It would not be an overstatement to say that the cannabis industry has taken the world by storm! In the past two decades only, this plant has officially revolutionized the way we look at alternative medicine and its applications. What was once a fringe movement of social outcasts has become a worldwide activist campaign fighting for a crop that could save lives!
This is all the more admirable when we look back on history and realize all of the obstacles these activists had to overcome so we could be where we are today. Unfortunately, society and the law had not been kind to weed users in the past. Some that dared to go against the status quo and fight for its legalization faced severe charges that could ruin their lives.
That is why it is vital to know the background of the journey it took to reach today’s victories. We owe it to those before us to commemorate their efforts so we could use this plant freely now. Stick with us as we talk about the prominent cannabis activists that helped this plant’s decriminalization.
The dark history of the green gold
Many might not know that a lot of people who consumed marijuana, whether recreationally or medically in the past, were punished as severely as serial murderers. There were times during the War on Drugs campaign in the 80s when a certain amount of weed on you could result in a life sentence in prison. By comparison, a base involuntary manslaughter sentence is 10 to 16 months.
Such was the fate of Richard DeLisi, who in 1989 was sentenced to staggering 90 years in prison for non-violent drug offenses. He was used as an example by a cruel system meant to punish those at the lowest end of the food chain.
At the age of 71, Richard DeLisi will be finally released from prison after serving one of his 30-year sentences, but not before becoming the longest-serving cannabis offender in American history. Read more about his story at this.
Unfortunately, Richard DeLisi’s story is the rule rather than the exception. Some sources cite figures as high as 40.000 people serving prison sentences for cannabis-related crimes, crimes for the possession of a plant that is now legal or decriminalized in numerous states.
The high heroes
However, marijuana would not enjoy its renaissance today if it were not for the painstaking labors of cannabis rights activists. One such figure is the psychiatrist Tod Hiro Mikuriya. Sometimes referred to as the grandfather of the medical cannabis movement, he researched marijuana for the National Institute of Mental Health Center for Narcotics and Drug Abuse Studies in 1967.
Soon after, he released his book called Marijuana Medical Papers 1839–1972. Although the book was highly controversial, it merely consisted of information from the National Library of Medicine. This information was available to the public but, in many cases, inaccessible or too complicated. When Mikuriya compiled it all into one book, he brought the importance of cannabis for the medical field into the public eye.
Around the same time as his research, members of the Youth International Party (YIP) were staging protests against the Vietnam war. One of them was Steve DeAngelo, later termed the father of the legal marijuana industry. He was also the lead organizer in the so-called smoke-ins held in Washington DC every Independence Day to push for the legalization of weed. Follow this page for more info.
DeAngelo later went on to become a successful businessman, sponsoring scientific research and technology related to pot. He is also a best-selling author, having written The Cannabis Manifesto: A New Paradigm for
Wellness and established the wellness approach to looking at marijuana. DeAngelo is also the founder of the Last Prisoner Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to freeing everyone sentenced for cannabis-related crimes.
Last but not least is Mary Jane Rathbun, the original creator of “special brownies” and the likely inspiration for the moniker of the same name for weed. This inspiring woman baked weed brownies for AIDS and cancer patients during the 80s to help them with the so-called wasting syndrome.
Her impact was so powerful that people even donated their marijuana so she could make them and take them to the AIDS ward at San Francisco General Hospital. She also opened the first medical marijuana dispensary in the US.
Celebrating the achievements
Needless to say, we have come a long way from making special brownies and sneaking them from behind registers. Thanks to the work of the heroes before us, the world has been allowed to see the incredible medical advantages cannabis can offer.
Parents with epileptic children, cancer patients, and people in chronic pain no longer have to fear the law when they want a respite from their conditions. There are manysuch as oils, gummies, and capsules which are available to them just as much as any other medicine. In many cases, they’re even better.
But it bears repeating that the fight to win these rights was brutal and won at the cost of many still resting in jails today. As we enjoy the fruits of the labors of the giants before us, let us not forget the sacrifices of those who were doing it at a more dangerous time. It is our duty to advocate for them now and help them get the freedom cannabis has finally obtained.