By Debby Goldsberry
Thank you, HIGH TIMES! I am honored to accept the nomination as the Freedom Fighter of the Year for 2011 – 2012.
The title of HIGH TIMES Freedom Fighter is bestowed to the nation’s best activists, who are recognized each month for their outstanding leadership in cannabis reform. And, every year for 20 years, the magazine has bestowed their highest activist honor, the HIGH TIMES Freedom Fighter of the Year award, to those ready to wear the tri-cornered hat and lead the troops to victory.
With this award comes responsibility. Steve Hager, longtime HIGH TIMES editor and Freedom Fighter founder, expects a lot from those chosen. Liberty does not come without struggle, and the ranks of the Freedom Fighters are full of champions. Past Freedom Fighters, including Roger Belknap from West Virginia, Dale Gieringer – founder of CA NORML, Valarie Corral of WAMM, and federal medical cannabis patient activist Elvy Musikka, set a standard of excellence that will be challenging to match.
Founded in the late 1980’s, the Freedom Fighters were best known for rallying the cannabis troops to end prohibition. A group of psychedelic revolutionary soldiers, complete with a full band, singers, and dancers, no one had a better school bus than the HIGH TIMES Freedom Fighters, and Roger Belknap’s teepee kept many a weary activist safe and at home, wherever the group was at the time. I hope to continue to support this original dedication to our counterculture roots, and fully support peace, love, and music. Hemp can save the planet!
My first month as Freedom Fighter of the Year was spent co-chairing the San Jose referendum campaign, and assisting the medical cannabis community and UFCW Local 5 reach victory over a repressive local law. On September 27, 2011, the San Jose City Council passed an ordinance requiring all medical cannabis collectives to close in 30 days. If we had allowed it to be implemented, this would have cut 1,200 jobs, driven patients back to the underground market, and stopped the influx of $300,000 per month into the city coffers.
Activists in San Jose only had 30 days to collect 30,000 voter signatures to block immediate implementation. Our organization, the Citizens Coalition for Patients Care, was successful, and even gathered 50,000 signatures to make sure we had enough. We raised $200,000 dollars to accomplish this task, and registered more than 7,000 local voters. Now, we are working hard to get the City Council to repeal and replace these regulations with a viable ordinance.
Since the Revolutionary War and the founding of our nation, citizens have assumed an essential role in democracy. Often, voters are called upon not just to elect our officials but also to create, and then implement, laws and regulations. This is especially true with medical cannabis and cannabis in general. With the federal government threatening to arrest City Councils and their staff, it is essential that cannabis Freedom Fighters step into this leadership void and create the rules that change cannabis laws across the United States.
I am excited to lead the HIGH TIMES Freedom Fighters through the next year, which will be a watershed year for the cannabis reform movement. This year, we assume fully our role in the system of “checks and balances,” and, with voter support, we will implement laws in San Jose and across the nation that change the approach to this issue in a manner that is safe, professional, and beneficial to our communities.
To succeed we need your help, so dust off your psychedelic activist gear, get a drum, a tri-cornered hat, and join me to both protest and to enact the laws that lead us forward.
You can find me on Facebook by searching Debby Goldsberry, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. See you there!