Social media isn’t just about the selfie.

For many years, cannabis opponents spread reefer madness without the ability for average citizens to call them out on it in a meaningful way. For the most part, people were unable to voice their opposition to prohibition outside of just screaming about it on street corners, or having private conversations with people.

Mainstream media didn't help matters, as most mainstream media outlets were firmly in support of cannabis prohibition, and helped perpetuate reefer madness falsities and stereotypes.

Reform victories are hard to come by when society is constantly reinforced with the perception that support for reform is a minority opinion, and that if you support reform, you likely eat too many potato chips and live in your parents basement.

In the past decade or so, reform victories have been achieved at a greater rate than all previous prohibition decades combined. While there are many contributing factors to that trend, there is one factor that I think is more significant than many others, and that factor is the rise of social media.

Social media changes the game for activism

Social media allows each one of us to spread knowledge and awareness - with little or no bias of mainstream corporate media or propaganda.

Social media completely changed the rules of engagement when it comes to spreading information and debunking claims made by opponents. No longer do people have to rely on mainstream media outlets to publish op-eds or letters to the editor.

When an opponent makes a wild claim, or does something that needs to be called out, activists can take to social media to bring awareness to the issue.

Information is spread like never before in America due to the rise of social media, and debunking cannabis information is no exception. Average people now have a much larger voice than ever before. Organizing efforts have also benefited greatly from social media.

There are some people out there that are still skeptical of social media's impact on cannabis reform. When I come across those people, I always offer up two examples.

The story of Dwight Holton in Oregon

Social media can spur conversations and fundraising efforts around important topics like health issues and medical marijuana legalization.

In the Spring of 2012, there were two candidates for Attorney General in Oregon. One of those candidates was Dwight Holton, who had recently referred to Oregon's Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) as being a 'trainwreck.'

Dwight Holton made it obvious that he was a drug warrior candidate, and that he had desires of dismantling the OMMP. His opponent, Ellen Rosenblum, was a true Oregonian (Dwight had just recently moved to Oregon) and supported the OMMP.

The race between the two candidates was not a sexy one by media standards. Oregon did not have a Republican candidate for the open seat, so the race in the May was primary between these two Democrat candidates.

Elections in Oregon are usually not national media headline worthy. However, by the end of the race between Dwight Holton and Ellen Rosenblum the race had been covered by national media outlets in Illinois, Washington DC, New York, and Los Angeles. How did that happen?

I'll tell you exactly how that happened - social media. Activists shared the story on sites like Digg.com, StumbleUpon.com, Reddit.com, and of course Facebook and Twitter.

The race went viral, initiated by social media. The newly found attention led to large donations to Ellen's campaign, and highlighted that Dwight Holton was an un-compassionate carpetbagger.

Before activists took to social media, Dwight Holton was projected to win by as much as 7%. In the end, he got trounced by well over 20%, and the OMMP (and I'd argue other state programs) was saved in the process. It was a huge, huge victory!

Jeff Mizanskey gets his freedom

Jeff Mizanskey - Photo on Chris Mizanskey's Change.org petition. 

Jeff Mizanskey was sentenced in 1994 to life in prison for non-violent, cannabis only offenses. He would never be eligible for parole from the Missouri prison system.

It's one of the most inhumane sentences for cannabis that has ever been handed out. For over two decades Jeff Mizanskey was locked in a cage. 

Jeff's son Chris started a petition to urge the State of Missouri to grant his father his freedom. The petition was submitted to Reddit. This petition on Reddit, combined with some other factors, helped the story go viral.

In the end Jeff's son Chris had collected almost 400,000 signatures, which helped build huge momentum that eventually led to Jeff's release a little over a year ago.

Jeff's story is powerful, as were his interviews with people, and the efforts of activists and family members offline. But social media also played a big role in his release.

Jeff is currently free and living with his family in Missouri. Had it not been for social media, there's a good chance that his story wouldn't have received the attention it deserved, and he could still be locked in a cage.

Fortunately he is now free. As Jeff's friend on Facebook, I can assure you that he has now taken his voice to social media to spread the message of reform, and very effectively at that!

***

I have helped campaigns across America by harnessing the power of social media. Other long established political strategies are still needed to run a campaign, but social media is a powerful medium. And it's FREE!

My message to Green Flower readers is to get out there. Get on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Snap Chat, Instagram, and whatever other platform you use. If you want to organize a local event, check out this class, "How To Organize A Local Event To Educate Your Community About Cannabis."

Measure success by the quality of engagement you are able to achieve, not necessarily the quantity of your reach. Nine gillion followers is great, but only if they are engaged. Engagement is the key. If your followers are small, but they are engaged with you and your information, you are on the right track!

Support cannabis reform one upvote, 'like' 'share' 'retweet' etc. at a time. It's free, and easy to do!

Do you use social media as a way to share your passions and thoughts?

Do you use social media as a way to share your passions and thoughts?

Always!
79%
No
0%
I keep to myself
3%
I want to
11%
I'm going to start now!
8%