America, Cannabis, and Freedom—Part Three: Moving Forward
America, cannabis, and freedom: three things that Everyday Cannabis cherishes more than words can describe. Our third blog will focus on the events of the last fifty years which have shifted the socio-political paradigm and led us to the current state of ongoing cannabis (re)normalization.
All of us at Everyday Cannabis could not be prouder to be a part of the positive cultural shift surrounding cannabis—people are now freer to access the plants they wish, for the reasons they wish. We deeply feel that cannabis prohibition laws infringe upon the fundamental rights of American citizens per the Constitution, as well as inalienable natural rights bestowed upon us by our God(s) and/or the universe. In our opinion—safe access to nature, including cannabis—is a form of freedom.
As explained in our prior blog, the cannabis paradigm from which we are emerging was largely predicated on racist and classist propaganda. No government or country; no matter how great, is without fault. America; as such, isn't without its issues, but is improving (in some areas) as we become a more accepting nation and move past our prior prejudices and (hopefully) embrace freedom for all.
The morality behind this shift is something that we feel is grounded in both love and freedom—as you can't truly show love without supporting freedom. We believe that love and freedom are both core values of a truly great society, their promotion being something that supports our company's mission.
We humbly honor all of the freedom-focused pioneers of cannabis' past that have led us to this point in history, and we'll do our best to highlight (what we feel) are some of the more pivotal moments of the modern cannabis re(normalization) movement in our following blog.
A Freedom Tree Grows
The American civil rights movement—which continues to this day—has quite arguably had the greatest influence on the modern cannabis paradigm. Beginning in the 1950’s, the civil rights movement is an organized attempt to abolish institutionalized racism within the American system—obvious examples being laws supporting overtly racist acts such as the forced segregation and exclusion of marginalized groups from schools, businesses, and services.
Martin Luther King Jr. was one of; if not the most, influential leaders of the American civil rights movement—known for his use of nonviolence and civil disobedience. King; a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
A hallmark victory for the American civil rights movement came in 1964 with the passing of the Civil Rights Act, which ended the de jure segregation (segregation mandated by law) of the era which was initially imposed by slave codes before the Civil War, and by Jim Crow laws and Black Codes which followed the signing of The Emancipation Proclamation. The Civil Rights Act would be reinforced by the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
Malcolm X—a prominent civil rights leader of the era whose “by any means necessary” approach to equality and justice differed from King’s non-violent philosophical stance—wrote about his love of marijuana in his autobiography. Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965.
Although the passing of the Civil Rights Act(s)—written with the purpose of ending the unfair and racist policies stemming from segregation and enforced through institutionalization—were clear advancements towards America becoming a country where everyone had equal rights, liberty, and justice under the law; their passing fell quite short of ending all racist legislation in America (especially that of a covert nature, which would soon be vastly expanded).
Snakes in the Grass
“Anyone who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” — Voltaire
It’s almost impossible to find an intellectual that would argue against the existence of racist motivations for the war on drugs, and especially impossible to find an intellectual that would argue against a lack of racist intent behind the war on cannabis. Those who claim otherwise are often hanging onto authoritarian threads of logic, steeped with fallacies mixed with a sense of moral superiority stemming from such things as false consciousness, propaganda, colonialism, and other bastardized ideologies. In fact, it’s been widely theorized that the war on drugs was designed to replace Jim Crow as an instrument of racial and political oppression.
John Ehrichman, a domestic policy advisor to President Nixon, shared the above quote in 1994 after claiming the two main enemies of Nixon’s presidency were the “antiwar-left” and “Blacks”.
Ehrichman highlighted how the war on drugs took the place of Jim Crow laws and further institutionalized racism against Black Americans. The Drug Policy Alliance offered the following statement regarding Ehrichman’s admission,
“This explosive admission, while provocative, is sadly nothing new. The Drug Policy Alliance and our allies in the movement to end the drug war have long known that U.S. drug policies and have been inherently racist and discriminatory. Despite comparable rates of drug use and sales, communities of color and other marginalized groups have been the principle targets of drug law enforcement and make up the vast majority of people who have been incarcerated or otherwise had their lives torn apart by the drug war. That said, it is enormously important that this quote has captured so much attention and shed light on the blatantly racist origins of this horrible policy approach.”
The above chart illustrates the aftermath of the war on drugs. The decline since 2008 is a result of policy changes such as cannabis decriminalization and legalization, and shorter drug-related prison sentences.
Fear propaganda is a common element of modern politics. Much like those that came before him, Reagan essentially campaigned and won by manifesting a fear of plants within the conservative voting base, while simultaneously offering an authoritarian solution (kidnapping, robbing, and caging cannabis users) to keep society safe. His words are reminiscent of the nonsense from the Reefer Madness propaganda campaigns of the late 1930s, which also (despite being equally ridiculous) shifted the opinion of the gullible and miseducated public after an unhealthy dose of reinforcement from the mainstream media.
“The media's the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” — Malcolm X
America has more incarcerated individuals per capita than any other country. Black men in America have a 1 in 3 chance of being incarcerated at some point in their lives, and despite evidence showing that Black and white individuals use cannabis at the same rates, Blacks are much more likely to be arrested for it.
