California Dreaming

“The Vote to Change the World” read headlines around the world. A hush seemed to fall as people had only dared to hope this day would come. Barely breathing, the whole world was watching. Go California, Go! You can do it if anybody can! Wow, legalized recreational cannabis on the continent in my lifetime! A dream come true at last. I’ve been fighting to free the herb since I was 13, and for those of you haven’t met me yet, I have a few white hairs on my head (I bypassed the grey).

Ted asked if I wanted to go to California for the election, so I said “you bet I do!” A little research later and I decided the Oaksterdam University was the place to go, and boy did that turn out right. I had met Amanda earlier at Hempfest. She wanted to take me to Oaksterdam University right then and there to meet and teach her friends. So a plane ticket (or two) was bought, and two days before the election I was on my way to San Francisco and Los Angeles for the first time in my life.

A gorgeous three hour plane ride later and there I was in San Francisco, and a 90°F  heat wave! Then off to Oakland to find the Oaksterdam University. Good thing it was still daylight. I’m an Island girl, and things like subways and sky-trains are still fairly new to me. I find the ploy of walking up to a (in this case) BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) employee and say “I’m not from here, and fairly lost” worked very well. Folks loved to ask where I was from, and then the conversations were off and running when I said I was from Canada. After all, I didn’t travel all that way to hide in a closet. Everyone I met was super helpful, and the whole time I was gone I felt right at home. I found the Oaksterdam University and introduced myself, and let them know there were issues of the Cannabis Digest on the way. I asked where all the action was happening, and told them I was there to help. When they found out where I was from they thought I was nuts, but glad for the help and pointed me to Prop 19 headquarters a couple of blocks down the road. Wow. So far, so good. I haven’t gotten lost, missed a plane, or lost anything! And now I’m almost at the Proposition 19 headquarters! Talk about getting something right for once. What a sight!

There were people coming and going, with news cameras and interviews going on in any semi-quiet corner available. There were two rows of telephones set up, and other desks lining the walls with people at all of them—sometimes two or three at one desk—and a buzz like a beehive filled the room. It wasn’t long before someone noticed me staring at everything with my back pack still on. I let them know I was here from Canada to help in anyway they could use me. You’re from where? And you came to help? There was the brief pause and look of disbelief as “are you nuts?” went through their minds, then the look of gladness as it sunk in—yes I was nuts, but here to help! Then a joyous “Can you use a telephone and a computer? Put your pack over here. And there is lots of food around if you’re hungry. Just help yourself.” Talk about feeling welcome. 10 min. later I was at a desk making phone calls encouraging folks to vote. (Hmm, sounds just like home.) An hour later, it was time to find some medicine before the stores closed, so I asked where to go and took a break. The University ran a little shop called the Blue Sky Cafe, where you could get coffee and juice, good smoke and medibles, as well as clones produced by the school. They were excellent help when I told them I was chemically sensitive and needed clean herb. A snack, a coffee and juice, a smoke, and back to HQ for more phone calls.

Around 9-10 p.m. it was time to quit for the night. The Berkley YWCA was the closest and best place for me, but was full. So, a very nice lady let me a motel room for cash, once it was established I would be walking the rest of the night if she couldn’t.

First thing in the morning, I went to San Francisco and found a hostel, got my stuff stowed, then it was back to Oaksterdam. They needed help with phone calls and pavement pounding. Walking around seemed to help them and let me sight see at the same time, so list in hand, away I went. Things were okay until I noticed North was not on my map, found myself lost, and was back to saying “I’m not from here and seem to be lost.”

I headed back to HQ to get a better map, and off I went again. I got to walk through many neighbourhoods and meet folks who were enjoying each other’s company on their front steps, or working out in their gardens, getting lots of favourable responses when asked what I was doing. Everyone seemed to be in favour of smoking herb. One front yard had a lemon tree with fruit bigger than my fist. Datura plants were growing into hedges around the yards, as well as Hibiscus in full bloom. What a wonderful afternoon of visiting, and I had made it through my list as well. I stopped for supper on my way back to HQ to make more phone calls. We quit at about quarter to eight, as the polls closed at 8 p.m.

Jodie Emery stopped in and had her webcam on and linked to the Cannabis Culture web page. I filmed some of the evening, and it is now posted on Hempology 101’s forums. Everyone was very excited, and encouraging remarks filled the air. Over 100,000 calls were made, and after a loud round of cheers, everyone went to the Oaksterdam University to watch the election results which were being projected on the side of the building. The parking lot of the University was blocked off and being used as a gathering and filming centre. All seemed to be going well, except there seemed to be very few people in attendance—even the news casters commented on it. Oh well, election numbers were starting to come in. Prop 19 had a large gap of 34 percent in favour and 67 percent not, while it was 40/60 for taxing medical users. The numbers crept closer together, 40/60 in favour of Prop 19, then nothing at all. Prop 19 stats ceased to exist. Results to everything else kept coming through, but nothing on Prop 19.

Final results finally started to trickle in, including a resounding YES to taxing medical users by up to 85% in some counties. The air was tense. Then it flashed across the wall—proposition 19 defeated 33 percent yeah to 67 percent nay. What the heck? The questions started flying. The main one being why the vote to tax med users? In the end it was actually 46 percent for legalization and 54 percent against. That made a lot more sense. The folks of the University said they were going inside to broadcast their speech, which I filmed and is posted on our Hempology 101 forums.

Dale was a joy to meet and work with. Great headway was being made with local politicians she said, and it seems to be just a matter of wording to make everyone happy. Indeed, Governor Schwarzenegger had already signed a bill to downgrade possession of an ounce of herb to a misdemeanor. Four states are now working on getting legalization initiatives in next year’s election.

I managed to make my way back the next day. My timing was perfect to avoid being trampled by the swarm of people getting off the BART to go to the baseball parade. There were people, police, and pot smoke everywhere! They should have the polling stations at the ball parks, I can remember thinking. Maybe then they would vote. I went to the SUB building to visit with some of the folks I had met. I was great to hang, puff, and chat after how busy it had been the past few days. When they found out how much we charge for cookies at the club, they were all ready to come and visit us! I hope they do. As with all great times, these were coming to a close for me, time to visit some stores and ask some more questions.

I met Chad at The Patient ID Centre, which turned out to be what the original San Francisco Cannabis Buyers’ Club became after Prop 215 (the first medical cannabis proposition) passed 1996. He told me outdoor growers were against Prop 19. Many people want to see the plant set free. At least things were starting to make more sense, and questions were being answered. It really was a close vote! Just a matter of time…..