March 21, 2011

Summary of CA NORML Conference

March 21, 2011
California medical marijuana

Received this summary from ASA:

Saturday’s CA NORML conference, Marijuana Reform: Next Steps for
California, focused on creation of ballot language and key points for
the 2012 campaign to legalize cannabis in California. On Friday, the
Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform (CCPR) announced they would file
another Proposition 19-style initiative. Californians converged at
this event to contribute ideas and discuss concerns.

CCPR chairperson Dale Sky Jones put fears to rest in the opening
presentation, letting medical cannabis patients and caregivers know
that protections for patients would be a primary focus of the
initiative. The campaign also plans to develop language to mitigate
high taxes on medical cannabis. In attendance with her newborn baby,
Jones was a picture-perfect spokesperson for this new era of cannabis
reform advocacy.

Dale Gieringer, long-time director of CA NORML, outlined three points
the initiative should focus on: making marijuana and some personal
cultivation legal for adults; de-felonizing all marijuana “crime”;
and establishing a workable distribution system for medical cannabis.
Attempting to legalize adult over-the-counter sales is premature at
this point, he contends, but feasible in the future.

Prop 215’s former campaign director Bill Zimmerman discussed the
three target groups to focus on for the upcoming campaign: single
women, Latinos and seniors. These large voting blocks still need to
be convinced that legalizing adult personal use of cannabis is a good
idea, and without their votes the campaign cannot succeed. Doug
Linney, campaign advisor for Prop 19, explained how the 2012 campaign
would focus on eliminating the opposition and building coalitions,
such as the relationship between the Prop 19 campaign and the NAACP.

Registered pharmacist and founder of the Farmacy Collective, Joanna
LaForce, spoke poignantly about patients still being afraid to try
medical cannabis due to the laws, and lamented the unnecessary
suffering she had witnessed first hand. Laforce recommended
one-on-one communication with voters and encouraged all attendees to
get out and talk to people in person.

Several prominent politicians attended to lend their voice to the
cause, including San Jose Assemblyperson Jim Beall, retired federal
judge Jim Gray and Mayor Pro Tem of West Hollywood, John Duran. Dan
Rush of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 5, added
the voice of his union members to those calling for reform.

Held at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre on the corner of Hollywood and
Vine, you would’ve expected a few Los Angeles celebrities to show up,
but none of the stars who’ve supported reform in the past (Melissa
Etheridge, Danny Glover) were there to help launch the campaign.

Also omitted was any talk of the raids on medical cannabis
dispensaries in West Hollywood last week. With the DEA cracking down
again, this would’ve been a good opportunity to draw attention to the
continuing need to push back the Feds in an organized manner. Sadly,
more than 15 years after Prop 215 passed, patients in California are
still fighting for safe access to medical cannabis.

Debby Goldsberry co-founded CAN, ASA and the Berkeley Patients Group
She is also on the board of CalNORML


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