Ana María Gazmuri: De Exitosa Actriz de Telenovelas a Primera Diputada Cannábica de Latinoamérica

Nota por Ulises Román Rodríguez publicada originalmente en El Planteo. Más artículos por El Planteo en High Times en Español.

Síguenos en Instagram (@El.Planteo) y Twitter (@ElPlanteo).

Ana María Gazmuri se presenta como: madre, abuela, activista por la lucha por el cannabis en Chile, fundadora de la Fundación Daya y diputada de la República de Chile.

En su país es una cara conocida por ser una de las protagonistas de la telenovela Ámame, uno de los mayores éxitos de los 90 en la televisión chilena.

Su vida dio un giro cuando comenzó su activismo por el uso de cannabis con fines medicinales a través de la Fundación Daya.

Esta organización sin fines de lucro fue creada en el año 2013 con el objetivo de ser un agente activo en el alivio y sufrimiento humano.

“Partimos desde esa mirada y de ahí desarrollamos una línea de acción para mover las fronteras de lo posible, cambiando el paradigma que tenemos en Chile en relación al cannabis y particularmente a su uso medicinal”, cuenta Ana María Gazmuri a El Planteo.

Para lograrlo pusieron manos a la obra y en el 2014 obtuvieron el primer permiso de cultivo para cannabis medicinal legal de toda Latinoamérica.

De ese modo iniciaron el camino de la investigación científica y la producción nacional.

Contenido relacionado: Madre Planta: la Lucha de las Mamás Cultivadoras de Argentina y Chile Llega al Cine

“Hasta ese momento todo el mundo pensaba que era imposible lograr un permiso de cultivo y que se trataba de una gesta romántica que no iba a tener buenos resultados”, dice la activista.

La otra pata del proyecto fue asistir a pacientes, orientarlos y formar el centro médico y terapéutico de Fundación Daya por el que ya pasaron más de 100.000 personas siendo la principal vía de acceso al autocultivo en Chile.

Cambio de mentalidad

Durante la administración del gobierno de Sebastián Piñera -que concluyó en marzo de 2022- los cultivadores y consumidores fueron constantemente perseguidos y criminalizados.

“Ahora los tribunales de Justicia dejaron sentado que el cultivo personal es lícito en Chile, más aún si es para el uso medicinal. Por eso hoy tenemos varios cultivos colectivos que son muy importantes, como una extensión de este derecho personal”, asegura la diputada.

Contenido relacionado: Nueva Constitución en Chile: Aborto Sí, Cannabis No

A diferencia de otros países de la región, en Chile ya existe una amplia disponibilidad de preparaciones y formulaciones magistrales de cannabis con THC y CBD.

“Aunque el problema es que en las farmacias solo tenemos aceites, aún no hay disponibilidad de flores, ni cogollos. Así que los pacientes combinan diferentes vías de acceso: vaporización más aceites sublinguales más cremas tópicas”, explica.

La persecución policial

La función pública puso aún más en alerta a Ana María cuando la policía realiza algún allanamiento a pacientes que utilizan y/o cultivan cannabis.

Con la asunción de Gabriel Boric, el 11 de marzo de 2022, gobierno del cual Gazmuri forma parte dentro de la coalición, “han habido algunos avances” en ese sentido.

“Hemos tenido como 5 allanamientos de los que nosotros hayamos sabido. A dos logramos solucionarlos in situ e intervenir para que no pasara nada y los otros están en manos de la Defensoría Penal Pública y los vamos a sacar adelante”, asegura.

Contenido relacionado: Presos por Plantar: el Suicidio de Rodrigo Barraza, que Cultivaba Cannabis para su Hijo

La diputada remarca el contraste con abril y marzo del año pasado “que teníamos 4 o 5 allanamientos diarios”.

Gazmuri afirma que durante el gobierno de Piñera “fue realmente una locura: nunca habíamos vivido algo así y ahora tenemos un acumulado de 160 causas que se generaron durante los últimos 2 años”.

Los primeros pasos a dar para terminar con la persecución policial y de la Justicia es “quitar la carga penal persecutoria y aclarar la mala interpretación del Servicio Agrícola Ganadero porque les piden a los usuarios una autorización que es para los cultivos industriales, no para los cultivos domésticos”, detalla la diputada.

Este tipo de casos se repiten con frecuencia en Chile porque cuando los carabineros allanan un domicilio y los usuarios les presentan las recetas médicas, ellos les exigen la autorización del Servicio Agrícola Ganadero.

Contenido relacionado: Chile: Nuevo Presidente Gabriel Boric Reveló que Fumó Marihuana en la Universidad

“Eso no existe, no pueden pedir un documento que no existe. Lamentablemente eso los habilitaba a la detención de los pacientes y después lo usaban como elemento de prueba”.

En estos meses se están llevando adelante los procesos judiciales a pacientes allanados y según la diputada: “Estamos ganando todos los juicios y los tribunales diciendo que nunca debió ocurrir este proceso”.

Las raíces Mamá Cultiva

Hoy en día, Chile se encuentra entre los pocos (o, tal vez, el único) países de Latinoamérica que cuenta con autoridades elegidas por el voto popular que vienen del mundo cannábico.

Al caso de la diputada Ana María Gazmuri se suma Paulina Bobadilla, directora y fundadora de la ONG Mamá Cultiva Chile y actual alcaldesa de la comuna de Quilicura.

Vale mencionar que Mamá Cultiva es una organización que nació en Chile y desde allí tendió sus brazos a Argentina, Colombia, México, Paraguay y Brasil.

Nueva Constitución y la recreación

Para las distintas entidades y organizaciones cannábicas de Chile, el foco está puesto en terminar con la persecución y criminalización de todo tipo de uso.

“Ya sea medicinal, recreativo, espiritual, porque esas son las dimensiones del uso y muchísimos usuarios son quizás ambos a la vez”, expresa Gazmuri.

Está establecido que la recreación también es un derecho humano asociado a la salud mental y al equilibrio personal.

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“Este cambio de paradigma ha sido muy difícil porque hemos tenido autoridades en el Servicio Nacional de Drogas y Alcohol con un ejemplo absolutamente retrógradas que han sido nefastas y que han pretendido tapar el sol con un dedo”, dice la activista.

Y agrega: “Eso hoy en día está cambiando radicalmente, así que tenemos un escenario bastante más prometedor por delante”.

Entre los cambios que atraviesa Chile se avecina la redacción y aprobación de una nueva Constitución que viene a cambiar aquella que instauró el dictador Augusto Pinochet en 1981.

ana maría gazmuri cannabis marihuana

—Cuando se redacte la nueva Constitución, ¿qué espacio va a ocupar el cannabis y aquellas personas que lo utilizan?

Hicimos una norma popular que le pusimos “Cannabis a la Constitución ahora”. El nombre podría ser un poquito engañoso en el sentido de que lo que estábamos queriendo consagrar era el derecho a la soberanía personal y al libre desarrollo de la personalidad. Es decir, protección y mayor garantías constitucionales para los usuarios.

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Esta norma en particular fue rechazada pero se incorporó otra que habla del “libre desarrollo de la personalidad y la soberanía personal”.

“No precisamos que la palabra cannabis esté en la Constitución, necesitamos tener mayores garantías constitucionales que aborde esto”, dice la legisladora.

Se espera que la nueva Constitución abra el espacio para legalizar el aborto y la eutanasia involucrando también el uso de distintas sustancias.

The post Ana María Gazmuri: De Exitosa Actriz de Telenovelas a Primera Diputada Cannábica de Latinoamérica appeared first on High Times.

Drogas, Política, Cura Psicosocial y el Baño de Realidad de la ‘Historia Universal del After’

Nota por Hernán Panessi publicada originalmente en El Planteo. Más artículos por El Planteo en High Times en Español.

Síguenos en Instagram (@El.Planteo) y Twitter (@ElPlanteo).

Cuerpos sobre otros cuerpos. Carne sobre carne. Galpones derruidos, calles cortadas, efectos prolongados de ketamina, largas sesiones de DJs, presencia omnisciente de dealers. Historia Universal del After, del productor e investigador Leo Felipe y edición de Caja Negra, se erige como una crónica narcótica en primera persona sobre la movida underground de Porto Alegre, San Pablo y Belo Horizonte, en Brasil.

“El after es un fenómeno relacionado con el problema del trabajo”, sorprende el autor brasilero en exclusiva para El Planteo. “Como, sobre todo hoy en día, nunca dejamos de trabajar ni de producir contenidos sin parar, el proyecto de prolongar la fiesta después de su fin representa una deserción del trabajo, aunque sea temporal”.

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A lo largo de Historia Universal del After, el multifacético Leo Felipe revuelve ideas a propósito del after y de su lugar en la sociedad actual: “Es una posibilidad de interrupción de las actividades funcionales, de las pocas ocasiones en que nos permitimos olvidar cargar la batería y en las que podemos dedicarnos a la improductividad total”, asegura.

Además, en su carácter subversivo, el after “promueve un acto de sabotaje”, ya que agota el cuerpo que debe “volver a trabajar más tarde”.

Sin sabor artificial

Entretanto, el espíritu festivo de la investigación (“El culo más cerca del suelo, el alma más cerca del cielo”, así comienza el capítulo llamado “El Artefacto”) anida, entre otros menesteres, en la idea del after como un momento de ocio para los trabajadores nocturnos. “Ahí, por fin, ellos pueden disfrutar de la música, de la conversación y de las drogas sin preocupaciones”, señala.

