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The Five Marijuana Activists Who Are Like Brickweed

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brick weedAs the fight to regain our marijuana freedom heats up across the country, more people will jump on the legalization bandwagon.  People who were just pot growers, dealers and smokers the day before suddenly claim to be “marijuana activists” now that the term carries less social stigma and more economic clout.  But after nearly a decade in true grassroots activism, I’ve come across five types of “activists” who, like brickweed, should be avoided unless no better buds can be found.

The Herbal Huckster: This “activist” usually comes to the interview or rally with more “I’s” than a potato.  It’s not so much about the marijuana legalization as it is the marijuana legalization for them, and specifically, the great product they promote, the great dispensary they run, or the great organization they represent.  With guidance, the Herbal Huckster can be a beneficial player if enough positive information about legalization can be shoehorned in around the sales pitches.  They’re like the brickweed you can sometimes process into some decent hash.

The Keyboard Kommando:  This “activist” is found on the internet, researching the latest news and statistics on marijuana and producing them for a blog, podcast, or video show.  Many true activists do great work in this regard, but the Keyboard Kommando sees the internet and its chat rooms, forums, and comment boards not as a platform for the exchange of ideas and information, but a battlefield where any who question or disagree are to be slaughtered with a barrage of profanity, invective, and hate.  The Keyboard Kommando can be quite popular within their Thunderdome echo chamber, but they alienate from activism most of the casual readers who may have stopped by through a search link.  They’re like the brickweed that kinda gets you high, but leaves you with a raging headache that makes you wish you’d never toked at all.

The True Believer:  It’s hard to avoid the True Believer because marijuana has so many wonderful facets to believe in.  It’s an incredible medicine!  It’s a resilient fiber!  It’s an alternative fuel!  Yet while all these facts about cannabis hemp are true, the True Believer lives in a world where politics and economics don’t count.  These are the kinds of activists who propose grand initiatives that go far beyond what polls show the voters will actually support, believe that all-volunteer signature drives can successfully cover an entire state, and that all we must do is gather a million tokers to march on Washington, D.C. and Congress will immediately recognize its mistake and re-legalize cannabis.  They’re like the brickweed that actually looks and smells pretty decent, but no matter how much of it you smoke, you never feel high.

The Drama Queen:  These “activists” are stars in their own soap opera called “As the Bowl Burns”.  Their histrionics can be beneficial when explaining the plight of cancer-ravaged child or a police-terrorized toker, but inevitably the drama spills over into who did this and who said that, what organization snubbed them and how they’re being persecuted.  Sometimes Drama Queens become locked into an orbit around Keyboard Kommandoes, like a dying star feeding a black hole.  They’re like the brickweed you smoke that’s actually pretty decent, until you realize later you’ve gotten a mold infection from it.

The Party Animal:  Dude!  Did you see the huge-ass dab I just did?  Whoa, man, check out this quarter-pound joint!  Awesome!  And what about this sick-looking piece of glass?  Dude, that’s the bomb!  But what it is not is marijuana activism.  The Party Animal thinks merely smoking weed and lots of it and blogging and videoing it is activism.  Activism starts with a-c-t and requires educating the public, organizing people, and working for change.  There’s nothing wrong with partying and good times and there is some value in the public seeing that even the stoniest stoners are good-natured, fun people who aren’t puking and fighting and wrecking their cars.  They’re like the regular round-town-brown brickweed – it’s good enough to smoke and will get you by until you can get ahold of the real thing.

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About Author

Executive Director: Russ Belville has been active in Oregon marijuana reform since 2005, when he was elected second-in-command of the state affiliate, Oregon NORML. After four years with Oregon NORML, Russ was hired by National NORML in 2009, working as Outreach Coordinator and hosting the NORML Daily Audio Stash podcast until 2012. Since then, Russ launched the 420RADIO marijuana legalization network and is the host of The Russ Belville Show, a live daily marijuana news talk radio program. Russ is also a prolific writer, with over 300 articles posted online and in print in HIGH TIMES, Huffington Post, Alternet, The Weed Blog, Marijuana Politics, and more.

84 Comments

  1. “We don’t devote enough scientific research to finding a cure for jerks.” Bill Watterson, brainyquote.com

  2. Hey darkcycle, this is an old article but I thought I would chime in. Basically, a lot if people are butthurt because Russ supports initiatives few activists like (Prop 19 for example). He gets a lot of crap, some well deserved and some not, such as the Mickey Martin fiasco.

