Sunday, December 7, 2014

Safer AZ Status Report: Dec. 7, 2014

Safer AZ is proud to announce we have re-filed our campaign committee paperwork for the 2016 election cycle and will be working with Arizona’s aligned cannabis activist groups on a statewide campaign to legalize marijuana in AZ in 2016. As a political action committee (PAC ID No. 201400153) Safer AZ led the state’s cannabis reform community with our own 2014 legalization campaign and successfully shaped cannabis-related legislation at the state house in last year’s session. In addition we created, or helped create, dozens of events around the state, developed an online community of nearly 5000 activists and frequently served as a voice that the media turned to for a breath of marijuana sanity to counter the toxic propaganda of folks like Bill Montgomery or Sheila Polk.
But, as a PAC, during the 2014 election cycle, Safer AZ was greatly limited in resources: essentially the part-time work of 4 independent organizers hundreds, even thousands of miles apart, Safer could not develop the resources necessary to complete our election goals and had to suspend our petition drive in June of 2014. We knew we had to re-organize. After the election, Safer AZ leadership had a choice: allow all our progress to come to an end once we filed our final Federal Elections Commission report on December 4th, OR, re-file our campaign and fight on. With the voices of the community calling for action and the support of the premiere national cannabis-reform organization, MPP (the Marijuana Policy Project), and the six other leading AZ cannabis activist groups in the state, Safer AZ is back and we’re bigger than ever.
Once again Safer AZ is committed to:
1.       Public Advocacy: Safer AZ is a voice for the public with a web, media and public presence, creating demonstrations and events around the state; helping patients and others in the community get their stories heard.
2.       Social Media Communications: With a Facebook following of nearly 5000 and an average weekly readership over 3500, Safer Arizona can create and has led email and phone call campaigns. Our Facebook page serves as a nexus for various activists and groups to spread word of their own activities.
3.       Legislative Action: Safer AZ successfully introduced a cannabis decriminalization bill at the AZ state house last session and we are focused on developing the relationships w state legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle, and that includes keeping the larger community informed of statehouse developments.
4.       Electoral Watchdog: Through our web pages, Safer AZ has tracked both elected officials and candidates’ positions on cannabis related issues, creating district level maps so voters can support pro-cannabis issues at the ballot box and provided contact info for candidates and officials so you can make your voice heard. 
5.       Counter-Propaganda Force:  In AZ, the anti-cannabis community and the leaders of the state prosecutors and law enforcement have banded together to power an anti-cannabis media campaign through their organization, Matforce. Safer AZ is committed to challenging Matforce propaganda both through our web presence and in person; by helping local activists organize counter-protests and court support for cannabis defendants in conjunction w the Human Solution. We provide speakers to various civic organizations, public debates, and news media needing a quote from an authoritative source to challenge Matforce whenever and wherever possible.

And most importantly,
6.       Cannabis Activist Volunteer Organization: Over the past 2 yrs, literally hundreds of Arizonans have joined our cause and volunteered--in their community, online, and at the state capitol. As the 2016 campaign becomes more visible, Safer AZ can serve a volunteer nexus, connecting newcomers to existing local groups, creating activist-business partnerships and training would-be activists to become their own community leaders. We have activists across the state and can show local groups how to take on their own community challenges and help change the culture of prohibition. Creating quality experiences for AZ activists will build our movement and change the state.

You can make a difference today:

1.       Wear your “Marijuana is Safer Than Alcohol” tee-shirt in public whenever, wherever possible. It is an amazingly effective way to promote education and will lead to exciting positive teaching and sharing experiences you would not imagine.  
2.       Host an awareness event in your home or in  your community
3.       Letter writing to your local media and elected officials and to state and federal officials
4.       Creating a 420-friendly entertainment event in your community
5.       Attending and staffing demonstrations and events in the PHX area
6.       Representing Safer AZ and the cannabis reform community at public events and debates
7.       Manning a Safer Arizona booth at community events
8.       Collecting signatures
9.       Share on social media
10.   Connect us to your family and friends so we can expand our reach.
11.   Attend a local political meeting or elected officials meetings
12.   Make $5 monthly donation
13.   Take leadership position in organizing and training others in your area after you’ve worked w us a while.

MOVEMENT UPDATE (Dec. 6, 2014):