“En los mejores afters prevalece el espíritu del socialismo y la propiedad (la droga, digamos) se reparte por igual entre cada participante”.

El autor no recuerda la existencia del término “after” hasta después de entrados los años 90. La impresión que sobrevuela en su memoria es que aquellas eternas noches de insomnio y drogas estaban más relacionadas con la tradición bohemia y la sensibilidad beatnik. Con una noche más machista, más conservadora, más clasista.

Contenido relacionado: Sustancias en las Raves Europeas: ¿Cuáles Circulan en la Noche del Viejo Continente?

Y cree que, por el avance de las discusiones sociales, las nuevas manifestaciones colectivas configuraron este “nuevo after”. Un after que, según sus palabras, “algo ha mejorado, después de todo”.

“A partir de los años 2000, se llevó adelante un proceso de homogeneización higienista, que pasó a ser combatido por los colectivos que le dan vida a las situaciones narradas en este libro”, avisa, desde el prólogo, el creador de contenido Gabriel Bernardo.

Hasta que el cuerpo aguante

Entre las drogas más utilizadas en el under brasilero está muy presente el alcohol, que el autor advierte como “la gran droga brasileña”. ¿Por qué? “Porque únicamente estando borracho se le puede hacer frente a esta brutal realidad”.

Sin embargo, entre las drogas “no legalizadas”, la marihuana y la cocaína, ya sea inhalada o fumada (crack), constituyen la base del consumo. Lo explica Leo Felipe: “Son drogas accesibles que se pueden comprar en las esquinas de cualquier ciudad brasileña grande o mediana”.

Además, entre la exploración de diversos géneros literarios (epistolar, periodístico, ficción, sátira, poesía y autobiografía), distingue la presencia de helipa, una “especie de cocaína” (así, entre comillas) que circula en San Pablo, su ciudad actual. “El producto se produce y distribuye desde Heliópolis, la mayor favela de San Pablo. Con su característico envase, la helipa parece ser una mezcla de drogas y sustancias que distan mucho de la cocaína”, cuenta.

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Asimismo, con el trazo de una energía indiscutiblemente frenética, menciona a la marihuana prensada (consumida muchísimo más que las “versiones gourmet”), al ioló (un inhalante hecho de cloroformo y éter), la ritalina (una anfetamina), al MDMA (de uso extendido entre los usuarios) y la ketamina (muy popular en la escena electrónica).

historia universal del after

¿Cuál considerás que fue la “edad de oro” del after?

—Aún con las justificadas críticas -de la izquierda- al proyecto político del PT, los años en que el Partido de los Trabajadores gobernó el país fueron, sin duda, la época dorada del after. Durante este período, más de 30 millones de brasileños salieron de la pobreza y el país redujo drásticamente su escenario histórico de inseguridad alimentaria. Un escenario que, ahora, con el gobierno fascista, ha vuelto a devastar a la población más vulnerable.

—¿Qué había en esa época como para considerarla “especial”?

—En esta época teníamos trabajo, ingresos, comida, viajábamos en avión por todo el país y el extranjero, ingresábamos a las universidades y podíamos usar nuestros medicamentos. Esta época dorada también representó el último atisbo de ingenuidad en relación con lo que realmente es este gigantesco agujero abismal llamado “Brasil”.

(No) todo after es político

Así las cosas, Historia Universal del After se desarrolla como una investigación de corte político. Y coloca al after como objeto de estudio desde el que se identifican diversos retazos tanto poéticos como identitarios. Aunque no, obviamente, todos los afters no están necesariamente “politizados”.

“En realidad, el after también agota el cuerpo dedicado a las formas tradicionales de lucha política”, aclara el autor.

De hecho, en esa sintonía, el sexo también ocupa un lugar subordinado, secular: “Las drogas tienen la sartén por el mango en la conducción de los acontecimientos”.

Después, ¿qué importa el después?

¿Y qué hay después del after? ¿Existe algo así como un “after del after”? Sí, y es la dura realidad. Y, de paso, allí también se cosen algunas suturas de Historia Universal del After: en el choque de frente contra las obligaciones y los compromisos. En el cuerpo bajo de serotonina, en la desarticulación de la concentración, de la memoria, de la articulación verbal, de la coordinación motora.

Contenido relacionado: Sobre Drogas: el Libro de ‘El Gato y la Caja’ Basado en Evidencia Científica

Por eso, también, el autor insiste en considerar al after como una especie de “proceso de curación psicosocial”. Una ganancia que, en suma, llega por algún lado.

“¿Cómo puede un espacio dedicado al despilfarro -de energía vital, de oportunidades de descanso, de salud, de dinero- permitir la curación de nuestras psicosis y enfermedades colectivas? Tal vez sea ésta la idea más delirante entre todas las que contiene el libro. Aunque desconfío de las utopías, admito que aquí hay un componente utópico”, cierra Leo Felipe.

The post Drogas, Política, Cura Psicosocial y el Baño de Realidad de la ‘Historia Universal del After’ appeared first on High Times.

Thailand Cannabis Advocates Rally After Lawsuit Challenges Decriminalization

The future of Thailand’s cannabis industry is up in the air after a new legal challenge could bring everything to a screeching halt. In response, advocates in the country are mobilizing today in Bangkok to fight back.

An order, issued by Thailand’s Public Health Ministry, effectively removed cannabis from the country’s Category 5 narcotics list on June 9. Under those regulations, marijuana and hemp cultivation and commerce were legalized. Restaurants and cafes are permitted to sell foods and beverages infused with cannabis, but only if they contain no more than 0.2% THC. Products with higher concentrations of THC are permitted, but only for medicinal purposes.

Things didn’t go over well with the opposition, however, and Thailand’s cannabis industry was slammed for its lack of basic controls. The opposition argues that Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul caused social problems for the country and violated local and international laws by issuing the decriminalization order. In response to the growing criticism, the Public Health Ministry announced a new ministerial rule to better control the promotion and sale of cannabis flower, but the law has not yet taken effect.

The Central Administrative Court on Monday accepted a lawsuit spearheaded by Smith Srisont of Thailand’s Medical Council and MPs from opposition political parties who seek to revoke the decriminalization order. Srisont is a member of the Medical Council and president of the Forensic Physician Association of Thailand. His lawsuit names Charnvirakul and the Narcotics Control Board (NCB) as co-defendants.

The political parties opposed to cannabis include Move Forward, Pheu Thai, Thai Liberal, Thai People Power, and Prachachat parties.

Cannabis advocates in the area, however, aren’t going to accept the current legal challenge and are making efforts to have their voices heard.

Cannabis Advocates Fight Back

One of Thailand’s top cannabis advocates Chokwan “Kitty” Chopaka announced on Facebook that she and other dispensary owners would rally together at noon on November 22 at the Government House in Bangkok to protest against the lawsuit that could end everything. 

“Dropping by different dispensaries around Sukhumvit to invite them to attend the protest tomorrow which went better than what I thought, I guess having your business threaten can make people quite active,” Chopaka posted on Facebook, translated from Thai.

“I apologize if I could not personally invite every dispensary, and I would like to take this time to invite all dispensaries to come out and protest against the Narcotics Control Board re-criminalizing cannabis again. Which means that all dispensaries may get shut down.”

“Those that do not want their businesses shut down. Those that do not want their investment disappeared. Those that do not want to hide their grow again. Those that want to sell cannabis legally. Those that do not want to go back to getting piss tested. Those that want to see cannabis stay legal, come and join us.”

ABC News reports that about 200 people showed up to the rally at the Government House in Bangkok. “We want to ensure that these politicians are not trying to put cannabis on the narcotics list again. If that happens, our fight for years will mean nothing,” Akradej Chakjinda, a coordinator of Cannakin, a network of cannabis decriminalization supporters, told The Associated Press.

A proposed bill, the Cannabis Act, would implement Anutin’s decriminalization policy, and will be introduced in Parliament on November 23.

Another advocate, Soranut “Beer” Masayavanich, owner of Sukhumweed dispensary, announced that another group will gather at the Ministry of Public Health to discuss the upcoming Cannabis Act with Charnvirakul. 

“We aim to create mutual understanding on benefits that cannabis will bring,” Beer stated. “We insist that decriminalizing cannabis brings benefits to several sectors from tourism and economy to agriculture.”

Opposition leaders say that it is better to put cannabis back on the country’s banned narcotics list until the proper legislation is put into place. 

The post Thailand Cannabis Advocates Rally After Lawsuit Challenges Decriminalization appeared first on High Times.

Silvia Kochen, Coordinadora de Cannabis Conicet: ¿Por qué es Importante que el Estado Haya Creado su Propia Empresa?

Nota por Ulises Román Rodríguez publicada originalmente en El Planteo. Más artículos por El Planteo en High Times en Español.

Síguenos en Instagram (@El.Planteo) y Twitter (@ElPlanteo).

La doctora Silvia Kochen es la coordinadora científica de la flamante empresa pública de base tecnológica Cannabis Conicet.

En su extenso currículum consta que la cabeza de este proyecto -que significa un paso destacado para la industria del cannabis en Argentina- es neurocientífica, investigadora del CONICET, directora de la Unidad Ejecutora de Estudios en Neurociencia y Sistemas Complejos.

