, tie, white shirt, and shoes, and made the drive to Sacramento.

The bills were scheduled to come to committee at 1 P.M. I arrived in the hallowed halls at 9 A.M. and immediately started lobbying. I never got to see any legislators, but talked at length with a number of their aides. The first ones I went to see were those who I thought would be opposed to the bills. They were courteous, concerned about the issues, and very helpful in their comments.

Next I went to see the aides of legislators likely to be in favor of the bills. They too were courteous and engaged in frank discussions of the bills and the marijuana issue in general. I was surprised by their willingness to participate in give-and-take conversations.

The discussions with the aides were good practice for speaking before the Senators. First the proponent of the bill spoke. Then came representatives of the police, attorney general’s office, and the CAMP people. Representatives of the California Criminal Lawyers Association and the ACLU spoke against the bill. A concerned NORML lawyer, Bob Cogan, also opposed them.

The bills were fatally flawed and as the speakers discussed them, it became apparent that they would not make it out of committee. All were withdrawn. Three weeks later, the same thing happened in Assembly.

For the most part, I found the legislators abysmally ignorant about the subject of marijuana. Usually they’re led around by the state attorney general, the police, and “parent’s groups” because nobody else speaks up on the issue. Once legislators become more informed, their attitudes loosen up a bit. With concerted work, their votes can be changed.

These experiences have convinced me that continual lobbying efforts in the state legislatures could change the marijuana laws very rapidly. Prohibition is a model. In the spring of 1932, Roosevelt was opposed to a “wet” plank because he thought it would lose him votes. Within a few months, public opinion had turned. The corruption, killings, and lack of liquor made the public disgusted. Roosevelt won not only on anti-Hoover depression votes, but also because of the promise to repeal the 18th Amendment. If that history is too ancient, remember that in 1980 Reagan won partly on an anti-Commie plank. Now the Russians are our best friends.

The anti-pot groups have had a field day for years. They have faced no opposition in the government and media and have been able to deal in hysterics. Now you can help cut short their non-joyride. We need thousands of people to talk until their throats are dry.

I envision an army of lobbyists first descending on the state governments then the federal government. And I mean YOU. Everyone can do it. Simply by reading High Times, you can be an effective citizen-lobbyist.

In order to approach the government most effectively, you have to sort of play their game. Here are some rules and pointers for talking with elected government officials and their aides.

1) Everyone at the legislature is dressed in business clothes. In most legislatures, this means suits or work dresses. Attempting to approach these people in jeans makes their eyes glaze over. I know that this is going to turn a lot of people off, but dress and grooming are important. It’s a signal to them that you are ready to talk the same language.

On the other hand, legislators usually have office days in their local office. You can go visit them there to voice your concerns. These meetings are usually more informal than the ones in the capital. However, going up to the capital emphasizes the “importance” of the issue.

2) Rehearse your arguments so that you know them by heart, and do not have to think about them when you are talking with the representatives.

3) Listen to what they have to say and do not interrupt. Once they have made their argument or asked their question, then answer it or make your rebuttal.

4) Try to de-polarize the issue by first talking about what you agree on. When I was talking to conservatives, I started the discussion by bringing up some areas on which I knew we’d see eye to eye: “There is a tremendous drug problem that is out of control”; “Cocaine, especially crack, is the most dangerous drug around to both society and the people who use it,” or “The government has limited resources, and they should be used where they will do the most good.”

5) Talk in sound bytes. Legislators have a limited attention span. Instead of hearing the whole build-up of an argument, they would prefer a chunk, preferably no longer than 18 seconds.

6) Don’t make an ass out of yourself by blowing up or getting mad if things don’t go your way. The marijuana laws were not made in a day, and they won’t go away in a day. Fighting marijuana laws is a long-term effort.

7) Any comments made about your style should be taken to heart if they are well-intended.

There are six major reasons why marijuana should be legalized—they are criminal, economic, sociological, constitutional, national security and health. In future issues of the magazine, we will cover each of them thoroughly. We will also make room for comments about your experiences fighting these unjust laws in the legislature.

So get ready and get your suit and tie pressed. We’re going to the capital in September and October.

