There is something you can do — today — to hasten the day of re-legalization. You can come out as a responsible cannabis consumer to someone who does not know you love the plant. Our friend Tom Angell over at MarijuanaMajority shares his thoughts on how to come out of the cannabis closet.
Come out of the closet. One of the most powerful things you can do as a marijuana consumer is tell people in your life, “I use marijuana, and I don’t deserve to be criminalized or discriminated against.” Research has shown that, while mass advertising campaigns tend to crystallize existing attitudes, personal conversations with people we trust have the power to actually change views.
Choose your audience wisely. Although marijuana legalization is rapidly spreading, our work is far from done: An estimated 200,000 people have already been arrested for marijuana so far this year. If you’re in a very conservative area and risk losing your job or burning bridges with your family (or worse), maybe your boss and parents aren’t the best people to start with. Instead, consider coming out to acquaintances you’ve met through volunteer service, sports or hobby groups, or in your community. You can even try talking to a stranger—but remember, the better someone knows you, the more impactful the conversation will be.
If you, yourself don’t consume: Underscore the importance of personal freedom and respect for others. As a non-user, your testimonial can be all the more powerful. Because you don’t directly benefit from legalization, your argument for supporting others’ personal freedom is likely to be perceived as less biased and more credible.
For users and non-users alike: Arm yourself with facts beforehand. You know the myths prohibitionists believe about marijuana: that people who use it are lazy slackers who don’t succeed in life. Be ready to disprove common assumptions with evidence and personal stories to back yourself up.
Many productive, successful adults use marijuana. If you don’t consume cannabis yourself, you can point to President Obama, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman or Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps, who have all used marijuana at some point and gone on to achieve great success.
Marijuana prohibition has been a failure by almost every measure. Our government wastes tens of billions of dollars each year criminalizing otherwise productive, law-abiding citizens for possessing a plant. And for all their efforts, marijuana’s popularity shows no signs of waning. The latest federal survey found that more than 22.2 million Americans have used marijuana in the past month—that’s about one in every twelve people.
Have a conversation—don’t give a speech. Your chances of success are greatest if you really listen to the person you’re talking to. While you want to be prepared with facts, you also want to allow the conversation to steer itself naturally towards issues of greatest concern and relevance to the person you’re speaking with.
In the end, the details of your conversation matter less than the fact that you have the conversation. Simply by setting an example as a proud and respectful consumer or supporter, you’ll be helping to bring marijuana into the mainstream in a positive way. — Tom Angell
Happy 4/20 everybody. It’s our time to “come out for cannabis.” Let’s change the world.
*”Come Out for Cannabis” is a registered trademark, used with permission.
[image: Google images “Come Out for Cannabis”]
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