A reader writes:
In Phillip S. Smith's review, he asked, "But have [Cannabis Closet contributors] taken other actions to change the status quo -- political actions like lobbying legislators or donating to groups that are working to change the laws?"
It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that Americans aren't willing to stick their neck out to work against marijuana prohibition, since the consequences for making that preference public are disproportionately harsh. I assume I am not alone in the fear that speaking up about marijuana would mean a risk of losing my job, and of hurting my chances at another job in the future.
Just recently, a Redditor who used to fight for marijuana legalization found that his "past life" of activism was preventing him from getting a job; he had to ask for help scrubbing his name's Google Search results. Certainly, there are ways to remain anonymous, or to advocate quietly enough to avoid notice, but with the traditional avenues of political speech denied to us by threats of financial ruin, it's hard to feel positive about marijuana activism.
Another is a bit harsh on Smith:
Mr. Smith makes two facts overwhelmingly clear. One is that he did not read your foreword to the book, and two is that he does not adequately comprehend the position of the common stoner. You see, when your occupation is a “drug reform activist”, you really don’t have to worry about losing your job by coming out of the cannabis closet. For those of us who have “real jobs” (i.e. doctors, lawyers, truck drivers), we are faced everyday with the very real choice between either providing for our families or cutting off our noses to spite our faces.
Had Mr. Smith taken the time to read the foreword, he would have realized the purpose for which this book was offered: as a starting point. Mr. Smith has put the cart before the horse. He wants every reader and contributer of the book to become a full-blown activist, not understanding where this fight actually lies. You wrote at length about the prevalence of marijuana in our culture, almost a “tongue in cheek” rite of passage for the youth, where everyone understands or accepts its harmlessness and yet we still silently suffer with our low self-efficacy. This book was meant to galvanize. To make others aware of our existence. To act as catharsis. The idea of revolution must be gently kindled before it becomes a roaring fire. Mr. Smith, as a self-declared “drug reform activist”, has taken up the snotty air of superiority shared by most activists: lambasting those who agree with him because they’re not as hardcore as him.
All we want is to be left alone. And coming out of the closet will have the complete opposite effect. When marijuana is already so prevalent in American society, the return is not worth the risk. And the main difference between the stoner closet and the gay closet (without sounding trite or indifferent to the unfairness of comparing the two) is that the US government has not declared a multibillion dollar war on gays.
Just for the record, at least one contributor to The Cannabis Closet regularly makes donations to reform groups and contacts his representatives. I'm sure the number is much higher than that. I realize that Smith wasn't being particularly scathing and is probably right about the percentages involved, but he verges on invoking the lazy/selfish/clueless stoner stereotype that the book does its best to combat.
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