Feb 4, 2020
By Craig Litwin
You don’t have to be a zillionaire and start a foundation or come up with some cool invention to be a star. You can make a difference by eliminating oppression and encouraging compassion in every moment.
If the last decade has taught us anything it is that the world can change fast. Through global communications, we now know there are many individuals in every country working to make a better and more compassionate society. Better yet, we can organize with them to implement positive change.
it can feel like a very looooonnng time to wait. But eventually, as is the case with cannabis policy and environmental justice, we finally hit a critical mass where solutions take root, literally and figuratively.
To illustrate this, look at the global parallels of cannabis becoming legal and the rapid response to our climate crisis.
I started working on global justice issues as an 18 year old in 1994. I began by organizing and collecting signatures for Proposition 215 in California to allow medical patients access to cannabis for therapeutic purposes. The Proposition won, and California became the first state in the USA to legalize medical cannabis.
It then took just a little over a decade-and-a-half for a majority of the states to legalize medical cannabis, and from then to see our first adult-use legalization efforts. Multiple countries have now decriminalized or legalized cannabis. Canada has moved forward with recreational legalization. Mexico’s courts are opening up legalization and supporting individual liberty. Even though the federal government is resisting till the end, the USA’s iron-grip ‘just say no’ dogma continues to erode internationally.
Rightfully, the drug war as a whole is being seen for what it is; a waste of time, money, and a destroyer of liberty (also a money machine for private prison shareholders and weapon-makers, but let’s save that one for another day). Imagine all of the creativity we have stymied in the world through caging people up for their non-violent use of a therapeutic substance, one that There is a global demand for social justice, to right the wrongs and free people from prison for a plant. Conservative and liberal legislators alike are passing cannabis laws to allow commercial use.
Also at 18, I began my life as an organizer for ecological restoration and environmental activism. From promoting local food systems to serving in local office as either a Sebastopol councilman or mayor from 2000-2008, I worked hard to both live by example and create policies that shaped lighter-living on the land.
From my activist beginning to now, we have seen a global surge in the development of local food production systems. We have also seen rapid implementation of green energy systems, and cutting edge development that allows for carbon negative homes and businesses. The electrification of our transportation network is well underway. There is a global demand that we protect soil and watersheds, and sink carbon in the ground.
Just this last decade, nations are finally stepping up the challenge in real ways. They are organizing to plant forests and create stronger local food webs. National policies are being implemented to eliminate food waste, single use plastics, and oil and nuclear power generation. Even with the USA’s abrupt exit from the Paris Accord three years ago, California, the fifth largest economy in the world, is still moving forward with climate protection efforts.
There is too much internetia behind a global solution to stop the change that must happen. We have hit a critical mass. If big government stalls, people are organizing local governments and groups of influence, influencing businesses and schools, and standing up for climate justice in public and in private. Students such as Greta Thunberg have led climate strikes, and more and more corporations are becoming B Corps and conducting business with public good in mind. When big government then acts correctly people are rising to the challenge and helping to push the envelope even farther. Consumers are voting with their dollar. It is a positive feedback loop.
This is the decade of hope. Hope that we will finally stop the war against people and a plant by legalizing cannabis in the USA and around the globe. Hope that globally we are increasingly focused on real-time solutions to help sink carbon and restore climate stability. Interestingly, Industrial Hemp, and its use as a fiber, fuel, food, and much more is available to support this transition and both frees the plant and gets us off the carbon-economy.
But most importantly, this is the decade that we bring compassion back as a central theme of what it means to be a human and wholeheartedly reject power-over behaviors that try to control all resources. This is the root of the problem, where the poison takes hold.
The United States, as but one example, was founded on slavery, the oppression of women, and First Nation genocide. This is a story the world over. We were founded on immoral acts. Power-over is toxic and takes time to mitigate.
Globally, folks are rising up to the challenge to restore social and environmental justice. Increasingly, they are both seen as one and the same. One cannot exist without the other.
So buckle up, get your mind focused and your heart clear, and let’s organize to make this decade the one where we turn the tide around. We face unparalleled global challenges, which thankfully come with unparalleled opportunities.
Craig Litwin is a political consultant and cannabis activist since 1994. He is CEO of 421 Group, a cannabis and progressive-issues consultancy based out of Sebastopol.
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