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Will Infighting Doom The Marijuana Movement?


Cant We All Just Get A BongDoes The Marijuana Movement Need To Be More United?

‘Can’t we all just get along?’ The marijuana movement has made tremendous strides over the last decade. There are more states pushing for decriminalization than ever before, Governor’s are now fighting for re-scheduling, legalization efforts are underway in several states. In many ways, things look very bright. However, sometimes I can’t help but wonder if it could be even better.

I am on several pro-marijuana e-mail lists across the nation, I blog and read other marijuana blogs like it was my sole purpose in life, and as a result I read a tremendous amount of ‘chatter.’ There is a lot of disagreement out there as to what marijuana policy reform should include and how it should be pursued by activists. I once wrote an article ‘When Will Marijuana Be Legal?‘ and I got some heat from some readers stating that marijuana legalization shouldn’t come off the backs of medical marijuana patients. That prompted a follow up article called ‘Should Medical Cannabis Patients Fight For Recreational Marijuana Legalization?

I personally liked the criticism. It facilitates conversation so that others can comment back and hopefully at the end we can all find some areas to agree on. However, it highlights some of the issues that this article talks about. There are some people that want full marijuana legalization, no limits or regulation, and they refuse to support anything short of that. Other marijuana activists want some regulation, but how much is too much is always at the center of that debate. How does the marijuana movement, medical and recreational, come together and unite all of the factions into one coalition in order to rock the vote?

I have received a lot of e-mails about this topic the last two years that I have been posting on TWB. There are a lot of recreational marijuana users out there that complain about the medical marijuana community closing the door behind them after they got their legal status. On the flip side, medical marijuana patients believe it’s about compassion for those that need medical marijuana, and that recreational legalization will hurt their cause. Look at Washington State for an example of that.

For that matter, look at just about any state that is actively pursuing marijuana reform. There are likely multiple efforts going on, and rather than a coalition of efforts fighting for one goal, there are a handful of little efforts going on that aren’t as successful. Is there a way that all of those efforts could unite? Is there a way that we can all look at what we all want that’s the same, try for that, and then proceed from there? Because it seems like a lot of marijuana activists out there don’t understand that it’s going to take all of us to overwhelm our opponents. There are power in numbers, but not if the numbers are divided by three or four.

I’m in no way saying that one effort is better than another. In fact, I think loyal readers of this blog will attest that I support just about every kind of marijuana reform possible. Decriminalization, rescheduling, medical, legalization, etc. Politics is an incremental game, and big changes are hard to do. I think that if we pursue all avenues in a united front, we will be more likely to succeed one area at a time, one election at a time. However, if we all throw mud at each other not only does nothing get done in the end, but it makes life easier for our opponents.


About Author

Johnny Green


  1. it’s interesting that there are those in the “patient” community that think that marijuana should not be fully legalized “off their backs”. They have it all backwards. They have benefited from all the recreational users and all the “drug dealers” who for years have fought the lies of the government prohibition and their agents. Without them the door to medicinal use would have never been opened. But the issue is more than just their medical needs and preferences for drugs other than those on big pharma’s menu (and that’s what it is, a matter of medical preference). The issue is about government deciding how and with what substances adult citizens will be allowed to entertain themselves with. We know what government interference in private decisions such as this brought about ( a criminal class and violence) with alcohol prohibition. Full legalization of the private use of marijuana by adult citizens is the only correct answer in a free and civil nation.

  2. Good comments. It’s a tough issue. I want to see complete legalization for anyone over 18, but this DUI issue is scary. Also, if the law does not allow for personal grows, then I too could not support it.

  3. My apologies to all the rest of you on the site, but muzzylu, can you just shut the fuck up and quit peddling shit in the middle of a political activist conversation. You’re just an idiot taking up our oxygen….and you’re exactly the problem….not the solution, in case you haven’t figured that out already. My guess is that you’ve heard this before….from numerous people:-)

  4. There’s simply no question about the fact that we’re a herd of cats. The only thing that we really all have in common is our sense of individuality. I used to think that this is was a bad thing and doomed us to failure. Then one day I was waxing philosophical and it dawned on me that the reason that prohibition can’t ever work is precisely because of this character trait. Were we not who we are we simply wouldn’t exist because we’d have knuckled under instead of refusing to suffer the injustice of prohibition and there wouldn’t be any reform movement. Frankly I’m OK with the fact that we’ll never totally agree. I really hate conformists and it would suck to be one. I have confidence that we’ll get there in due time. If they were going to beat us, we’d be long beaten.
    Q) How many prohibitionists does it take to change a lightbulb?

