Movement Within a Movement: the Ice Bucket Challenge and Cannabis Activism

Share this with your friends

Imagine, if you will, all the causes that you envision yourself standing behind. Imagine the passion, the determination, the endless hours, the research, the people, the patients, the veterans, the organizations, the countless kind souls trying to make a difference, the activists, the advocates and all the other aspects behind the scenes that it takes to truly make a positive change in our world. Imagine compassion for all, apathy for none. Imagine what the world would be like if we could honestly do something right for a change.

The current viral nature of the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” shows us what can happen when we work together to help within a common cause. There is a reflection of our society which we rarely envision that resides just beneath the surface of what the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” truly means.

So, it begs the question: what is all the hoopla about?

As cynical as life may have made us, the hoopla is really about the genuine need we have to want to help our fellow man. It is one of the few shining moments we have displayed in recent years as a society, much like the Occupy Wall Street movement’s ability to bring together various demographics for the betterment of all. It is symbolic of our collective consciousness screaming that things have gone astray, and we want to get back on course.

But, maybe the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” merely reflects what Lou Gehrig said in his retirement speech when the fatal neuromuscular disease that slowly robs the body of its ability to walk, speak, swallow and breathe first became a household disease:

“I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for.”

Gehrig’s words showcase the underlying reason why the “Ice Bucket Challenge” has captivated people around the globe. The people afflicted with this terribly vicious degenerative disease deserve a chance at living. They deserve our help in finding a cure or, at the very least, they deserve our society’s compassion for their wanting to try remedies that may not be deemed “legal.” We should not stand as roadblocks to these people’s happiness, quality of life or personal choices.

Executive Director of Peachtree NORML Sharon Ravert is no stranger to the horrific effects caused by ALS. Ravert watched the downward descent of her brother-in-law Jennings Winters as the horrific disease broke him and eventually took his life.

“I did all I could do to talk him into using cannabis, it was not like he had never tried it or that his family would have not been supportive,” said Ravert.  “We don’t have safe access, but there is cannabis all over Georgia, this is nothing new.”

As the executive director of the Georgia affiliate of NORML (National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws), Ravert is also keenly aware of the need to do more research into cannabis therapies for diseases such as, but not limited, to ALS and to allow safe access to this medicine to the patients afflicted with these conditions.

“Prohibition shortened Jennings life and that was most evident when I met Cathy Jordan three years ago.  She has been living with ALS for 28 years, using cannabis only,” Ravert said. “Each time I see his kids and grandkids, it makes me sad that our leaders are calling patients hijackers.”

Ravert and her daughter Brittany both participated in the “Ice Bucket Challenge” in order to call out other marijuana activists to join in the movement within the movement.

With scientific studies finding that cannabis therapy has been shown to extend the lives of those afflicted with ALS, the two activists wanted to illustrate the need for other marijuana activists to actively become involved in other causes like the ALS movement because of the way in which most, if not all, of the causes we as humans stand for are closely related and intertwined.

“We shouldn’t be blinded to the other issues that affect our society simply because we are trying to achieve our own goals,” said Ravert’s daughter. “The drug war has helped to fuel a plethora of consequences in the name of being moral. Drugs are not the problem, prohibition is the problem. People afflicted with diseases, like my Uncle Jennings was with ALS, should be able to utilize any means they deem necessary to help ease their pain and allow them a better quality of life. How is it moral for the drug war to stand idly by as people suffer and die? How is it moral that drug war policies block research that may save lives?”

Cathy Jordan would agree. Jordan has been using cannabis to mitigate the symptoms of ALS for over 20 years. Jordan believes that cannabis has helped to slow down the crippling effects of  ALS.

In Dean Becker’s new book, To End the War on Drugs, Jordan is quoted as saying, “If cannabis can be delivered to me in the brain then they can control ALS. That’s what I’ve been trying to say for years.”

When most people diagnosed with ALS are only living for an average of three years after that diagnosis, Jordan’s story provides persuasive anecdotal evidence that cannabis can help to extend the lives of ALS sufferers.

Ravert and her daughter plan on participating in the Atlanta Walk to Defeat ALS under the team name Daddy’s Girls while proudly wearing their NORML t-shirts on Saturday, Sept. 13, at 10 a.m. at the Georgia World Congress Center International Plaza to spread their message of the movement within the movement.

Imagine, if you will, what could happen when we all connect our efforts for the betterment of man. Imagine the movement within the movements.


Photo Credit: tenz1225 under (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr