Posts Tagged ‘canada’
Today is Wednesday, April 25. I have 805 days to go to my release. Ten days from now, on Saturday, May 5 – on the day of the Global Marijuana March, and on the occasion of my great friends Chris Goodwin and Erin Gorman’s wedding in Toronto after the march – I’ll have put in 795 days in prisons serving out this 1,825 day sentence.
With my 235 days good time credit, I’ll have 1,030 days behind me, and 795 days to go. On that day, I’ll be at the exact halfway point of the experience, with as much time remaining as I have put in.
So the 66 days in Canada I spent waiting to be extradited, the 5 1/2 months I spent at Sea-Tac Federal Detention Center in Washington state, the 4 weeks at Oklahoma Transfer Hub, 3 weeks at Nevada Southern Detention Center, 4 1/2 months at the immigrant concentration camp D Ray James, and 12 1/2 months at Yazoo Medium, in all, 795 days; I just have to do it one more time! And then I’m home.
When I write it like that, it seems like a long time I’ve been gone, and a long time to go. But then I think of the more than 12 months so far here at Yazoo and it’s gone by very quickly. My daily work out on the bass guitar and being in my band Yazoo has aided the passage of time immensely.
You can see a photo of me and my bandmates in a 2-page newspaper spread by columnist Jon Ferry in this upcoming Sunday’s “The Province” newspaper in British Columbia. (A one-page article appeared on Friday April 27 in the same paper, seen here.) Jon visited me here last weekend in order to write this exclusive story. The two-page feature will discuss my political opinions, the continuing fight against prohibition, and life here at Yazoo, with several photos. I did take some photos with Jon Ferry that are kind of fun but they will not be back in my hands for a week, so they do not appear in the Sunday edition.
[Update: see images and links to the Sunday edition of The Province newspaper's cover story and 2-page feature at the bottom of this page!]
Jon Ferry told me he thinks I look so healthy, youthful and relaxed because I am “drug free”! I explained that on the outside, I had the stress of imminent extradition weighing on me, legal bills, money problems, closing the print version of Cannabis Culture magazine, sleep problems from all that accumulated tension. So, here I am fit, I eat modestly, and try to eat only the good foods I can get, drink only water, read and write extensively, no watching TV, play music and work with my band every day.
Right now on the bass guitar I am getting down Back in Black by AC/DC, Sharp Dressed Man by ZZ Top, and Jumpin Jack Flash by the Rolling Stones. The air here is terrific and smells nice, every day is sunny and warm, when it rains it tends to do so at night, the water out of the taps is very good, I sleep like clockwork from 11:30pm to 7:30am, and I walk 3 miles around the track daily. Our next concert, my 6th here at Yazoo, is on May 26, on the Memorial Day weekend.
I have been on the TV here this week as Discovery Channel aired the National Geographic episode “Marijuana Nation” again, of which I am in a fair bit of that episode. The documentary “A NORML Life” was also seen by of the C.O.’s (correctional officers). I have had 8 letters published in newspapers in Canada signed “Marc Emery, Yazoo City Medium Federal Prison, Mississippi” since I have been here at Yazoo, and the most recent two letters, published in the last two weeks in the Globe & Mail and National Post newspapers (the two cross-Canada newspaper publications), have been read aloud on the National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate Mississippi Public Broadcasting (MPB). MPB must think its interesting a Canadian in Mississippi gets letters about the drug war published from his Mississippi jail cell.
The 4/20 celebrations in Vancouver and Toronto saw record numbers of people in attendance, and good weather to make it all pleasant. My friend in Adelaide, Australia, Rhiannon Lynch, put on a 4/20 in her hometown too. It’s so cool that an event that’s now a worldwide phenomenon started with my store staff in April 1995 (read about the history in this Huffington Post article I wrote, “The Origins of 4/20 as a Day of Celebration and Protest”), and eighteen 4/20′s later I can confidently say is witnessed by millions of people around the world who meet that day for political and herbal inspiration and fellowship. It doesn’t get any better than that!
In my original hometown of London, Ontario, the police announced in advance they would disrupt any 4/20 celebrations, the only Canadian police force that did so, and 250 people responded to the police disruption of the 4/20 at Victoria Park by marching to a major intersection and chanting ‘Fuck The Police’ for an hour. Absolutely right, London. The London, Ontario police dept. is still in good need of an enema, twenty years after I left there.
My fabulous wife, Jodie, had what I would call a career week last week. She appeared alongside my prosecutor, former District Attorney for Western Washington state, John McKay, as well as former BC Attorney General Geoff Plant, at a joint press conference in Vancouver hosted by the amazing new pro-legalization organization Stop The Violence BC.
McKay articulately denounced the drug war and marijuana prohibition, and Jodie was extensively interviewed across Canada for days; headlines appeared in all media across the country, such as “Prosecutor of Prince of Pot Marc Emery wants to legalize marijuana”. You can see news coverage here, and video of the press conferencehere, as well as a Canadian Press video here.
My wife’s major week of accomplishment continued. On Thursday, April 19, the day after the McKay press conference, Jodie had her first Op-Ed (opinion editorial) piece published in the nationwide National Post newspaper, titled “Victims of the Drug War”. There was a critic of Jodie’s Op-Ed the next day, columnist and editor Matt Gurney, writing in the same National Post “A Grass Bed of his Own Making”, and then I had a letter rebutting him on the day after that, Saturday, April 21, titled “Immoral Pot Prohibition Laws”.
Jodie was also profiled in an article in the Vancouver Sun newspaper on Saturday, written by “Bud Inc.” author and columnist Ian Mulgrew, called “Jodie Emery Rises to the Occasion” (click image on the right, below, to read it). I was so pleased with this feature on her, published in between the two Province articles about me. Team Emery was on it like white on rice! (Or like ink on paper?)
The great news continues. My former prosecutor John McKay, not content with just being a lecturer on the evils of the drug war, is also co-sponsor of an excellent legalization initiative on the Washington State ballot this November. Apology accepted, Mr. McKay! What’s really disturbing though, is the number of the ‘grassroots’ activists in Washington state who are absurdly opposing the I-502 legalization bill because of a clause that allows police to issue DUI’s if a very high level of THC is in the bloodstream while driving. Otherwise, adults can possess, transport, and buy at licensed outlets a huge range of cannabis buds – all legally, without fear of arrest or prosecution. That’s incredible!
Currently 10,000 people in Washington State get arrested for pot possession each year. That would end under this legislation. How ironic that I currently have far more respect for my former prosecutor and his proposed legislation than I have for those activists who would foolishly and dangerously oppose this great step forward over trivialities, much the same way as done by many so-called members of the movement who killed Prop. 19 in California in 2010. Much of the Washington state opposition to I-502 is rooted in adversarial jealousy, because after three attempts, some activists just can’t get an initiative of their own on the ballot, so resent McKay, the ACLU and their backers who did manage to get I-502 on the ballot. Sometimes the famous quip Pogo Possum said in the eponymous cartoon is correct: “We have met the enemy, and it us.”
I implore all Washington State activists and concerned citizens to support I-502. Read the very important editorial in the NY Times by Seattle activist Dominic Holden called “Smokeless in Seattle” and NORML’s Russ Belville’s blog on why supporting I-502 with your vote this November is essential. I think Russ Belville is the best commentator out there regarding our movement, and all his writings are very, very good.
To show you the kind of momentum the campaign to end prohibition has, an all-political-party panel called“Speaking Truth from Within Power: Passion, Politics, and Drug Policy in Canada” takes place in Vancouver on the evening of May 4th, the day before the Global Marijuana March. From Canada’s Parliament, Conservative Senator and chairman of the 2002 Special Committee on Cannabis, Pierre Claude Nolin, will speak along with Liberal Senator and former Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell, and NDP Member of Parliament and deputy leader Libby Davies about their attempts to get modernized drug law legislation passed or promoted. All three favor various legalization models. They will be joined by provincial BC NDP legislator Nicholas Simons. If you live in the Greater Vancouver area, please consider attending.
Our movement is gaining momentum where it’s needed most – beyond the activist grassroots. While I count down the days in prison for my “crime” of selling seeds to finance major activism efforts and campaigns with millions of dollars from 1994-2005, it’s comforting to know that my work continues not only in the grassroots cannabis community, but also in the political and mainstream sphere where real change has to happen. When I get home in just over two years, there might not be anyone left to convince about legalization! Keep the pressure on, fellow activists and friends.
