I am sometimes questioned for my outspoken commentary on the cannabis movement. Some people do not understand what I am trying to accomplish by speaking critically about other cannabis activists or reform organizations. There is often a fear associated that I am somehow fueling the fire of the opposition or giving comfort to our enemies. Nothing could be further from the truth.
What fuels the fire of the opposition and gives comfort to our enemies is our inability to effectively organize; and our inability to confront issues within our community.
When we whitewash over real problems we face in an effort to not rock the boat, we miss out on opportunities to grow and evolve. It does not serve anyone’s interest to allow systematic failures to go unchecked, or to not have the difficult conversations that are necessary to be an effective movement. If we decide to shy away from internal issues, we should not be surprised when our efforts look disheveled from the outside.
We owe it to ourselves, to the millions of weedheads across the world, and to our brothers and sisters in jail for weed, to put our best foot forward. It is impossible for us to do that if we refuse to take an honest look at where we are as an industry and movement, and work to make changes where necessary to accomplish our objectives more efficiently, without the bullshit that often masquerades as reform but is really just an ego-driven con game.
A lot of the issue is that we just refuse to change. We have the exact same figureheads calling the shots as we did 10, 20…even 40 years ago. Is it a surprise that our movement continues to sputter along when we roll out the same tired ideas from the same tired people, usually with a fresh coat of paint and a couple of new cheerleaders? Is the reason we do not see a need for change that everyone is wearing rose-colored glasses? Maybe.
I am sure some of my criticisms of this group, or that supposed leader, have made me less than popular in many circles. There are certainly groups of people who loathe my commentary and who just wish I would go away. I am often confronted for my open and honest dialogue about public figures and reform organizations in the movement. Here is one comment I got on Facebook yesterday:
You can speak ill of people all you want, but that accomplishes nothing and wastes your time when you could be doing something more productive.
This is a common tone in cannabis reform when criticisms come to the surface. First it starts with people not even looking at or discussing the issue at hand, yet distracting from that conversation by making the dialogue about your right to even bring up such criticisms. There is generally a “Fuck you. Do it yourself if you think you know better” thrown in there for good measure, and before it is all said and done, the core issue is glossed over, as activists circle their wagons to uphold the status quo and defend their turf.
It is natural to want to defend the honor of an organization you are deeply involved with, or a person whom you have stood with for year after year. It can be hard to admit that things are not as good as they could be, and that a new direction may be necessary. With that comes the admission that the old way of doing things were a failure…and that can be a tough pill to swallow. I can certainly understand the difficult position that puts many people in. Change is hard. Changing because you understand things have not been as great as they maybe should have is even harder.
But that does not mean we should ignore the issues we face and continue to make the same mistakes over and over, just to avoid admitting that we may have been mistaken. We cannot change the past, but if we do not remove the rose-colored glasses and look deeply at the movement with a critical eye, we should not be surprised when the future looks a lot like the past.
I think we are better than where we are currently. I think there is a dynamic and exciting chapter in cannabis reform waiting to blossom. I meet so many folks who get it, and who understand the need for evolution within our own ranks; but most are frustrated by the bureaucracy and old boy’s club that has become cannabis reform. Many choose to keep their head down and just humor the situation to not lose their seat at the table. Others choose to ignore the obvious issues, and see the movement through their rose-colored glasses.
That is fine if you are okay with the slow-moving and fractured effort that we see happening now. For those who expect more and deserve more, we understand that we cannot continue to do the same things over and over and expect different results. We are not insane.
I refuse to wear rose-colored glasses because I think a completely pink world is disgusting. I would much rather face the realities of the situation and have a grown up conversation about how to make the world a better place. If others want to continue to look at the situation through their rose-colored glasses, that is their prerogative; but do not be surprised when you wake up one day to find out that the world is made up of a lot of wonderful colors…and pink is only one of them.