Once Helpful, Egos Are Now A Hindrance To The Marijuana Movement
We have always tried to give people an even shot at using The Weed Blog to help get their word out. After all, the main reason we created The Weed Blog was to make a megaphone that the mj movement could use without the filters that come with traditional outlets. This is proven by the fact that we let any initiative put up a press release, whether it conflicts with another one or not. We feel it is good to get the info out, and if supporters like it they will say so, if they don't, they will also let readers know so via their comments. We have NEVER told someone they couldn't syndicate our stories. We feel that the information that is being put out there is more important than TWB, and we only ask for a link and 'by' line so that others can continue to come to us for important marijuana news and information.
There have been many initiatives, organizations, people, etc that seemed to be on the up and up at the surface level, just to have a lot of controversial comments posted in the articles I write about them. TWB has always supported free speech, and unless the comments are obviously libelous or defamatory (only happened a couple times!) we leave them up there to further the conversation.
I was having a conversation about this with cannabis activist Steve DeAngelo at the Denver SSDP Conference. If anyone knows about dealing with egos, it's Stevie D. He has been accused of having a large ego (among other things) by some people that I have talked to, and I'm sure he deals with people with big heads on a daily basis in the industry. For what it's worth to readers, Steve was a very nice guy, very personable, and I saw first hand how much time he takes out of his very busy schedule to help the movement. Steve DeAngelo was at the conference all weekend, and shook more hands and answered more questions than some presidential candidates I've seen! Very nice guy.
Steve was explaining to me that in the 70's and 80's, if you were a cannabis activist without an ego, you didn't do very well because the movement was so new and unorganized. The only real way to make a name for yourself, and therefore the cause you were pitching, was to be outspoken and promote yourself. For some people, this went to their heads. They got so caught up with promoting themselves that they lost sight of the real goal they were promoting, which was the freedom of the plant itself.
I once wrote an article 'When Will Marijuana be Legal?' People from the mmj community were very upset that I was stating that if medical marijuana can pass in a state, that state will be more likely to support full legalization because they would have some experience with marijuana reform. That then led into a follow up article, 'Should Medical Cannabis Patients Fight For Recreational Legalization?' There wasn't as much kickback in that article. I suspect it's because I stated that I'm a medical marijuana patient, so I'm not just speaking from recreational experience, but as someone who has been a cardholder in Oregon since 2006. I understand that patients don't like legalization being piggybacked off of their efforts, but the reality is it took a lot of recreational marijuana votes to pass medical marijuana in the states that had successful initiatives...
Throughout this adventure that has been The Weed Blog, I have had the privilege (not always applicable!) of meeting a lot of activists and industry leaders from around the nation. Some of them are noble, some of them have hidden agendas. I can always tell the difference between the two by how long the list is of people that they refuse to work with. I can understand that there are some people on everyone's list that they won't work or collaborate with. But when the list of people they won't work with is longer than the people they will work with, that rubs me the wrong way.
There are a lot of people out there that want their dispensary to succeed at the expense of others. Or they protect their organization's budgets at all costs, even if it means refusing to collaborate with other organizations for purely profitless events and ventures that would clearly benefit the larger movement. I have met campaign creators that never get off the ground because they refuse to share the credit with anyone else. I have met people in the movement that claim to care a lot about the plant, yet if there is no dollars behind the request, they never respond.
There was one campaign director that contacted me many times to edit an article I wrote about their campaign's fundraising efforts. When I asked the same person face to face to send me press releases that had more to the article than asking for money, not only did they act like they didn't know who I was, but I have yet to receive any correspondence from their campaign. It makes me wonder if they really want the campaign to succeed, or just enjoy the title and salary that goes with being a 'campaign director.'
There are many people in the movement that will never, ever support full legalization because they would benefit more financially from maintaining the status quo. Of course, these people will never admit it, but it's pretty obvious. It makes me sad when I see someone that could be doing a lot of good for the movement, but they won't let their ego or greed allow it. I wrote an article, 'Will Infighting Doom The Marijuana Movement' which talks all about this. The purpose of that article was to try to generate some constructive conversation and possibly result in some unity in areas of the movement where there might not be. Sadly, the constructive comments were far outweighed by comments from people stating they would never, ever work with so and so or 'fill in the blank' campaign. I'm not demanding people do so, but it would at least be nice to take a more open minded approach.
What do TWB readers think? Are you tired of seeing egos get in the way of progress? Or do you think this is all nonsense and I'm over-blowing things? I look forward to your comments.