Friday, October 9, 2009

Campaign Update

Maryland ASA was instrumental in the introduction of HB1339 during this year's session of the Maryland Assembly.


This bill was not given a vote in the Judiciary Committee due to an existing agreement with the Governor regarding budget constraints. Basically the bill would have cost a few thousand dollars to set up a commission to study the existing law, and that was a deal-breaker.


The bill, however, did get a hearing, and several of us gave testimony before the Judiciary committee. This was a good result for lots of reasons. From the comments and questions, several Delegates revealed either a sympathetic or a hostile position vis a vis medical cannabis. This, and the meetings we had with delegates in Annapolis, whetted our appetite for future legislative battles in Annapolis, and provided us with valuable contacts and useful information.


Our group has undergone some changes this year. The Prince George's county group started weekly meetings in March, but the Montgomery County group folded about the same time so we were a single group in Maryland for most of the year.


WE continued to meet every week, and attendance swayed between six and three participants as we encountered the usual problems a group of self selected volunteers goes through. But we continued to meet every week and we participated in some events, distributing flyers and gathering signatures in the street.


In July we settled on the postcards idea.


We decided that it would be good to have a postcard that people could sign and we could mail to their Delegate. Since people have three Delegates and one Senator in the Maryland Assembly we decided to make four different postcards.

We kicked around ideas for images and slogans, and eventually decided to invite people to submit designs and we would pick the best design, and we would do this four times. We came up with four slogans that defined the themes we wanted to emphasize in our campaign.

We set up a web page. www.MDSafeAccess.org

When we got a bunch of images assembled we put them together with a soundtrack, added a few animations, and another kind of communication became available to us. Check the YouTube video on our site.


We have now extended our contest to include T-Shirts and banners. This way we have maximum participation and stimulate creativity. And we all look cool. Which matters.

We want to mail a few thousand postcards and we aim to cover the whole state.


Because we mail them, we have a record of which member received what mail, and when. This is helpful when setting up meetings with legislators.


Since July we have gathered almost a thousand signed postcards. Our biggest problem at the moment is keeping up with demand. We had a booth at a street festival in Takoma Park (Montgomery County) on Sunday, October 5. We got 500 more signed at that one event.


Some volunteers from elsewhere in the state contacted us through the website, and some people liked the postcards, and some people we met at the various events where we hand out literature and gather signatures. For whatever reason, our little group has blossomed – we regularly have double digit attendance, and this has allowed us to cover more ground.


We have restarted a group in Montgomery County, and there are active volunteers in St. Mary's and Howard Counties who attend our meetings in PG County. WE are confident in continued expansion across the state as we get better at figuring out how to do this.


We have distributed more than 1500 postcards – some volunteers take a stack home with them and enrol their friends in signing the cards. People seem happy to do this. We are confident that we will have a lot of postcards to send to the assembly.


We are now exploring ways that we can use the postcards as a fund-raising tool. It is often the case, that people will chip in a dollar for a postcard if you ask them to do so. We want to expand on this.


We have friendly relations with a whole lot of musicians, and we are hoping to create a fund-raising event/party, and maybe a regular social event for the state. Since each group meets every week, we could all get together once a month and just have a few announcements, maybe a presentation during a meal and a chat.


We plan to meet with lots of Delegates in the upcoming session, and we hope to identify people on the Judiciary Committee who will take up the cause of medical cannabis, and introduce a bill on our behalf. We are working to set up a process whereby this can happen, and we will soon be expanding this process to include other organizations who have an interest in this policy and this legislation.


The present law in Maryland provides very weak protections for patients, and does not even address the issues of safe supply, nor medical research. What it will do, is reduce the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana, if the judge can be convinced of a medical necessity on the part of the patient. It is not much, but given that situation, we think it would be helpful if a lot more doctors and patients were informed about therapeutic cannabis, and the laws pertaining thereto.


We have made it a priority in our campaign to identify health professionals for special attention, whenever they show up, with a view to establishing one or more educational seminars and other resources for medical professionals in the state. We are also setting up an ID program whereby a patient can produce evidence of a doctor's recommendation for therapeutic use of cannabis in the event of an arrest. There is no guarantee, but faced with the possibility of a $100 fine, (and a harassment suit if this is a second arrest) for marijuana possession, we hope most cops would do the smart thing and ignore the cannabis.


Contact one of us.


