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'420 Fight Club' Aims to Combat Lazy Stoner Stereotype

By Serena Dai | September 19, 2014 8:57am
 Marijuana legalization activist group Occupy Weed Street recently started the 420 Fight Club, free weekly martial arts classes aiming to debunk the stereotype that stoners are lazy.
The 420 Fight Club
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EAST WILLIAMSBURG — Couch potatoes need not apply.

The new "420 Fight Club," started by East Williamsburg couple Harrison Schultz and Lorna Shannon, features free weekly martial arts classes that are intended to combat the stereotype that people who smoke weed are just lazy stoners, they said.

Schultz, 31, has trained in martial arts since age 5. He said that marijuana makes him more patient, focused and creative — all traits helpful for the practice.

In fact, smoking weed is the perfect precursor to a variety of activities, the couple said.

"It's not cool to sit around and get high," Schultz said. "It's cool to get high and do something."

The nonviolent club is part of the couple's larger activism with Occupy Weed Street, a spinoff of Occupy Wall Street that solely focuses on the legalization of recreational marijuana and its benefits for health and the green economy.

420 Fight Club: Kendo and Cannabis
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Just Activism

The 420 Fight Club started last month and meets weekly on Tuesday evenings at 6 p.m. in Washington Square Park to practice different forms of martial arts, including Brazilian practice capoeira and Japanese-sword practice kendo.

Beforehand, a group of people with Occupy Weed Street do a "stealthy smokeout," where they smoke weed in public and talk about their legalization activism.

The couple hopes onlookers, including police, will see that people smoke weed for a variety of reasons, including to be active, they said.

"Occupy Weed Street is all about ending the stereotype of the passive stoner while we push for systematic reform," Schultz said. "There is a shift involved."

This is not Schultz's first foray into activism. Schultz demonstrated with Occupy Wall Street and even once had a well-publicized argument with Fox News' Sean Hannity while in the movement.

Last year, the couple decided that their passion for the marijuana legalization movement was so strong that they quit their full-time jobs — Schultz, a data analyst, and Shannon, a preschool teacher — to focus on activism.

When they did, even fellow Occupy people pushed back, dismissing the couple as "just stoners," Schultz said.

But Shannon, 30, points to their push for state Sen. Liz Krueger's recreational marijuana legalization bill on social media, in the streets and at community board meetings as proof that they're not Cheeto-munching, couch-surfing stoner stereotypes.

Both smoke marijuana for reasons beyond those depicted in the movie Pineapple Express, including to combat post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, they said.

"All people have to do is look at what we’re doing to know that all stoners are not lazy and stupid," Shannon said.

Though the group's "stealthy smokeout" requires knowing someone involved to attend, anybody can attend the 420 Fight Club's weekly martial arts classes, which are taught by experienced martial artists, they said.

Just don't forget to smoke up beforehand.

"Marijuana is fun," Shannon said, "but it's also really healthy."