The Sunday edition of the Province newspaper had Marc on the cover, and two pages inside. Read the articles here, and click the images to enlarge:
The Province cover, Sunday April 29, 2012
Province feature, page 1
Province feature, page 2
Marc Emery’s prison blog is updated by Cannabis Culture staff in Vancouver, B.C. Marc is currently serving a 5-year sentence in Federal Prison in the United States, Yazoo, Mississippi. Please support Marc financially or by writing him a letter. Find out more at FreeMarc.ca
I’ve really enjoyed the continuing revelations about Canada’s Public Safety Minister Vic Toews’ marital and ministerial infidelities, the most recent being the disclosure by the group Anonymous that alleges Toews made a paramour of his, Catherine Everett, a member of the Manitoba judge’s bench.
This is alleged to have happened around 2005-2006, and apparently Prime Minister Harper got wind of it, removed Toews as Justice Minister and appointed him President of the Treasury Board in January 2007.
Shortly after this, Toews, undaunted, was boinking his children’s babysitter and got her pregnant, and in all this, Toews was also having an affair with Stacey Meek, a Conservative Party staffer… and my God, can it get any more sordid? This is the man once dubbed the “Minister of Family Values.” He’s also the man who would approve any transfer of me from the US prison system back to the Canadian system when I put my transfer application in April 2013.
Public Safety Minister Toews’ current legislative proposal is to give draconian powers of warrantless searches of citizens’ online and phone communications to police, ostensibly (but unconvincingly) for the purpose of tracking online child predators. Who needs internet child pornographers to blame when the Minister of Public Safety is preying on young girls?
You’d think this would cause some embarrassment in Toews’ Manitoba riding of Provencher, although not enough to vote him out in elections 2008 or 2011, despite the lurid paper trail left behind in the wake of his public divorce in 2009. Toews’ vote totals increase in each election; in 2011 he got 70% of the votes cast.
Toews is a completely incompetent cement-head as a minister. I had the great delight of having my letter published in the National Post newspaper regarding warrantless police snooping (the Toews-proposed Internet Snoop Bill) with Toews’ letter published underneath mine claiming there was no such provision allowing police to go on fishing expeditions or vendettas. Then, a few days later, Toews admitted he hadn’t read HIS OWN LEGISLATIVE PROPOSAL and was shocked! shocked! he said, to find that indeed the bill did allow unlimited warrantless snooping of Canadians and their email and web use.
Religious Conservative voters in both America and Canada have a big heart when it comes for forgiving the sordid hypocrisy of their own, while condemning anyone else who operates their lifestyle openly, whether it’s sexuality, drug use, abortion or mistresses.
Every day Rick Santorum, Presidential Republican candidate, issues some screed against contraception (“Contraception is wrong because it encourages people to have sex for the wrong reason” was the most outrageous remark, I thought), college education being elitist snobbery (though Santorum himself has two university degrees), fellow Catholic John F. Kennedy’s wonderful remark on the separation of church and high office (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAvHHTt2czU) making Santorum ‘want to puke’, as he said.
Santorum must have a lot of forgiveness in his heart for his wife, as her most intimate and important relationship before Rick was a six-year long love affair with a full-time abortionist doctor. Karen Santorum, who, like her husband, now opposes abortion even in cases of rape, and doesn’t condone birth control (as they believe sex is only for procreation), lived with Dr. Thomas Allen for six years in the 1980′s while his chief medical practice was performing abortions. In those days, Karen Garver had liberal views on unmarried sex, birth control and abortion.
Santorum’s biggest backer in the media is Conservative radio talk show bigmouth Rush Limbaugh. After a woman named Susan Fluke testified on Capitol Hill about the consequences to some of her colleagues lacking birth control coverage in their health insurance, Rush went totally off the deep-end and said these statements regarding what was a very poised and reasoned explanation by Fluke before the Congressional committee on television, which I saw:
“What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke who goes before a Congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex -what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”
Not content with that deplorable screed, the next day I heard Rush say this on his show:
“A Georgetown co-ed told Nancy Pelosi’s hearing the women in her law school program are having so much sex they’re going broke, so you and I should have to pay for their birth control. So what would you call that? I called it what it is. So I’m offering a compromise today: I will buy all of the women at Georgetown University as much aspirin to put between their knees as they want. So Miss Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay you to have sex, we want something. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”
Note that along with calling her a slut, Rush insists she video tape her sexual activities and put them online for Rush and his fellow ditto heads to enjoy.
I listen to these depraved and wretched right wing talk shows every day and often gasp at their unrestrained bilious rants. Laura Ingram, Rush Limbaugh, and several religious-based talk shows (like Focal Point on the FRN radio network) are the worst. Dennis Miller, who was once clever and bitingly funny when he was a liberal on Saturday Night Live, is a pathetic shadow of his former self, shilling on the Dennis Miller Show for a whole range of intolerant malicious bigots.
But no one tops Rush. In endlessly circular arguments with himself, he is deplorable. Finally, this man – who for years used his maid as a drug mule to go out and illegally buy huge quantities of prescription drugs for him while he was berating illegal drug users on his show and urging they be sent to jail – is finally suffering from his excess of bile. Advertisers are withdrawing from his program. But when Wolf Blitzer asked Rick Santorum to condemn Limbaugh, Santorum could not do it, saying “Mr. Limbaugh is an entertainer… er, uh, ahem… we’re in two different worlds…” and it was a long squirmy sweaty performance by Santorum while Blitzer had a very serious condemning look. Santorum gets the support of all the most vituperative of the right wing on radio, including Limbaugh and Laura Ingram, and he will not deny them, as they are his principle cheerleaders in his quest for President.
I thought Santorum had sweatily sabotaged his own Presidential aspirations right there on the screen by refusing to condemn Limbaugh’s appalling attack on the woman – but I was wrong. As Santorum’s primary wins in Oklahoma, Ohio, Tennessee, and strong showings elsewhere on Super Tuesday showed, Americans embrace this guy.
Entertainer and commentator Bill Maher, despite my disappointment in his giving $1 million to the pro-Obama PAC instead of the Ron Paul PAC, has a point: America is full of religious fundamentalist intolerant bigoted hypocrites, and they go vote. What never ceases to amaze me are the depraved sick values of those American voters, especially ones who call themselves Tea Party voters, whom I once thought I agreed with, and the self-righteous religious people called ‘evangelicals’, ‘born-again’ or ‘values voters.’
Ron Paul virtually founded the original (and respectable) Tea Party, and has been married for 53 years to the same woman, is a proper Christian, is the most incredibly decent, consistent, respectful man ever offered up as Presidential candidate, and he opposes (as he has always opposed) all the wars, opposed the war on drugs, opposes the surveillance state, opposes any invasion of privacy, would pardon all non-violent drug offenders in federal prison, pardon all those with federal drug convictions on their record, abolish the DEA and the office of the drug Czar, end the federal reserve, slash spending, and much more to restore the United States and save the lives of people worldwide.
Lobbyists don’t even both talking to Ron Paul. If it’s not specifically authorized in the Constitution, he’s against the federal government doing it, so he can’t be corrupted or bought out. Ron supports Wikileaks, Bradley Manning, internet privacy and freedom. Ron Paul is the most faithful and dignified defender of the proper interpretation of the US Constitution ever put before voters. But do these self-identified Tea Party types, these Christian evangelicals, support him in the Republican primaries? They do not. They support overwhelmingly Rick Santorum and – get this – Newt Gingrich.
Now, I hate Newt because he once said he’d approve of the death penalty for anyone caught dealing in even a few ounces of pot. Although Newt has since retreated on his positions from the 90′s Congress he led as Republican Speaker of the House, regarding severe sentencing with incarceration as a successful way to deal with prohibition and crime, when asked during his Presidential campaign in late 2011 about medical marijuana, Newt said he would maintain a strict prohibition at the federal level and use federal resources to attack it absolutely at the state level. Newt’s explanation was that the message that ‘marijuana was harmful to American society’ was more important than disrupting the lives of those who genuinely needed it for medical reasons. Yes, he actually said that.
Newt’s current wife Callista was having an affair with him for six years while Newt was married to his second wife. When Newt came ‘clean’ and told wife #2, it wasn’t to apologize or confess or renounce his affair; it was to ask his wife if she would share Newt in a more public way with Callista. Then when that didn’t fly, Newt decided a divorce was not going to be helpful to his political career, so the affair just continued until wife #2 got multiple sclerosis and was, at least to Newt, of no use whatsoever, then it was over.
