One of my favorite quotes from college was ‘the two most important things in politics are money and…money.’ While I agree that money is EXTREMELY important in politics, there is another VERY important element that is often overlooked by many political movements; organization. Coming up with campaign cash is not always an easy thing to do. Organization, on the other hand, is virtually free of cost. It takes nothing more than time and effort, and with the help of the internet, it is becoming increasingly easier to do. Social networking sites like Facebook are more than just a way for horny people to hook up with each other; they are FREE devices that can be used to organize a political movement in a very efficient way.
Not that long ago, organizing like minded individuals for the purpose of affecting politics was a very cumbersome task. People would have to wait outside of malls and collect signatures in the rain. They would have to come up with crafty ways, and rent facilities, to hold meetings in order to gather names, phone numbers, and volunteers. People would have to spend enormous sums of money in order to gain attention for their issue with the hopes of gaining sympathetic supporters. This of course created a HUGE advantage for big money interests.
That was all changed by the internet and social networking. We now live in a political era where one person can link to another person with similar views, without ever leaving the house. Instead of calling supporters for meetings, lobbying, or elections, organizers can send out a bulk text message, bulk e-mail, wall post, etc. and it will instantly be read by a targeted audience. The benefits are virtually endless, and when you consider the fact that the ‘Reefer Madness Generation’ is clueless on how to harness social networking, it makes it even that much better!
This revolution in politics couldn’t have come at a better time either. If there is one thing that I have learned from running The Weed Blog (TWB), it’s that the pro-marijuana movement is lacking in the area of organization. By no means am I saying that there is NO organization (there are COUNTLESS hardworking activists in every state at the micro level no doubt). However, I think if anyone with a background in politics looked objectively at the pro-marijuana movement on the macro level, they would point out that the pro-marijuana cause needs to be more united.
As an example, I would point to the National Organization for Reforming Marijuana Laws (NORML). I have spent a lot of time on Facebook since we started TWB, and I have noticed a significant amount of NORML chapters that have a FB, yet are not listed on the NORML website. In fact, there are more than a dozen states that don’t have a listing for a chapter at all, yet most of those same missing states have chapters on Facebook. I’m not trying to bash NORML headquarters (they are hopefully working on lobbying instead of website maintenance) I’m merely pointing to just ONE example out of many. Considering there are NUMEROUS organizations and individuals working nationwide (MPP, ASA, SAFER, LEAP, the Great Carl Olsen of Iowa, etc) it is easy to see that not everyone is always on the same page.
I have been talking about this organization problem with Ninjasmoker for some time now. Since the recent passing of my hero Jack Herer, I have felt a renewed passion for marijuana activism. I want to help the cause by launching a new feature on TWB; a state by state activism page. I envision a database that includes EVERY organization in EVERY state that is working to make positive changes to marijuana policy in America. I picture someone consuming marijuana or getting busted in (fill in any state) and saying to themselves ‘the marijuana laws in this state suck. I want to help change them for the better so that way I don’t have to deal with this BS anymore.’ As of right now, it can be tricky finding a constructive way to make a change.
I get the question ‘how can I get involved’ almost every 5 minutes when I am online. With the new TWB activism database, those same people that want to get involved but don’t know how can click on their state, and find like minded individuals that are already working toward the goal of reform. This will benefit the cause by making it easier for people to find ways to get involved, it will help the current activists by enlarging their memberships, as well as help activists figure out what other states are up to. It’s alarming to me how many states I talk to that have no idea what marijuana decriminalization is all about, or even how a medical marijuana program works. With a nationwide database, it will be much easier to find contacts in every state to pick their brains to see what has worked for them.
Like I said before; money is the most important thing in politics, yet organization is important as well. I would like to point out that the two can go hand in hand and become equally as important and feed off of each other. Better organization can breed better campaign contributions. Take for example the 2004 and 2008 elections. Howard Dean came out of nowhere in 2004, raising (at the time) record amounts of campaign contributions in a Democratic primary. These records were then shattered four years later, when Barack Obama’s campaign raised more money than any political campaign in US history. Neither of these campaigns would have been possible without harnessing the internet to organize their supporters and then gather contributions.
There is no reason that the pro-marijuana movement couldn’t do the same thing. I am already receiving e-mails from initiatives in West Coast states calling for campaign donations, and to sign up for e-mail lists. This should be going on nationwide, and there should be one ‘hub’ for every activist to go to find out what is going on in their state, to find EVERY organization or group that is already working for reform, and how to contact them. Today, I offer up the TWB as a FREE place to do just that.
If you are an organization (from an officially recognized chapter of a national organization, all the way down to a solid Facebook group) or individual that is fighting on the front lines of marijuana reform, WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! Send us your organization name, state, contact info, website (if you have one), and a brief description of what you do to firstname.lastname@example.org We will add it to your state, and forward any press releases you want to get out. This is for marijuana political activists that are affecting (or want to affect) the political process. THIS IS NOT FOR PEOPLE THAT WANT TO GET THEIR NAME OUT THERE, OR PRODUCT, OR ‘FOR PROFIT’ SCHEME, ETC. You know who you are!! We can help you too, but in different ways, just ask!
Stay tuned and stay active! Like I always say, WE MUST UNITE IN ORDER TO WIN THE FIGHT!!!