Are the foxes running the cannabis reform henhouse?

The short answer is “Yes.”

The folks who are “leading” the reform effort (and I use that term loosely) seem to have different goals and ambitions than your average weedhead. Apparently the goal of stopping mass incarceration and building a unique industry where the soldiers who have dedicated their lives and freedom to pioneer every inch of freedom we currently have are at the core of is just too much to ask. It seems the folks who suck on the teet of big funding and who claim to be “activists” are nothing more than sellout turncoats willing to hand the entire effort over to the highest bidder (not that kind of high either).

I was taken back by NORML Executive Director. Allen St. Pierre’s statement in this recent Business Insider article:

Even more, it’s only a matter of time before industry gets involved. The most applicable business model is the tobacco companies’, and St. Pierre has reached out to the major firms already.

“They’ve been either growing or purchasing — in massive quantities — vegetable material, properly curing it, packaging it in usable form, and then working closely with all level of government while delivering massive taxes.”

He sent two memos the morning after election day — One to the President, the other to the heads of the major tobacco companies. The message was simple: “Isn’t it time that we meet?”

Article: Marijuana’s Top Lobbyist Told Us Why There Will Be Several Viable Legalization Bills Next Year In Congress

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/marijuanas-top-lobbyist-told-us-why-there-will-be-several-viable-legalization-bills-next-year-in-congress-2012-11#ixzz2DRPiZWR3

So here is a guy who has made every penny of his career for the last 20 years off of the back of the cannabis reform movement, and the first people he calls after our movement’s incredible victories in Colorado and Washington are BIG TOBACCO companies? WTF? Seriously? I am not sure why NORML still has this piece of work as their lead spokesmodel. The only thing I can think of is that the entire organization must also be in on the “sell the industry out to big tobacco” bandwagon.

It is no secret that I have been less than impressed with the work NORML has accomplished over the last four decades of prohibition, and they are not alone in my criticisms of cannabis reform efforts. I still firmly believe our movement/industry would be better served by a more consolidated effort with a more singular and pointed message, but alas, I am in charge of nothing. But to have to sit back and watch as the folks who this movement have trusted with our goodwill and character blatantly disregard the grassroots efforts and the outlaw pioneers that have made cannabis great, in spite of NORML’s ineffectiveness, is a huge slap in the face.

We can no longer stand down, while the foxes run the hen house. Before we know it these wannabe lobbyists and business moguls in waiting will have us all working for Phillip-Morris for slave wages, instead of developing a more accessible industry with far less barriers to entry, such as micro-brews or wine. And I am not saying to call up Robert Mondavi or the Red Tail kids either to see if they want to buy in. I am talking about building a new cottage industry starting with the world’s most forthright cannabis experts….US.

We do not need to cram cannabis into another model and enlist the big money support of those industries to come in and take over. We have got this. If the medical cannabis boom showed us anything, it is that we have the ability and knowhow to produce, package, label, and distribute large quantities of cannabis. And if Big Allen think growing high-grade cannabis is the same as producing tobacco, I got a grow room in Arcata to sell him.

The weed industry will be unique and although it will have some elements from many different market influences, there is no one model that will fit the culture, expectations, and imagination of a legal cannabis market. Anyone who tries to pretend their is has probably never sold a bag of weed in their life.

As we turn the corner towards legalization it might not be a bad idea to take a close look around and examine if we are entering the final battle with an army worthy of cannabis’ greatness; or have we been surrounded by the sellouts forever and have chosen to turn a blind eye? Whatever the case, it would bode well for us to clean our house before we are left with an industry that none of us will recognize, or probably even want to be a part of. We are better than this, and better than Allen St. Pierre (and many other reform group leaders) would have you believe. Decide if the future you envision looks like the one being described by our “top lobbyists,” or if it is time for us to take back control and messaging from those who can no longer be trusted….

“Seriously. You are gonna love working for big tobacco. I promise.”

3 thoughts on “Are the foxes running the cannabis reform henhouse?”

  1. Actually, family farmers in Northern California are looking at the tobacco model, because it assures the viability of small outdoor growers, unlike say the Colorado model for medical marijuana that gives us Corporate-style warehouse weed grown indoors.

  2. Well said Mr Martin. I’m sure only the constraints of space and time kept you from going even further. We, the customers and patients, barely have a seat at the table and have yet to carve out a legitimate position other than self interest. The time for us to do so is rapidly slipping away, and your article is a welcome addition to voices calling for reform.

    Still, i think its wrong to fault a brother just because he is making money or is poised to make money here. Its not like he’s been lying about how he see’s this happening. The money this generates is one of the aspects thats most attractive and there is no conceivable way for this to legalize without costing consumers less than the illegal product. IMO What we need to maintain is the ability to breed strains individually, the right to seeds, the right to small personal residential grows, the right to homeopathic medicine based on the herb, and the right to incorporate the herb into personal edibles and process it with traditional methods. I’m not sure that fighting against big corporate involvement is a productive use of time and to do it from our position of pro legalization is of little strategic value and it makes us look petty.

    Once again Unity is the better solution, unity and tolerance of each other. We’re too close to fall to infighting.

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