The Link Between Cannabis Activism & The First Amendment
Practicing the right to freedom of speech has only become more important over the years. With issues such as equality and LGBT rights protesting, a new movement has taken center stage. The campaign to legalize marijuana for both medical and recreational uses is no longer a taboo subject. In the recent year’s hundreds of thousands have marched, held signs, and voiced their opinions on the legalization of marijuana. But, is this the right way to promote the change?
Throughout the years there have been many successful, peaceful protests in the name of marijuana legalization. A few of the largest include:
- The Global Marijuana March – Each year the Global Marijuana March takes place in over 800 cities, and more than 70 countries worldwide. The march aims to celebrate the marijuana culture as well as promote the legalization of marijuana. Hundreds of thousands of people attend, in everywhere from Brazil to Canada. The practice began in 1999 and has occurred annually, usually on the first Saturday in May, ever since!
- Trump Inauguration Marijuana Protest – During the 2017 inauguration of Donald Trump, thousands gathered for another cause. Between 4,000 and 8,000 joints were passed out to protesters and the lines stretched for blocks. The event occurred in DuPont Circle in Washington DC. The peaceful protest displayed the legalization of recreational marijuana in DC that was enacted in 2014.
- Denver 420 Rally – Another annual event, held in the capital of Colorado, a very marijuana-friendly state. This large gathering of potheads and medical users alike draws upwards of 100,000 people per year and growing. Falling on April 20th, or 4/20 each year, this rally usually coincides with the famed Cannabis Cup. The push to legalize marijuana across the country is on the forefront of this famed protest.
- The NYC Cannabis Parade – The decades-old event peaked in the 1970’s with around 20,000 attendees to protest for the legal use of marijuana. A gather of hippies in one of the largest cities in the world has always brought attention to the topic. Throughout the decades, it has remained a peaceful gathering, but still incited quite a few arrests. With coverage from cannabis heavy hitters, like High Times, this historically relevant event still occurs annually.
- The University of Wisconsin Protest – In 1990 around 14,000 students at the University of Wisconsin gathered to protest for the legalization of marijuana. They set up on campus grounds as well as at the state capitol in Madison. 26 people were arrested at the protest, but they were able to make their point and even stir up some feelings from viewing senators. This was part of the Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival in the fall.
Historically speaking, protests have been one of the most influential and successful ways to get a point across in a peaceful way.
When it comes to marijuana laws, this has been the case. In the past decades, dozens of laws have been reformed and made to protect marijuana for medicinal qualities and more recently recreational abilities.
Some of the major laws that have been enacted include:
- California’s Proposition 215 – One of the most significant marijuana wins, prop 215 made medical marijuana legal in California on November 5, 1996. The passage of the proposition allowed for the legal use and growing of marijuana by caregivers for patients recommended by a doctor. This allowed for the legal cultivation of marijuana for the first time in the state. Since its enactment in 1996, the state has also gone on to legalize recreational marijuana use in 2017.
- Colorado’s Amendment 64 – On November 6, 2012, the election in Colorado was held that included voting on the topic of recreational marijuana. The amendment passed and allowed for adults over the age of 21 to possess, consume, and purchase marijuana for recreational use. This also opened up the door for pot business. People were now allowed to grow and sell marijuana to the adult public at brick and mortar shops. In the same year that Colorado passed amendment 64, Washington state also voted to allow legal use of recreational marijuana in their state.
- Oregon’s Ballot Measure 67 – Another landmark marijuana vote, measure 67 allowed for the medical use of marijuana. In 1998, just a few years after California’s Prop 215, Oregon decided as a state that medical marijuana was right for them. The measure allowed for the cultivation, possession, and use of marijuana by medical patients and their caregivers. After years of success with the medical marijuana industry, in 2014 Oregon voted once again, but this time to legalize the use of recreational marijuana.
Since the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington in 2012, many states have followed. As of 2018 adults, 21 and over can legally purchase and consume marijuana recreationally in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Washington D.C.
Raising Public Awareness is largely in part due to protests.
For decades’ people have voiced their opinions and allowed the topic of marijuana and its legality to be put to the test on the ballot. Many of these votes have been successful and led to medical marijuana being legal in 29 states, plus D.C.
Without protests, we would not have access to marijuana the way we do today. Thousands of people across the country have gathered year after year with signs in hand and peacefully protested the former bans on marijuana. As successful as they have been so far, we still have a long way to go. There are still states that do not even allow the medical use of marijuana and punish those that partake in marijuana use HARSHLY.
At the end of the day, what can you ACTUALLY do that can make a difference?
Continue to voice your pro-marijuana opinions through local protests. Get out and vote, support pro-marijuana movements in any way possible! Join with the hundreds of thousands of others in our nation that fight for marijuana legalization and help to guarantee the legalization of marijuana across the entire country for the next generation.
The point is to KEEP ON TALKING ABOUT CANNABIS!