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Too Many Marijuana Activists Are All Or Nothing

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Legalize it!Will One Step Forward Ever Be Enough For Some Cannabis Activists?

I had a great conversation with the legendary Keith Stroup yesterday about how some well-meaning marijuana activists are too extreme at times. We sat in on an activism panel at the High Times Medical Cup in Denver that was very heated. It reminded me of being back in Oregon where conversations get tense from time to time. The panel moderator was quick to point out that disagreements about marijuana reform are not a sign of weakness in the movement, it’s a sign of strength. I agree. If we didn’t talk about things, kinks would never get worked out. Through communication comes understanding, even if the communication is sometimes a bit confrontational.

At the heart of the passionate debate was Colorado’s Amendment 64. Some activists were very vocal in their opposition to the initiative because they felt that it didn’t go far enough. There were other reasons provided as well, but the phrase ‘this isn’t really reform’ was tossed around a lot and it bothered me enough that I felt the need to write this article. The same statements are made in every state that is pursuing an end to marijuana prohibition, except Oregon. Oregon’s I-24 campaign ends marijuana prohibition without all of the details that have drawn criticism to other campaigns.

It makes me sad when marijuana activists are willing to take no steps forward instead of one step forward, simply because they demand ten steps forward. As I’ve always stated on this blog, politics is an incremental thing. I will admit that ‘alcohol prohibition wasn’t ended one ounce at a time’ but times are a lot different than they were when alcohol prohibition ended. The political stalemate is worse than it has ever been in this country, and anyone who thinks that an ‘all or nothing’ approach is going to be successful in this day and age needs to go back to Poly Sci 101.

I am not saying that we need to ‘get legalization at all costs.’ I am not saying that patients should have to give up some of their rights so that recreational users can get added protection. Although as a patient myself, I would be willing to do so, but I don’t expect other patients to agree with me. What I am saying is that the current state of marijuana prohibition is awful. It is far worse than ‘one step forward.’ To highlight my point, go and ask ten marijuana activists what legalization should look like, and you will get all kinds of conflicting answers and confrontations.

Now go ask those same activists if they think marijuana prohibition should end. They will all agree without all of the arguing. So rather than sit around and argue all day about details, how about we approach it from a different perspective and agree that we need to end prohibition. If the first initiative we pass isn’t good enough, just as we got that initiative passed, we can also pass a ‘fine tune’ initiative the next election cycle. I hear activists state, ‘If this is a constitutional amendment, we have to do it right the first time, because changing it later is very difficult. Therefore don’t support this initiative at all.’

I agree that it’s difficult to amend after passage, but no more difficult than it is to pass the first initiative. If we get something passed, but don’t like how parts of it are being implemented, then we do another campaign the next election cycle and fix it. Some activists act like we only get one shot at it, and so we need to sit and argue for another 40 years to get the ‘perfect initiative.’ How about we pass something this year, improve on it in 2014, and by 2016 it should be good to go. That’s much faster than if we just sat around and postured for our views, rather than compromise with others.

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22 Comments

  1. The problem can be spelled out in three words; tax, regulate and control.  Now “why” would we allow the government to do this when they’ve lied to us about it for 75 years and counting.  Should groups like NORML, DPA and MPP get away with this crap we will probably have our Cannabis laced with Polonium210 just like we now have with tobacco.  That translates into 450,000 deaths from lung cancer each year.  Do not trust these groups nor your government.

  2. I agree with you 100%.  This is the intelligent, effective route to reform.

    Those who seek to deny the concerns of non-users and demand their “rights” are behaving like spoilt children.

    The concerns may be based on propaganda and lies but that makes them no less real.  We have to show respect for the non-using majority and be prepared to be much more than reasonable in what we expect.

    If we set an example of how responsible, moderate and discreet we can be then we will make more progress than by blowing smoke in a policeman’s face, actually or metaphorically.

    It’s time the cannabis campaign grew up.  It is tribal, divisive, “counterculture” behaviour that has held reform back.  Cannabis is a mainstream issue and we need to start behaving like other citizens, not separating ourselves.

    There’s two extremes here: “reefer madness” and “crazy stoners” and they are both enemies of the cause.

  3. I agree with you 100%.  This is the intelligent, effective route to reform.

    Those who seek to deny the concerns of non-users and demand their “rights” are behaving like spoilt children.

    The concerns may be based on propaganda and lies but that makes them no less real.  We have to show respect for the non-using majority and be prepared to be much more than reasonable in what we expect.

