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From Ricardo’s Desk: Activism, Progress and 4/20

Published on
April 12, 2021
Image of a cannabis leave being held up to the sun
Contributors
RICARDO BACA

Ricardo Baca is a 20-year veteran journalist, keynote speaker, TEDx veteran and thought leader in modern media and drug-policy circles. He served as The Denver Post’s first-ever marijuana editor and founded news vertical The Cannabist, where he extensively covered the advent of adult-use cannabis and related issues across the country and around the world, as seen in the feature documentary Rolling Papers (Netflix).

In 2016, Ricardo launched Grasslands: A Journalism-Minded Agency to work directly with business leaders in highly regulated industries, including cannabis, energy and traditional healthcare. Named Marketer of the Year by AdCann in 2019, Ricardo has received numerous accolades for his trailblazing work covering drug policy, cannabis business and culture, and continues to columnize and host podcasts for a number of top publications.

Three media outlets I check every single day: The Denver Post, Vox, The New York Times

Super inspired by: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: The Marshall Project

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Travel. Design. Writing. Feminist. ENFP.


From Ricardo’s Desk: Activism, Progress and 4/20

Friends.

The high holiday of 4/20 is many things to many people—and it all comes down to intentions and messaging.

For many, 4/20 is St. Patrick’s Day for stoners, an opportunity to party with your friends. For others, the holiday is all about advocacy and activism, a reminder that we still have so much work ahead of us to reform drug policy. Either way, 4/20/21 will be a historic day for all who celebrate, especially given the tremendous progress we’ve seen in the last few weeks.

Legalization is happening in New York, New Mexico and Virginia. As a movement, drug policy reform is on fire, and we’re seeing fast-moving progress like we’ve never seen before, especially with state legislators and lawmakers taking on the responsibility of legalizing cannabis themselves.  

So for this year’s 4/20, more people can legally consume with their friends than ever before, and also, activists can celebrate a massively productive cycle that has seen historic wins in New York, New Mexico and Virginia, sure—but also New Jersey, Arizona, Mississippi, Montana and South Dakota, along with Mexico and elsewhere across the globe.

That said, no matter where you fall on the 4/20 spectrum, it’s important to recognize that our work isn’t finished—and that we need to remain vocal until cannabis is legalized federally in the United States. There are a multitude of reasons to end this unjust federal prohibition, including the fact that a federally legal cannabis industry would help lift our COVID-burdened economy.

As United States Cannabis Council Interim President Steven Hawkins recently wrote for Newsweek: “Just as FDR ended the prohibition of alcohol soon after taking office, (President) Biden should work to legalize cannabis right away. Evidence indicates that cannabis legalization can serve as a catalyst for America’s economic revival. After Prohibition’s repeal, for instance, alcohol taxation contributed nearly half of federal revenues, funding much of President Roosevelt’s New Deal while also putting people back to work. Now at a time when many state and local coffers are empty and trillions in federal COVID relief and stimulus investments are urgently needed, taxes on legal cannabis could help pay for an ambitious Biden agenda and create up to 1.6 million jobs.”

So no matter your plans for 4/20, friends, please keep pushing forward in our collective fight to reform American drug policy, because our work is far, far from over.

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