A Cartoon is Worth a Thousand Words: “The Flower” Highlights Social and Economic Costs of Marijuana Prohibition

Press Release August 1, 2010
Media Contact

Tony Newman at 646-335-5384

Sometimes a cartoon can be worth a thousand words. Award winning artist Haik Hoisington has created an animation called the “The Flower” that contrasts a society that legally produces and consumes a pleasure- giving flower with a society where the same flower is illegal and prohibited. The animation reflects on the social and economic costs of marijuana prohibition.

The video has hit a nerve and has gone viral on the internet. The Flower was released by the online news service AlterNet on Thursday — and in just five days has been viewed more than 175,000 times.

The Flower comes as the debate around marijuana prohibition is reaching an unprecedented level of prominence and sophistication. A perfect storm has contributed to the popularity of the animation’s message — the brutal violence in Mexico, the record number of marijuana arrests in the United States, the budget crisis facing many states, and the fact that California will be voting in November on whether to control and tax marijuana.

“I’m excited to see “The Flower” spread across the internet so quickly,” said Haik Hoisington. “I hope it serves as a useful tool for ending marijuana prohibition and inspires people in California to vote YES on Prop. 19.”

The Flower is not the first animation by Haik to take on the failed drug war. In 2007 the Drug Policy Alliance and Haik put out the animation “Incarcerex,” a humorous parody on a pharmaceutical ad that shows elected officials promoting the war on drugs as a misguided re-election strategy. Since then, the tables have started to turn. These days, politicians rarely brag about their drug warrior credentials, while Democratic strategists now consider marijuana legalization as one of the most effective ways for them to get voters out to the polls.

The recent “Flower” animation, while not officially tied to any organization, is being promoted by drug policy reform advocates.

“For years we have been pointing out that the violence tied to the drug trade, whether in Mexico or in the U.S., is not a result of the plant itself. Rather, it is an inevitable consequence of prohibition,” said Tony Newman of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Without using one word, “The Flower” is able to portray the harms of prohibition in a creative and impactful way.”


A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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