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Talking to the masses

For those of you who spend a lot of time researching and discussing drug policy, it can be very easy to fall into the trap of mostly talking to others who are knowledgable on the subject. This gives a warped perception regarding the overall level of knowledge/acceptance in the population. It’s important every now and then to talk to ordinary folks whose knowledge level is pretty much that some drugs are illegal and that some people use them anyway.

It’s not that they’re stupid. Just that they’re paying more attention to gay rights, or gun rights, or the cost of insurance, or whether Seventeen Magazine is using Photoshop. And that’s fine — everyone’s got their own interests and it’s impossible to be competently informed about every issue.

But it’s hard to get to know drug policy well when it’s only consumed as a side dish — particularly all the sordid details regarding the self-interest of prohibitionists. For years, this has been a major challenge for us. If people only pick up a smattering of info, they’re more likely to believe the government line (“They say marijuana causes cancer, so it probably does. What reason would they have to lie about that?”) And if you try to explain to them that the government is lying, you suddenly see the glazed look that says they’re imagining a tinfoil hat on your head.

We’ve done a great job of increasing the overall level of skepticism in the minds of the public. That’s a huge step. But we still shouldn’t fool ourselves into believing that they’re fully informed.

Most of my friends know I write about drug policy reform (I certainly haven’t been secretive about it), and some even read Drug WarRant on occasion.

I always find it amusing when one of them comes up to me and, in a somewhat conspiratorial whisper, indicates that they also support legalization, or that they’ve read something recently that talks about legalization.

You can tell that they think they’re being some kind of counterculture rebel espousing a risky viewpoint. And I’m thinking “Uh, no. You’re actually mainstream and don’t realize it.” This isn’t like saying you support NAMBLA. The legalization and regulation of illicit drugs is a position supported by most of the top thinkers in the world, including many former and current heads of state, an entire organization of former law enforcement officers and judges, and two Presidential candidates.

But I forget that they’ve been conditioned to think that supporting legalization is the same as supporting drugs and drugs are bad, M’kay?

So get out there and talk to some people who don’t know what you know. It’ll be good for you and them at the same time.

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11 comments to Talking to the masses

  • claygooding

    I find that a lot of pot smoking individuals don’t have a clue to the depth the corruption of our police and government officials has actually become,,only people that have had experience in having their possessions stolen by their government or been close enough to see it happening even think about search and seizure laws.

    But the numbers are climbing rapidly of people seeing the damage,sadly,as much by experience as by education provided by some advocates only too glad to tell them about it.

  • Ken

    I Have. All it got me was title Black sheep of My Wife’s Family. They follow Fox news all day and Have no respect for Me or My View Points or anything I have to say about cannabis policy. Cures cancer,They just smirk at me with discust..I hate X Mass, Thanks giving,etc because of the family Stuff.

    I Have Been Reading CNews For 12 or so years. I Have a Doctors Degree In Americas Drug policy.When I speak It is stuff only readers here know. I am tired of being the nail standing up.

    Cap’t Inspires Me. has for 12 + years. I have been reading here 3 of 4 years. This Is My 1st post. I have No fear as I stopped Smoking Last September, 2011. I Miss It.
    I actually did not start smoking untill I was In my Mid Thirties.Late to the party. I am an artist by trade ( Sucessfull Too) and it really helped me with my work.

    Obama Wrote In Dreams Of My Fathers. If Weed don’t help you find what you are looking for at least it allows you to laugh at the folly of life. That is all any of us wants to do without fear of losing out kids House Job Life. Please, Some one tell Mr Obama This.

    We Have come a long way in 13 years. I rembember When I got excited about the south lambeth experiment in England.
    Which worked out well.

    Harborside will be an important stand.

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .

      Have someone in your family get MS and use up the effectiveness of pharmaceuticals. It’s shocking how quickly opinions can change when the choice becomes real instead of academic. You go from “black sheep” to “he was right all along” so quickly that it leaves you fish mouthing in disbelief.

      • darkcycle

        Sometimes, Duncan, you nail it. You just nailed it.

      • Jose

        The system works so hard to keep needy people from experiencing the benefit of cannabis though.

        I have the unfortunate responsibility of caring for a relative with MS, Fibromyalgia, Schizophrenia and multiple herniated disks. The rub is that pain mngmt. drug tests and a failure could result in loss of the pain meds.and some of the benefits she receives under medicaid.

        Loss of the pain meds. would be okay if there was a safe, reliable, and affordable source for cannabis. But, the person also has to be willing to detox from heavy opiods and from what I have seen that is one ugly, nasty experience.

        However, I have witnessed how even a small dose of cannabis helps her and it is just short of magical to me. Not just physically but in mental faculty also. It is disgusting that the medical community willfully turns a blind eye to this.

  • RoadHouse

    RoadHouse.. that’s all I needed to say.
    put that shit in the RoadHouse..
    again that’s all I needed to say..
    RoadHouse.. kick him in the nuts Patrick.
    RoadHouse Gaddammit.

  • Dante

    I’ve often thought about discussing drug policy with my friends/family, but then I realize any discussion will reveal their complete ignorance on the subject and will also reveal my angry impatience with ignorant people who are the reason we still have SWAT teams shooting dogs/kids/grandma.

    Gotta get a grip on my anger issues, then I’ll talk to them. In the meantime, Pete, you do a much better job than most so please continue. And thanks.

