Mikel Weisser RIP

Longtime legalization advocate dies at 61

Arizona lost one of its greatest cannabis advocates when Mikel Weisser died May 13 at 61 years of age. In his official role as director for Arizona NORML, Weisser helped shape the landscape of cannabis we see today.

While he'd most recently travelled the state campaigning for the Safe and Smart Arizona Act, he was crucial in passing last year's testing bill, hemp legalization and endless advocacy over the years.

If there's any question to Weisser's reach and impact across Arizona, a quick look at any of his social media pages will show you how many lives he's touched.

From heartfelt condolences from Senator Kyrsten Sinema on Twitter, to pledged joints and bowls from anonymous users on Reddit, few in the community won't feel the impact of Weisser's death.

Weisser's wife, Beth, posted on Instagram late the night he died, letting others know he'd had a heart attack and died in the emergency room parking lot.

"I kept telling him I love him until I couldn't," she wrote.

Weisser was close friends with Marijuana Industry Trade Association director Demitri Downing, who has set up a GoFundMe for his wife, appropriately called "There Will Now Be Legal Marijuana in Heaven."

Downing wrote that Weisser is "eternally among the 1% in his purity of heart and keenness of mind."

Dozens of others have shared their accounts of Weisser across the web, speaking to his dedication, inspiration and compassion.

His political activity extended far beyond cannabis, and even included three runs for Arizona's 4th Congressional District.

Before that, he was a teacher, a passion he shared with his wife who is vice president of the Kingman Unified School District board. Much of his time was dedicated to the Arizona Education Association as well, where he advocated for LGBT rights and ethnic minorities.

He spent much of his life working manual labor after growing up on the southern border of Texas. Working alongside undocumented immigrants showed him firsthand how they were exploited, seeding his passion for advocacy.

I had the benefit of meeting Weisser soon after I began writing this column. It seems wherever cannabis appeared in public, so did he. Over the years, we've spent dozens of hours on the phone turning over every detail of cannabis law in Arizona.

He was enthusiastic about his work, eager to spread the good word of cannabis to whoever would listen. He enthusiastically greeted anyone he met with a welcoming smile and a firm handshake.

No matter the gravity of a situation, no matter how infuriating the actions of prohibitionists in state government, Weisser always kept his cool and never had a bad word to say about anyone. He was more interested in burning bud than bridges and built them wherever he could.

Few seek to root out injustice in the world with the endless optimism and kindness Weisser had.

If you haven't yet, burn a bowl, smoke a joint, hit a dab or pop an edible for Mikel Weisser this week. The fact that we can is in no small part due to his contribution.

Thank you, Mikel.

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