Before getting into cannabis activism, we must first mention that this movement originated from global cannabis prohibition. The movement traces back to opium, the first international drug commodity. The British took control over this plant when they conquered India, the world’s largest producer during the 18th century. China, where opium enjoyed widespread popularity, was the biggest buyer. When the Chinese Emperor sought to ban opium trade, the “Opium Wars” erupted in the country, at the end of which the ruler was defeated.
Cannabis activism arises as a way of opposing the smear campaign against this plant, starting after prohibition drove cannabis underground. This created a black market and drug cartels that have battled for monopoly for decades. The fight for legalisation has been supported by magazine publishing houses, journalists and experts, and, this year, this movement had many accomplishments in Latin America and European countries.
Cannabis Activism in Spain
“Cañamo,” meaning “hemp” in Spanish, is the name of the most representative magazine of cannabis activism in Spain. It’s been around for more than 20 years dealing with consumption and is largely responsible for the spreading of self-cultivation across Spanish cities and towns. Each printed issue would be accompanied by a seed, and since its inception, 1/4 of its content is devoted to informing—over and over again—about the mysteries and most important news about cannabis growing and cannabis culture, for both beginners and the more knowledgeable. Cannabis regulation activism is a form of displaying freedom of thought and expression: rights that enjoy constitutional protection in any democratic society.
Scholars, experts, and lobbyists have worked for decades trying to reshape drug control policies. First of all, they suggest that cannabis—the most popular illegal substance with 180 million users—should be legalised.
Cannabis Activism in Latin America
Several leaders who held office have humbly admitted that those policies they had enforced for years were wrong and then flied the flag for legalisation way before pro-cannabis bills were signed into law in many Latin American countries. The Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy, convened by Latin American former presidents Cesar Gaviria (Colombia), Ernesto Zedillo (Mexico) and Fernando Cardoso (Brazil), admitted in 2007 that “pursuing a world without drugs is not a realistic goal and, therefore, this cannot constitute the basis of public policy.”
Around the same period, the Global Commission on Drug Policy was created, consisting of members such as former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz, former President of Switzerland Ruth Dreifuss, Peruvian writer and politician Mario Vargas Llosa, and multimillionaire and philanthropist Richard Branson.
These represented progress and landmark support at a time when only a few short-lived experiences of cannabis activism could be found. Dutch coffee shops, Spanish cannabis clubs, and experiences in some U.S. states gave rise to a wave of activists who are now supporting the cannabis movement in its fight for legalisation of this plant, and its medical and recreational uses.