Image of legal medical marijuana ready for harvest
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Voters in at least five states are expected to consider some sort of ballot initiative in 2016, regarding legal recreational marijuana use for adults. And as media reports have shown, legalization appears to have a surprising amount of bi-partisan support in some regions.
 
But decades of anti-marijuana rhetoric are still having their impact in the ongoing online discussions on social media – where people who remain firmly against cannabis are bumping up against marijuana advocates on a regular basis.
And Mike Robinson, who runs the Colorado-based Coalition for the Rights of Disabled People, says he’s found himself shut out of numerous online support groups that discuss alternative medical treatments once he brings up the subject of medical marijuana.
 
“I strongly believe that it’s a built-in fear factor that stems all the way back to the Reefer Madness days,” he tells WeedWorthy.
 
Robinson suffered from seizures following a bad auto wreck, and says cannabis allowed him to stop taking standard medications and live a normal life. One of the major challenges in advocating medical marijuana, he says, is trying to get past many people’s “lack of knowledge” about marijuana’s medical uses. 
 
“My hopes are that people will take that extra minute or two and do a search (online), and learn,” he adds. “Just ‘click-click’ whatever their problem is and do a search: ‘cannabis and cancer,’ ‘cannabis and lupus’ whatever it may be.”
 
And in states where marijuana remains illegal, fear of prosecution appears to be another factor that’s dampening the broader discussion of cannabis legalization. But some pro-cannabis advocates have found creative ways to get their message across.
 
In Indiana last month, after the state’s governor signed into a law a controversial “religious freedom” measure, one group decided to establish the First Church of Cannabis in Indianapolis. Bill Levin, the church’s founder and self-proclaimed “minister of love and Grand Poobah,” says the church is an act of “love, compassion and honesty.”
 
Marijuana, both medical and recreational, remain illegal in Indiana, but the Church’s Facebook site, which has only been up for the past several weeks, already has nearly 30,000 “likes” – and Levin says that’s not by accident.
 
“I have a very large fan base because I speak for Hoosiers who are afraid to say things,” he notes, “because they’re in positions of power and their party might not like it.”
 
Levin’s advice for his fellow cannabis advocates is to treat marijuana opponents civilly. “If you address the world with love, compassion and you speak to them with dignity,” he tells WeedWorthy, “even if they are harsh trolls on the Internet, and you keep repeating yourself, you’ll get there.”
 
For his part, Mike Robinson says he’s seeing a change in how people regard medical marijuana, and a growing willingness to try and understand its benefits and challenges.
 
“The trend seems to breaking, where (now) people want to learn,” he adds. “And sadly, as people get sick and their medicines no longer work, they turn and run to it -- because they’ve heard about it and they know it’s there, even if they bashed it before.”
 
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