I’ve grown weary of hearing exuberant youths decrying the criminalization of cannabis in the United States. It’s always the same song and dance about how it is absurd that cannabis is illegal and that Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush Sr., Carter, Ford, Nixon, and Anslinger have all screwed us over. In reality we are screwing ourselves and here is why:
1. All talk and no walk
What’s that you say? You want weed legalized so you’re writing an angry message to share with a tiny cross-section of the internet that happens to share the same sentiments that you do? Well that’s fantastic! You’re actions aren’t going to change anything, but good for you for having the balls to face the choir and start preaching. I believe that a self-administered pat on the back is in order.
If you really want to change the way people think about cannabis, you’re going to have to share your opinion with people who DO NOT agree with you. Arm yourself with facts and change the minds of those closest to you first. Once you persuaded those closest to you, arm them with facts so that they may do the same.
It goes without saying that if you aren’t voting, you aren’t really doing everything that you can to keep those who might undermine legalization efforts out of office. A classic example is California’s prop 19, which pretty much died out of the gate despite polls indicating that there was a great deal of support for the proposed law. Or better yet, Washington State’s own legalization movement which failed to even make the ballot in 2010 due to lack of ballot petition signatures.
3. Forget why it matters to you
You want to legalize pot so that you don’t have to worry about getting arrested for doing something that you don’t feel should be a crime. So what? That doesn’t affect me does it?
Well, does it? Sure it does. If cannabis were legal, the cops might have actually been there to prevent my car from being stolen instead of wasting their time dealing with you. Why didn’t you say so before?
4. Appeal to economics
Cannabis is safe you say? Well that’s great, but I don’t use cannabis so I’m afraid I’m fresh out of shit to give.
I might have cared if you had said that legalizing or decriminalizing cannabis could reduce my tax burden. I might have even cared if you had said that legalizing cannabis would create jobs and increase tax revenues that go towards things like education, police and fire departments and parks and recreation. Maybe you should mention that in the future.
5. Write you reps
The United States Government is a representative democracy. The people who represent you on the local, state and federal level are not mind readers. They don’t know what is important to you unless you tell them. Once every month, take the time to sit down and write a well thought out letter. Tell them what you feel they are doing right, and what you feel they are doing wrong. If you can, give them a call too, but be prepared to argue your case. Hopefully you have been doing your home work and you are well armed with facts to make your case.
6. Ditch the stoner image
That’s great that you love weed, and that the South Park episode with Towlie is your all time favorite. However, that silk screened t-shirt with Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong smoking a joint in their car causes me to have serious doubts about your intellectual capacity. If you want me to buy in to your point of view, you’re going to need to wear something with buttons and a collar.
Money makes the world go round. Or at least money is the coal that boils the water that turns the wheels of the United States government and its municipalities. Without it, you’re doomed. You are selling a product, and your customers want to buy that product. They just don’t know it yet, so how do you reach them?
First you need to consider who your customer is. You can start by figuring out who your customer is not. You customer is not young. They do not derive the majority of their entertainment from the internet. In fact there is a very good chance that your customer doesn’t even use the internet, or read for that matter. What does that leave you? Old people who watch TV. Old people also tend to vote, which is why you need to reach them. You need to sell your product to them, but how? You need air time. TV shows, documentaries, local news slots and advertisements. You are probably going to have the most luck with local news and advertisements. This requires money. If you don’t have money to give, give what money ultimately buys by giving your time.
8. Don’t be stupid
Remember the other day when I caught you and your friends smoking a blunt in the park while I was taking Muffins for a walk? Well, I might not have called the police, but I was pretty pissed. Especially when your friend offhandedly joked about getting my dog high as I walked away. In fact there was a nice young man telling me just the other day about how marijuana should be legal. I was even sold on his ideas. However, after that little display in the park I’m once again convinced that anyone who smokes weed is an idiot.
Seriously, don’t be an idiot.
9. Start local
Movements like state-wide decriminalization efforts and city or county-wide police response deprioritization efforts are much more likely to succeed than outright legalization efforts. Sure, the end goal is legalization, however taking a step in the right direction is better than not taking a step at all.
10. Forget the feds.
Efforts to legalize cannabis on the federal level will fail to succeed until multiple states jump on board, and even then the prospects look grim. Just look federal government’s reception of state level medical marijuana legalization efforts. Please, stop calling Obama out and ranting about how he should make a greater effort to end marijuana prohibition. I can guarantee you that he doesn’t give a shit because legalizing weed is not going to get him re-elected.