I am beyond frustrated.
I have dedicated a large portion of my life to weed activism and advancing the cause of cannabis freedom. Admittedly, I am a nobody in the context of cannabis reform circles. I am but a voice in a sea of voices. At times, I can be a loud and influential voice; but just a voice nonetheless.
I have no position or power. I do not have the resources or organization to impact the national dialogue about marijuana in the way I believe needs to happen to end prohibition once and for all. I am helpless in my approach. I often feel like the crazy person on the street corner with the “THE END IS NEAR” sign.
I cannot understand the motives and direction of the cannabis reform circles these days. There is no passion and very little sense of urgency. While we are seeing society change the way it views marijuana in a major way, our industry/movement continues to travel down the same ineffective and sleepy pathways that have seen us endure the longest and most insane prohibition, and imprisonment of our neighbors, that this country has ever seen.
We continue to see this group throw another party and hand out big awards to their pet activists and big mouth donors, while very little resources are directed to actions that reach those outside of the reform circle. A few big money donors and the people who have brown-nosed them enough to gain position, continue to take weak and noneffective steps towards cannabis freedom.
When was the last “WEED FREEDOM” rally thrown by any of these groups? There are like 70 “medical marijuana” expos/conferences/Cypress Hill shows a year, all sponsored by this group or that group; but where is the call for direct action? Where is the message that the real evils of prohibition are not that a few very sick people cannot get weed, but it is that we take HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of non-violent weedheads to jail and lock up mostly poor and minority people at alarming rates? Did I miss that press conference?
Now I have been seeing a lot of press this week about a medical cannabis provider named Matt Davies from Stockton, who is facing several years in prison for operating dispensaries in Sacramento and Stockton. I have seen quotes from this reform group and that influential person about what a travesty of justice this is. There is no questioning that. It is bullshit.
But the last time I sat in a Federal court room waiting for a friend’s case to be called I saw three young black men sentenced to 5 and 10 year mandatory sentences for low level drug offenses, and no one even batted an eye. There was no press conference. Just a weeping single mother in the back of the room that I felt I needed to apologize for how fucked up my country was for taking her son to jail for a decade for driving a couple of lousy pounds of weed from Cali to Texas.
But you will not see Allen St. Pierre at this guy’s sentencing hearing. You will not see MPP coming to his rescue. There will be no Americans for Safe Access speech about how messed up it is that this kid is losing his freedom for a decade. Nope….not a word.
It is clear that our own organized efforts to fight the corruption of the drug war have become hampered by the same powers that created the drug war….the evils of needing to pander to big money donors, and do the bidding of the few, instead of the many. In a lot of ways the reform game has become as big of a racket as those who profit off of mass incarceration. Do you know the biggest excuse for not shutting down the prison infrastructure and releasing the millions of non-violent drug offenders? It is that these facilities provide job security to tens of thousands of people who get paid to participate in the mass incarceration of our citizens. The drug war has created an income stream for so many, that it is nearly impossible to stop.
The drug reform circles operate on the same principle. Their resources and income come from the political and social chaos of the drug war. If marijuana laws actually are “reformed” is there a need for the National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws? If marijuana policy is no longer and issue, is there a need for a Marijuana Policy Project? If we quit hiding behind the “we are all very sick, and weed is the cure” mantra, and actually legalize weed for any adult to use for whatever they please, does Americans for Safe Access cease to exist?
Am I directly accusing these organizations of sabotaging reform efforts in an effort to keep the reform money flowing? No. Of course not. That would be jumping to broad conclusions. What I do know is that I am often dumbfounded by the positions and strategies taken by many in this industry/movement, and cannot help but think that maybe subconsciously, it is hard for people to actually work their way out of a job.
It is almost as if people can retard social change just enough to keep the price of weed high, the legality of it questionable, and the need for reform at a steady pace, that the status quo is not so bad. Sure…we lose a few folks to prison for decades every once in a while; but the rest of us are doing great.
I have begun to distance myself from people and groups who I cannot seem to agree with. That may end up being everybody before it is all said and done; but if that is necessary to feel like I am doing the right thing, then so be it. I am not scared of being alienated.
What I am scared of is knowingly participating in this “holocaust in slow motion” without giving everything I had to ending it once and for all. I cannot sit by and wonder why this is happening and that is not. I can’t find a way to justify my existence in this movement any longer. I am helpless and somewhat lost.
At some point you begin to wonder if anyone is listening at all; or if the time, energy, and heart you put into ending the madness is all for naught. It is painful to think that your output is a failure, and that the machine will ensure that the bullshit marches on, regardless of how much you kick, and scream, and yell.
I have begged for new directions. I have made clear the short-comings of those we have chosen to “lead” us to the promise land. What is clear is that there is a set agenda, and that I am not the person setting it. So be it.
I do set my own agenda. Do not count on me showing up for this meeting or that “reform” event any more. Until I see real and meaningful strategies to truly end prohibition being implemented, I have no desire to continue with the charades. I will continue to make the case for our society to “quit taking people to jail for weed.” Anything less falls short of reality and justice.