Newt was doing this all while railing on television, in Congress, and in the press about Bill Clinton’s occasional and infrequent extra-marital blowjobs. Newt met wife #2 and had an affair with her while still married to wife #1. Now, let me just say that what distinguishes me (or you) and the idea of ‘private sphere’ or ‘nobody’s business’ is that I’ve never advocated or endorsed putting anyone in jail or compromising their liberty or lifestyle based on sexuality, drug use, internet pictures downloaded, guns owned, abortions had, contraceptives used (or not), money decisions, or even freaky religious beliefs. I’m against all prohibitions on peaceful choices. The only people I demonize are hypocritical politicians, and perhaps in a lesser way, their enablers in the media and the voters who wrongly support and keep them in office even after they’ve been revealed as hypocrites.
Since leaving office, both Santorum and Gingrich have taken millions from powerful vested interests to lobby Congress. Both were completely corrupted insiders while in Congress, but nonetheless the Republican’s who identify themselves as ‘Tea Partiers’, ‘values voters’ or ‘strong conservatives’ support Gingrich or Santorum in the main. Santorum and Gingrich would take America to war against Iran, and both want to maintain a vigorous and aggressive military policy. This is red meat with the so-called devotees of the ‘Prince of Peace’ Jesus. Mitt Romney tries to emulate these two in out-machoing them, and is also bellicose for war and intervention.
These ‘values voters’ don’t seem to support Ron Paul, who has not said a single embarrassing or unkind remark during the whole Republican primary campaign. Ron Paul called out Rush Limbaugh for his grotesque remarks against Susan Fluke, referring to Rush’s words as ‘crude, ‘inappropriate’ and ‘wrong’. Not surprisingly, a shrill right wing harpy like Laura Ingram disdains Ron Paul and shows great love for Rick and Newt. Limbaugh, Brian Kilned (‘Kilned & Friends’ on Fox), Laura Ingram, and most all other populist demagoguing right wing talk shows all despise Ron Paul. These vulgar right wing radio hacks (about all that you can get on AM radio in Mississippi, which is why I listen) try at all opportunities to ignore him, insult him, or misrepresent him, while blocking Ron Paul supporters who call their shows.
Obama is a bad President, increasing the debt by trillions of dollars, pursuing the drug war in the US and worldwide, betraying the cannabis culture, repealing nothing from the Bush era except ‘Don’t ask, Don’t Tell’. Without Ron Paul on the ballot in November, it’s only Gary Johnson (Libertarian) I’d consider for President. But I have no faith in the majority of Americans to choose a sane, rational person for President, and that is dispiriting.
by Jeremiah Vandemeer, Cannabis Culture
CANNABIS CULTURE – In the first of its kind in the city since medical marijuana dispensaries began opening about 15 years ago, Vancouver police conducted a raid on the storefront location of a med-pot supplier on Tuesday, seizing cannabis and computers and arresting the 60-year-old manager.
Several undercover and uniformed VPD officers stormed the Renfrew Street location of the iMedikate dispensary on February 21 and informed the manager that she was “under arrest for trafficking.”
Police displayed a search warrant and took photos of the interior and exterior of the building, and of the manager herself. She was read her rights and detained for more than an hour before being released from police custody. Police confiscated her keys and personal laptop and stayed in the store after she left. When staff returned to the location later in the day, iMedikate’s large safe had been cracked open (and destroyed in the process) and the marijuana and cannabis edibles had been removed. The door to an office upstairs had been kicked open.
“Members of our drug squad executed a search warrant around 11am,” Constable Lindsey Houghton toldCannabis Culture. “The investigation was initiated as a result of several complaints from the community regarding alleged criminal behaviour related to the address. … One of the main reasons why the department embarked upon this investigation of iMedikate was a number of complaints were received about the sale and trafficking of a controlled substance.”
Houghton said the VPD’s intention was not to “close down” the dispensary, but to “collect information for a criminal investigation.” He also said police have not yet recommended charges against the manager or anyone else, though they may in the future depending on the results of the investigation.
iMedikate’s Founder and President Mark Klokeid told CC that when arrested, the manager asked police why the dispensary was being raided.
“This is just the first one on the list,” she was told by VPD drug squad officers at the scene.
iMedikate’s Renfrew location was opened in October 2011 and is the group’s second location. iMedikate’s first location, on Fraser Street, was opened in January 2011. It was Vancouver’s sixth medical marijuana dispensary and the grand opening received considerable media attention. Between the two locations, iMedikate serves about 1500 members.
Though there are plenty of medical marijuana dispensaries operating in Vancouver and across Canada, they are actually illegal according to the law. Health Canada’s Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) allow patients to grow their own or purchase directly from the government, but that’s it. Unfortunately, it is impossible for many patients to grow their own and many say the government’s pre-grown pot is brown, dry, and schwagy.
Over the past 15 years, medical marijuana dispensaries have filled the vacuum left by Health Canada to provide a safe place for sick people to acquire quality medicine. Many dispensaries have strict self-regulations and patients must have MMAR paperwork or a recommendation or diagnosis from a doctor before being allowed to make a purchase.
In April of 2011, an Ontario judge tossed out Canada’s medical marijuana laws, and found that doctors’ “overwhelming refusal to participate in the medicinal marijuana program completely undermines the effectiveness of the program” and that “the requirement for a medical doctor’s declaration has rendered the MMAR unconstitutional.”
Joan Byrden, The Canadian Press
Federal Liberals are taking some risky departures from the cautious political norm in a bid to put their once-mighty party back on the electoral map.
They overwhelmingly approved Sunday a resolution calling for the legalization and regulation of marijuana — a position immediately endorsed in principle by interim leader Bob Rae, although it remains to be seen how, or if, the resolution translates into a platform plank for the next election.
“Let’s face up to it, Canada, the war on drugs has been a complete bust,” Rae declared in a closing speech to a three-day Liberal renewal convention.
Until now, Liberals have called only for decriminalization of marijuana, as has the NDP. The new call to legalize it completely and regulate its production and sale, much as is done with alcohol, is in stark contrast to the governing Conservatives, who’ve included stiffer penalties for marijuana possession in their omnibus tough-on-crime bill.
The legalized pot resolution came on the heels of another potentially risky gamble for the Liberals. After a heated debate late Saturday, delegates agreed to invite all liberal-minded Canadians to take part in choosing the party’s next leader.
The party will create a new class of Liberal “supporters” — anyone willing to register as believers in core Liberal values — who will not have to pay a fee for a membership card to participate in leadership contests.
Wrapping up the convention, Rae heralded the two moves as a sign the chastened Liberal party is reaching out and renewing itself after last May’s humiliating rout, when the party was reduced to a third-party rump with only 34 seats.
“We Liberals have clearly and emphatically said to the people of Canada: ‘We embrace change and we embrace all Canadians as we rebuild this great national party.”‘
Delegates further embraced change by choosing Mike Crawley as their new party president. He beat out Sheila Copps, a veteran former cabinet minister — whom some Liberals felt symbolized the past — by a slim 26 votes.
Rae maintained the convention underscores the difference between the Liberals and the more ideologically driven Tories and NDP, whom he described as dogmatic adherents to rigid “orthodoxies.”
“If you want to be part of a group of free-thinking, innovative, thoughtful, pragmatic, hopeful, positive, happy people, come and join the Liberal party,” he exhorted, adding with a chuckle, “And after the resolution on marijuana today, it’s going to be a group of even happier people in the Liberal party.”
Rae told delegates it makes no sense “to send another generation of young people into prison” for marijuana offences when “the most addictive substances that are facing Canada today are alcohol and cigarettes.”
While they were willing to take some risks, delegates balked at a resolution calling on Canada to consider cutting its ties to the monarchy, an idea that would open a constitutional can of worms.
Both the marijuana and monarchy resolutions were put forward by the party’s youth wing, which argued that the Liberal party needs to advance bold ideas that are more reflective of young people if it is to revive.
“I think that there’s a certain amount of generational change happening in the party,” said Samuel Lavoie, president of the Liberal youth wing.
“We’re willing to push the envelope and we have the numbers and we have the will power to flex our muscles when it’s needed.”
Lavoie acknowledged the Tories will doubtless pounce on the marijuana resolution to lambaste the Liberals as soft on drug crimes.
