In 2016, Australian parliament made amendments to the Narcotics Drug Act. The amendments legalized the growing of cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes.
In 2017, the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) moved to make hemp food legal for human consumption in Australia.
Then on January 20th of 2020 the capital city and territory decriminalized cannabis within its limits.
Though these are all major wins for the pro-cannabis movement down under, there are quite a few Australians that think the progress is still much too slow. One of these citizens is a bit more vocal than most. In a three part series we’re going to introduce you to William Stolk…one of the Aussie citizens that wants to speed up the legalization of cannabis in his home country.
Being the good wannabe amateur journalist that I am, I’ve researched William. I’ve read quite a few articles and watched just as many news segments on the man and his escapades. I’ve done my best to get a solid idea of who Mr. Stolk is, and why he does what he does.
William Stolk, the cannabis consumer. William Stolk, the pro-cannabis activist. William Stolk, the cannabis entrepreneur. We’re going to bring you his story and possibly follow his next few moves…if we can keep up with him. He moves fast!
To get a clearer picture of who William is, let me take you back a few years. Miles and miles away from Australia to the Great White North…Canada. That’s right, Canada. With their square tires and flappy heads. Canada is where Will’s first significant dance with maryjane started. He was 15 years old at a ski training camp in Whistler, Canada.
“I’ve been crazy about cannabis ever since I tried it for the first time. First time properly that is, at age 15 during a down day at a Whistler, Canada, summer ski camp.
On a day off, we snuck over to another hotel and bought an 8th from a local dealer on the block. We got an apple and made an apple bong, we sat in the hotel in secret and proceeded to smoke the whole eighth between us.
Then my friend Stefan ate the apple…let me tell you, it was love at first toke! Stefan was so high after eating the apple he could barely walk…”
Will goes on to say that cannabis is one of the main things that brings happiness to his life. Seriously taking everything he already enjoyed — like sex, skiing, surfing, traveling, and eating—and it cranking it up to a whole new level of awesomeness.
“And you know what? Thanks to cannabis and skiing, I’ve met the most incredible and important people in my life.
I’ve got these lifelong friends who share my passions and are just as devoted to cannabis as I am. I mean, we’re tight. If it weren’t for this plant, I wouldn’t have this amazing life or the incredible support system I’ve got around me. The amount of times I have gone on missions to find cannabis in far off countries is ridiculous these adventures have built life long bonds.”
Part of his passion for cannabis is fueled by what he calls a “total game-changer”. As he personally knows countless folks in Australia and abroad who have been helped by “…mind blowing, medical benefits!”
“People have been using this magical plant for thousands of years all over the world, and it still blows my mind.
In a nutshell, cannabis has rocked my world since that epic ski camp experience. It brings me so much joy, connects me with awesome people, and has mind-boggling healing powers. This plant is seriously unbelievable, and it’s been shaping lives for ages.”
It’s apparent that he loves and speaks highly of cannabis. Many of us do. Where did it stem from though? Some of us had hippie parents and the smell of cannabis was a unique and strange smell…but it was appealing. Then on the other side of that, there was a major 80’s-90’s “Just Say No” scare campaign. It was force fed to us in our pop culture through music and television. There were even school assemblies that were held with dancing troupes and motivational speakers that would warn us of the harms that cannabis would lead to. Being told not to do something, only made some of us want to do it more. In the states we were definitely raised with mixed signals. So I wondered how it was for Will. Was it something that his parents spoke of ill of? Then at first try he overcompensated with this crazy campaign to legalize it everywhere? Like a puppy that never gets to go outside…then once that door is opened, POOF! Or were his parents cool about it?
“To be honest when I was a kid, friends of my parents smoked weed but they always kinda made it out like it was the Devil’s lettuce. My father did smoke in the 70’s and my mother now smokes and eats edibles, they just made it seem bad because I was such a young child.
I first smoked weed at a friends house in Manly in Sydney overlooking Manly Beach, my friend’s father was extremely liberal (he had a cannabis plant growing in his lounge room), we stole some undried buds off the plant and smoked out of a little metal smoking pipe.”
Although he got high, Will doesn’t quite count this as his first “proper” smoke session. The cannabis was homegrown and not properly dried, etc. He went surfing and remembers it being an eye opening experience. Speaking quite vividly of how it made the surfing experience insane. That the surf wasn’t massive, maybe a bunch of 5 footers….but remembers duck diving waves on the paddle out then back and the waves seeming “so much bigger and more intense than they really were”.
“I had always wanted to try it again. But it was more like a cool peer group thing, as a young child cannabis represented rebellion and being an adult, taking control of my life with my own hands. So to speak.
It wasn’t till about 2 years later that I smoked again and that was in Canada at the ski camp.”
So we’ve got a little bit about how it started. How about after skiing camp? Would you say that you were consuming regularly? Did you take to the plant immediately and become one of those stereotypical high school stoners? Or were you good at hiding it?
“After ski camp I became a full on high school, stereotype…stoner. Heaps of my identity were based on cannabis and it’s popular culture. My biggest idols in freeskiing (namley Mikeal Desunaugh, Tanner Hall and Candide Thovex) all identified as stoners. You could even see subliminal-like pictures of cannabis plants in some of their edits ie: Tanner Hall’s part in the Oakley team movie 1242, and Candide named his series of high level profilish movies Rastafaride 1 thru 5.
All these influences contributed to me identifying with being a stoner and everything that went with it.
The other impactful moment was when my mother introduced me to Cheech & Chong’s “Up In Smoke” – I was then hooked on stoner humor and culture. Really solidifying the stoner part of my identity.”
Would you say that using cannabis help form who you were already or did it open up a new side to your personality?
