By Steph Sherer, Executive Director, Americans for Safe Access
This is the time of year when I take some time to reflect over the past twelve months and prepare myself for the opportunities that lay ahead in the New Year.
2012 was bittersweet. On one hand, we moved the fight for safe access to medical cannabis forward - adding two new medical cannabis states, Connecticut and Massachusetts; legislatures in a dozen states considered medical cannabis bills; current medical cannabis states tried to tackle regulation and implementation; new and influential allies joined the fight, like the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and the Americans Herbal Products association (AHPA); and the election brought with it new allies in the Senate and House.
But nineteen of our brothers and sisters spent their holiday in prison, and a half a dozen more will be joining them in the next few months. Millions of patients are left without access following aggressive raids and landlord threats. US Attorneys seem to be hell bent on destroying access models built by states and cities across the country.
Despite all this, I cannot help but to look at 2012 and see a movement of resistance and courage. As I think about 2013, I am filled with a great sense of hope. As a member of ASA, you helped us do so much this year:
- We finally got our day in court! ASA took our 10-year old rescheduling petition to federal court for the first oral arguments on the medical use of cannabis in twenty years. If we prevail in 2013, our lawsuit will force a change in the classification of cannabis under federal law.
- We launched an exciting new website - VoteMedicalMarijuana.org - and helped get medical cannabis champions elected and re-elected to Congress!
- Our "Camp WakeUpObama" campaign kept the issue of medical cannabis in the national dialog during the election season and galvanized supporters nationwide!
- We scored two huge victories for patients in California by successfully overturning the conviction of San Diego medical cannabis provider Jovan Jackson and repealing a ban on patients' cooperatives in Los Angeles! Wins like these can have national implications, too.
- We helped thousands of patients navigate their states' legal system!
- We provided direct support to thousands of advocates in their local and state efforts!
- And we celebrated our 10-year anniversary at a gala awards dinner in Washington, DC!
I know that, if we can pool our resources, we can change federal law. We start 2013 with a President in his second term, a more sympathetic Congress, and 106 million Americans living in states with medical cannabis laws. We are going to greet our federal elected officials in 2013 with the largest gathering of medical cannabis advocates ever seen in Washington, DC, at our Bridging the Gap Between Public and Policy Conference February 22-25.
Also in 2013, we will hear from the courts on our rescheduling lawsuit, we will be working on new legislation in a dozen states, we will be preparing for initiatives in 2014 in Arkansas and California (to name a few), we will be working with current medical cannabis states on passing access laws and implementing new laws, and all of this while we continue to provide free legal support and other resources for patients and providers.
Let's play to win in 2013! We need your help to make that happen.
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