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  4. It’s a New Mexico thing. Check out this chica…she caught a lot of shit for her portrayal of the people in NM, but I lmao the first time I saw it. Still makes me chuckle – http://youtu.be/N5Yy0iWVC00
    And her condemnation by some people in our city, with no sense of humor, kinda reminds me of this post’s comments.

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  7. lololols! oh, yes, ok, YOU are FUNNY! We laughed so hard at this. We also laughed at your article Russ. We enjoy comedy and have not had such a belly laugh in days. Aren’t we all such silly humans :)

  8. Now there’s a drug that should be criminalized… booze. but there’s way too many alcoholics in DC.

  9. … I’m glad you put “most” in your statement. Now I can remain being unique. hee hee hee ( “peepee hurt”…..lmao…I like that…that’s funny)

  10. That’s the pharmaceutical mentality for you. See they won’t be able to make any money now on some of their “pet meds” because marijuana will replace it for 10x less the cost.

  11. I think if we all came together on the most important issue first…to legalize marijuana, then we can have our little squabbles over the details. But FIRST get it legal. Amazing to me that this article seemed to me to an objective and educational piece that doesn’t warrant the comments that have been posted. An example of the Keyboard Kommando calling the author a dick head was totally uncalled for. Great article Mr. Belville.

  12. why? Did you feel maybe like he was talking about you when he wrote the Keyboard Kommando paragraph” hmmmm

  13. why? Did you feel maybe like he was talking about you when he wrote the Keyboard Kommando paragraph” hmmmm

  14. A little self examination isn’t a bad thing. We all need to step back once in awhile and take a good look at our actions and attitudes. We’re people and have flaws but pointing them out now and then is healthy.

  15. That’s a prohibitionist tactic – to torpedo any legalization laws re: marijuana. Its happening all across the country from the get tough on crime and the drug war crowd. Its sabotage. I can’t see how tax and regulate is endemically flawed with a Trojan Horse. You can make your own booze, can’t you?

  16. What about all of us Herbal mama Keyboard stroking Kommando going True Believing Drama FREE Queens of the Party who just love Animals & just want weed to be legal?? Where do we fit in??? Haven’t quite yet found a cozy little spot to call home around here ;-) Any advice Russ??

  17. Who would be hurt by full legalization? Can you elaborate? For my part, I operate under the assumption that any for of marijuana prohibition is a crime against humanity.

  18. Exactly! Divide and conquer. But the more “reasonable sounding” people that enter their voice, the better, but all voices are welcomed and we need to remain united in our goals and keep our eyes on the prize.

  19. Great piece Russ, I laughed a lot. The fact that people are getting so bent out of shape over a light and humorous article is emblematic of the overall dysfunction in the movement unfortunately. Lighten up folks. We have plenty to be angry about but a lighthearted editorial isn’t one of them. Pick your battles.

  20. I mean, let’s face it — everyone knows you don’t like black people….

    JOKING!!! Couldn’t help myself. And thank you — I honestly was not fishing for praise. I was perfectly content with the praise-free status quo. It set me off when the scales tipped the other direction. I told my gf last night, I agree with and support most everything Russ says (about prohibition, not people), which is why I reacted so poorly to being slighted as a “keyboard commando.”

  21. I understand. I get caught up sometimes too, (like when some guy called me a racist). Sometimes it’s just to compelling and you have to say something. I appreciate your posts. Thought you should know that. You are a voice of reason.

  22. Russ, you are such an idiot. I suppose you would classify me as a “true believe” because I actually want to get it correct: to institute a model that promotes a free and fair market where no one has any advantage within the market. Why do I persist? In part because there are probably between 4-16 million “home growers” who are dependent on growing to meet their financial needs and who, in turn, contribute to their local economies. And THAT is why I’m opposing the current bills in Michigan which would monopolize production and distribution to a Canadian Global Corporation. You on the other hand have consistently supported “tax and regulate” which virtually insures the eradication of “home grows.” The name Benedict Arnold comes to mind. Any time you want to debate this on “Time for Hemp” I’m waiting for you.

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/bruce-cain/preserving-the-right-to-grow-our-own-marijuana-in-michigan/767007556658568

  23. I don’t appreciate the metaphor like others, apparently. Or perhaps I simply don’t like stones thrown from glass houses. It’s more than a bit frustrating to be shoved in a little shoebox, categorically. It’s even more frustrating when the criteria seems to be bitingly sarcastic and whimsically naïve at the same time. Of course the internet, with all its splendor, was always ever intended for the exchange of ideas. And I enjoy learning new things almost as much as I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned.

