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09/07/2006 Archived Entry: "The online cannabis community"

INFORMATION BEATS PROHIBITION. EVERY TIME. I've never been active in the cannabis legalization movement. Sympathetic for sure. But it's never been my fight. Nor has "marijuana" (a name originally chosen by the antis because they thought it sounded so "Latin" -- like those jazz musicians who were going to seduce our pure white daughters after tempting them with "reefer") ever been my drug. As a young rebel, I was far more into hard-core psychedelics. As an older rebel ... well, a nice cup of hot tea suffices. (Actual tea; not as in, "Take a toke, a tea stick ...")

Until recently, cannabis has been off in a far corner of my consciousness.

Still ... a few mentions of cannabis here on the blog brought me a couple of intriguing URLs. A nice guy from rollitup.org asked for a link exchange. And when I ran that site past a cannabis connoisseur, he mentioned that he used to hang out at YaHooka.com (a name that makes me laugh every time I think of it). (P.S. Sorry, I had this link wrong earlier!)

A major activity at both these sites is talking about growing cannabis. Where to purchase seeds. What types of lights to use. How to hide a crop. How to prune a plant. How to start plants from cuttings. How to grow hydroponically or organically.

My first response upon exploring rollitup.org and YaHooka.com was to smile a wickedly satisfied smile.

Here we are, after decades of drug prohibition -- billions of dollars blown -- millions of people imprisoned -- families shattered -- even people killed -- over one of the most harmless and beneficial substances on the planet. And what have the DEA, Interpol, and all their ilk achieved? They have forced self-reliance and personal initiative upon us. Doing so, the antis have also encouraged the disemination of do-it-yourself information. Thousands of ordinary people are sharing what they know and growing what they can grow. It's not just these sites. Do a Google search on terms like "cannabis seeds" or "marijuana grow guide" and you'll be flooded with information and photos.

Egads. Maybe you knew. But when I was that young rebel, "grass" meant a baggie of cheap, nameless. paranoia-inducing Mexican weed, choked with seeds and stems. We heard rumors of Thai stick or Acupulco Gold but never actually saw it. Now? Man, the world is full of cannabis botanists. You can buy hundreds of varieties. Pure sativas for a brain-running cerebral high. Pure indicas for that "Hey, Dude" stoned body high. About a zillion sativa-indica or indica-sativa hybrids that put you somewhere in between. (Did you know there's even a Cannabis Cup competion for the best grass strain?) Other sites rate the seed sellers. Who's honest and who's not? Who's got good prices? Whose packages reliably make it through customs (because of course, this thriving little business is taking all its profits offshore, mostly to Holland or the UK).

Just hop on the Internet and pay with your Visa card.

Yeah. Seriously. Your Visa card.

Now that of course is nuts. Stone squirrel-brained nuts. But you can do it if you're so inclined. And afterward, you can get all the information you could ever possibly need about growing it right there on Google or rollitup.org or YaHookah.com. Not to mention in the online editions of Cannabis Culture and High Times

So that was my first reaction: Wowee. Look what prohibition hath wrought. Look what the Internet hath wrought upon prohibition.

But it's more than that.

On the discussion sites I'm finding another example of a friendly outlaw community.

Both rollitup.org and YaHooka.com are heavily consulted by first-time and wannabe growers. Many of these are of the text-messaging generation ("you" is "u," "what" is "wut"). They can often be annoying in their lazy lack of research. They get online and ask the same questions some other wannabe just asked -- questions whose answers could be found in any online growing guide if only they'd bother to look. Questions whose answers could even be found in threads in the same discussion forum , if only they'd look.

Sometimes, these n00bs are stunning in their ignorance. One young man, informed that his one-and-only, carefully nurtured plant was a male and therefore third rate (and in the opinions of growers and sensimilla afficionados worthy only of landing on the garbage heap), piped up something along the lines of, "Well, okay then. At least I'll get seeds I can plant, right?"

Uh ... I thought they taught the birds and bees in high school these days.

But among the ignorant n00bs and the more earnest just-getting-started types are serious cannabis connoiseurs and growers. I don't know how old these people are -- probably their ages are all over the place. But day after day a few "elders" remain around these sites, doing what elders historically did in the age before the modern shuffled off to the senior center or a Florida golf course. They generously share their knowledge. They answer questions, post photos of their own elaborate indoor grows, review strains of cannabis, warn against unreliable seed banks.

And gradually, they give the kids an education and an example to follow -- not just an example of growing techniques. But an example of what elders do for a community, an example that the best of the young growers may learn to follow -- of good manners, of expressive language, of generosity, of adult wisdom.

Some of the kids on these sites come across as very shallow and flippant. Their biggest concerns are getting sufficient bud, partying with their friends, and making sure mom or their roommate or their landlord doesn't find out.

So I was curious to observe the reception when a middle-aged British man posted to the "newbies" forum on rollitup.org, describing his sufferings from nerve pain and his embarrassing and fruitless attempts to buy ad hoc medical marijuana on the street. Would these kids make smart-ass remarks and run him off? Well, not that many kids responded, but the people who did respond were entirely friendly and helpful.

YaHooka.com even has a forum especially for older cannabis users, and people there do things like share photos of their pets -- exactly as The Claire Files forum members (a real extended family) might do.

It's also obvious that many of the more serious growers get a tremendous sense of personal satisfaction out of their beautiful gardens -- just as any farmer or flower gardener might. They speak of coming home from work and happily visiting their plants, first thing. They speak of loving to watch them grow and of thinking ahead to what they'll do next for their "babies." They speak of the joy of being able to produce something wholesome and beautiful. They may work at jobs that suck the life out of them and give them nothing but a cold feeling and a paycheck. But at home, they have nurtured beauty into the world.

I find all this absolutely glorious. And so encouraging. All those efforts to eradicate that pesky weed and eradicate -- or cow into submission -- those who love it. And here's what you get. A worldwide community of outlaws, functioning productively and peacefully. Self-reliant people growing finer strains of cannabis every year. The drug warriors have lost. They're not merely losing this part of the drug war. It is over and freedom has won.

Now I grant you that many of the participants on these forums are from Europe, where cannabis and its users are treated more humanely. And I grant, too, that there are certainly drug warriors lurking among the posters. And I grant you that someday the drug witch-hunters could swoop in and destroy at least a few of these sites just as they did with the fake-ID site, Shadowcrew (which was not, I hasten to add, a nice friendly place like the sites I'm talking about).

When I say the drug warriors have lost, I don't mean that we're all happily skipping down a path lined with rainbows and posies, never to face another danger, never to see another life-hating, power-drunk, ninja-suited member of the jackbooterie.

I mean that the unconquerable human spirit, the sacred herb, and the operation of the market have triumphed and will continue to triumph, even if one site or another, one grower or another, gets busted. You cannot eradicate a weed that grows on every continent (and trust me on this; I have it on reliable authority that that includes Antarctica -- albeit strictly indoors). You cannot eradicate enjoyment. You cannot eradicate pride in creating something beautiful and wholesome. You cannot eradicate a natural medication. And you cannot, ultimately, eradicate community.

Google it for yourself. Here, freedom has won.

Posted by Claire @ 10:21 PM CST

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