Contenido relacionado: ¿Cómo Reglamentar el Cannabis Argentino? En Exclusiva, la Mirada de Gabriel Giménez de INASE

A su vez, Kochen integra la Red Argentina de Cannabis Medicina (RACME), dirige el Centro de Epilepsia de los hospitales Ramos Mejía y El Cruce y es una de las fundadoras de la Red Argentina de Género, Ciencia y Tecnología, desde donde -junto con otras colegas- da a conocer algunos aportes de la neurociencia al conocimiento sobre el cerebro y las mujeres.

Cannabis Conicet fue creada con el objetivo de fortalecer e impulsar la industria del cannabis medicinal y el cáñamo industrial en la región en todas las etapas: desde el cultivo, la producción y el uso clínico e industrial a la capacitación y formación de recursos humanos

Fue anunciada oficialmente el pasado 11 de octubre a partir de la articulación del Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, la Universidad Nacional Arturo Jauretche (UNAJ) y el Hospital de Alta Complejidad El Cruce Néstor Kirchner.

“Este es un proyecto que viene haciéndose hace mucho. Su base tiene que ver con la Red de Cannabis Conicet y la búsqueda de generar una situación en espacio público. Lo que no quiere decir que después no se abra a otros actores. Busca contribuir a que la gente tenga acceso con calidad al cannabis, que se sigan haciendo investigaciones y que tengamos cultivos estacionales”, explica Kochen a El Planteo.

Una razón de ser

Según detalla el acta fundacional, Cannabis CONICET tiene como misión consolidar la industria del cannabis medicinal y el cáñamo industrial en la región, generando estándares de calidad e innovación en todas las etapas.

Contenido relacionado: Cannabis Argentina Marca Oficial Para el Mundo: ¿De qué se Habló en el Último Congreso del Sector en la CAME?

La creación es posible en el marco de un contexto alentador en el que se pronostica que para 2024 la producción global de cannabis medicinal alcanzaría los 42.700 millones de dólares, multiplicando catorce veces el valor de diez años atrás.

La creación de la empresa que coordina Silvia Kochen permitirá asegurar la calidad, el uso seguro del cannabis medicinal, su acceso, fortalecer la cadena productiva y, al mismo tiempo, posibilitará poder contar con semillas propias, lo que significa soberanía para la producción argentina.

El acercamiento de la doctora al cannabis medicinal se produjo a partir de su especialización en la epilepsia y el acercamiento al hospital de cientos de familiares y pacientes con esta enfermedad en busca de acompañamiento en el uso del cannabis.

A partir de ello, junto con su equipo de trabajo realizaron estudios observacionales y ante las coincidencias con varios profesionales de la salud e investigadores fue que decidieron constituir la RACME.

Contenido relacionado: Lobby del Cannabis en Latinoamérica: Notas para el Avance de la Legalización

Fueron numerosas investigaciones las que dieron evidencia científica sobre el uso del cannabis en diferentes patologías y en el mejoramiento en la calidad de vida.

Esta situación, sumada a los pocos efectos adversos hizo que aumente el interés científico y el industrial.

¿Qué lugar ocupa la Argentina en materia de cannabis con respecto a otros países de Latinoamérica?

—Creo que estamos en una posición bastante avanzada. A diferencia de otras partes del mundo, donde se considera al cannabis un suplemento dietario, lo que significa que es accesible pero para el que tiene la plata, el que no tiene la plata no accede porque lo tiene que pagar, nosotros logramos que la ANMAT (Administración Nacional de Medicamentos, Alimentos y Tecnología Médica) saque una resolución, que es una nueva categoría para que se lo considere un producto medicinal no farmacéutico. Así, una vez que se reglamente bien esto, la obra social lo pueda cubrir.

Tomar posición

Con la nueva empresa y el Estado interviniendo en la salud pública, en el control de calidad, impulsando el avance en los estudios clínicos del cannabis medicinal y el desarrollo del cáñamo industrial suponen más fuentes de trabajo, remediar suelos y un importante desarrollo.

En ese sentido, el mayor temor de quienes vienen luchando por la legalización es que todo termine quedando en las manos de unos pocos, que hagan su negocio.

—También ése es nuestro temor: que esto quede monopolizado en los grandes monopolios de los laboratorios. Por eso, la creación de esta empresa, que es una empresa pública. Es toda una posición en este país y en este mundo tener esta postura.

¿En qué momento piensa que se va a poder usar el cannabis medicinal sin que haya tantas trabas?

—Creo que en el momento en el que se termine de reglamentar la última ley. Lo que hicimos es no hacer una espera pasiva y entonces creamos esta empresa. Por ley lo tienen que hacer: crear la agencia y que esta pueda terminar de reglamentar todo lo que sea necesario para que se pueda hacer todo lo que es el proceso productivo.

Contenido relacionado: Producir Cannabis Industrial en Argentina: PYMES Adelantan Avances y Desafíos de ser Pioneras

Para Kochen, este es sólo el comienzo ya que “la idea es sumar a toda la gente que esté interesada en la temática, que le importe participar y está al servicio de los intereses de nuestra gente. Ese es el objetivo fundamental que tiene la empresa”.

Cannabis, el documental

Además de la medicina y la investigación, Silvia Kochen es realizadora audiovisual. Egresada de la carrera audiovisual de la Universidad Nacional de las Artes, su primera obra fue el documental Sara Méndez, sobre la maestra y militante uruguaya que fue secuestrada, junto a su hijo de 20 días, en Argentina en el marco del Plan Cóndor.

En 2021 estrenó su segundo documental, Primera línea de fuego: una serie de relatos en primera persona del personal de salud que atendió pacientes con COVID-19 filmado durante la pandemia.

Silvia Kochen y Emiliano Serra Cannabis medicinal
Silvia Kochen y Emiliano Serra durante el rodaje de Cannabis medicinal

En la actualidad se encuentra trabajando junto al realizador Emiliano Serra en el documental Cannabis Medicinal. El largometraje tiende un puente entre la ciencia y el conocimiento popular.

Contenido relacionado: EXCLUSIVA – Valeria Salech de Mamá Cultiva Argentina: Autocultivo, Feminismo y Economía del Cuidado

Con el aporte de distintos testimonios, científicos de diversas especialidades dan cuenta de cuál es la posición de la ciencia respecto a cómo actúa el cannabis medicinal en el organismo así como también lo hacen diferentes actores sociales entre quienes se destacan integrantes de Mamá cultiva y reconocidos cannabicultores que vienen sosteniendo la lucha por la legalización de la planta.

“El documental es variopinto y se van tomando testimonios a varios actores, que participan en todo el proceso del cannabis”, comenta Silvia Kochen.

The post Silvia Kochen, Coordinadora de Cannabis Conicet: ¿Por qué es Importante que el Estado Haya Creado su Propia Empresa? appeared first on High Times.

Toward a More Perfect Pot Union

A GROWING INTEREST 

Following the November 2022 elections, 21 U.S. states have legalized cannabis for recreational use, many of them now entrenched with a full-blown cannabis commerce. This rapidly expanding industry is populated with thousands of productive and ambitious workers, many of whom actively seek to organize or have already created union partnerships in their workplace. 

Anywhere from 30,000 to 40,000 cannabis industry employees are estimated to be unionized across America. 

UFCW UNITING WITH THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY

Some California cannabis employees are part of UFCW—United Food and Commercial Workers—the largest cannabis workers union in the country, representing over 10,000 employees nationwide. 

UFCW Local 5—which presently represents over 500 weed workers across the famed “Bay Area” of Northern California—is branching out beyond representing dispensary workers, as in June 2021, when UFCW brokered a historic first-ever agreement to unionize workers at both a California-based cannabis manufacturer, CannaCraft Manufacturing, and at a cannabis lab, Sonoma Lab Works. 

We were fortunate to speak in-depth with Jim Araby, Director of Strategic Campaigns for UFCW 5. When asked about what both the individual weed worker and the collective cannabis industry gain from unionization, Araby elaborated:

“The worker benefits are very clear, such as the difference between union and non-union wages in the companies we’ve organized in the Bay Area. DIspensary workers and delivery drivers are making $3-to-$4 more per hour than their non-union equivalents.

“Also union workers are not subjected to ‘at-will’ hiring-and-firing, instead, they have to go through an actual process for ‘just cause’ so if they get fired for some reason, there’s a procedure in place, whereas non-union workers just get fired immediately under the ‘at-will’ law.

“The other big thing is; with the way the cannabis industry is now, in terms of there being a lot of large mergers and acquisitions happening, I think workers are protected in such spaces if they organize. When the High Times (retail sector), Have a Heart and Harvest merger occurred a couple years ago (2020), we were able to protect workers and keep their jobs. 

“In terms of labor-management partnerships, we can lobby with legislators in order to create a more streamlined regulatory process so that businesses can expand and thrive, and workers can get a piece of that. And we’re focused on labor management partnerships and fighting companies that don’t recognize labor’s right to organize.”

Araby discussed the significance of cannabis unionization: “Because there’s going to be tens of thousands of people who work in the industry, and if workers don’t have rights, if they don’t have a voice, it’s going to end up the same way that every non-union industry is, where big corporations are going to control the wages and benefits of workers in this industry.

