By Alan Brochstein
I have long favored marijuana legalization and now devote myself full time to advancing the industry. I supported it on principle at age 15, years before I had ever even consumed it, wondering as a young Libertarian by what right our government could prohibit its use. Much later in life, I learned of other important reasons to support legalization: Medicinal benefits, social justice and plain and simple economics.
I am fortunate to be in a position unlike many. I can and do speak loudly about my views, but, sadly, most people can not. Stigma remains a huge burden, and admission of even support of legalization (much less consumption) can lead to ostracization by family members or even potentially the loss of one’s job. While it remains federally illegal, the risks of advocacy are too great for too many.
Global Marijuana March demonstrations were held all around the world on May 2, 2015. The picture above is from the event in Houston. I am not much of a marcher to begin, but, like every other event and every conference I have attended over the past two years since my enlightenment, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of “preaching to the choir.” Sure, we attracted a bit of publicity and even the focus of some media, but we, as cannabis activists, need to step beyond the comfortable confines of a friendly turf to discuss our strong views.
I am not suggesting that we go wage battle with those who so violently oppose legalization, nor am I suggesting that we stop gathering with like-minded individuals to discuss advancing the cause. To succeed in our mission, we need to engage those who don’t really have strong views. These folks, at the margin, will decide the fate of cannabis decriminalization and legalization. We need to spend more time sharing our ideas and information with the mainstream.
Join me in taking the pro-cannabis message to the masses, making an effort to extend beyond an audience of those who are open to our views and instead focusing on those for whom cannabis isn’t an issue. They need to understand why our veterans with PTSD should have access to cannabis. They need to be made aware of the potential reductions in seizures available to children with debilitating forms of epilepsy. They need to learn about the hypocrisy of how we treat cannabis and alcohol. They need to discover the nasty truth about opioids. They need to know about the racial discrimination inherent in prohibition. They need to hear about the economic costs to society and the wasteful allocation of scare resources fighting the War on Drugs.
So, keep marching, but, if you can, let’s take the conversation to our churches and synagogues, to our universities, to our golf games or tennis matches, and any other place where we can engage our fellow citizens, friends and family members in a rational dialogue. I didn’t coin this phrase, but I really love it: Marijuana isn’t going to legalize itself.