    A) None. Changing the bulb would be surrender. With enough effort we can make the old one work the way it’s supposed to.

  5. In Aldous Huxley’s book “Brave New World” he so eloquently put forth that we are the sum total of our life’s experiences, or conditioning.
    The powers that be have conditioned a large % of the population, through media propaganda, and because I said so laws. Changing that perception back to base line truth is easier said than done. It is a daunting task, being that corporate owned mainstream media propaganda is still firmly intrenched in status quo business arrangements. H.R. 1983 changes scheduling all the way from I to III or lower. The bought and paid for congress that now occupies the white house will never go for a federal rescheduling until the majority is medical marijuana states that can force the change.

    Therefore what Mr. Green is saying makes sense, in the grand scheme of things.

  6. Either marijuana should be legalized, like tobacco and alcohol, or it should be put way down on the drug schedule list. Now it is schedule 1 along with heroin! Very dopey.
    Great e-book on medical marijuana: MARIJUANA – Guide to Buying, Growing, Harvesting, and Making Medical Marijuana Oil and Delicious Candies to Treat Pain and Ailments by Mary Bendis, Second Edition. This book has great recipes for easy marijuana oil, delicious Cannabis Chocolates, and tasty Dragon Teeth Mints. goo.gl/iYjPn goo.gl/Jfs61

  7. Like John Lennon said: “We all want to see the plan.” But when you go putting forward new pot laws that actually set us back (DUI, 21 age limits, taxes, plant counting), instead of just erasing the bad pot laws we are currently saddled with… “All I can tell you is brother you’ll have to wait.”
    We just want to see the jailings and the war end. Period. Lets achieve that first and go from there. Hows that for incremental-ism? But this nonsense about “legalizing” up to an ounce with a zillion strings attached is not helping anyone and is a misdirection from the real problems.
    By the way, Mr. Green, people are arguing and that’s the way it is in a democracy. In the real world the good guys don’t wear white hats and the bad guys don’t wear black hats. Everyone who says they are your friend isn’t. (But strangers do have the best candy.)
    So instead of whining why don’t you advocate for a solution you believe in. Maybe you agree with the Wall Street Hedge fund guys who think it should be taxed and regulated like alcohol. Maybe you agree with the California grass roots patients who think it should be $15 a ounce (not taxed) and grown by anyone anywhere for anyone anywhere with the approval of any doctor anywhere. Maybe you think it should be rescheduled and sold in drug stores with a doctor’s prescription. Personally I think everyone should stop arguing and do it my way.
    Lets just get behind the Barney Frank Bill, H.R 1983.

  8. “Because it seems like a lot of marijuana activists out there don’t understand that it’s going to take all of us to overwhelm our opponents. There are power in numbers, but not if the numbers are divided by three or four.”
    “How does the marijuana movement, medical and recreational, come together and unite all of the factions into one coalition in order to rock the vote?”
    “Politics is an incremental game, and big changes are hard to do.”
    “However, if we all throw mud at each other not only does nothing get done in the end, but it makes life easier for our opponents.”

    Sorry for all the quotes. I’m just trying to get a handle on how you think.
    So, this is how I would sum up they way you think; Incremental politics is good. All sides have valid arguments. Saying anything negative about a particular school of thought is counterproductive. So, passing all pro-legalization laws are good.

    I tried to logically poke holes in your way of thinking. At the conclusion of all the arguments, I had with myself, I ultimately had to yield to your way of thinking.

    Nice article!
    Thanks Mr. Green

  9. You posed the question, ‘Does the marijuana movement need to be more united?’ and so far all of the responses favor the Medical cannabis as the beginning or the “on-ramp” to the highway of legalization. I don’t see the disagreement among these comments. People like Steve and Clark are concerned that legalization at this point will lead to higher costs and other problems. It is possible.

    California has not been able to shy away from street prices.. do you know what it costs to produce a gram? We are doing it here in Israel for ~70 cents! This low cost of production is reflected to the patient as they are paying about $3.30/gram here.

    This among many other things needs to happen in MMJ states before any push towards full legalization. Incremental steps and patience man, we will see legalization in our lifetime.

