Executive Summary: Reflecting on our success and where we are going. You might want to read when you have a moment. This covers a lot of ground.
I have had a day to digest what went on with the whole Stiver episode and how we got there. There are so many moving pieces to this that I am really uncertain what the best place to start is. I am not certain that the bill of goods we continue to be sold by people who want to let us know they are operating in our "best interest" are even worth mentioning. But they are there and they continue to push the same weary arguments. That they want to protect everyone from the evils that we are involved with. It seems odd to me that they really don't yet understand what they are involved with and the benefits. I see it on every level, from the people who are regulating our Industry who think that On Site consumption is running on a parallel track to asbestos, right down to my dear mother who is of the mind that her grandson is being run down the road to hell by simply being a bud tender.
I want to say a couple of things before I get to the real underlying lesson here and what we need to gain from this experience.
You, the members and activists who have been fighting this fight for normalization of cannabis in a legalized environment, were nothing short of spectacular. You operated with unflinching dedication to the task we were handed. If you weren't as dedicated and serious about the level of participation that you exhibited we would be looking at a very different landscape. Think about it. When they announced the Stiver nomination the reaction from everyone I knew was about the same as somebody dropping an ice cube down the back of your shirt. Everybody who understood wanted to know what they could do. Our emails to the Legislature were probably the first sign. There are loads of people who want to run email campaigns, but they are basically in the form of "here is a letter, insert you name and press send." There was some of that but most of you went to the effort of writing your emails and sending them so that the Legislators were being loaded with knowledge that there was a large and vocal opposition. We may not have been fully understood in our dedication to the cause at that point. Then the hearing took place in Juneau that invited people to offer their opinions about the nominee, I still have a vivid recollection of sitting and watching that unfold. It really began to sink in for me at that moment what an incredible group of people the AMIA is made up of. There were members who were involved from all over the state, there were people who were on vacation out of state who took the time to offer testimony. There was time for 64 calls to be taken in the testimony process and 57 of those were in opposition to the nominee. When 89% of the people who take the time to testify, testify AGAINST you, you might want to re-think what you are doing. And you never let up, we kept the pressure on and you kept the focus. All the way to the end. At the point that public testimony hearing happened, something really became crystal clear.
You, the members of the AMIA are extremely special people at an extremely important juncture in time. It has been basically 100 years that forces have been marshaled against cannabis, regardless of the testimonies of scores of people (myself included) who benefit from this extraordinary plant. I could say it again and again how proud I am of your efforts, and what you have accomplished. By unifying in our efforts and maintaining our focus we have achieved things that are being noticed by other organizations NATIONALLY.
I think those who are in power did not expect and probably underestimated our dedication to our cause. Trust me this won't happen again. We have flexed our muscle and it got noticed.
Now, we have a bigger task. To the "what we do now" portion of this post.
Two thing are going to require our attention, First, the appointment of another person to the empty MCB seat. We are working on contacting members that might be acceptable to the Governor, who are public advocates who understand cannabis.
We are working on it trust me.
The other thing is really something that you are going to get sick of hearing me say: Education. The attitudes we are dealing with, all the "devil weed" push-back we get from religious zealots, all the crazy misinformation, all comes from one thing. People have been fed a steady diet of propaganda and we need to get the correct information out. This is going to fall squarely on our shoulders. Nobody else has the slightest interest in this effort so we need to educate the public so that we are on a level playing field. Right now, the playing field is tilted against us and we need to make sure that we are providing a balanced, understandable, and reasonable approach to what cannabis is and what it can do to benefit everyone.
A plan is in the works and part of that is going to require help from you to know what the counter arguments are, and engaging every time you here something that is a misconception about cannabis. We'll be helping supply that information to you and the public. It's just one more step, but the sooner we can get people to understand that we are not the enemy but a solution for big part of the population, the easier it is going to be for us to grow and mature as an Industry. Education. It is the game changer for us.
Again, the Executive Board of the Association want to thank everyone of you for standing together and standing with us. We have the feeling that together we are going to accomplish great things, and it is because of you, the members.