Unity Cypher Travels the East Coast

Unity Cypher Torch

The Unity Cypher torch on its tour of the East Coast

 

Unity isn’t always an easy thing to find in cannabis today. The Federal Government has left states to fend for themselves, resulting in cannabis policies that change depending on your exact geographic location. New York won’t let you smoke flower, Maryland (still struggling to issue its first license) won’t sell you edibles. It’s completely legal in DC, as long as you aren’t on Federal Land (consult this map), but you can’t sell or even trade your cannabis. You can grow it and smoke it and give it away, but not on your front porch. Competing factions, from big business interests to the old heads who have been fighting this fight for over 30 years, all want to make sure their cannavoices are heard.

 

Kevin Cranford has spent a good part of his professional life in this occasionally fractured society, building consensus through his work helping found Maryland’s NORML chapter and now as a board member for the Minority Cannabis Business Association. In an effort to foster community and cooperation, Kevin launched the East Coast Unity Cypher, a month-long initiative aimed at bringing together cannabis supporters by passing a giant, joint-shaped, Olympic-style torch around the Eastern Seaboard.

 

From Maine to Miami, the torch traveled over 1600 miles through 16 states, finally getting blown out during a blow out in Miami last weekend. We caught up with Kevin after the torch was extinguished to get his take on unity, inclusivity, and the struggles of finding a torch for something other than welding, dabbing, or getting island-style drunk in your back yard.

 

Unity Cypher

This torch was made for unity (rather than metal, wax, or oil).


 

WRK:

Why did you call this the Unity Cypher?

 

KC:

A cypher is what we call a smoking session and unity is what I was hoping this exercise would bring. So I named it the Unity Cypher to show the power that pot has to unite people.

 

WRK:

Why was it important to do this now?

 

KC:

2016 promises to be a big year in cannabis, especially on the east coast where some New England states are close to legalization. And many southern states are flirting with variations of medical programs, so there was no better time than during 420 season of this year to bring awareness to that.

 

WRK:

How was the response?

 

KC:

It was very encouraging. When I set out to do this, I couldn’t imagine how much it’d mean to some people to be a part of it. It was good to see so many different kinds of people from all different areas and demographics all wanting the same thing.

 

WRK:

One of the things we find…difficult…in cannabis right now is the tendency to fall into a “cannacamp”, whether it’s fighting for a particular kind of legalization or competing to win a license, and how that leads to a disregard for others’ perspectives. We think this is dangerous because cannabis is still very much illegal in this country, even in the places where you can buy it. What can unity do for cannabis at this moment?

 

KC:

Unity is important because we won’t continue making the progress we have unless we’re all unified. We have to come together, all of us, whatever our interest, to ensure that the changes we’ve made on the state level get noticed and then changed on a Federal level. The more unified we are, the more policy makers and politicians see a diverse contingent of cannabis supporters, the harder we are to ignore.

 

But unity is also important because the cannabis industry is expanding, and it’s not always inclusive. We want a cannabis industry that presents equal opportunities, regardless of class or race, to anyone who might get involved. It’s up to the cannabis consumers to band together and let the industry know that we expect a diverse and inclusive cannabis economy.

 

WRK:

Any unexpected challenges?

 

KC:

Finding an Olympic-style torch was actually challenging. It was all welding and dabbing torches or those back yard tikki torches.


 

And those always lead to excessive alcohol consumption.

 

Unity Cypher

The unity cypher and all its friends!

 

 

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