  10. To be clear, I am saying that the current state of marijuana policy in america is bad. Can we all agree on that? If so, lets change it. that seems to be the only thing the movement can agree on. From there its nothing but fighting, which is exactly what opponents want. The comments ive read so far illustrate the point im making. You guys act like im endorsing one initiative when im not. You guys are trying to take my questions and give a sky is falling scenario and acting like thats what I want, and its not. how about we just argue and keep things the way they are, which it sounds like some of you want. How is that ok? If my opinions are wrong then so be it, but I personally think fighting with each other and maintaing the status quo is wrong.

  11. Here are my thoughts.

    For now, focus on recognition of the medical benefits of cannabis — nationwide. How can you propose full legalization when the Federal government of the USA will not even allow unbiased research to occur within its borders?

    Check out Kibbutz Na’an in Israel — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0VG3prgCDc — the video is in Hebrew with English subs. They are CURRENTLY conducting an clinical trial at a geriatrics (old folks) home, fully licensed and supported by the Israeli Ministry of Health. So far the program has been a huge success with each of the 14 patients having dropped 4-5 medications from their daily regimen. Medical cannabis is also notably improving the quality of their lives.

    As soon as trials like this happen in the United States, it will be in clear in the public eye that the cannabis plant has serious contributions to offer medicine. Cannabis will be legalized for medical consumption across the nation.

    AFTER and only AFTER the medical benefits of cannabis are realized by the public will a push for full legalization be taken seriously and have a chance to succeed. Sometimes being impatient can cause more harm than good, and this is one of those cases. We, as lovers of cannabis know how good of a plant it is. We acknowledge its brilliant 32 million year evolution and 6000 year history as a medicine. The general public, however is blind to the truth due to the suppression of fair and public cannabis research.

    If you know any entrepreneurs, movers and shakers, successful dispensary owners or what have you, talk to them about partnering with an open-minded geriatrics facility with open minded (non-Alzheimer’s / dementia [aka those who are ‘all there’ and are willing to take part]) patients in a medical cannabis friendly state, and make a documentary, conduct your own clinical trial and SELL it to the media.

    This is how you end prohibition, by undoing it the way it was created. It was created by falsified horror story after falsified horror story, it will be abolished by clinical success story after clinical success story. After the medical benefits are realized, the ground will crumble from beneath alcohol and tobacco, which both lack medical benefit and do just the opposite, and the Fed will be left to wallow in front of the public in its own stinking hypocrisy (momentarily before they affect change.)

    That is all.

  12. I think all sides would agree that rescheduling cannabis from one to two, is in everyones best interest.
    If your goal is incremental change, this should be the rallying point.

    I believe if this threshold was reached, the truths that would be self-evident, would change public opinion.

  13. “to endure several more decades of prohibition.” Wait a minute! You mean we can’t just repeal all the State Pot laws next year? You presume that the State will be willing and able to pay for this very expensive and increasingly unpopular and counter productive prohibition forevermore? That is a strong assumption. You also presume that the reasons for prohibition will continue to be valid for a long time to come? Hmmm?
    And you are ceding Steve Sarich’s point about DUI’s. He is correct, not just as a local medical user but also from the perspective of any user from either Washington or from out of State. A Texan pothead (for arguments sake medical but undiagnosed and self describing as recreational) visiting Washington State as a tourist could easily run into all kinds of problems under this proposed DUI statute. That’s not OK.
    Just because someone files an initiative and pays for signatures to qualify it does not make them the elected leader of this movement with the right to lead us off a cliff. DUI and taxes and the 21 age limit are coming from the alcohol model for legalization which is inappropriate for cannabis. Alcohol is a very dangerous drug and cannabis is the safest therapeutic substance known to man. Try the chamomile tea model or perhaps the coffee model if you want a better approach.
    In the meantime medical is the way to go. “Recreational use?” That dog can’t hunt!

  14. It’s easy. “All use is medical.” That includes those who self describe for whatever reasons as recreational or otherwise. This means that all pot laws are anti-medical user and need to be removed. It means that all funding for enforcement is used to target medical users and needs to be reallocated. It means that everyone in jail or prison or probation or in the criminal justice system for pot is medical and should be released immediately. It means that all cultivation and sales are medical and should be ignored by the state.
    Simple. Easy. And the electorate would agree right now.
    Does everyone need a doctor under this paradigm? No. You don’t need a doctor for aspirin or cough syrup or any number of other safe medications. And guess what? If someone wants to insist that they are using aspirin for recreational purposes, that’s OK. But it is still a medicine and the rest of us are unaffected by that person’s declaration.
    Insisting that “recreational use” of pot is some totally distinct and separate category is divisive and is used to justify the continuation of the entire prohibition apparatus.
    Get with the program: “All use is medical.”

