FLINT- Michigan's marijuana players will rub elbows with national guests and Lansing legislators this weekend as the spotlight remains hot on medical marijuana law reform. Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) Steph Sherer will be appearing at all the gatherings of significance, including a major fundraising event on Saturday night at the beautiful Ann Arbor Art Center.
Sherer will be speaking on Friday in Detroit regarding the recent Department of Justice policy change regarding states' rights to legalize medical and recreational marijuana. As the Director of a powerful national organization, Sherer will explain the broad implications of the new policy- and the ramifications to Michigan's 130,000 medical marijuana patients, to law enforcement and to legislators. This conversation is made more relevant by Tuesday's testimony before a US Senate committee from Assistant Attorney General Cole. The event is free to the public and media is invited to attend.
The action moves to Ann Arbor on Saturday with two events, both at the Ann Arbor Art Center. Sherer will hold a Raid Preparation Workshop, which begins at 5 pm; the National Patients Rights Association (NPRA), along with the Ann Arbor Medical Cannabis Guild (the Guild), will host a fundraising event immediately afterward. That gathering is scheduled for 6-9 pm.
The Raid workshop comes at a crucial time for Michigan's 100 remaining dispensaries, as three recent raids on dispensaries were conducted by federal DEA agents executing state-issued warrants. Use of federal agents to perform state raids is a trend that many fear will continue, as it provides advantages for the state and creates difficulties for defense counsels. Additionally, raids in Detroit on distribution centers underscore the need for everyone involved in the medical marijuana program to become educated on the tactics being used against them, and how to best handle all manner of police encounters. Sherer has done this raid training in Michigan in the past.
By far the crown jewel of the weekend's actions is the Saturday night fundraiser for NPRA to fund the lobby effort for passage of HB 4271, the Provisioning Centers Act. This event is the latest in a series of fundraisers for 4271 hosted by the Guild; previous events have drawn Michigan's best and brightest in the industry to the Art Center.
In addition to Sherer, the national organization Patients Out Of Time (POT) will have a representative at the fundraiser. POT educates doctors and nurses about cannabis and its uses in seminars held across the country; they sponsor a huge conference every year where physicians from all over the world gather to discuss cutting-edge science and the best methods to spread that information to health care providers and the public.
'Fundraiser' is a word that doesn't cover the breadth of the Saturday night event. In a first for the NPRA, many of Michigan's non-profit organizations will have display tables at the Center, distributing literature and showing videos. Corporations and products will be on display, too, and the diversity of merchandise and services offered to Michigan patients or businesses will amaze even the most informed activists.
Despite the new theme of incorporating exposure for the state's often-underrepresented small business community, the Fundraiser will feature all of the exciting aspects you would expect at a $200 a plate gathering: soft music, cocktails, great food and even better speakers. Reps. Callton and Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, will address the crowd and explain the progress of the Provisioning Centers Act through the legislature. Sherer leads the list of dignitaries who will capture the stage. Also appearing will be:
Mark Passerini, emcee- member, The Guild and Michigan ASA member
Kevin McKinney- Lansing lobbyist for NPRA
Theresa Daniello- the Ohio Rights Group and Patients Out Of Time
Rebecca Hamilton Brown- director of Michigan's own Pediatric Cannabis Network
Robin Schneider and Drew Driver- NPRA representatives
Representatives from Michigan Compassion and Michigan's chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
ASA has sued the DEA to reschedule marijuana; their Peace for Patients program has elevated the issue of federally incarcerated state-legal medicinal marijuana patients from across the country into a national dialog; they have held protests and lobby days in Washington, D.C. and in a dozen states. ASA's Michigan chapter protested in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Detroit earlier this year and has entreated Michigan's medical marijuana agency to allow input from the marijuana community regarding future changes to the program.
The National Patient's Rights Association is the lead lobbying entity in Lansing representing the needs of medicinal marijuana users and the right to safe access centers. Through their lobbyist, Kevin McKinney, and key members Robin Schneider and Drew Driver, NPRA has pushed for legislation allowing legalized distribution of medical marijuana via dispensaries, referred to in HB 4271 as Provisioning Centers.
The Ann Arbor Medical Cannabis Guild is a band of safe access centers that has lobbied their City Council for an ordinance that would regulate and protect their businesses and the patients that use them. This fundraising event is the latest in a cooperative effort between the Guild and the NPRA to advance the Provisioning Centers Act.
Friday 9/13/13 Detroit
ASA Update: DOJ announcement and importance to support HB 4271 and regulated distribution
Led by Americans for Safe Access Executive Director, Steph Sherer
When: Friday 7pm-9pm
Where: Andrews on the Corner
Address: 201 Joseph Campau Ave, Detroit, MI 48207
Cost: FREE (Donations welcome)
Saturday 9/14/13 Ann Arbor
When: Saturday 5-6pm Raid training for operators and associates led by Americans for Safe Access Executive Director, Steph Sherer
Where: Ann Arbor Art Center
Address: 117 W Liberty St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Cost: FREE (Donations welcome)
Fundraiser for NPRA in support of HB4271
Same location as above
Cost: $200 a person, $300 a couple
Source: The Compassion Chronicles