Defining Cannabigotry

I write this post to introduce the term “cannabigotry” to Cannabadger readers.

I recently was back in Oregon to renew my medical cannabis card one more time. I also spent a day in Salem at the State Capitol lobbying on behalf of out of state patients. Two friends, Lee Berger and Lindsey Rinehart, members of Portland NORML’s lobbying committee, had invited me to spend a day with them lobbying in favor of reversing the recent sunset on new and renewal cards. While lobbying we got to talking about “cannabigotry.”

Lindsey Rinehart discussed the origins and definition of the term in an article she wrote for in the February 2016 issue of Dope Magazine, “Cannabigotry The Motivation Behind Prohibitionist Practices.”

“Leland Berger coined the term “cannabigotry” after witnessing the unnecessary arrests of people who either possessed or grew cannabis and seeing first-hand the discrimination cannabis users faced, whether in housing, jobs, or custody battles. A Portland lawyer of 31 years, he spent 19 of those years defending cannabis consumers before switching to his own private cannabusiness legal firm, CannaBusiness Compliance, LLC. He is also a tenured cannabis activist who works within several national cannabis activism groups, including NORML and Americans for Safe Access.

Mr. Berger supplied a clear definition of cannabigotry. “Cannabigotry is the motivation behind prohibitionist policies,” he wrote in an email.”

“We are right on the science, we are responsible adults and cannabis is a gift. Why is there prohibition? Why are there prohibitionist policies (e.g. dispensary bans, urine testing for employment, housing discrimination)? They just don’t like our kind. They have prejudged us, which is to say they are prejudiced against us. Cannabigotry is where the prejudice is based solely on cannabis.”

Video: Cannabigotry – We legalized, why are we still fighting

“We are right on the science, we are responsible adults and cannabis is a gift. Why is there prohibition? Why are there prohibitionist policies (e.g. dispensary bans, urine testing for employment, housing discrimination)? They just don’t like our kind. They have prejudged us, which is to say they are prejudiced against us. Cannabigotry is where the prejudice is based solely on cannabis.” — Portland Cannabis Attorney Leland Berger

While cannabigotry remains an issue even in states like Oregon where medical cannabis has been legal since 1998 and adult use was legalized in 2014, for those here in Wisconsin who use cannabis, cannabigotry is a daily part of life.

The recent trend of Wisconsin communities reducing pot penalties due to the endemic racial inequality in Wisconsin and the burdens enforcement places on a criminal justice system overwhelmed with more pressing problems including opiate/heroin and meth epidemics represents a recognition of the issues raised by the war on drugs and cannabigotry. As long as cannabis remains illegal in Wisconsin cannabigotry will continue to be state policy.

Monona voters overwhelmingly supported legalizing medical and adult use of cannabis in county advisory referendums in 2010 and 2014. The commission seemed poised to follow the will of city voters and forward a penalty reduction proposal to the city council at their Jan. 27 meeting. A police detective testified in favor and tweaking the draft ordinance amendment seemed to be all that remained to be resolved at the Feb. 24 meeting.

However, prohibitionists showed up in force at the Feb. 24 meeting. Five people spoke against, one was allowed to rattle on for 15 fact-free minutes. Fearmongering and propaganda carried the night with the commission ultimately voting 5-4 to table the amendment indefinitely. Once again, cannabigotry had prevailed. An open records request submitted to city officials after the vote Feb. 24 has revealed some interesting background on how the Monona vote went down. We’ll be posting more about that in upcoming posts…

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