In a meeting that felt rather reminiscent of pro I-502 events during the 2012 campaign, American’s for Safe Access held a meeting for patients to get together and discuss the recent recommendations from the Liquor Control Board for changes in the Medical Cannabis laws.
Different sections of it were read out loud and people could then make comments. Steph Sherer from the National organization was the main facilitator.
Their conclusion: The Federal Government is going to raid us if we don’t change the medical laws so we need to be proactive.
The last time ASA came to our state, they were teaching a “raid preparedness” workshop. In a sad ironic twist, it turns out the Feds took the opportunity to raid the dispensaries while their people were attending the meeting.
While nobody has been raided this time around, the event was not without some controversy.
People were asked to join, submit video testimonials, etc.
I asked what they would be used for specifically. Steph Sherer admitted she did not know yet.
About 2/3rds into the meeting, a woman who had raised her hand spoke up and very uneasily explained that she was LCB Board member Ruthann Kurose.
Kurose felt that it the need to identify herself to the audience because of feeling unsure if she was supposed to be there. She saw that it was open to the public, but was uneasy as it felt like she was intruding on a private group meeting.
After a brief moment of shock, some members in the audience stated clapping for her. It was all a bit surreal to see people clapping for a person from the agency that is trying to stomp them out.
After the meeting, I asked one of the lead coordinators about this. I said while it was good that she spoke up, it would have been nice to know right from the beginning of the meeting.
I was then told that ASA actually invited her. Others state she asked ahead of time and was told it was ok to come.
And the ASA staff didn’t think that was worth mentioning to the crowd as the meeting was starting?
In this instance, it was the LCB who, while a bit late to do anything about it, felt it her ethical responsibility to inform the audience of her presence.
WHY DIDN’T ASA GIVE US THAT SAME COURTESY when the meeting started?
Aside from that big blunder, Sherer did a good job of making sure everyone was allowed to speak. All points of views were allowed and opposite views were handled without bursts of anger.
The meeting was an attempt to galvanize support for new legislation from well known activist, Kari Boiter.
Kari has been a hard working advocate on the national scene. Her efforts have been appreciated by many in the community.
However, she has now taken the lead in putting together a new bill that would alter many sections of the medical cannabis act. She and others state that if we do not come up with our own legislation for this next session, then they will end medical cannabis as we know it.
While this may be true, it is too early in the political game to be introducing any legislation.
Right now, patients in Washington State have greater protections than just about any other place on the planet. We have the right to grow 15 plants, have 24 ounces each. Patients can also be a designated provider or participate in Collective Gardens.
Most importantly, we now have FULL protection from state arrest, prosecution and property seizures when we stay within those guidelines as backed up by a recent State Supreme Court ruling on September 19th. This also means in theory that police in this state cannot serve you with a search warrant based on cannabis use alone, THEY MUST HAVE PROBABLE CAUSE TO BELIEVE YOU ARE OUTSIDE OF THE STATE LAW!
Not only that, but patients in this state now have a CONSTITUTIONAL COMMON LAW MEDICAL NECESSITY DEFENSE thanks to the same ruling. That’s huge for patients who can’t afford to pay for doctors or who require more than the laws allow.
At no time in our state’s history have protections for medical cannabis patients been this strong.
There is no more “GREY AREA” in our state law. WE ARE 100% LEGAL!
420leaks was promised an early draft version days before the meeting. It finally came by email the morning of the event as I was on my way out the door to a meeting in Seattle for the Cannabis Action Coalition. So I had no time to read it before attending the evening meeting with ASA.
It was then released to the group at the end of the meeting. It is basically the work of many people and activist groups, including Boiter, Sensible Washington, Cannabis Action Coalition and others from past efforts. It also has language from previous bills, like parts of the sections that were vetoed by Governor Gregiore in 2011.
El Centro de la Raza
The meeting took place at the cultural center in Seattle called El Centro de la Raza. It is a wonderful asset to the community and provides needed services and is an excellent central meeting place.
A little background research reveals El Centro De La Raza as one of the support groups taken in like the rest of the state by the I-502 campaign. Our guess is this kind if support would not have been there from community groups had they any idea it would lead to the end of the Medical Cannabis Act in our state.
