STORIES

Bianca E. Green’s Tips for Cannabis Advocacy

By David Jenison on May 1, 2017

Bianca Green (formerly Barnhill), who executive produced The Culture High, is the long-time cannabis advocate behind B.E. Green Media, the House of Green and Spark the Conversation and a board member of American For Safe Access. Last fall, she famously headed out on a west coast Spark the Conversation tour to discuss Personal Freedom and Drug Policy Reform in an effort to engage consumers to become advocates, and she spoke with PRØHBTD about ways average citizens can advocate for cannabis reform. 

How can we reach out to Donald Trump?

If patients start writing to him telling their stories, we can start to highlight patients in a positive way. President Trump and his family members can see that we are a great group of conscious individuals that choose a plant-based lifestyle, as opposed to what the media said we were like for so many years. That will be a big start. It takes a village. There are not very many people representing our community compared to how many people use cannabis. We, as a community, have to figure out how to convince people. Because my uncle ran High Times for 42 years, I realized there's definitely a different approach between being radical and rational. Radical is probably not going to get you as far as being rational these days, and you have facts on your side. Use them. That's why Spark the Conversation really exists: You're having conversations and hearing people's needs and hearing what injustices they have experienced. If you are talking with a prohibitionist, you have facts to back all those things up, which is awesome. There are not a lot of wars in which you have a bunch of facts that let you say, "Hey…."

Your uncle, Michael J. Kennedy, worked with a lot of major players... 

… Hunter S. Thompson, Timothy Leary. Thomas Forcade who founded High Times before his untimely death. My uncle was badass to the end—he passed away in January 2016. He represented the underdog. I get my oomph from him, my gumption. He was a revolutionary who did not really conform. My uncle was all about helping people by representing them and their movements and protecting first amendment rights. He cared about protecting the underdog. He was awesome, he really was, and I'm grateful to have had him in my life.

One difficulty I find in discussing cannabis with prohibitionists is that the arguments in favor of legalization and medical use tend to be more nuanced and complex, and lots of people don't do complexity and nuance. 

It's so true. It's such a complex conversation, it really is, but the bottom line is, we can simplify our argument with one truth. Cannabis has never killed anyone from its consumption. Start there. We just don’t think about what it means to have our own choices. We're going through the footage from our tour. When we ask somebody, "What does personal freedom mean to you?", you might watch somebody trying to figure it out for three to four minutes. As a society right now, we need to get clarity about what's important and question our goals as a species. Our focus needs to shift from my more consumption to more connection, compassion and understanding and then we would see more progress.

How can consumers get more involved? 

Get involved with organizations that are leading the change like Americans for Safe Access safeaccessnow.org, Drug Policy Alliance, NORML and Cal Growers Association. Make an appointment with lawmakers, and if you can, come as presentable as possible because people like him judge you on your presentation. They also accept you based on your presentation. Be active about creating content that you can put online with your friends and family, even if it's with your iPhone, having mindful conversations about how important cannabis is to you, or shedding light on the facts of cannabis. If you spark it on your social media platform, you're going to be the person that people see and look to for more information. Then you can start channeling them to more information. We can make great progress if we start there, if we start with our friends and family and open up the floodgates and get people more proactive.

As far as sparking the conversation with politicians in general, how would you approach it? Would you start on the local level with mayors or go right to senators and house members?

I always go to D.C. because it seems to have the greatest impact, really, because they're the hardest to get to. With The Culture High, we took pieces of the movie and put them out into social media, and it changed the hearts and minds of many people. There's a little boy named Jayden in the film, and his story got almost 100 million views. It was the first of its kind that had a major impact. What is your story that you can take to a senator in D.C.? Make sure you articulate your story to them, and then create information online that their kids will see and bring up at the dinner table. It's a whole umbrella of necessities, of ways to get to people to change the stigma. I go to D.C. every year to lobby, and I see all kinds of different people come in with us. I think everyone who consumes cannabis should lobby in D.C. at least once, but it's just my personal opinion. If consumers don’t advocate for their own freedoms, the opportunity for choice could go away.

These days, I find that many rock bands don't want anything to do with the cannabis conversation, which has got to be the most un-rock ‘n’ roll thing on the planet.

That goes into the realities they face, the shame that they wear, by choosing cannabis. When I became the West Coast correspondent for High Times in 2009, people that were out as smokers like Snoop Dogg were not doing interviews about pot because of contractual agreements that include “no drugs” clauses or because of the continued stigma associated with use. Since 2009, I have interviewed Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, Ricki Lake, B-Real, Redman, Method Man, Melissa Etheridge, Berner, Russell Simmons, John Forte, Richard Branson and Gavin Newsom and pleaded with all of them to get involved. I did not give up and continued to be tenacious about getting celebs’ participation, and you see they are all now entrepreneurs in the space or advocates for change. People still have fear because it's a lifestyle that a lot of people don't understand. The more companies like yours that create media about the people who consume cannabis, the more it will help produce change, but it takes a while. For now, the minimal thing we as consumers can do is go online and post a video introducing yourself as a proponent for change. Say, “High, my name is….” and talk about why you believe in drug policy reform or what personal freedom means to you. It will be the Spark that creates the Flame that creates the Light.

For more information, check out Spark the Conversation and The House of Green. David Jenison (david@prohbtd.com) is Editor-in-Chief at PRØHBTD.

 

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