Culture » Smoke Signals

Cannabis and the Resistance

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Since November, I've had some issues getting this column turned in. It's not writer's block, nor is it because there isn't anything happening in the world of cannabis. In fact, I get more press releases and updates about new cannabis products, events, legislative activity and research than I can keep track of most weeks.

No, it's based more on feelings that many of you may share—that things in this country are on a very bad path for many of our neighbors and friends, and it makes writing about cannabis feel somewhat... futile. Example? Reading about heartbreaking ICE raids and subsequent deportation of  "Dreamers," and then trying to muster excitement over reviewing a new strain.

Which has led me to think about the role cannabis has played in "the resistance," and what it may be able to do as we move forward.

(Let's establish that while consuming cannabis has been an anti-establishment action for years, it needs to be paired with action. So doing dab hits while pontificating over "how things need to change, man, like, seriously" while not taking any action other than prepping another dab is about as radical and revolutionary as stuffing your face with fast food. And no, taking action does not include posting "sign this petition" on FB, or commenting with a frowny emoji face over something upsetting you read there.)

With some exceptions, conservatives have always hated cannabis. You can trace it back to Harry Anslinger, who made the use of cannabis by minorities his rallying cry to move the U.S. to criminalize it, hysterically insisting it would lead to rape and worse.

Once those seeds of fear were sown, they grew up big and strong, which moved Nixon years later to state in 1971 recordings that, "On the marijuana thing, I have very strong convictions. ... because of the people that are, frankly, promoting it but they're not good people."  

This wasn't a one-off comment; Nixon Domestic Policy chief John Ehrlichman said: "The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people,

You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did."

Flash forward through the "Just Say No" years and legislation introduced that could land a cannabis grower/dealer life in prison without parole, to April 2016, when our future Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated, "Knowledge that this drug is dangerous, you cannot play with it, it is not funny, it's not something to laugh about . . . and to send that message with clarity that good people don't smoke marijuana."

Except they do, and that's where we need to step up.

Grow your own? Give your extra to processors who turn it into cannabis oil for the sick and dying. Replacing expensive and harmful pharmaceuticals with a plant you grew enrages the detractors.

If you don't grow your own, buy through the dispensary system. The taxes help our neighbors, and establish a measurable baseline of users and potential revenue. Demonstrating that cannabis consumers are an economic force could help us stave off changes in recreational cannabis laws.

Sell cannabis or in the cannabis industry? Support a local nonprofit and make it clear than the money came from cannabis.


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