Life as a Marijuana Activist

legalization_pollFollowing the decision by Colorado voters to legalize adult-use marijuana in November of 2012, we’ve seen similar victories in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Michigan and others states. To many outside observers, these recent successes appear to have come over night. But this is not the case. These changes have been decades in the making and cannot be attributed to any one specific person or campaign.

For years, marijuana activists have worked tirelessly to lay the foundation for future legalization efforts in this country. From the early days of employing civil disobedience tactics such as public smoke-outs and regular protests, to a more modern approach of meeting with elected officials through citizen lobbying efforts, marijuana activists are the workhorses in the fight to end the prohibition of marijuana. We are the boots on the ground.

Of course this level of commitment eventually takes its toll. Being a marijuana activist can be extremely draining, both mentally and physically. In addition to the constant scrutiny from friends and family, we often risk losing our job, housing and in some cases, custody of our children. Regardless of the many risks we face, we continue to fight another day, even with no guarantee of what the outcome may be — essentially risking our freedom to challenge over 70 years of oppressive marijuana laws.

We wake up each day motivated by the hope of changing the unjust laws our country has embraced for so many years. We strive to bring justice to the thousands of Americans who have lost almost everything for a simple possession charge, and the families that have been ripped apart because a desperate mother tried to provide her child relief through medical marijuana.

Marijuana activists in every state dedicate countless hours to advocating for marijuana reforms on the local, state and federal level. They are constantly educating our communities, building coalitions and planning the next step. Like a game of Chess, every decision is calculated. With doubtful community leaders and skeptical politicians, the tiniest misstep can quickly become a roadblock for future conversations about marijuana reform.

Some of these activities may sound risky and not very glamorous. Nonetheless, marijuana activist will continue to be the driving force behind any success effort to reform our country’s marijuana laws. Whether through a citizen-led initiative or a legislative effort, marijuana activists are taking action into their own hands to end the senseless war against a plant and the American people. So to marijuana activists past, present and future, thank you for your sacrifices and continued dedication to ending the prohibition of marijuana on the local, state and federal level.

If you’re interested in changing marijuana laws in your community, there are several ways you can get involved. From working with our national team to organize a new group of passionate marijuana law reform advocates in your community, to using our online Action Center to engage your elected officials, NORML is here to assist you with your efforts. 2019 is already shaping up to be a historic year for marijuana reforms so make sure your voice is heard by joining NORML today!

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13 thoughts

    1. Kevin, this was one of the best pieces I’ve ever read about being an activist. After 46 years as a Cannabis activist in one of the worst places to be such, I can verify every word that you have written.

      I never intended to spend my whole life working for a plant. But once you’re an activist, you will always be an activist. Something will happen that pisses you off to the core and the next thing you know, you’re figuring out how to do a major task without enough people or money. You watch as not one of the 10 people who volunteered to help actually shows up. And somehow, you keep going.

  1. I salute everyone who is involved in trying to end marijuana prohibition!

    It is my opinion that those involved are the most American among us – The Freedom Fighters!

    I tend to view those that oppose our freedoms and the right to consume a plant with obvious medical properties, both mental and physical, as being no better than the Taliban.

  2. Thank you Kevin for your thoughtful accolades. Guess its fairly obvious the regulars posting here are all activists. I like to believe that at least once every post, theres a reader here that took that first brave step and wrote their address, name and perhaps even number into a Take Action link and perhaps even personalized the script to their Congressman.

    Ive been writing my Congressman from this website for years and the gustapos never kicked my door down. Do it. We are in charge of our Congressman, not the other way around. And if you don’t believe me dress up suit and tie and go look’m in the eye. And if any of’m dont like it they can roll me up and smoke me when I die. 🙂

  3. Two part question: Do activists get support from NORML or elsewhere to lobby?

    And, hypothetically, if I have no friends, family, job, or housing to scrutinize me now, would you be able to help me if I could help you as an activist?

    [Editor’s note: Citizens who want to lobby their elected representatives and/or want to be local activists for cannabis law reform should contact a local NORML chapter.]

  4. Ending 70 years of cannabis prohibition should not require an amendment like it did for alcohol. Conscientious Objection has been evident in a system of oppression that has led to the largest enslaved population on the earth. Our world need to embrace cannabis, not run from a truth long buried by intolerance and cultural indifference.

  5. Ok. I want do something constructive here in Western NC but am having a hard time finding other activists. I tried joining the local NORML chapter in Asheville a couple of years ago. The website accepted my donation but I never received any acknowledgment nor responses to email and voicemails I left. I concluded that the local chapter is completely disorganized.

    I do make a monthly contribution to DPA. I admire the work they’re doing but they currently have no activity in NC. Last time I checked, MPP was also inactive in NC.

    Any suggestions for connecting with local advocacy groups? Google isn’t turning up anything that looks promising.

    Michael Ellis
    Weaverville NC

  6. In all my years of supporting Norml and other groups i am amazed at the stupidity of our representatives here in N.Y. In a recent responce from Senator Liz Krueger, i was amazed to hear that there was a new Finance Committee Chair and, that there was no clear indication as to this newly appointed stand on S-1747. It is further frustrating that in my county there are no representatives willing to support this Bill. I realize that this is an election year yet, i am finding that no one seems to care about “bucking” Cuomo. I have been critical of him and to his blatant disregard for majority of voters who are telling him to produce or get out. Seemingly, most i have spoken with are supporting the idea that his next term will not happpen. Personally, i, in part attribute his rejection as to legalization as corrupt, as he is aligned with Bloomberg and Pharmaceutical conglomerates. The one option i am considering as a possible solution is to force Ballot referendums in place. My only concern is how to avoid a split vote.

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