Many of you are familiar with the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions. A new year provides many with a feeling of a fresh start; as such, they make resolutions to themselves and others about the ways they plan on improving their lives and/or the lives of others.
It’s also a great time to reset, whether it be your life or your relationships or your career. A time to evaluate where you are and where you want to be.
The beginning of 2017 is also a good time for the marijuana law reform movement to stop and look back at the accomplishments of the last year, as well as take stock and prepare for the battles that loom ahead. In this spirit, we spoke to some prominent activists in the cannabis community to see what kind of resolutions they could think of for themselves, the community as a whole, or both.
For Amanda Reiman, Manager of Marijuana Law and Policy at the Drug Policy Alliance, the key is “remembering that we are a movement first and an industry second.”
In other words, many in the legal cannabis industry should be mindful that without the movement that is changing marijuana laws in the first place, there would be no industry. There would be no opportunities for job creation and profits if not for the sacrifices that activists have made and continue to make in the battle for legalization.
Furthermore, if the industry wants to survive past its infancy, it would be smart to contribute to further efforts aimed at legalization, which would open up more markets and create more legal customers.
Keith Stroup, the founder of NORML, suggested a resolution for cannabis users everywhere: “I resolve to come out of the closet as a responsible marijuana smoker to friends, colleagues and family in 2017, helping overcome the negative stereotype of marijuana smokers and end marijuana prohibition, once and for all.”
Of course this decision depends on an individual’s circumstances and how much flak they are willing to take and how much sacrifice they are willing to make. But there can be no doubt that more people coming out of the “cannabis closet” has a major impact on the thoughts and feelings of those around them and the “mainstreaming” of marijuana as a whole. Many never think about issues like legalization until it is brought before them.
Tom Angell, founder of Marijuana Majority, spoke in a similar vein, wanting cannabis users to “recognize that we are in the majority and that marijuana is mainstream. Be proud to know that what we are pushing for is supported by most of our fellow Americans. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what we believe in, because chances are your neighbors have your back.” The line between user and activist is a thin one when the substance you are using is still considered illegal by many in positions of authority.
“Just because marijuana is legal in your state doesn’t mean that the fight is over,” Tom told The Marijuana Times, pointing out the importance of not letting up in this battle. “Millions of people in other states — and countries — are still unjustly criminalized. And even in places where marijuana is legal, discrimination still exists. For example, many private companies still fire people just because they use marijuana on their own time. Keep taking action until all cannabis consumers are treated equally. That means donate to and support efforts to change even more laws, and don’t give your money to companies that are overly concerned with the cannabinoid content of their employees’ urine.”
Do More If You Can
Any effort you contribute toward the legalization of marijuana is welcome. Whether you share stories on social media or gather signatures for a ballot effort or hold a sign at a local march, you are helping the community move forward toward the ultimate goal: the utter destruction of marijuana prohibition and everything that comes with it.
But everyone must ask themselves if they could be doing more. The vast majority of people in the U.S. do not know the freedom of adult use legalization, as limited as it may seem to some. To those without it, some freedom is a lot of freedom. Are you doing everything you can to help those people?
“Marijuana won’t legalize itself: It takes a movement, one which needs support — financial and otherwise — from people like you,” Tom Angell said. “Do your part and make a monthly pledge to a legalization organization (like Marijuana Majority — http://MarijuanaMajority.com/pledge). Even $5 or $10 a month, when combined with support from others, goes a long way toward keeping up our momentum. Or, every time you buy an eighth, consider also sending a meaningful donation to a deserving organization leading the fight to change unjust marijuana laws. If everyone who bought legal weed in Colorado did this, we could end the criminalization of cannabis consumers in many more states much sooner.”
Even if you can’t give financially, do more of whatever path you have taken to contribute. If you normally share 3 stories a day, share 4; if you go to one march a year, try to make it to two; if you have the opportunity to gather signatures or petition your state representative, take it.
“I resolve to continue the struggle to legalize marijuana until such time as responsible marijuana smokers are treated fairly in all facets of their lives, including employment rights, child custody issues and driving while impaired,” Keith Stroup told us, revealing his personal resolution. “It is time we stopped arresting and started respecting those who use marijuana responsibly.”
The Dawn of 2017
There is no doubt that 2016 was the most successful year in marijuana law reform history. There is also no doubt that 2017 could bring unrivalled trials and tribulations to the movement. The incoming Trump Administration has the potential to bring a dark cloud over everything that has been accomplished so far, which would also have the effect of stalling future progress for years to come.
This means we must be ready. We must be ready to defend gains already earned while also planning to gain more in the future. We have to assume the worst is coming and plan accordingly. And if the worst does come, we must all be ready to contribute more than we ever have in order to save our movement.
Morgan Fox, Senior Communications Manager for the Marijuana Policy Project, struck a more hopeful tone in regards to Trump and his cabinet. “I’m resolving to frequently step back, take a deep breath, and remind myself that this has always been an uphill battle and that the feds can’t force states to arrest people for marijuana,” he told The Marijuana Times.
For my New Year’s Resolution, I vow to continue to use one of my few talents (writing) to help advance the cause of cannabis law reform every chance I get. In some small way I hope I spread enough information and make enough salient points to make a difference in the overall scheme of things.
You can also rest assured that all of us here at The Marijuana Times will stand vigilant against the people who prop up the walls of prohibition and expose the lies they use to do so. Support us in that effort by sharing articles whenever you can and help us spread the truth about the amazing cannabis plant.
Do not fear what lies ahead. There will be challenges no matter what, but in the end it is all worth it. Freedom is always worth the fight. Millions of people depend on this fight being won and I will be remembering all of the above resolutions; I hope you do too.