    If we set an example of how responsible, moderate and discreet we can be then we will make more progress than by blowing smoke in a policeman’s face, actually or metaphorically.

    It’s time the cannabis campaign grew up.  It is tribal, divisive, “counterculture” behaviour that has held reform back.  Cannabis is a mainstream issue and we need to start behaving like other citizens, not separating ourselves.

    There’s two extremes here: “reefer madness” and “crazy stoners” and they are both enemies of the cause.

  4. I agree with you 100%.  This is the intelligent, effective route to reform.

    Those who seek to deny the concerns of non-users and demand their “rights” are behaving like spoilt children.

    The concerns may be based on propaganda and lies but that makes them no less real.  We have to show respect for the non-using majority and be prepared to be much more than reasonable in what we expect.

    If we set an example of how responsible, moderate and discreet we can be then we will make more progress than by blowing smoke in a policeman’s face, actually or metaphorically.

    It’s time the cannabis campaign grew up.  It is tribal, divisive, “counterculture” behaviour that has held reform back.  Cannabis is a mainstream issue and we need to start behaving like other citizens, not separating ourselves.

    There’s two extremes here: “reefer madness” and “crazy stoners” and they are both enemies of the cause.

  5. Just another brick in the wall.

    I love these people spending all their time telling us what we can’t do, and then accusing us of being ‘negative’ if we disagree with them.

  6. And few people seem to understand that, in the case of citizen’s initiatives, these are the will of the people, voted on by the people, and as such, no “appeasement of OUR EMPLOYEES” needs to occur.

    This perverted logic that for some reason “we have to do what our government tells us to do” completely contradicts the basic reality that the people CREATED GOVERNMENTS in the first place!  We are supposed to be telling THEM what to do, and NOT the other way around!

    Until people start to think about these things in a more detailed, factual and intelligent way, we’re going to keep right on playing whatever games OUR EMPLOYEES want us to play, in order to maintain THEIR incomes, at the price of ours, and our freedoms

  7. Tom Hillgardner on

    Doesn’t it depend on what you mean by “one step forward”? IMHO they are taking steps backwards in Washington with I-502 where they are legitimizing the creation of new crimes that ought not be crimes. That is some pitiful horse trading going on their. IMHO that’s one step forward and two steps back. Does that make me an “all or nothing”er? Then so be it. Moreover, some folks have to realize that whereas we have been fighting for change for forty years, we really should get the change we need. I disagree with the author that because I believe that cannabis prohibition will end as suddenly as alcohol prohibition that I need to go back to Poli Sci 101. I am for holding out for a return to the way cannabis was regulated before 1937.

  8. i was reading a pros and cons article the other day and and it had n doctor on pros telling about the wonderful medical uses of marijuana….and the cons column had a doctor telling about the horrors of marijuana….who is the public to believe? You and i know the truth…my wife…never smoked…looked down her nose at weed or the smokers…until I got sick…now she has seen first hand the benefits…although she still doesnt agree with it….doesnt condone it….but tolerates it….one believer at a time…but we all have to do our part and put it out there…make them talk about it…i have my 84 year old mom talking about it…for christs sake….the religious right needs to get a grip…and just for general 411…you pass a weak bill….it then takes 60-40 in the senate to amend it…as opposed to 51-49… just sayin…
     

  9. Bong_jamesbong2001 on

    What part of the SHITE prohibitionist program would Keith Stroup go to jail for?

  10. since these are usually ballot initiatives, due to chicken legislature, it costs anywhere from $50k to $100k just to get on the ballot. so yeah, trying to weed out the weak proposals and stick with good proposals is part of the rules. you vote a weak proposal in, and you’re stuck with it for years.

  11. The thing to keep in mind is that people are healed using cannabis of conditions no “modern medical procedure” or drug can treat.  As well, there are likely more cannabis users at this time than at any time in, say, the past 11,000 years.  The lame walk, the blind see, and cancer is cured  Anorexic patients eat again, people in nursing homes eat and have better quality of life because of Marinol.  Doctors in some cases are advising their patients to use cannabis when there is nothing else they can do.  For however many people use alcohol there is someone out there smoking a bowl and enjoying a nap, a conversation, vacuuming the rug, or playing Wii with friends.  In basements and the backs of kitchen cupboards and under floorboards and hidden in diverse places the herb is just sitting there ready to provide the waters of life. 

  12. I consider myself an activist – somewhat. I regularly state my opinions and show my support for weed (on Facebook, in conversations). I don’t hide my beliefs but there are two tings to consider. 

