Heroes to some and villians to others, the "Anonymous" movement has come to symbolize much more than just a group of rogue hackers. But far from breaking into computer networks run by rogue governments or multinational corporations, as they've come to be known for, the online hacktivists now have their sights set on a different human rights issue entirely: marijuana prohibition.
Members of the hacking collective, who were at the epicenter of planning and promoting "Occupy Wall Street" last year, announced earlier this month that April 20, 2012 would mark the beginning of an official "Anonymous" push-back against America's drug laws.
Speaking to Raw Story this week, a person claiming to be a member of "Anonymous," who watched an attack on Sony's website from behind the scenes but did not participate, claimed responsibility for the group's new "OpCannabis" campaign, explaining that the operation is determined to throw the collective's weight behind drug reform.
After launching a pitch for "OpCannabis" over one year ago, the hacker said that their "PR text evolved into a video," which was "translated into German by parties unknown," but then it fizzled.
"[S]omething was missing," the source explained. "For some reason my inbox wasn't blowing up and only a few hundred people seemed to show interest. This may or may not have had something to do with AnonNews deciding not to carry our press release. Thankfully this has since been resolved."
Now that the leading "Anonymous" news account has tuned into the marijuana campaign and began circulating the latest "OpCannabis" updates, it has gone global.
Members of "Anonymous" plan to get outside and be vocal on Friday during nationwide protests against America's drug policies. Some may even be following up with more computer hacking and website defacement. And just earlier this month, "OpCannabis" got its own website and Twitter account, connecting hundreds of "Anonymous" activists who are now sharing ideas to foster the push-back against prohibition.
But "OpCannabis" isn't designed to be a hacking spree, Raw Story's nameless source explained. "Anyone I've found that is involved with marijuana activism, I've told that they can e-mail any and all materials to the email@example.com and I'll sort through it and get it on the site."
"We ask you to please educate yourself on its many benefits and share these benefits with your sick or injured friends," an "OpCannabis" press release implores. "We all know somebody that has cancer or diabetes and cannabis has helped or cured both and many other disorders! Anonymous will begin its support for the legalization of cannabis on 4/20/12. So please show your support by educating yourselves and making your profile pic or timeline banner on your social services accts green or 420 friendly."
They've also asked that each chapter of the remaining "Occupy" groups around the country participate in marijuana-related events, pointing out the billions already spent just this year to incarcerate tens of thousands of marijuana prisoners around the country.
Raw Story's source specifically pointed at the government's hypocrisy in declaring that the plant has no medical value when pharmaceutical companies are practically begging for permits to research new marijuana-based drugs that address a whole host of ailments, including possible cures for several types of cancer.
"I think the Internet is an absolutely great medium for getting uncensored information," Raw Story's nameless source explained. "I've read countless stories of doctors outright denying that cannabis has any medical value, when the previously terminally ill cancer patients with six weeks to live are sitting in front of them cancer free two years later. I think through accurate and scientifically valid examination of cannabis and CB1/CB2 receptors, CBD and THC we can prove without a doubt what so many doctors don't want you to know."
"Cures don't make money," the "Anonymous" member concluded. "Half-assed and defective cures keep you dependent on the medical industry and its artificial products and keep you buying month after month until you die. They don't want you cured. And that's the sad reality."
This video was published to YouTube on April 10, 2012.
Photo: A man in an "Anonymous" mask smokes a blunt on a street corner. Credit: Stephen C. Webster.
Updated for clarity.