“But with the unions having a foothold as this industry grows, it at least gives workers and the communities a much more sustainable industry both in terms of what the community can expect, and ultimately, what workers can expect.

“We organized CannaCraft—a cannabis manufacturer based in Santa Rosa, CA—last year and that was pretty significant because, at the time, that company was going to unilaterally issue 20 to 30 percent pay-cuts for everybody and we were able to stop that. We were also able to use a smoother approach and bargain in good faith with the company to maintain most jobs at the plant as well as being on the pathway to create Cal OSHA—the Occupational Safety and Health Administration—standards.” 

TEAMSTERS TEAMING UP WITH WEED WORKERS

Workers at Tikun Olam, a cannabis cultivation facility based in the California city of Adelanto, gave themselves an early Christmas gift on December 22, 2021 when they voted unanimously to ratify a labor agreement with Teamsters Local 1932. This act gave Tikun the distinction of being the first unionized cannabis facility in the Inland Empire, the massive metropolitan region adjacent to coastal Southern California. The collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was approved after Tikun workers voted in the majority to unionize. Beyond the contract, the company and Teamsters 1932 agreed to partner to provide training opportunities through apprenticeships with Tikun and the industry as a whole. 

Regarding this development, High Times was able to reach out to not only Abraham Gallegos, Business Agent Organizer for Teamsters Local 1932, but also Kenneth P. Ocean, Cultivation Technician at Tikun Olam, who graciously provided the workers perspective for this article. 

Mr. Ocean explained the process that led to his company joining Teamsters: “I was with the company for about six months before we voted to unionize about a year ago. It won unanimously; one hundred percent of us wanted to go this way. Being unionized gives us job security to not getting fired instantly, as well as giving us an opportunity to have a career in this business.

“The management here was having struggles and miscommunicating as far as procedures, so we felt a union could help us a lot more in every direction, including obtaining safety equipment that we needed to have on hand to do our job properly. We also get benefits from the union. Plus, the products we produce are ten times better now that we’re with the union.”

Abe Gallegos of Teamsters confirmed this: 

“Tikun Olam went for months without generating revenue. It had huge turnover with constant firings and crop failures. But since unionization this team has been producing great cannabis here in Adelanto. It’s been a complete 180 degree turnaround at that cultivation facility.

“Fortunately, here in California we have a Labor Peace Agreement (LPA) law, which means any company with ten or more employees has to sign an LPA to get their business licensing in California, which prevents them from engaging in union-busting.”  

In the legal city of Chicago, in March 2022, Windy City weed workers at not one but two cannabis retail store locations—in the Logan Square and River North neighborhoods—both voted unanimously to enter into a CBA with Teamsters Local 777. This was particularly significant because it was the first two Teamster contracts in the cannabis industry in the state of Illinois. 

Concerning this unionization, High Times was fortunate to extensively interview Jim Glimco, President of Teamsters 777, and he shared: “We negotiated a fantastic agreement at Modern Cannabis (MoCa) that covers two locations. What’s exciting about this industry is that we have momentum on our side; cannabis workers throughout Illinois are hearing about what’s happening and asking how they can sign up. The level of enthusiasm I’ve seen from workers in this industry is really exciting.”

Glimco discussed the importance of unions:

“For workers, the benefits are obvious; a union gives them better wages, better benefits, greater job security, a safer workplace, a voice on the job and so much more. For employers, there are also a number of benefits; a CBA implements a very clear set of guidelines into a workplace, which creates a certain level of operational stability for management. Union shops have lower turnover, so those employers are able to expend less resources on recruiting talent. 

“For cannabis specifically, given the ugly and tragic history of its criminalization, I think it’s important to consumers that employers demonstrate a commitment to social justice. When employers allow the process of unionization to play out fairly and bargain in good faith, it demonstrates that they’re serious about this, and their customers appreciate it.”

In June 2022, drivers and fleet maintenance workers at the Los Angeles-based cannabis distribution company Nabis Cannabis voted in the majority to enter into a CBA with Teamsters Local 630. Similar to the CBA at Tikun Olam, this particular labor agreement carries extra weight because it is a sign that unionization is moving beyond merely representing retail companies.

Matt McQuaid, Communications Project Manager with the Teamsters’ Dept. of Strategic Initiatives, told us: “Teamsters represent around 500 members working in cannabis nationwide in legal states like Illinois, California and Massachusetts.”

Further, McQuaid confirmed that it was “exciting” that the Teamsters were representing Nabis, a distribution company, adding: “That was cool because unfortunately a lot of agricultural workers don’t have collective bargaining rights in some parts of the country. But in California, they do.”

THINK TANK, UNION DANK

In September 2021, Washington D.C.-based nonprofit think tank the Economic Policy Institute issued a report entitled “Ensuring the high road in cannabis” that argued for strong unionization within the rapidly expanding legal-use industry. 

The report posits a “low road” scenario, in which employees in the cannabis industry endure the same inequities that non-union workers face in similarly aligned industries like agriculture. These detrimental practices and policies plague workers with low wages, minimal benefits, such as access to adequate health insurance. As well as the aforementioned ‘at will’ restrictions that threaten a worker with unemployment at a moment’s notice, often unfairly.  

By way of contrast, the “high road” paradigm utilizes unionization to ensure that the workers are protected from arbitrary firings, and earn a fair wage.  The report suggests cannabis workers could earn anywhere from over $2,800 to nearly $8,700 more per year working under a union contract.

UFCW’s Jim Araby weighed in on the EPI report: “Obviously I agree with their findings because fundamentally unions provide certain things to workers that they don’t have when they’re not in a union. Number one, it provides a pathway to better wages and benefits. Number two, it provides a fair process to be in place for any sort of discipline and as it relates to working conditions. And third, it provides a career pathway so that workers can advance throughout the industry, gain knowledge and skills and get paid for it as they grow, such as through an apprenticeship program.” 

UNION AVOIDANCE  

Certain law firms offer union avoidance services that actually assist companies in preventing workers from unionizing utilizing various methods including using pressure and fear tactics on workers considering unionization.  While this sub-industry may be one largely clandestine among the general public it wields great influence nonetheless in the various industries infected by their undermining of worker gains and workplace rights. 

Araby is all too aware: “Union avoidance firms are a growing presence in the cannabis industry; the big union-busting law firms like Morgan Lewis and Littler Mendelson, as well as others, see [union avoidance] as a growth industry for them. 

“We know that some cannabis companies have these law firms on retainer (fees paid in advance to law firms to utilize their services when needed).  These union-busting firms as we call them will even create fake unions in order to avoid the labor peace agreement requirements. So we know this is around, and the best way to deal with that is to make sure we engage workers and we get some enforcement on the regulatory side from the state, as well as have the federal government go after law firms that knowingly break labor laws.”

Glimco agreed union avoidance firms pose a threat to unionization in the industry: “Unfortunately, their scare tactics and lies can have an effect on people. In cannabis, though, what I have seen is that there is so much solidarity and enthusiasm from these workers. For that reason, union-busting in cannabis hasn’t been as effective as it might be at some other businesses.”

Glimco suggested how workers may oppose union avoidance firm intrusion: “The best way to combat these firms is to have a united, educated group of workers, and a strong organizing committee prepared for an anti-union campaign ahead of time. The more workers know that the anti-union propaganda is coming, the less likely it is to be effective. 

“There’s also a number of union avoidance consultants who used to be employed by a union, but then got fired for wrong-doing or incompetence. When workers find that out, they tend to doubt the credibility of the union busters.”

“UNION BUSTING IS DISGUSTING” 

In April 2022 UFCW 7 held a protest that saw union members, lead by organizer Jimena Peterson, demonstrate outside of the Denver cultivation facilities of the cannabis company Green Dragon, a weed franchise based in Florida as well as Colorado. 

The protest took issue with the union-busting tactics of Green Dragon co-owner and head cultivator Ryan Milligan after Milligan and the company fired a trio of growhouse workers for supporting efforts to unionize the workforce. 

And it’s far from mere material gains that would-be unionizers want to see changed; Green Dragon staff reported a facility full of mold and insects. The company has ignored employees’ requests for adequate ventilation. 

Araby was understandably critical: “Union busting is disgusting as it goes, and as the [Green Dragon] case proves, the company was at fault, so they had to rerun that election and the workers won their union in June 2022 and they now have a contract there.

“When employers spend resources on preventing workers from organizing and having rights at work, they’re basically spending resources against the democratic process. We at UFCW think that money should be better spent on allowing the workers to decide if they want a union or not.” 

Teamsters Glimco added: “Union busting is very prevalent. Most of the employers we organized had hired outside union busters and engaged in all sorts of dirty tricks once we filed for an election. They have fired people to scare them out of organizing, they lie to their staff. There have been many unfair labor practice charges filed against companies for bad behavior, and we’ve won almost all of them.”

UNIONS CAN ALWAYS DO MORE 

Although unions are highly advantageous to workers and companies alike, they are not perfect nor immune from criticism. Complaints include excessive dues that don’t justify the benefits as well as unions functioning as little more than another division of the corporation, intended to keep potentially more excessive worker demands under control.  

Glimco addressed such concerns: “Workers don’t pay dues until after they have ratified their first contract. Take a look at any collective bargaining agreement that was negotiated by Teamsters Local 777, in cannabis or any other industry. If you do the math, you’ll see that the wages and benefits our members receive is exponentially more than the cost of dues. Dues are a tiny fraction of the economic benefits you derive from your union membership.

