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December 10 2010

Fear and Loathing of the Border


You may ask yourself why I wouldn't be blogging about this great adventure, while I was in it? And what protecting my innocence has to do with anything? Well, here's my story; I'm the fool that registered the Domain ReeferPoker.com which was seized by the Governor of Kentucky along with 140 other poker related Domains in September 2008, in a bogus attempt to extort money from online gambling website operators. (Side note - the Gov lost his job in the mid-term elections). Also, I'm about the only person that I know who refuses to adopt a false online identity to use while working in the online gaming biz, and I've been involved, as a Canadian citizen, in the gaming industry, in one capacity or another, since it's inception. My first project was in Curacao in 1995, where I met my Brazilian wife, which subsequently brought me to Brazil. Anyway, the point is, that every time I cross the border into the USA I'm sent to what is known as; secondary inspection - feels more like purgatory.

The reason I always get sent to secondary inspection when crossing into the U.S. is because I have a waiver, as a result of a possession of marijuana charge from 1979, which was conditionally discharged in Canada (dismissed on a plea bargain, since it was a reefer), however due to zero tolerance in the U.S., I was denied entry in 1995 and forced to apply for a legal waiver, which took 6 months and cost several thousand dollars to obtain. Since then every time I cross the border I'm stuck waiting and sweating in a purgatory holding area, until the Homeland Security Officers double-check my clearance on those massive databases they access, then let me cross over. These are times of great anxiety for me because I never know when the words "come with us Mr. Smoke" will send me on my way to Guantanamo Bay, without habeas corpus.

If you can imagine, it's very difficult to travel to Canada from Brazil without going through USA, so a couple of times of year I find myself in this state of Patriot Law fear. I consider the permission to travel to America a privilege, not a right, and therefore I covet my travel documents like they were the keys to the kingdom but it says right on my waiver documents that my clearance is determined by the officer on the occasion of each entry and the waiver is null and void if I break any laws. In other words: if my name is anywhere in any of those databases, my travel plans will be significantly altered, then and there. Other gaming site operators have been detained for years, so I never know if I'll get the stamp on the passport or the cuffs on my wrists but to date Reefer Poker has flown under the radar. That is all about to change....

Maybe even writing this blog post will someday put an end to my vision of building an online community for people who enjoy smoking weed while they play poker. Oh well, I made my bed etc... and the truth is; that I feel that part of my purpose in life is to try to make people see the hypocrisy in any government attempting to prohibit citizens from enjoying harmless fun, while inside their own homes. The Canadian government really needs a reality check too, as they completely profit from online gambling and licensing of medical marijuana but continue to enforce ridiculous laws against both poker and pot and the U.S. government is actually causing massive pain and suffering with their hypocrisy but I never intended to become a martyr over this issue, it's just that I'm more about reefer than I am about poker, so I decided it was time to speak my mind and let the chips fall where they may.

When I started this blog the title was "High Stakes Cannabis Culture", as a tongue-in-cheek reference to the risks involved in building a company around 2 things that were prohibited in the main markets that we focus on, North America. Well now I just raised the stakes again and will continue to promote my idea of freedom - smoke reefer and play poker. Now, even writing this confession could be my un-doing or perhaps I just removed USA off my future travel itinerary and I'll need to find a new way back to Canada via Mexico, Panama or Europe. Oh well, I can't stand to live with this deception and worse than that; it makes me crazy to see that USA appears to be moving backwards (again) with regards to legalizing marijuana. As a Canadian I feel a kinship with Mexican's and to witness what is being done to their country by this prohibition makes me feel sick, how can we stand by and say nothing?

One of the things I wanted to avoid with this blog was ranting. I set out to write about the good things that I see and learn about cannabis, the wonderful people I've met along the way, the scientific breakthroughs related to it's miraculous natural power, the marvelous beauty of the plant and the sheer pleasure of getting high from recreational smoking. That was my mission and I'm sticking to it, as there's enough truth-seekers out there exposing the global government insanity and the corporate conspiracies surrounding this defenseless plant. Now that I've confessed and explained more about why I promote reefer and poker, I'll get on with blogging about my amazing journey. Truth will set us free.

God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please - you can never have both. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Stay tuned for more confessions of a reefer maniac...

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