Feature: 4/20 -- A Day for Celebration or a Day for Remonstration?

Over the past three decades, 4/20 has crept -- and then leapt -- into the public consciousness as the unofficial National Marijuana Day. While the origins and significance of 4/20 as a marijuana holiday are the subject of contention, the most commonly accepted version is the one enunciated by High Times editor Steve Hager. (See explanatory YouTube video here.) Hager explains that 4/20 began in 1971 as the code for a small group of San Rafael High School pot smokers who would gather after school at 4:20 to indulge in their vice.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/toledo-ssdp.jpg
student activist flyering during 2007 4/20 rally in Toledo, Ohio
Since then, 4/20 has mushroomed, embraced by countless marijuana enthusiasts as their special time of day, or, in the case of April 20, day of the year. What began as private celebrations of stoner togetherness have now morphed into sometimes massive public events hailing the herb, not to mention a whole industry of 4/20 paraphernalia makers and sellers. This year, as the topic of marijuana and marijuana law reform grows white hot (look for an article on that here next week), 4/20 celebrations garnered increased attendance and increased media attention. This year's 4/20 was probably the most recognized yet, with thousands of people gathering at places like the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of California at Santa Cruz to celebrate the weed and to express that celebration by publicly toking up in massive numbers.

But it wasn't just Boulder and Santa Cruz. 4/20 events took place across the land, with several thousand people gathering in Denver and another large crowd in San Francisco. In New York City, High Times threw in a party. In Oakland, medical marijuana advocates used the occasion to conduct a fundraiser. In Memphis, hundreds participated. In Saratoga Springs, New York, about 100 Skidmore College students celebrated. Similar accounts can be heard from campuses and communities across the land.

"It's a time for us to celebrate our pastime, I guess you could call it, or adult substance of choice," Richard Lee, president of Oaksterdam University, an Oakland trade school for cannabis club workers told the Associated Press. "It's like St. Patrick's Day is for drinkers."

It wasn't just pot heads acknowledging 4/20. The cable TV network G4 ran marijuana-friendly programming all day. The cable TV network Showtime used 4/20 to send out a mass email promoting its hit series "Weeds." 4/20 seems to have come into its own.

But while 4/20 is proving wildly popular with Cannabis Nation and enterprising entrepreneurs, it is not without its critics, and some of the themes they hit will be familiar to anyone who has followed movement debates about strategy and tactics. Does the spectacle of mass drug-taking and law-breaking help the movement? Malakkar Vorhyzek doesn't think so.

Vohryzek, the New York office coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance, attacked the 4/20 celebrations in a same day blog post, In Opposition of 4/20 on 4/20. "How does it look, this annual celebration? Juvenile. Like our opponents to sensible drug policy have more sense than us. They celebrate their victories in real terms with a frame that makes it look like they're actually accomplishing something (when in fact, prohibition has failed by all measures). Their markers lead to more funding, more acceptance in political circles, more acceptance as an appropriate way to handle drugs in our society. The 4/20 celebrations, on the other hand, look imbecilic. Despite the miserable failure to radically alter the drug policy landscape, despite the hundreds of thousands of ruined lives from cannabis prohibition, these celebrations make those who appreciate or need cannabis look like people who are just happy to party," he continued.

While Vohryzek took pains to make it clear he supported ending drug prohibition, until the cannabis prisoners are freed, he said, "4/20 partying can go to hell." Instead of celebrating, Cannabis Nation should spend 4/20 "protesting the senseless policy of cannabis prohibition -- demanding amnesty, clemency and/or pardon to all cannabis 'offenders.' Once we achieve something like that, then celebrate."

"The 4/20 celebrations feed into a stoner stereotype that actually hurts us," said Vohryzek Wednesday, pointing to the inevitable front-page newspaper photos of very young people smoking pot in public. "Even when I was in the middle of my drug career, I didn't publicly celebrate it," said Vohryzek, whose drug career ended after he was sent to prison on LSD charges.

