Any sort of “activism” should involve the completion of meaningful actions to improve society. There was once a time when being an ‘activist’ was something to be proud of; the phrase conjured up images of proud and brave individuals, such as those involved in the Civil Rights Movement.
These days, the term invokes as much ire and condescension as it does admiration, as terms like “Social Justice Warrior “(SJW) are now used in a derogatory sense when they were initially created with a positive view in mind.
Therefore, if you wish to become a cannabis activist, it is essential for you to adopt a positive mindset.
All in all, your goal is to participate in a real movement doing real things to advance the cause of marijuana legalization. In the past, cannabis activists have made a significant impact in terms of influencing state and government policies, along with the attitudes the general public have about the herb.
Famous cannabis activists include Dennis Peron, Steve D’Angelo, Mary Rathbun, Beth Moore, John Entwhistle, Jack Herer, and Richard Eastman. These men and women stopped at nothing to ensure that the voice of cannabis lovers was heard throughout the United States and the rest of the world. Whether it was risking arrest by selling marijuana as medicine or enduring the sneers of the public, these individuals risked it all to spread the word. Therefore, the simple answer to the title question is this: A cannabis activist is someone who gives everything they have to further the cause of the herb.
| “A cannabis activist is [simply] someone who gives everything they have to further the cause of the herb.”
It is a noble calling, but also a difficult one. Even in the modern era, where cannabis use is more socially acceptable, becoming a cannabis activist is a tremendous burden – especially if you have a family.
As weed is illegal on a federal level, and illegal in 20 states, you run the risk of being fined, ticketed, arrested, and perhaps even physically assaulted depending on the situation you find yourself in. Sadly, in some locations, known marijuana advocates are ostracized and shunned in their communities. If you’re a parent, especially a single one, there is also the danger of having your children taken by Child Protective Services.
Furthermore, known cannabis activists may even be at risk of losing their job, being denied future employment, and/or getting turned down for a bank loan. These are just some of the risks associated with being a cannabis activist. If you’re still interested, however, here are five easy ways to get involved and start fighting the good fight.
1 – Start Online
Before you take to the streets, dip your toe into the activism waters by getting involved online. Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook are excellent places to start spreading the word.
DID YOU KNOW: Almost 90% of millennials use Facebook to post about social issues, and over 50% of them use Twitter for the same purpose?
If nothing else, joining a Facebook group represents an ideal starting point. As a newbie, perhaps you are wary about getting in too deep, too early. These groups enable you to connect with like-minded individuals, and you can post about weed! You can also use these groups to remain up to date about marijuana legislation. Post your own statuses and updates on weed and share information with close friends.
Once you get comfortable, perhaps you can help arrange a peaceful protest with other members of the group. Please note that unfortunately, social media is also a cesspit of hate-filled trolls who will try to bait you into a reaction. Don’t waste your time responding – you have activist things to do!
2 – Grassroots Activism
Since the early days of our country, grassroots activism has been the ‘nuts and bolts’ of most significant form of change. Simply put, it involves taking to the streets and becoming involved in public campaigns. Before you decide to march on Washington, though, slow down! Your first grassroots act is to call your local representative and let them know your views on marijuana. You can also call your state’s congressional representative and tell them they need to become part of the cannabis caucus.
While it is considered ‘old-fashioned,’ letters to the editor are still a useful and relevant way to get involved in the discussion. Look for opportunities to speak publicly on the issue; a town hall speech would be great, but may not be possible at first. Find out where and when your local government and state representatives meet. Take your place in the audience, and speak up! Tell them how you feel about weed and suggest a push towards cannabis support. Don’t give them an easy ride!
3 – Register to Vote (& Listen)!
One of the biggest criticisms leveled at activists of all types is their inability to practice what they preach. Such individuals are only interested in getting their point across and have no intention of listening to dissenting opinions. It is this attitude which has led to a huge divide across the American political spectrum. Both sides of practically any debate tend to resort to petty name calling, with absolutely no regard for what the other person is saying.
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes; if anyone came up to you and begin telling you how wrong you were and how right they were, without allowing you to counter, we’re pretty sure you would stop listening.
As a cannabis activist, you must listen to what others have to say, even if you don’t like what you hear.
When debating cannabis issues with state representatives, or people on the street, make sure you listen to what they have to say. A lot of people who remain against marijuana do so out of lack of knowledge. When they talk about addiction, point out that weed is less addictive than opioids and coffee! When they try to link cannabis to crime, mention that violent crime is falling in states where cannabis recreationally legal.
Activism is not about ‘being right’; it is about helping others to see that they don’t know the full story. And by the way, if you haven’t registered to vote, do so now! When the time comes, make sure you get out there and vote, and also try to rally apathetic members of the public.
4 – Donate!
The pro-cannabis movement is always in need of extra funding, because let’s face it; marijuana legalization has a lot of powerful and wealthy enemies.
As a cannabis activist, you’ll need to donate time, energy, and if possible, money. Unfortunately, even the noblest political causes require funding. We could have the world’s greatest presidential candidate, but if he or she weren’t well-funded, they would have no chance of victory.
Go online and find out more about worthy organizations such as the Marijuana Policy Project. You don’t have to donate your entire savings – every little bit helps. If you need further assistance to find causes in need of extra help, get in touch with local weed industry leaders such as budtenders and dispensary owners. You can also volunteer your time to help do charity work for a cannabis organization or to run local events.
5 – Take to the Streets!
We told a slight lie in our title! Taking to the streets is NOT an ‘easy’ way to get involved, but it is a necessary one. Pro-cannabis rallies and protests are a guaranteed method of informing the public about weed.
Throughout history, rallies and marches have helped draw much-needed attention to causes, and in many instances, get the public onside.
Today, there are a large number of local cannabis activist rallies designed to champion the cause of marijuana. The famous Denver 420 rally involves tens of thousands of weed lovers who converge on the state capital. It was first held over 20 years ago when marijuana was very much illegal in Colorado. A man named Ken Gorman helped organize what has become a highlight of the Denver cannabis scene. Sadly, he was murdered in 2007 and his killer has never been caught.
The Global Marijuana March, sometimes known as the Million Marijuana March, has been held annually since 1999. Since then, the event has involved over 800 cities in 72 nations around the world! Check your local news to see if there are any events planned in your area, though please note that depending on where you live, there may be anti-cannabis protesters in the vicinity. Ignore their heckling, and most importantly, stay safe!
Final Thoughts on Cannabis Activism and How to Get Involved
Above all else, a cannabis activist needs to remain involved. The biggest enemy of any cause is apathy, so make sure you remain focused on achieving the ultimate goal. In the United States, we are hoping that one day, marijuana will no longer be federally illegal.
Although individual states are gradually seeing sense and legalizing the herb, full legalization is a long way away. As we look enviously across the border in Canada, remember that no worthy cause has ever succeeded without the hard work and sacrifices of a large number of people. While it isn’t necessary to follow the lead of legends such as Dennis Peron and spend time behind bars, you can’t be a successful cannabis activist without putting your heart and soul into the cause.