“This union’s direction is guided by the rank-and-file. Shop stewards, contract ratifications, the leadership at the national level, my position as President of Local 777 as well as that of the executive board; these are all decided by direct vote of our members. Furthermore, our union is structurally a bottom-up organization. Local affiliates are autonomous and have most of the power within the Teamsters.”

As referenced by Glimco, a “rank-and-file committee” refers to a center of workplace democracy created by the actual workers of a company as opposed to a traditional union hierarchy. 

UFCW’s Jim Araby fully supports the rank-and-file system: “The core value of any union is worker democracy, so the more workers want to take ownership of the union, the better. We 110 percent support that. This is important because fundamentally, you don’t win a strong contract if workers aren’t involved. If the union believes workers are nothing more than dues-paying memes and they don’t actually deserve rights in the union, then shame on the union for doing that. UFCW fundamentally believes in workplace democracy, which means workers organizing and engaging themselves in the organizing effort.

“In every single cannabis company I’ve organized there has been a rank-and-file worker committee at the bargaining table, with me bargaining that contract.” 

When asked what workers should do regarding their complaints or issues with the union, Araby strongly suggested: “When workers feel that way, they should move up the chain to get to the union leaders so that they can understand why workers are feeling that way. The union is only as strong as the worker’s participation in it. You only get out of it what you put into it. 

“But I do think if workers feel the union is not responsive to their issues, they should show up to the union hall and demand a response from the union, because they are the union, and they invest in this organization and they deserve everything they expect from it.

“We have to keep fiercely advocating for worker’s rights in the workplace, fighting for union recognition, and bargaining for strong contracts. At the local state and federal level we have to fiercely advocate for the decriminalization of cannabis as well as the legalization of cannabis, and assert the workers’ voice to be an essential part of these state and local laws.”

The Teamsters’ Glimco reiterated his reverence for rank-and-file: “Rank-and-file committees are the backbone of our entire organization, from the shop floor all the way to international level, so we are certainly supportive of them. The workers on these committees are the driving force behind winning elections and securing collective bargaining agreements. They are the ones who make the decisions about what the priorities are when it comes to collective bargaining, what issues need to be addressed in the workplace, and what actions need to be taken during an organizing or contract campaign. 

“We even have rank-and-file members on the negotiating committees for our national contracts, some of which cover tens of thousands of members. The union is not a third party where workers hire a representative to advocate on their behalf while they sit back and take a passive role. Rank-and-file Teamster members organize and bargain on behalf of themselves, and the local union is here to facilitate that process.” 

CANNABIS UNIONS ARE THE FUTURE 

Araby was ambivalent when asked about the future of cannabis unionization: “It’s yet to be seen if the industry itself believes in the union model; I would say some companies we work with value such partnerships and others who are sitting on the sidelines or even aggressively fighting us.”

Yet he still offered optimism: “If unions don’t give up when it gets hard, workers are going to get more and more organized. We have to struggle and fight because as it becomes legal across the country, you’re going to see more and more larger companies getting involved that are not necessarily friendly to unions, and we’re already seeing this. So we have to harness the strength of the existing workers we represent and have to continue to fight for workers’ space in the center of all these legalization efforts. 

“The challenge is: how do we get skilled and trained workers into that field so the companies can retain their workers?  So we’re trying to figure something out with local community colleges to see if there are any federal or state grants we can pull down to do workforce training and development training so internal candidates can grow in that job. The future of the cannabis industry, and union workers within it, is positive, but I can’t tell you it’s going to be one hundred percent going our way. But I know as long as I’m in the union, we’re fighting for this and the union is fighting for this, and we’re moving in a positive direction.”

The Teamsters’ Matt McQuaid opined: “I definitely see unionization increasing. I think there’s a lot of enthusiasm among people in this industry for unions and you’re only going to see it grow.

“It’s really important that in these companies that are making so much money, that cannabis workers feel like this can be a career. It’s important that they can stay in this industry for their entire lives, if they want to. And when you have a union, you have wage increases and benefits and all sorts of other things that make (a lifelong career) a possibility for workers. If somebody wants to work in this industry for 23 years, they should be able to do that and the union makes that possible.” 

His fellow Teamsters brother Jim Glimco was equally infused with optimism: “I think the track record of organized labor in the cannabis industry shows that we’re doing the right things to ensure that this is a successful endeavor. Ten years ago, there were hardly any unionized cannabis workers, now there are thousands. Over the long-term, I’d like to see some of the larger players in the industry negotiate national master agreements with our union. 

“As far as benefiting the whole industry, right now, a lot of people want to stay in the cannabis business, but they can’t because they need better wages and benefits. A union fixes that problem. The more unions there are in cannabis, the more we will have the right people in the right positions.”

Glimco “absolutely” expects cannabis unionization to increase. He elaborated: “Of the 21 states where recreational cannabis is currently legal, only five of them are right-to-work (which enables companies to suppress unionization efforts).”

“However, even in the right-to-work states, the Teamsters Union is strong. It was just legalized in Maryland and Missouri, two states where we have a strong labor movement. Recreational dispensaries just started opening in New York, the state with the greatest concentration of union members in the entire country. 

“Many of these states and municipalities are very smartly requiring labor peace agreements from employers as a condition of securing licenses. This means that employers have to agree that they won’t engage in union busting if the workers seek union representation. All of this portends well for cannabis unionization.”

Tikun Olam grow tech Kenneth Ocean was asked about what advice he would give to workers at a cannabis company with less than ideal conditions and management who were seeking to unionize: “I’d tell them to try to reach out to someone with your local Teamsters and find out the information you need to unionize. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. We got involved when our union steward—and cannabis cultivation lead—Doug Herring contacted the Teamsters and filed the paperwork with them and got in touch with Abe Gallegos. Teamsters 1932 made the unionization process happen pretty quick.”

When asked the same question, Abe Gallegos built upon Ken Ocean’s advice: “This industry is filled with brand new cannabis workers, the younger generation, so it’s up to them to set their expectations for a career going forward. Talking to workers in this industry, you find a lot still don’t understand their basic rights. Some of these people work at companies that don’t pay them until the company makes sales, so you have workers who aren’t being paid timely, which isn’t legal. 

“Unionization is a process that everyone is entitled to, and they can reach out to whatever union they want to talk to, and then put together their own voices to unionize. Teamsters represent the workforce, but at the end of the day, the workers are the union. They’re the ones who will push the industry to the next level. The steps to unionize are easy; contact a local union rep, then from that point we empower the worker so they can take ownership of their workplace experience.”

We let Teamsters 777 President Jim Glimco have the last word as he looked to a potentially dazzling future: “I think as legalization spreads you’re going to see unionization expand into the entire cannabis supply chain. On the west coast, we’re already winning elections at distribution companies and growers, and I think that’s an exciting indicator of what’s on the horizon. There’s no reason we can’t live in a world where one day every hand that touches the plant, from harvest to retail, belongs to a union member.”

The post Toward a More Perfect Pot Union appeared first on High Times.

Cannabis Companies and Organizations That Continually Strive To Support Veterans

While we celebrate many victories both for cannabis and psychedelics this week at the ballot, our advocacy for patients in need must never falter. As always, it is extremely important to remember that many veterans suffer daily from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, among many other conditions. Due to the federally illegal status of marijuana, veterans’ access to cannabis is often limited. Instead of being permitted cannabis as a medicine, they are prescribed a cocktail of prescription drugs that often lead to opioid abuse and suicide.

The statistics of veteran suicide are staggering. According to Stop Soldier Suicide veterans are 57% more likely to commit suicide than those who did not serve in the military. Since 2001, more than 125,000 veterans committed suicide, and in 2020 alone, more than 6,000 veterans committed suicide.

When it comes to the cannabis industry, there are a few companies that have stepped up to offer assistance. In Oklahoma, Mango Cannabis teamed up with local organization Veteran X to raise funds to help veterans and prevent suicide by offering veteran discounts, as well as discounts for non-veterans who donate. In Canada, Buds by Cannilux has pledged to donate 5% of all net profits to Veteran House Charity. Finally, Massachusetts-based Chill Medicated recently announced its plan to honor veterans by offering a donation of $1 for every product sold in November that will be given to partnering organizations VFW Michigan Chapter and Massachusetts Fallen Heroes.

No one is better equipped to help veterans overcome the many battles they face once they return home from duty than organizations who specifically work to support them. Many of these organizations are run by veterans who personally understand that struggle, and these are just a few of the many great veteran cannabis organizations who are working to ensure that veterans are properly supported:

Helmand Valley Growers Company is focused on helping veterans “battle day-to-day life.” One-hundred percent of this company’s profits go toward veterans medical cannabis research, according to the website, as it continually strives to end opioid abuse and promote medical cannabis as a treatment for veterans everywhere.

Weed for Warriors Project is a lifestyle brand that helps provide safe cannabis access to veterans, as well as provides rehabilitation programs and offers community engagement efforts. Recently on Nov. 3, the group announced their intentions to contact Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, questioning an issue they discovered about where the state’s $40 million cannabis tax revenue, which was supposed to be used to fund FDA-approved clinical trials for medical cannabis, has gone.

