After over 20 years of using various dates to raise awareness about cannabis on International Medical Marijuana Day, a day with special meaning for many cannabis patients in Canada has been chosen to celebrate. Last year the Supreme Court of Canada handed down a unanimous decision protecting the rights of patients who choose to use cannabis extracts on June 11 in the trial of Owen Smith, former head baker for the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club. It only makes sense to move the date of the IMMD to this meaningful day.
Since June 11 is generally a nice day, we hope to encourage individuals and activist groups across the world to host picnics in public parks so patients and their supporters can gather to share some cookies or other treats. In Victoria, the International Hempology 101 Society will host a picnic starting at 4:20 pm on Sat June 11 at what is known as the Mushroom Tree in Beacon Hill Park (near the bandshell). As opposed to other years, the intent of these picnics is not to protest but is meant to provide a safe space for patients to enjoy their medicine with others.
Certainly sharing cannabis cookies on International Medical Marijuana Day is nothing new. The idea came to me in 1999. With little warning, I made 101 cookies and handed them out at a rally in the inner courtyard of the downtown public library in full view of a police officer and the press. When I showed up with 420 cookies the next year, things did not go so well. I was arrested and eventually convicted by a jury of possession for the purposes of trafficking THC. My sentence was 1 day in jail, which was really less than 3 hours.
The origins of International Medical Marijuana Day go back to Nov 15, 1994 in Washington DC and other cities across the USA. After learning of this, we started to organize events on Nov 15, 1995 to coordinate with activists down south but no solid contact was made. In fact, a several years ago we learned US activists were organizing a week of events in Feb and we tried to do the same here but again failed to make direct contact with organizers across the border. A few years ago we simply moved IMMD to March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, in a desperate attempt to direct people away from alcohol and over to a greener, more friendly product.
Over the years we have tried many different approaches to raise awareness about medical cannabis. Since 2002, the City of Victoria has officially acknowledged International Medical Marijuana Day with a proclamation that makes several statements directing citizens to respect patients choosing to use cannabis as medicine. It is our hope that other civil rights activists will learn how easy it is to request their city council do the same this year, much like other activists have used proclamations to raise awareness and public support for their causes.
Our society has also organized a silent art auction on IMMD for many years, as we have almost been constantly fighting in court. We will be encouraging organizers of other picnics to hold small auctions or raffles to support a local court case or patient that has suffered the wrath of the law. This year we will likely organize both a silent art auction at the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club and a raffle at the picnic, though we have not yet decided where the funds will go..
Anyone interested in organizing a picnic in their area for International Medical Marijuana Day should contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Posters will be made available with a space to add the location, making it easy to print and distribute. Start organizing now if you wish to help organize a picnic on June 11, as it will come up fast.