by Chris Butts
With the 2013 Legislative Session coming to a close just days ago, the AMMJC Board of Directors have been discussing the future. We’ve been discussing what the 2014 Legislative Session looks like. We’ve been discussing how we as individuals and as an organization will be getting involved in the November 2014 Elections. During the 2014 elections every one of the seats in the House of Representatives in Montgomery are up for re-election. Because of that Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition plans on moving in slightly different direction.
Those who live in this state who have followed the fight for medical marijuana have far too often seen bills introduced to protect patients treated as a joke. There is no more poignant example than the recent video from the Alabama House of Representatives of their “Shroud Award” presentation. The award is given to the Representative who files the “deadest bill”. Representative Patricia Todd received the 2013 award for three legislative instruments she filed. Those bills were, HB2 the” Alabama Medical Marijuana Patients’ Rights Act, HB315 the “Alabama Medical Exemption Act and HB550 the “Alabama Cannabis and Hemp Reform Act of 2013″. (which also has “medical marijuana” language within its text.) The video depicts our elected officials having a grand old time laughing and cutting up, because we all know that a cancer patient on chemotherapy who is vomiting their toenails up is hilarious. Some may think that the people we elected to represent us showing total disregard for the thousands of emails and phone calls they received in support of those bills is a down right knee slapper, but we don’t. We would even venture to say that the majority of Alabamians find it disgusting that our representatives would simply ignore suffering patients around the state, and then actually laugh about them.
(Editors note: For some reason NONE of the links I thought were in this article are active and the video isn’t embedded. I apologize and I’m trying to fix it.)
In the mean time the video is available from our friend Steve Elliott on tokesignals.com
Regina King and her mother have been long time supporters of AMMJC
Because we believe that every voter in the State of Alabama should know exactly where their elected officials stand on the issue of the therapeutic use of marijuana, we have begun polling our Representatives in the House. Over the next few months AMMJC representatives and volunteers will be contacting each and every Member of the House of Representatives to get their response to a two part question. The question isn’t about the laws surrounding marijuana. It isn’t about the perceived benefits or dangers of marijuana use. The question asked is about their “personal opinion” regarding medical marijuana and the second part asks them to explain their answer to the first question.
1) “Do you believe Alabama patients should have the option to posses and use marijuana without fear of arrest and prosecution, if their physician believes it will help them?”
Simple enough, right? As we get responses from our elected officials AMMJC will be posting those responses publicly right here on our website. Regardless of their response, “for”, “against” or “no response” will be posted for all to see. For those Representatives who choose to render no response AMMJC will be employing volunteers in that representative’s district to go visit them personally and solicit a response.
Now of course we know there are many legislators in the House who are indeed taking this issue seriously. To those legislators we express our thanks and gratitude and ask that they help us continue this conversation until changes are made to protect the patients of Alabama. To those who think it is funny being stricken with Cancer, Aids, Crohn’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Pain, ALS, Parkinson’s and a host of other life altering diseases that can be benefitted by the use of cannabis, well, the elections are right around the corner.
Below is the letter released on Monday May 20, 2013 to the Members of House of Representatives as well as the media outlets around the State of Alabama, and a few national news outlets.
An open letter to all members of the Alabama House of Representatives from Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition
As you may know, there were several pieces of legislation dealing with marijuana policy introduced in the 2013 session by Representative Patricia Todd. All of these instruments are aimed at changing marijuana policy in one manner or another and each would go a long way toward protecting the patients of Alabama who can benefit from the medical use of marijuana.
For far too long, the people of Alabama have seen this issue treated as a punchline in the halls of the Statehouse. While some of you, our elected officials, are snickering among one another, legitimate patients in this state are needlessly suffering. It is time for the laughing to stop. No matter where you stand on the issue of “drugs”, allowing Alabama patients to suffer is unconscionable. It is time for the focus to be making a workable program that allows qualified patients safe access to cannabis, while still being easy to implement and enforce. If your focus is simply killing every bill that happens to have the word marijuana in it, then you certainly aren’t looking for solutions that would benefit the people of Alabama.
There is no debate regarding the cannabis plant being medicine and we invite each of you to fact check the following statements.
- Almost every culture on this planet has held the cannabis (marijuana) plant as part of their pharmacopoeia for thousands of years.
- This plant was held in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia until the early 1940’s before it was removed, after being made illegal in 1937.
- The Federal “Investigational New Drug Program” has had the University of Mississippi producing medical marijuana for distribution “as medicine” in cigarette form for decades.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services hold US Patent # 6630507 which confirms only a portion the medicinal qualities held within the cannabis plant.