“I personally think we Liberals should stop worrying about what the Conservatives will think about our policy and approach,” he said, noting that diehard Tories will never vote Liberal in any event.
“We’re talking to Canadians. The fact is that this is a sensible policy, evidence-based policy that is very easy to defend … There is cross-partisan support among non-Conservative voters for this so we feel this is something that will get us votes.”
The marijuana resolution is not binding on the leader or the party. And delegates specifically rejected a proposal to remove the leader’s veto over the contents of future election platforms, so there’s no guarantee the party will ever actually campaign on the idea of legalizing pot.
Rae later said the resolution “reflects very much the spirit of the convention” and “it’s now up to us to take that resolution and see exactly what it will mean in terms of policy, because there are some practical questions we have to look at.”
With an overwhelming 77 per cent of delegates voting for legalization, Lavoie predicted: “I think it is really difficult for anyone to just ignore the result and the will of the membership.”
Under Jean Chretien’s government, the Liberals introduced legislation to make possession of small amounts of marijuana a ticketing, rather than criminal, offence. The bill was not pursued when Paul Martin took over the helm of the party and the Harper government has since dropped the idea entirely, moving in the opposite direction.
Martin Cauchon, the justice minister who introduced decriminalization, said Sunday he believes legalization is inevitable but that Canadians would be more comfortable with decriminalizing pot as a first step.
Delegates also supported reforming the country’s electoral system, agreeing to promote the idea of preferential balloting in federal elections, rather than the current first-past-the-post system. Preferential ballots, in which voters rank candidates, would ensure that only those who receive more than 50 per cent of the vote in their ridings would be elected to the House of Commons.
If no one received over half of the votes right off the bat, the last place candidate in a riding would be eliminated, with his or her supporters’ second choices then being tallied. The process would continue until one candidate emerged with more than 50 per cent.
They also endorsed a non-binding directive that all Liberal nomination contests be open, other than specified exceptions recommended by the leader and approved by the party’s national executive. Currently, the leader has the unfettered power to appoint an unlimited number of candidates and to protect incumbents from nomination challenges.
Delegates balked, however, at adopting a U.S.-style primary system to elect future leaders. They rejected a proposal to introduce a system of staggered regional leadership votes.
Despite some evidence of lingering internal feuds, with the Copps-Crawley presidential fight seen by many as a proxy for the old Chretien-Martin wars, the mood of the convention was primarily optimistic and forward-looking. About 3,200 registered to attend, the largest turnout for a non-leadership Liberal convention since 1978.
Many delegates said they were longtime Liberal supporters who had never bothered to become active in the party until last May’s election rout put its very survival in question.
“For those who thought it’s too early after May, that Liberals would be sitting at home, still in the fetal position, crying … look at this weekend,” crowed Crawley.
Both he and Copps immediately took pains to put the presidential contest behind them. Rae said he looks forward to working with Copps and the other two presidential contenders in the rebuilding effort.
Speculation about Rae’s future was a constant buzz in the background of the convention. When he took the post of interim leader last May, the party’s national executive demanded — and Rae promised — not to seek the post permanently. However, the executive, with eight new members elected at the convention, could choose to remove the ban on Rae running for permanent leader and Rae has steadfastly refused to say whether he’d take the plunge.
At a joint news conference Sunday with Rae, Crawley said the 33-member executive will make decisions about leadership rules “over the next few months.” He reiterated his view that the interim leader would have to step aside if a decision was made to run in the leadership contest slated for the spring of 2013.
“I accept completely what Michael just said,” Rae added.
My wife Jodie Emery and I both receive thousands of letters and inquiries with impassioned pleas that read: “I want to do something to make a difference. I want to legalize marijuana. What can I do? Can you advise or help me start? Where do I begin?” This is a question, without rival, that we hear most often.
It comes mostly from Americans and Canadians, but I have received the same question from India, Australia, Europe, the Philippines, Japan, and all over the world. It is a universal desire shared by many people in the cannabis culture the planet over.
If all these millions of people, largely high school and college students, could be harnessed into productive purpose, it would be a huge political force indeed! But most people who consume cannabis and believe in its worth still do nothing to advance our cause in any meaningful way.
The sobering truth is that true political action that gains results is boring, largely frustrating, uninteresting, tiresome, hard work and requires great patience for a reward that may not ever materialize. It involves writing legible and intelligent short letters (spell check always on, and thoroughly edited). It requires gathering verifiable, validated signatures, with care that the signatory includes their full address and live in the jurisdiction required. It involves going to an elected official’s office with a specific request, to get that 10 minute appointment may involve 3 or 4 letters, emails and phone calls. That requires perseverance. A rally will require you to have a specific political purpose, and will require intense advance promotion, and it will require the gathering of contact information from everyone who attends.
Useful political activism rarely ever feels like fun. It feels like work. Exhausting work. Most young people don’t really know that much about hard, focused work. Most young people don’t even vote – most of the cannabis culture doesn’t vote! Most of the cannabis culture likes to party, but hard work for a political objective, they do not often do.
There are a dedicated few people out there that do know this experience of hard work for a political purpose. The great leaders in our movement know all about hard work. Vivian McPeak of Seattle, who for 20 years has put on Seattle’s Hempfest, the massive annual gathering of 200,000+ people in Myrtle Edwards Park as a non-paid volunteer, knows about hard work. He was a leading activist to get the 2003 Seattle ballot initiative I-75 making marijuana possession the lowest possible police priority in Seattle.
Every year on Christmas Day, Vivian McPeak and a few other dedicated true activists spend the holiday with signs in front of a courthouse, federal building or jail protesting the incarceration of his fellow citizens under the US drug laws. He writes letters, meets with Congress people and state representatives, assists other festivals and rallies, guides and commits to numerous other political actions. He and others attended and helped organize rallies outside the Seattle courthouse where I was sentenced to 5 years in a US federal prison for my activist activities I did in Canada. And yet very few people might recognize him on the street. Many times his activity may appear to gain no political result. There may be no reward other than knowing he is doing the right thing.
HARD WORK & COMMITMENT IS REQUIRED
As an activist, it is hard to measure our impact on the movement and the political system by our contribution. Sometimes, often even, it seems like you might be toiling in obscurity, having no visible or discernable impact. You may never know though the great impact you can have, will have, and do have, by your example of dedication, hard work and focused energy on a political goal. Only weeks, months or years later will you meet someone, or receive an email from an activist doing some good work, or inspired to get involved, who says, “I saw you speak at the library rally two years ago and I went home and read more, and found you were right, and decided to get involved. So now I’m at this booth gathering signatures for the 2012 ballot initiative.”
Or you’ll hear, “I saw you gathering signatures on a cold April day at a table outside the mall, you were getting medical marijuana on the ballot, and I wondered what would motivate someone to freeze in the cold, and you patiently explained why it was so important. That always stuck in my head, how dedicated you were. When I met a person later who said you were all a bunch of stoners who just wanted to get high, I remembered you and spoke up, ‘That’s not true,’ and I found out I was a believer, and I don’t even smoke pot, but I became an advocate that day.” Or, “I read your letter in the daily paper. You know, it couldn’t have been more than a hundred words you wrote, but what powerfully true words. I couldn’t get the logic of what you said out of my head. That was the day I was convinced. That’s why I’m here today, at this lecture (rally, signature gathering), with three friends I brought.”
That is the ripple effect of our endeavors.
When you contemplate how to make a difference, there are some things that will not work and will not happen. You will not find anyone famous or a celebrity to contribute their time to your project, be it a fundraiser, rally, or whatever. Celebrities expect to be paid no matter what it’s for. And celebrities never do anything controversial that could endanger their reputation with their movie studios, record labels, their ability to travel internationally, or the IRS and other government agencies that keep an eye on us all. That’s why celebrities lend their name to issues that few can find fault with, like starving children, world hunger/poverty, cancer, etc.
Few celebrities can be found to lend their name to campaigns against censorship, legalizing drugs, ending the prison-punishment complex, amnesty for illegal immigrants, etc. because there is blowback to putting your name and reputation on the line for anything controversial. Even celebrities like Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, who espoused the joys of marijuana at every Nickelback concert I ever went to, never advocates legalization in any public statement, nor does he lend his name to any political activity to that end. In fact, he chums around with Prime Minister Harper who would love to see all marijuana users in prison and stigmatized! Celebrities by and large use not only cannabis, but also a wide variety of illegal drugs, and virtually never get politically active. The more powerful a person is in society, the less likely they will do anything with their power to contribute to the political discourse that seeks to legalize marijuana and end the prohibition.
