CANNABIS CULTURE – There’s no financial reason to not protest insane, evil, monopolistic pot laws! You can organize a public rally with as little as $300 – here is a list of what you need, with approximate costs, in order to hold a “basic rally”.
– Posters, buckets, brushes, glue: $100-$200
– Signs and banners: $100-$200
– Press release & fax machine: Borrow
– Megaphone: $15/day rental
– Or better yet… Microphone and amp: $40-$90/day rental
– Hemp string/rope (for putting up banners): $10
– Garbage bags: $5
– Broom and dustpan: Borrow
– A few joints for 4:20 and volunteers: $50-$100
– A musician with an acoustic guitar: Slip them a joint
– Reps from med clubs & activist groups: Slip them joints
– Prizes for best costume, sign, plant: Hemp-store donations
– Camera crew – video and still cameras: Slip them joints
– Bottles of water: $30
– First aid kit: Borrow
The second list is for a “Fancy Rally”, which is everything “Basic” plus promotion and equipment upgrades, and a budget for “special touches”. This type of rally will require sponsors and patrons of the rebellious arts, perhaps an association of seed breeders or sellers, hemp store owners, growers and dealers.
– Posters and banners: $1,000 minimum
– Ads on radio and in weekly papers: $1,500
– Sound system and system operator: $800-$2,200
– Rock, jazz, folk and/or reggae bands: $400-$1,000 each
– Stage: Prices vary
– Fly-in speakers and entertainers: Prices vary
– Large open-air tent: $300 to own; can be rented
– Chairs and table: Borrow or rent
– Pamphlets, CC back-issues and other info: $300
– Raffle tickets, 1 roll: $20
– Fabulous prizes: Donations from hemp store/seed shop
– Free cannabis/hash: Donations from growers or dealers
Total: $4,500-$10,000 (or more)
Pointers For Protests
When I started doing rallies in Edmonton back in 1993 with about 50 bucks worth of postering supplies and a single joint to pass around, I had no idea that in Vancouver years later I would get a $7,000 or $8,000 sponsorship from Marc Emery to pay for huge Global Marijuana Marches. Now that activism’s “sugar daddy” Marc Emery can no longer sell seeds to fund the movement, we have to hold our rallies in the traditional way – but the spirit is still there and regardless of budget, you can plan an entertaining, informative, and successful pot protest.
Large rallying banners and signs should all be ready a week ahead of the rally. Posters for your event should go up at least a month in advance – three months would be better. Get the best artist in your neighborhood to design a beautiful high-contrast poster with a big pot leaf, with the rally time, place and date spelled out in big letters so you can see it from across the street. Write additional information, such as “Prizes for best costume, sign, and plant” if you’re holding a contest or raffle. Based on budget and location, make dozens, or hundreds, of color copies. If you can’t afford colored posters, or if you’re hosting a rally in a small town and don’t need many copies, you can buy colored markers and get your artistic stoner friends to create a few beautiful signs for high-traffic areas. Recruit a postering team to paste your event posters up on street poles and bus stops. Use a glue mix of one part wood-glue with ten parts water; coat the poster in the watery mix, then adhere it to whatever surface. If you have a stepladder to glue some up high so they won’t get scraped down right away, that’s even better.
Write a press release and send it to radio and TV stations and newspapers at least a week before the rally, with time, place, location, and purpose. Keep it to one page. If you intend to march anywhere, it is a good idea to let the local fire station know your intended parade route a day ahead of time. If you’re renting equipment, say it’s for a wedding – they might not want to know that you’ll be using it to champion your cause at a big rally or protest downtown!
When you hand out joints or hash to large groups of people, they tend to stampede and turn into pushy potheads. If you’re giving out hash, tell everyone to sit down in small groups with a pipe between them, then move through the crowd filling each pipe with hash so they can partake together. Joints can be tossed out like candy to the crowd, but only if they’re all seated and don’t fight over the goodies. If you intend to break any cannabis laws, it’s a good idea to explain the details behind “hug power” (as explained in the previous article). Just remember: when you hug the arrestee, don’t touch the police – that’s “assault”, and they tend to over-react to “assaults” of fellow officers. On that note, be sure to have camera people on hand. Most cops still have “Rodney-King-phobia” and don’t like being caught on film using force without justification.
The work involved in organizing an event is a lot for a single person to handle – it’s a team sport! Have your partners communicate with each other during the rally with cell phones or walkie-talkies for updates and in case of emergencies. When the giveaways, speeches, marching, and other “events” are over, the attendees will begin to wander off – and like most human beings, they often leave behind a mess of trash. This is where your extra joints and volunteers come in handy! Give out garbage bags with the promise of a joint in exchange for a full bag of litter from the ground. Never leave a park or public space messier when you leave than it was when you arrived. That’s the worst sign of disrespect for the environment, especially from a group of people rallying about a natural plant from the earth!
For larger events, permits may be required to make things go smoothly – it varies depending on location. Check with your local Civil Liberties Association about what difficulties might arise if you don’t obtain permits. You have the right to “peaceful assembly” without a permit, which is guaranteed in both Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the First Amendment of the American Bill of Rights. It doesn’t say “lawful assembly” or “permitted assembly” – it’s “peaceful assembly”, so if you can keep it peaceful, you should have a right to do it, permit or not. Promise that everyone will be “civil”, “non-violent” and “non-destructive”, but don’t take an oath that you “won’t break the law” because people will probably be smoking and sharing cannabis in defiance of prohibition’s unjust criminal penalties. That’s what you’re rallying about anyway, right?