Selling the Weed Movement

February 15, 2013 in End the Drug War, I Like Weed, Messaging, Reform Groups, Weed Activism, Weed Freedom, Weed Humor, Weed Love

Funny is good, right?

The weed movement is coming along, regardless of what we do. There is a young and energetic generation coming of age that sees the weed policies in this country as an absolute disaster; and it is just a matter of time before this whole nightmare is over.

But regardless of the inevitability of weed legalization for adult use, we must continue to sell the weed movement to our society, and to those who have been deceived about cannabis by prohibitionist propaganda for decades. It is up to us to convince folks that this is indeed a safe, enjoyable, and helpful plant that people should not fear, but rather embrace.

We must become better salepeople for our principles and values….and for our cultural norms. I have heard a lot of people criticize those who embrace the long standing counter culture, saying that using terms like “weed” and “getting high” are painting a bad picture for people. Really? Because young people (and old people like me who want to sound hip) use slang and idioms to describe their weed experiences, we are somehow “turning off mainstream constituents?” This is where I have to step back and laugh.

If we fear losing support because of colloquial terms describing cannabis and its effects, then we are doing a terrible job of selling ourselves in the first place. If we feel we have to change our identity, or shy away from using terminologies that we would otherwise use in a friendly conversation, then we have given up ground and are playing the opponents game. For the record, it was never our side of the argument that has done anything wrong. Weed is, and always has been, a good thing. So for us to act as if we must “straighten up and fly right” to gain the acceptance of those who we believe might just come around if we can act boorish and professional enough, is stupid. I am here to tell you that this will never happen.

It is not our language or culture that is holding us back. It is our inability to sell the weed movement for what it is, and not for what we imagine people who hate us want it to be. It is our lack of pointed criticism at the real enemy of mass incarceration, and our unwillingness to stand up to the bullies that have taken over our society and have proceeded to imprison five times as many people as the rest of the world on average….mostly poor people for weed and other soft drug crimes, that is our failure.

Because we have not used our collective voices to turn the conversation to the real evils of prohibition, it does not suprise me that we are wandering around lost scolding each other for using the term “smoking pot.” It is easier for reformers to look down their nose at their fellow weed activist and say “I am doing it right, and you are doing it wrong” than it is for that same “high-horse” (no pun intended) reformer to challenge the views of their neighbor, or pastor, or elected official whose positions are founded in pure evil.

So the next time you want to critique a fellow stoner to clean his act up for the sake of “the movement” ask yourself, “Why should this person have to change their way of life, the terms they use, and their cultural norms to appease a few lousy prohibitionists? Why am I not asking the prohibitionists to change their views?”

I can liken the situation to the skateboard culture, in many ways. We can all recall when skateboarding, and its culture, were considered way outside of the mainstream. I remember when skateboarding culture was just for misfits and outcasts, complete with its own language, music, and styles. The skateboarding crews in my day were always considered the degenerate punks who “thrashed” and “ripped” and did not give a shit. The skateboard culture gave nothing and did not try to conform to the norms of other sports. There was no attempt to organize and structure the industry like the professional bicycle industry, or to become the “good guys” sport that parents could embrace and love. But what happened to the skateboard culture? Why now is this culture embraced and celebrated in our society? Why are old men like me enthused now when we see a kid with a mohawk and ratty clothes fly past us on a skateboard and recklessly try to jump and kickflip off of every obstacle on a street? Why are the X-Games huge and is Tony Hawk now one of our most beloved role models? Because skateboarding stood its ground and made itself cool, instead of trying to conform and hoping they were accepted.

The weed industry can, and should, do the same. We should not be ashamed of our culture and how we express our love for weed. While not all weed culture is the same (hip-hop, hippy, hipster, etc.), the weed movement is one of the most colorful and enjoyable ever. For us to believe that if we were less colorful, and used more square terminology to express ourselves, that somehow people would be more accepting, is absurd. We are on the right side of history. We owe the nation nothing. In fact, all of the people who supported and profited off of prohibitoon all these years owe us all a pretty big fucking apology from where I am sitting.

So before we all run out and get our collared shirts and khakis on to meet the image of what we think our society expects from us as “cannabis consumers,” take a step back and look around. Check out the beauty of our culture and for what the weed movement stands for. Look at what you are asking us to give up….ourselves.

That is not the answer. The answer is doing a better job of selling who we are, and what we have. Not pretending we are something we are not and hoping that people go for it. We have a hell of a lot to be proud of, and a lot to embrace. Our culture has evolved through the evils of prohibition in the face of oppression, and we have come a long way to make people understand that we smoke weed and that we are good people. Now is not the time to turn back and run away from who we are and how we got here. Now is the time to stand up and let your freak flag fly. Demand that our society embrace and adore cannabis culture for the vibrant and refreshing culture that it is.

While some of our culture may seem silly and frivelous to those outside of the bubble, to me, a culture where people are restricted by their inhibitions and forced to conform for acceptance is absurd. Weedheads are more free and understand their world better. It is not up to us to learn to be more like the rest of society…it is up to our society to rise up and meet us on the road to health and happiness.

Stand up for smoking weed and getting high. It is way better than “chugging brewskis” and “getting tipsy.” You are right and they are wrong. NEVER forget that…..