Sue Taylor explains how to engage seniors to fight for medical marijuana at our 2015 Leadership Summit.
In 1996 about a quarter of Americans supported marijuana legalization and about a quarter supported same-sex marriage. That year the Defense of Marriage Act was signed to stop marriage equality and California passed the first medical marijuana initiative. Based on that trajectory, you would think that cannabis would be legal in far more states than gay marriage but the majority of states will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and I can only legally vaporize in four.
Here’s what the LGBT movement did right over the last two decades that is keeping cannabis in the closet.
You Have to Come Out, REALLY
Like cannabis consumption for the last eighty years, the lives of LGBT people were hidden away from the public. How did we go from just a quarter of Americans supporting marriage equality to a majority? A big part of that puzzle were LGBT people across the world coming out to their friends and family. We now have seven openly gay members of Congress; Annise Parker, the first openly gay mayor of a major city; and Ellen DeGeneres now in her 12th season of daytime TV.
It’s now time for cannabis consumers to come out to their friends and family. If you’d like to live in a world where we don’t fire epileptics for using cannabis to control their seizures, then you’ve got to come out to moms about marijuana. Our friends at Green Flower Media are helping cannabis consumers come out with their “Coming Out Green” campaign to end the social stigma.
You Have to Raise REAL Money
The LGBT movement benefits from having some very wealthy individual & corporate backers. With 72% of Democrats supporting same-sex marriage, we can now require support for marriage equality from all democratic primary candidates. Remember that the majority of Democrats also support marijuana legalization but the existing activist organizations don’t drive enough political donations to flip candidates over to our side. If you’d like a new industry, you’ve got to pay for it and we’re simply not raising nearly enough funds to legalize marijuana.
When the political fundraising process isn’t working then other systems will fill that power vacuum. In Ohio they’ve found ten companies to donate $2 million each to legalize and regulate marijuana. I applaud any effort that gets medicine to patients and stops marijuana arrests, BUT it’s pretty sad that the only way to fund that is by promising those ten companies a monopoly on marijuana production.
You Have to Understand Your Opponents REAL Objections
We all live in our own bubbles and when you enter the marijuana industry, you tend to lose touch with people who object to marijuana use. I challenge you to find your most anti-drug friend and keep them close because they are the market research you need to convince anyone like them. I’m often surprised that the issues I think the rest of America has with cannabis consumption are more nuanced.
I was explaining to my conservative friend about how we want to legalize public consumption of marijuana in private venues to normalize cannabis consumption and provide a safer alternative to alcohol. She said she objected to public consumption because she didn’t want to fail a drug test from being near people consuming cannabis. She had been seriously misinformed about how much marijuana smoke would need to be in a room for her to get high from it. I would have had no idea that this was a talking point we needed to cover unless I had asked my most anti-drug friend first.
The One REAL Difference: Who Gets Paid for the Status Quo?
Allowing gay couples to adopt and marry provides more jobs & tax revenue. Gay marriage boosted NYC’s economy $259 million in the first year alone. Apart from revenue collected from marriage licenses, the bulk of this economic boost came from wedding receptions being held at venues such as hotels and restaurants across the city. Besides the “conversion therapy” centers, there are few people making a living by discriminating against LGBT people. (Never heard of conversion therapy? Ranging from chemical castration with hormonal treatments to counseling, these treatments were meant to make you straight. Conversion therapists were the first group to send me hate mail when I launched a Gay-Straight alliance at my high school.)
The drug war is another enterprise, employing thousands and deploying millions in federal funding across the world. It has become increasingly apparent that the drug war is racially biased and perversely incentivized, leading to the harassment of communities of color. Police can also use civil asset forfeitures to seize the cash & property of suspects and its up to the suspects to prove their innocence to get their property back (it’s guilty until proven innocent for anyone suspected of drugs). We don’t even have time to get into the millions of people in our for-profit correctional system, so I’ll let Vox explain…