I have seen many claims from many groups claiming victory of one sort or another against prohibition. This group wants to claim their “evidence” convinced a government to lighten sentencing guidelines, that group thinks they are responsible for spreading the truth about the effects of THC on cancer cells. Activists often get lost in their own egos and forget a simple truth. Normalization is here, and the evidence is everywhere, and no single group or individual gets the credit. It’s just happening.
Cannabis consumers have been more and more brazen about their consumption over the years across the western world. When I was a kid it was “dope” and it was all hush-hush. You bought “cigarette papers” to roll it with, and had to go to a shady head shop to get a bong, which was clearly labelled to be used for tobacco only. There was no “High Times” magazine on the rack at the local 7-11. Weed was way back in the closet and you had to be very cautious who you informed about your use.
Jump forward to now. My local convenience store sells pot-smoking paraphernalia. It isn’t disguised in any way, there are pipes and screens and “blunt wrap” papers for rolling gigantic joints. There are marijuana leaves emblazoned all over the packaging, the usage is clear. The little old Korean fellow that runs the shop knows damn well what they are for, and he simply doesn’t care. He knows I’m not buying both cigarettes and rolling papers together because I plan to break the cigarettes up. I don’t have to conceal that fact; I don’t worry about doing it while a cop is standing in line behind me.
We’re right up in everyone’s face with this shit these days.
All the activism in the world didn’t really make that happen. More and more people became open about the fact they smoke dope. More and more movies were made; so-called “stoner” culture became more mainstream. Little by little the herb has worked its way into mainstream culture, and now it is everywhere you look. Nobody gets credit for that, unless you want to say everyone gets credit for it. The cat just wiggled its way out of the bag.
Activists live in a bubble. They talk mostly to other activists and the futility of any form of activism forces them to adopt defensive techniques and sink further into this incestuous culture. Ego is quite often the technique you see employed, as activists overstate the importance of what they do and the impact it has. The most important act is not writing to a belligerent government that doesn’t care, or attending a march that the news media barely covered (if at all), it is just informing people that makes a difference.
When I was a kid, interracial marriages, homosexuality, transgenderism, drug culture, and many other things were taboo. I mean 30 years ago. You didn’t see much of any of those things on television or movies. Now they’re everywhere. These ideas, these actions which previously were open fodder for the vitriol and hatred of people, are now normalized. Lots of marriages are interracial, my own included. Just about everyone has now met a person, if not many, who are openly gay or transgendered. Everybody knows somebody with a pot leaf on their hat, and the obligatory Bob Marley poster on their wall.
Pot smoking got normalized as generation X grew up not giving a rat’s ass what the establishment thought of their behaviors and lifestyle choices. The generational transition pushed the boundaries of what was “acceptable” behavior in our culture, and pot smoking creeped pretty far across what used to be the “ultimate” line in the sand of good and bad. Now there are bongs at the local store instead of the head shop. Now there are web pages like the one you are visiting now where you can read articles written by people like myself about cannabis. Now it’s out in the open.
It isn’t going to be a smartly-worded legal challenge, or a single landmark court decision, it’s just going to happen bit by bit. The most important thing you can do to help that transition is to challenge somebodies ignorance. Tell them about the tumor-shrinking power of THC and give them a link to see the evidence for themselves. Prove that you are a capable and intelligent individual even if you do smoke pot. Don’t be ashamed of your lifestyle choices, just live with them. Eventually everyone will know somebody that had their tumor cured by THC, and cannabis won’t be such a bad thing anymore.
Change happens slow. Change almost happens on a geologic time scale it is so slow, and as a result sometimes it feels like it isn’t happening at all. It is though, and if you look a little ways back you’ll see there is much more road behind us than ahead of us. When you can go to the shop and buy everything you need to get high except the weed itself, it is only a matter of time before your baggie of kush is right next to the pipe screens on that shelf. The continents are drifting, and cannabis is becoming more acceptable, you just need a more historical perspective to see both.