One last experience. I was walking down the hall with the Special Assistant to the Attorney General. He had just given a talk about drugs. He had been talking about rehabilitating drug users and I said to him, “There is one difference between marijuana and almost any other drug, including the legal ones, alcohol and tobacco. If you ask a nicotine addict, alcoholic, junkie, crack freak, or almost any other drug user, ‘If you could wake up tomorrow unaddicted and without cravings, would you take the option?’, for the most part these people would say yes. However, if you ask a marijuana user the same question, s/he will say no thanks, because marijuana users, for the most part, do not think the substance is hurting them.”

He said, “I never thought of that, but most of my friends who smoke it do feel the same way.” A little bit of progress was made at that moment.

steps
High Times Magazine, September 1989

Read the full issue here.

The post From the Archives: The Steps to Legalization (1989) appeared first on High Times.

Madchild & Obnoxious Team Up With Sick Jacken From Psycho Realm On New Banger “Work For It”

Madchild and Obnoxious have teamed up with none other than Sick Jacken from legendary hip-hop group Psycho Realm for their brand new single “Work For It”. The song will appear on Madchild & Obnoxious new album “Mobsters and Monsters” coming later this year through Suburban Noize/OMG Records.
Watch the “Work For It” video directed by King Zabb online HERE.
“It’s an Honour to work with one LA’s true kings,” commented Madchild. “I’ve been a huge fan of Psycho Realm since our very first Tour in Japan with them and Tribal back in 1999. Sick Jacken is one of the few, very rare emcees that continues to get better with time. Sick Jacken recently posted a quote that had a powerful impact on me and remember who I am; Genuine never goes out of style.”

Madchild and Obnoxious are just taking it back to smashing it on hard-hitting beats that are inspired by and most likely will remind you of the days of La Coka Nostra, Jedi Mind Tricks, and Psycho Realm. In a world where everybody is trying to go one way and follow the latest trend of the week, Madchild and Obnoxious have decided to stop paying attention to what everyone else is doing and just stick to what they do best. No gimmicks, no smoke and mirrors, just going with the timeless concept that iron sharpens iron.

“Mobsters and Monsters” will also feature guest appearances by Henry AZ, and Ouiji Macc.


from Faygoluvers

Drink to Your Health

In California, it’s called Cali sober, but all over the world people are switching from alcohol to cannabis-infused beverages, purposefully doing away with drunkenness, cognitive fumbling, and stumbling—and possibly that walk of shame the next morning—along with the hangovers. Harm reduction is the new buzzword for switching to weed, with people across the country choosing the plant over booze, stating it makes them better people, parents, and partners.

A Nose for Flavor

Wine specialist and sommelier turned cannabis beverage connoisseur, Jamie Evans, founded The Herb Somm in 2017. The blog and lifestyle brand hosts high-end, gourmet cannabis-infused dinners curated with wine and cannabis. Her first book, The Ultimate Guide to CBD: Explore the World of Cannabidiol, was released in 2020 and features recipes infused with CBD. Her second book, Cannabis Drinks: Secrets to Crafting CBD and THC Beverages at Home, was released in 2021.

“Cannabis drinks are a fantastic alternative to alcohol,” Evans said. “With the new low-dose options that are now available, these beverages can offer a similar experience to drinking one glass of wine or a beer, but without the hangover. Market trends are also showing that more consumers are seeking alternatives to alcoholic beverages for health reasons, which has been driving new curious consumers to the cannabis drinks category.”

In 2021, Evans launched Herbacée, a cannabis-infused beverage company, “celebrating flower and vine.” Evans said the iconic wine regions of France inspired Herbacée. The non-alcoholic cannabis beverage blends phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids derived from plants), terpenes (aromatic compounds which contribute to taste and smell), tannins (a bitter, astringent compound found in things like wine), and terroir (characteristic tastes imparted by the natural environment).

“In researching cannabis, I came across many similarities between the plant and wine, including farming practices and sensory evaluation techniques,” Evans said. “Mixology is defined as the skill of mixing cocktails and other drinks, but at its core, it’s the extensive study of the art and craft of combining flavors.”

