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MarijuanaActivist160 karma

I'd say it used to be a 1 and it's suddenly up to a 5 (with 5 meaning it's on the radar screen and ready to continue moving up).

Honestly, I believe the web has been an enormous force for moving this debate forward and creating accountability for all the B.S. that has long characterized the American drug policy dialogue.

I think our political culture got trapped in this 1980's "tough on crime" mentality ever since George H. Bush swift-boated Dukakis over the Willie Horton scandal. Everyone in Washington thinks crime is a good attack issue, even though it hasn't really been used that way effectively in a long time and many Americans are sick as hell of everything the drug war has become.

The time is ripe for a towering exhibit in how miscalculated our marijuana politics are. Ron Paul winning the nomination or something of that magnitude would finally kill the notion that supporting legalization is politically risky.

MarijuanaActivist108 karma

You're not alone. The founder of StoptheDrugWar.org, David Borden, has never used an illegal drug in his life. He graduated from Princeton with a degree in astrophysics, but decided that the greatest contribution he could make to society would be ending the War on Drugs.

MarijuanaActivist103 karma

Yes. Legalize here and the game is changed worldwide.

Buuuut, I don't think we'll see national legalization in America anytime soon. Instead, we'll see a gradual move away from a centralized federal drug policy, with states continuing to carve out larger spaces to experiment with marijuana regulation, as is already happening in the context of medical marijuana. Public support will continue to move this trend forward, regardless of our opposition. Poll numbers are moving fast in the right direction.

Other countries will change their tune quickly once the U.S. ceases to export its reefer madness ideology, but how fast is hard to say. Watching this unfold is one of the most fascinating things I can imagine. I hope we'll get to see it.

MarijuanaActivist78 karma

I think our biggest obstacle is the accumulated stigma of several decades of pot prohibition. Some people just tend to assume things wouldn't be this way if this wasn't the best way for things to be. But younger generations, now even most generations, have some experience with marijuana and don't support jailing people for it.

The challenge is getting everyone to realize that they're on the same page and starting the conversation about what needs to be done next. A lot of people don't realize that their support for marijuana reform is shared by half the people in the country.

Outrages like the life sentence in New Orleans are a good example of the sorts of routine injustice that people on the sidelines of this debate just don't know about. Simply demonstrating what the real consequences of prohibition actually are is vital to taking this issue from the political fringe to the mainstream. When I hear someone say "that's interesting, but it's not the most important issue," chances are they just haven't learned enough about the destruction our marijuana laws create. Individual stories of injustice are more effective than statistics, and way more effective than arguments about the "harmlessness" of the drug itself.

As for getting involved locally, begin by following drug policy news (my site, StoptheDrugWar.org is a good starting point) and joining the email lists for the various organizations, so you're up to speed on the issues. Then it's up to you to decide where your passion is. Perhaps there's already some local advocacy work being done, and you can get involved and make some new friends. If not, you can start a chapter of NORML, or Students for Sensible Drug Policy, or Americans for Safe Access, depending on what interests you.

Of course, another important way to help is simply to make your voice heard by writing letters to the editor and posting comments online when marijuana policy issues are in the news. This makes a big difference. We're dominating the online debate decisively and it hasn't always been that way.

MarijuanaActivist64 karma

My work mostly involves writing and strategizing, as opposed to direct lobbying. I'm essentially a blogger (StoptheDrugWar.org and Huffington Post), but I occasionally collaborate with colleagues who do lobbying work.

Some of the more recent medical marijuana laws were passed by legislatures, rather than a popular vote, so it was necessary to lobby state reps for smart regulations. There's also been extensive lobbying for marijuana reform in Washington, D.C. which is quite an uphill battle. The Showtime documentary In Pot We Trust offers a window into that world.