My day in Olympia, Washington – February 2, 2016.
My phone started screaming at 5:00 a.m. just as I programmed it to do the night before.
I jumped out of bed, knowing that I wouldn’t have long to work at the office before I had to drive to Redmond to pick up Michelle for our trip to Olympia. I was downstairs making coffee when Dottie, my dog, wandered down to the kitchen. As soon as I saw her we walked down the hall so she could go outside. She took longer than I thought was necessary in relieving herself. I knew she was going to be unhappy because I was going to leave her at home today.
Dottie likes being around me.
I was going out the basement door when Dottie let out a yelp of abandonment. I felt guilty for sneaking out, but I knew my trip to Olympia was necessary and that Dottie could not come along.
I got to my office in Arlington a little before six, unlocked the door, climbed the stairs to my office, and dropped onto my chair staring at the pleading I couldn’t wait to have delivered to Fred Burnside. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to finish it.
By 9:00 a.m. I knew it was time to leave so I texted Michelle “am on my way”.
To get to Kirkland to pick up Michelle I had to drive on I-405. As always, the experience annoyed me. Two lanes of traffic move at a snail’s pace, while the lane for people who can afford it, is mostly unused. I consider I-405 symbolic of these troubled times when wealthy elites espouse the notion you can only exercise the freedoms you pay for. So what I-405 shows is that most people can’t pay to get anywhere fast so we have to go slower than the infrastructure we have paid for would allow.
I probably wasted twenty minutes driving in the slow lanes, but finally got to Michelle’s condo, picked her up, and we were off on our next adventure.
Parking at the Capital is not easy. Nonetheless, we accomplished it and saw a large group of people congregating outside.
I knew several people who had come to the Capital for different purposes.
I was talking to one about foreclosure issues when I saw an old friend, Dale Rogers, who was there to testify in favor of House Bill (HB) 2629. The purpose of that bill is to allow people to grow, possess, and gift cannabis to one another in limited amounts. All the other states which have decriminalized cannabis have allowed such “home grows” and many people, including myself, believe that this should be allowed in Washington.
It was obvious this bill, proposed by Representatives Blake, Condotta, and Farrell, had great popular support. The room where the hearing was to be held filled up fast. There was such an overflow of people that the proceedings were televised to them in two separate conference rooms. Given this large turn out I wasn’t sure that the committee would get to me before I was scheduled to speak at the demonstration protesting the House Judiciary Committee’s refusal to take testimony from people facing foreclosures.
I became less concerned that I might not get to testify as I listened to those persons who did. Several of them pointed out that if they wanted to make sure the plant conformed to their standards, they had to grow it themselves. Other people testified that because of their medical conditions they needed cannabis having certain characteristics and/or which had not been treated with pesticides. Others testified that allowing people to grow, possess, and gift pot would serve the salutary goal of not requiring them to commit crimes every time they shared a bowl. Virtually everybody (but an agent for the Liquor Control Board, which for some strange reason regulates this agricultural crop) testified that allowing people to grow their own cannabis would not likely affect the State’s take from taxing the recreational market. They pointed out that many people in Washington have gardens and grow their own vegetables. Nonetheless, they still purchase vegetables from the store.
Other people testified they don’t have the time or skill to grow cannabis. Which I know for a fact is true as I don’t have a green thumb. Some people who use cannabis for medical conditions told the committee that the recreational industry had priced the product beyond their ability to pay so the only way they can obtain good quality medicine is to grow it themselves.
I was getting ready to leave for the protest when my name and those of two others were called to testify. So I went from the crowd up to the table with Charles Ahrens, an Aberdeen resident, and another witness who came up later.
I testified on behalf of myself and as the advocate for the Church of the Gardens. Like several others I made the point that many do not concede the State has the right to prohibit the use, possession, and gifting of natural plants and herbs given us all by our creator. However, I acknowledged the Chairman’s frequently voiced concern about the federal government, and thanked him and the bill’s two others sponsors for moving this bill forward.
Charles Ahrens testified that he had moved here from Arizona, which also allows medical marijuana. He said that when he first read the bill he was not sure whether he was for it. But after listening to the testimony had become convinced that the bill should be passed.
The other witness in our group was a woman from Seattle. She said that when she had testified several years ago after the passage of the initiative which allowed cannabis she brought in two bags of pharmaceutical products that she was able to do without by using cannabis instead. The Chairman indicated he remembered that testimony and the bags of pharmaceuticals. The woman then testified that the legislative repeal of the medical dispensary law had brought her back to the place where she would have to use pharmaceuticals again. Then she testified she was a nurse and should be allowed to make her own medical decisions.
It seemed like everyone agreed with her, but the Liquor Control Board guy and I didn’t see much reason for him to be there in the first place. Cannibis is a plant.
So then I left the very crowded hearing room and went looking for the foreclosure demonstration.
As soon as I went out the door of the building I saw Susan Harmon there with a bullhorn. I saw Jane Muir and her sister holding up a big, long sign. Jim Wexler and Michelle were about 100 feet in front of me.
I knew I was in the right place.
But I was surprised there weren’t more people there.
From my perspective the reason for the demonstration, and my participation therein, was because of corruption by the legislature in favor of wealthy hedge funds and against the people of the good state of Washington. To me the acts and omissions of the House Judiciary Committee the week before was particularly egregious because they only allowed actual public testimony by corporate interests and refused to allow those people who would be actually affected by the bill to testify. This was a clear legislative snub of the people by what our founders intended to be a representative body that was prohibited from affording special privileges to corporations.
In this regard Article I, Section 12 of Washington’s Constitution states: “No law shall be passed granting to any citizen, class of citizens, or corporation other than municipal, privileges or immunities which upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens, or corporations.”
The granting of the right to testify on the record to corporations, but not homeowners would seen to violate this right.
Because the Judiciary Committee’s abuse of Washington’s citizenry in supporting corporate interests was so brazen I knew I had to leave the sanctity of the mountain and endure the long drive to Olympia to participate in a demonstration because legislators needed to hear a message. That message is that we, the people, shall overcome the mono-party and two party tyranny it represents because it is in the order of things that light will prevail over darkness… As happened in the sixties there is a growing consensus that these times are changing and that the people will no longer tolerate the corruption which has become commonplace.
Republican and Democratic politicians need to know they cannot ignore the people. Polls show that 75% of the people in this country think they are corrupt.
Those too arrogant to listen do not realize that the ability to hear is a gift. When politicians will not listen to the people one cannot help but wonder whether they have become deaf and dumb or are simply totally corrupt.
So when it came my turn to speak at the demonstration I spoke loudly into the bullhorn. Indeed, even though I am 67 years of age, I likely spoke louder than I ever have in my life because I wanted the legislators in the house and senate buildings to hear me because none of them wandered by our demonstration.
I hope I made clear and I hope that many of you agree with me that Republican and Democratic politicians are not the people we want to lead us in these times which require the morals and integrity, we know they do not have.
After I was done speaking no legislators appeared. In their place they sent a posse of state troopers to surround our exercise of free speech.
One state trooper looked funny at me several times. I wondered if I would be allowed to go home.
2016 is an election year when we can signal to the empire that the game has changed. Voting for the lesser of two evils doesn’t work.
It is a long way from the mountain where I live to the capital of Washington State