by Rick Thompson/originally appeared in The Rolling Paper – November 2019 issue
The revolution is over… long live the revolution!
Michigan citizens fought a long war against unjust cannabis laws in which many battles were fought in many places. Although cannabis has been liberated- mostly- the scars of the revolution still remain on those who experienced it. Now that the war against bad rules has been won we can focus on the most important battle of all: ending conflict among ourselves.
It was easy to sling hate and distrust when we were all standing on the same side of the fence, looking at ‘the man’ on the other side. Those who created, enforced or advocated for the prohibition of the cannabis plant were our common enemy. It was easy to see which side of the fence someone was on.
Even though we changed the rules with petitions and forced bills through the legislature, most of us still disbelieve government is/will properly implement the pro-cannabis laws we have now. We still get PTSD when a police office gets behind us while driving. The lingering effect of bad government is a generations-long period of recovering the public trust.
But the lingering effect of a long revolution is distrust among the victors. Those who think the rules did not provide enough freedom are distrustful of the people who helped created the new, much better rules we have today. Those who made profit during the time of prohibition would like to see that era of personal benefit extended. Those who worked hardest to make the change are beset with criticisms from those who held their voice in check or who lobbed criticisms like grenades from the sidelines.
That divide is amplified by the introduction of outside profiteers who never struggled, felt disadvantaged or took a risk during the old times. To be sure, some people have entered Michigan’s cannabis industry and made complete asses of themselves. Yet others enter the MMFLA with a sense of history, a respect for the people and the purpose we had in forcing change on a society whose most powerful members did not want change.
At the end of every revolution, some people want to remain revolutionaries. The fun of fighting is a big enticement for some. Now that the fence has been removed and the players from both sides are mixing, it is difficult to identify those who deserve ridicule and those who are just trying to find their way in a post-revolution state. People who like to complain are still complaining, they are just being less discriminatory about their targets.
No revolution ends in a complete victory; compromise is the art of being disappointed by degrees. The government’s decades-long War on Drugs taught us to hate those who enact, enforce and enjoy rules we believe are unjust. Those who sought perfection in the medical marijuana business law, or the recreational cannabis personal freedoms, or the adult-use business rules were doomed to be disappointed.
Now that we have won our revolution we should let the criticism guns cool off a little. There will be another revolution to be fought- maybe expungement, asset forfeiture reform, federal law change or better state laws- and it’s tough to keep your allies on your side of the fence if you have been shooting at your friends.