As a former drug war prisoner, said Vorhyzek, "I find it offensive that people are so set on celebration without paying any attention to all those people behind bars. I'm offended that people are celebrating while prohibition is still in place. What do you think people in prison or treatment think watching these events? We need to combine these 4/20 events with protests to say we won't celebrate while there are still people in jail."

Vohryzek also criticized the 4/20 events as "privileged" and "sending the wrong message." "We shouldn't be encouraging drug use of any kind," he said. "You don't have national meth snorting day. There is also a racial dynamic. Smoking marijuana is protected by privilege, whether it's skin color or a certain amount of money in the bank, so there is a sort of discriminatory aspect to it. You don't have 4/20 in the hood because the cops would be cracking down. 4/20 happens in white suburbs or college campuses, where privilege protects the participants," he said.

Bruce Mirken is communications director for the besuited Marijuana Policy Project. "We don't do 4/20 parties because we think there is a lot of value in letting people see the non-stereotypical side of our movement," he said. "I still have to handle way too many pot and stoner jokes."

Still, said Mirken, there is room in the big tent for everybody. "We are a large and mixed movement, and becoming larger every day as people come out of the closet. That's a healthy thing. I have a long history in other movements where there have been similar debates, and I've always been resistant to trying to censor anybody. I think we should let the world see the multitudes of folks who either use marijuana or think the laws need to be changed, but at the same time, if you're going to a public event, it wouldn't hurt to think about the possibility you'll end up on the evening news. Are you going to show up in a way that helps people understand and advance the issue or not?"

Colorado-based activist Mason Tvert of SAFER said his attitude toward 4/20 events was changing. "I've long held that these things aren't necessarily helpful," he said. "They may be counterproductive in terms of media coverage; in many cases, they send the message that marijuana smokers are irresponsible, that they're openly breaking the law."

But the event in Denver this week and the attention it garnered signals a change, he said. "I've had a shift in my attitude that I think reflects a shift in public attitude," Tvert said. "The headline in the Denver Post was 'Peaceful Pot Party at Civic Center,' and I was quoted about police just standing around with nothing to do. No incidents, no arrests, no injuries. If those cops were at a University of Colorado football game with all the drinking, they'd be in riot gear."

Tvert took issue with Vohryzek's characterization of 4/20 participants as "privileged." "Here in Denver, the majority of people out there were black and Hispanic youth, not upper class white kids at all. That skin privilege argument just wasn't the case at all in Denver."

There is also a certain hypocrisy about getting upset over people using marijuana in public, said Tvert. "This may not be the best image for our cause, but keep in mind there are public drinking events all the time and keep in mind that 4/20 is safer than any alcohol-fueled sporting event or party. We have to highlight the positive, safe, peaceful side of these events. Just compare Hemp Fest with Mardi Gras."

Even if movement leaders in all their wisdom decided that events like 4/20 are bad for the movement, they're not going away, said Tvert. "Here in Denver, people have been gathering to celebrate 4/20 for years. They're going to happen whether SAFER or DPA or MPP likes it or not. Our job is to figure out how to harness that energy. We have hundreds of people signing up to get involved at these events, and that's a good thing."

And that is probably the most sensible approach to the annual celebration of the marijuana subculture. It is a true grassroots phenomenon, percolating up from communities and campuses across the land like so much bubbling bong water, and now it seems to be breaking into the mainstream, too. 4/20 may not be the ideal face for the marijuana law reform movement, but it is the face of many of the people the movement claims to serve.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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great minds think alike

i agree dude

I agree--no celebrating

I agree--no celebrating until Prohibition is repealed, all prisoners are freed, paid restitution for what was STOLEN from them and what they had to pay in attorney's fees, drug classes, fines, probation supervision, etc, and their records expunged so that even marijuana felons have their gun rights restored.

I write my Members of Congress to oppose the drug war so frequently the staff probably knows me by name and I no longer receive the standard reply.