Courtesy of Jamie Evans

Cannabis Cocktails

With her new drinks guide, Evans offers recipes, tips, and tricks in making cannabis-infused craft cocktails, smoothies, lattes, and spirit-free mixed drinks at home. Basic infusions include making age-old bitters, honey, sour mix, simple syrups, and alcohol-based tinctures. Using a technique she calls “infused mixology,” the book teaches the basic building blocks of crafting marijuana mocktails.

“One of the most important things to making a good cocktail is balance,” Evans said. “As with all drinks, we must evaluate whether the drink is too sweet or too sour? Is it complex or simple? What’s the texture like? How can you make this drink more intriguing and palatable? Once you can achieve balance, you’ve created a good cocktail. Also, remember that every ingredient that goes into the beverage is meant to enhance the complexity, structure, mouthfeel, and backbone.”

Evans
Courtesy of Jamie Evans

The Future is Fluid

Evans is excited for more people to try their hand at making cannabis cocktails.

“I am enthusiastic about the future of cannabis cuisine, cannabis restaurants, and cannabis-infused beverage bars,” she said. “In my opinion, making your own infusions, such as cannabis-infused simple syrup or cannabis-infused bitters, is the best method to use since it allows you to customize the infusion based on your personal preferences.”

Cannabis infusions will also combine into drinks seamlessly versus using a commercially-made oil tincture. Evans said the only downside with making your own infusions is calculating the dosage. With homemade creations, the milligram count will never be as precise as using a professionally-made product.

If you don’t have time to create your own infusions, Evans suggests adding an alcohol or oil tincture to infuse drinks.

“Dosing in this way is easy when using a measured tincture or water-soluble formulations that have already been tested with protocols,” she said. “CBD isolates using just one compound from the plant, cannabidiol, are another way to infuse a beverage. They are typically flavorless, odorless and are a fast and potent way to integrate CBD into your regime.”

Evans noted consumers can also utilize beverages already infused with THC or CBD right off the shelf, adding the pre-made infusions to their mocktails for another quick mix. She said the most important thing is to make sure everything used can be well blended, mixed, stirred, shaken, or muddled (mashing plants, such as mint or fruit in the bottom of a glass).

Evans said those interested in crafting their own cannabis cocktails can begin by making tasting notes for each ingredient and should not shy away from the herbaceous taste of weed.

“When working with cannabis in a cocktail, don’t mask the flavor of cannabis, complement it,” she said. “A lot of producers add a ton of sugar to drinks that cover the flavors of cannabis. Instead, if you focus on using terpene-inspired ingredients, they will play well with cannabis flavors and your drinks will taste delicious!”

theherbsomm.com

Evans’ book Cannabis Drinks: Secrets to Crafting CBD and THC Beverages at Home contains a wealth of knowledge regarding how to take the guesswork out of making quality homemade cannabis beverages. Here are two recipes from the book.

Evans
Courtesy of Jamie Evans

Ginger Rabbit

Packed with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, fresh carrot juice adds delicious flavors to drinks and can help improve your immune system, increase your metabolism, and help lower cholesterol. Carrot juice also pairs well with many other fruits, vegetables, roots, and herbs, making it a wonderful item to mix with. Introducing the ginger rabbit: Give this recipe a try when you’re in need of some extra nutrients to help support your immune system or anytime you’re in the mood for an incredibly refreshing drink!

Yield: 1 serving
Target Dose: 8 mg CBD | 2 mg THC per drink (using infused ginger simple syrup), or your preferred dose (using a commercially made CBD or THC tincture of your choice)

Equipment:
Muddler
Shaker tin
Fine-mesh strainer
Collins glass
Bar spoon
Reusable straw

Ingredients:
1 (1-inch or 2.5-cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 ounces (60 ml) fresh-pressed apple juice
4 ounces (118 ml) fresh-pressed carrot juice
1 1/2 ounces (45 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce (15 ml) infused ginger simple syrup 
Ice
Splash of ginger beer 
Carrot greens, edible flowers, and a slice of lemon for garnish

Directions:
Muddle the ginger and apple juice at the bottom of a shaker tin. Muddle well to extract as much ginger flavor as possible. Add the carrot juice, lemon juice, and infused ginger simple syrup. Add ice, cover, then shake for 15 seconds or until very cold.

