Mailing off a check to these organizations that Brendan mentioned is totally swell, but the way to change the terms of the drug war isn't by growing nonprofits. It's by winning. Even for a tiny shift that has no bearing on your life, if you want to see long-term change on these colossally stupid laws, help implement an incremental public-health program that politicians are afraid to touch or help pass a not-too-controversial local law.
And then scream bloody victory.
People have been talking—talking, talking, talking—about this forever. Sure, understanding the big picture in academic terms is great; energizing the base is super; helping nonprofits that provide info is fucking wunderbar. But the biggest term that needs changing is the sense this is a lost cause. Want to want to convince people at large (or people in power) that big policy change can come to a thorny issue? Do more things like this: The Good Samaritan Bill to provide immunity to people reporting overdoses passed last year. Sure, it's not the big sexy stuff like regulating the cocaine market or converting liquor stores into pot outlets. But none of that stuff is going to happen until progressives get better at proving it's possible. This year, go testify for the medical marijuana bill proposed by Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-36) that would protect patients from arrest. Don't care about medical pot? Who fucking cares (unless you hate sick people). That's your next potential victory, Washington. Once you do that, send $100 to a viable pot decriminalization initiative (never get behind a nonviable initiative) in 2012. Then find the next feasible specific project and support it.