In words attributed to Frederick Douglass regarding activism for the abolition of slavery; ``AGITATE, AGITATE, AGITATE!''

umm no

so you want me to just not celebrate the best holiday ov the year because it makes us look bad fuck off by that logic no one should even smoke marijuana until everyone is free from jail and stuff and its not gonna happen idealistic bullshit isn't gonna fly with me man

No, no. You misconstrued. I

No, no. You misconstrued. I don't mean not to toke, I mean when we gather in public, we should toke up IN PROTEST of the USURPATORY and UNCONSTITUTIONAL laws as well as in memory of those who have been MURDERED by agents of the police state in the course of enforcing those laws.

I find it somewhat difficult to be in a happy, celebratory mood in the midst of all this human suffering by the hands of an oligarchic. omnipotent and vicious Police State which fraudulently portrays itself as the world's #1 champion of freedom and human rights.

"God bless America?" Yeah, RIGHT!

What 15,000 people sparking up looks like

Talk about tear gas! The thing is will people going through this be able to sign a petition..hehe.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxJSjieTC5Q

Lighten Up--Pot Is Fun!

While it might not be politically expedient to publicly celebrate the Joy of Pot, let's not forget what so many dourfaced political types seem to have forgotten or just don't want to acknowledge. Pot is fun! Remember Allen Ginsberg's sign? He was right then, and it's still the truth--cannabis is enjoyable. Here's to hedonism!

Hedonism is hard work... in a christian dominated society!

I celebrate and exercise my right to 420 everyday.

Whether we partake to improve the quality and/or quantity of our lives... or merely to pursue an elusive happiness... we all, for one day atleast, agree to celebrate our rights... and honor those that lost theirs... while demanding the immediate and unconditional release of those being unlawfully detained!

The drug war has no foundation in the supreme law of the land... the constitution! Constitutional professor Obama should know and understand this... most serious law experts do.

Our rights should not be held hostage to political correctness or the inability of congress(es) to understand or follow the constitution.

Sometimes you gotta fight for your right to party...

What 4/20 should be saying to the world.

What i saw on 4/20 at one of the largest rally's anywhere, Bolder CO, was simply 10,000 Americans coming together to enjoy Marijuana and 1 hell of a nice day. With 10,000 wasted college aged people, how many people landed in the hospital? 2.
1 for dehydration and 1 for a broken toe. This simply could not be reality if we were enjoying St Patrick's day. The media sees 10,000 stoners wasting their day, when they should see 10,000 young voters, peacefully protesting Americas failed Drug War.

Colorado was a RED state as long as i have been alive, WE went to BUSH ALL 3 times. And in 2 short years we went from Purple state to Blue state, and now were hosting the largest 4/20 celebration.

Marijuana will be legal inside 4 years, if we manage not to eat each other first.

Don't be so quick to stereotype

Not every 4/20 event involved pot smoking.

For a summary and pictures from the 420 Freedom Forum in Philadelphia at the National Constitution Center (a totally non-smoking environment), see: http://open.salon.com/blog/freedomisgreen/2009/04/23/42009_norml_freedom...

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA
Executive Director
Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey, Inc.
844 Spruce St.
Trenton, NJ 08648
609.394.2137
www.cmmnj.org
[email protected]

Public pressure and demonstration of numbers

of people intent on an issue is what gets politicians to change. throughout history this has been the case. Public demonstration and civil disobedience convey to political leaders the scale of opposition to their policies.

On the one hand there is the basic public intoxication issue. People generally are not allowed to have drunken beer parties on the streets. Except for Mardi Gras, most places don't accept major drunken parties in public. So in that sense the 4/20 rallies are not the finest moment in drug reform activism.

But then smoking in contempt of the law is a public political free speech statement much like the real Boston Tea Party. A public demonstration of contempt for wrongful laws. Sometimes such protests can be ugly and violent. Other times they can be light and frivolous.

I think the government needs to thank its lucky stars that pot reformers are such happy people.