Heroic Hearts Project offers support through veteran retreats to guide veterans in the use of therapeutic psychedelics, such as ayahuasca, psilocybin, DMT, ketamine, and ibogaine. Veterans are supervised in a safe space, accompanied by coaches to help guide them through the experience. Heroic Hearts Project also advocates for psychedelic research, and strives to educate others about the efficacy of psychedelics as a medical treatment.

Upon its founding in 2020, the Veterans Action Council published a “Green Paper” (a continuation of a significant document of the same name released in 1993) that discusses the issues with medical cannabis access for veterans, and recommends what needs to change in order to further support troops. Since then, the organization has continually reached out to other legislators in representation of veterans.

Founded by a U.S. Navy Seal, the Veterans Cannabis Project advocates for veteran medical cannabis access, educates legislators about the benefits of the plant, and continues to provide resources for veterans throughout the U.S.

Led by a former Marine Corps veteran, Veterans Alliance for Holistic Alternatives strives to educate lawmakers “to empower ‘life change’ with cannabis” while promoting reform. In the past, the leaders of this company have spoken publicly on behalf of medical cannabis to enact change in Louisiana, partnered with the Scottsdale Research Institute, and even presented the benefits of medical cannabis to the government of Panama.

The Veterans Cannabis Coalition is an independent, self-funded organization that strives to help end cannabis prohibition and promote medical cannabis research and treatment through the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. You’ll often see this organization and its members involved in policy change and speaking at events to promote access and support for veterans.

Veterans Walk and Talk is based in Southern California but has chapters in Sacramento and Oklahoma. It uses exercise, as well as cannabis and psychedelics, as a tool to empower veterans to journey toward good health. Among peers, Walk and Talk becomes a therapeutic safe space for veterans to heal and grow.

Veterans Initiative 22 works to ensure that veterans receive support through its C.A.R.E. program. It provides reasonable pricing for cannabis medicine, brings awareness of the tragic suicide numbers, and help veterans find employment opportunities in the “cannabis, alternative medicine, and holistic wellness industries.”

The post Cannabis Companies and Organizations That Continually Strive To Support Veterans appeared first on High Times.

The High Times Interview: Russell Means

On December 24, 2008, a delegation of Lakota leaders delivered a message to the State Department announcing that their people were unilaterally withdrawing from treaties signed with the US. No longer would they tolerate the federal government’s gross violations of these agreements; America was put on notice that the Republic of Lakotah had been re-created. The new nation would issue its own passports and driving licenses, and living there would be tax-free-provided residents renounced their US citizenship. As has been the case for the past 40 years, Russell Means, the longtime Indian-rights activist, was there, helping see the declaration through and cosigning it. “We are no longer citizens of the United States of America, and all those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are free to join us,” he stated.

Means is one of the best-known, most influential activists in the Indian community. He rose to prominence as a leader of the American Indian Movement, and participated in the 1969 takeover of Alcatraz that lasted 19 months. He also participated in AIM’s takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs office in Washington, DC, and was one of the leaders in the famous standoff between Native Americans and the government at Wounded Knee in 1973. In recent years, he has directed Indian youth programs and worked vigorously to improve the conditions for his people in Pine Ridge, 90.

In addition to his lifelong commitment to Indian rights, Means has sought the governorship of New Mexico and battled Ron Paul for the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination in 1987. He is also a talented actor who has appeared in numerous films, most notably Last of the Mohicans and Natural Born Killers In all his dealings, Means says that he strives “to speak from the heart.” That forthrightness has sometimes caused controversy, but Means remains a vital presence in the American Indian community.

High Times: Describe growing up as an Indian.

Russell Means: I was born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, but I didn’t grow up there—I was five years old when we moved to California. My dad worked in the defense industry as a welder. In large part, I grew up in Northern California, in the Bay Area. I was the only Indian at San Leandro High School until my brother got there in the 10th grade. I was always very conscious of who I am. I always have been—through my relatives and extended family. I made continual visits back home.

When did your activism begin?

Not until after I got out of high school—then the Indian-relocation program was going full swing. [The Relocation Act of 1956 provided funding to establish “job-training centers” for American Indians in various urban areas, and financed the relocation of individuals and whole families to these locales. It was coupled with a denial of funds for similar programs and economic development on the reservations themselves—in fact, those who availed themselves of the “opportunity” were usually required to sign an agreement stating that they wouldn’t return to the reservation to live there.]

I started hanging around with Indian people at the bars in Los Angeles. The forced relocation of American Indians from their land into urban areas forced us to get together as independents. They didn’t put us in specific neighborhoods; they dispersed us throughout different ghettos and barrios. Our only social activity together would be at a local bar. But from the local bar, we formed athletic leagues and social events. That’s how we did our socializing as Indian people. It really opened us up to a whole range of different experiences in thinking from the different Indian peoples.

Talk about the early days of the American Indian Movement.

The American Indian Movement began in Minneapolis. Dennis Banks and Clyde Bellecourt were the founders of AIM. We sat in a hotel room one Saturday afternoon in Minneapolis, and we’re all drinking beer and socializing, and there’s about seven or eight of us, which included some of the women who were founders. We asked questions of ourselves: Who are we? Where did we come from? Why are we? And where are we going? It was the consensus that we return to our respective reservations and find out. We were fortunate that the real old people who had been born in the 1800s were still alive. They’d been raised by people who had been born free. None of them had been contaminated with the white man’s education; they had a clarity of mind and a purity of heart. They had our worldview intact as indigenous people—and, of course, our own language, our own songs.

AIM certainly caused concern for the government. Were you frightened of repercussions?

No, it was an exhilarating time. Freedom is an exhilaration. I believe if you have fear, you can’t be free. We come from a matriarchal society. Patriarchal societies are fear-based societies. Therefore, we had a head start on the rest of humanity, and we had no fear. We have trust in the unseen, to put it one way. The pride that was engendered, the self-dignity, was enormous—and it spread. It was thrilling.

Often there was dissension within the AIM ranks. What caused that?

We’ve all been colonized, unfortunately, and to what degree varies from individual to individual. Those disagreements were initiated out of misguided ego.

You became a prominent spokesperson, a handsome, articulate presence—even charismatic. How do you think you are perceived?

[Laughs] You know, I never thought of myself as good-looking. It wasn’t a consideration in my life. When I first joined AIM, a Crow man told me: “Now that you’ve joined AIM, you’ve made yourself a target. Remember that. But always speak from the heart and you can’t go wrong.” That’s all I’ve done my whole life is speak from the heart. Actually, our whole tradition is that way.

AIM often staged events and protests that were meant to tweak the government—like the Mount Rushmore event, where you and others planted a prayer staff there and renamed it “Mount Crazy Horse.”

The one thing I love in the American Indian Movement, and it was the first thing I learned: Don’t fool with bureaucracy—go right to the top. If you’re going to go to Washington, DC … figure it out. At Mount Rushmore, we went right to the top: These are our treaty rights, we own that land, and we’re going right to the top, man! Four white men up there, and I peed on George Washington’s head—one of the proudest moments of my life. Right in front of God and everybody.

What current obstacles do Natives face?

Well, as far as AIM is concerned, the obstacle has been and will always be the United States of America government and its subsidiaries—until it destroys itself.

Has activism changed over the past 40 years?

There’s a very big difference between then and now. When the civil rights movement began, it wasn’t called “civil rights.” Everything was liberation—freedom, free speech, black freedom, women’s lib, gay liberation. Liberation, liberation! It was a great time in America. Everywhere you went, everywhere you turned, people were talking about liberation, and it lasted for a good 10 years. When you’re young, that’s a long time.

Then the government threw a couple words in there that killed it all: “civil rights.” All of a sudden, everybody lowered their sights on freedom down to “I want to ask the powerful white males for permission for the same rights and privileges that they have.”

We were now fighting for our “civil rights,” our “equality.” I don’t want to be “equal” to a white man—I don’t want to lower myself! Who wants to be a white male in terms of values? I come from a matriarchal society. Why women would want to lower themselves is beyond me!

How do you view Obama?

The problem is, everybody wants freedom as long as it’s easy—and that’s Obama.

Actually, I have to hand it to the controllers of Americas. They brought in the emperor with new clothes—and the whole world suddenly just changes. Obama offers hope because he’s like a preacher. Americans feel good about themselves. We were the worst people in the world under Bush. But now we’ve got Obama! We’re great Americans again! Even though Obama said before the election he’d consider invading Pakistan. And he’s not leaving Iraq—that’s the new Indian reservation.

Mass psychology, and it happened overnight! I have lived a very fortunate life in a fortunate time. In my lifetime, I witnessed this about America: In the late ’50s, it started turning itself from a producing, productive country into a consumer nation. By the mid-’80s, it was complete—a beautiful study of mass-psychological control of the masses. It was amazing. George Orwell saw it all. Americans are so easily led, like the slaves that they are.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about Native Americans?

There aren’t any misconceptions. There aren’t any conceptions, either—we’re out of sight, out of mind. And Hollywood is the second-mostracist, anti-Indian institution in America—just short of the American government. They’ve perpetuated stereotypes, and that’s what people think of us: We don’t have a brain, we’re still primitive. That’s why they won’t get rid of those sports-team names—we’re out of sight, out of mind. We don’t have any power in the white man’s world, so they don’t have to pay attention to us. They can’t be harmed politically or economically.

You must have distinct views on Hollywood’s Indian films. Give us your take on Dances with Wolves.