  15. I appreciate your response Steve, lots of excellent points. I have to ask though, are you ready to endure several more decades of prohibition instead of trying to pursue smaller goals. I just feel like if its all or nothing, we will no doubt continue to get nothing. All the while the opposition is happy because they dont have to work as hard. I personally feel that some reform is better than no reform. I knew this article would stimulate conversation, and all opinions are welcomed!

  16. I guess the answer to your question is “NO”…..we can’t all just get along. I-502 here in Washington is supposedly a “legalization” bill. Unlike you, I will not accept “reform” or “legalization” unless you can clearly define these terms for me. According to your theory of incrementationalism, what should we be willing to give up in order to get this “incremental” change? There’s where the dividing line is drawn.

    I-502 has two key components that are non-starters for patients and should be non-starters for everyone, but that’s apparently not the case. There are still people that think like you do….legalization at ANY cost.

    I-502 would impose a DUI limit of 5 nanograms per millilter of THC in blood. I’m a legal patient and I have not medicated at all today. Right now I would test at 5 ng/ml or likely higher if I were pulled over. I’m fairly certain that I’m not intoxicated or impaired in any way. I can provide you with all of the testing that’s been done over the last 25 years that ALL concluded that you can’t determine intoxication by taking my blood. These include studies funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission.

    If this measure passes, every medical marijuana patient in Washington could be charged with a DUI every time they got behind the wheel, whether they’d medicated that day or not. Getting caught with an ounce of pot in Washington is a minor offense. In Seattle, they won’t even charge you. Getting charged with a DUI, on the other hand, will cost you (on average) $10,000 in attorney fees, fines and court costs. And under this law, you’ll have no defense to the charges…even if you weren’t impaired whatsoever. It gets far worse for the second and third offenses.

    The authors of the bill admit that there probably isn’t any scientific evidence to back up this DUI limit, but they’ve said that their polling indicated that they needed to add this to the bill to get enough votes to get it passed. (Actually they should have taken the backlash from medical marijuana patients into account in their polling as well….they might have rethought their position).

    How many rights are you willing to give up under your theory of incrementalism? Are you willing to go to jail for DUI whenever you drive….even though you aren’t impaired in any way? I’m pretty sure that the first time this happened to you, you’d be rethinking the wisdom of “legalization at any cost”. I kinda like to think ahead and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to see multiple DUI’s in my future.

    Oh…..and we aren’t finished!

    The “legal pot” will be sold in stores licensed by State Liquor Control Board. Using the tax scheduling taken directly from the bill, I calculated that if the grower was paid $150 per ounce, the retail price for the “legal pot” could easily be $700 an ounce….or more. The folks at New Approach Washington (the sponsors) did not challenge me on this calculation…they can’t. (and don’t even think about growing your own…that’s clearly a felony in this bill)

    Sooooo….are you ready for $700 per ounce pot? Is that your idea of “incremental legalization”? I certainly know that patients could never afford to pay that.

    Are you beginning to get the picture? Millions of people love coffee, but if Starbuck came out with a new frozen coffee drink called “Fecal Frappe”, even the most serious coffee lovers would shop elsewhere.

    The sponsors of this bill (NAW) are pathological liars. The Colorado medical cannabis program is run by the State Department of Revenue. The dispensaries are taxed to the hilt and watched like hawks. They reported tax revenues of $23 million dollars last year. The NAW (depending on the day) is claiming that I-502 will bring the state between $210-$300 million a year in tax revenues….from a state with roughly the same population as Colorado! They have refused numerous requests to show us how they came up with these incredible figures. But soon the press will start asking this rather embarrassing question.

    So there you have your answer. And “NO” we can’t just “unite” on this issue any more than we could drink a Fecal Frappe. We can’t just take the position that we will accept legalization “at any cost”. Be careful what you ask for….you might just get it. And the cost on this measure is certainly not one that logical people would agree to pay.

    Steve Sarich

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