- As this letter is being typed the FDA is clearing the way for GW Pharmaceuticals to introduce SATIVEX, a 100% cannabis extract “as medicine” to the US market.
- Eighteen states and Washington D.C. have reestablished the cannabis plant as medicine in 2013 and many more have pending legislation.
The research has been done, the science is solid, and science says; marijuana is medicine, and it always has been.
Because we believe every citizen in every district of this great state should know where the person representing them in Montgomery stands on the issue, we at Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition over the next several months, will be contacting every Representative in the House to ask their stance on the medical use of marijuana. Our polling results will then be posted publicly on our website.
Regardless of your stance; “for”, “against” or “no response”, along with any pertinent comment you may have, will be posted publicly. Representatives who choose to send no response will be visited, in person, by AMMJC volunteers who live in their districts to solicit a response. Each of you will have the opportunity to change your mind on your stance should you see reason to do so, and we will gladly update our website to reflect your new views on the subject.
We thank each of you for your service to the people of Alabama and respectfully ask that you take a few minutes to participate in our poll.
Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition
144 County Road 821
Cullman, Alabama 35057
If you would like, you may get a jump on things and avoid being contacted further regarding this poll, by simply sending your response to the following two part question to “email@example.com” with the subject line “Medical Marijuana in Alabama”. We thank you for your participation.
1) Do you believe Alabama patients should have the option to posses and use marijuana without fear of arrest and prosecution, if their physician believes it will help them?
By Chris Butts
Early in the day at the Conference
Yesterday, on May 18th 2013, Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition held a first of its kind event. The North Alabama Marijuana Conference and Fundraiser in Huntsville, Alabama drew just under a hundred attendees throughout the day. Although we had hoped for a larger turnout it was a great day for the patients of Alabama and allowed AMMJC to begin funding preparations for a planned advertising campaign for the 2014 Legislative Session and November 2014 elections. Those of us on the AMMJC staff would like to sincerely thank everyone who made this event possible, starting with everyone who came out and payed the $10 admission and who purchased our merchandise. So many of you have been helping support this organization for two years now and we can’t thank you enough for helping us continue this fight. Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition doesn’t get any money from special interests or national organizations, it is and has always been, the people of Alabama who have funded AMMJC’s efforts. Again, we thank you!
We would also like to thank the Small Business owners who donated goods and services as sponsors for this event. It is so wonderful to see businesses taking an interest in what we are trying to accomplish
Our good friends at Still Smokin’
Still Smokin’ of Huntsville donated several door prizes and has always been a great friend to AMMJC . We can’t begin to tell you how appreciative we are for their help.
Execuplex Mini Storage of Huntsville is another business that has gone out of their way to help AMMJC and have allowed us to use properties under their management on more than one occasion. We would like to express our greatest gratitude to them for continueing to help AMMJC.
Our friends on Whitesburg Drive
We would like to thank the Owners of the Baskin Robbin’s location on Whitesburg Drive in Huntsville who have, on two occasions, provided ice cream for our events.
We want to express our thanks and appreciation to Tye-Dyes by Jim who came out and spent the entire day with us selling some of the best tye-dye work on the planet, only to give AMMJC a generous donation at the end of the day. Thank you Jim, we relish the thought of continueing a relationship with Tye-Dyes by Jim.
We want to express a huge thank you Elise from Alabama Dancing Bear for her generous door prize donations.
And last but certainly not least, we would like to thank “Sixth Sense” of Athens, Alabama for their door prize donation. They are a new, locally owned business and everyone in Limestone County should go patronize their store and thank them for supporting AMMJC and the patients of Alabama
We emplore all of AMMJC’s supporters to support the businesses that support you. Ask small businesses in your area about sponsoring an event like the one we just had in Huntsville. Let’s all work together to change marijuana policy in Alabama and protect the patients here who can benefit from the therapeutic use of marijuana.
We would like to extend our gratitude to the guest speakers and musical guests who donated their time to help make this event possible.
Alabama’s own, Steve Elliott
First a huge thank you to Alabama native Steve Elliott, author of “The Little Black Book of Marijuana” and owner/editor of Tokesignals.com. He made a whirlwind flight into Atlanta of all places and didn’t get to spend quite as much time in Alabama as we would have liked, but we appreciate him taking time out of his schedule to come across the country and help with this event.
We have much love and admiration for James Bell of the Ga Care Project for traveling 4 hours on his own dime to be a guest speaker. We can’t thank you enough James, anytime you or Georgia CARE need AMMJC just let us know.