Prince George's County Damien Nichols nichols.damien@gmail.com

Montgomery County Michael Rigby MDSafeAccess@gmail.com

St Mary's County David Larose larosedavid@yahoo.com

Howard County Dave Terk DaveTerk@gmail.com


If you are in the county listed email that person, anywhere else in Maryland- email Damien.


We keep a calendar on our website of the upcoming events where you can find us handing out literature and gathering supporters. We would be delighted for you to come by and meet us.



Friday, August 28, 2009

White Slacks Day


I woke up at three o clock this morning. I figured no point in going back to sleep. I was going to be spending the morning in court.

On Facebook a friend sent me a link to The Largest Street Gang in America. I couldn’t watch all of it.

And then I couldn’t get the right outfit, not without waking my housemate for the ironing board, and I eventually settled on a third tier compromise which involved white slacks. And I forgot to take postcards with me, even though I had about three hours to pack. And my hair was sticking up.

The phone rang at eight and I jumped into Bill’s car. The traffic was light, and we arrived fifteen minutes before anything could possibly happen. And then we did a sort of double mission to Starbucks.

I chatted with the lovely Pamela, while Bill’s lawyer, Stephen, interviewed Caren with respect to her testifying on Bill’s behalf. At ten fifteen we assembled in the courtroom.

Stephen asked us if we could accept a request to reconvene at 11:30, and we four ASA representatives left in search of second breakfast.

The atmosphere was far from tense, though I think Bill was considering the possibility of an adverse outcome. For myself I had seen enough of the proceedings to be confident in both the fairness of Judge B. and the quality of the case for medical marijuana use, as a mitigating factor in the sentence for marijuana possession. The freshness of the prosecuting attorney was another factor in our favor, as it happened, but I didn’t think of that while I was sticking a plastic fork into my scrambled eggs.

Tony showed up with a couple of huge yellow buttons that said “FIX MARYLAND’S MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAW”, and I stuck one on the front of my blue shirt, before the four of us sat down, on the front row, for the proceedings.

Caren was first up to testify as to her knowledge of Bill, and she slipped in some good stuff about Bill being an activist and everything. And then, the prosecuting attorney gets to cross examine, and Caren had her for lunch. For real. The best the attorney could do was, “Are you a doctor?”, which was pretty lame. Score like five for the good guys.

And then Stephen challenged a whole bunch of the stuff the state was using for evidence and, as a result the Judge agreed that a whole bunch of stuff be redacted. (The jury said the cops were “testilying”).. And then a bunch of Bill’s property was returned to him.

And then Bill made a statement and took questions from both attorneys. Oh gosh, she made a half a hit with “Do you smoke cigarettes?” which Bill parried with, “I have, on occasion, yes”. Leaving her nowhere to go.

The judge was eloquent in his summation. Before delivering the all but inevitable finding for “medical necessity”, and thus a $100 fine, no probation, the Judge opined that the use of smoked marijuana, in preference to pills, when treating nausea, amounted to common sense.

With this case, Maryland struggles one tiny step closer to justice, sanity and basic human decency. That people with chronic medical conditions are subjected to being beaten up by the police, having that reported as “resisting arrest”, and then have to deal with the expense, and potentially adverse consequences of a jury trial, merely for treating themselves with a God-given healing herb, in the privacy of their own homes is an offense against everything a free person stands for.

We had a late lunch in a very nice Thai restaurant, and everybody was really happy and charged up for whatever.

I noticed, as we left the restaurant, that my white slacks had a sort of yellow coating down one side – looked like pollen, maybe. Something like that. Could have been there all day. (Thank heavens the Washington Post doesn’t have pictures).

There remains the possibility of an appeal. During the case the judge ruled medical marijuana defense inadmissible, except as a mitigating factor at sentencing. This ruling may be vulnerable on appeal, opening the door for patients in Maryland to present the case for medical marijuana to a jury. Having seen some of the relevant documents I dare say this particular ruling is very vulnerable. There are also other precedents that could be established.

Anybody got five thousand bucks?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Money

The Money

My friend is funneling money into the marijuana machine.

His documented, serious medical condition, his two doctors recommendations for medical marijuana, and his California patient's ID card notwithstanding, his brutal arrest & theft of his property, are defended by the operatives of “law and order” in Maryland, to the continuing enrichment of the courts, the lawyers, the police force, the prison guards, and all who profit from these institutions.

Eight hundred and thirty thousand marijuana arrests is a lot of jobs for the boys.

