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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Women, families, and the failed war on marijuana by Charmie Gholson

Michigan Women’s Drug Policy Reform Panel

Many grateful thanks to Ed Gorski, Ben Horner and the other dedicated folks at the Michigan Medical Marijuana Report for organizing this third conference in Ann Arbor. As a member of the “Activists Who Live Out of Their Car,” club, I’m grateful it’s held in my own back yard.  I also fully understand and appreciate the hard work it takes to organize--and keep organizing--this conference. What a gift it is to our community.  Thank you!

I organized this panel because it was mothers who both initiated and ended alcohol prohibition in the early 1900’s.  They thought they had found the answer to alcohol abuse—ban that devils juice! But in practice, prohibition made the situation worse, so they ended it. They organized and moved mountains at a time in history when women had to fight for basic rights such as holding property and voting.

I recently formed Michigan Moms United, an organization dedicated to improving the safety of Michigan families through asset forfeiture reform, drug task force accountability and educating Child Protective Services about the rights of medical marijuana patients and caregivers. I know that women and mothers will once again put an end to the disastrous policy known as prohibition.

I hold up the presenters who traveled to share their wisdom about women, families, and the failed drug war in solidarity, and look forward to working together in the future. I also encourage anyone-man or woman- to join us and extend that gift of serving as war protestors. We welcome you.

Racine Skelton is the Founder of Moms for Marijuana Michigan, who works to raise awareness, promote education, and create discussion about the Cannabis plant. According to Racine, Moms for Marijuana is, “a grassroots network of parents and other citizens across the world, who are concerned with the ignorant war that continues to be fought against the cannabis plant, and how it is negatively affecting the future generations of this earth.”

This is one rapidly growing organization. Toke of the Town troublemaker Steve Elliot reported on August 24, “In just a few short years, Moms For Marijuana has grown from a MySpace page (started by founder Serra Frank) to 120 chapters in 14 different countries, with more being added literally every week.

Racine gave us a great introduction to Moms for Marijuana and pledged her commitment to work together in the future. She is admin for the MM4M Face book page. They also have pages for Lansing, Detroit, and Northern Michigan Moms, which are the subchapters of the Michigan page.

These women are very active. They’re hosting a statewide penny drive and will hold a regional conference in Feb. "Our first Moms For Marijuana Cannabis Quilt Regional Conference -- where we will unveil our cannabis quilt -- is a joint venture with Overgrow The Government,” she told the audience. “It will be in Washington, D.C., at The Sylvan Theater on October 15 at noon, which happens to be the day before Americans for Safe Access testifies at the federal rescheduling hearings.”

Lansing activist Robin Schneider spoke about building relationship with and engaging public officials, which is essential if we are to reverse the false rhetoric and fear mongering used to continue marijuana prohibition. Robin is the Legislative Liaison for Michigan Association of Compassion Clubs, and also serves as Legislative Liaison for Michigan Moms United.

Robin urged the audience to fully develop relationships with legislators, rather than heading into a legislator’s office and giving them an earful.  She encouraged everyone to volunteer for political campaigns and, “get to know these people and build relationships with them from the start. Also you can go to their coffee hours that they hold locally, and talk about whatever issue they are there to discuss so that they view you as one of their constituents and not just a person who wants something.”

Communicating with legislators takes a bit of forethought as well, according to Robin. “When meeting with your representative,” she said, “it’s important to keep eye contact, look professional and not playing with your iPad or Face booking during meetings. Really pay attention and make the best of their time. This will show that you respect their time, because they are so busy.”

Brandy Zink offered perspective on working in a male dominated industry and offered some suggestions for women to stay safe and avoid sexual harassment. Brandy is the Michigan Ambassador for Americans For Safe Access (ASA), the former ED of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association and of the Ohio Patients Network. She served with myself on the Committee for a Safer Michigan, and currently works at the Cannabis Counsel in Detroit, and serves on the board of Drug Sense.

ASA is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. Steph Sherer founded ASA in 2002 with the purpose of building a strong grassroots movement to protect patients and their rights to safe and legal access. At the time, there were only 11 medical cannabis dispensaries in the nation, all of which were all operating outside of the law. Steph got a crash course in this provocative, courageous world of patient-defined medical cannabis advocacy and is one of my personal activist heroines.

For more information, please visit

Moms for Marijuana Michigan

Michigan Moms United

Americans For Safe Access

Drug Sense

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