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A Lesson in Etiquette for Drug Policy Activists

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This story is the most perfect example possible of how not to behave if you want people to sympathize with our cause:

The battle to keep medical marijuana collectives from expanding in Mission Square on Bechelli Lane in Redding took a bizarre turn this week.

Moments before Wednesday's Mission Square property owners meeting, someone dressed in a green Grinch costume with a giant imitation penis attached stepped out of a limousine and walked into Giff's Steakburger - the site of the meeting.

The Grinch announced to Mission Square owners that a new cannabis shop - Hampton Collective - would open in the former Humor Shop space on the north side of the shopping center.

"I don't know, I was just trying to be funny. I guess it didn't work out," Bobby Martin, who dressed up as the Grinch, said by phone Thursday. []

I find the whole thing simultaneously hilarious and infuriating. But mostly infuriating. This kind of behavior makes a mockery of everything the medical marijuana movement has fought so hard to achieve.

Pete Guither responds brilliantly by making a point I've raised repeatedly in other contexts. To paraphrase: it's not about doing or saying what feels good to you, it's about impressing and persuading other people. Admittedly, it's often very difficult to fully understand what our opponents are thinking, but you have to at least try. You might not get it right every time, but you sure as hell won't show up in a Grinch costume with a dildo strapped between your legs.

Our goal is neither to shock nor intimidate our opposition. The goal is to change the minds of those who've previously opposed us. We'll win when we convince enough people that drug policy reform is in everyone's best interests not just our own.
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Hilarious. But infuriating.

People who smoke weed regularly are a breed apart from those who smoke occasionally or for medical purposes. "Pot heads" as they are known, are the biggest THREAT to the legalization of marijuana, even though they are at the same time the strongest supporters thereof. They need to know that, when trying to change drug policies, their audience is neither marijuana smokers or marijuana prohibitionists. It is the reasonable middle that has to be persuaded that this isn't simply an issue about getting high. It's about practicing a safe, non-addictive ritual that aids in relaxation and meditative thought...and NOT something that convinces people that it's a good idea to dress like the Grinch and strap on a dildole. C'mon, potheads, we need you guys to CHILL OUT!

I resent your derision of regular tokers

I am one and I don't care if an illegal "law" says I cannot use marijuana, I will do so regardless of the illegal "law". I am NOT a threat to the legalization movement and I resent your depiction of me and others of my ilk as being such. There may be a few stupid people doing stupid things which may be causing harm to the movement, but the vast majority of us are acting with integrity and common sense, fighting the good fight in ways that are more acceptable than the guy in this example.

My argument for legalization has little to do with my wanting to get high. For me, it is strictly a Rights issue, everyone has an unalienable right to control of their own body, to ingest whatever intoxicants/hallucinogens/herbal remedies/etc. they want, and the government has no legitimate authority to restrict or deny that right, in spite of the illegal and illegitimate "controlled substances act".

I'm pro-choice on EVERYTHING!

Big mistake

Well, chalk one up for bobby Martin. Let's hope people keep in mind that it's been a long time coming and there is resentment on both sides.

If your thinking of straping on a dildo to show your support, don't.

Julio, you're overgeneralizing. And I hate the term pothead

That's their put down word for it. I'm a head, not a pothead, and if this country had a lot more heads and a lot less alcohol lovers, it would be a helluva lot more peaceful country, at home and abroad. Many thousands of people would no longer die or be maimed each year, in alcohol related disasters.
Most regular cannabis users (at least adults) are not doing anything that compromises the legalization movement, your post kind of makes it sound like you think we're all a problem.
I don't think this guy's stunt did any significant damage, but I could be wrong about that.

This guy is about what you'd expect from a head when they f- up

Compare with what you expect from an alcohol lover when they malfunction.
We can live with what he did, all it did was hurt his cause a bit and offend some people's feelings, we can't live with what alcohol abusers do to innocent people in horrifying numbers. THAT'S where zero tolerance is needed.


I try not to use the term pothead, it's rather derogatory, and implies that the user is addicted, or incapable of choosing not to smoke (which, for 10% of heavy users, could be an indication of dependence).

Personally, I prefer the term Cannabis Aficionado.

Accurate, it also implies some sense of expectation of quality. Such as, "Most cannabis aficionados do not want ditch weed, they prefer the subtle strains of Sour Diesel, or Acapulco Gold."

It also implies we CHOOSE to smoke quality reefer, not that we WILL smoke anything we can get our hands on.

The 'War on Drugs' doesn't recognize the difference between cannabis USE, and cannabis ABUSE, asserting that any use is by definition, abuse.

If we try the same thing with alcohol, you will see a number of major manufacturers standing up for themselves, and the ability of their consumers to make CHOICES. CHOICES that we are prohibited from exercising.


What a fucking moron.

Throw him over to the other side, sounds like a huge liability if he didn't understand the gravity of what he was doing.

Fred Evil, I'm gonna take your word for it

that Sour Diesel is the name of a high quality strain of weed.

Arrogant ideologue

So glad you are the voice of the medical marijuana movement, Scott. Who else would be able to tell me what behavior is appropriate for the cause?

borden's picture


Give Scott some slack. He just doesn't want crazy people to destroy everything we've all been working for for decades, that's all. Nothing important. [sarcasm]

Seriously, I don't consider the notion that Bobby Martin's behavior in Redding last week was wildly inappropriate to be even remotely controversial. That said, Scott didn't use the word "inappropriate" in his post. He just pointed out -- incontrovertibly, in my opinion -- that the stunt last week provides the "most perfect example possible of how not to behave if you want people to sympathize with our cause."

I almost agree with Mark Godfrey's comment about throwing Martin over "to the other side" -- almost but not quite, if he'll refrain from further sabotage of the effort then I'd rather he stay. But of course we don't get to decide that.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC


I think your view is in the minority on this one, bubba. It was obviously a stupid, juvenile, stunt!

it's not potheads, it's druggies...

Most so-called pot heads do loads of other drugs, pot being the only thing they use daily. Maybe it's different there, but in Canada every construction site/commercial kitchen/industrial warehouse I've ever worked on has had more pot smokers than nonsmokers, and they're daily users, many heavier users than most "potheads". Most "potheads" are also doing ecstacy/shrooms/salvia/acid/whatever on at least a weekly basis, sometimes combinations, usually with alcohol. Doing hallucinogens and/or chemical drugs, including large amounts of alcohol, every weekend when you're a teenager is going to do more long term damage than smoking pot every day. But since pot is the only thing they do daily, and the other drugs are used cyclically, often so that no individual non-pot drug is used more than once a month, they might actually believe the other drugs aren't having as much of an effect.


Your letter seems to be inconsistent with most adult views of children doing drugs. One of the reasons that a lot of the people, here, are against prohibition is because we want to prevent adolescent and teen drug use. (Those things should wait until adulthood [18 yrs old]). Teens and younger children, should not be getting or using drugs. But, then again, dealers don't card!

Regulating drugs would be a way for us to keep them away from kids.

And, I would love to have your sources for your claims here. Do you have any resources, where this information, on drug use among "pot heads", could be found in the literature? Casual work relationships do not qualify as research. It would be hearsay in a court of law. We need solid information to use when we fight prohibition, not things spouted off the top of our heads.

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