The Big Picture: An anonymous bunch of hippies saw a grave injustice happening, made a plan to remedy it, and then executed that plan over 3 decades. As of this post, near total success is at hand, at long last.
For the Record: I’m always casting about for good examples to share with Mobilized readers. The world needs more awareness of what’s going on and it does get tiring seeing only bad news every day. So in light of the upcoming Soil Summit, it sure seems right to talk about a farming-related story that may inspire folks to action.
When I was a college student in a small Ohio town, it was a big deal to grow one’s hair long and get about pretending that the 1960’s never ended. “Townies” wanted to fight, “Frat boys” wanted to boot you off the campus, and the ladies were not all that impressed (which kinda negated the whole effort, honestly). But it did open a few doors, and one such door led to a farm over the state line in even-more-rural Indiana. Run by kids from the nearby college, they had goats and chickens and all manner of interesting ways. And they had friends. Friends with even bigger farms. This led to many educational trips, and overall it left this writer with a real sense of closeness with the land. The rhythms of a farm are immutable. If the animals are not tended to constantly, they die. If the soil is not tended to nearly as much, it too dies. And also there are times of harvest and celebration, as much a part of the farm life cycle as the rain and the sun.
At one of these celebrations, a giant weekend-long pancake breakfast and amateur music festival, I met a bunch of folks about my age. They worked on that farm, but were not the main farmers. They had a very different role, it turned out. What they did was organize musical acts and speakers, and those folks went out to every college that would host them. They called themselves “Hemp For Victory”, and they had 1 clear mission. That goal: to eradicate the unjust laws in America around marijuana and hemp growing.
I will admit to you, reader, that I thought they were insane at the time. Shows how much I knew… They were armed with a sense of righteousness, a long historical knowledge, and most importantly, a plan. It wasn’t enough to teach college kids that founding father Geo. Washington grew hemp on his plantation, no sir. It wasn’t enough to share that industrial hemp was crucial to the World War II war effort, and that in those days the Federal Government did all it could to promote the plant’s growth. No, these ideas were useful in changing minds, but the goal was the goal. And to do that, they knew it was going to be a long fight.
Against them, was every District Attorney in the land, every FBI agent, and the entire Congress. On their side: facts. That’s it. All they had was the fact that the plant was not the evil bogeyman the other side had made it out to be, and the less obvious fact that the other side was propping up anti-Pot propaganda because it suited their purposes and kept them flush with cash. It’s worth noting most of those purposes were nakedly racist, and only barely hidden.
Their plan had only a few steps, easy to learn and remember. Educate, first and foremost. Spread out, secondly. And third: take the battle to the states. Start small and grow slowly.
Fast forward to this post, in mid-2021. These folks are largely still around, although by choice they are still largely anonymous. But you need only look to California’s 1996 Prop 216 legislation, and later bills passed since then, to see their authorship. And skimming the laws of other states which have legalized Pot you will see their names as well. For all intents and purposes, the tide has turned. Marijuana is still a Schedule One drug, according to the Feds. It has “no legal value”, according to the DEA. But not for long. Each of the last 5 Congresses has moved to end this fiction, and pretty soon that will get signed into law. And – – it really doesn’t matter what the Feds are saying anymore. Most states with large populations have taken on the matter and are remedying the unjust laws, followed by letting out of jail the folks who were imprisoned for having a bag or two of twigs. The rest of the states are largely right behind them, now that they see how legalizing and taxing hemp helps fill their coffers.
Next Steps: It really is the beginning of the end for repressive drug laws in this nation. Common sense, facts, and sheer orneriness pushed an idea that was seen as ‘radical’ so far into the mainstream awareness that barriers are now falling everywhere. Credit is justly due to these anonymous activists, among many others. Their lesson is for you, reader. What was once unthinkable has become inevitable. It didn’t take an armed rebellion, didn’t take outrageous headlines to get the task done. There is a time and a place for everything, of course; sometimes change can only happen via great drama. But what you can take away from the efforts to legalize marijuana is this: Facts will out.
If you have facts on your side, you will win. No matter how few you are. Draw allies to your cause, with facts. And a heck of a lot of patience. Don’t assume you are going to need endless piles of money, or an army, to make positive change. You only need facts, and a plan. That’s it.
What they’re saying: