Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Safer AZ Cannabis Reform Status Report 9/30/14

After pulling our 2014 cannabis illegalization initiative in June of 2014, Safer AZ’s legislative liaison & board member, Mikel Weisser, assumed control of the group to direct our energies for the upcoming 2016 initiative campaign that was being brought to AZ by MPP.
Through the summer, at the behest of the Safer AZ board, Weisser developed the relationship w leaders in MPP and the ADA to better keep track of their actions and to insert Safer AZ into the decision making process of those “officially shaping” the upcoming campaign for AZ cannabis rights.
When MPP’s representative Neal Levine, first came to assess the situation in June, Safer AZ was one of their meetings. When MPP returned on Aug. 27th to commence their campaign, Safer AZ was one of the key meetings they held that day (all and all our rep. attended 5 hours of meetings w MPP: an hour long direct conference, a two-hour shared conference and attending a two hour public presentation).
Safer AZ’s stated intentions are thus: 1) Serve as a representative for the larger cannabis community in the campaign and initiative process; 2) Shape the language of the upcoming initiative to make it as consumer friendly as possible; 3) establish a profession relationship between the AZ campaign committee and Safer AZ , wherein Safer AZ can be an active partner w the campaign (thus guaranteeing our interests are protected); 4) Develop our own fundraising arm to afford better operations and provide services to the campaign including a) activist outreach, b) campaign fundraising assistance, c) public education events, d) legislative advocacy, e) qualified petition gathering, & f) community messaging and guidance.
National MPP has consistently responded favorably to our efforts and provided encouragement that we are pursuing a shared agenda; and so, despite outcry from the under-informed public, Safer AZ has continued to develop this relationship, principally w Sarah Hollyhead, the MPP development rep. Once the AZ based campaign committee was formed, Safer AZ reached out to their officers, Ryan Hurley and Gina Bermen and had lengthy meetings Thursday, Sept. 25. Again the local MPP committee reassured Safer AZ that our stated initiative objectives--various legal and anti-discriminatory protections for cannabis users, limited personal grow, protected status for mmj patients, and reasonably unrestricted market access to licensing for newer and smaller cannabis operators—are part of their vision of the legislation they hope to create. A representative from R.A.M.M.P. (Registry of AZ Medical Marijuan Patients) has independently verified that their impression of the goals of the new AZMPP organization are in keeping w our stated objectives. AZMPP did make suggestions to Safer AZ as to ways we can help advance the overall project.

In specific, AZ MPP asked Safer to develop these objectives: 1) Review and upgrade our existing data base so we can use it as a tool in our work in the upcoming campaign; 2) Begin marketing our tee-shirts to smoke shops and dispensaries to advance our messaging; 3) Attend the upcoming AZ MPP fundraiser (our table would cost $1000); 4) Increase our efforts to public outreach; 5) Overcome our own oh-so-very-public in-fighting that damages our credibility. Both Hurley and Bermen re-emphasized appreciation of our work so far and a desire to work w us in the future. Towards that end, the AZMPP committee has sent me an invitation to their fundraiser kick-off event which I have forwarded to my board for approval.

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