Marijuana growers and marijuana dealers, people with money who profit by prohibition, will only help you if it helps them. As we saw with Proposition 19 in California in 2010, where the counties with a large number of prohibition profiteers voted NO in larger numbers than those counties where marijuana was not so embedded in the culture, they are largely self-interested people concerned far more with their own ability to exploit our culture while it’s illegal than to use those funds to liberate us from the prohibition tyranny.
That is why a saint of a man like Richard Lee, who took over a million dollars of his prohibition profits (from dispensary sales to thousands of happy patients, and education seminars for activists, growers, and medical users), virtually financed the entire Proposition 19 campaign himself, because a large number of the growers in California are prohibition parasites and do not want to see cannabis legalized for all. A visionary and beautiful man like Richard Lee was a rare, rare person. He made a tremendous difference, yet was betrayed by the exploiters of our culture and their weak-minded acolytes who sabotaged our greatest hope for legalization in 2010.
The initiatives being circulated for 2012 in California will not be successful because there is no saint like Richard Lee giving a million plus dollars to gather those signatures. Those initiative attempts will fail miserably because money that could help the movement to end punishment for pot has instead corrupted part of the medical marijuana movement in California. The many vested interests want to keep it illegal, so it can be profitable for them: police, prosecutors, politicians, gangsters, and many marijuana growers.
So you are left with ordinary citizens like you to make a difference. So what can you do? Plenty!
WHY YOU’RE GETTING INVOLVED
What’s at stake with continued prohibition? Here are themes that required activism to address and remedy:
1) The drug war brings civil war, violence, murder, genocide, defoliation, and narco-military and government corruption to nation states all over the planet, of which Mexico, Columbia, and Afghanistan are but current examples.
2) In the United States there are somewhat over one million Americans in county, state and federal prisons for drug offenses out of a prison population of 2,500,000. There are 50,000-100,000 foreign nationals in US jails for drug offenses. There are 50,000-100,000 people in prisons for being a felon in possession of a weapon, or a weapon in the proximity of a drug trade, offences that are related to the drug war. Drug offenses then account for about half of all prisoners in the US. This affects approximately 10,000,000 other Americans whose family members, heads of household, breadwinners, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers are in prison from drug offenses. Many of these families then become life-long dependants of the welfare-prison-punishment system.
3) Over 10,000 teenagers enter the drug trade every month. It starts out simply enough. Teenagers needing marijuana choose a close friend who “knows someone”. That friend then quickly finds out that if he buys a quality ounce for $320, and has three friends who will front him $110 each for a quarter ounce, then he can have his own quarter ounce covered by his friends’ contribution. This is how virtually every dealer in the illegal substance trades begins. But that novice dealer quickly learns about economy of scale, and word gets out to others and soon he is buying “QPs” (quarter-pounds) and having a wider network of “friends” who want the good stuff. Quickly he begins to make money, and his client base expands. Soon he has a lot of money, better clothes, girls who are impressed, a car, status, and other “bling”. His lifestyle looks very enviable to other teenagers whose legal alternatives are part-time work at McDonalds or clerking at Target at $8 an hour. And so the materialist corruption of youth inevitably spreads rapidly as numerous teenagers in a social circle seek the material rewards of the being a dealer in the drug trade. The dealer then meets suppliers of other substances, and the corruption expands. The potential for abuse of more hazardous substances then becomes more likely. When one dealer is jailed or removed through gang violence, others, not just teenagers, take escalating measures to capture that aspect of the drug market now made available by the elimination of the previous supplier. Prohibition is terribly destructive to our young people, poor people, minorities, those whose English skills are poor, those who lack a good education, those who did not have two parents regularly at home, and those with children who cannot get a decent paying job. As I said in my ‘drug abuse awareness classes’ here at Yazoo prison, “Would any of us, guards or inmates, be here if these drugs were sold legally in stores under regular market controls and conditions? Why would anyone be dealing drugs? We wouldn’t. Prohibition made it attractive, and inevitable, considering the circumstances of poverty, unemployment and life at home.”
4) The militarization and the establishment of the permanent police state and the use of violence by police forces in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the world over has occurred because of the war on drugs. The erosion and often elimination of constitutional safeguards to the privacy, safety and liberty of the citizen has occurred because of the drug war. Police powers of arrest, detention, surveillance, violence, force, forfeiture, have become dangerous to ordinary citizens as a result of prohibition.
5) Parents who use marijuana, even safely, even for medical reasons lose their children to ‘child protective services’ every day in Canada and the United States. Have you ever heard someone say, “I was taken from my parents by child protective services because my parents smoked marijuana, and I was separated from my Mom, Dad, and siblings and placed in foster care, and that made my life better”? You never hear it. Families are torn apart by the war on drugs.
6) Prohibition keeps the price of marijuana absurdly high. In a legal environment, marijuana would be $10-$20 an ounce, leaving the average marijuana consumer thousands of additional dollars each year to spend on education, their children, consumer goods, savings, rent, a home, their health. Ending prohibition would channel billions back into the productive economy and increase the standard of living of hundreds of millions of cannabis consumers on the planet.
7) While marijuana remains illegal and expensive, alcohol and prescription drugs get used more often by default because of their price and availability advantages. There is no more destructive substance on earth than alcohol. If marijuana were legal, it could be advertised and promoted, and the market comparisons of the effect of the two would be compelling advertising. Alcohol kills over a million people on the planet each year, marijuana kills absolutely zero. Alcohol causes staggering violence, barbarism, spousal abuse, aggression, traffic fatalities, gun abuse, fighting, riots, and destruction of property. Marijuana achieves a far more desirable state of intoxication without any of the negative aspects of alcohol intoxication. Alcohol destroys organs and brain cells in the body and advances cancer, while marijuana repairs brain cells and attacks cancers and tumors in the body. But until marijuana is legal, commercialized, and marketed without the current demonization by government, these comparisons are hard to get into the minds of citizens and consumers. Marijuana, once marketed, will steal billions of dollars in sales from former alcohol and prescription drug users. Alcohol consumption and abuse will decline precipitously once marijuana is legalized.
The expense to taxpayer of marijuana prohibition in the United States since 1970 is estimated to exceed one trillion dollars. In 2011 it was about $40 billion. And that’s just the United States. And just marijuana prohibition.
9) Ending prohibition brings the role of government more in line with its proper purpose: to provide infrastructure and to protect our fundamental liberties. The purpose of government should never be to restrict or interfere in our peaceful lifestyle choices, or the market that seeks to serve our peaceful lifestyle choices.
All these aspects of the catastrophic effects of prohibition are inter-related too. Eliminating the cannabis prohibition and drug prohibition is the single greatest good that we could achieve in our lifetime. It would uplift all the people of the world, dramatically reduce violence and militarism, restore our fundamental civil rights and liberties, and improve the world’s health. The improvements in our way of life are so great as to hardly be imaginable.
But I want you to closely examine your life and brainstorm about how much better life would be for 7 billion people on earth if we can eliminate prohibition.
GETTING TO WORK
An effective activist is an organized individual. You need to have a goal, and to that end you need a TO-DO LIST every day. This outlines what you need to achieve that morning, that day, and that week. You need to have a poster of chart or calendar clearly visible to you to remind yourself what you must get done to further your activist goals.
The other side of this coin is that you must eliminate or push aside time-wasting distractions, or at least indulge in these time-wasting vices only after you have accomplished the goals set out in your TO-DO list. Time wasting activities include getting high without working on activism, spending hours on Facebook, instant messaging, chatting with friends, gratuitous snacking, pornography, and any activity that takes your attention away from the work at hand. Work is work. It won’t be fun like getting high or masturbating or tweeting pointless trivia about what sandwich you had for lunch. Work gets results, and that’s what an activist does or attempts to do.
Most of you will have to conduct your activism around fundamental survival and primary obligations such as your schooling, your job, your children, buying and consuming food, keeping your home clean and tidy, etc. so a ruthlessly maintained TO-DO list is essential if you are to get anything of use to our cause done.
Most of the work you do as an activist has to do with POLITICS and the political system. Even though there are over 30 million regular marijuana consumers in Canada and the USA, most of these 30 million do no activism of any kind. They cannot, in the majority, even be bothered to vote. They are ignorant of the political system and how to effectively participate in it. They willfully stay ignorant even though they are persecuted and risk a criminal record, fines, jail, losing their job, their children, property, and drivers license. The prohibition laws established by three levels of government (Local, state/provincial & federal) pose a 24-hour threat to each person in the cannabis culture, as well as forcing us to buy on the black market and pay prohibition prices for marijuana costing thousands of dollars a year.
