I wanted to just take a moment and give everyone an update about ACC and what our plans are for the coming months.
I've taken a short sabbatical since HB642 passed out of committee on April 7. I had put off a lot of my college course work in order to work on the bill and unfortunately fell way behind. If you have had a hard time getting hold of me its because I had to block out everything and focus on my work or risk losing my 3.7 GPA which I have no intention of doing. Besides, we all need a small breather and a little time to reflect on our monumental feat of getting out medical marijuana bill out of committee in an election year. We made history. Give yourselves a big pat on the back. You deserve it.
Now, a large number of people have inquired about if we were having/could we please have a 420 celebration. We didn't. Never do. While I am a big fan of our International marijuana celebration day I do not feel the time is right for me to organize one in Alabama. There are a number of reasons for that. The most important one is that at this time we are all working hard to get this medical marijuana legislation passed and on the Governor's desk. The closer we get to that goal the more our opponents will monitor every single move we make, take harmless things like a 420 celebration, and use the worst images they can find from it against us in committee meetings and on the house floor. It may sound crazy, but one picture of a young person smoking a joint or someone in a tie-dye t-shirt can undo years of work that I and others have done to get us to the point where we got this legislative session. It wouldn't even have to be one of our own. Take the following incident as an example;
ACC held a medical marijuana rally in Birmingham a few months ago, which included a march to the fountain at 5 Points. As soon as the media pulled up, what appeared to be a couple of 16 year old kids came over to the fountain and lit up a blunt. These kids were not part of the ACC demonstration. We did not know them. They came out of nowhere. I approached them and told them they had to leave and that they should not be smoking pot in public. They told me that it wasn't pot but that fake crap being sold all over now known as K2/Spice. I told them I didn't care what it was, that this was a medical marijuana rally and was focused patients and not a general legalization rally and that them standing there would be the first thing they showed on the nightly news. They still wouldn't leave. Finally, one of the older men with ACC came over and told them it was illegal to smoke anything in public and to leave right now. They finally did. I had to explain to the media that they were not with us, that we had never seen them before and to please not put them on the news as they had nothing to do with the medical marijuana rally we were holding. Thankfully, the News complied. I happen to think it possible that someone paid those kids to come over as soon as the media arrived to try and derail our issue by making it look to the public like we were encouraging teenagers to smoke pot (even if it wasn't actual pot) in public. Politics is dirty and the opposition will try and undercut us and make us look bad at every turn. When they can't find us doing anything wrong they will insert their own people doing something wrong and then claim it was one of ours. Some may think I am paranoid....but there is no such thing as paranoia in politics.
So, that's the reason I do not organize public celebrations on 420 in Alabama. When we get to the point that the environment has changed enough that such a thing would not cause us major public relations damage then we will do one. Now, however, is not that time. Another reason that I don't do them is that I find them pretty useless. It's fun to socialize with like minds and celebrate the wonderful cannabis plant....but it's choir preaching. I know you support it. You know I support it. We don't need a day to stand around and tell each other how much we support it. I feel our energies/resources would be much better spent by preaching to those in power about the laws which need to be changed and how THEY need to support it. That's just my personal view.
Now, what's next for ACC and the Compassionate Care bill? We will begin working on our strategy for the remainder of this year (an election year) after the legislative session ends and I am finished with my classes. Sometime in early June we will have another ACC meeting where we will discuss strategy and give everyone marching orders about all of the things that need to be done between now and next session.
One of the main things we need to do between now and November is start showing up at campaign rallies of everyone running for public office....from Governor down to legislator. We need to make our presence known and let those seeking office know that we are a force to be reckoned with and that we are not going anywhere and that if they want our support then we need to know here they stand on this issue. Showing up at nearly every campaign rally will let them know that we are serious. It will let the media know that we are serious. And it will let the public know that we are serious and that this issue isn't going away until we get what we want. Today I want all of you reading this to find out who will be campaigning in or near your town between now and November and make plans to be at the campaign event. Send me a list of all political events and we will work out what you need to say and do when you attend. This is critical.
Another CRITICAL thing that everyone who supports medical marijuana in Alabama needs to do is MAKE CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS to the following legislators.
Rep. Patricia Todd (bill sponsor)
Rep. John Robinson
Rep. Cam Ward (will be senator Cam Ward after the election)
Rep. Chris England
Rep. Laura Hall
All of the information you need to send a campaign contribution is listed at this link
It doesn't matter if it is only $5. What matters is that these legislators hear from YOU and that you let them know you appreciate their support on medical marijuana and want to help them get back in office in 2011. Those small contributions sometimes mean more than the huge ones that well funded businesses and well off individuals make. They can afford huge chunks of money and a $1,000 contribution to them is nothing. But, a $5 contribution from someone on a fixed income who is suffering from cancer or multiple sclerosis etc...means a great deal more because they can least afford it, but did it anyway. Please send a note along with your contribution thanking them for their support of HB642 The Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act. It can and will make a world of difference.
Finally, and this is REALLY critical, ACC needs monetary contributions to continue our work between now and September. We had a lot of action this year and that action depleted our finances. We also had a lot of success. I cannot stress how amazing the committee meeting was, nor how astounding some of the things we heard from representatives were, nor can I over-emphasize the miraculous outcome of getting our medical marijuana bill out of the hardest committee in the entire house IN AN ELECTION YEAR. Please help us continue our incredible and amazing work in Alabama, the hardest state of all in which to bring about change. We need to be able to help members attend campaign rallies, visit with their legislator and senator over the break between sessions, and we need to keep the lights on and the bills paid at ACC. Currently contributions are not tax deductible. We have registered with the state but are still in the process of being granted 501c3 status from the IRS.
If you would like to make a contribution please send a check or money order made payable to:
4633 Pearson Chapel Rd
Alexander City, AL 35010
Currently there is no way to make an online contribution. Due to PayPal's long history of seizing the accounts of drug policy reform groups, stealing the money contained in those accounts, and sharing information with the Feds we at ACC refuse to use them. When we are granted 501c3 status we will make a way to contribute online available. Sorry for the inconvenience.