Former world wrestling champion Rob Van Dam, known for his high-flying acrobatics and catch cry “RVD 420”, is also an outspoken advocate of cannabis legalisation. CHRIS FOWLIE caught up with the world’s weediest wrestler.
Chris: Rob, welcome to New Zealand! Can you tell us how “RVD 420” started?
Rob: RVD 420 as a moniker started itself. It was actually something I saw in a crowd one time. Some fans had it on a sign, and I loved it because we were in ECW, and WWE, the big company with Stone Cold Steve Austin, had a very popular selling t shirt with Austin 316, or something, which means “I’ve just kicked your ass”, so RVD 420 became “I just smoked your ass”. As a parody it was hilarious. And it was a tribute to being a cannabis consumer. ECW was totally against the grain, it was revolutionary, and [RVD 420] stood for everything the ECW stood for. It was aimed at adults, I mean they had a guy that would drink 5 beers before coming into the ring, we had foul language, we had adult film stars cast as celebrities. It was a really hard core crowd and I needed some sort of edge, and I really appreciated marijuana. So during the promos I would do, I would always drop little hints about it and then the crowd caught onto it.
You’re known as a mellow guy outside the ring, is pot a part of that?
Actually one thing about me is I’m also known as a martial artist. Throughout the 17, 18 years of my professional wrestling career I’ve always been the one to do the kicks, the one to do the flips, the one that stretches for an hour before my matches, so as far as who I am as a person, I practise zenful life principles and I always try to avoid stress. It’s something I’ve worked towards, and I use the yin-yan symbol to achieve balance. I have it all over my wrestling outfit, my wedding ring is a yinyan symbol. It helps me to remember that there is a balance. Bad is necessary to have good. You need to know exactly where to put it and accept it rather than becoming emotionally wrapped around it. All that does is ripple the steady flow I’m trying to achieve. I’ve spent years working at it and getting good at it and it’s a challenge but it’s part of my nature. Mom and dad always said even as a kid I was really hard to upset, that I was really even tempered.
Does pot help keep you on an even keel? Is it medical for you, like pain relief?
I consider all adult use medicinal, because what’s the use of getting high if it’s not relieving stress, not relieving anxiety or the social pressures we feel. A lot of normal people who think pot is evil are going to the doctor to get xanax, zoloft or prozac or whatever medicines I don’t even know about. But yeah it helps everything equal out. It inspires adequacy. It definitely does help with the pain, no doubt about that, and it helps take you to a place that’s a good place to be. It’s also referred to as a spiritual place. It allows you to ascend to a higher position to where you don’t have to be weighted down by the troubles and negative aspects of life. It’s definitely not a bad thing, there’s certainly no reason for it to be illegal. And I prefer cannabis to other dangerous drugs that’s gonna make me hyper or whatever.
With what you’ve seen of the medicinal marijuana law in California, with registered patients going to dispensaries, and the Green’s bill that’s happening here in New Zealand, that is modelled on the Californian approach, do you have any lessons or observations from that?
Well, a lot of opposers to medicinal marijuana think it’s a gateway to get it legalised recreationally, and I really can’t argue with that. Personally, it makes absolutely no common sense that it should be outlawed. I put the argument into three different categories of cannabis’ uses. There’s recreational, medicinal and material. It’s a fact if you do the research you’ll find out that cannabis is more effective and safer in all three areas. Using medicinal it’s easy to open people’s minds up because we do have dying people that are suffering who can absolutely for sure benefit from it’s use, and some people have enough compassion to drop the negative charges that were put on it, that we’re brainwashed into, that they can listen to reason and they’ll say ok, they should at least have it, if that’s what it takes. And if it only goes so far as to them being able to have it, then that’s good. I would however, from a personal perspective, like to see it opened up further and see it used in all three areas. Hemp doesn’t even have any THC in it and there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to use it. There’s absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t utilise it. And recreational, I compare it to cigarettes which kill approximately one in five Americans every year. Pot’s killed zero. If anybody looks that up they’ll find it to be a fact and I think it will change their opinion on it. Most people don’t know that. They think pot’s a dangerous drug that will kill you because we’re taught that. I was lied to at school. Now that I know the truth, I just want other people to know the truth so they can base their own opinions and feelings on that. Fact is, if a lot of people voted on knowing the truth, we’ll see some changes made, and I expect to see that in the future.
So do we. Thanks for your time Rob.
(NORML News Autumn 2008)