And who pays for this? Well, no problems there, its just evil marijuana smoking scum.

This massive transfer of resources from the aforementioned scum (ie people like me) to the cartel which spans law enforcement, criminal justice and the prison industrial complex, is further enhanced by bribes from other cartels who directly benefit from prohibition – the drug companies, both legal and illegal, the facilities treating marijuana “addiction”, the shallow politicians, moralists and sanctimonious busybodies, and that sinister group who just like to see a lot of poor people in prison.

This is the reason that medical cannabis users are pursued by the state apparatus with such vigor.

Six hundred swat team deployments in PG County alone last year. And how many of those were simple marijuana possession? This is just a training program. Got to keep the teams occupied and their skills up to scratch, who knows what kind of crimes people might be getting up to in the privacy of their own homes. People treating serious medical conditions with a God given healing herb are only one type of evil scum. What about bloggers, or people who owe money to credit card companies?

All people of good heart must join their brothers in resisting this tyranny.




Thursday, June 11, 2009

Postcards

POSTCARDS

Our PG County group meets every week, and the following project evolved over the course of a few weeks.

We decided that it would be good to have a postcard that people could sign and we could mail to their Delegate. Since people have three Delegates and one Senator in the Maryland Assembly we decided to make four different postcards.

We kicked around ideas for images and slogans, and eventually decided to invite people to submit designs and we would pick the best design, and we would do this four times. We came up with four slogans that defined the themes we wanted to emphasize in our campaign.

We set up a web page. www.MDSafeAccess.org

When we got a bunch of images assembled we put them together with a soundtrack, added a few animations, and another kind of communication became available to us. YouTube is bound to be an important component of the campaign.


We have now extended our contest to include T-Shirts and banners. This way we have maximum participation and stimulate creativity. And we all look cool. Which matters.

We want to mail a thousand postcards and we aim to cover the whole state. Because we mail them, we have a record of which member received what mail, and when. This is helpful when setting up meetings with legislators.

Our campaign is starting to buzz.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hearings get some Press

Looks like medical marijuana law in Maryland is starting to attract some press.

The Baltimore Sun and Delmarva dot com have both published a story from AP.

No such thing as bad press.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Americans for Safe Access on WPFW Radio Today at 3pm

Today at from 3:05pm to 3:30pm, Americans for Safe Access will be on WPFW 89.3FM, DC's Station for Jazz and Justice.

We will discuss Medical Marijuana in Maryland with ASA staff and Maryland patients, as well as HB 1339 - the bill to establish a task force to study medical marijuana laws in MD.

Tune in at 89.3 FM on your radio, or by logging on to http://www.wpfw.org/.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Press Release: Judiciary Committee Schedules Hearing on Medical Marijuana

PRESS RELEASE
Americans for Safe Access
For Immediate Release: March 6, 2009


Contacts:
Caren Woodson - Montgomery County chapter 510-388-0546
Damien Nichols – Prince George’s County chapter 410-507-9379

Judiciary Committee Schedules Hearing on Medical Marijuana
Patients, advocates prepare to change inadequate Maryland law

Annapolis, MD – On Tuesday, March 24 the House of Delegate Standing Committee on the Judiciary will conduct a legislative hearing to consider HB1339, a bill to study Maryland’s medical marijuana law. Earlier this week, the bill was approved by the Rules Committee prior to being assigned a hearing date by Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph Vallario (D-Prince George’s County).

State Delegate Henry Heller (D-Montgomery County) introduced HB 1339 last month, legislation that creates a task force to study the issues related to medical marijuana throughout the state of Maryland. If the bill passes, the State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene would be required to staff a Governor-appointed task force to evaluate whether the current state law is effective, fair, and equally enforced across all state jurisdictions in addition to other issues concerning the limited, therapeutic use of cannabis.

In 2002, shortly after a Federal Court of Appeal held that physicians have a Constitutional First Amendment right to recommend the use of marijuana to their patients, the Maryland state legislature passed the Darrell Putman Compassionate Use Act (CUA). The CUA requires state and local courts to consider a patient's use of medical marijuana in accordance with a physician's recommendation to be a "mitigating factor" in marijuana-related state prosecutions. The law permits an affirmative defense in state court, yet still may penalize qualified patients by fining them a maximum of $100.

