The world is SAFER because of my friend Jared Allaway, a marijuana activist and an all around nice guy. After reading “Marijuana Is Safer; So Why Are We Driving People To Drink?” he was inspired to do something for the cannabis conversation, so he started giving away t-shirts with a simple statement stating Marijuana Is Safer Than Alchohol.
I became aware of Jared because of his activist antics of standing on the street corner wearing a sandwich board with the message “Marijuana Is Safer Than Alcohol” and post the location on Facebook, and that was it. He only was trying to share a message that would start a bigger conversation.
Jared has always been a part of the Washington State legalization effort for a long time, from petitioning to marching; He would be there with his signs; funded out of his pocket. During the beginning of his activism, Jared worked as a corporate occupational safety inspector, and marijuana activist/ consumer Jared was involved in things ranging from the Hanford Nuclear clean-up to Aerospace safety, and throughout this whole time, he did his job. There is no money in activism, only the satisfaction of doing what’s right.
Jared never hid his employment, which was quite important in the industrial world. As a consumer of cannabis and employee, he got the job done. Many active users of cannabis wish they could speak out with “I’m not that stigma, I’m not that stereotype. We are not all Spicoli!”
There were two reasons why I’ve always thought of Jared as a powerful voice: One; the message is on point. Eventually, he would add other things like “Marijuana Is Safer than pointed sticks,” “Marijuana is Safer than big pharma” and my favorite “Cannabis is less racist than Marijuana,” but regardless of the message, it has always been on point. Secondly, he didn’t hide. Throughout his activism, Jared has remained himself, not hiding behind a mask or fake name but in a t-shirt or sandwich board.
The importance of out of the closet activism is enormous, this is not to dismiss the keyboard activist or the person that solely makes donations, the moral question is not how much are you giving but if you are.
Marijuana activism has cost jobs in the professional world. Companies want government contracts and the government has only one policy “Just Say No.” Apparently, when it comes to policy, it is ruled by prisons and police because that’s the only thing the drug war has helped.
What America has been doing is a cancer on itself, a blemish that won’t go away until it’s addressed, the drug war has been a slow poison killing communities with tyranny and jail. What we’re doing now to prevent addiction is not a cure for addiction, but a beer one drinks when they have a hangover. Legalization can and will help correct the thing we are/were afraid of that is happening anyway, in the form of the opioid epidemic.
It’s not easy being a voice and some need to be more recognized than others because they have helped change the conversation. A lot of people don’t like what Jared’s project has evolved into, on his Instagram and other social media women and men send him photos of themselves wearing the t-shirts or panties, some are sexier than others, but in my eyes, every single one of them is beautiful for standing behind the message. Sexuality goes a long way in changing the world, that’s just how our world works. I always make jokes that I would love to be his inbox.
What Jared has started inspires others across America. First, there’s the local (Washington) effort known as SAFER STENCILS. Available to order and some for free are stencils, so people can create their shirts, to give away as Jared has done. His efforts have even helped shape the efforts of Veteran Dave Wisniewski who helped create SAFER Arizona. Jared has shipped shirts to Canada, England, Africa, Israel, China, Malaysia, Australia, and Mexico, all in the name of spreading the SAFER message. Presently as Mexico evolves, it’s policies Jared has been supplying Amy Case King, an activist in Mexico, T-shirts to help spread the word.
People wearing SAFER shirts are like a Where’s Waldo of marijuana activism. They have been seen at U.N.G.A.S.S (United Nations General Assembly On The World Drug Problem), a Bernie Sanders rally, plus it’s a goal to get a pot celebrity to wear one like Jodie Emery, Coral Reefer, Tommy Chong, and Willie Nelson to name a few. The thinking is the more that promote this message; the more people will understand this to be common sense.
Another offshoot from Jared’s efforts has been the M.I.S.T.A Facebook pages, the term being said like a small child chasing a man with something to sell “Mista! Mista”, the term was coined by Washington State activist Cat Jeter. The groups are just another place where people who believe in legalization and common sense can share information and support one another.