    However, not all the time, but sometimes people (who do not see the internet as a tool for sharing information) go looking to pick a fight, and descend upon a comment thread intent on smashing our rosy knowledge exchange. Anyone who reads any comment thread on any story related to politics knows these types of people, quite well. I have no tolerance for those people. I’m a fervent believer that internet users should not roll over for trolling bullies. And yes, sometimes it means the absolute WORST parts of my character surface to verbally bludgeon those jerks until there’s nothing left of their “good time” except a grotesque stain on the floor amongst the charred ruins of their self-esteems. They rarely come back to bother me, but that doesn’t mean I’m PROUD of my behavior.

    I’d MUCH rather see the scales fall from their eyes as new information changes their perspective, forever. It doesn’t always play out that way. Sometimes, it plays out ugly. Sometimes, you get locked into a conversation with someone just looking to screw with you. I hate it when it happens, but I don’t roll over for trolls, least of all when it’s a prohibitionist looking for “soft target” stoners to screw with. So for Russ to throw it back in my face — especially given the fact that every other word in HIS show is positively *dripping* with disdain — it goes beyond the pot calling the kettle black, straight into insult territory.

    Frankly, anyone, and I mean *ANYONE* who has ever locked horns with a prohibitionist in a comment thread (instead of just wilting away like we’re expected to) has my personal thanks, not my scorn. They should have Russ’s thanks, as well. There are thousands of nameless, faceless people who have been fighting the misinformation of prohibition *longer* than Russ has been racking up face-time, and they have my respect and appreciation (even if they’ll never see the gold star). Russ, a public face of cannabis law reform advocacy, should have a little more appreciation for the thousands of anonymous people who back him up in exchange for zero kudos at all. Even if he’s not going to pat anyone on the back, the LEAST Russ can do is *not* belittle other advocates for the heinous crime of *not* being Russ.

  24. Despite moments of weakness on drug war bad news days, I always picture the average non-partaking reader that sees the changing public attitude and wants to figure out the real story.
    That is who we are speaking to, reassuring the general public that is necessary to change outdated laws, and broaden our collective noise making machine that is making the difference.
    My most important point is always responsibility. Have fun and enjoy but above all, do no harm.
    When the bad news the prohibs are expecting doesn’t materialize, we’ve won.

  25. Rebecca Forbes on

    Those are the cow patties… just because I am a patient now, in my younger years I absolutely used recreationally and went t prison for growing in the late 90’s. The Cannabis plant belongs to mankind from the seed… for whatever use they have for it.

  26. Rebecca Forbes on

    ABSOLUTELY agree with you… part of why I have been a little AWOL… stresses me out to see all the division and contentions played out in public, but I guess, hopefully, those involved learn and grow from the experience of drama… I don’t do drama well at all.

  27. thepotriotsociety on

    How bout the Don’tGiveAPhuck’s? Just call it like they see it. Now we are segregating “types” of activist. If I wasn’t mistaken, that tactic is usually used to splinter groups, not bring them together…hmmm…..

  28. A fucken MEN, And speaking of men…I have a feeling most of the folk all peepee hurt and without a sense of humor about this post are men. Now that ought to stir up some shit.

  29. I laughed too! But, no right or wrong, because if it works, it works! Some people need to be hit upside the head with a brick now and then. LOL This kind of reminded me a little of a post a while back on how to spot a stoner. I laughed at that one too.

  30. Come on Wow. Lighten up! This was a funny post. You are being way too serious. I know you have a funny bone. Why the rant? There’s a little brickweed in all of us! That’s what makes it funny.

  31. Personally, I believe I am more a cross-breed (mutt) Activist! I know I fall into the “Key-Board Kommando”, I am disabled and can’t get around much , so, Keyboard is about all I can “Do”, but I Can see where I have the “Drama Queen” Gene as well as a touch of the “True Believer”! I can’t seem to be much of a “Huckster”, although, I will admit, I Have Tried on occasion, I haven’t made a single dime…I’m not a very good at Hucking I guess! As for the “Party Animal”, I had a taste of that back in my day, but lived a Full Life In Between, now not feeling it much! :)

  32. disqus_demMJl6uTu on

    Oh no. The “donation” bullshit again… You are a fucking drug dealer, not a charity.