However, according to medical marijuana advocates, individuals in Maryland who possess a physician’s recommendation to use marijuana for therapeutic purposes are still arrested, prosecuted, and, in some cases, fined more than the statutory $100 limit. Worse still, legitimate patients in Maryland are forced to break the law; unnecessarily, and sometimes harmfully, involving themselves in the illicit market in order to gain access to their physician-recommended marijuana. "In short, Maryland’s medical marijuana law is broken," said Tony Bowles, a spokesperson with the Montgomery County Chapter of Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy organization. "Ironically, and tragically, people suffering from serious or chronic conditions are vulnerable to arrest and prosecution, and are left without a safe, secure way to access physician-recommended medical marijuana."

Steven Fowler, Montgomery County resident and patient, adds "as patients, all we are asking is that the government look into the current program to determine if it is the safest option for patients in need: Data, not doctrine should determine policy on health care issues."

Excluding Maryland, thirteen states, representing more than 72 million people, have passed laws authorizing patients living with a serious or chronic condition to use physician-recommended marijuana free from criminal prosecution. The Maryland chapters of Americans For Safe Access (MD-ASA), together with patients and their supporters, have been working to bring the same protections and progressive health policies to the State of Maryland. "Every year, Maryland wastes precious law enforcement resources to conduct investigations, and to arrest and prosecute scores of people who legitimately use medical cannabis to control symptoms of a serious or chronic illness," said Bowles. "We applaud Delegate Heller's proposal and hope this task force will put science above politics, paving the way for much needed changes to a flawed medical marijuana law."

Further information:
Full text of HB1339: http://www.mlis.state.md.us/2009rs/bills/hb/hb1339f.pdf
Facts on Maryland's medical marijuana law: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/article.php?id=2050
Maryland Chapters of Americans for Safe Access: http://www.americansforsafeaccess.org/article.php?id=280
Prince George’s County ASA Campaign website:
http://www.MDSafeAccess.org
Maryland Gazette Article, March 4, 2009:
http://www.gazette.net/stories/03042009/montnew220431_32489.shtml




# # #


With over 30,000 active members in more than 40 states, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots actions, advocacy and services for patients and the caregivers.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

White House to End DEA Medical Cannabis Raids

PRESS RELEASE
Americans for Safe Access
For Immediate Release: February 5, 2009

Washington, DC -- White House Spokesman Nick Shapiro reacted to new Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raids at medical cannabis collectives in California, saying he expects President Obama to end that policy when a new DEA Administrator is seated. “The president believes that federal resources should not be used to circumvent state laws, and as he continues to appoint senior leadership to fill out the ranks of the federal government, he expects them to review their policies with that in mind," Shapiro said.

The statement puts the Department of Justice and the DEA on notice of a change in federal policy, and indicates that continued raids may not be tolerated. "Americans for Safe Access acknowledges President Obama's continued pledge to end federal interference with state medical marijuana laws," commented Caren Woodson, Director of Government Affairs. “We look forward to working with the President and his Administration to enact long-term policies that support safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research." Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the nation’s largest medical cannabis advocacy organization, sent policy recommendations aimed at harmonizing federal and state law and encouraging research to President Obama and Congress earlier this year.

Shapiro’s statement followed a groundswell of public opposition and critical media following a DEA raid in South Lake Tahoe on January 22 and four simultaneous raids in the Los Angeles area on Tuesday. ASA members and other medical cannabis advocates responded with thousands of phone calls to the White House and an Internet campaign on the President’s web site, Change.gov, asking the President to fulfill his repeated campaign pledges to not use federal resources to interfere with state medical marijuana laws.

Medical cannabis raids intensified under former President George W. Bush, with more than one hundred paramilitary style raids, new indictments, and letters threatening property owners who rent to medical cannabis facilities with prosecution and civil asset forfeiture. "More than 72 million people live in a state that has enacted laws that authorize the limited use and distribution of cannabis for therapeutic use," Woodson said. "The White House's comments have provided patients and their loved ones a sense of relief, and we hope the President and our Attorney General will keep this pledge in mind when considering appointments to the DEA and Office of National Drug Control Policy."

For interviews with medical cannabis patients impacted by federal raids, defendants facing prosecution or sentencing, doctors, and researchers, contact Media Specialist Kris Hermes at (510) 681-6361 or Director of Government Affairs Caren Woodson at (202) 857-5350.

