[The following was the basis for Doug Banfelder’s comments at last week’s Prop 203 Solidarity meeting.]
Medical Marijuana – Supported by the Majority, Under Attack by a Radical Minority
Who here feels like a Radical Tonight?! Its easy to feel that way while we’re under attack – but consider this – We are Actually the MAJORITY!
Tonight as we meet we face an organized, energized opposition. U.S. Attorneys have been unleashed by the DOJ, dispensaries raided, letters threatening legal action against property owners, and IRS harassment of dispensaries is escalating, despite the good faith efforts of most canna businesses to comply with often ambiguous state laws, or, as with the IRS, rules that are blatantly discriminatory and unjust. That’s radical!
At the state and local level, anyone engaged in the production or distribution end of medical marijuana is feeling the heat. Governor Brewer and Attorney General Horne’s federal suit for a declaratory judgement is certain to be dismissed, but the intended result, confusion, has been achieved. That’s radical!
We’ve all heard reports that local police seemingly don’t know which parts of the AMMA remain in place, putting patients at risk. Caregivers must either grow in their homes or in commercial buildings, making them subject to the not altogether unfounded fears of building owners concerned that their property may be seized. County Attorneys seek every opportunity to keep the prohibition machine in place, stubbornly continuing the failed “tough on crime” approach. That’s radical!
Why is all this going on? The only logical answer can be this: our opponents know that we are winning the public debate, and that our success WILL bring about the end of marijuana prohibition. Consider: 25% of the American people live in states that have approved Medical Marijuana laws; we have an unprecedented level of support in the United States Congress, with three bills recently introduced; and, a Gallup poll just revealed that a majority of Americans, for the first time ever, support the full legalization of cannabis. And, as a MAJORITY of Arizonans voted to approve Prop 203 last November proves, WE are NOT the radical ones!
No, we are the MAJORITY. This means the best way to fight back is from WITHIN the system. It’s how Prop 203 got passed, right? So then how do we get from here to where we want to be? Several things have to happen, and starting RIGHT NOW is not too soon.
Lets begin by agreeing that our opponents are a RADICAL MINORITY, and that we are part of a MAJORITY that approved Prop 203.
Second, we all must be registered to vote and know who our State Representatives are. Every legislative district has two members of the House and one Senator.
Third, all of us, especially those patients who are able, need to contact their legislators and say “I’m a medical marijuana patient/caregiver/businessperson, and I request (not “ask”) that you support continued patient access to the medicine that works best for me/my patients.”
It does not matter that legislators cannot undo Prop 203 (due to the Voter Protection Act); we need to understand that so far, their opinions have been formed by conversations with people like Drug Free AZ leaders Carolyn Short and addiction psychiatrist Edward Gogek – a minority of prohibitionist RADICALS who want to make AZ patients into criminals!
Always keep in mind that lobbyists and business interests drive the dialogue at the legislature. And that the legislature CAN kill 203 with “death by a thousand cuts.” Remember Rep. Steve Farley’s bill from last session to tax MMJ 300%? We must eliminate that kind of threat by letting our House and Senate members know how we feel NOW, BEFORE they run bad bills that put us on the defense. They respond to pressure, so it is up to ALL of us, THE MAJORITY, here in this room tonight!
We know the awesome powers of cannabis; we know that History is on OUR side; and we know that by committing to pulling together, we will win this public policy debate over the RADICAL MINORITY who oppose WE the MAJORITY.
So let’s act like the MAJORITY we ARE by getting all Prop 203 supporters registered to vote, contacting our Representatives, and working together to overcome the Governor and AG’s attacks – we CAN have America’s BEST MMJ program, guarantee patient access to medicine, create business opportunity for growers, property owners and dispensary operators and earn the respect we deserve as a MAJORITY of everyday Arizonans supporting medical marijuana.