Apparently DeAngelo has retracted his comments as quoted in this article and the news outlet has even omitted them from the article linked below. We all saw. We will remember.
As with most things weed-related, Mickey told us. Mickey Martin was perhaps the most outspoken critic of Steve DeAngelo, founder of the infamous Harborside dispensary, “star” of reality TV, and a man that Martin dubbed as “Weed Jesus”.
DeAngelo counts both low-level custies and high-powered politicians among his fan base, but his self-serving lobbying efforts did not go unnoticed by the grassroots cannabis culture, thanks in large part to Martin’s fearless reporting on his Weed Activist website.
From our perspective as craft cannabis growers, one of DeAngelo’s most egregious moves was the role he played in fundamentally changing the way that Prop64 would play out on the cultivation side of the regulated market.
Initially, a 5-year buffer was put in place through 2023 which would only allow licensed grows spanning 22,000 square feet or less. This was intended to provide a pathway for the small to midsize legacy operators like us who fueled the prior Prop215 medical marijuana market to enter the new recreational market without competing against large-scale corporate cultivation sites.
DeAngelo and his ilk were able to muscle in a provision at the 11th hour which allows for a practice now known as “license stacking” where in addition to the one Medium Cultivation license that allows 22,000 sq.ft., companies could then also apply for as many Small Cultivation licenses as they wanted, each one allowing an additional 10,000 square feet of grow space.
This is limited only by how deep their pockets go since license fees in California are outrageously high. So, naturally, this caveat favors investor-backed, well-financed companies, not mom and pop pot growers.
The result was that by June of 2018, only 3,535 cultivation licenses had been issued statewide in California. Consider that The Emerald Triangle alone had over 10,000 growers contributing to the success and legacy of Prop215. Of those 3500ish licenses, 20% of them were held by just 12 licensees. The top ten licensees held an average of 65 cultivation licenses!
In June of 2018, one company called Organic Green Farms had over 1.5 MILLION square feet of licensed cultivation space and was paying over $2,000,000 every year just in license fees.
Meanwhile, Beard Bros. Pharms is still trying to reach our first recreational harvest.
So, yeah, we aren’t real high on Steve DeAngelo and we haven’t been for years but the stunt he pulled this week is so incredibly low it even shocked us.
FAKE IT UNTIL YOU FAKE IT SOME MORE
If you read our articles often, and particularly if you subscribe to our free weekly email newsletter, you are probably familiar with the story of Craig Cesal, and of the tireless advocates that fight for the rights of cannabis prisoners like him.
You may also be aware that through a perfect storm of grassroots activism from folks like you, along with a worldwide pandemic and the strain it has put on our fragile prison system, Craig Cesal was released from Terra Haute FCI earlier this year to serve his sentence at home.
As a non-violent, first-time felon serving a life sentence because he worked on trucks that hauled cannabis, Cesal was blanketed with support from the cannabis community and from advocacy groups like The Human Solution International, and individuals like Cheri Sicard who worked day in and day out to keep Cesal connected to the outside world and to ensure that he would see it again for himself one day.
That support came to a head during the peak of the spring wave of COVID-19 and given his age and compromised health, he was sent home… finally.
Knowing his case and situation as intimately as we do, it was pretty infuriating yesterday when San Jose Inside published a half-baked article touting Steve DeAngelo and a group he helped found called the Last Prisoner Project as the driving force behind Craig Cesal’s recent release from prison.
The article reads in part:
DeAngelo said LPP helped Craig Cesal—who was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole—get released on June 16 on a compassion release petition that LPP was “instrumental in helping put through.”
Right off the bat, this stuck out as a red flag to those familiar with Cesal’s release, since he was not sent home under any “compassion release petition”. In fact, no such petition was ever filed for Cesal, not by LPP/DeAngelo or anyone else. The advocates working Cesal’s case had a different plan, which worked, which is why DeAngelo’s touchdown dance is so gross.
We reached out to Cheri for her reaction and she told us, “I was shocked when I read the quote from Steve DeAngelo saying they were instrumental in his release as I know for a fact that they had NOTHING to do with his release.”
Contrary to the implication of the article, Craig Cesal’s life sentence is still very much intact and as far as he or anyone else knows, he could be called back to prison to serve it.
DeAngelo also uses the free press release to selfie his charity work by hamfisting in the fact that LPP “became the largest single contributor to his GoFundMe campaign so he can have some expense money when he completes the transition.” For the record, they began donating to his cause LAST WEEK. He has been out since June 13th and was in prison since 2002.
This sort of Press Release Protesting, or Slacktivism, is barely better than nothing, and can actually detract from important causes by diminishing the real, hard work that must be done to earn actual freedom for cannabis prisoners. As Cheri told us, “Press release activists definitely hurt the cause, and siphon serious funds away from those doing the real work.”
In military terms, there is a phrase called “Stolen Valor” whereby someone claims to have served in the Armed Forces, and may even go so far as to wear a uniform and medals or badges that they never earned. In 2005, the federal government broadened the penalties that would be imposed on anyone found to be in violation of this sacred honor. Most of the military vets or current servicemembers that I have met wouldn’t call the cops though, it usually just gets really ugly for the bullshitter.
The sooner that the cannabis community as a whole stops putting this particular bullshitter on panels and pedestals, the better.