Comments by Obama on ending medical marijuana raids: http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080323/NEWS/803230336

ASA medical marijuana recommendations for President Obama: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/PresidentialRecommendations


# # #

With over 30,000 active members in more than 40 states, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots actions, advocacy and services for patients and the caregivers.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Medical Marijuana Week: show your love in February

For the 7th year in a row activists across the nation will be organizing in support of Medical Marijuana Week.

Hosted annually during the week of February 15th, Medical Marijuana Week is an empowering week of events and activities organized to raise awareness about the growing support for safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research throughout the nation.

The Maryland chapters of Americans for Safe Access welcome your attendance at the following events:

Mon. Feb. 16th, 5pm -- Candlelight Vigil on the steps of The Maryland State House, located at State Circle in Annapolis, Maryland

Wed. Feb. 18th, 7pm -- Medical Cannabis 101. Panel of experts will discuss medical, legal, and political aspects of medical marijuana. U of MD College Park Campus, Room 3215 in the Art-Soc building

Thurs. Feb. 19th, 7pm -- MMJ Week Wrap Party. Featuring local live entertainment, featured speakers, light snacks and drinks, $5 suggested donation, 2640 St. Paul St. Baltimore

For more info contact: Tony (415) 283-7404 or md4safeaccess@gmail.com

Americans for Safe Access is the nation’s largest organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research.

www.americansforsafeaccess.org/maryland

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Potholes Ahead: Obama's Call to Action

So much energy is buzzing about the DC Metropolitan area this week in preparation for Barack Obama's Inauguration. Thousands upon thousands of people are descending upon the Capitol with hopes and dreams for a better future. President-Elect Obama has captured the true essence of America and is urging every citizen to respond to his call-to-action for public service.

This year, so many medical patients in Maryland will need help being heard in the media, in the courtrooms, and on the legislative floor. What research we currently do have indicates that cannabis has healing properties for patients dealing with cancer, muscular dystrophy, and HIV/AIDS, and is often more effective than prescribed medications currently available in states that have unfriendly medical marijuana laws. Medical treatment is a private issue that should be between a patient and his or her medical physician.

Log on now to Change.Gov to speak out about this important drug policy issue.

Some patients have doctors recommending medical marijuana, but they have what may come as a surprising diagnosis: PTSD. In the Fall of 2007, Esquire Magazine published an article discussing treatments for Iraqi Veterans returning home from war with torturous dreams, memories, and other incomprehensible trauma symptoms. If medical marijuana has been shown to help soldiers in their recovery process, we are really emerging into a new understanding of the Marijuana plant, and its crucial role for humanity at so many levels.

Its an encouraging time to pursue this issue with full force. Obama himself spoke out in 2004 for Marijuana Decriminalization in this YouTube Video.

Cancer patients, HIV patients, and Iraqi Veterans alike all need your help this year. Make Americans for Safe Access one way you reach out to answer Obama's call for public service. Doctors, nurses, patients, lawmakers and soldiers who support Medical Marijuana need your help to create a stronger voice in this world. In 2009, join us in calling for better research, better laws, and greater protection for Medical Marijuana patients.


In Service,
Bethany Moore, and the whole MD-ASA campaign team

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Call To Action: Pardon Me!

Meet us tomorrow, January 14th, 2009, Washington DC!

PARDON ME! A Campaign For Medical Marijuana Amnesty.

Join us in Demanding Equal Justice for Guilty Republicans And Pardons for Medical Marijuana Patients and Providers.

Meet 12:00noon in Freedom Plaza to mobilize for a day of action at various locations in Washington DC.

For more information call 202-286-5586 or visit http://www.smoke-in.org

Sponsored By Cures not Wars & The Fourth Of July Hemp Coalition

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Why Marinol Cannot Substitute for Marijuana

It is often said that there is no reason to permit the use of natural marijuana by patients because they can instead use Marinol. The argument goes that Marinol is marijuana in pill form. It is not. Marinol is a synthetic copy of the delta9-THC molecule. Natural marijuana contains a number of active ingredients, or cannabinoids, not just THC. One of the major cannabinoids that marijuana contains, but Marinol does not, is cannabidiol, or CBD.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-psychoactive ingredient of marijuana. On the Counterpunch website Weekend Edition of December 22/23, 2007, Fred Gardner’s review of studies on CBD credited it with being an anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsant, anti-psychotic, anti-oxidant and an immune system modulator with neuro-protective properties. In Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria, vol. 30 no.3 Sao Paulo, Sept. 2008 (English translation) Antonio Waldo Zuardi of the Dept. of Neurology at Universidade de Sao Paulo reviewed many studies and concluded that CBD has a beneficial effect on several conditions. He listed Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, other inflammatory diseases, nausea and cancer. Since Marinol does not contain CBD, or any cannabinoids other than THC, there is no reason to believe it will be helpful to a patient suffering from any of these disorders. Natural marijuana will be helpful for these ailments, as many patients have discovered.

