How to Fight for Legalization and Destigmatize Weed

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Article published by MerryJane.com
Written by Avital Norman Nathman
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Bianca Green (left) advocates for legalization and the destigmatization of cannabis.​

Bianca Green started Spark the Conversation in 2014 in the hopes of eliminating the harmful stigma associated with cannabis. A former model, she has used her contacts in the entertainment industry to benefit her advocacy and social activism. Her latest campaign, High, My Name Is, is a multi-city, two-week education event and campaign set to inspire Californians to protect their basic liberties and let their voices be heard as the California Cannabis Legalization Initiative looms on the Nov. 8 election ballot.

MERRY JANE spoke to Green about Spark the Conversation, how she managed to snag her celebrity friends to help her out, and how you can do your part to support the movement.

MERRYJANE: What prompted you to start Spark the Conversation?

Bianca Green: In 2008, I became a patient and my life was forever changed. Immediately, I dove into sparking the conversation with people about cannabis when it was still very uncomfortable for most. I had no fear because my uncle had been a proponent for the plant my whole life, running High Times magazine since 1974. So, I grew up with an admiration for him that changed my perspective on what the media told me pot smokers were like.

At the same time, I was very confused by the Drug War because a family member had addiction issues. I felt I had been duped about what cannabis really was and began meeting patients whose lives were genuinely changed from it. I set out to become a full-time patient advocate with a goal to use mainstream voices to engage a greater audience on the issues surrounding the prohibition of the plant.

In 2010, I became High Times magazine’s West Coast correspondent. In 2011, I became the social media coordinator. I sat down with Snoop and said, “I am ready to take on the world and change the stigma of cannabis and the time is now.” I knew bringing my mainstream friends into the cannabis conversation would help shift the way we looked at cannabis and the people who use it.

That same year I became a board member of Americans for Safe Access and began telling patient stories with a campaign called “I Choose Cannabis.” I realized that if people understood the realities of cannabis and its consumers we would see change. In 2012, I signed on to executive produce The Culture High and brought friends Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg, and B-Real into the fold to lend their voice to the issues surrounding the Drug War. I wanted to use the culture to mainstream the topic and I knew it would help “spark the conversation” about the need for change. I then began hosting some impactful gatherings of the minds in cover shoots like “Mount Kushmore,” with Snoop, B-Real, Redman, and Method Man, as well as another discussion with B-Real, Peter Dante, Berner, and Wiz.

What results are you hoping to achieve in California?

We want to hear from people. We want to engage the new and already existing consumers to become advocates. We celebrate the idea of freedom but rarely participate in actualizing it, so we want to be proactive and engage people. Even with change, there is still a very real war going on. California is the largest economy in the world for cannabis and the world is watching what happens this election. There are many opinions and feelings on the line because this movement has a lot of consciousness and healing properties behind it. So, it’s important that everyone have a voice. We want to hear from people about what they want so we can help get the results we want by sparking conversations with one another about the issues.

What can people who want to help break down the stigma surrounding cannabis and fight for legalization do?

Engage: Watch The Culture High and 13th on Netflix. Also Macklemore’s video “Drug Dealer.” Very informative and thought provoking first steps to engage yourself in these issues. Sometimes using entertainment mediums such as movies, books, and TV shows can spark a thought about an issue.

Empower: Talk about it with your friends and family. Don’t be ashamed. It is not illegal to have a conversation or a belief. Be compassionate that most people are afraid and be mindful you get more with sugar than you do with spice. Use facts and don’t argue. Go to Spark the Conversation to find facts. The plant is meant to be the healing of the nation and healing begins with love.

Evolve: Share your beliefs on personal freedom in a 15–60 second video about what it means to you and why it’s important. Use cultural references if need be to get people engaged. Be passionate, ask friends and family to support you, let people know how much the plant means to you. Ask others to join in your mission to have freedom and end the war on drugs.

The campaign has seen its fair share of celebrity supporters/endorsers. How have you gotten so many of them involved?

Politics are hard for most and sometimes advocacy doesn’t make you friends, because you’re begging people to do things for free, and when your likeness is on the line that means your money can suffer. So, I just hope to continue to inspire them to be as vocal as possible in all ways and to continue to have their fans spark the conversation about this issue.

Wiz gave me the realest advice a few years back when he said, “This should be a peaceful movement and not an angry one.” It shifted my view on how to reach the audience I want. I was so used to being radical because the fight is not peaceful, but I realized people are simply misinformed and afraid. Once that shifted, so did our organization. Wiz helped me in the greatest way.

It certainly is the time to be a movement about healing, consciousness, and intention. We deserve that and so does the plant. And how can you not listen to someone who has a peace sign on their cheek? I feel we should leave no prisoners behind. Until the Drug War is over, we need to help our fellow smokers, growers, and patients feel free.

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