As to Vohryzek and his ranting for seriousness and decorum, where the hell is the Drug Policy Alliance? Why aren't they leading solemn and serious anti drug war protests? It's not like they haven't been asked to do just that. I have been pushing the reform leadership for anti drug war protests for a long time and I have gotten nothing but excuses from Vohryzek and his cohorts.

(I confronted Vohryzek and the Drug Policy Alliance more than a month ago on their D'Aliance blog and was told that public demonstrations are not the way to inspire change. That the only way is back room negotiations and and pandering to the status quo politicians who are doing nothing.)

When the Drug Policy Alliance uses some of its vast wealth to actually lead activists in America out into the streets for serious anti drug war protests I will be right there with them. Until then I will take what I can get. That mens supporting the ONLY people who are making any public statement in opposition to the drug war, marijuana reformers.

Following excerpts my discussion with Malakkar at D'Alliance blog on Update: Rockefeller Reform 3/18/2009

==========
ME:

There is a major militarization and escalation of the drug war going on and all we get from DPA is new ways to make the drug war more palatable at the state level with little fixes of state laws.

WHEN THE HELL ARE YOU FOLKS GOING TO START ORGANIZING ANTI-WAR PROTESTS?

We need an end to the drug war NOW! Not more tweaking of state laws that leave them in place but make them less offensive to phony liberals.

The Drug Policy Alliance is behind the curve on the drug war. Catch up with reality and take it to the streets where it belongs.

MALAKKAR:

"25 million+ protested the war in Iraq. It still happened.

There's not even a prayer of having that many protest the drug war.

There is a prayer, however, that we can make significant changes to get legislatures to move into a public health, instead of criminal justice frame."
(snip)
"Simply put, we're better off to take what we can get, include as many in our attempts in reform as possible, and to keep striving for a better tomorrow. I'm sorry, but I just don't think your strategy is a reasonable or realistic way to achieve the ultimate success we're both looking for."

Mischaracterization of Strategy Analysis 3/18/09

You intentionally misread my position. You are espousing all or nothing in the public demonstrations to end the drug war. I think that strategy will result in nothing, and gave examples of why.

I do believe the end of cannabis prohibition is near. So public protest and demand for change is certainly within the realm of reason. One example of why is indeed the 4/20 public celebration. I mean, if there were a public celebration of coke snorting, heroin shooting, and/or methamphetamine smoking, and it was semi-tolerated in most places, then I would actually agree with you.

But legalization of all drugs? That, I still contend, will not change by public protest, until we can take the steps necessary to prove that the end is NOT nigh vis a vis cannabis prohibition ending.

Taking a public health approach is a way of undermining the power of the prohibition forces - until we can get people to think of drugs as a public health instead of criminal issue, we can't get them to make the next logical step - that the public health issue should only focus on those people who exhibit actual health problems around their drug use.

And for the record: I don't think public celebration of any intoxicant is appropriate. I feel for people in recovery from alcoholism, who are forced by our inconsiderate culture to continually be reminded of what they cannot participate in without some kind of undesirable consequence, what has caused many of them great duress, family and/or employment problems, etc.

If you want a more vitriolic side of me, I am infuriated by "medications" advertised on television and radio . People should be informed, not coerced/marketed/encouraged/prohibited around substances that are personal choices. The fact that we essentially allow a publicly-owned space (airwaves) to be used as a drug pusher for pharmaceutical companies enrages me.

Point of disclosure: I was a drug dealer at one time. But even as an LSD distributor, I did absolutely no marketing, did NOT encourage anyone to take it, WOULD explain why _I_ derived benefit from it, and provided harm reduction information for anyone seeking to buy LSD from me.

-Malakkar Vohryzek

"all or nothing" vs intolerance

It is only your paranoia that asserts my position as "all or nothing" when in fact it is you who express intolerance for my effort to simply advocate for my position. My position is more than nothing rather than all or nothing.

"But legalization of all drugs? That, I still contend, will not change by public protest, until we can take the steps necessary to prove that the end is NOT nigh vis a vis cannabis prohibition ending."