Using a fine-mesh strainer, separate the solids from the liquids over a Collins glass filled three-quarters with fresh ice. Top with a splash of ginger beer, give it a good stir with a bar spoon, then garnish with a sprig of carrot greens, edible flowers, and a slice of lemon. This drink is best enjoyed with a reusable straw.

Note: When making spirit-free mixed drinks, it’s best to stick with healthier options and avoid extra sugar. I always recommend using fresh-pressed juices over concentrates and to source seasonal ingredients so that you’re working with the freshest produce possible. The same goes for ginger beer—the quality matters. I recommend using Q Ginger Beer because of its extra carbonation and spicy but not overly sweet flavor. Avoid using mixers that contain high fructose corn syrup or a ton of added sugar. These additives can drastically change the drink’s profile. If you don’t have the supplies to infuse the ginger simple syrup, simply substitute for regular simple syrup, then add your favorite unflavored tincture (at your preferred dose) into the shaker tin before muddling. Follow the directions as written.

Infused Ginger Simple Syrup

Yield: about 15 to 16 ounces (465 to 480 ml)
Target Dose: 16 mg CBD | 4 mg THC per ounce (using a flower infusion)

Equipment:
Digital scale
Peeler
Measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Small saucepan
Thermometer
One 16-ounce (480-ml) sterilized Mason jar
Cheesecloth
Fine-mesh strainer

Ingredients:
3 grams decarboxylated flower of your choice
2 cups (480 ml) water
1 cup (340 g) honey
1 1/2 heaping tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into pieces 
1 tablespoon (15 ml) food-grade vegetable glycerin

Directions:
Weigh out 3 grams of decarboxylated flower. Set aside.

Combine the water, honey, and ginger in a small saucepan. Bring to a soft boil, stirring until the honey dissolves into the water. Reduce the heat to around 160°F to 180°F (71°C to 82°C) and add the decarboxylated cannabis.

Simmer over low heat for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and add the vegetable glycerin—this will give the CBD (and THC) something to bind to. Continue to heat and stir for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Pour the infused simple syrup into a 16-ounce (480-ml) Mason jar through cheesecloth placed in a fine-mesh strainer to remove the solids. Let cool and shake before serving.

This article appears in the June 2022 issue of High Times. Subscribe here.

The post Drink to Your Health appeared first on High Times.

Jamaican Reggae Artist Protoje Creates an Energetic Feedback Loop Through Music

Oje Ken Ollivierre, the Jamaican artist known professionally as Protoje, is a thoughtful, contemplative individual—a thinker, if you will, who is consciously aware of his role as a creator and his responsibility as a creator to share what’s most authentic to him with the rest of the world.

Born into a family of music-minded parents, music started as a hobby for Protoje and eventually took form as a career once he made the conscious decision to go all-in and dedicate himself to his craft. His latest album Third Time’s A Charm acts as a culminating expression of his life experiences and feelings that have brought him through to the present moment.

When we connect over Zoom, Protoje is in a happy, expressive mood—having just taken a quick puff—and from a free and open mindset begins to share his journey through music, his relationship with cannabis, how he channels a higher power for his music’s creation, and how that higher power gives life to further music creation, performance, and sustenance.

High Times: Growing up in a musical family with both parents being musicians, was music always the path for you growing up in that environment?

Protoje: I really wanted to be an athlete first. I wanted to be a long distance runner and was obsessed with basketball in my teens. I always loved music and was involved in it, but it was like a hobby to me.

A little bit before I left high school I started to realize that the idea of getting a job or working somewhere was not sitting well. Not realizing the work it would take to be an artist, I thought maybe I could become one. Everyone was telling me how good I was and I could see how they were reacting [to my music]. So I declared that I was going to be an artist and that was what I was going to do [for “work”].

HT: What was it about the artistic lifestyle that you realized was different from running, different from having a nine-to-five—what was it that really captivated your spirit?

Protoje: To be honest, it was people’s reactions to hearing me DJ or doing other stuff. I just thought it would be a good way for me to express myself. I think where I felt most natural and felt most happy and content was writing music and singing it to my friends. I would get very excited and it’s what brought me joy.