  33. Wow, everyone is really butt hurt by this Russ, lol! Guys, we’re all pot heads. Maybe you use it for medical reasons, legitimately; maybe you smoke at parties; maybe you smoke once a year, or maybe you smoke 6 times a day just because you like it… but we all smoke. And we all love a little humor peppered into articles pertaining to our favorite plant. Russ is simply pointing out things he’s seen in people, and making a joke. I highly doubt he feels ALL of these people should be avoided, because yes, we all do fall into one of these 5 categories at some point, and that would mean NO ONE shows up to the rallies, no one organizes events, etc, cuz we’re all avoiding each other. So Russ compared you to brick weed… So what. Laugh, it’s a joke. It’s just an analogy. If cannabis has taught me anything, it’s that life is too precious to be serious all the time.

  34. Awesome, thank you Russ, wish I had read this 10 years ago though. haha. Been through it and even can relate to those characters at times….Good stuff. Let’s get back to work. I know I am. And Russ is always working. Love Russ Belville.

  35. I am 60+ years old, and out of the last 40 working years I spent over 30 of those years working in the fields of criminal justice and substance abuse rehab. Currently I am medically disabled and home 24/7 helping to care for my medically disabled wife. I guess I fit into one or more of those categories, and at some point in my life I have probably fit into all your categories, Russ. I see differing levels of maturity, responsibility and confront represented there.

    All I can think of to say at this point is that I welcome people to this cause despite their impure intentions. The enemy is formidable and there is strength in numbers.

    Who is the enemy? I would have to say its anyone not willing to stand up and take their country back from the abomination that we in our own ambivalence, ignorance, greed, and apathy have tacitly allowed it to become.

    A rag tag band of misfits out to get their country back.

    Keep up the good work, Russ. I fancy myself as “on the team”. Even if I do see a bit of personal familiarity with some of your categories.

    I’d like to see a similar article related to some prohibitchionists.

  36. the best way to protect the right of patients is to make it legal for everyone then the patients are free to medicate however they see fit

  37. I laughed and recognized the times I, too, have been guilty of each of these. There is no “perfect” activist or perfect path to legalization. We all have thoughts on how best to fight this fight, sometimes we’re right, sometimes we’re wrong. Sometimes we, and others, think we’re right and it turns out to be the wrong path down the road.

    For my own part, I will be more vigilant in my own actions to stay away from being in the brickweed category.

  38. In all fairness , fully legal will hurt some people too, and I’m not talking black market, look what their trying to do to patience

  39. Anybody out there you don’t hate? Because the one activist who turns me off is the one who hates on everybody.

  40. Lindsey Rinehart on

    Seriously people on this comment feed need to lighten the fuck up. Smoke a damn bowl. We, as in, EVERY activist I have EVER met, are guilty of falling into these 5 categories at some points in time or another. Am I the only one that Laughed my ASS off reading “As The Bowl Burns??” That shit was funny! I’m not a fan of the dramatics and lately the activist crowd has been quite “Out There” with ALL of our behavior IN General. The month of November there was so much drama it was disgusting! Probably just wearing on ALL of us and at some level, we are all SO sick of someone else’s bullshit. So yeah, it poked at the activist community a little bit. GOOD. DEAL WITH IT. I think the main point of this was for Everyone to think about your own behavior. Try that out.

  41. Well knock me over with a feather — Radical Russ, himself descending from on high to interact with one of the lowly Keyboard Commandos. We’re all so blessed…

    Here’s a marketing tip for you, free of charge. If you are an (internet) talk show host and (internet) writer, you should encourage people to patronize your work by *not* patronizing them, e.g., don’t write articles that spit in the face of your core demographic. Honestly, you boxed in virtually every activist I’ve ever met into five snarky little categories exemplifying their shortcomings, *NOT* their strengths. Way to raise all boats, oh wise one. Two thumbs up for perfectly demonstrating the jaded, narrow perspective of self-appointed “experts” the rest of us are supposed to follow.

    Frankly, I’ll proudly own my Keyboard Commando label. Seeing as how I’m *not* a self-promoting talk show host or writer, nobody has the slightest idea WHO I AM. Therefor, it is impossible for me to commit the most arrogant of all fallacies — appealing to my *OWN* authority. “Why? Cuz I said so — don’t you know who I am?” The comments that I (and many others like myself) make on articles such as this one are judged strictly by the substance of those comments. I have more respect for a well thought-out, *anonymous* comment than the condescending drivel spouted by anyone with the audacity to name *themselves* Radical Anything.

    Because, Russ, to say the least, you’ve been an imperfect and underwhelming filter of information. Certainly not one worthy of a Radical connotation. Lots of other R words that would be far more appropriate, like Rutabaga. Rutabaga Russ is a much better fit. But oh, look at me, hurling ad hominem pebbles at the ivory tower of cannabis activism that is Radical Russ. I should be proselytizing the masses to subscribe to your podcast, the lone candle to lead us out of the darkness of prohibition. Shame on me for suggesting you’re an egomaniacal showboat.
    Shame shame shame. Don’t know how I’ll live with myself.

