Brian Gilbert & Brooke Napier, National Outreach Coordinators for the AMPLIFY Project, asked Jason Hann of EOTO & The String Cheese Incident a few questions last week about the recent passage of Amendment 64 and how the music community can encourage youth to get involved in the political process.
- BG: First off, thank you so much taking the time to talk to us tonight. To start, why do you think the drug war is a failure and why do you feel the need to speak out against it?
- JH: Oh wow, well that’s a really hard question since there are so many reasons why the drug war has failed. From the very beginning of it being declared, and then intensified under Reagan, our government has not only failed to achieve its goals, but often hypocritically broken them. Just look at the secret funding of government programs with drug money in the 80’s as a perfect example.
- JH: Drugs are more rampant within our society than ever before, and in many ways the drug problem is worse, as pharmaceutical companies have near free reign to market drugs which can be incredibly dangerous and often more harmful than certain “illegal” drugs. Last but not least, the racial disparities which exist within the enforcement & prosecution of drug laws are absolutely terrible and further demonstrates the ineffectiveness of these laws.
- BG: How do you think music and the music community can influence youth to get involved in the political process?
- JH: Well that one is easy, I think music is the single biggest factor to get young kids to do anything. Musical heroes can influence youth through the message they are voicing in their music, plus on & off-stage. Music is such a powerful thing, maybe that artist and their message has such an influence on you that you take it to such a higher level than they could ever imagine, that’s why I think its great that we can offer space to organizations & charities such as AMPLIFY in order to promote this message of involvement to our fans.
- BN:Amendment 64 in Colorado and I-502 in Washington just passed, officially legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in those states. What do you think this means for these states & drug policy reform at large?
- JH: It’s still really hard to say. These states have approved and passed these laws, but the federal government can come in and stop it if they want to. I do think other states will catch on to this and see that this isn’t the boogeyman they think it is, and that it can generate significant revenue. It’s interesting to see how implementation will work in the long run, and I’m particularly interested in how the DUID laws will work and how being under the influence of marijuana while driving will be tested. There will be a lot of rules and regulations for us to think about. It will also be interesting to see what will happen to growers, and how much of a business it turns into, if it will ever be as common as being sold in something like a Walgreens.
- JH: It’s truly an amazing statement though that more of the country thinks it’s OK to use marijuana recreationally. Personally, I hope it spreads, and I think the more states that do it the less the federal government will want to interfere.
- BG: What would you say to student volunteers and activists who helped work on this initiative or to others who are working on legalization in other parts of the country?
- JH: I think it’s really important that these kids are taking their time to go out and get behind something they believe in and to become a force to be reckoned with. Having a grassroots movement is also vital, and it’s great that we had so many youth talking to youth. The youth in this country hold so much power, and I encourage them to see the power they hold. The reality is, you can change things if you just get out there.
- JH: For me, I see a lot of parallels between music and activism. You put yourself out there, work your butt off, sometimes get rejected, but you can never quit, you must remain persistent and in the end that hard work pays off.
- BN: How is EOTO’s current tour going? Whathave been your favorite stops so far?
- JH: This tour has been going really well so far & we have had some amazing stops along the way! It really picked up after our Halloween show in Kansas and we have also played tons of after shows which have all gone great. We’re really excited for the upcoming Conscious Alliance Benefit show at The Fillmore Auditorium in Denver where Alex Grey will be live painting too.
- BG:What are your plans for New Year’s?
- JH: New Year’s Eve is all about String Cheese this year. Michael & I will be joining the guys for a three night run at the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, CO starting on Dec. 29th so we’re obviously pretty excited about those shows. A 2013 EOTO tour is in the works now so stay tuned…
Thank you again for sharing your thoughts with us Jason, plus for all the support EOTO has shown since partnering with the AMPLIFY Project & Students for Sensible Drug Policy. We look forward to continuing to spread the message of drug policy reform & harm reduction at upcoming EOTO shows!