Money Continues To Flood Into The Marijuana Movement
Do you remember what the marijuana movement was like in decades past? For starters, it seemed much smaller. I would imagine a lot of my perception is skewed because of the recent rise of social media. There were obviously a lot of people that were active before, but most of us were just working by ourselves or in small groups. Now it seems like there are more rallies, more events, and more participants than ever before, which is tremendously exciting! Like I said, maybe it's just because I'm a social media addict so I see it more, but it really does seem like the marijuana movement has grown a lot since 'back in the day.'
There is also more money flowing through the marijuana movement. I remember in the 90's when I first dove into marijuana activism. Most marijuana activists worked for free in loose knit groups. Of course there was no Facebook or Twitter to help organize, which has no doubt benefited the movement recently, and donors were hard to come by. I'm sure older marijuana activists from the baby boomer generation will tell an even more primitive tale of marijuana activism from earlier decades. Long story short, marijuana activism was raw, and pure, and it's what we loved most about it.
As we all know, the marijuana movement rapidly evolved towards the later part of the 90's when medical marijuana was approved at the ballot box. I will never forget when California's Prop 215 announced it's first big donation. It blew my mind that people outside of the marijuana movement were willing to finally put up money to support the cause. I was very happy because I knew how important funding was in politics, and therefore, how important funding was to the marijuana movement.
I don't know if I'm as happy as I used to be about the influx of money into the marijuana movement. It seems that at some point in the last five years, the movement started to evolve from a 'end marijuana prohibition first' mentality to, at least partially, a 'pursue funding first' mentality. Does it seem that way to anyone else? When I researched this issue, most articles I found were from people outside of the marijuana movement, and they just railed against doctors and dollar amounts. I don't like those articles because what do they really offer to the conversation?
I'm speaking from inside the fishbowl, about what I see, and what marijuana activists talk about in the shadows rather than out in the open. I have seen some alarming things while running this website with Ninjasmoker, including 'marijuana activists' getting upset because we used their logos in articles we wrote about them. They weren't mad that we re-posted their article with their permission; they were upset that we used their logo and that only they can use their logo...We wrote an article about their organization, highlighting their efforts, and we even asked readers to donate to their cause. I thought that was the whole point of the movement? Did I miss something? We weren't getting paid at the time (we don't even make living wages now!) at The Weed Blog, so I could never understand the mentality of those types of people.
You see similar things occurring in the marijuana movement that are built on the same principle - greed. At The Weed Blog, we have always operated with the philosophy that we are running this site to help get marijuana news and information out there because knowledge is power. We believe in the plant first, TWB second, and I hope that shows. We don't blog to make money; we try to make money so we can focus on blogging to help the movement, and only for that reason. And even then if you saw our finances, you would see that we don't even get paid minimum wage in any state :)
That's not to say that we don't post entertainment or marijuana culture articles, because we do, but those are because we know readers want to see that on a marijuana site, and if we can hit them with some knowledge while their on our web pages, that's all the better! I would imagine a lot of people out there would be surprised to know that we have never, ever been paid for any marijuana product review or article from our 'pipe and bongs' or 'marijuana products' categories. We do this for the love, and every other marijuana activist should be doing it for the same reason.
I hope it doesn't sound like I'm bashing on people that make money. I'm a firm believer that marijuana activists should seek funding and I'm definitely not against anyone that's going full 'for profit' status with a product or something. But when I see so many marijuana reform organizations that refuse to work with each other, and so many marijuana activists that refuse to work with each other because of some type of underlying funding interest, that really makes me sad. I think that instead of focusing on pursuing the almighty dollar and power first, these marijuana reform organizations and marijuana activists should focus on ending prohibition first. We are all one community, and I'm not saying that we all need to get along, but we all need to remember we are working for the same goal, and should set our differences aside to find a way to work together.
If anyone needs another example of what I'm talking about, just look at how many different initiatives there are each year for marijuana legalization. Then look at how many anti-campaigns there are for each of those campaigns. I once posted an article, 'Will Infighting Doom The Marijuana Movement?' and the comments highlight exactly what the title was asking. Often times, the incentive for such infighting and different initiatives is financial.
Greed is clearly harming medical marijuana. The saddest thing is that it's such a small minority of medical marijuana participants that are causing the problem. Over 99% of patients do not own a medical marijuana dispensary, and or massive gardens. Yet, when there are any problems with medical marijuana, it almost always seems like it's a dispensary owner that has over stepped their bounds or a grower that is clearly taking advantage of the program and over their limits. It makes it really hard for the rest of us that are true marijuana activists to plead the case for ending marijuana prohibition or bring medical marijuana to a state when opponents can always point at the greedy few claiming to be a part of our movement.
This is not to say that everyone with a massive garden or everyone with a dispensary is greedy. What I'm saying is if there was a scale of compassion versus profit, there are some bad apples out there that are at the profit end of the scale that are harming the majority of others that are on the rest of the scale. Just look at some dispensaries prices. So many dispensaries open up with great deals and great quality. But as the customer base grows, so does prices and quality goes down in an effort to maximize the bottom line. Dispensaries should be about compassion, not profit. The few that are in it for the money make the majority of other owners look bad.
Dispensary owners are the ones that lead the charge against marijuana reform in a lot of cases. Given, they are probably opposing an initiative that was created to financially benefit it's drafters anyways, but the dispensary owners are motivated by the same thing. I have challenged many of these owners to come up with a marijuana legalization model that is realistic, and that they would support. I think the fact that I haven't receive even one response speaks volumes.
With corporations just starting to enter into the marijuana movement, things will likely get worse. I pray that we don't see a day where all of the pro-marijuana events have to have corporate sponsors or no one goes to them. My first marijuana rally was on the steps of the Oregon capital, sponsored by no one, and it was what set the course for me to want to be a marijuana activist my whole life. If I was growing up now, and all I saw was how so many people just want to get rich off of marijuana, regardless of if laws are reformed or not, I would really be turned off. Or, I would get caught up in the hype, and just chase the money, and wouldn't be useful to anything except my own greed. Either way, that would suck.
I think it's important to point out that greed is also the reason that marijuana prohibition has been around so long. The insurance lobby, the alcohol lobby, the big pharm lobby, and who knows how many others, have spent countless dollars making sure marijuana prohibition is alive and well. They will no doubt continue to do so. That has always been one of the biggest bashes against prohibitionists is that they are just greedy, and don't care about anything except their money and their funding...sadly, that sounds familiar, but now from the other side of the debate table.
What do readers think? I look forward to your comments.