Guest column: Cannabis rally in Kansas, by Chuck Weismiller

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On Saturday, September 29th, 2012, I was one of over a hundred supporters of medical marijuana who rallied on the steps of the Capital building in Topeka. The rally was organized by Kansas Medical Cannabis Network and was sponsored by Kansas City NORML and Free State NORML. Why did I spend a beautiful Saturday afternoon in front of the Capital, speaking with perfect strangers?

Two words. Medical cannabis. First off, those of us in the anti-prohibition movement use the term ‘medical cannabis’ instead of ‘medical marijuana’. The term ‘cannabis’ is the scientific name of marijuana ever since the Materia Medica back in ancient Greece. ‘Marijuana’ on the other hand, is a fictional word created with racist undertones to demonize cannabis in the thirties. We in the movement prefer the science terminology over the propaganda term.

The rally was held to show our Kansas lawmakers that the majority of Kansans support medical cannabis as a single item issue. According to a SurveyUsa poll taken in 2010, 58% of Kansans support a system where cannabis can be perscribed to terminally ill patients to ease their quality of life. Despite this number, the Health and Human Sevices Committee, chaired by Brenda Landwerh (R-Wichita), in Topeka have refused to vote on the Kansas Compassionate Use Act introduced by Rep. Gail Finney (D-Wichita), citing ‘low public support’. The rally was held to show that there is public support for this cause and to encourage people to make their representitives aware of that fact.

The event’s speakers were varied, from patients, to physicians, to politicians. Dr. Jon Hauxell of Hays encouraged research and severe discretion when perscribing to minors. “I emphatically don’t recommend cannabis use, medical or otherwise, by people whose brains are still maturing — that is youth.” Esau Freeman, newly named director of the Kansas Medical Cannabis Network, extolled the necessity of running for public office. The Topeka Capital-Journal quotes Mr. Freeman as saying, “Friends, it’s time to take off the funny hats, it’s time to put on a bra, it’s time to put on a tie, and it’s time to walk into the Libertarian Party, the Democratic Party or the Republican Party and do something about this now.” Topeka City Councilman and former chair of the Libertarian Party of Kansas, Andrew Grey, promoted personal choice and responsibility. Thomas Ballard of Kansas City disseminated the for-profit prison business model and Cheryl Riley, previous director of Kansas Medical Cannabis Network passed the reigns of leadership to Esau Freeman. David Mulford of Kansas Hemp Yes, explained how medical cannabis has improved his quality and length of life, and Lisa Sublett, of Kansas Medical Cannabis Network, gave an impassioned speech about personal sovereignty.

Those of us working tables also did our part. We gave away literature on medical cannabis and jury nullification. We also educated Kansans to the best of our ability, on where their current politicians stand on this issue. We also stressed the importance of being in direct contact with your lawmakers.

Medical cannabis should be a non-issue. Study after study finds that cannabis has medicinal effects in a myriad of areas. According to a page posted (and redacted in less than twenty-four hours, I might add) on the National Institue of Cancer in March 2010, cannabis may shrink cancerous tumors. Cannabis increases appetite. Cannabis relieves muscle pain. Recent studies have shown medical cannabis may help with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There are indications that cannabis can help a myriad of other medical issues from the known issues like AIDS and cancer, to lesser known diseases like Bi-Polar Disorder, anxiety, and depression. DEA Judge Francis Young was quoted as saying, “Marijuana is the safest, most therapeutic substance known to man”.

The crux of cannabis law is scheduling. Under current federal law, cannabis has ‘no accepted medical value and a high potential for abuse’ as a Schedule I drug. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have all found that cannabis has enough medical value to implement medical cannabis programs. There is enough medical value that a synthetic form of cannabis is on the market under the brand name ‘Marinol’. (Never mind the fact that Marinol users frequently complain of feeling ‘too high’ and the three recorded deaths from Marinol versus the fact that smoked cannabis dosages are better self regulated and there has never been a deathin recorded history attributed to herbal cannabis alone.) There is accepted medical value in our country whether our federal and state lawmakers can see it.

Cannabis was listed in every major pharmacopeia since the birth of writing. Kings and Queens have used it for therapeutic value. In the 1800s, cannabis tinctures were widely available to assist in a range of ailments. Today, we realize the mistake of our forefathers in banning this miracle drug out of racism and fear, and are making an effort to rectify the errors of history.

You can join us in our efforts. Free State NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) has been working dilligently to support medical cannabis in ‘The Wheat State’, and we always need more support. Without direct action on our parts, Topeka (and Washington) will not get the picture. Visit FreeStateNORML.com and educate yourself. Attend a rally or event. Buy a membership in your local organization. Make a donation. Share, Tweet, or thumb up our articles and videos. Educate yourself first, and then educate your friends and family. Most importantly, contact your lawmakers frequently. If you support medical marijuana, let your reps know. Flood their offices with information, calls, and e-mails. Direct contact is needed. Above all, vote.

As with any issue, Doctor Seuss said it best. “Unless someone like you cares an awful lot, it’s not going to get better. It’s not.”

-Chuck Weismiller, director, Free State NORML

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