Freedom Fighter of the Month
March 2011 – Jane Hamsher
FireDogLake’s Just Say Now!
By Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator
California’s Proposition 19 to legalize marijuana didn’t pass last November, but it succeeded in advancing the cause of legalization. One of the most important victories was the forging of new coalitions to end prohibition with civil rights groups like the California NAACP, the Latino Voters League, and the Progressive Jewish Alliance; law enforcement groups like the Black Police Association and the Latino Officers Association; and labor unions like SEIU and UFCW.
Another victory is the legalization discussion in the national media, which once derided ending marijuana prohibition with a thousand pot pun headlines but now can’t stop running documentaries and interviews about the subject (though the pot puns are still there; editors just can’t resist.)
These victories might not have been possible and Prop 19 might not have pulled in the record-setting 46.1% of the vote without the work of this month’s Freedom Fighter, Jane Hamsher.
Ms. Hamsher is the founder of the influential progressive blog firedoglake.com. Legalization has long been a popular topic in the progressive blogosphere, but one that had been largely taken for granted among the leading blogs, not meriting the “serious” attention of issues like health care, the economy, and immigration. Hamsher, however, understood how the drug war was impacting nearly every issue her progressive readers found important. She did the sensible thing and just asked, and in a poll from April 9, 2010, she found 92%-97% of her readers wanted firedoglake actively involved in legalization efforts.
By April 20, the symbolic “cannabis day”, a contest had been held to name the project “Just Say Now” and the rest is history. Teaming up with Students for Sensible Drug Policy, firedoglake was instrumental in get-out-the-vote activities and elevating the legalization discussion from the pipe dreams of college students and aging hippies to the serious public policy table.