I’ve known Jared for awhile now; our first encounter was a smoke where he gave me a copy of the book that inspired him. We occasionally sit down for a beer now. We’re not against alcohol; we just want a common sense approach that could stop the madness that is going on today. Where the sick don’t have the option to treat themselves, where people are growing old in jail over something that is presently sold recreationally in four states and our nation’s capitol, and where families aren’t being destroyed not because of the plant but because of a flawed law.
WN: Are you in affiliation with any other activist groups?
Jared: I’ve worked with many groups. I wish I could go to more cannabis meetings, but one needs time and gasoline. I’m about 30 minutes south of Seattle. I’ve worked with Sensible Washington when they were trying to remove all penalties for possession, use, cultivation, and distribution for everyone 18 and older. I also worked with Sensible Washington when they were trying to make marijuana lowest enforcement priority in Bellingham, Everett, Kent, Bremerton, Olympia, and Spokane. I’ve worked with some other organizations like Cannabis Child Protection Act which sought to protect children from the effects of the cannabis economy by bringing the market out into the open where we can check I.D. and reduce the number of high schoolers looking to sell marijuana at inflated black-market prices as a career. I’ve also worked with Real Legalization which seeks to bring Washington cannabis policy more in alignment with what voters imagined they were doing when they voted yes on 502. Voters thought they were getting legalization, but anyone applying to grow marijuana recreationally will have their information submitted to Federal Law enforcement. Real Legalization would have removed license requirements for small home grows, allowing anyone 21 or older to grow 15 plants without having to apply for a license or pay any fees.
WN: I imagine the book Marijuana Is Safer, So Why Are We Driving People To Drink inspired the simple message but what inspired you to giveaway Safer shirts, stencils and now panties?
Jared: After I read the book, Marijuana is Safer so why are we Driving People to Drink? It just seemed so obvious to me. “Why didn’t I think of this before?” went through my head after I read that book. “Why aren’t more people aware of this, and fighting to bring policy into alignment with science?” I started reading the book because I thought people getting punished for marijuana was stupid. I didn’t like the way low-income people might be talked into a plea bargain, putting a mark on their permanent record, all because they can’t afford a lawyer. This is very unfair. Low-income people putting a marijuana charge on their record are not going to be able to get education assistance, and they are not going to be able to get a good job.
WN: Do you have any other support financially other than donations?
Jared: I make the shirts myself. Generally, with the money, I have left over after I buy my coffee and Top Ramen. I buy shirts at Goodwill, paint at the craft store, and I make them and mail them to people.
In the past markets and other dispensaries have donated blank shirts for me to send out. People have helped by making their own shirts and distributing them to activists in their area. I make stencils, and mail them to people. Then they get their own shirts and paint on them. I call them Safer Shirt Parties. You can see some photos of Safer Shirt Parties here: Safer Facebook Website.
WN: How does one contact you to get an item?
Jared: People can get a hold of me on the Safer Shirt fan page. There are a lot of messages that people have tried to send to me through the page, but I have not responded yet. There are a million people who want a shirt and I can’t make them fast enough.
WN: So far I’ve seen your shirts have been seen on one Discovery Channel’s Weed Wars and a rap video, have you seen them pop up in other places you didn’t expect?
Jared: I’ve been seeing Safer Shirts pop up all over the place. I Kind of knew that it was going to be on Weed Wars because I communicate with Mike Boutin from Cannabis Nation Radio quite regularly. I mailed one to a guy who got a photo of himself next to Cannabis Cheri which was really cool. I need to mail one to Cheri though. I was kind of Surprised when I saw Kitty from Sacred Plant medicine wearing her Safer Shirt in a story about medicated tea in The Northwest Leaf.
I knew the Safer Shirt was going to appear in a rap video. I gave a shirt to the Producer James Joung first. Then he said he wanted to give one to one of his artists (MotaMouth Jones) and so I got it ready for him, and he told me it was going to be in a video. I thought Real One Reefer Madness was going to wear it in a music video, or on stage at an event. If he has, I have not yet seen the video.
WN: Any thing you would like to plug before we end this conversation?
Thanks for all you’ve done Jared, its people like you that have influenced and encouraged others to speak out which is important when trying to change the world.