Cannabis Activism for Beginners
Marijuana activism has become increasingly important as more people around the world come to accept that marijuana may not be the most sinister substance in existence. We have started to make progress in many places, but there are still a large number of earthlings who insist on putting marijuana on the illegal side. Unfortunately, activism isn’t the easiest thing to jump right into. You may not have a lot of time, money, or other resources at your disposal. You may not know where to start, which organizations make the most difference, or if you can start locally. I may not be able to give you the answers to all of these questions, but I can certainly help you find out for yourself. Let’s see how beginners can meaningfully engage with cannabis.
Why is cannabis activism important?
For those of you who may not fully understand how cannabis activism can have a knock-on effect, let’s do a quick recap. The fact that marijuana is illegal in the first place has too many racist and classist roots. I wrote an article a while back on the racist origins of the word “marijuana” and it sheds a lot on the subject. Even today, marijuana laws are used to imprison some members of the public and not others. The war on drugs was launched to suppress minorities and ensure their effective removal from society. Unfortunately, there are still many resulting problems in our social system. For example, an analysis of marijuana arrests in New York in 2020 found that 94 percent of those arrested were people of color.
A 2021 analysis of Milwaukee arrests found that people of color were 4.9 times more likely than their white counterparts to be convicted following a marijuana arrest.
Legalizing marijuana would also take huge sums of money away from criminal syndicates that use the illegal sale of marijuana as a base for more sinister operations. Through legalization, we take money from the potentially dangerous drug, human trafficking, and arms trade.
Legalization will also lead to greater public awareness of drugs that have been shown to reduce the overall number of advanced drug use and overdose at a young age.
I can continue indefinitely, but I don’t want to run out of space. Essentially, the campaign for marijuana legalization isn’t just about giving you the freedom to smoke whenever you like.
What makes an activist?
We tend to think of activists as people who take to the streets and demand change, but that’s not necessarily true. While marches and protests are very valuable in fighting for change, they are not the only ways you can get involved. Activism is about using your actions to create positive change in society. Participation is key, no matter how small. Of course, there have been many great marijuana activists over the years, such as Jack Heller and Beth Moore, who have spoken out and rallied for marijuana legalization. These are people who have dedicated their lives to a cause, and for those of us who can’t actually do it, it can be intimidating. Some might say you need to give everything for the cause, but I honestly think it just keeps people from helping in small but meaningful ways.
How can you help?
A lot depends on where in the world you live, but honestly one of the most basic answers to this question is voting. If you don’t follow your party and use your votes to try to bring in a party that supports your cause, nothing will happen. It’s not just about yourself considering the main candidates and picking your favorite. You may find pro-marijuana political groups in your area that may be able to help you understand which political parties are most likely to influence future changes. As I mentioned before, public education is the key to legalization. As a marijuana activist, you can at least use your vote to raise the odds.
Writing letters and petitions
These methods are often used by professional cannabis groups to show the government how loud the calls for legalization are. By sending well-signed petitions and well-written letters to various government officials, you can demonstrate the public’s current interest in the topic. The more people and groups write to officials on a topic, the more likely they will be noticed and the more likely you will get a response. Again, this may not lead to immediate or clear action, but it is still activism as part of the masses demanding change.
As great as sports are, most things happen online now. You can be part of a larger type of change by creating online petitions that can be emailed to large groups, starting discussions on social media, connecting important people via Twitter, and more. If you’re struggling to find like-minded people to join great groups, you’ll find it easier online than in your local community. You can then use these online connections for more meaningful physical activity.
Unfortunately, money is one of the biggest creators of change, not just cannabis activism, but pretty much everything. Every cause needs funding, and if you can even pay a little for it, it makes a big difference. There are certain groups online like the Last Prisoner Project or the Marijuana Policy Project that desperately need funding and are doing incredible work.
Of course, the classic way to be an activist is to take to the streets. Keeping an eye out for local peaceful protests, distributing information about legalization, attending rallies and various other events can really make a difference.
Either way, there are always small ways to effect change.
Written by Tasha Porritt
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