Laura Lynn Hardy
We want to thank Dean Sines of Peachtree NORML for agreeing to be a guest speaker on short notice and sharing his knowledge of years of activism with everyone. Thank you also goes out to Kelly of Peachtree NORML for coming out taking lots and lots of pictures, and keeping Dean in under control for most of the time.
Thank you to the fun-loving guys from Acoustify fo taking a Saturday out of their lives to play for us.
We also want to thank Laura Lynn Hardy for closing out the show in grand fashion.
On a personal note, I (Chris Butts) would like to thank the Staff of AMMJC. Sharon White our Vice President has been a tireless worker since the I signed the Articles of Incorporation for AMMJC two years ago this June 3rd. Cristie Clark our Communications Director has been busting her rear end for well over a year for AMMJC, as has her husband Eric Clark our District 2 Coordinator. Joe Rogers our District 1 Coordinator has been with the AMMJC staff for almost a year. Jim Dement our Treasurer has been spending weekends pushing the AMMJC message for almost 2 years now. And finally my wife, who despite having an illness that can flare up at anytime (Lupus SLE) has been giving up most of her weekends for almost 2 years.
None of the AMMJC staff get payed for what they do, or the time and work they put into what this organization has accomplished over the past couple of years. The fact is, that on many occasions the AMMJC staff reach into their own pockets to pay operational costs to keep the organization afloat. I want to say, I love you guys and I can’t think of a better group of people to have leading the charge for medical marijuana in Alabama.
The North Alabama Marijuana Conference and Fundraiser. A first of its kind event for the State of Alabama. Come and hang out for a while and meet. Alabama Native and the Author of “The little black book of marijuana” Steve Elliott. Listen to live music and help Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition step up it’s efforts to secure medical marijuana in Alabama.
By Chris Butts
It isn’t every day you read a headline like the one above regarding medical marijuana in our state. The medical marijuana conversation has however become noticeably more prevalent in recent legislative sessions. So many of you reading this have been instrumental in driving the shift we are seeing. Your emails, letters, phone calls and personal visits to your legislators have brought about interest in the legislature in factions where there previously was none. Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition would like to thank everyone for keeping the pressure on the Statehouse to make changes to protect the patients of Alabama who can benefit from the therapeutic use of marijuana. We would also remind everyone that hearing a little encouraging news doesn’t mean it is time to stop badgering our elected officials regarding medical marijuana. The old saying goes; “The squeaky wheel gets the grease”, we need to continue being that squeaky wheel.
Representative Patricia Todd is a champion in the legislature for the patients of Alabama
The encouraging news from the Statehouse is that Representative Patricia Todd, (D House District 54), has begun measures to form a commission consisting of members of the Alabama Legislature, law enforcement officials, the medical community and representatives of other state agencies to study “current medical research and current medical marijuana policies throughout the nation”. Reportedly the purpose of the commission will be to craft a piece of legislation that will protect patients, and that everyone feels comfortable with making law in Alabama.
At the moment only two members of the Alabama Legislature have been named as a member of the commission.
Representative K.L. Brown
Yesterday, April 30th, it was reported that Representative K.L. Brown, a Republican from Jacksonville and the original sponsor of the Alabama Medical Marijuana Patients’ Rights Act said he would be honored to serve on the commission. In the 2012 Legislative Session Representative Brown asked Members of the House to help make the bill better rather than try to kill it. It appears as though some members were listening.
Representative Alan Farley
Today we recieved another announcement, that Vice-Chair of the House Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, Republican Alan Farley of McCalla, will also serve on the commission.
Representative Farley at the hearing on HB550 in the House Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security on April 23rd 2013 spoke about retired law enforcement friends and how many of their views had changed regarding marijuana, specifically the medical use. As a 36 year law enforcement veteran, Representative Farley has certainly had the opportunity the see the failures in marijuana policy in the state. He should be prove to be a valuable member of the commission.
Representative Mickey Hammon
Another name mentioned, was Representative Mickey Hammon (R) of the 4th district (Limestone and Morgan) who serves as the Chairman of the House Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. While Representative Hammon did say he would like to be informed of commission meetings so he could attend and participate when his schedule allowed, he did not want to be a member.
Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition has asked to have representation in the commission meetings as well as being involved in the commission member selection process. We will keep you up to date as things progress. In the meantime, now is the perfect opportunity to contact your legislator and ask them to keep up with this commission and keep you informed of their findings. If every legislator in Montgomery receives a few emails from people in their district asking them to offer their name to serve on the commission or keep track of the commission’s findings, this mission to protect the patients’ of Alabama will be a whole new ballgame.