I disagree. Not only can we prove it today but we can also show multiple national security, public safety, social justice and public health reasons why it is more important to legalize hard drugs. Pot reformers have only recently caught on to admitting the economic connection between pot and criminal distribution. While the research is there now to show us the positive community improvements that can happen with medically regulated prescription of addictive drugs.

You do not understand what mass demonstration, even unpopular expression such as public toking, is capable of achieving in terms of inspiring public debate and education.

"And for the record: I don't think public celebration of any intoxicant is appropriate."

Wow! I'll let you live with the implications of that assertion. LOL!

I think mass protests educate both the public and political realm. I think mass public education is often the best unfiltered kind of education because it inspires people to seek out more. It surprises me that DPA and you do not comprehend the recruiting potential for activist organizations.

Here is how I put my position to you on the DPA blog:

IF DPA would LEAD the reform movement in serious public protests against the atrocity of the drug war then the 420 rallies would not exist in such stark relief. But since there is nothing else for the nation to see, and nothing else for reformers to do, the 420 rallies must suffice for American drug policy reformers who see purpose in taking mass protests to the streets.

The war on drugs goes well beyond the right to smoke pot. There are significant public safety, public health national security, social justice and economic issues that should motivate enough people to get out in the streets for reform. And politicians will continue to sneer at the abstract of "online activists" until the national newspapers give substance to those activists with front page news pictures of masses of Americans in the streets demand reform.

Americans will pay attention to drug policy reform when drug policy reform makes a presence of itself on the streets of America. I firmly believe that ongoing rallies, vociferous expressions of free political speech, in Washington, D.C. and our state capitals is the best, the fastest and the traditional patriotic way to induce politicians to get educated on the topic of drug policy reform.

Until DPA and other groups LEAD us with something more serious than the 420 rallies the rallies are the ONLY form of public political speech and expression that serious reform advocates have.

May 2, 2009
PhillyNORML - 2009 Global Cannabis March

The 2009 Global Cannabis March, or Philadelphia Cannabis Festival, will be taking place on Saturday May 2, 2009. The event is still being planned, so more information will be posted as it becomes available. The GCM is an annual event that brings out hundreds of supporters, patients, and onlookers. It's an excellent opportunity to show just how popular legalization is, and to have a lot of fun. In 2008 we had our biggest one yet with over 400 people. This year we hope to top 1,000. Check back often for updates!

Saturday, May 2, 2009
Meet at Broad St. and South St. at 3:30 - 4:00pm
March towards Headhouse Square at 4:20pm
Arrive at Headhouse Square by 5:20pm
Speeches - done by 6:30pm

Other Than Pot Protests...

I still don't see where the paranoia or intolerance is in my position.

Mass protests as a means of educating politicians? Most politicians know exactly what's going on. They don't need to be educated, they need assurances that if they side with reform, they'll retain their office.

My interpretation of how easily you've dismissed the meaningful reforms that have happened, and accused DPA of failing to lead because it does not engage in solely mass protesting on the streets demanding an end to the drug war completely is why I said you have an all-or-nothing approach.

DPA, as part of a greater coalition, did promote protesting on the streets, in front of the Governor's office in Manhattan. That was part of a strategy, alongside movement building and yes, lobbying, that the culmination of which was a major step in the right direction: judicial discretion and diversion. We didn't win the war, but with help from other advocates, concerned students, and yes some lobbyists, we have started shifting the landscape in measurable amounts: 1,500. The number of prisoners expected to be going home from New York Prisons this year, who were locked up for nonviolent drug crime.

Is it ultimately what we want? Not even close. But it's a great step to make - because prosecutors controlled New York drug law completely. Now the playing field is a little more balanced, and the notion that people don't necessarily have to go to prison because of drugs in entering into the public discourse.

I can't guarantee, but I can assure you, without the coalition, without the movement building, and yes, without the lobbying, the demonstrations themselves would not have produced reform this year. Let's not hate on positive steps, even if they fall short of our goals.

As a final note, protesting on the streets is a luxury many people can't enjoy without inducing serious risks to themselves.