Politics is a tough thing to participate in, especially if one regards himself or herself as an idealist and sees how disappointingly corrupt politics is. But the alternative (that is, not participating in politics) is far more dangerous to each one of us. Of course it’s not a perfect system – it’s not even a good one – but it’s the system that dictates many aspects of our lives, and we’ve got to get involved in it if we have any hope of changing it for the better.
Your objective is to change the laws, which exist with a political system. An important and secondary goal is to educate, motivate, inspire and recruit others into political activity to change or abolish the prohibition laws or aspects of prohibition.
There are basic first steps you must take. (Note: much of the following is written for Americans, but the same tactics and examples apply for Canada too.) The first step is to join the existing groups that have been established who have a track record of success or are useful in the information they distribute. I recommend you forward $25 by credit card or PayPal or money order to each:
These three organizations I highly recommend for their information value alone. $25 a year is the least you should give each one because the education and information they provide is valuable way beyond the $25. They will give you ideas of activity you can do locally. You will also have the opportunity of receiving alerts that instruct you to call your Congressman, legislator (that is your state representative) about specific bills before Congress, some good ones, like Ron Paul-Barney Frank’s legalization bill in Congress, or bad ones, as most of them tend to be.
Marijuana Policy Project has been very effective in the past getting statewide ballot initiatives organized. They have a pull down menu on their website by state so you can see what important bills/activities that may affect your state are in progress. Norml.org is the best information source in the movement, and StopTheDrugWar.net is one of the best also. I urge you to support them by sending $25 to them right now.
If you say, “I don’t have any money”, then I can only say, “the only way to get money is to go out and work and earn the money. ” You cannot be an effective activist if you are broke. Period. All activism requires effort, focus, a goal, and some of your own money that is necessary to be expended. I’m not asking you to spend a lot of money at all, but every one of us in the cannabis culture has a moral obligation to sacrifice some pleasure, luxury, time or whatever to provide some money to fight this grotesque injustice. GET TO WORK! Shovel snow, mow a lawn, work as a grocery clerk, get a job, earn an income. This is a war, for goodness sakes. Put off that gratuitous tattoo, go without that primo weed for a week or two, give up your weekend drinking budget – make sacrifices to make it happen. Activism should become a priority above all other non-essential survival and family obligations.
Most activities that people in the cannabis culture enjoy doing achieve no political purpose. For example, an April 20th rally has virtually no political value; it will not change any laws or politicians’ minds. Very few contacts are gained that are politically valid at an April 20th rally. It is a celebration of the culture, and a protest of sorts. But you should be trying to make a real difference in laws and policy.
Do not form your own group as your first step. You are not yet qualified to organize or lead others or risk squandering the energy, time and resources of others. This is about what YOU can do.
The movement absolutely does not need any more Facebook pages, websites, or social network sites with a non-specific purpose. A Facebook page called “Legalize marijuana” or any such similar sentiment often wastes the time and energy of anyone who bothers getting involved with it. Worse, it gives you a false sense of satisfaction you are doing something for the movement, and you are not. You may be doing something “fun” or “self-satisfying”, but that is not useful political activism. A “like” is not activism.
Much of social media is anti-activism because it distracts people away from doing something really useful for the movement. Social media is a catalyst to activism, but it’s not activism. Tahir Square in Cairo, Egypt was filled by people who were using social media to get bodies to the square – but the people showing up in the square was the activism. People willing to get their head kicked in, roughed up, jailed, shot and killed, taking a risk with their lives – that was the activism. Social media, Twitter, and text messaging got them to the square, but didn’t make a dictator fall. PEOPLE POWER did that. People willing to give something up. People willing to die.
What are YOU willing to give up to achieve liberty for yourself and our cause?
CONTACTING YOUR REPRESENTATIVE
The first thing all activists must do is begin a dialogue with your elected representatives. This means writing a cogent, BRIEF letter, by mail (not email) to your Congressperson in Washington. Your connection to MPP, NORML, and StopTheDrugWar, all with offices in Washington, DC, will keep you informed of bills and activities that deserve your notice and your input.
Letters by postal mail are far more influential than email. Firstly, mostly older people who actually get out to vote write letters by mail, and politicians consider older people as more valuable. Secondly, letters exist physically. Physical things are harder to deny. An email may or may not be seen and read, may or may not be answered or considered.
A physical letter has a psychological advantage. The Congressperson and his secretaries and mail readers know that anyone who would, in this day and age, type up a thoughtful letter, put a stamp on it, walk to a post office box, and patiently wait for a response after making a physical effort, is probably going to put a similar effort into voting. A person who does all that may get politically active if disappointed, or may volunteer for the Congressperson’s re-election campaign if satisfied. A Congressperson gets hundreds, perhaps thousands of emails, but they take little effort to send, and letters are much more rare and far more precious politically.
You will get a physical reply by postal mail, unlike an email. This is a record of your dialogue with your elected representative. Know in advance you are likely to be unsatisfied by your exchange. Your Congressperson will likely admit to a bias that you find ridiculous and irrational. But this gives you an opportunity to understand where the Congressperson is coming from. You look at his presentation of his point of view, you analyze it, and then you identify an area where you can send a BRIEF medical or scientific rebuttal to his main point – preferably a rebuttal that comes from a source that Congressperson would respect (that is, someone from his religious order, or political party, or colleague from the university he attended).
Name-calling and insults are absolutely forbidden in any exercise of effective activism. You shouldn’t even use negative terminology in your letters to elected officials. You should thank them for their response of your previous letter. You should express interest in their next town hall meeting in the state or district. You should emphasize your family has lived in that district for many generations, if that is true. You should find the Congressperson’s last election material, and seize on values he has expressed that you can point to and explain how ending prohibition, would, in fact, lead to the kind of America and the values the Congressperson claims to aspire to.
You must select your topics of discussion within a narrow range. You can’t be trying to cover several topics in one letter or dialogue. Stick to one main point, and try to find areas of agreement, where your suggestions dovetail into the Congressperson’s stated value system.
Writing politicians requires patience because it’s likely you will be unsatisfied and frustrated. But you want them to assess your point of view, and you also want to become a known quantity – that is, someone who has a rational intelligent point of view.
If you have a legislator or Congressperson who advocates a rational point of view, then a letter endorsing that point of view is a good idea. Ask what you, as a citizen, can do to draw support to the proposal by that representative.
WRITING TO NEWSPAPERS
Once you have engaged dialogues with your elected officials, your next avenue of activism is writing letters to local print media, especially the daily and weekly newspapers in your community. These should be no more than 200 words and should be a response to some news item you have seen in the paper about prohibition, police behavior, harsh sentencing, the impact on the community, etc. Depending on the volume of mail/email a paper receives, you may have a 1 in 4 chance of getting published, so perseverance is key.
For a great article about Letter Writing As Activism from sold-out “Activism Special” Cannabis Culture Magazine #65, see here.
RADIO TALK SHOWS
Most communities have radio talk shows. These, too, are useful avenues to advocate an end to prohibition whenever subjects like crime, prisons, reducing budgets, drugs, inner cities, etc. are discussed. Again, there will be times you are put on hold and the host does not get to you by the end of the show, and many times the phone lines are full up and you can’t even get in the queue to speak on the air, but eventually you will get on the radio. Have your ideas written down in point form, be VERY brief, and get what you want to say done in 30 seconds. Usually radio talk shows allow you one statement, the host or guest gets a rejoinder, and then it’s on to the next caller, or a commercial. Don’t waste any time saying “I love your show,” or “I’d like to say hello to your guest,” – you are wasting your precious airtime with meaningless pleasantries. Go immediately to your points(s).
This is also a great way for people to get active and educate others when they’re forced to keep a relatively low profile because of their job, kids, or any other risk factor. That’s because you only need to give your name to be on air, and you can simply use your middle name if you’ve got reason to be cautious where you live. As long as your message is powerful, informative and understandable, you’re having a positive impact.
