By Vanessa Salvia

Will Stolk, along with Alec “Craze” Zammitt, are the founders of the “Who Are We Hurting?” collective, a group of cannabis activists in Australia who have been engaged in publicity stunts and activations for almost 10 years, trying to move the needle on cannabis legalization in Australia. On April 20, 2022, Zammitt and Stolk projected a dancing pot leaf and other images along with their “Who are we hurting?” message on the famed Sydney Opera House, which left them embroiled in a high-profile legal battle with the New South Wales police — they won the case after police dropped the charges. (Watch a video of the lights on the opera house and Sydney Harbor on YouTube: In April 2024, about 250 people attended a pro-legalization picnic co-organized by Stolk and team at Melbourne’s Flagstaff Gardens at which at least 36 people were arrested. Stolk is a former professional skier who also owns part of a private cannabis club in California called Green Tiger as well as other cannabis brands. Grow spoke to Stolk and Zammitt to find out more about their activism. Find their Instagrams: Will Stolk: @willysworld69, @willysworldpodcast; Alec Zammitt: @crazeske, @thecrazec

What’s the lay of the land for cannabis in Australia? 

Stolk: “Medicinal cannabis has been legalized since 2018. There is a little bit of a barrier because it is expensive at $15 to $25 per gram, so quite a lot of people can’t afford it and it’s expensive to get a prescription for it. And then a lot of people actually aren’t aware that they can get medical cannabis and have access to it. A lot of people think they have to be terminally ill to be able to access medical cannabis, when actually it’s very similar to California and Oregon before you guys legalized recreationally, where a doctor will usually give you a prescription.”

What change are you hoping to see?

Zammitt: “We’d like to see a functioning industry where you can grow your own and you don’t have to go through the medical framework and pay for doctor’s consultations.”

Stolk: “One of the biggest hindrances in Australia is the drug driving laws. In Australia, they test for drugs on the road or a swab test. That doesn’t test for impairment. We feel that this is a really unjust practice. And even if you have a card or prescription for medicinal cannabis, you are still not allowed to drive on that.”

[Editor’s Note: In Australia it’s illegal to drive if your blood alcohol level is over 0.05. It’s illegal to drive with any quantity of illicit drugs in your system. Roadside drug testing occurs all over Australia, and both Stolk and Zammitt have fallen victim to it. Zammitt received a no conviction for driving while under the influence of medicinal cannabis; though he didn’t lose his driving license, he lost his security license, which forced him to close his private security firm and let 10 employees go. Stolk is currently fighting drug driving charges, and a criminal conviction would potentially make him ineligible to enter the U.S., to attend to his businesses.]

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What is your relationship with cannabis and what sparked your interest in becoming activists?

Zammitt: “I had my security firm and was also doing work in the PR industry with some different and big-name brands, like Red Bull Australia, and everything was growing. I was also consuming cannabis and I started to realize I had too much to lose to be considered a criminal just because I consumed cannabis. So I started applying my skills from an artistic background and the PR publicity stuff and went after something that we’re passionate about.” 

Stolk: “As a professional skier I was on the Freeride World Tour on a film trip in Utah and got pulled over. I got arrested for 2 grams of weed. I got locked up for seven hours, and I had to pay six grand for a lawyer. When I came back to Australia, my sponsors found out that I had been arrested and had a pending criminal conviction, so I lost my contracts and a shitload of money. I had to get drug tested for four months and send the results back to Utah and get a drug and alcohol psychiatric evaluation so I wouldn’t get a federal charge. I wasn’t allowed to travel because I had to be in one place to be able to get the drug tests. It was months of bullshit that really fucked up my perfect life at that time. It triggered me into realizing that I should do something about it. Fast forward three or four years later, I quit being a professional skier, I launched a men’s magazine (Apollo) and then Craze and I started working together.”

What kinds of things did you two do?