Remember Lawrence of Arabia! That was Lawrence of the Plains. The odd thing about making that movie is, they had a woman teaching the actors the Lakota language. But Lakota has a male-gendered language and a female-gendered language. Some of the Indians and Kevin Costner were speaking in the feminine way. When I went to see it with a bunch of Lakota guys, we were laughing.

Thunderheart?

Good movie … great movie. It was based on the truth—but, unfortunately, it was fictitious. I wish they had focused more on the story of Leonard Peltier itself.

Black Robe?

One of the worst. One of the worst! One of the most anti-Indian movies ever. It’s a statement of the Jesuits.

Pathfinder, which you were in?

Huge disappointment. It was Marcus Nispel’s second movie. He remade The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; it made $100 million, so he was hot at the time. He got to do his passion, which is American Indians. It’s all about violence, and there’s no story—it was a horrible, stereotypical movie and, of course, it starred a white superman who taught us how to fight, where to go, and how to walk across ice and everything else. The Native cast got together to change the dialogue, but it was all cut out. It got panned by critics.

Last of the Mohicans?

Great movie, except for that one scene—what I call the “African village” scene. Back before black liberation took hold on the African continent and in the United States, you always saw the star rescuing the fair maiden in the African village, with the chieftain on his throne and his sub-chiefs around him with all their plumage on. Of course, the entire village is yelling for blood.

I’ll name the movies that were good. In the ’50s, there was Broken Arrow, about Cochise. In the ’60s, there was Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here and Little Big Man. Then there’s The Outlaw Josey Wales and Last of the Mohicans.

One of the things Hollywood does to Indian people is, we’re only allowed to make two kinds of movies:

Either we dress up in leather in the summertime, or we have to be drunken, dysfunctional misfits in movies like Skins or Smoke Signals.

In January, Lakota leaders withdrew from all treaties with the United States. You were at the forefront of this action. You even called some tribal councils “Vichy governments,” an allusion to French collaboration with the Nazis during World War II. Do you feel your rhetoric is divisive?

Listen, colonialism is divisive. Not only in America: look at Guatemala, at Africa, Pakistan, India. Colonialism takes its toll. I try to call a spade a spade—I can’t help it if people are brainwashed.

What challenges does the Republic of Lakotah face?

Back in the ’80s, under Carter, this whole five-state area, which is the Republic of Lakotah, was designated as a “national sacrifice area” because of its richness in coal and uranium and iron ore. The Black Hills Alliance defeated mining in the Black Hills through the lobbying of state legislators: Union Carbide, all of them—we beat those guys. That coalition was made up of Indian people, white ranchers—pure Westerners. Now they’re gone, our old people are gone, and just a few Indian people are hanging on.

But there are more battles in the future. We defeated the government interests once with the people of South Dakota, the landowners. And that’s what the Republic of Lakotah is all about: We want to include the landowners—especially family farmers and founding ranchers—in a free country.

The Northern Plains have been called by experts the “Saudi Arabia of wind energy.” The sun shines on the Northern Plains over 300 days a year. We have all of this free energy—we have enough wind, according to experts, to light up every major city in America 24/7, forever.

But the coal companies control the energy of the West. Some may say that it’s an impossible dream to fight against those guys and expect to win, but we’re going to. People can only take a police state for so long, and you can’t mess with rural people. Because rural people are, by and large, mostly self-sufficient, or they have a very recent memory of self-sufficiency. They’re not used to being pushed around. So they will react like we did in the ’80s against the planned sacrifice that opened mining in the Black Hills. I can see that through arbitration and mass psychology in this country, they plan to colonize this rural area and the people. That’s another reason why the Republic of Lakotah was re-created. We can defeat them again.

We have non-Indians who have come in. These are new immigrants to the Republic of Lakotah, but these are all professional people, very skilled people. It’s amazing—they’re moving here. It’s not massive, and we wouldn’t want that, because we’re rebuilding the foundation of freedom. It’s going to be a free society. We have our four major plans: health, education, economics and politics.

You’ve run for tribal president in Pine Ridge four times. If you were elected, what would your agenda be?

Freedom—outright sovereignty. If you want to be sovereign, you have to act sovereign. Freedom isn’t free. You’re free to be responsible, and if you want to be responsible—therefore free—it’s hard work. But it’s pleasurable work.

I ran on the “Freedom” ticket on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and 45 percent of my people who voted wanted freedom.

Do you plan to run again?

No. We got a country to run.

Visit russellmeans.com or republicoflakotah.com

This article was published in the July 2009 issue of High Times Magazine. Subscribe here.

The post The High Times Interview: Russell Means appeared first on High Times.

EXCLUSIVA – Valeria Salech de Mamá Cultiva Argentina: Autocultivo, Feminismo y Economía del Cuidado

Nota por Nicolás José Rodríguez publicada originalmente en El Planteo. Más artículos por El Planteo en High Times en Español.

Síguenos en Instagram (@El.Planteo) y Twitter (@ElPlanteo).

Mamá Cultiva Argentina es una organización de cuidadoras, cuidadores y usuarios que cultivan cannabis para su uso terapéutico. Creada en la Argentina en 2016 para darle un marco de legalidad al autocultivo, la organización creció para abrazar la causa feminista y la reivindicación de la economía popular y del cuidado.

Valeria Salech es feminista, presidenta de la organización, militante por la legalización del cannabis y activista social. Hoy reivindica el camino transitado por las organizaciones que culminó en la sanción de la Ley 27.669 de Cannabis Medicinal e Industrial a principios de 2022 y asegura que ahora es momento de avanzar hacia la despenalización del cannabis.

Paso a paso, Salech busca construir un sistema de salud más equitativo e igualitario que incorpore al cannabis. Goza del temple y de la paciencia que trae la experiencia de años transitando pasillos del Congreso.

Contenido relacionado: Con un Acto en la Casa Rosada Encabezado por Alberto Fernández, se Promulga la Ley de Cannabis Medicinal y Cáñamo Industrial

Durante la presentación de un proyecto de despenalización de la marihuana en 2016, Salech se encontró con mamás, diputadas mujeres, y algunas organizaciones cannábicas, en su mayoría ‘de varones’. “Eran casi todas de varones. Se hablaba del aceite de cannabis, ahí le dije a una compañeraacá tenemos que organizar una asociación de minas que cultiven para la salud’”, recuerda Valeria.

Valeria Salech junto al presidente Alberto Fernández en el acto de promulgación de la Ley de Cannabis Medicinal y Cáñamo Industrial

“Había muchas organizaciones con perspectiva de derechos humanos, con esto de la libertad individual, pero es difícil generar empatía desde ese lugar. Al ver a una mamá que lloraba, pensé ‘este es el mensaje, así va a empatizar la gente’. Me contacté con la Revista THC y me dijeron ‘¿conoces a las chilenas de Mamá Cultiva?’”, agrega Salech.

El resto es historia. Desde entonces, Mamá Cultiva Argentina jugó un rol definitivo en el lobby por la creación del registro de pacientes medicinales de cannabis, el “REPROCANN” y en la sanción de Ley de Cannabis y Cáñamo Industrial, promulgada por el Presidente Alberto Fernandez el 24 de mayo de 2022.

Así nació Mamá Cultiva Argentina

“No hablábamos de aceite, hablábamos de cultivo. Salimos a los medios y empecé a visitar diputados”, recuerda Salech.

Junto a las diputadas Carolina Gaillard y Diana Conti, y un grupo de madres del interior del país, Valeria tejió una agenda de visitas a diputados, reuniones de bloque y de comisión.

“Ahí descubrí que me podía defender discursivamente. Eran reuniones a como diera lugar. Algunos diputados se negaban. Las compañeras diputadas me dejaban entrar al anexo del Congreso y me dejaban suelta en los pasillos. Yo iba atacando, ‘¡Diputado, Diputado! Soy de Mamá Cultiva’. Es muy difícil decirme que ‘no’ si te ataco en un pasillo”, explica Valeria.

En 2016, los integrantes de la organización participaron del debate por la reforma de la Ley de Estupefacientes 23.737.

“Fue una estrategia, fuimos a disputar el tema y se impuso el proyecto del oficialismo. Esa noche llovía y yo tenía que salir en un canal de televisión. Tenía un nudo en la garganta. ¿Nos quedamos sin ley o vamos con esta ‘porqueria’?”, se preguntaba de camino al canal.

Contenido relacionado: Hablamos con Carolina Gaillard, la Diputada que Juró por ‘No más Presos por Plantar’

Valeria Salech explica que, entre 2015 y 2019, la organización fue criticada por apoyar la Ley de Cannabis Medicinal 27.350.

“Sostener el por qué habíamos impulsado una ley de investigación fue lo más difícil de mi vida… las personas seguían cultivando en la clandestinidad. Quedamos en que era mejor una ley ‘chota’ que ninguna. Nos costó ‘un huevo’ meter el artículo 8 que crea un registro para personas que cultivan. Hoy ese artículo 8 es el REPROCANN. Así nació Mamá Cultiva Argentina”.

El camino de Mamá Cultiva Argentina

Cuando se reglamentó la Ley 27.350, no se reglamentó el artículo 8, que contemplaba la creación del REPROCANN. Es decir, que los legisladores votaron una ley que autorizaba el uso de cannabis medicinal y su importación (en dólares), pero no preveía su producción nacional.