HT: So there’s a fulfillment element then that being on stage and expressing yourself provides, perhaps in a way that other occupations may not.

Protoje: I think so. As simple as it is, I just didn’t want to have to report to anyone. I grew up with parents who always helped me feel very free. They had such busy schedules that they just kind of let me set my schedule, so it was very hard for me to adjust to operating on someone else’s clock. Doing so takes away my joy, so I knew that while I wanted to pursue music, I’d also have to do it under my own label. I just really didn’t want to have to report to someone, so I built my entire creative process around that.

HT: When expressing yourself through music, is there a mission that you’re trying to fulfill or is it just an expression of yourself and music happens to be the tool to do that through?

Protoje: I’ve found that the most honest way to approach music is to speak about experiences and the meaning that I derive from the way that I see things. That to me is me being my most honest self, and doing that is the most important thing for me musically.

So I may feel some way about something and I think the feeling is valid. After sitting with that feeling, I express it. A year later, I may be going through something else, but once it is valid and honest in me, I express it.

The overarching theme is to appreciate—to live in the moment of gratitude—to make use of the time that you have as best as you can. That’s really what I try to do as an individual. Because of that, that’s what my music tends to focus on.

When I listen to my music—look, I have to sing these songs everyday. I’m the only person who has to sing these songs one thousand times. I’m hearing myself sing this stuff all the time. So [the songs] need to be something that resonates with me and that I one hundred percent believe in. That they’re authentic from me. Otherwise, I’m going to hear it and I’m going to cringe.

The other day I had a show that was really hard to get up for energy-wise. I was tired, everyone was tired. I started the show singing “Deliverance” and said “Choosing how I spend my time is completely by design / They don’t even see the trying / All they see is dollar sign / All I make is sacrifice.” I was listening to those lyrics and I got an energy [that woke me up]. And this is why I [create] this way because it helps power the whole thing. Lyrics help power the whole thing of me being an artist.

HT: So it’s almost like a really cool feedback loop. You’re channeling from a higher power, that channeling then leads to the creation of the music, and then the music gives you the energy you need to perform the music.

Protoje: It’s like if you plant some lettuce yourself and you grow it and it comes up. You take it, and you wash it off, then you cook it, and you bring it out to the table for dinner. You break off a leaf of it and you taste the lettuce. You’re reminded of when you planted it and you get to experience it one more time and it’s a loop. It’s just like that, that’s [how making music] feels to me.

Photo by Yannick Reid

HT: Was there a moment after deciding to focus on music where you realized the path could be both the vehicle to express yourself and provide you with sustenance?

Protoje: I committed to music very early but it was very hard to get traction. I think when my first single “Arguments” came out and it came out and did well, I was like, “Wow, I’m an artist.” People were starting to recognize that I made music. I knew I had the skills and I knew I had the talent but my main problem was that I thought it was owed to me because I was so talented. I was like, “I’m talented, so why isn’t this person recording me? Why am I not getting the respect?”

Once I realized that nobody owed me anything and that talent alone had nothing to do with it—sure, I’m talented, but many people are talented—I began to realize I needed determination and discipline, and after that, everything started to happen fast.

HT: Once you realized you weren’t owed anything, what was the shift in your actions that led to success?

Protoje: The shift was immediate. I was at a friend’s playing video games and I went outside and started to smoke. Anxiety came over me like I’d never felt before. I didn’t understand. I knew I wanted to be an artist, I had a song that I was recording, but I was hanging out playing video games with friends during the day. I could tell you how many points Kobe had in the game the night before. But what was I doing every single day [to achieve my goals] apart from writing some songs at night? What else am I doing?

So I stopped everything that day. I got rid of my PlayStation, I stopped watching TV, I stopped everything else I was doing and I just started doing music all of the time. I started to bring my song to every radio station and go to every live event that they had where it was possible for me to get in front of people. Every day, everything I started doing was centered around “how is this helping me get closer to my goals?” I did that for a little and then everything started to happen when I stopped doing everything else. It was wild.