  • Matthew Meyer

    I have a few FB friends from high school and such who must have interesting reactions to the things I post about reform and drug war harms. I hope sometimes they follow a quality link and start to crack an eye.

  • Jose

    For many of us, myself included, it boils down to fear. I will opine that most if not all of us “couch folk” are the complete antithesis of what the average person views as a cannabis user. To be given the unworthy stigma of “pothead” can have devastating consequences, possibly death if the wrong people get wind of it.

    Just a symptom of a bad situation.

  • CJ

    yes! great article!! this is right on – and if i may just add, please, look at what Pete said – he never once in this article used the word marijuana as a matter of fact he specifically spoke about drugs. thats it. drugs. that means, as he has defined before, all the illicit, illegal drugs that are prohibited by prohibition. So what I want to add because wether you think its relevant or not it is when you do what Pete is suggesting – talking to the uninformed, misinformed etc. do not, do not, make it a discussion exclusively about pot. You are doing the reform movement a disservice if you do that and your also being a prohibitionist. albeit a selective one, your being one nonetheless.

    I agree with what Pete is saying and I do it all the time. Its just me, but I love it. I do. Because, if you truly are informed about the drug war and you do possess all the facts and the information you know the old saying “knowledge is power?” well i dont entirely agree but in some ways i do and in this case I think its pretty true. For me drug reform is everything, its a passion but its everything for me everyday. I do everything I possibly can for drug reform. I try to have people thinking about drugs as much as I can, talking about drugs as much as I can etc. I accomplish this by wearing clothing, pins, etc. that are pro reform, in my case its often heroin related.. I have lots of awesome heroin clothing. A black t-shirt that says HEROIN in awesome green lettering. I have a shirt that has a vintage bottle of old heroin on it. I have several diacetylmorphine chemical makeup tshirts and a shirt that says and i couldnt believe i ran into it but its only fate – “i dont care who wins the superbowl im here for the free heroin” i wear them as often as i can. In large groups of people ill pretend to be viciously high on dope and nodding out. Considering im usually genuinely nodding out anyway, when i do it pretend, i was already great at it but now its basically second nature.

    Being a heroin lover for so long, i will say that alot of your daily routine in combating heroin prohibition involves alot of the same faces same places. Ive had alot of routines over the years. Between having to take the same buses, subways, etc. I’d run into regulars often. Theyd be friendly. I mean throwing all social so called “formalities” aside, id go right into it with them about drugs. Hello how are you ah nice to see you again im CJ and lets talk about drugs.

    I’ve honestly encountered the stupid “yeah i think pot should be legal but nothing else” alot more than “all drugs are bad” but i have also had a great deal of “make it all legal, tax it.”

    I love to let people know, straight up and right away that I use heroin and have for a long time everyday. I love talking about it. Now without getting to specific, my family owns a business in a small, everybody knows everybody kinda town. I am not involved and yes because of my very public heroin love and everything else in a town like that you know, im sure you can figure out how it works. I was using the public trans in this neighborhood and began developing the see you everyday deal im talking about with this kind old lady. Anyhow, not wanting to delay her from being treated like everybody else i meet in this position, soon enough were talking about drugs. She was taken aback, no sweat, i dont care, i dropped the H bomb on her if you will and that was like revealing a swastika tattoo to a rabbi on a brooklyn bound subway. There was this stunned silence. I just smiled and kept smiling.

    Eventually she began to ask me guarded questions, about H. You know very soon we had an extraordinary conversation about it and she thanked me for educating her but she was honest saying she didnt think what i was saying was true – like heroin maintenance programs dont exist and that heroin isnt a controlled substance anywhere else in the world.

    Well it turns out this old lady was one of the family business’ regular customers for many decades. whoops. and knew who i was or whose son i was. ah…

    well i figured that wouldve ended that business relationship and i felt bad, but, one day on the rare day me and my old man somehow found eachother on communication lines, he asked me how i knew that lady and said that she raved about me all the time “oh what a smart boy” blablabla….you know, i hope shes enjoying her old age with that bayer brand goodness now….but you know, ill tell you, id never thought going in that i could help this person, clearly set in her ways etc. ever understand the truth of the matter. She definitely wouldve been cool on the subject if we spoke about pot, dropping several hints, but that wouldve been a disservice to prohibition reform. Again, where will 90% of the online drug reform population go if/when pot is legalized and everything else isn’t? i am pretty sure regardless of what anybody says most of you will be gone. People like me will have to start all over and yeah i probably wont be alive to see any decent improvement in the world of the “drug question” if that happens.

  • I am always amazed at how many people
    A) Still have no knowledge of the endocannabinoid system and that it controls the other systems in our bodies.
    B) Support cannabis legalization yet still have no understanding of the medicinal value and properties.
    C) Have no clue we have a third party candidate for president that will legalize cannabis (Yes, so many have no idea Gary Johnson and Jim Gray are running – PLEASE GET THE WORD OUT!)
    The list goes on – Educate everyone you can – Paying a bill – start talking, everyone knows someone with cancer or other ailment cannabis works for.

    The other amazing fact I keep running into is that Lawmakers have no understanding of the medicinal properties of cannabis, ( they often say they need more information, – PLEASE send them some! And Lawmakers tend to think there is no support for medicinal use or legalization BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOT HEARD FROM THEIR CONSTITUENTS!

    SPEAK UP AND SPEAK OUT! EDUCATE EVERYONE YOU MEET AND INFORM YOUR LAWMAKERS!