I will not engage in a protest on the streets. Why? Because if I do, and come into contact with police, I could wind up in prison on a violation. Are you risking that?

In some communities, being the wrong color in the wrong place, namely black and anywhere near the police, is enough to get you shot in the back (ahem, Oakland Fruitvale BART).

Most circumstance isn't quite so dire, but still, many people are just struggling to get by. Mass protests don't produce income for these people - they will fail to show not because they don't care, but because they need to earn an income to pay rent and put food on the table.

Finally, mass protests tend to lack longevity in the post-Vietnam era. Iraq war protests don't exist, to my knowledge, in meaningful numbers. Certainly nowhere near 25 million that initially came out. And yet, the public support for the Iraq War is much, much lower than when it first started. Fatigue is a major issue.

If you only know one weapon, your opponent will find you easy to prepare for with their entire toolbox at their disposal.

You continually misread my disagreement about your strategy as an intolerance for your position. Our positions are nearly identical: the drug war needs to end. Our strategies to achieve this goal are different. I disagree with your strategy for the reasons outlined both above and in the previous commentary. This is not intolerance, this is a judgment call I've made based upon what I've experienced, and what I observe. Hell, quite honestly, I agree with your strategy as one of the many tools we use, just not the only tool, and not applied as you want to apply it.

Malakkar

You are much too ignorant

of the mechanisms and machinations of democracy.

I can't talk with you.

Too ignorant to understand democracy.

Mechanisms and machinations of democracy? Do they include any essential elements, like discourse and compromise?

What's that? You can't talk with me? The irony is overwhelming.

As for mass-protests in the streets as the only means of getting things done:

One of the most effective socially progressive actions ever was the Lowell Sit-in Strike in Massachusetts. Those incredibly brave and intelligent women didn't protest in the streets - just went to work and sat down. You don't have to take to the streets if you can interrupt the safe and orderly operation of the economic system.

Also, you might want to at least glance at Pacifism as Pathology, by Ward Churchill. I don't necessarily agree with many of his conclusions, but he brings up some very good points about the limitations of nonviolent protests, and its role as a pacifier without results to progressives. In fact, my original disagreement with you was because 25 million people protested the Iraq War initially, and it still happened.

Now imagine if 25 million of the US workforce sat down on their jobs. Which do you think would cause the military/political structure to pause?

-Malakkar

Having lived through

and participated in mass protest actions that had great success at achieving their goals.

I think your more motivated to dismiss mass protest because you believe that you can't participate. "I will not engage in a protest on the streets. Why? Because if I do, and come into contact with police, I could wind up in prison on a violation. Are you risking that?"

This does not make mass protest any less effective and vital. AND SUCCESSFUL.

You misconstrue and conflate my criticism of the effectiveness and outcome of the Rockefeller law negotiations with my opinion of the work of DPA. They do good and I congratulate that when it happens. They also do things that I think are worth criticism. I think that, along with the things they are doing, all organizations could be working more to better demonstrate the intensity, the scale, the vitality and the depth of the reform argument. But you don't seem to even recognize the timeliness and vitality of the argument.

Success is the measure

Having just had another great success with a politician by using acerbic and assertive language, the letter writing equivalent of public protests, I know that my tactics work without being totally neutered by compromise.

Both Pennsylvania Senators sponsor S-714

This is why I firmly believe that aggressive rhetoric for the cause and mass public protests both educate politicians to the intensity of the opinions of voters and exposes the politicians to alternative perspectives that their staffers often won't share with them.

I have pushed both of my senators really hard on reform issues and now they are among the first to sign on to important reform related legislation. The office of Sen. Casey called me yesterday to point out that the senator had indeed responded affirmatively to my aggressive letter.

These tactics get greater results than do the drug reform organizations that are sitting in the back rooms pandering to the prohibs in government.

Tactics or Insults?

The problem isn't that we all agree that the drug war needs ending. Nor is the problem that we disagree about the strategic importance of public 4/20 events than include smoking, rather than simply protesting.

