The 3 types of cannabis activists

Having been in the cannabis legalization movement for several years now, I’ve had some glimpses of what goes on and the different types of people involved. I don’t claim to be an expert, or for that matter, as knowledgeable as many others. I’d even go so far as to say that while I’m not a rookie, I’m not much further up the chain either, though I would like to say I’m pretty advanced for my position and time spent.

Most people wait a long time before they write on subjects like this, in actuality most people don’t write on subjects like this period because it tends to piss a lot of people off. Sadly this is a society of “it’s not what you know, but who you know” which makes upsetting a lot of people a very unprofitable move.

Luckily I run on passion alone and haven’t had any qualms with upsetting people by reporting on what I see. This often hurts my standing and reduces opportunities that I would otherwise have. I’m a proponent of reporting the good and the bad in full though.

With that, I’d like to break down activists into what I view as three types. Note that they could be broken down even further, but for the purposes of this article, we’re going with three.

The Selfish Activist

The selfish activist is concerned primarily with what others can do for them and how they can personally benefit from every person and activity. Advancing the cause of legalizing or ending prohibition is a concern for these people, but it takes a backseat to them getting theirs first.

These are the type of people who show up to events to self promote. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with self promotion, you’ve got to get yourself out there some how, but these people are there primarily to self promote and are intent on pushing themselves on others and don’t have much desire to talk to anyone unless you can do something for them.

They will try to hijack your meetings to push their own agenda and will push for positions of power, not for the sake of contribution, but for the sake of having power. Being in a position of power creates opportunities for them to further their own agendas and self promote in order to mooch off the work of others.

Selfish activists jump at every opportunity to not just self promote and gain power, but to knock down anyone who may stand in their way. They’re all too happy to watch part of the ship burn if it suits their needs, and sometimes set the fire themselves.

At times, they’ll be angry just because someone else is advancing, even if it has absolutely no effect on themselves. Anything they can do to tear other people down and slow their advancements will be done unless it advances their own priorities as well. They’ll likely be the people who will get to the top through dishonesty and then kick the ladder down for everyone else so they can remain on their perch.

This includes people who will vote against legalization because it hurts their business, whether it be black market or medical. It also includes people who are getting theirs through a medical program and are no longer interested in taking the cause any further.

People like this are also likely to be the ones who will show up and expect others to provide the bud, while giving nothing in return. This isn’t to be confused with the casual toker who doesn’t carry bud and doesn’t really expect to smoke.

While hard workers, their work isn’t on behalf of the movement, but simply for themselves; though they’ll often want to maintain the illusion that it is to further the cause.

The Party Activist

The party activist is interested in one thing, and one thing only, let’s get stoned and party. They’ll show up to some events, sometimes they’ll show up to all of the events, but they’re not interested in business. To them, it’s one big party, and in their minds, getting together to party means progress.

Sometimes they’ll offer to contribute, sometimes they won’t, but when they do, you can be assured that their efforts are half-assed and anything they do will have to coincide with them partying it up. These people find it extremely hard to do anything seriously, and will often look down on others who are trying to do the actual work.

Of course, we can certainly have a good time and party, but there’s a time and place for that. Seriousness and business have to occur in order to make progress, otherwise, what exactly are we celebrating as we party? We party most often because of our achievements, and while some get-togethers are only for partying, most are not.

The party activists are largely responsible for the image given to the movement. Perception is everything for those on the outside looking in, and when these people are presenting themselves to the public, they represent the movement itself and cause other people to decide to not get involved.

Party people attract more party people, and while I hate to label them as such, they’re almost a parasite. They’re here to have a good time and nothing else, and all too often these are the type of people who won’t even take time out of their partying to show up to a voting booth.

The Team Player Activist

The team player activist is the person who is completely concerned with the cause itself, and puts the movement ahead of their own interests. They’re team players.

These are the creative people who are constantly looking for new ways to improve and expand the message to more people. They’re always looking to make things better and help anyone they can along the way. They take every victory as they can get it and are grateful for it and the people who helped make things happen.

They like to see people succeed and typically views things in the perspective of a rising tide lifts all boats. They believe everyone benefits from the success of the overall movement and will cheer on anyone who does anything positive to help move things along.