“After I started smoking weed my personality was amplified, I had found a sense of self from smoking cannabis. Even though in my teenage years many of my friends smoked weed, in Australia at that time the stoner culture wasn’t nearly as mainstream as it is today. So my exposure at home was limited. But I had spent a lot of the winters (*our summers) in North America and in Europe so my exposure to quality cannabis and the culture was out of the norm for an Aussie. I’ve been lucky in that regard.
As far as hiding it…in Australia usually everyone would chop their weed with tobacco into a big chop bowl and then proceed to smoke it out of what would be the equivalent of a Gatorade bottle. Other kids at school would frequently skip classes to smoke bongs at little secret hiding spots around the campus. I didn’t really ever smoke at school though. I wasn’t really THAT rebellious. I smoked on the weekends, my parents knew and they tried to discourage me. Ultimately, they knew it wouldn’t work. As time went by they just kind of tolerated my decision.”
So far we’ve established his early days and have learned that he wasn’t really “THAT rebellious”. We know that his exposure to cannabis was limited at home in Australia. We know that his experiences away from home really helped build his persona. We know that his parents were against it, but accepting of it after a while. This doesn’t quite explain the next portion of his life. The part of his life where he’s pulling major media stunts and rustling feathers of the law. Were either of his parents or family protestors, marchers, activists, etc? Was his outgoing personality and motivation to make change shaped by someone at home? Or where might it have come from?
“My parents have always been anti-establishment, especially my father, I remember them taking me to a huge nuclear testing protest in the city of Sydney to exert more pressure on the French President, (Mr. Chirac at the time), to abandon the nuclear testing program.
This was one of the first times in my life I had seen the power of the people, and it really stuck with me as a child. “If you want something done you have to do it for yourself”. Credit to my parents for giving me such a valuable learning experience. So yes, this is very much an early inspiration for some of the stuff we do now as so called “activists”. Working to change the laws in our country so recreational cannabis can be sold legally. Hopefully leading to the implementation of similar laws to places like California, Washington State and Colorado just to name a few.
We have (namely myself and my partner in crime Alec “Craze” Zammit of the Craze Collective), have done numerous publicity stunts over the years to help push our message out to the Australian people and the policy through our ongoing “Who Are We Hurting” campaign.”
Nobody was hurt when the fellas posted up a display on a busy street in downtown Sydney, Australia.
The display was setup to look like a cannabis grow, with lights and the works. The FAKE plants were just a simple and defiant expression against cannabis still being a criminal offense. They looked real enough that police entered the display, likely to confiscate…only to find that the plants were just an art installation.
The fellas projected giant images on the world famous Sydney Opera House.
The images in reference? The words “Who are we hurting?” and a very adorable dancing cannabis leaf. There wasn’t any noise, nobody had to climb a wall and risk their health or life to get the images up there. It didn’t cost the opera house any money or damage any of their property. And once again, nobody was hurt.
What about the time they went to a bank on April 20th, at get this… a bank on 420 High Street and withdrew $420,000.
They proceeded to display this large amount of cash in front of the Parliament House. It was a lesson in math, a “visual representation” showing parliament the amount of money that could be used to help patients instead of criminalizing their medicine. Funds that could be used to help build communities, hospitals and schools.
I say it once again, NOT A SINGLE PERSON WAS HURT.
Nobody was hurt when they sent a peace offering to the Australian Prime Minister.
(Kirribilli House, Sydney) the token of peace was to ask that they fix the cannabis crisis and replace organized crime with legitimate employment.
1 Pound delivery to Kirribilli House, Sydney between 10am and 10.3am on the 1st of April 2020 (The start of 42020).
With a note:
We know you’ve been working bloody hard at the moment, so we wanted to give you something to help relax a little. Please fix the canna crisis and replace organised crime with legitimate employment. We are calling for a federal amnesty on cannabis, following suit with Australia’s Capital Territory and other western countries like Canada. In this time of crisis, vulnerable people are being forced to travel unnecessarily in order to purchase medications from the black market as medical cannabis is unaffordable to most, especially during the current employment climate and the quarantine of millions of Australians due to COVID-19. We hope and pray this care package finds you well.
With love from The Who Are We Hurting Team.
Will and his cohorts are busy. On the outside, at times they can seem to be a bunch of party bros, you’ll see Will partying and surrounded by beautiful women. Jets, boats, water…going fast, without a foot on the brake. That can’t be the full truth though.
Call it a softer side, or call it what you want. Whatever you call it, you gotta acknowledge that whatever his reasons are…the end result is EXACTLY what most of us agree is the right thing. That cannabis should be legalized, organized and made available to the adult public. If nobody talks about it, if nobody projects it on a building, if nobody does an art pop-up, if nobody sends the Prime Minister a peace offering, how will they ever know what we want?
The world needs people like Will and Craze. But Will and Craze NEED YOU just as well. YOU also have to talk about it, YOU also have to vote on it…if you believe in what they’re trying to accomplish. So share their stunts, write letters to your local reps, show up to their events and talk about what’s on your mind. Don’t just assume that the Will and Craze’s of the world are always going to be there doing the good work.
(thanks for coming back to our ongoing coverage on Will & Craze)
I can’t preach to you about being part of the movement and supporting “Who Are We Hurting” without prying the guys for a little information on WHAT’S NEXT??? Otherwise how would you know where and how you can help?
Right now the guys are laying low. They’re in the middle of a legal case where the Australian government is attempting to stick criminal charges to Will & Craze for the stunt they pulled at the Sydney Opera House…where NO ONE WAS HURT and NO PROPERTY WAS DAMAGED.
Updates on the latest in their court case coming soon. Also, be on the lookout for the article and interview with Craze, in the near future! Their IG’s are located below, give them follow.