(And isn't it ironic that you both decry mass public actions around 4/20 but also want those of us who do partake to protest imprisonment, after you've duly noted that the anti-war protests didn't work?)

The real problem is that you used DPA's blog and DPA's facebook Cause to publicly announce your screed against public 4/20 events, on April 20th. Please, Malakkar, student of history, tell me what social justice movement has ever succeeded by having its movement leaders publicly insult those they are aiming to help? On 4/20 of all days, you could have written a much nicer note to potheads and when you were misunderstood, taken that as an opportunity to clarify your position, rather than lash out at those your colleagues are going to hit up for money later in the week.

Now who lacks strategery?

A lack of clarity around my position...

There is no irony around decrying mass public actions around 4/20, when the mass action is to simply go somewhere and get high. There is no irony in noting that for certain laws and government actions, public protest will not change much, while encouraging action with other laws or actions that look to be on the cusp of change/tipping point.

Finally, the real problem is not that I used DPA's blog and facebook cause against 4/20 events, because that's not what I did. Your conscious choice to use "events" rather than my own words, "partying," and "public breaking of the law," is disingenuous. I used these venues to voice my analysis, and to call to action (via the cause for petition signing) on 4/20. I criticized engaging in misdemeanors and felonies in public, especially while so many people are in prison.

If an administration and information technology worker, who believes that their talents are better suited for helping nonprofit advocacy for social justice rather than just making a buck, and who is encouraged by the nonprofit to voice her/his opinion is a leader in the social justice movement, the social justice movement has bigger problems than me hurting feelings.

I'm one year out of prison. I still have spent most of my adult life incarcerated, where I didn't even have control over my food. If I qualify as a leader, we've got some serious deficiencies in our leadership. I view myself as a dissonant voice, someone who's looking to IMPROVE the structure/nature/strategy of reform, by looking at things from a different angle, by shaking status quo.

I'm actually shocked that so many people thought I should be "nicer." Just about every other post on 4/20 was pretty damn nice. Substantively, however, there's no reaction, no commentary, NOTHING in regards to the people in prison. It's like that entire section of my blog doesn't exist, and by extension an entire section of the populace, directly affected by cannabis prohibition, that doesn't exist. That silence speaks volumes to me about the real trouble in the social justice movement: some can't seem to practice what most preach, and we let people marginalized by either state or culture stay marginalized, which is a total disgrace, in my opinion.

We have 7 million people under some kind of state supervision, and millions more of their families directly affected. We have consistently failed to mobilize them towards reform. I contend that 4/20 partying is either nonproductive or counterproductive to their participation. On a conservative estimate, that's about 15 million people we're not mobilizing, and I don't understand how that can be a good strategy. I believe taking time out on 4/20 to show that we, as a movement, care about these people and their families, is more important than people's feelings of entitlement to publicly party with a controlled substance on that day.

Maybe I'm hoping for too much, I have been accused of being an optimist.

DPA Co-opted by the Democrats

Like MOVE-ON.org the DPA has been co-opted by the Democrats. They do nothing that the Democrats don't tell them to do. The Democrats talk a lot of shit but in the end support the status quo.

EXAMPLE:

John Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is an honorary member of the DPA board. Why isn't Conyers sponsoring the House version of Sen. Jim Webb's S-714 for a criminal justice commission? And why isn't he holding hearings into the inconsistencies between what Obama is saying about medical pot and what the prosecutors are doing about medical pot?

EXAMPLE:

When Obama sneered at the pot reform online question about legalization and the economy no one at DPA spoke up. Another honorary members of the DPA board is the famed economist Paul Volcker. Volcker is also one of Barack Obama's leading economic advisors. Why didn't the DPA exploit this connection?

The DPA is not the Drug Policy Alliance. The DPA is the Democratic Party Alliance.

