There are many cannabis activists doing great things for the legalization movement in the United States. These activists have made a noticeable impact in influencing not only government policies, but also the attitudes people hold towards medical and recreational cannabis. However, as with just about every type of positive activism, doing so can come with a hefty price to pay.
The consequences of activism can be hard enough on someone who is single and doesn’t have children – but for those who have families, they can be devastating. Should you become a cannabis activist if you have a family? What are the risks of cannabis activism? Are there some forms of cannabis activism that are safer than others? What are some ways you can plan for the worst-case scenario? Read on for the answers to these important questions.
The Risks Of Cannabis Activism
With the continued war on drugs and the illegality of cannabis at a federal level, activists run the risk of being ticketed, fined, and even arrested. Police and other officials tend to be standing by for protester, and those participating in “smoke-outs.” On top of that, known cannabis activists can be shunned and ostracized by their communities and other organizations. There are still some more conservative towns and cities out there, the majority of their residents clinging to an antiquated prohibitionist mindset.
The “think of the children” rhetoric is one that’s often trotted out by these individuals, repeating the either uninformed or dishonest viewpoint that legalization increases underage use. Of course these anti-pot prohibitionists rarely admit in the same sentence that alcohol and tobacco – the two legal drugs that claim the most lives year after year – are readily available in most American locales.
Activists with children, especially single parents, take on the added risk of Child Protective Services taking their children from them, or at the very least making their lives more difficult. Regardless of the level of harm or drug activity these children are being exposed to, any shred of evidence that a parent is a known user of an “illegal drug” can trigger an investigation. While many of these investigations are fair and honest, unfortunately many of them are not.
In addition to this danger, a known cannabis activist runs the risk of being denied jobs, bank loans, and the like. With all of these risks that cannabis activists are up against, it’s commendable that there are still brave people that do so with the knowledge of what awaits them.
Are Any Forms Of Cannabis Activism Safe?
With all of these risks involved, it’s natural for one to wonder – what kind of activism can you do that is safe?
There is one method of activism, one that is just about as old as time: word of mouth. Having conversations with friends, neighbors, and extended family members about the truth of the failed war on drugs and the myriad of benefits from medical cannabis certainly is not illegal; at least not yet, anyway. It might seem like doing so is small potatoes and that these conversations don’t matter, but you might be surprised at how many former prohibition supporters saw the light and came around to favor legalization after having these kinds of conversations.
Even sharing cannabis-related articles with your connections on social media can have a positive impact on the way these people perceive legalization and its supporters. While most people do in fact live in an echo chamber and shut out the majority of what they disagree with – especially when it comes to social media – there are still those open-minded few that are willing to hear new ideas and engage in points of view that contradict their own. These are the people we should be focusing on and trying to engage with in conversation.
Planning For The Worst-Case Scenario
So you’ve weighed the pros and cons about being a cannabis activist while having a family and you’ve decided that you’re going to go through with it. Your bravery is commendable. At this point, you need to make some plans should something unexpected happen. Even those with the best-laid plans can experience setbacks and unfortunate events. Thankfully, there are several steps that you can take in order to plan for the worst-case scenario. This can mean several things ranging from being incarcerated to having your children unjustly taken from you.
The first and most important thing you need to do to plan for the worst-case scenario when being a cannabis activist is having a plan of action. Create contingencies for your children to be taken care of should you be incarcerated or have something else happen to you. Communicate your intentions to a trusted family member or friend and prepare them for the possibilities.
Another important action you can take to protect yourself while being a cannabis activist is to put aside some emergency money. Create an activist fund and put as much money as you can afford into this fund. Over time, you can build up this specific account to help you pay costly court fines or cover tickets for civil infractions. Grant account access to your spouse or someone you can trust should you need assistance and be rendered unable to get to the funds – such as being jailed for activism.
Your activist fund will help you pay for another important thing you can do to prepare for unfortunate events – hiring an attorney. Depending on where you live, you may need to shop around for one who is open to representing cannabis activists. Developing a relationship with a legalization-friendly attorney will not only get some of your important legal questions answered, it will ensure that you have competent legal counsel to represent you – someone that understands your unique situation and can act as your advocate should you be arrested for your cannabis activism.
Whether you have a family or you don’t, you are the only person that can decide if cannabis activism is right for you and your lifestyle. Do your research, understand the risks that come with cannabis activism, and try to make an impact any way you can. Every legalization advocate has a role to play whether they realize it or not; by working together, we can keep peeling back the layers of the harms brought about by prohibition.