There are always going to be people in this category who don’t get along with others, however what sets them apart is that they don’t go out looking to tear them down, and when a person who they don’t get along with does something good for the movement, they will acknowledge it. The team player recognizes the inherent value of contribution, even by those they don’t like or get along with.

Team players devote themselves to ensuring things are done well and concerns are looked after. They are the core of the movement, the gas in the engine.

They’ll be around long after others who find their own personal victory and are no longer helping advance the cause.

By: Stephen CarterContact Stephen by email at



Filed under Contributors, Stephen Carter

13 responses to “The 3 types of cannabis activists

  1. I fear the second group likely won’t even take the time to read the article, though there’s a good chance they may Like it on Facebook without having read it.


  2. Group 1 = Politicians
    Group 2 = Nothing more than numbers to sway polls
    Group 3 = Golden


    • Considering anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I’m known to do things that aren’t in my best interest for the sake of the greater good, I believe I belong in group 3.


  3. I belong in group 3, but as long as you support the legalization of cannabis you’re cool with me, if not then we agree to disagree.


  4. Sterling

    I believe there’s a fourth group there. They’re more along the lines of group two in that they sway the poll counts and show that there’s plenty of people interested in the movement. However, they certainly don’t seem too involved. These are the people who are vocal enough to get the word out, but have jobs and lives to attend to that makes them unable to take more active stance. I belong to this group. I’m vocal in my support, but with the way my life is now, I don’t have the proper time to go to events, or do much else beyond spread the word, send letters to those in power, and vote.


  5. Margaret Hoppus

    There is one activist that I believe belongs in group 3. That would be Julia from Peter McWilliams Tribute page. Since learning about him after reading one of his books and it saving her life, she has devoted herself to spreading his words of inspiration and motivation. Also his belief that prohibition of cannabis should end. She does not use her last name so that the emphasis and subject matter remains on Peter McWilliams and his legacy as a cannabis activist, author, publicist, poet and photographer (just to name a few), lives on and continues to inspire and educate the masses. She herself does not smoke cannabis, so she certainly doesn’t belong in group 2, but does believe that prohibition should end and it be made available, especially, to those patients that so desperately need it. Her page is a testament to being a team player and has many many followers and people who support and adore her…..myself being one of those people. I enjoyed your article Russ Belville, and think you summed up the different types well, although I think the comment made by “Sterling” above shows that there is a 4th type. Thanks so much for article and “nothing but love” to you and yours. ❤


  6. What about the type that wants to Get High, Change the World and does help when they can? They do things others don’t see and do it because they know change comes by example.. Personally I feel like I am none of the above, But want to help make a difference in this world, Not for glory or self reward, But because I have children and the world I grew up in is so much different now then it was when I was a child. What I do does mold them into who they are. When I leave this Earth I want to have the Joy in knowing my children are better off… As of now, I don’t feel I could say that! Not because of what they have been taught, But because of things that still have need for change.. Prohibition destroys lives and harms more Human beings then it has ever helped!!


    • I agree, Jason. None of the above. Why stereotype? With all due respect, this adds another layer of negativity and does not offer a solution. What purpose do these “opinions” make?
      And if “Stephen Carter” is all that, as he took three paragraphs to tell us, why doesn’t his name ring a bell in the activist community?
      That said, I’ll add a category to do away with all the others… The kind of activist who slams people anonymously.


      • Writing is my way of venting and touching on topics people are thinking about but not necessarily talking about. That’s what this was about as well as to paint a picture of what so many have a loose concept of.

        I had also hoped that it would help push people in a better direction.

        I don’t claim to be some guy who is “all that” nor do I think my opinion is superior to anyone else’s. I’ll simply write my thoughts and let everyone think about them and do what they will from there.

        If my words have no merit and I am simply some no name, then it shouldn’t be a problem to ignore what I’ve written and keep walking then.


    • I believe that would fall into the third category.

      It’s all about doing things for the greater good, and that is exactly what this type of activist is.

      Keep on fighting, we all contribute in our own ways.


  7. Moving from activist to missionary was pretty enlightening. Selling hemp to people who have never toked a day in their lives is quite instructive. After more than 20 years of fighting for a cause, I find it much more invigorating than preaching to the choir. Many paths; one goal.


  8. Shena Barnes

    I guess I thought we needed every voice in all corners of the fight. I see no need to divide the folks who are taking a stand.


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