The Mutation of Absurdity
It would seem; for all intents and purposes, that the absurd war on cannabis is finally coming to an end. In times such as this we need to reflect on the atrocities that have been committed in its name, and do our best as a society to ensure they never happen again.
It's important to realize that the predominant reason for change in our society has been a result of education and organization. Less than twenty years ago, lies and misinformation regarding cannabis (among others) were taught as truth in our public schools, by propagandized "teachers" who likely thought they were acting intelligently and benevolently. Thanks to counterculture challenging the racially and politically motivated authoritarian "truth" of our recent past, after much struggle, our society is once again beginning to embrace a freedom oriented, pro-cannabis paradigm.
We lack the audacity to make the claim that American society has been improving in the general sense, and we like to focus on the positives and keep our blogs/political opinions related to cannabis. All we'll say is that: absurdity; much like energy, seems to be transferred from one form to another.
Not All Heroes Wear Capes: A shoutout to a few of the many that helped to get us where we are today.
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (acronymically known as NORML) is a non-profit that began in 1970 after a $5000 grant from the Playboy Foundation. NORML experienced fast growth and support, thanks in part to Hugh Hefner who was donating over $100,000 a year to the organization throughout the mid 1970's.
NORML now has over 135 chapters and 550 lawyers that help to “support the adoption of a legally controlled market for marijuana, where consumers can buy marijuana for personal use from a safe legal source” and “in jurisdictions where legalization is not yet achievable, NORML also supports the immediate removal of all criminal penalties for the private possession and responsible use of marijuana by adults, including cultivation for personal use, and casual nonprofit transfers of small amounts.”
The NORML Foundation—NORML’s sister organization—is “a nonprofit foundation established in 1997 to better educate the public about marijuana and marijuana policy options, and to assist victims of the current laws.”
Cheech and Chong
"So (legalizing marijuana) means a lot more to me than just being able to smoke a joint without being arrested." -Tommy Chong
Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong provided some of the earliest and best forms of pro-cannabis comedy throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s via their stand-up routines, feature films, and studio recordings. Their contributions to the counterculture paradigm which is cannabis normalization were instrumental in the advancement towards the widespread and popular acceptance level that we have today.
Jack Herer (June 18, 1939 – April 15, 2010) has a few AKAs that establish a sense of importance for his actions as a cannabis advocate and they include but are likely not limited to, “The Hemperor”, "The Emperor of Hemp", and “The Hero of Hemp”. He was one of the most well known cannabis advocates of the last 50 years, and has a famous strain of cannabis named after him.
Herer’s passion for cannabis was evident in the early 1970’s when he opened a head shop. He founded and served as the director of the organization Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP), and was the author of the non-fiction book The Emperor Wears No Clothes, which he started in 1973 and published in 1985. There is currently a $100,000 reward available to anyone that can disprove the claims made in the book which include (quoting from the back cover of the book):
“If all fossil fuels and their derivatives, as well as trees for paper and construction were banned in order to save the planet, reverse the Greenhouse Effect and stop deforestation; then there is only one known annually renewable natural resource that is capable of providing the overall majority of the world's paper and textiles; meet all of the world's transportation, industrial and home energy needs, while simultaneously reducing pollution, rebuilding the soil, and cleaning the atmosphere all at the same time... and that substance is -- the same one that did it all before -- Cannabis Hemp... Marijuana!”
High Times is a monthly magazine that advocates for the legalization of cannabis and promotes peaceful counterculture. Its first issue (shown above) was financed by the sale of illegal marijuana, and published during the summer of 1974. The magazine was initially meant to be a spoof of Playboy, featuring a cannabis plant as a centerfold image instead of a naked female. It didn’t take long for High Times to gain a following, and the magazine quickly developed into the cutting edge publication it is today. In our opinion, its contribution towards cannabis normalization and legalization via advocacy through responsible and accurate journalism cannot be overstated.
"I want to be loved while I'm here, and the only way to get love is to give love." -Snoop Dogg
Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. (born October 20, 1971), AKA Snoop Dogg, has been one of the more popular faces of the American cannabis movement since the early 1990’s. His art and lifestyle have helped to mainline the cannabis movement into what it is today. We thank him for having the courage to openly share his passion for cannabis throughout an era when its use as a minority could easily equate to time in prison.
Charlotte Figi (October 18, 2006 – April 7, 2020) gained world-wide attention in 2012 after her mother began to give her CBD oil in an attempt to prevent seizures caused by her Dravet syndrome. It’s been claimed that she went from having 300 seizures a week, to 2-3 per month after supplementing with CBD made from a low THC strain of marijuana called "Hippie’s Disappointment", which would later be renamed “Charlottes Web”.
Figi quickly became the young face of the medical cannabis movement, prompting CNN to make a documentary featuring her in 2013 titled, WEED – A CNN Special Report by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, in which Gupta states the concept of cannabis prohibition is “based on lies''. In November of 2019, Figi became the first child to be featured on a cover of High Times.
America is in a state of constant evolution. Sometimes things progress in a positive manner, and sometimes they don't. It's up to each and every one of us—as American citizens—to continually challenge the modern authoritarian paradigm and to defend the concept of freedom (for all) that this nation was built on. Such work requires persistence, communication, education, and love—none of which are as inherently easy as they may seem. Thanks for reading!