HT: You went all-in and took the action of consistently showing up for yourself. And it sounds like, from that place, good things happened.

Protoje: G, I’m telling you. In life, I’ve never seen it not work to really just narrow in on exactly what you’re trying to do and work towards it every day. I don’t see how that’s possible to not get closer to your goal if you work towards it every day. Once I realized that, everything changed.

That’s why I tell artists that I work with, “You want this and you want that, but have you done today to get there?”

From that day [of my realization] to now, no matter what it is that I’m doing, every day I do something that is helping me get towards where I am trying to go.

HT: And you’ve had the positive feedback from the universe to validate that way of living.

Protoje: I know that if I stay up another hour and send out another hundred emails today instead of tomorrow, I’m twenty-four hours closer to getting where I’m trying to go. That’s how I operate.

HT: How do you protect your energy from getting burnt out?

Protoje: The people around me will joke that I have an obsession or that I need to get hobbies, but I think it’s a balance. I have my family and my daughter, who give me a lot of relief. My family knows that I work really hard because I’m trying to do as much as I can do in as short a time as I can because I don’t want to be out here doing this forever.

I can spend five hours working feverishly on my craft today and then I have ten hours extra that I can use to go to the beach, I can hangout with my daughter, the whole family can chill and watch a movie or whatever—but the thing is, when I’m doing these things, the way my mind works is that these are all life experiences that are going into the process of me thinking. In turn, this leads to my music. You understand? It’s not focusing on being in the studio all of the time or recording all of the time, because that will burn you out. It’s living, experiencing, feeling.

Movies are a big thing for me and my writing because movies really make me feel. To someone else, watching a movie is time off—which it is for me, too—but at the same time, my mind is working and I’m getting ideas. So I’ve found a way to use it all as creativity.

Photo by Yannick Reid

HT: In terms of creativity, what’s the inspiration behind your new album Third Time’s The Charm and what do you hope people take from it?

Protoje: The album is an extension from [the album] In Search of Lost Time. It picks up right where it left off. Everything was coming from things that I was going through and experiencing. As I said, I communicate best with the world by talking about the things I’m going through and people can relate to it in some way and get something from it for their lives, as opposed to being preachy. That’s something I’m not interested in—being preachy and telling people what’s right, how you should live your life. I’m about sharing my experiences as you would when you meet someone and you’re talking to them.

Think about it: If you meet someone and you’re speaking to them and they say, “Hey look, you should live like this, this is wrong, this is the way,” or whatever, you’re not going to be receptive to the ideas and concepts I’m coming with, right? It’s the same thing musically. I’m just making music and communicating and sharing my thoughts and ideas. Maybe you connect with it, maybe it makes you come up with your own great idea.

I love this album, I really connect with it on a personal level. I love the words that are being said, I love the sounds that are playing behind the words. I love the way the album is mixed, I love the art. The visuals are possibly my most favorite that I’ve ever done. Everything is precisely how I want it to be and that’s what matters to me the most, knowing I’ve done exactly what I’ve wanted to do. However that’s perceived is up to people, and whatever that is, I’ll definitely be able to accept it.

HT: It sounds like you’re consciously making art for yourself which enriches your life, and there’s an awareness of the power it has to also potentially enrich the lives of many others.

Protoje: I like to think about van Gogh back in the day with an open canvas and him listening to his mind saying “Make this stroke with the brush here, use this color there.” I’d like to think he wasn’t there thinking “I wonder if someone is going to like this color here,” or “I wonder if people are going to like the way I do the grass here.” I don’t think that’s what people are doing when they’re making art. You have a picture in your head and you’re trying to put it as good as you can on the canvas. I feel like I’m hearing the songs in my head and all I’m trying to do is get it as close to how it sounds and looks in my head. When I really break it down to that, it takes away all of the pressure from making art. It helps you as an artist to not be anxious and feel like a hostage.

HT: How does cannabis help you with this kind of creative process?

Protoje: I have a very interesting relationship with marijuana. Sometimes, it gives me feelings that I’m not too comfortable with. Sometimes it makes me very anxious. Sometimes it makes me doubt myself. Sometimes it makes me question a lot of things. There’s lots of different reactions that I get from it depending on what I’m going through and how I’m feeling within myself.