Stolk: “Humorous stuff. We collaborated with a famous Australian rap group Hyjak N Torcha, and made a giant sign that said “Happy Birthday Weed” with giant helium balloons attached to it and flew it up above a park in Sydney. A pilot called the cops. The next year, we created the “Who Are We Hurting?” nursery, where we built a fake cannabis cultivation in the middle of Sydney. The next morning 10 cops and six news crews were there. After that, we discovered how powerful publicity stunts were and how much of an impact it could have. And because Alec had a previous skill set in guerrilla marketing, and I had also done some stuff in that space, and I had a lot of experience with interviews as a professional athlete, we combined our skills.”

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What are the arguments from opponents of legalization? 

Zammitt: “In recent years, there isn’t much backlash. Everyone we’ve talked to knows someone who’s been treated with cannabis and received benefits from it or they’ve been victimized by legislation. The hindrance is Big Pharma, which has an established model that’s profitable for them.” 

So the public support is there. It’s just a question of changing the landscape of laws.

Zammitt: “That’s right. We’ve done videos where we speak with people in the streets. All of the comments are quite positive towards allowing free trade and free use of cannabis.”

Stolk: “The war on drugs over the last 80 years hasn’t helped anybody other than the industrial prison complex and the pharmaceutical agenda. Alec and I go to very big lengths to make sure that the stance that we do is tongue in cheek, hence why we don’t do things that leave any lasting damage.” 

Zammitt: “We’re not disrupting people’s day-to-day lives. You do see occasional protests where they’re shutting down major arterial roadways, but the idea for us is we don’t want to get people upset because we’ve hindered their day with people trying to get to work or drop their kids off to school. We really try and put a lot of effort into doing something that educates but doesn’t actually get in the way of anyone.”

Stolk: “Most everybody laughs and goes, “You guys are crazy” and “What you’re doing is fantastic.” We want to make people laugh. Our whole agenda is to cause discourse in society so people start thinking about it and then maybe they’ll write to their local MP or their local politician. And then those people will realize that if they take a different stance on drug policy, they’ll get more votes. And at the end of the day, most politicians care about staying in office.”

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What do you do when you’re not working on stunts?

Stolk: “We assist the brands in our network with their daily operations, general creative business solutions, and product development. Among these brands are Global Gardens, specializing in hydroponic grow equipment distribution; 710@420, known for innovative glassware products. We work with Save Our Soils Liquid Biochar. We also rate Grinderoo, a producer of metal grinders; Cloud Vault Smoke, renowned for its personal smoke filters; and Kanao Vaporizers. Some of our notable projects with these brands include endeavors like the guerrilla gallery and garden installation and numerous other actions that have garnered a plethora of media attention. These brands help us out by providing funds so we can continue the fight. We’ve also spent thousands of dollars of our own money like when we sought legal advice prior to the Opera House action so we knew what we could get away with.”

What other things have you done?

Stolk: “The year after setting up the fake cannabis cultivation hydro setup on one of Sydney’s busiest streets, Alec and I created 100 fake cannabis plants that promoted the upcoming hemp expo and put them all over Sydney. And then Alec actually ended up starting a prop company.”

Zammitt: “Yeah, the props were all put in obscure locations where you could clearly see them in public, but it wouldn’t be the easiest to retrieve them. We had some of the best parkour ninjas in the world, sponsored by Red Bull and whatnot, that came with us and we made a funny video about how the plants got where they were. Other crews got on board and took that same stance to Berlin. We took a fake prop to one of the MPs for the legalized cannabis party in New South Wales parliament and he sets that in the background of different press conferences. But yeah, since then, we’ve established the world’s best drug props offerings. We have a factory full of different fake cannabis plants, loads of different fake cannabis buds, all different stages of growth, and all different looking strains and styles of cannabis. And we’ve been leasing them to everyone from Hollywood productions to Netflix.”

Stolk: “We built a fake 9-meter cannabis Christmas tree on the back of a massive truck, and set it up in the same style as the Rockefeller tree in New York City to celebrate 420. We have some pretty cool plans in the works at the moment. So you definitely haven’t seen the last of what we’re doing, because we’re not going to stop until we get what we want. And we’re willing to put our heads on the chopping block, and spend our own money to be able to make it happen.”