Jul 082012
 July 8, 2012

legalize_cannabisAre You A Cannabis Activist?

By Anthony Martinelli, Sensible Washington

Activism is a broad term. Activism is meaningful action towards bettering what’s harmful to society.

A must for those who desire a boldly improved future.

Activism has a lot of history in its meaning, and in those who have embodied it: whether as a habit, or in most cases, a way of life. It’s been of considerable importance throughout our history.

Often the term activism promotes extremely personal, and immediate reactions, tending towards thoughts of what that individual is most passionate towards. Whether it’s an intense pining to find a break-through in bettering our education system, or whether someone’s eyes twitch at the thought of privatized prisons, the ideals and preliminaries of activism is deeply embedded in all of us. It’s whether or not we convert that into outward action and influence that makes all the difference, and decides whether we effect change.

This is where that step is taken, from the idea of activism, to being an activist.

An “activist” is of course just a word, an idea. But to those who spend their lives, their time, their personal capitol to actively work towards positive (and ofttimes controversial) change, it’s consistently a term that is spoken of proudly, and with importance.

And, making sure ego is put aside, it is important. Take cannabis prohibition for example; as with most all civil rights disasters, these scenarios of inhumane conditions continue for years on the back of intensely false information, followed by the public’s silence. It’s when a few, then many, stand up and speak loudly against tyranny and unruly policies that the issue begins to reach mainstream consciousnesses, and change can begin to occur.

With cannabis prohibition, the pure force that was put into the government’s will to dissolve cannabis use, and a none-the-wiser audience buying into it, has meant a continuation of one of the most corrupt social, political and legal policies of the modern era.

But, cannabis prohibition is also a shining example of why activism is so important. A laughable (if not sickening) amount of money has been put into the continuation of cannabis prohibition, and the incarceration of anyone who dares to ignore or live their lives despite it. Despite this, and despite our drug war on a national level at its absolutely height, cannabis legalization is, by far, supported by more people in this country than in the history of prohibition.

If you think that this isn’t in large part due to activism (from Jack Herer’s work towards reform, to Seattle Hempfest volunteers forming one of the largest free speech events in the world), you likely haven’t been following the impact the cannabis culture has had on modern public opinion. Of course, modern science and reasoning has also played a large part; but in 1996, when the nation’s support for legalizing cannabis was at just 25% (according to Gallup), and medical cannabis was unheard of by most, it was activism and personal testimony (simultaneous in most cases) that helped legalize medical cannabis with 56% on the general election ballot in California, starting a trend that has led to over a third of America passing medical cannabis legalization measures since.

The reason activism is so vital is that the mainstream public is apathetic. What isn’t on their mind, what isn’t of their immediate interest, doesn’t tend to concern them. If they don’t currently consume cannabis, and don’t care enough to look into the facts of the matter, it’s not rare that they’ll tend to side with the propaganda that’s more ever-present in their conscious than the truth.

But, the more they begin to see active work towards reform, the more they see their friends and neighbors take a stand, the more they begin to question what they may have seen as common-knowledge. In the case of cannabis prohibition, the more the people question, the better. Cannabis prohibition is heinous policy, and it doesn’t take much looking to realize that. Getting the public to pay attention to and examine the issue holds just as much importance as educating them on the reasons we need a change.

This being said, the importance of personal activism can’t be overstated. As we progress in knowledge and technology, and the quicker information becomes available and obtainable, the more important and effective it will become (and is becoming) to continue bringing to light issues, such as cannabis prohibition, that so desperately need to be changed.

Spending time telling your friends, family and colleagues about the need to end prohibition, for example, is a simple yet great form of activism. So is writing letters to the editors, contacting elected officials, attending peaceful protests/rallies, etc.. Spending time researching and spreading information tends to make it grow on you, and increases the likelihood that you’ll be active in bringing change.

This, in turn, benefits everyone.

About Johnny Green

Johnny Green is a marijuana activist from Oregon. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy. Follow Johnny Green on Facebook and Twitter. Also, feel free to email any concerns.
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  • Midnight run

    Great article. My father invented the modern swamp logging methods and the shovel machine used in it we see on tv. Unfortunatly they are now being used to log the rainforests at an alarming rate with no forest managment. After being locked up my fourth time in georgia for pot and a bs pot dui charge ive had enough and started using facebook to show my old conservative high school friends the real reason behind prohibition. And how hemp is the only future this countrys got . Shit even the farmers have no chance. They are cutting thd rainforest down to create farmland…

    • pkr8ch

      Just imagine how much of the forests we could save by growing hemp.

      • 2buds4me

        I love all the possibilities. Hemp has the longest single strand fiber i the plant kingdom and can be used for so many things. Coming from the box industry I can tell you of the millions of tons we used each year could all ALL be replaced with hemp – making stronger thinner lighter boxes that last 10 times longer and with the fiber length in mind – can be recycled indefinitely. Packaging Corp of America had 1 million acres of timber in production to supply all it’s box industries. Hemp can yield 3-8 dry tons of fiber per acre. This is four times what an average forest can yield. And hemp can grow in 4 months what a forest takes 20 years to do. Leaving forests to grow big and healthy hardwoods for oxygen production and carbon sequestration. What a thrilling prospect! We could make light poles – 25 foot long fibers in resin – fiberhemp (think fiberglass) poles that are 10 times as strong as fiberglass and will last 100 years – that’s twice as long as all the light poles in use today.
        The thrilling potential – all wasted because the easy way – the easy money is all in prohibition. Let’s face it, war is big business – and big money. War got the US out of the depression. War made the US profitable again in the 50’s. This War on drugs had a simular agenda – profit. Presidents feeling it doesn’t hurt anybody that maters – just those filthy hippies. Lock um all up. Who cares. We’ll build more prisons. The prison system is huge fat profitable “system” that thrives on incarceration. Like an all consuming flesh eating bacteria – consuming it’s host till the host dies – taking the bacteria down to the grave with it. Prisons would incarcerate all – consume all till it’s unsustainable demise.
        Ok – don’t get me started. Now getting down off my soap box.
        Great article Johnny Green!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Malcolm-Kyle/100001700224506 Malcolm Kyle