PROTESTS AND RALLIES
At some point you may want to organize a protest or a rally. This could be at the office of an elected official, in front of City Hall, or the Statehouse if you live near it. Here are three excellent articles about “How To Hold a Rally” and “Rally Tools” from Cannabis Culture Magazine “Activism Special” #65, plus a Hempfest article from the same issue:
It’s surprisingly difficult to get more than a few dozen people to appear at a protest or rally. You can promote on Facebook (because it’s a specific event with a specific purpose) and put posters up, but turnout is considered good if you get only 25-50 people to come. The protest should be at a time when passersby will see your signs and hear your chants. The chants should never be rude, they should be brief and to the point – “No More Drug War”, “Cannabis Saves Lives”, “Prohibition Doesn’t Work”, or anything that can be easily understood by the people who will hear it.
Signs should be legible, most importantly. I prefer computer and machine made signs, using solid, thick, bold fonts. Hand painted signs are too amateur appearing for my tastes, and are often hard to read when passing by, but can look good if very big, solid lettering is used.
If the media chooses to cover the rally or protest, the signs will convey your message to thousands who see you on TV or in the newspaper, so those signs should be very succinct and very readable. See photos of a December 2011 anti-prohibition protest held in Vancouver here and a similar protest in 2009 here.
April 20th rallies are popular now, but do not contain much of a political message and are largely attended by many teenagers. Young counter-culture teenagers being shown surreptitiously smoking marijuana makes a dubious political statement.
For rallies that have a political purpose, participants should dress respectably in office-suitable apparel, with clear legible signs, and be well groomed. Appearance is important – the message needs to be appealing to the most people possible. You need to convert the people who read newspapers and watch the TV news, mostly people over 45, conservative, older people.
The hippies and the counter culture agree with you already, but they don’t vote generally. People who read newspapers (real paper ones, not online) and people who watch the local TV news or listen to talk radio generally vote. If you want to change minds, not only do your ideas need to be carefully chosen, but your clothes, your appearance, your demeanor, your language and your signs need to appeal to the conservative, older people who see you while driving by in their cars, or on the TV news, or in a newspaper.
STUDENT & CAMPUS ACTIVISM
If you are attending high school, college or university, motivating your fellow students to political awareness and political action should be part of your activism. However, it should only be a part of it. You want to influence the greater world beyond your school.
You can however, start an “Anti-Prohibition League” or Anti-Prohibition Club on campus, such as a Students For Sensible Drug Policy groups (www.ssdp.org and www.cssdp.org). A “Legalize Cannabis” club is too narrow and will appeal to greatly to a stoner mentality, and doesn’t challenge the problem in a philosophically consistent way. Legalizing marijuana is a goal, true, but it isn’t the heart of the problem. The problem is prohibition, and no prohibition is ever effective, just or rational. I believe for example that all prohibitions on personal choice are wrong and indefensible. Prohibitions on guns, sex, drugs, plants, property, abortion, gambling, sexual orientation, dancing, music, media and communication, manufacturing anything, are all wrong. Personal choice is limited to the non-violence principle, personal bodily and mental autonomy, and property rights.
But for the sake of your school club or association, prohibition refers to the government policy of banning or criminalizing certain consumed substances.
A club would do several activities. It would invite speakers to come lecture and educate your group and the larger student body about the issues surrounding prohibition. It would have a booth during clubs week. It would advocate for any anti-prohibition politicians (like Ron Paul) running for office in the school year, and club members would be encouraged to volunteer for these political campaigns. It would seek to have student leadership resist rules or regulations that require the expulsion of students who use or advocate marijuana. It would seek to address the laws that restrict or prohibit student aid to people with drug convictions.
It is important that this club not degenerate into a pot-smoking club. All the indulging, if desired, should occur after serious work has been expended to get necessary political activism done that day.
All schools have newspapers. You should be writing anti-prohibition articles and attempting to get them published in the school paper. Many colleges and universities house a community radio station. Try to get an Anti-Prohibition Radio show. This could be a one or two hour show where you read articles and news items from Norml.org or StopTheDrugWar.org and play anti-prohibition songs, of which there are many. (“Bush Doctor”, “Legalize It”, newer marijuana music – there are dozens and dozens of songs if you check around.)
GET INVOLVED WITH POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS
For the first five months of 2012, the most vital political activity for those who want to end the drug war has to be, without any exception, supporting Congressman Ron Paul in his bid for the Republican nomination for President. If you do not know about the greatest man ever to advocate for an end to the drug war in the history of US politics, please read my previous blogs here and here for video and details about Ron Paul and his views on abolishing the office of drug czar, abolishing the DEA, ending all federal drug laws, and pardoning all non-violent drug offenders in US prisons, including me.
Joining the Ron Paul campaign in your state will give you experience working on phone banks, holding up signs, handing out literature, working on an honorable, principled campaign with the ideal of our cause firmly part of the campaign. Plus, you will meet many other highly motivated activists. Ron Paul never hides his belief the drug war is wrong; the Constitution, he says, makes no allowance for a federal drug war or federal drug laws or federal drug agencies or people in federal prisons for drug use. He believes all state medical marijuana laws should never experience obstruction or contradiction from the federal government.
The Republican race for the Presidential nomination will get down to Mitt Romney vs. Ron Paul by Super Tuesday in March (March 6th). The Republicans cannot win without the Ron Paul voters, and the Republicans cannot beat continued-and-expanded-war Obama without Ron Paul as their nominee. If Ron Paul is not the nominee for the Republicans, I will urge you to support the Libertarian Party candidate, the former two-term governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson, a fine principled man who repudiates the drug war and would certainly legalize marijuana if elected President.
If you decide to do one thing to end this terrible prohibition, joining the Ron Paul Revolution RIGHT NOW is the most urgent need.
Other options include gathering signatures. Several states in 2012 have signature gathering drives to put medical marijuana or a legalization of marijuana on the ballot. They will need your help immediately. Read about the states that have drives currently underway at NORML.org or here:http://capwiz.com/norml2/issues/ and contact their organizers so you can get out on the streets, on your campus, or in your neighborhood to gather signatures.
Are there any anti-prohibition candidates in your community or your state? It may require you to do some research but you will find some candidates who have some aspect of pro-choice on cannabis in them. Medical marijuana, or legalization, or some aspect of their positions you can find favor with in regards the drug war. They may be small-party candidates who have no realistic chance of victory, but they deserve our support if no major party candidates emerge upholding some of our anti-prohibition values.
Find out about the Libertarian, Constitutionalist or Green Party candidates in the your district or community if the Democrat and Republicans have nothing to offer. These smaller parties value your contributions in money and manpower even more than the major parties. These smaller parties will give you insight into how to run (or not run) a modest budget campaign with limited goals. Since the small party candidates aren’t expecting to be elected, their job is to educate the public on their issues, critique the Democrat and Republican candidates, and recruit volunteers and members for future growth and campaigns. Your job is to learn all you can about the political process.
RUNNING FOR OFFICE
There will come a time when you are fired up, fed up, and have no one to vote for that represents your views on prohibition. It might be all your city councilors or county supervisors have let the local police trample over the rights and privacy of the people. It might be police brutality as a result of prohibition. It might be a sheriff who is a crazed drug warrior. It might be a judge who gives pot people long sentences. It might be a position in the statehouse legislature where both the Republican and Democrat demagogue on who is toughest on crime, while neither is smart on crime. It might be your Congressman is a hopeless drug warrior and his opponent is little better.
You might just decide to run for an elected office yourself. If you do, set realistic goals. Your odds of getting elected with major party support, or being part of well-moneyed slate with substantial backing, are candidly very long odds indeed. Your first time out, you simply won’t get many votes and you won’t get elected. You’ll be running as an Independent, a Green, a Libertarian, or other small party. You won’t have many volunteers and most money you spend will be your own. You’ll need someone to do your paperwork. There are forms to fill out, nominating signatures to gather, and bank accounts to manage. You need to keep track of all your donations and all your campaign expenditures.
Most of your friends will be useless in helping you, but you should try to get $10 and $25 donations from them. Ask people to volunteer and, if they get on board, assign them specific tasks essential to your campaign. Develop a Facebook page and website touting your candidacy. Make them both easily navigable and easy to understand. Look at other candidate templates on the net to find a style or approach you like (Jodie’s 2009 BC Green Party provincial election campaign website design is simple but informative: http://www.jodieformla.ca/).
Generous advance planning is recommended. Good planning saves money, time, effort and error. If you are the candidate, ultimately you are in charge but you need to find one very passionate, committed, reasonable, easy-to-get along-with person who can be your campaign manager. A good campaign manager is your most valuable asset. They need to have time, the organizing skills and a belief in you as the candidate. They need to be good with people, have a calm managerial style, and be good with and knowledgeable about the media.