  42. people before profits on

    Prohibition Hurts People

    Cannabis consumers are people.

    There is no genuine reason for prohibition, merely justification for prejudice.

    Prohibition is a governmental policy designed to oppress people based on prejudice.

    Cannabis could be as useful as soggy cardboard, prohibition is still wrong, it still hurts people and there is still no genuine reason for it.

  43. Another type of brickweed activists are the ones that go on the media and say that they are AGAINST legalization for recreation use. That treacherous type of messaging gives aid and comfort to prohibition by throwing adult recreational users under the bus and hands them over to the drug warriors on a silver platter. It’s also demoralizing to say the least.

  44. Agreed. Why is this guy out writing articles that bash our movement? Denies cannabis cures cancer, and is just the Uncle Tom of Cannabis. But rarely calls it cannabis. Thinks we are supposed to be cool with the propaganda and lies just to go along with it. This guy shouldn’t be out front of anything. And thanks for deleting all my comments on your 5 myths article in high times. Lame lame lame.

  45. LOL! Well, ya got me there. Here I was all shamelessly self promoting when I should have been waiting for someone else to come along and promote me.

    That charge always cracks me up. Is Jon Stewart shamelessly self promoting? Or Jimmy Fallon? Or Wolf Blitzer?

    If I am a talk show host and writer, how exactly should I encourage people to patronize my work?

  46. “I” would add a sixth…the activist who preaches to the choir. “I” just can’t think of a catchy name for it. “I’m” going to cough phlegm at the next activist that tells ME we need to legalize it!

  47. “I” wasn’t trying to be critical; it was an attempt at humor. “I’m” probably not a very good comedian. In all seriousness, “I” recognize you’re doing a great job!

  48. No. And genius, that would be a sixth kind.

    Come on back and talk to me when you’ve helped run “soup kitchen” style meetings for patients for three years, consulted on legislative changes that led to reducing marijuana felonies to misdemeanors, recruited and helped activists form legalization non profits on four continents, put in 80,000 air miles for lectures, presentations, matches, protests, and events, broadcasted 1,600 hours of news and education on cannabis, personally assisted eight patients escape red states to get medical, and helped get a patient’s stolen children returned to her from CPS.

    (Yes, this is a little Kommando of me. Nobody’s perfect.)

  49. I would say give credit where credit is due,,the lady has convinced more people of her safety than all the typed words ever will.

  50. Russ, I don’t think you’re a Herbal Huckster, but your bio does have more I’s than the average potato. And it doesn’t matter a hoot, as you and almost all the other activists are doing a great job, as evidenced by the consistent upward trek in public-opinion polling. We all have our methods, we all make a contribution, and all of us who wish to do so will soon be toking up legally thanks to OUR collective efforts.

  51. You forgot about the 5th kind. Ex-drunks and methheads that are welcomed into the community only to turn around and bash the folks that made them who they are. You have made zero contribution to this movement Russ. There are thousands of nameless people who have contributed way more than you ever will. Go away!!

  52. Lame weed activist: I wanna smoke with this heady piece!
    Real weed activist: I just broke my bong by dropping a bottle of booze on it!

  53. In the age where independents are the fastest growing segment of the legalization era, avoid deeply partisan, constitution haters, that think its ok to disparage someone for their political beliefs, while preaching the word of legalization. Dale Carnegie would say, that is not the way to “Win Friends and Influence People”. Please avoid these activists like they are brick weed.

  54. Don’t forget about *The Cynical Meta-Activist*

    Basically, the sort of person who regards themself as the medical grade, super dank, ultra kind bud of cannabis activism who presumes to cast disparaging comparisons to brickweed upon others while they shamelessly self-promote.

    Like the medical grade bud they compare themselves to, they usually have a highly publicized, often clever and/or alliterative name, like White Widow or Big Bud or Superduper Skywalker Kush OG Cinnamon Starlight. And, just like with kind bud, you often discover the ostentatious strain name really doesn’t mean anything — it’s just overly romanticized, needlessly over-priced, verbally exaggerated WEED. Just a plant! Like any other strain, bricked or not, it is susceptible to mold, pests, and bouts of self-righteousness. And sadly, when you actually experience one of these hyped strains, they rarely live up to their grandiose titles. It’s usually a good toke, sure, but you’re left feeling a little disappointed, and perhaps cheated, as you could have achieved the same results with plain old brickweed.