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Remembering The Casualties of Illegal Cannabis

By Sean McCaughan
Aug 06, 2018

A new photography exhibit in Oakland, California is documenting the history of the fight to legalize cannabis both visually and through the stories of the subjects and photographers represented. Leafly recently described the premise of the exhibit:

“...an art exhibit celebrating a movement of outlaws and agitators who fought back politically against cannabis prohibition at the ballot box and in the court of public opinion, while simultaneously debasing law enforcement’s efforts to eradicate the plant by literally “overgrowing the government.””


Photo Courtesy of Sarah Ceti

Called Stories from the Underground, the exhibit is being held at the EVB Gallery and was recently extended through August. The show is produced by the Cannabis Community Foundation and features work by both amateur and professional photographers who showcase a fascinating range of subjects from the illicit early days of marijuana and the war on drugs.

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Andre Chiles, the organizer of the speaker series held in conjunction with the exhibit at EVB Gallery, told Leafly how some of the photography in the show hits very close to home for him: “That really hits me close to home, I was first incarcerated for cannabis in 2002, and that took me away from my daughter when she was just two years old. Looking at that photo, I know that’s exactly how my family felt when I was locked up, and how so many other families still feel right now. Really, I’m inspired by this entire exhibit, because it shows how much people have put on the line for this cause, all because they know this plant saves lives.”

Mark Rutherford, a photographer, spoke honestly about what the show means for him:

“I hope these portraits convey the respect and appreciation that this community has for all the people who put their lives on the line—some of whom paid dearly—to fight back against an awful prohibition,” Rutherford tells me. “It’s also really important to keep the medicinal properties of the plant at the forefront of this discussion, and remind people that access to cannabis is our birthright as humans.”

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