One Plant, One People, One Fight, One Love

Isolationism between niche cannabis advocates is a death sentence in the age of Trump

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If we all banded together to legalize cannabis for all of us, every patient would have medicine and every farmer could grow hemp.

I continue to be perplexed by the hemp advocacy groups that still flee from any association with marijuana law reform advocacy.

I understand having a group that focuses on a specific mission, like industrial hemp, medical cannabis, or spiritual ganja.

What I don’t understand is excluding the group from any association with the broader focus of overall cannabis prohibition. It’s as if the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marines didn’t want to be lumped together as “the military,” wouldn’t engage in joint operations, and didn’t understand they were all fighting for the same country.

Why can’t hempsters grow hemp anywhere? Because marijuana is illegal.

Why do states that allow cultivation of hemp cap its THC content at 0.3%? Because marijuana is illegal.

Who’s fighting for marijuana to be legal? Marijuana law reform advocacy groups.

So why the isolationism? Why not support the groups that are attacking the very root of their problem?

Because hempsters maintain the same disdain and disapproval of marijuana use – at least publicly – as do the prohibitionists. They don’t want their pure industrial issue sullied by the hedonistic potheads. They implicitly support the framing of marijuana use that defines people who use it “just to get high” as somehow morally inferior.

So, publicly, they’re fine with letting us wither on the vine. They’re fine with us being arrested, properties seized, kids taken, and sometimes killed, because we’re just potheads getting high and they can’t deign to publicly support us because our cannabis has too much THC in it and we used it the wrong way and it would make them look bad.

Fine, then. Have it your way, hempsters. Keep pounding your “Rope Not Dope” rhetoric; after forty years of it, not a single US hemp farmer makes a profit, you finally have a few states where a couple of universities can cultivate a few <0.3% THC cultivars for “research” and you’ve created an awesome market for Canadian, European, and Chinese hemp products in America.

Go ahead, turn your back on 30,000,000 marijuana consumers who’d be your natural allies. You don’t need our votes and donations, do you?

Same goes for the “Patients Not Criminals” crowd who look down at us tokers because we don’t have a doctor’s permission slip that makes our cannabis use moral and deserving of empathy.

That separation of the pitiable patients from the contemptible potheads has only led to more stringent laws to keep those two groups separated. Their laws have gone from “patients grow for pennies a bunch of plants to smoke” to “expensive non-smokable forms of cannabinoid preparations from plants grown only by licensed business entities.” They took the miracle of homegrown medical marijuana and turned it into the familiar nightmare of pharmaceuticalization.

Go ahead, turn your back on the 80% of marijuana consumers who aren’t using it for medicine. You don’t need our votes and donations, do you?

Both these groups need to erase from their minds the stigma against recreational pot smoking that prohibition has cultured within them. Understand that there is just one plant – cannabis – and the reasons why and the ways in which we utilize it are irrelevant to the civil rights discussion at hand.

Besides, they need us. Smoking it as a drug is the most popular aspect about cannabis to the general public.

After all, Google returns 108 million results for “marijuana” and just 63 million for “hemp”. There are numerous TV shows about marijuana smokers and still not one about a hemp farmer. I can name at least twenty musical artists known for marijuana smoking and only one who regularly touts hemp. Marijuana.com is within the top 9K US websites for traffic, NORML.org sits within the top 14K websites, SafeAccessNow.org sits in the 93K range, TheHIA.org sits in the 405K range, and VoteHemp.org is too low for Alexa to measure. Hell, even the six-month-old WeedNews.co sits in the top 56K, probably bringing in as much traffic in a month as the two hemp advocacy sites see in a year, combined.

If the hempsters and the patients are ashamed of us, fine. We’ll just keep on working to legalize all cannabis for all uses, and we won’t even charge them a royalty for being the ones doing the heavy lifting on the one reform that would finally fulfill their mission statements.

Russ Belville
About Russ Belville 199 Articles
Russ Belville - or "Radical" Russ, as he is known on-air - hosts The Marijuana Agenda, a live news and talk radio program for the cannabis community, weekdays at 3pm Pacific on MJAgenda.com.  The show is based in Portland, Oregon, but "Radical" Russ has traveled over 300,000 air miles in the past five years, bringing his show to report live from hundreds of cannabis conferences, marijuana expos, hemp festivals, and legalization events in over 70 North American cities.