Cannabis is enjoying greater medical and recreational legality than ever before. More people are using cannabis than at any other point in human history. Much of the progress can be attributed to the various cannabis activists around the world. Without brave pioneers prepared to publicly challenge cannabis prohibition, history tells us that the politicians would simply ignore the many injustices which have damaged so many cannabis users.
There are so many cannabis activists around the world it is difficult to name them all. Wikipedia has several pages dedicated to cannabis rights leaders around the world. The USA has over 100 cannabis activists listed by wiki. This includes diverse groups of people, politicians, businessmen, sports stars, musicians, actors, medical representative groups as well as private individuals who have simply grown tired of having to obey futile and pointlessly punitive anti-cannabis laws.
One thing which unites cannabis activists around the world is the sense of profound injustice towards the prohibition of cannabis. Recreational cannabis users see no harm when cannabis is used responsibly by adults. Medical cannabis users can’t understand why their choice of medicine is forbidden, even when it works well with no side effects. People have always fought and petitioned for freedom to live their lives as they wish. Too many people love using recreational cannabis way too much to listen to the rules which prohibit its use. Those that use cannabis for medical reasons are even less inclined to relinquish their cannabis to keep the prohibitionists happy. For these reasons, cannabis use has thrived despite many decades of government-backed prohibition round the world. Cannabis activists are doing a great job of communicating the message that cannabis is a safe recreational drug when used responsibly for medical or recreational purposes.
With so many different cannabis activists in each country it is difficult to select just a few for their contributions. Certain activists have generated significant influence over many decades, here are just a few of them.
Jack Herer. As well as having a variety named after him, Jack is regarded by many as a father of the legalize cannabis movement. By the 1970’s Herer was actively protesting against cannabis prohibition. In 1985 he released his book ‘The Emperor Has No Clothes’ which became a best seller and has been reprinted many times. The book criticises politicians and big business for siding with prohibition and outlines the numerous reasons why cannabis prohibition has failed.
Ethan Nadelmann. Ethan Nadelmann is a Harvard graduate who went on to found the Drug Policy Alliance with the help of funding from his billionaire acquaintance George Soros. The Drug Policy Alliance has been one of the most influential groups in recent decades, helping swing the tide of cannabis prohibition in the USA. In doing so, the rest of the world has also benefitted from a less aggressive USA cannabis policy. Rolling Stone magazine described Nadelmann as ‘the driving force behind American cannabis legalization’
‘Brownie’ Mary Jane Rathbun. ‘Brownie Mary’ as she is known, was an early ‘Florence Nightingale’ of the cannabis movement. She had a high profile in the 1960’s during early legalization efforts. But she is perhaps best remembered for her work with cannabis and AIDS patients in the 1980s. Mary found that cannabis was particularly effective for pain relief, sleep improvement and appetite restoration amongst AIDS sufferers.
Snoop Dogg and other artists. It’s difficult to identify any single musician for the public love of cannabis and the ‘normalization’ effect which this has on the general public. Many musicians qualify, with Snoop Dogg being one of the higher profile ones. Snoop has never made a secret of his love for cannabis in his music and interviews. Snoop has also been active in cannabis since legalization first came about. He has set up a venture capital group (Casa Verde Capital) which is used to put financial backing behind cannabis start-up companies.
Many cannabis activists have found their high profile approach has put them in conflict with the police and court systems. Jail time and court judgements has only emboldened activists. Meanwhile many (but not all) police forces and courts have seen punishments for cannabis possession and cultivation drop as the offences are regarded as less damaging to society than they once were.
Many people think it is. In North America, where large cannabis industries are already dominating supply, many people still prefer to grow their own. Home grown cannabis allows cannabis supply at the lowest possible costs. That’s important for medical users on a low budget. Home grown cannabis also supports greater bio-diversity of cannabis genetics. Many large cannabis producers operate with just a small number of mother plants. Whereas home growers often prefer seed grown plants and don't mind the genetic diversity which comes from individual phenotypes. Home grown cannabis also allows strains which have specific benefits for the growers own particular medical condition. Here is an interesting article from Leafly about growing your own to ‘fight big marijuana’.
Many home growers feel that home cultivation is a form of rebellion against the injustice of prohibition. ‘Growing your own’ allows a pure source of cannabis. Many home growers grow organically using nutrient products from companies like BioTabs. This allows them the highest quality levels, the harvest date which suits them, unadulterated cannabis and all for the price of the seed, electricity and nutrients.
Many, like Steve DeAngelo go on to form successful businesses in the newly legalized landscape. After many years of activism and fighting for improved cannabis rights, Steve co-founded Harborside Dispensary. This has become an influential supplier of high quality cannabis. Keen to improve quality standards in the industry, he also opened the first dedicated lab dedicated to cannabis testing and research, Steep Hill Laboratories.
However, many years after legalization cannabis activists are still campaigning for improvements in various laws. Such as prejudicial cannabis screening of job applicants and employees. Many housing corporations refuse to rent properties out to those convicted of cannabis use/production.
Anti-cannabis legislation/sentiment has weaved itself into many aspects of modern society, even in places like the USA where cannabis is legal. Cannabis tests in urine are commonplace for potential (and existing) employees, sports stars and in certain legal/medical situations. However few people would consider it reasonable to discriminate against alcohol users. In fact, there would be public outrage at the idea of drug testing the general public for alcohol use.
Until recently, Germany spent many years dishing out instant driving bans to anyone with even the smallest detectable trace of cannabis in their blood stream. Given that cannabis can linger at non-intoxicating levels for many weeks after consumption, Germany’s law needlessly damaged thousands of lives (and careers) of people who hadn’t used cannabis for several days/weeks before they were tested. There will be work for cannabis activists many years after the main laws are changed to defeat such prejudice. Unfortunately, many activists feel that the gentrification of the cannabis industry after legalisation tends to exclude them.
Even in areas where cannabis is legally available to buy many people prefer to grow their own. The ability to grow your own is often part of the new cannabis laws which arrive when cannabis is legalized. Growing your own marijuana from cannabis seeds has never been easier. Most people grow from feminized seeds or autoflowering cannabis seeds. Lots of activists have sacrificed a great deal for the changing cannabis laws which some are now starting to enjoy. Let’s not forget that many of our emerging cannabis freedoms came at a high price to the cannabis activists involved.November 15th 2019