Following the Nov. 4th election, AZ’s leading cannabis activists groups announced the development of a new cannabis activist super-group, the Cannabis Consumer Coalition, to ally the activities of th e different groups cannabis consumers, as separate from the cannabis, hemp, and medical marijuana industries. These groups and members of the dispensary industry are working w the central campaign committee, MPP of AZ, which will run the ballot initiative and coordinate efforts w MPP national. The overall campaign is expected to cost $3.2 million over the next two years. An informational meeting explaining the overall strategy was held in Tempe’s Purple Haze House (27 West Baseline) which brought different activist groups together in a semi-formal setting for the 1st time. Among the groups on hand were Safer AZ, PHX NORML, PCC (PHX Cannabis Coalition, AZ 4NORML (Tucson based), SSDP (Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, both the ASU & the U of A chapters), RAMMP (Registry of Arizona Medical Marijuana Patients) & the Human Solution. At that meeting, noted cannabis criminal defense attorney (and former NORML national legal counsel) Tom Dean presented his recommendations for amendments to existing state marijuana statutes (ARS13-3405) that will be necessary in the upcoming ballot initiative. Representing the newly formed CCC group, attorney Dean conducted a Q&A, and incorporated notes from the evening and has presented our proposed amendments to MPP of AZ to be part of the drafting process for the new ballot initiative.
In late Nov. MPP of AZ began the drafting process working w staff from the national offices of MPP, Ryan Hurley of Scottsdale-based Rose Law Firm and various pro-bono in-state volunteers. A poll is expected in January to determine public attitudes on legalization as a whole and on the hot-button topic of grow rights. Across the nation citizens’ rights to cultivate and process their own marijuana vary greatly from state to state. Following polling results, the final version of the proposed initiative should be available to the public by late February. The petition gathering campaign will kick-off in March. This campaign cycle, due to poor midterm voter turnout in the 2014 elections, the ballot initiative will require only 172,000 signatures, a decrease of almost 80,000 from the previous cycle.
The Safer Arizona 2016 cycle re-organization features the following changes:
“Staff” (w no pay yet, can you really call us “Staff”?)
Stepping sideways 2014 president Robert Clark will now be co-chair w Dave Wisniewski. In addition, Robert will continue directing Tucson and rural southeastern operations. Dave will be responsible for PHX & central AZ operations. Dennis Bohlke will step down as treasurer. Political director, Mikel Weisser will assume that role and is acting finance director as well. Three regional leaders were announced as well: Yavapai County—Mark Goodman, North Valley—Benny Ingram & West Valley—John Howlett. If you have been a volunteer w Safer AZ and are wanting to take a leadership position in your area: call 928-234-5633

Our merchandising of our green “Marijuana is Safer than Alcohol”  tee-shirts is resumed and additional products such as stickers, lighters, cups, ball-caps and our fashion-line of Safer AZ are in the works. An order will be placed 12/8/14 and will be available for the holiday season.
Our legislative agenda has begun and we are scheduling appointments w AZ state legislators for the upcoming session. We are seeking volunteers to meet w their representatives and senators and give them a true face of an AZ cannabis user instead of the twisted propaganda our opponents use to demonize us.
Timeline Projections
Dec. 4—Safer AZ completes filing final 2014 election cycle report w FEC. Safer AZ representatives kick off our legislative activities w a meeting w newly-elected AZ LD1 Rep. Noel Campbell.
Dec. 5—Safer AZ files new AZSOS paperwork for 2016 cycle and reopens bank account w new officers. Dave Wisniewski and Robert Clark will be co-chairs. Mikel Weisser will be treasurer.
Dec. 18—Safer AZ delivers our tee-shirt order in time for the holidays, re-orders including additional styles and colors as requested.
Dec. 26-30—Safer AZ sends legislative proposals to AZ State Legislature.
Dec. overall—update wufoo, paypal and merchant services, begin interview process of existing volunteer network, develop donor base and legislative agenda, establish marketing networks and operating protocols, recruit and develop staff.
Jan. 2—Mikel Weisser relocates to PHX to take over day-to-day operations.
Jan. 8—Safer AZ joins local protesters in Mohave County to attend the Matforce presentation in Kingman
Jan. 12—Open day of AZ legislature, Safer AZ holds demonstration at the capitol and assists cannabis activists in contacting their legislators while on campus.
Jan. overall—Safer AZ begins legislator interviews, radio show foundation work, expanded merchandizing and sales route development. Safer continues to assist w public input into drafting process of MPP of AZ’s 2016 initiative and expands our fundraising. Begin talks on website overhaul. Create schedule of upcoming volunteer based events and begin promoting it.
 Feb. overall--Safer AZ continues legislator interviews and assisting w public input into drafting process of MPP of AZ’s 2016 initiative, foundation work, expands merchandizing sales route. Safer continues to and expands our fundraising. Begin radio show and website overhaul. Begin volunteer training for petition collection. Launch newsletter and media campaign. Negotiates a contract w MPP of AZ to be a vendor providing petition signature collection and sundry services.
Mar. overall—Begins petition-collecting as a vendor to the campaign, adopts sales route into an organizing route and begin volunteer based petition-drives. Continue expanding previous operations.
2015 overall—develop income stream and operations network, hire and train staff, exhibit continuing robust legislative presence, collect 50,000 of projected 172,000 required signatures, assist MPP of AZ w completing signature campaign, develop radio show following, expand market for Safer AZ tee-shirts; create product line of additional Safer AZ merchandise, establish regional activist groups and ongoing educational programs, create multiple large demonstrations, create 3 profitable 420 friendly entertainment fundraisers, establish PHX storefront office and network of rural activists, expand donor base to include both numerous monthly small dollar contributions ($5-$10 recurring) and some larger dollar “angel donors.”

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