Wednesday, December 24, 2008

ASA attends Walter Johnson High School Activism Fair!

Seasons Greetings,

MOCO-ASA was recently invited to attend the 3rd Annual Walter Johnson High School Activism Fair. The activism fair is an annual Walter Johnson tradition that brings together over 30 activist organizations and clubs from across the political spectrum to inform students and help get them involved.

Our chapter was one of many tabling in the cafeteria while classes of students came down to talk to us and find out how to get involved. During the course of the day, almost all of the school's 2,000 students visited the fair. This was an excellent opportunity to get in touch with the youth and engage them in our cause.

It was a very special day watching these young students being engaged and asking many questions themselves. Being able to answer questions and provide informational material to these students made the Holiday Season seem a little more magical.

We look forward to helping all the residents of Maryland have the most enjoyable advocate experience. So let us know the next time your interested in attending a meeting or event or volunteering with us sometime; because we need you. You are what make any cause worthwhile and effective. We'll create something special together every opportunity we have to take action on behalf of medical marijuana patients.

Happy Holidays to All

Tony Bowles, Outreach Coordinator, MOCO-ASA

Monday, December 22, 2008

Press Release: ASA at Walter Johnson HS Activism Fair


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 or Jay Hartman


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ancient Medicine: this debate is getting old

There is something to be said for medicines that have been used for thousands of years and survive the test of time. Although cannabis is not a widely-accepted treatment in the United States today by law, it has become synonymous in some senses with herbal folk medicines to supplement other health practices. This article from The Star via The Canadian Press sheds new light on this ancient medicine.

While research in the US is still severely restricted due to unsympathetic policies and aggressive DEA agendas, a new study by American neurologist Dr. Ethan B. Russo as published in the Journal of Experimental Botany was inspired by a discovery of a 2,700 year old tomb in China. The tomb of this 45-year-old shaman contained not only the usual gifts for use in the afterlife, such as a bow and arrow, a harp instrument, and a wooden bowl, but also the oldest ever discovered stash of marijuana was gifted in the holy man's tomb.

The finding indicates “that cannabis has been used by man for a variety of purposes for thousands of years.” Marijuana was likely being administered to tribe members by the shamans themselves, says Russo. This finding is not such a big surprise to many of us, including Dr. Russo, a full-time consultant with GW Pharmaceuticals, the producers of a cannabis-based medicine called Sativex, which is approved in Canada for multiple sclerosis and cancer-related pain.

What has changed over three thousand years? Not much, except for more damaging policies made by governments despite medical professionals and scientists speaking out for the research. According to the International Herald Tribune, the United Kingdom's House of Lords recently moved to toughen laws on marijuana by reclassifying the substance as more dangerous, and raising jail sentences from 2 to 5 years.

Even when we look back in time, governments seem to be simply going backward in their policies toward cannabis, not forward.

Watchfully yours,
Bethany Moore and the whole campaign team