Posted by George Pappas
2009 Medical Marijuana Week Recap
Medical cannabis activists across the country have been participating in this year’s “Medical Marijuana Week 2009“, which has included a week long series of events and actions designed to get people to participate, become active advocates, and to learn and think more about what issues, prejudices, and exciting medical breakthroughs surround the cannabis plant and are as yet still unaddressed.
In the past week, activists in California took part in events that included legal trainings, film screenings, public seed plantings, art shows, and festivals, as well as charity events that raised awareness and benefited homeless communities. All the way across the country in our nation’s capital, activists from Maryland ASA chapters held candle light vigils, educational medical cannabis teach-ins, and a party to celebrate the hard work their chapters have done to introduce legislation in the Maryland state legislature.
On the activism side, ASA has been sending actions to our national list all week, encouraging people to stand up and get active in ways they might normally wouldn’t. Actions this week included officially joining up with ASA through a membership or signing up for the Ambassador program, spending a day reading and learning about the history or new science of cannabis, recruiting others, meeting with elected officials, and connecting with medical cannabis POW’s. We’ve received great feedback and lots of participation from our membership. Here’s a quote from a Fresno Activist who took part in the Letter to the Editor campaign:
“It has been my experience that writing letters to the editor of my local paper can be very satisfying and a really good way to vent my dissatisfaction with the world around me. Its great for anger management! I started writing about 3 years ago and I think I have about 25 letters printed. Its real cool when you send in a letter, and a few days later you get to read it! People I know see them and sometimes they agree, and sometimes they don’t – but its great when they say something in return. When that happens I always feel as though I did what I wanted; I got somebody to think about an injustice in our community. I think its Important to let our elected officials know what we think, and I know in Fresno most politicians read these letters often.”
Dana Bobbit, Fresno ASA
Thanks to all of you who took part in the actions of the past week! Keep it up! This has been a great way to bring attention to medical cannabis with a week of actions that have helped to rejuvenate our community of activists. It’s been a great week and I can’t wait until 2010!
2. Palm Springs Votes to Allow Dispensaries
This week the City Council members of Palm Springs voted to make it the first city in Riverside County to allow medical cannabis dispensing collectives. The decision by the Council was intended to improve access of medical cannabis and keep local residents from having to resort to the illicit market for their treatment. Activists have long been pressuring Palm Springs and other parts of Riverside County to allow dispensing collectives, and the 3-1 vote in favor demonstrates the fruits of that labor.
The ordinance will go into effect in 30 days following its second reading, and allows two dispensing collectives to operate within city limits. According to Councilmember Ginny Foat, “This is an incredible first step.”
Dispensary regulations have been a growing trend in California, as cities and counties work to address the needs of the medical cannabis patients in their communities, and as California state law has become increasingly clear about the legality of the dispensing collectives, as evidenced most recently in guidelines released by California Attorney General Jerry Brown. In addition, research has indicated that dispensing collectives can not only improve the safety of communities, but can also lead to greater health outcomes of patients who are members.
3. Laguna Beach Passes Dispensary Moratorium
Unfortunately, not all municipalities are moving in the same direction with regard to dispensary regulations. While Palm Springs became the first city in Riverside County to allow dispensing collectives, the City Council of Laguna Beach voted to implement a moratorium, putting the halt on a dispensary that had been set to open in the city’s downtown area.
The 45-day moratorium was established at least in part because Councilors claimed to require more time to consider how the permit process would move forward and for them to consider their “regulatory options”. Some cities have passed moratoriums in order to buy themselves time to draft ordinances, but others have used the moratoriums as a means to stall and postpone dealing with the issue, before ultimately passing bans altogether. This was a concern of local advocates.
Laguna Beach residents who spoke out in defense of the dispensing collective cited personal stories of loved ones with severe illness and their need for safe access to their medication, as opposed to driving to “illegal set-ups”, as one resident put it.