As evil, malevolent,

As evil, malevolent, vindictive, mean-spirited, and obsessed with their PHONY Christianity as Republicans are and cause so many to look for hope from so-called compassionate Democrats, I've come to the conclusion that Democrats are FOR any and EVERYTHING that KEEPS GOVERNMENT BIG and in a solid position to micromanage everybody's lives.

I've come to the conclusion that any party that has power

..whether Democrats or Republicans will behave in the manner you described.

DPA Co-opted by the Democrats?

I thought the problem was DPA's realpolitik approach from 1996-2006, working with GOP leaders to "get something done" and what got done? And where are those leaders now?

Perhaps if DPA had cultivated better contacts throughout the left, before 2006, not just in the Democratic Party, but also amongst labor unions and the anti-war movement, MoveOn, the blogs, etc., we'd have more pressure to put on Rep. Conyers and President Obama.

I guess they were all too busy insulting their supporters and responding to blog posts all day to get much drug policy reforming done.

(Yes, yes, I know, you FINALLY got some reform to the Rockefeller drug laws. At this rate, maybe DPA will see to it that my kids can do drugs without going to prison.)

2009 Global Cannabis March

May 2, 2009
PhillyNORML - 2009 Global Cannabis March

The 2009 Global Cannabis March, or Philadelphia Cannabis Festival, will be taking place on Saturday May 2, 2009. The event is still being planned, so more information will be posted as it becomes available. The GCM is an annual event that brings out hundreds of supporters, patients, and onlookers. It's an excellent opportunity to show just how popular legalization is, and to have a lot of fun. In 2008 we had our biggest one yet with over 400 people. This year we hope to top 1,000. Check back often for updates!

Saturday, May 2, 2009
Meet at Broad St. and South St. at 3:30 - 4:00pm
March towards Headhouse Square at 4:20pm
Arrive at Headhouse Square by 5:20pm
Speeches - done by 6:30pm
=====

It is a twelve block walk from Broad and South Sts. to Head House Sq. Plan your parking.

I'll stop at the start point to make some pictures and then drive down to the end point and walk up to meet the rally as it walks down South Street.

civil disobedience is the backbone of a democratic society.

Okay, here's the 4/20 4:20 Vic park rally in Regina: the few hundred people brave enough to show up come downtown and peacefully break the law being challenged while the entire drug unit combined with the entire crowd control unit all stand together and stare because they don't have the manpower or the cells to do a damn thing about it. When the events were smaller people got arrested, I remember those times. I remember having too small a turnout at the GMM in '05 and having the cops threaten to arrest me for "creating a disturbance" for handing out flyers advertising the event. When we have a big crowd, they just come look at our permit, tell us the rules we already know, and deal with the stupid drunks. But a lot of work and risk went into eventually creating the "critical mass" necessary to make the GMM and 420 rallies effective actions. Yeah, it's a celebration. It's a celebration of power in numbers a rare moment of real democracy in this global dictatorship. The last time Canadian cops rushed a crowded smoke-in was in the early 70's, which was also around the first time they did it because they learned quickly what the results were in what became known to Canadian history as "The Stanley Park Riots", which resulted in millions of dollars worth of property damage. Get my drift? My mom was there. For me, I celebrate my people's victory in the battle of Stanley Park, and our eventual victory in fight for legalized marijuana.

Thank you for that perspective

Historical perspective is often lacking in these issues. building critical mass to inspire politicians to do the right thing does not come overnight or online alone.

harness the power of the internet

I would like to invite and encourage everyone to:

join Yahoo! Group cannabislegalization
http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/cannabislegalization/

join Facebook group Legalize Marijuana
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=5506236684

join MySpace Group Re-Legalize It
http://groups.myspace.com/relegalizeit

and sign the "Legalize marijuana and end the senseless "War on Drugs'" petition at:
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/26/legalize-marijuana-and-end-the-sensele...

We need to harness the power of these and the other great networking tools of the internet to unite the fragments of our movement, not only in common purpose, but in making coordinated plans for the future.

Or we could just sit on our butts and wait for that Knock On The Door and find out the hard way that it's not the Pizza Guy.

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