Grassroots Activism

By Ava Madison

Grassroots (plural noun/adj) \gras-rüts, -ru̇ts\
Ordinary people regarded as the main body of an organization’s membership

Activism (noun) \ak-ti-vi-zəm\
The policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change

The time for change is undoubtedly upon us. Our prisons are overcrowded with non-violent offenders, poor people who couldn’t afford lawyers, and drug offenders whose issues should be that of the Health Department, not the Criminal Courts. Fear campaigns devour our society and our young people’s minds as we limit knowledge, truth, and understanding. The “think about the children” cry and “marijuana makes you stupid” claim has led to government propagandists criminalizing and prohibiting marijuana instead of celebrating it as the industrial, economical, medicinal, and spiritual plant that it is.

Cannabis Sativa or Hemp, as marijuana was originally called, has been used in various cultures and societies since the beginning of time; mostly as a medicine but also as food, fiber, fuel, recreation, and more! However, in the 1930’s with new technological and media resources, the U.S. Government wanted to eradicate cannabis from the Mexican importers, criminalize what Black-American musicians were using, and stunt the emerging hemp industry in the U.S. in order to boost other industries.

These other industries: cotton, paper, oil, pharmaceutical…Why on Earth would they want to prohibit an annually self-renewing flower?

Now, some 70 plus years later, the prison and judicial industries boom as well. Private prisons receive payment per prisoner, and lobby for harsher sentencing and criminal laws. A chain reaction is set into motion to keep certain pockets filled, others empty, strip citizens of basic human rights, and fund private interests by powerful politicians and corporation owners.
As Americans, we must unite to make a difference for humanity, equality, common sense, and the sake of our future. Let’s look back to our nation’s forefathers who fought for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human efforts will deliver them. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance, or the most abject submission. We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die.”-George Washington’s Address to the Continental Army before the Battle of Long Island Marijuana activists’ compassion, intelligence, and valor are paying off. Marijuana reform is the closest it’s been since the plant’s ‘illegalization’ in 1937! Marijuana stereotypes of laziness, clumsiness, and outright disregard for common sense have been challenged consistently since the Reefer Madness propaganda that first came out blaring against cannabis using musicians, actors, athletes, professionals, and others.

Mary Jane, the most misunderstood gal, has stood against the machine that the U.S. Government has become.
Still, we must continue to concentrate and focus our resources and strengths. The following is a step-by-step action guide for the unstoppable cannabis reform movement.

Thank you for fighting the good fight and continuing to do so.
You are an extremely valuable and indispensable being. You can help in more ways than you know; but the most important thing for you to do is NEVER STOP LEARNING. Only as we educate ourselves can we grow as people, friends, families, and nations.
“Ignorance, the root and the stem of every evil.”- Plato

VOLUNTEER to feel needed • to share a skill • to get to know a community • to demonstrate commitment to a cause/belief • to gain leadership skills • to act out a fantasy • to do your civic duty • to gain satisfaction from accomplishment • to keep busy • for recognition • to donate your professional skills • because you’d be good at it • to have an impact • to learn something new • to help a friend or relative • for escape • to become an “insider” • to be challenged • to be a watchdog • to feel proud • to make new friends • to explore a career • to help someone • as therapy • to do something different from your job • for fun! • for religious reasons • to earn academic credit • to keep skills alive • to have an excuse to do what you love • to ensure progress • to feel good • to be part of a team • to test yourself • to build your resume • to be an agent of change • because of personal experience with the problem, illness, or cause • to stand up and be counted.

CONTRIBUTE to the community in any way that you can. Make a monetary contribution TODAY! Every little bit counts. 100% of the money donated to non-profit or advocacy groups such as, Americans for Safe Access and NORML goes directly back into sustaining their goals. Don’t just take my word for it though; be conscientious of where your money is going. Check out other organizations and see how they’re helping defend marijuana rights. Think of where your money goes when you eat, get gas, and go out after work. Change can happen due to spending habits!

TAKE ACTION Speak up against prohibition and the war on drugs. When discussing other social problems, show how they are connected to our failed drug policy – e.g., no money for education – the US spends more on prison building than on college building and hires more prison guards than teachers. Write letters to the editor. Send them to your local newspapers, national magazines, the student paper at your alma mater, etc. Even if it isn’t published, the editors will start to get a sense of what is important to the people. If someone outside your organization writes a good letter, find out their phone number, call them and let them know your group exists and that they can join. Write to the columnists of your local newspapers. Many now include their email addresses under their picture or somewhere in the paper. Urge them to do a piece on Prohibition, tying it to their area of expertise. Know who your politicians are, their email addresses and phone numbers. Write to them; call them as often as needed. Remember, federal officials don’t read your mail, their aides do. Also, contact federal officials in their district home office as well as their DC office. Whenever your elected official speaks publicly you can attend and ask reform questions. Use zingy one liners. Plant ideas into the heads of their aides and make them think. Inform your clergy, urge them to devote a sermon on the need to end the war on drugs. Talk Radio: Know which stations have talk shows and share that information with fellow reformers in your area. Let everyone know when the topic of drugs is coming up so they can call in also. Think of and distribute great sound bites for talk shows, i.e. “Prohibition guarantees the existence of drug dealers.” “Prohibition hasn’t worked since Adam & Eve bit on the apple.” “Studies show that every drug dealer arrested, shot or killed has been quickly replaced. How can arresting more drug dealers help keep drug dealers and drugs away from my kids?” Buy an extra copy of an especially good reform book and donate it to a local public school, church, or library. If they refuse to accept it, alert the media.

“Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.”
– Mother Teresa

“Wisdom is better than silver & gold” – Bob Marley, Zion Train

bringing you that fire! stay tune for more posts.

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