With the election of Donald Trump as president, it seems clearer each day that the cannabis industry and the marijuana movement may be facing down some tough times ahead. Just when things seem their darkest, that’s when we all need to band together and push harder than ever to bring cannabis liberation to as much of America as we can.
This Thanksgiving weekend, however, as I ponder the future that awaits, I’m beginning to feel a sense of optimism wash over me. In a Trump/Pence/Sessions Administration, perhaps we are bestowed with an opportunity to flex our political muscle. Maybe President Obama’s casual indifference to our progress has softened us, made us complacent, and allowed us to place promised of profit over the pleas of the powerless.
I traveled recently to Columbia, Missouri, for their statewide cannabis conference. On Halloween weekend, I was in Dallas, Texas, for their city marijuana march. It’s in those red states where people still get cuffed and stuffed over residue amounts of marijuana that I get the most satisfaction from my work. These people fight for patients’, veterans’, children’s, and adults’ right to use cannabis as a medicine or marijuana as a supplement. They’ve got their flower aficionados, their extract experts, their medibles makers, just as any cannabis community does.
But one way in which they differ from the communities out West is that the ominous presence of active marijuana prohibition binds them together in a way I feel we’ve lost amid our Green Rush. They know it is the cops, courts, clerics, clinicians, and Congress that are the enemy forces we battle, not each other. Their problems are with predatory police vs. peaceful pot smokers, not capitalist cannabis corporations vs. empathetic medical marijuana mavens.
I’m thankful for all those die-hard red state marijuana activists in Missouri, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, and Idaho who’ve helped me recharge my activist batteries this year. Listening to Stoners Against Legalization in five states this year bitch about how an ounce isn’t enough or the taxes are too high or the licensing is too arduous really wore me down; getting to hang out with a free Jeff Mizanskey—who was doing life for pot until Missouri activists publicized his case and got him released—made it all better.
I’m thankful that we managed to get eight states—America’s entire Pacific and Alaska Time Zones!—legalized before an opposition administration got elected. If poor ol’ Colorado and Washington had to face off against AG Jeff Session by themselves, I wouldn’t feel very sanguine about legalization’s survival. I’m so grateful our local activists ignored national calls to wait until 2016 so that we could pass legalization in Oregon in 2014, along with Alaska, and help prove that 2012 wasn’t a fluke.
I believe that had Oregon and Alaska and DC not joined Colorado and Washington just two years later, we would not have seen five more states voting on legalization in 2016. I think it would have been just California and Oregon voting in 2016, maybe along with Massachusetts and Maine, but I don’t think Nevada and Arizona would have taken their shot in 2016.
I’m thankful for Dr. Sanjay Gupta and the emergence of clinical acceptance of medical uses for whole plant cannabis. Thankful that Texas’ little Alexis Bortell in Colorado has gone over 500 days without a seizure thanks to cannabis oil, and that she’s pushing people to understand that THC is needed with CBD as well. Thankful that Texas’ Barbara Humphries beat her breast cancer and is becoming a powerful public speaker and Dabbin’ Adam has kicked the opiates thanks to cannabis and has become a respected leader in Texas activism. Thankful that Cathy Jordan can now treat her ALS with cannabis legally in Florida.
Today is what they call “Black Friday” because when everybody storms the retailers for Christmas shopping, it’s the first day the stores “go in the black” profit-wise. It’s a bit like the feeling one can have being in the middle of this Green Rush as everybody seeks to become the next Warren Buffett of Buds, Bill Gates of Ganja, and Mark Cuban of Cannabis.
The money is nice, the business is great, and the herb is fantastic—but never lose sight of the reason we fight for this plant has little to do with horticulture, medication, spirituality, or recreation, and everything to do with personal cognitive liberty and bodily sovereignty. I’m thankful we live in a country where we can still fight for that.