By Eugene Davidovich
Law enforcement and prohibitionist groups are continuing to spend thousands of dollars right here in San Diego County to craft and enforce unfair restrictions and bans on safe access to medical cannabis. These unconstitutional bans combined with the recent federal crackdown on patient’s rights have hurt those for whom the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 was designed in the first place.
Patient’s suffering from HIV/AIDS, MS, Cancer, and other serious conditions are now forced with a difficult choice; either break the law and turn to local neighborhood drug dealers to find their doctor recommended medicine or travel a long distance, in some cases up to fifty miles to the nearest permitted dispensary in the remote eastern part of the county.
To protect safe access, stand up for patient’s rights, and help implement state law in San Diego County, Canvass for a Cause (CFAC) a San Diego based non-profit with the largest gay rights field program in the county has partnered with San Diego Americans for Safe Access (SDASA), a local chapter of the nation’s largest medical marijuana patients’ rights advocacy group.
Starting at the end of March, on a daily basis a team of professional and well trained activists are sent out to different parts of the county to have face to face conversations with both supporters and non supporters. Through these face to face conversations with hundreds of voters on a daily basis they move more than 22% of those who don't support safe access to pledge their support in 2012. In addition to changing hearts and minds of non supporters on this issue, activists sign supporters up for monthly and one time contributions to the campaign as well as recruit volunteers.
While the educational teams are raising support and changing hearts and minds, another team of activists is assigned to IB for signature gathering to overturn the most egregious ban out of all seventeen municipalities in the county and replace it with reasonable regulations.
To place the Safe Access Ordinance of Imperial Beach on the ballot in November, 1,080 valid signatures are needed by June 1st. In the first five weeks of the campaign, more than 1,400 signatures from registered voters in IB have already been gathered.
With most of the required signatures in the bag, the joint effort is determined to continue sending teams to IB daily to ensure more than enough valid signatures are submitted for the initiative to qualify in November.
In addition to the over 1,400 signatures, activists in have spoken to over 2,500 residents throughout the county about medical cannabis and have signed up over 200 of them to make a financial contribution to the campaign. To date, the campaign has raised over $15,000 in support of safe access in Imperial Beach!
The CFAC and SDASA partnership has created a real antidote to the reefer madness propaganda spread by prohibitionists in the county and has resulted in one of the largest medical cannabis field project in the state. Together, the groups stand to overturn unfair restrictions and bans in all seventeen municipalities in the county starting with Imperial Beach (IB).
To celebrate the campaign’s progress and to raise more awareness and support for the IB effort, on Friday, April 20th, a fundraiser and celebration was held at the CFAC headquarters in Hillcrest. The evening was filled with education, entertainment, and great community building. Throughout the night over 200 guests were in attendance and of the $15,000 total raised in support of the campaign in Imperial Beach, $3,000 came from the fundraiser alone.