“Éramos referentes para los pacientes pero no teníamos respuestas. Nos convertimos. Muy lejos de generar un cultivo nosotras generamos un dispositivo de acompañamiento para el autocultivo, fue un ‘aprender haciendo’ que perfeccionamos con profesionales para acompañar a las familias, llamado Espacio de Contención y Orientación”.

El cultivo de Mamá Cultiva Argentina

Así, Valeria explica la ramificacion de la organización con un enfoque feminista: “Lo pensamos horizontalmente. No es un curso, dictado de forma vertical, es un espacio de socialización de conocimientos. Socializamos lo que sabemos, no somos profesoras somos minas comunes y corrientes”.

Las charlas incluyen temas como cultivo, maneras de trabajar con cannabis y de tender redes de cuidado, navegar y problematizar el sistema de salud. Es decir, de discutir la forma de hacer política de salud pública en Argentina. Pero como esto no alcanza, las feministas van por más. Buscan cambiarlo todo. La militancia derivó en conciencia feminista y ahora Mamá Cultiva Argentina milita el reconocimiento de los y las trabajadoras de la economía del cuidado.

“Cuando empezamos a tratar con lo que nosotros esperábamos fuera ‘la familia’, nos dimos cuenta que el 60 % de las personas que llegan a nosotros son mujeres, mujeres que cuidan a otras personas. En ese momento nos hicimos feministas. Es el camino de Mamá Cultiva, una organizacion feminista con perspectiva de género y salud, trabajando en leyes que tiendan a cuidar a quienes nos cuidan, a generar un sistema de cuidados equitativo e igualitario y a problematizar un sistema de salud que no nos da respuesta. Sin un sistema de salud integral y feminista no hay cannabis que valga la pena. Podemos legalizar el cannabis pero sin un sistema de salud que lo trabaje de manera integral, volvemos a 0”, sentencia.

Hacia la ley de cannabis medicinal e industrial

En 2020, Valeria Salech pudo reunirse con el Ministerio de Salud de la Nación y con el CONICET. En medio de la pandemia, se sorprendió por la nueva reglamentación de la Ley 27.350, que creaba el REPROCANN, un registro nacional de usuarios autorizados por ley a cultivar y consumir cannabis bajo supervisión médica.

Contenido relacionado: Guía Paso a Paso: Cómo Inscribirse en REPROCANN

“Cuando se reglamentó el REPROCANN que contemplaba autocultivo, cultivo solidario y para las organizaciones fue el día más feliz de mi vida. Todo cobró sentido: los cachetazos de 2017, las críticas”, dice Valeria poniendo las cosas en perspectiva.

valeria salech mamá cultiva argentina

El Ministerio de Desarrollo Productivo intervino para impulsar un proyecto de regulación de la industria del cannabis desde el Poder Ejecutivo. Cuando Valeria Salech recibió el primer borrador del proyecto, notó que las organizaciones no estaban contempladas. “Me reuní con las personas que estaban trabajando en el proyecto y le pasamos un documento que habla del precio justo y del desarrollo productivo del mercado de cannabis”, narra.

“Ese día me encontré con dos mujeres con poca información y les hablé de la necesidad de los usuarios de cannabis medicinal. Ahí descubrí que el estado no era ‘un aparato’. Hay personas que aprenden y mejoran, o no. A los cuatro meses, durante la presentación virtual del proyecto, me llegó una copia por WhatsApp. Y ahí vi el artículo 13 donde dice que tenemos que tener un lugar para los pequeños productores de la economía social y ahí empezamos a militar el proyecto”.

Valeria se refiere al proyecto de Ley de Cannabis Medicinal y Cáñamo Industrial que el Ministerio de Desarrollo Productivo envió al Congreso en 2021, y se convirtió en Ley número 27.669 en mayo de 2022.

“Es difícil explicar que una ley de producción no da derechos que vayamos a ver mañana. Es una herramienta administrativa para regular el desarrollo productivo de la planta de cannabis, producción, comercialización, distribución y eventualmente exportación de toda la planta. Ese desarrollo va a venir de la mano de la agencia que propone la Ley 27.669, ARICCAME, que tiene que dar las licencias”.

La ley es el KM cero. Hay que trabajar en la reglamentación, la letra chica, algo complejo ya que es un mercado que existe en la clandestinidad sin una estructura burocrática. El estado es un entramado de ejercicios administrativos, nos vamos a ir encontrando escollos. La agencia necesita ponerse en movimiento y ahí tenemos que estar haciendo valer quienes somos”, afirma Valeria trazando una hoja de ruta a futuro.

“Quiero que haya cannabis hecho por argentinos para argentinos. Ahora sí vamos por una perspectiva de derechos humanos, vamos a tener hectáreas de cannabis, personas con REPROCANN cultivando y organizaciones, y [aun asi] ¿te van a detener por 5 gramos de marihuana? No tiene sentido, vamos por la despenalización de la marihuana, por la implementación de la 27.350 y 27.669”, decreta la militante.

Cannabis hecho por argentinos para argentinos

Mamá Cultiva Argentina se encuentra trabajando con el INAES (Instituto Nacional de Asociativismo y Economía Social) y cuenta con el apoyo de diversas cooperativas dentro del sector. Valeria Salech confía en el potencial de los clubes de cultivadores para trabajar con el estado y proveer a los usuarios medicinales el cannabis que necesitan.

Contenido relacionado: Feministas Cannábicas de Córdoba: Hacia una Economía Feminista del Cannabis

Si bien la ANMAT (Administración Nacional de Medicamentos, Alimentos y Tecnología Médica) reguló los derivados vegetales del cannabis, habilitando la comercialización de productos a base de CBD, se trata de productos con ingredientes farmacéuticos activos, elaborados bajo estándares tecnológicos complejos que no todas las organizaciones pueden cumplir.

El libro de Mamá Cultiva Argentina

La legislación reconoce los aceites de amplio espectro y más de 500 cannabinoides (moléculas terapéuticas de la planta de cannabis) pero no autoriza el THC, uno de sus componentes psicotrópicos, en una concentración mayor al 0,3%.

En cualquier caso, los estándares farmacéuticos internacionales aumentan los costos de producción y pueden excluir al pequeño productor argentino, que generalmente cultiva genéticas altas en THC para su uso medicinal.

Y, de hecho, los pacientes necesitan THC para el tratamiento de distintas patologías: desde autismo, pasando por insomnio, enfermedades atópicas, Alzheimer y hasta cáncer. Todas ellas pueden requerir altas dosis de THC al día. Son pacientes que no cuadran en el modelo farmacéutico y mucho menos en la actual Ley de Drogas 23.737.

Cannabis de las tetas

Recientemente, Valeria participó de Las Tareas, un documental sobre las tareas de cuidado, trabajo no remunerado realizado en su mayoría por mujeres en entornos domésticos que resulta sistemáticamente invisibilizado.

“Es un trabajo no remunerado que venimos haciendo desde siempre, que nos limita en nuestros deseos. Muchas veces por ser madre y mujer nos exigen. Las madres damos sin fin, como la teta. Como si nos saliera cannabis de las tetas. No es visto y reconocido nuestro trabajo como cultivadoras y cuidadoras. Como somos Mamá Cultiva, hay un imaginario de que nosotros lo tenemos que regalar o cobrar muy barato. Como si tuviéramos que hacer el trabajo gratis”, explica Valeria.

Y aclara: “Pareciera que tenemos que maternar a la sociedad argentina”.

Valeria tiene claro que las alianzas con los movimientos de la economía popular en el Congreso y en las calles son fundamentales para legalizar el cannabis. Después de todo, el cannabis en Argentina es, en parte, una actividad de la economía social o popular.

Por eso, Mamá Cultiva Argentina acompañó a la Unión de Trabajadores de la Tierra en la presentación de la Ley de Acceso a la Tierra. “Cannabis sin acceso a la tierra, es otra vez la misma historia, otra vez estamos relegadas a depender de un chabon”, explica Valeria Salech en referencia a las diferencias de género en el acceso a la tierra.

Sin embargo, durante el debate en el Congreso, la Diputada Natalia Zaracho, trabajadora de la economía popular, dijo estar en contra del proyecto de Ley de Cannabis Medicinal e Industrial, afirmando que era una ley que favorecía a las corporaciones y a los grandes terratenientes.

Contenido relacionado: Cannabis Legal y Transición Productiva: PyMES Argentinas Adelantan su Visión del Mercado

—¿Está quedando la economía popular fuera del debate por el cannabis?

—Es un objetivo pendiente. Tenemos buena relación con el movimiento feminista y lo resolveremos en el movimiento.

—¿Cual es el lugar de los trabajadores del cuidado en la economía del uso adulto del cannabis?

—Me imagino clubes de cuidadoras. Cuidadoras cuidando a otras cuidadoras. No hay nada más saludable para una persona que cuida pueda usar el cannabis para un recreo. Hoy estamos haciendo redes para sostenernos con flores. Ya las hay, pero están desvalorizadas. Falta mucho. Una vez, un diputado me llegó a decir: “Mira, mi mamá crió 7 hijos y nunca se quejó”. Por eso mismo vamos a militar la ley de cuidados.

The post EXCLUSIVA – Valeria Salech de Mamá Cultiva Argentina: Autocultivo, Feminismo y Economía del Cuidado appeared first on High Times.