Monday, December 22, 2008

Press Release: ASA at Walter Johnson HS Activism Fair

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 22, 2008

Americans for Safe Access attends the 3rd annual Walter Johnson High School Activism Fair
On December 23rd, 2008, from 7:10am until 2:10pm, students from Walter Johnson High School will be visiting exhibit tables from over 30 activist organizations and clubs from across the political spectrum to inform students and help get them involved. Americans for Safe Access and other organizations have been invited to bring materials to pass out to students as they visit the tables and ask questions about getting involved.

Americans for Safe Access invites students, parents, and teachers to visit the ASA booth to learn how ASA chapters and affiliates are making tremendous strides to educate the public and improve medical cannabis laws across the country. Although Maryland passed a medical cannabis law in 2003, the state still criminalizes individuals who use or obtain cannabis as recommended by a licensed physician. Every year, Maryland wastes precious law enforcement resources arresting and prosecuting scores of individuals who legitimately use medical cannabis to control symptoms of a serious or chronic illness.

Some of the most exciting growth of ASA chapters and leaders is taking place in Maryland, right outside our nation's Capitol. Under the direction of Tony Bowles (Montgomery Co.), Jay Hartman (Prince George's Co.), and Tom Adkins (Eastern Shore), Maryland now has three active ASA chapters organizing citizens to fix the state's flawed medical cannabis law. All three chapters are focused on building their membership base. They regularly send volunteers out to communities throughout the state to canvass and petition, meeting hundreds of medical cannabis patients and supporters who are ready for change.

The chapters worked with the Drug Policy Alliance to promote the Maryland Patients for Access campaign, designed to build grassroots support and identify potential leadership for upcoming reform efforts. In addition to public awareness sessions, the ASA chapters host spokesperson and media trainings, making Marylanders better informed about the challenges that patients face and helping patients navigate law enforcement encounters.

The chapters are educating both state and federal lawmakers by getting everyday citizens to stand up for medical cannabis. They are recruiting constituents for meetings with state legislators, providing them with information, prepping them for the meeting, and organizing carpools to get there.

The Maryland ASA chapters are successful examples of how activists can work together to start new chapters in their region, build strong lists by gathering contacts and letting the public know they exist, and coordinate campaigns with each other and ASA's national offices.

The activism fair, located at 6400 Rock Spring Dr., Bethesda, MD 20814, is an annual Walter Johnson tradition where almost all of the school's 2,000 students will visit the fair during the course of the day. ASA looks forward to this excellent opportunity to get in touch with the youth and engage them in a pressing issue that affects local law in Maryland, as well as national concerns over federal health policy.

For more information on Maryland ASA, contact Tony Bowles md4safeaccess@gmail.com or Jay Hartman bluejaybird@gmail.com.

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