I received an e-mail earlier today from Allen St. Pierre, the Executive Director of NORML, which asked me to donate to the NORML PAC, as well as candidates that they support. I received a similar e-mail about a month ago asking for the same thing. I quickly e-mailed back and asked for a list of those candidates, at which point I was told that a summer intern will be compiling such a list. I posted a great article yesterday that gave a list of marijuana friendly candidates in California (the list was compiled by the Drug Policy Forum of California). I am personally working on a list for Oregon and Colorado, and will post them asap.
An EXTREMELY important part of being a marijuana consumer is trying to affect the political process. Most consumers that I know try to use the excuse of ‘I just don’t know who to vote for’ all the time. QUIT USING THAT EXCUSE AND DO SOME RESEARCH! People are very quick to complain about marijuana policy in America, yet are nowhere to be found on Election Day. Why is that? Luckily, there are great people like NORML and the Drug Policy Forum of California that are compiling lists to make it easier on all of us.
So far, NORML has contributed the following amounts to the following candidates:
Sam Farr (D-CA) - $500
Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) - $500
Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) - $500
Barney Frank (D-MA) - $500
I gotta be honest; these numbers are really sad. Considering the fact that most federal elections cost millions of dollars, $500 is a drop in the bucket. How much attention is Barney Frank going to dedicate to marijuana policy at that campaign contribution rate? Not much! Something that I would like to see is more targeted campaign contributions. I took A LOT of poly sci courses in college, and one thing that I know for sure, is that affecting the top of the political pyramid is extremely difficult, if not impossible, at $500 per candidate.
If I was a marijuana PAC (political action committee), I would start out by targeting states that are at the forefront of marijuana reform and have initiatives on the ballot, ie California, Oregon, Arizona, South Dakota, etc. Think about it; the $1500 that went to Massachusetts and New York could have gone to South Dakota to support their medical marijuana initiative, or Arizona to support theirs. Or if the money was going to a candidate, why not support Stan Garnett as AG for Colorado? $1500 in a smaller campaign like those I mentioned would get a lot more leverage then going after a federal senator that has done virtually nothing to help the movement.
Better yet, why isn’t NORML running its own candidates? Rather than trying to lobby and curry favor with politicians who probably don’t give a sh#t, and just offer empty promises and take money, why not have someone run from NORML on a third party ticket? I personally know many Green Party activists in Oregon, and every one of them would LOVE to support a marijuana friendly candidate. The Greens already have ballot access in several states, why not link up and put out some candidates at the state level (state rep, state senate, etc)?
I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m railing against NORML; I’m merely putting some ideas out there. In almost every successful political movement in American history, the movement undergoes the following evolution:
1. People share a common interest and band together to increase awareness.
2. They eventually organize and start to affect the political process by encouraging votes in favor of their issue.
3. Fed up with the lack of help from the politicians they voted for, some of these same people then decide to just take matters into their own hands and run for office.
Will that ever happen with the marijuana movement? Only time will tell. I will ask this question though — NORML has been trying for DECADES to get politicians to support marijuana reform, and how far has it got us? In some states, you can still go to jail for failing a drug test because they treat it the same as possession…I think if there was a candidate in every state that ran on a pro-marijuana platform, things like that would not happen - anywhere.
I will keep compiling my list of candidates, and expect that others will do the same. I just hope that if marijuana consumers endorse a candidate, at any level, that those candidates will make good on their promises. If not, marijuana consumers need to stand up, band together, and show those same politicians that we are a valuable voting bloc, and ignoring us will result in them getting voted out of office…preferably replaced by one of OUR candidates! Trust that I will post marijuana friendly candidates as I receive them. Until then, STAY TUNED AND STAY ACTIVE!