    1. I know many, many people who enjoy smoking from both my personal and professional lives (including supervisors, head administrators, professors, family, friends, etc.). However, these people have to tread carefully when even speaking on weed – let alone showing support and I cannot blame them. 

    We live in a ridiculously judgmental, vain and consequentially hypocritical society. There are extreme professional repercussions for people and though this does NOT stop their regular usage it DOES stop them from advocating its legality. This country is ran by a bunch of stodgy, boring, above-reality, out-of-touch, bored, ridiculous, complete lack of common sense, complete lack of empathy, deep love of involving themselves in the personal lives of Americans (so long as they do not have to share, use their personal wealth), Republican, super-duper-White men. They could care less about what the majority want and enjoy causing conflict and pain to their opposers – hoping to see them skewered. 

    Most people feel “what is the opinion of supporting and showing conviction” when the rich, 200 yr old dude is just going to stop – most measures – in its tracks. Sad thing is that if you were to delve into their staunch closets – you would uncover grave acts of lewdness  –  if not depravity. People are not willing to be publicly shamed for showing their support, on what appears, to be a losing battle. Nor are they willing to risk their jobs, income and personal social standings. They’s rather smoke in private and behind close doors. 

    2. How does an average person (without access, or even knowledge, of marijuana societal advocates, communities and/or groups) – show their support. I live in Ohio and we don’t have festivals, concerts, parades or anything that would gather supporters to an open arena and scream for the cause.  

    I only found out about groups like NORML, the Weed Blog, etc because I went searching. Honestly, I have found very few credible, honest and sincere advocacy groups and the ones that exists – have a very small reach. Most people don’t know about the current and existing initiatives to legalize weed AND most won’t get involved with a good reason or a lively outlet. 

    So there either has to be a way to bring the fight to the masses OR you have to hold a national vote – where everyone can vote their true feelings, under the privacy and anonymity of voting laws. I actually think you need both to get it done. Just fighting from Cali, CO and OR are not going to get us far – with the rest of the country.

    So how about High Times or NORML taking their word to other states or at least blasting a social media campaign across YouTube, Facebook, commercials, etc. Adults need a reason (such as the massive monies that legalization would bring to each state OR the grave importance it is to the sick) and the college-age youth need a good time (concerts, carnivals, festivals, something). People hate liars and hypocrisy so how about hi-lighting the truths that it is NOT any more dangerous OR a gateway anything than alcohol or cigarettes – EXCEPT weed is the only one with no chemicals added, historically proven calming affects and great medicinal properties. 

    How about stating a fact that most college students HAVE and, still DO, indulge in weed usage – and, yet, the world has not exploded. Same thing can be said for lots of professional and average citizens. How about telling the super-WASP parents the truth about ALL that their darling children have access to in high school, college, the world. Truth is that if little Timmy or Tina are going to become lazy nothings or soaring crackheads – this is going to happen, regardless of weed. People who suffer from a truly addictive personalities will find their vice – eventually. So don’t blame weed (something used by hundreds of millions AND across the globe) because some people lose their stupid minds to other real drug. 

    Point is that until you have an army, you cannot fight a battle. People want to sign up but they need a reason to, constant reminders and they need access. 

  13. I think the people who have a problem with AM64 are the same people who think HB1284/1043 are a problem. No one tried to amend the constitution, lobbyists catered to legislators to pass statutory laws that most feel conflict with our original amendment. Why would we think re-amending the constitution and “fine tuning” it every election is a viable option when we have never tried to amend AM20? Non-users are already sick of us, every day they read marijuana this, and marijuana that, while things important to them get overlooked. 1oz and 6 plants allowed for 21 and older, when 2oz is a petty offense, and the same 6 plants and 2oz is already allowed at any age for medicinal reasons is not a constitutional step worth taking. If you use it to feel good, or relax, that is considered medicinal, get a card, they have been available for a long time. If you want to vote for the legalization of cannabis, wait for something worth voting for. AM64 creates a list of prohibited acts, it does not end prohibition no matter how it is publicized. Lets start with removing bad laws, not creating more. Most municipalities have banned MMCs, why vote for another commercialized version of marijuana reform when most in Colorado don’t want it? Sometime the non-users are going to get sick of us and start voting NO on everything with weed in it, we need to respect them and understand things important to us are not important to them. Voting for something you plan on tweaking every election is selfish, naive and destructive, especially when no one has tried to amend AM20 after 12 years.