In an interview with former lobbyist and legislator Jim Boldt of the Washington Cannabis Wire, open government and constitutional activist Arthur West from the Cannabis Action Coalition and the Union of Concerned Cannabis Patients, talks about earmarks in I-502 directly benefits special interests.
“And the fact that it offers distributions of tax proceeds to interest groups with no rational relationship to marijuana clearly violates the single-subject rule, he says. Payments for migrant health care clinics and programs for at-risk youth, for instance, were clearly inserted in order to win the support of such groups as El Centro de la Raza and the Children’s Alliance. The suit calls the earmarks, “in essence, a hodgepodge of diverse politically motivated incentives and financial payoffs whose only motivating factor is that they were designed to garner support for I-502.”
In 1998, voters in this state said NO to federal laws because of the humanitarian compassion reasons. We overwhelmingly passed the Medical Cannabis Act.
In 2011, the legislators of this state passed new regulations for medical cannabis in defiance of Federal Laws on Cannabis. It was our Governor that falsely claimed that the threat from the feds was her reason to veto all the regulatory language after being told to veto it by the police lobbyists.
in 2012, I-502 was passed in DEFIANCE of Federal law.
Incredibly, at the Great Hempfest I-502 debate, Alison Holcomb and others within the cannabis community in favor of the initiative warned the crowd that if we did not vote for I-502, medical cannabis was doomed and we would all be raided by the Feds. Ironically, Boiter was debating for the “No on I-502″ side.
For some reason, the Hempfest organizers did not allow the let the official spokesman for the official “No on 502″ campaign, Steve Sarich on the stage, even though he was there early.
Suddenly now, cannabis patients are being told that in order to PREVENT the feds from coming after us, we must again and pass new laws that will potentially be removing rights in order to appease the Feds and allow the over-taxed and over regulated recreational model succeed.
Not that the bill itself is bad, but it has been admitted in private conversations that both sides are asking for the moon in order to get half. It’s a strategy where the patients, science and compassion takes a backseat to special interests and backdoor dealing.
Our suggestion on waiting was backed up by well known activist attorney Jeffery Steinborn. He stated that we should not be introducing new medical cannabis bills in the legislature, but starting a new initiative to allow home grows and fixing all the major problems that I-502 created!
DO NOT INTRODUCE NEW LEGISLATION. We agree that it is prudent to have it ready to go if legislation is introduced as a result of the LCB recommendations, but why should patients open the door to change by dropping a bill and starting the process?
It is MUCH easier to kill bad legislation before it becomes law than it is to pass good legislation.
Once you drop that bill in the laps of the Legislators, WE LOSE ALL CONTROL of the language and will have to fight like hell to get the mandatory changes.
It is playing with fire.
The 2014 session will be a shorter one than last year. The LCB recommendations are already extremely controversial to the community, and even the mainstream press will eventually have a hard time getting behind legislation that strips patients of their rights in order to favor recreational weed.
And using the federal government as the boogie man that is going to come in and arrest us all…
The only people that should be worried about that are the ones who are clearly going outside of what our state laws allow.
And that just might be the ones who have been the most vocal to the press and in open meetings with the LCB about the fact that they SELL MARIJUANA and are trying to become the brand names of the cannabis world.
This is all just starting to sound a little too familiar to this medical cannabis advocate.
Don’t get fooled again.
Know their game plan before you go to battle. We found it all through public records requests, in their own words, when they didn’t think anyone was listening.
Well, we are listening and are wide awake this time. And 420leaks will continue to expose it all.
If patients run to legislators with their pie in the sky bills because they fear the feds will raid if we don’t give up some rights, then all we will be doing is telling the Government that all they have to do is tell us we are all going to be raided unless we give up more. And we’ll lose more rights.
We tried this last session with the Patient Protection bill sponsored by Senator Kohl-Welles. Once it was dropped on the legislators, it came out completely different and we had to fight against our own bill to get the changes. Once we did, the bill passed unanimously through the Senate Health Committee where it was put up before a full Senate vote that for some reason, never happened. Then we found the budget amendment language, tried to fight it once in a public hearing. Then they closed down all public hearings from there.
Don’t give up rights that have been gained in order to obtain temporary safety.
This is not about hate or the politics of no. It is about preserving and expanding rights, exposing corruption and demanding open government and accountability.