When I smoke it causes me to overthink a lot and overanalyze. When I’m going through it, I feel anxious, but when I come out of it, I usually find something positive from the experience that I was having. So I’ve even learned to even accept the anxiety at times when it comes.

When I’m creating music—especially when I’m producing or recording another artist—and I’m smoking, it makes me able to spend as much time as needed without losing my focus. When I’m writing, marijuana will help me to be locked in and not be as easily distracted with outside elements. So creatively, I do think it helps me a lot, but I try to make sure that I’m not high all the time either because my conscious brain without being on marijuana is also such an effective thing and it brings its own qualities. It’s about finding the balance as with everything.

Follow @protoje and check out http://www.protoje.com for tickets, tour dates, and his latest album Third Time’s The Charm.

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House Committee Approves Two Bills To Expunge, Seal Pot Records

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday advanced two pieces of legislation aimed at providing relief to individuals with marijuana convictions on their records.

NORML reported that the Democratic-led committee “voted in a bipartisan manner to advance the Clean Slate Act and the Fresh Start Act,” both of which seek to redress prior pot busts and arrests.

The Clean Slate Act “establishes a framework for sealing records related to certain federal criminal offenses,” according to the bill’s summary, while requiring the courts to “automatically seal records related to (1) a conviction for simple possession of a controlled substance or for any nonviolent offense involving marijuana, or (2) an arrest for an offense that does not result in a conviction.”

It also states that “an individual who meets certain criteria may petition to seal records related to a conviction for other nonviolent offenses.”

The Fresh Start Act, meanwhile, would authorize “the Department of Justice to award grants for states to implement automatic expungement laws (i.e., laws that provide for the automatic expungement or sealing of an individual’s criminal records).”

According to NORML, the grants would amount to “tens of millions of dollars in federal funding to help states facilitate the automatic expungement of convictions for marijuana violations among other offenses.”

The measures drew support from both Democrats and Republicans on the committee, underscoring the growing bipartisan support for cannabis reform in the United States.

Republican Rep. Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania joined his Democratic colleague, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware, in sponsoring the Clean Slate Act.

“We need to pass this legislation so those individuals have a chance to fully partake in the economy and also reduce recidivism rates,” Reschenthaler told Pittsburgh public radio station WESA earlier this month.

Reschenthaler’s colleague on the Judiciary Committee, Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, applauded the panel’s approval of the Fresh Start Act.

“Even those who commit non-violent offenses can face a life sentence. That’s because the stigma of a conviction can be permanent, following you around for the rest of your life. Employment, housing, education — the very things necessary to get a ‘fresh start’ — can all be denied on the basis of a conviction in your past. The collateral consequences of conviction in our criminal justice system are far reaching and fall disproportionately on people of color,” Cohen said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Allowing people who have made a mistake, and have paid their debt to society, to wipe the slate clean is essential if we want a more just criminal legal system,” Cohen added.

The two bills are strongly backed by cannabis reform groups like NORML, whose political director, Morgan Fox, said the “need for this kind of legislative assistance is even more pressing considering the racially and economically disparate nature of enforcement over the past half a century.”

“Beyond the actual penalties incurred under law, a simple marijuana possession conviction can also carry with it a host of lifetime collateral consequences. In many cases, it is the modern-day equivalent of the ‘Scarlet Letter’ and it can negatively impact a person’s ability to function and thrive in society,” Fox said in a statement. “At a time when most Americans want to end marijuana prohibition and nearly a majority of people now reside states where cannabis is legal, it makes no sense to continue punishing adults and robbing them of the opportunity to fulfill their potential for behavior that in many cases is no longer a crime.”

“Members of the House have shown a commitment this term to advancing cannabis reform,” added Fox. “They have repeatedly affirmed that the time has come to start repairing the harms caused by prohibition and enact modern, sensible cannabis policies that are supported by a supermajority of voters. The Senate has the opportunity to follow suit by passing substantive legislation that can change peoples’ lives for the better and facilitate immeasurable opportunities — especially in marginalized and unfairly targeted communities — but the time for them to act is quickly running out.”

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