Oral administration of Marinol creates two problems. When taken orally, Marinol is transformed into several metabolites. One is 11-hydroxy-THC, which is considered to be much more psychoactive than delta9-THC. It is produced in far greater amounts when taken orally than when marijuana is smoked or vaporized and inhaled. Furthermore, the synthetic THC in Marinol is absorbed unevenly in the gastro-intestinal tract. Given the uneven absorption rate and the increased psychoactivity of 11-hydroxy-THC, a patient may find a dosage that is perfectly adequate on one day will, on another day, leave him or her dysfunctional due to an unpleasantly powerful high that lasts for hours. On a third day, that very same dose may prove to be inadequate, having little effect at all. By contrast, smoked or vaporized marijuana can be inhaled one small hit at a time only until the desired effect is achieved.

Marinol is also more expensive than marijuana. A likely monthly cost for most marijuana patients is between $75.00 and $300.00. Marinol often costs a patient between $200.00 and $800.00 monthly, with many reports of patients spending over $1,000.00 per month.

Marijuana is cheaper, more consistent and dependable in its effects on the user. Most importantly, unlike Marinol, it contains all the cannabinoids that are helpful for a much larger number of conditions than Marinol is. Natural marijuana really is necessary for many patients and Marinol should not be passed off as an acceptable substitute.

-- contributed by ASA guest blogger T. Dubb

Thanks T. Dubb for the critical insight! This is just one piece of the puzzle out of many, which our friends, neighbors, and LEGISLATORS need to be educated on so that Maryland can move forward in protecting medical patients...

Thoughtfully Yours,

The Maryland Chapter of Americans for Safe Access

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

ASA in 2009!

On behalf of the Maryland chapter of Americans for Safe Access, Happy New Year! In 2009, we look forward to stepping up our activism in the community even more! Recently, we attended a high school activism fair in Bethesda and received tremendous support from everyone we spoke to. One thing we are most pleased by is the knowledge that many students already have about medical marijuana and drug policy, which is so energizing and inspiring to us! To kick off the New Year with a busy calendar, here are some of the events we are looking forward to in the month of January:

This Thursday, January 8th, we will be attending a public forum being held by The Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Advisory Council of Montgomery County (AODAAC). We are currently coordinating with patients that use medical cannabis to testify about their fears, concerns, and experiences. The forum is being held from 7:00pm – 9:00pm in MC Council Office Building (COB) at 100 Maryland Ave, Rockville, MD 20850. This is a perfect venue to show that there is strong constituent support for Medical Cannabis, and a golden opportunity to speak directly to the Montgomery County Government. The council holds this annual forum to hear the public’s suggestions and concerns regarding the county government’s efforts. This forum is open to the public and the Advisory Council welcomes visitors. Members of MOCO-ASA will provide talking points and facilitate speaker preparation. Please contact md4safeaccess@gmail.com or 415-283-7404 to register to speak and to request any special accommodations. We need the Council to hear patients' suggestions and concerns regarding their therapeutic use of cannabis, so join us now and help shape Maryland medical cannabis law!

Also, we invite you to come speak with us at the Volunteer Fair at the Montgomery County Volunteer Center on Monday, January 19th from 1:00pm to 3:30pm. The Volunteer Fair is where individuals can learn about ongoing volunteer opportunities in Montgomery County. Service projects will include making Valentine’s Day cards for the Orphans Foundation, decorating bookmarks and cards for children with cancer and other terminal illnesses, packing snow day baskets for county-wide Meals on Wheels programs, learning how to register as a bone marrow donor, and attending sessions by the Conflict Resolution Center of Montgomery County. The event is easily accessed by White Flint Metro at 5701 Marinelli Road, North Bethesda (corner of Rockville Pike and Marinelli Rd, across from the Metro).

Thank you for your continued support of ASA’s mission in the New Year. Let this be the year that real ‘change’ rings loud and clear!

Watchfully Yours,

Bethany Moore and the MD ASA Team