If you don't know the backstory, later this month in Seattle, Marc Emery, the so-called "Prince of Pot," is scheduled to be sentenced to five years in American prison for selling marijuana seeds through the mail. The Canadian -- and publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine -- claims to have sold more pot seeds than anyone else in the world. But what in Canada is a $250 fine has led to a four-year court battle in which the Drug Enforcement Administration has sought Emery's extradition for federal prosecution.
This is an injustice that cannot go unrequited within the "cannabis culture," says Raya Sunshine, the 25-year-old Broward woman in charge of Cannabis Awareness & Research Brigade (CARB). And this carb, nutrition buffs, is good for you. Raya and her organization are advocating for your right to personal privacy and trying to make the world aware of the positive aspects of cannabis, specifically: the medicinal benefits (for both small problems like anxiety or headaches, as well as for treatment of things like Parkinson's and cerebral palsy), the industrial uses of hemp (which doesn't even contain THC), and the benefits of personal use (that joint is probably better for you than the six-pack).
And on September 19, the date Emery is scheduled to be sentenced, Raya will lead what she's calling, "a good, old-fashioned protest." Things will kick off at 2 p.m. at the corner of A1A and Sunrise in Fort Lauderdale. There will be signs, chanting, petitions, and like-minded individuals who want the government to get the fuck out of their pleasure centers.
But Raya hopes there won't be pot. "I don't advocate for the breaking of any known laws," says the holistic massage therapy student. "We want to work within the parameters of the current laws. We encourage people not to go that route. We ask people not to bring anything illegal to the rally. Personal time is personal time, but not here."
She also doesn't like to use the word legalization, because it leaves such a bad taste in many people's mouths. "The first goal is the change the stigma," she says. "There are some people who still think people who use cannabis are lazy, unproductive members of society who don't do anything. That's simply not true. There are legislators, members of police forces, people in every walk of life who use it in their personal time."
Raya hopes that small organizations like hers across the country lobbying local governments (as opposed to groups like NORML that work on a federal level) can effect change more effectively.
If you're not outraged enough by the Hellerian absurdity of current drug laws, check out the old 60 Minutes clip on Emery.