    An appeal to all Prohibitionists:

    Most of us know that individuals who use illegal drugs are going to get high – no matter what, so why do you not prefer they acquire them in stores that check IDs and pay taxes? Even if we could afford to put Narcs on every single corner, at least half of them would soon become dealers themselves. Gifting the market in narcotics to ruthless criminals, foreign terrorists and corrupt law enforcement officials is seriously compromising our future.

    Why do you wish to continue with a policy that has proven itself to be a poison in the veins of our once so proud & free nation? Even if you cannot bear the thought of people using drugs, there is absolutely nothing you, or any government, can do to stop them. We have spent 40 years and trillions of dollars on this dangerous farce; Prohibition will not suddenly and miraculously start showing different results. Do you actually believe you may personally have something to lose If we were to begin basing our drug policy on science & logic instead of ignorance, hate and lies?

    Maybe you’re a police officer, a prison guard or a local/national politician. Possibly you’re scared of losing employment, overtime-pay, the many kick-backs and those regular fat bribes. But what good will any of that do you once our society has followed Mexico over the dystopian abyss of dismembered bodies, vats of acid and marauding thugs carrying gold-plated AK-47s with leopard-skinned gunstocks?

    Kindly allow us to forgo the next level of your sycophantic prohibition-engendered mayhem.

    Prohibition Prevents Regulation : Legalize, Regulate and Tax!

  • http://disqus.com/notspicoli/ notSpicoli

    Thanks for the article. As you note, it is critical that the “mainstream” accept this as their issue as they come to rocognize the costs and benefits to them, even if they are not cannabis users. Not everybody smokes cannabis, but everyone who pays taxes participants in marijuana prohibition’s maintenance. It’s up to us to let them know. As Russ Belville reminds us, “Marijuana is not going to legalize itself!”

    Here in Pierce County, one county south of you, we (me and others in our NORML Chapter and New Approach Volunteers), (as are others across Washington state), are out on the streets now spreading the word and educating people about their part in maintaining prohibition (costs) and the benefits of legalizing, taxing, and regulating (revenue, safety, etc.)

    Because every voter in this state will make a decision in 119 days. On the ballot they will be asked legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana and usher in a sensible marijuana policy in the state of Washington.

    We know we are making inroads in changing attitudes and perceptions. The polls indicate that I-502 is ahead. Garnering the support of African-American church leaders was a major step, as was securing the broad support of the Democratic Party and former high ranking law enforcement types.

    We are meeting with legislators (as recently as last Thursday for me), we are writing to politicians, and we are telling our friends, families, and neighbors, and asking them to tell their friends families and neighbors. We are putting out road signs. We are making our presence felt in events around the city.

    The point is, particularity in Washington, Colorado, and Oregon, now is the time to be active. November 6, is the occasion where it becomes every voter’s business. Now is the time–this is the year.

    If you live in Pierce County and want to help make history, check out the Pierce County NORML facebook page.

  • http://www.facebook.com/thefreeradical David Fleischmann

    We should all rally like the man in the photo. Gather your friends, make signs and stand in the center of your town, showing people that it’s safe to come out in support of legalization, that one need not use cannabis to support its legalization. We need to educate the masses and lead them out of the dark ages.


  • http://www.facebook.com/Silverserpant70 Samantha Martinez

    I’m in texas, so you know wut I’m goin thru! Anything new in texas legislation on this matter? Any suggestions on wut a texan can do to advocate medical marajuana? Dont know where to start. Great job on the article, its a breath of fresh air. Thank you for your time and research…..Godbless

    • http://disqus.com/notspicoli/ notSpicoli

      Recently the Texas Democratic Party wrote this into their platform:

      “Every year hundreds of thousands of Americans are arrested for marijuana
      possession violations, more than all those arrested for violent crimes
      in America. Societal costs dealing with the ward on drugs concerning
      marijuana exceeds 12 billion dollars annually. Since the war on drugs
      began 85% of the arrests for marijuana have been for possession only.

      Marijuana is no more dangerous than tobacco or alcohol. Recent polls
      show over 50% of Americans believe marijuana should be decriminalized.
      While arrests for marijuana since 1965 have been over 20 million citizens, marijuana is more prevalent than ever before.

      There is no evidence that marijuana is a “gateway” drug leading to
      use of other more lethal drugs. 75% of citizens arrested for marijuana
      are under 30. Minorities account for a majority of those arrested for
      marijuana. Criminal conviction permanently scars a young citizen for

      Texas Democrats urges the President, the Attorney General and the
      Congress to support the passage of legislation to decriminalize the
      possession of marijuana and regulate its use, production, and sale as is
      done with tobacco and alcohol.”

      So, start with this. Write to the Texas Democrats, send them some money (if you can), tell them you are doing so because of the stand they took and assure them that they have your vote for doing so.