With the departure of Marc Emery to a foreign prison - for political reasons no less - advocates for sensible drug policy have come to a fork in the road. On one hand, the DEA and the United States government could have just achieved the biggest victory since the UN ‘Single Convention on Narcotics’, and that was over 50 years ago. On the other hand, however, 'The Prince of Pot' may very well have given the United States government precisely enough rope with which to hang itself.
As we have seen from the Bush administrations other policies, inflammatory war rhetoric coupled with poorly planned and executed actions are a recipe for disaster. 'Dubya' told enraged Jihadists "bring it on", and displayed similar stupidity in going after the two people who can mobilize and unite drug reformers: Tommy Chong, and Marc Emery.
From Saskatoon correctional in 2003 Emery gave one of the great humanist statements of all time, summarizing the spirit of civil disobedience:
"It is the height of moral conscience to refuse to obey an unjust law. To obey an unjust law is to give credence to its oppressive power. To obey a law that punishes where no crime exists is to surrender to tyranny and, by acquiescence, endorsing the oppression.
The only righteous place for this kind of man is the jail cell. He must break the bad law openly and without apology, and without any victim but the pride of the state, it will be soon apparent to all that an injustice has taken place. Gradually, eventually, a crisis in the public confidence occurs, and in this vacuum, in this opportunity, change will come."
In its simplest form it is referred to as the ‘as if’ principle. Rosa Parks sat at the front of the bus, and in doing so was living ‘as if’ segregation was already abolished. Harvey Milk lived ‘as if’ he was equal to a straight person, even if the law did not consider him so.
The cannabis user must live ‘as if’ prohibition has been abolished. They must break the law in the same way that White Americans and African Americans did in the cannabis-friendly jazz clubs of the 1930’s. They too acted ‘as if’, ignoring both the new hysteria surrounding cannabis as well as racial prejudice. As far as they were concerned they were not hurting anyone, and in fact people were brought together as a result of this act of highly moral ‘criminal’ behavior.
Marc’s extradition is the beginning of the end for drug prohibition. California has introduced a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana use and cultivation. Many states have decriminalized simple possession, and above the static nonsense that is our modern media a call for both fiscal and moral responsibility with regards to cannabis is beginning to gain traction.
At the same time that America finally begins to move forward, Canada takes a huge step back. The government has introduced mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes, desperate to fight against the renewed opposition to cannabis prohibition.
People fight hardest when their back is against the wall. This is why it is more important than ever to overgrow this government. The breaking point is almost upon us.
What can you do?
-Come out of the closet. Look to the gay rights movement for inspiration on how to overcome social stigma and systematic oppression.
-Plant the seeds of freedom in public places. When people see that cannabis is simply a plant, the illusions become far less manageable for the government to maintain.
-Write letters to the editor. Local papers, university papers, national papers, hit them all with polite and well reasoned arguments against Marc Emery’s extradition, cannabis prohibition, and the influence of fundamentalist Christianity on our government. Always remember to fact-check and get a friend to proofread, as you will be held up as representative of the entire movement.
-Organize a local activist group. Begin with protests at your MP’s office, or stand at a busy intersection handing out literature and educating local people about cannabis prohibition. This is important particularly in small rural towns with Conservative MP’s. The revolution will begin and end where oppression is at its strongest. The resistance must be stronger.
-Get out in the media. Call local papers and news channels before protests. Try to debate your MP into a corner in front of reporters (it’s not difficult). Call into radio shows.
-Get involved in the political process. Seek the nomination of your local Green, NDP, Marijuana, or Libertarian party. Attend all candidates debates and ask quality questions about drug policy of the candidates.
And most importantly... VOTE! Most truly intelligent people realize our political system has been bought and sold by special interest groups, and therefore don’t bother voting. If the NDP has a real chance of winning, vote for and assist them. Same goes for the Liberals(but let them know you only support them because you want the Conservatives out). If not, support your local Green party candidate. The Green party of Canada is the only mainstream party with legalization of cannabis in their platform.