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Steve DeAngelo Outside the White House

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A Clarion Call

Cannabis legalization pioneer Steve DeAngelo protests in front of the White House in an organized action to free all cannabis prisoners. PHOTOS Giacobazzi Yanez

A Clarion Call

It’s up to each of us to protect, preserve and promote the mighty plant.

Rallying outside the White House with my friends Umi RBG and M1 (among others), from the legendary Dead Prez hip-hop crew, set me to thinking about the relationship between politics and cannabis culture. Freeing the Plant and all our loved ones who are still in prison is a crucially important political task, but legalization isn’t the end point of our movement—it’s just the beginning.

Our real goal is to build a world that lives by the lessons that cannabis teaches us—a world where the power of love is greater than the love of power; where individual freedom is valued over submission to authority. That work happens mostly through the mechanism of culture rather than politics, and most often through music.

Cannabis Culture
Steve DeAngelo—with hip hop legends Redman and M1 of Dead Prez— at the gates of the White House on on October 24, 2022.

Wherever I travel in the world, I ask young people how they were introduced to cannabis. The answer is almost always reggae or hip-hop music, no matter where we are or what language is being spoken. This worldwide expansion of cannabis consciousness through music—through culture—is a beautiful cycle: The plant inspires artists and prophets; their voices call in our newest brethren; those new cannabis warriors strengthen and empower our community; and with that strength, we’re more able to pass more laws and free more prisoners. The freedom thereby created, in turn, makes it safe for us to be more open about who we are and what we believe in; safe for us to create new expressions of cannabis culture that get beamed all across the planet. It’s those culture beams reaching the minds and souls of young people that awaken the next generations of our Tribe.

As long as we listen to the lessons the cannabis plant teaches us—as long as we live by the value system those lessons have taught us—this cycle will continue, and our Tribe will survive.

Cannabis Culture
Police observe a crowd of cannabis prisoner reform activists that gathered to draw attention to the people still unreleased from federal prison in spite of President Biden’s recent executive order.

But we must never, ever let go of our culture. We cannot allow corporate cannabis to replace it with bland, meaningless marketing. We can never allow cannabis to be reduced from a sacred plant to just another commodity. Without our culture, we’re lost. If you love the plant, if you believe in the new world she’s guiding us to, do all you can to protect, preserve and promote cannabis culture.

This story was originally published in issue 47 of the print edition of Cannabis Now.

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