One thing I have always struggled with is when to welcome a former cannabis opponent to the right side of history. I agree that opposing cannabis reform is completely wrong, and people that do so lack intelligence and compassion. But what happens when someone changes their tune? One example that I often think of is Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Dr. Gupta opposed cannabis reform, even going as far as writing an article for TIME magazine back in 2009 titled “Why I would Vote No on Pot.” In 2013 Dr. Gupta wrote a passionate article for CNN in which he stated, “I am here to apologize. I apologize because I didn’t look hard enough, until now. I didn’t look far enough. I didn’t review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.”
Dr. Sanjay Gupta seemed sincere in his apology, and he has since gone to great lengths to promote cannabis reform. Because of his high standing in international media circles, his calls for reform reach a very wide audience, and his advocacy is welcomed by most in the cannabis community. But others are not as welcomed, and in some cases, completely opposed. A great example of that is the case of former Toronto police chief Julian Fantino. In 2004 Mr. Fantino equated legalizing cannabis to legalizing murder. That is a level of reefer madness that is unconscionable. Zoom forward to today, and Mr. Fantino is now in the cannabis industry.
Cannabis supporters have cried foul since the news broke about the new startup, claiming that Mr. Fantino is now trying to make money off of the very substance that he so strongly opposed once upon a time. I am not sure if Mr. Fantino has apologized for his previous comments and public policy stances or not, but even if he has, I wouldn’t personally accept the apology. It’s not because Mr. Fantino is ex-law enforcement. The organization Law Enforcement Action Partnership (formerly Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) is comprised of a great number of former members of law enforcement that are now on the right side of history.
St. Louis Police Sgt. Gary Wiegert was an active duty police officer when he not only came out in support of cannabis reform, but actively advocated for cannabis reform so much that he had to sue his own Department to maintain the right to continue his advocacy. Just because someone is current or former law enforcement does not automatically bar them from being welcomed to the right side of history in my book. In fact, I think that they are some of the most powerful advocates we have in the cannabis reform movement because of their unique perspective.
What makes Julian Fantino different is that he clearly went past the point of no return when he equated cannabis legalization to legalizing murder. That was then compounded by him going full profiteer when he entered the industry. If someone is sincere about cannabis reform, it shows. But when they are merely changing sides because they think that it’s more profitable to do so, they are a profiteer that does not deserve to be in the industry, and certainly does not deserve the support of the cannabis community. That’s like Jeff Sessions and Kevin Sabet getting into the cannabis industry – hell no! I hope that Mr. Fantino is boycotted in Canada to the point that his business fails, and he lives the rest of his life realizing how wrong he was, both to oppose cannabis reform so strongly, and to try to pull such a greed-motivate tactic.
What do Weed News readers think? How do you determine if someone who previously opposed cannabis is sincere in turning over a new leaf (no pun intended)? Is there a different standard for law enforcement versus people from other backgrounds? Is there simply nothing that a cannabis opponent can do to convince you they are sincere? I look forward to reading your comments.