You need some signs. Get quotes on a 100 corroplast (corrugated plastic signs) measured about 18″ x 24″ (larger signs, like 24″ x 36″ or 24″ x 48″, are better to hold up on busy roads, printed both sides in one color plus black on white). Election supplies can be found at websites online; simply Google “Election sign manufacture”.
The best way to efficiently, at no or low cost (your time and the signs cost), get your name out there is to stand on busy roadsides at rush hours or busy traffic periods with your name, the office you are seeking, and your website on a very legible sign. It would pay off if you can get yourself or volunteers to go to main intersections anywhere from 7am to nightfall with your (hopefully easy-to-read, attractive) waterproof signs being held proudly in the air. You’ll get thousands of eyes on your signs each hour. Some will check out your website and read your issues. If they like your views, your website will have contact information for them to reach you, and ways for them to leave comments. Respond to those potential supporters immediately, and ask for a small donation or their time as a volunteer.
Even though you probably won’t get elected, you will learn a great deal about the political process, voters, campaigning, what the people you meet in your community think about your ideas. The experience will help improve your work on future campaigns, whether for yourself or as a campaign manager or worker in other campaigns. I have run for office on twelve occasions from 1980 to 2008, and Jodie has run as a candidate three times (2005, 2008, 2009), and we did not get elected, but enjoyed the experience very much. It really was hard, grueling work to try to do it right. You have to put yourself out there and take criticism, get feedback, and get ignored by big media, the other candidates, and most voters.
When you are an independent or small party candidate, a refrain you will here often is “I like your ideas, but you can’t win, so I’m voting for Mr. Lesser-of-Two-Evils”. It will be frustrating to hear that, but elections are a package deal and voters rarely vote on principle. They tend to vote for the candidate who they see as most likely to defeat the candidate they really hate. Tell those voters to take your shared position on the issue to the candidate that they plan to vote for instead, and make it an issue with them.
Eventually you will get experience, develop a good reputation, and move up from an unknown candidate electioneering in obscurity, to running as a small party (say Green, Libertarian) candidate, to running as a Democrat in a heavily Republican neighborhood – or conversely, an opportunity to run as a Republican in, say, San Francisco or a heavily Democratic neighborhood. Maintaining your principles as you get closer to an actual opportunity to get elected will be the big challenge, but let’s hope you get that challenge!
Participating in an election is a very rewarding experience. To do it right is very draining, very exhausting, and very satisfying. It’s nice to get out there and listen to voters, tell people your ideas, and do the campaigning. But it takes a huge amount of time and energy. Decide if it’s really worth it for you before biting off more than you can chew!
DO WHAT YOU LOVE
Finally, everyone has a creative gift or ability of some useful kind. What is your talent?
If you can sing or are musical, do a music video for your favorite candidate, or if you have a band, contribute a performance night’s funds towards a drug policy reform group. If you are good at developing websites, let activist groups or politicians know you are available free or very cheap to build them a website. If you have organizing skills, offer your expertise to the rally organizers. If you are a graphic artist or graphic designer, offer your skills to design election signs, rally posters, graphic images for a website, website design.
Think of a skill you have and offer it to those in your community who are doing good work. If you are good at earning money but have little time to volunteer, give money to those who are doing the activist work you admire. If you have a car and are a safe driver, offer your driving skills to the rally organizers or election campaigns to drive voters, or to pick up rally supplies.
Everyone who believes in the cause of liberty and an end to prohibition has something valuable to offer. All you need to do is commit.
Now get to work!
Marc Emery #40252-086
FCI Yazoo City – Medium E-1
P.O. Box 5888
Yazoo City, MS
Marc would like to see this article as a ‘living document’, continually growing with more valuable information. If you have any suggested activism or comments you feel should be added to this piece, please send your suggestions to Jodie@cannabisculture.com or Jeremiah@cannabisculture.com
Choosing the next President of the United States begins in Iowa in mere weeks. For the cannabis culture, 25 million people in the United States, there is only one option: Ron Paul.
For 15 years Ron Paul has been introducing bills every year in Congress to legalize marijuana, legalize industrial hemp, allow medical marijuana defenses in federal court, and end the budget and office of the Drug Czar. Read more about Ron Paul’s stance on cannabis and the drug war here, here, here, and here.
In speeches and televised debates Ron Paul is not afraid to say he believes the US federal government should end the drug war and repeal all federal laws prohibiting the production and consumption of all drugs, certainly including marijuana.
Listen to Ron Paul speak for himself on the issue:
You’ll never meet a candidate for President of greater integrity and honesty. You’ll never meet a candidate for the most powerful office on earth who is more qualified and intelligent than Ron Paul. Look at the other options; would you prefer any of them instead?
His beliefs are that the US should withdraw all its troops from foreign shores, and that the US cannot police the world. He wants passionately to end the drug war and the surveillance state. He wants to get those who have committed non-violent drug offenses out of jails and into a productive existence in a better and freer America. He believes citizens are sovereign and that the government has become a dangerous police state.
Ron Paul believes in the people of America, the ordinary citizen, and his policies reflect a treasured commitment to liberty, individual freedom, the sovereignty of the individual – unlike the current President, who has embraced the cynical, corrupted cronyism of the elites.
And Ron Paul is an incredibly decent man. I have known about Ron Paul since I read about him in Reason magazine in 1980, and he has never betrayed my support of him or his belief in individual freedom, sound finances, the liberty of the people.
Jodie and I have been active supporters of Ron Paul for President since 2006. We were hosts of a show on Ron Paul radio, printed tens of thousands of Ron Paul For President 2008 hand-outs, brochures, posters, and stickers, made voter registration pavilions, put him on the cover of Cannabis Culture Magazine and made a RON PAUL FOR PRESIDENT centerfold, and much more.
Photos of the Ron Paul pavilion we had set up in downtown Vancouver in 2007: view here on Facebook!
There is no man I believe in more on this whole planet more than Ron Paul.
It is with this urgency and passion I ask you to join with Ron Paul and his campaign for President. I want you to register to vote Republican so you can support him in the Republican Presidential nomination. All the other Republican candidates are lunatics or dangerously wrong for America. The Democrat candidate Barack Obama is a terrible punisher of our culture and must be defeated – but he must be defeated by Ron Paul, not the other NeoCon war hawks and prohibitionists who are running for the Republican nomination.
25 million of us in the US cannabis culture can make a difference. Ron Paul has campaign organizations in all 50 states; please sign up, volunteer, and give money to help this man save America. Ron Paul will win in Iowa. Then he will win in many of the primaries throughout the United States, but it will require huge amounts of money and an army of millions. You should Register Republican to vote for Ron Paul in the primary in your state.
I believe when Ron Paul wins the Republican nomination, he will choose former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson as his running mate. Governor Johnson is a wise and intelligent believer in liberty and an end to the drug war. He will make a worthy successor to Ron Paul should the great man die while in office.
Do not sit on the sidelines in this primary season. Do not let cynicism and indifference ruin our chances to change America profoundly for the better. In California last year, our culture was betrayed by traitors and prohibition-profiteers within our culture. If Proposition 19 had passed, millions of Californians would be growing and producing marijuana under state law, and the DEA and President Barack Obama would have been helpless to stop it – they couldn’t win a war against the biggest, most populated state in the nation. Now the situation in California is in crisis because of that treason and indifference within our culture during the Proposition 19 vote last November, and President Obama is now showing his vicious contempt for our people, as he does for all Americans.
The contrast between the integrity and principles and policies of liberty proposed by Ron Paul versus the surveillance, control, warfare prison punishment state espoused by Barack Obama and the other Republican candidates is stark. Please go to Ron Paul’s campaign website, sign up to help, and join with me and millions of other Ron Paul soldiers in ending the drug war and the cannabis prohibition. This primary season, there is only one man who can do it – who will do it – but he needs us to fulfill this mission.
When the fate of America and our cannabis culture were at stake in the critical time from December 2011 to November 2012, what will you tell your heirs and future generations you did when the need was greatest?
Ron Paul for President. 100% Yes. Join your state’s Ron Paul for president campaign now, and let’s get to work on the decisive battle ahead.
Marc Emery #40252-086
FCI YAZOO CITY MEDIUM E-1
FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION
P.O. BOX 5888
YAZOO CITY, MS 39194