Good afternoon! My name is Joe Tierney. You might know me better as The Gentleman Toker, which is just bizarre to me. I’m not used to being known, to being public, like this. I’ve lived in the DMV my whole life. My mother’s father was a soldier, then a preacher, then he taught at a school for the blind. My father was a soldier, then a cop, then a washed up, abusive drunk. I was only around for the last part. As a result, my family was poor, so we moved around a lot. I went to high school at Central, in Capitol Heights; at Potomac, in Temple Hills; at Atholton, in Columbia; at Catoctin, way up in Thurmont. I was riddled with anxiety and depressed. I contemplated suicide often. These are all symptoms of PTSD, but no one talked about that back in ‘96. That’s when I started smoking cannabis. It relieved those problems, made me feel normal, and helped me enjoy life. When I could get it. Cost and availability are The Struggle we all know well. I didn’t look at it as medicine back then, because I didn’t look at myself as sick. I actually thought I was a marijuana addict! I felt horribly about myself and tried to quit several times. When I was in my mid-twenties, I finally came to an agreement with myself. I couldn’t keep fighting with myself. So long as I could hold down a job, I could smoke as much weed as I needed. It worked. When I finally had my medicine regularly, I was able to put one foot in front of the other and do things I didn’t really want to do. It was still more than I could really afford, so I busted my ass to get a better job and was finally able to afford my medicine and pay rent before I was thirty. I kept to myself, smoked my pot, and contributed to society. Life was getting good. Then something happened that I honestly never expected. Cannabis was legalized in Colorado. Not just a liberal medical program that I’d never get to touch in California. Real deal, come on down, eighths for $35 legalized! I haven’t been able to focus properly ever since, folks. More states legalized, then it passed right next door, in the District of Columbia! Legal weed! A city that looks at me and says I’m a citizen and not a criminal! I got my ass over here to be a part of it and find out that we have a liberal medical program right here. I got a weed card! I can go to the store and buy weed. I was living the dream. But last summer, my mom got was diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disorder. The doctors told us it was serious, but the prognosis was good and they expected she’d get better with treatment. The first time I drove her to the emergency room was on Christmas Day. She had a terrible headache. They gave her something light for the pain so it wouldn’t interfere with her other treatment and said she was OK. Things went downhill swiftly from there. There were many more emergency room visits, only to be sent home saying nothing was wrong. Then hospital stays where they told us it was her saline levels, then it was bad drug interactions, then it was misdiagnoses, calls for permission to perform lumbar punctures at two a.m., and they’d send her home, and say she was fine. She’d get sick again, so we took her to different doctors, to different hospitals, until we couldn’t any more. I read about the disease. It was causing inflammation and CBD oil could treat it. The steroids they were giving her weren’t working. So I discreetly asked every doctor I could corner about it and they all told me no, that they didn’t know enough about cannabis to use it, were worried about how it would interact with the cocktail of other pills they gave her. I tried to convince her to try it anyway, she was in so much pain- you didn’t know my momma, couldn’t get that lady to do anything she didn’t want to- but she was worried about the legality of this medicine, and she listened to her doctors. And on March 17, 2016, after months of painful suffering, she died. She died BECAUSE THE DOCTORS DIDN’T KNOW. The doctors didn’t know BECAUSE THEY HAVEN’T DONE THE RESEARCH. They research hasn’t been done BECAUSE THIS MEDICINE HAS ACTIVELY BEEN SUPPRESSED by MEGA-CORPS that PROFIT from their patented SYNTHETIC MEDICINE, that have built an entire system around pumping the American people full of dubious chemicals so vast you can’t even see all the things they’ve subliminally shoved down our throats. A pharmacy on every corner! And they call us CRIMINALS and DRUG ADDICTS for daring to exist outside of their broken, half-assed Western medicine. I am not a drug addict. I am a medical marijuana patient. My medicine works BETTER than any of the dozens of anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, SSRI bullshit they peddle and THEY KNOW IT! So what we need to do is change the culture. I’ve come out about my cannabis use and how it has helped my life as part of that. I encourage others to do the same, if not publicly, then to as many as you’re comfortable with. We need to come together as a community, like we have today. You and I have been secretly swimming in the same circles our whole lives, and so we’ve known each other without actually ever meeting. Now, here in the District of Columbia, we can finally meet. I love this right here! I ask you to recognize that if we want cannabis to be viewed as a normal, safe alternative, then we need a robust retail system like they have out West. This is fine for you and me, and it is progress that should be celebrated! But when our grandparents need this medicine, when the harried parents of an epileptic child need this medicine, they need easy, secure access. That’s what the dispensaries will provide and I support them as much as I support you. The situation with the dispensaries in DC, though, is much like the one that was voted against in Ohio. There is an atmosphere of collusion that has kept the prices from dropping to the astounding deals they have out West, and we have learned that they are going to be the ones responsible for rolling out the recreational program. We are NOT going to get to normal at $60 an eighth and we sure as HELL aren’t normal at $150 a gram for concentrate. They have a responsibility to provide MEDICINE at reasonable prices and so another aspect of my work is holding them ACCOUNTABLE to us. It’s already working! The owner of Metropolitan Wellness Center has reached out to me. I’ve brought them to the table. By reading and supporting my website, YOU helped do that. Now we can begin to negotiate. We have also fought too much, for too long, to be handed over to a new greedy corporate master. WE are the ones who have suffered in this Drug War and the responsibility for running the new system BELONGS TO YOU AND ME, Cannabis does NOT need to be run by some rich assholes that don’t even smoke. There should be roles for us in cannabis besides “Customer.” That’s another point of my website. If you’re doing it right, whatever it is you’re doing in this wonderful, vibrant chaos, then let’s feature you and help build your legend, so that any system that omits your talents has clearly made a mistake. And if you’re not doing anything, then you definitely have time to read my website. Please check it out, support the great people and events featured, support my advertisers whenever I get some. Hell, I will straight up give you weed to read- that’s right, I started a free contest for people that subscribe to my email newsletter to win 100% free weed. So get in on that! You’ve definitely signed up for email stuff that gets you way less stuff than free weed, man. Thanks to HighCloud Events, Green Light Festival, and everyone for having me out to speak, I really appreciate the opportunity. Have fun, enjoy your day, and please check out GentlemanToker.com, my guide to the finest cannabis in DC!See? Total downer. Anyway, thanks for reading, and you can expect more fun stuff super-duper soon.