What does this mean?
Part of the reason that marijuana reform is slow in North Carolina is because most people feel like if they get out and advocate for marijuana reform that, their boss will find out and fire them, they will get arrested, or something along those lines. It’s the scare tactics that weigh more on the mind than the actual reason of advocacy.
You see, when LGBTQ rights advocates first came into the main stream public, many people feared the same things and because of that, it has slowed the movement down. 15 years ago if we had had a LGBTQ March and people were scared to show up for fear of the possible aforementioned ramifications, then the “closet advocates” would look at the movement and would see how small it is and probably think that it’s not worth coming out themselves to support. This is the same with marijuana reform.
We already know that recent polling shows that the majority of North Carolina citizens support marijuana reform. Then why do we not have comprehensive marijuana reform? Part of the answer lies with who we elect to represent us, and their willingness to see this as an urgent policy change. Another part, the main point I’m trying to make, is that when the marijuana reform “closet advocates” look out to see what organizations like ours are doing, and see the low turnout for the events, it forces them to subconsciously return to their “closet”.
When I first started a job selling cars, my manager and mentor told me that people want to buy cars where other people buy cars, and he’s right. For instance, when our lot is filled with customers, other customers come pouring in just to see what’s going on. It gives them the confidence to come in and not be alone, which would make it harder to stand out. The same goes for marijuana advocacy. If they see lots of other people out at the events, they feel better about coming out themselves, so their not out their “alone”.
Now is not the time to let someone else take the wheel and steer marijuana reform in the direction we want, it’s up to you. Your presence does more than just adding to our voice, it encourages people to get out there with you. When we have the Global Marijuana March in Raleigh next year, if we don’t show up in droves, we will be hurting our chances at getting reform in North Carolina. Show up, be heard, and give others the confidence to do the same.
-Matthew A. Maulding