If you believe in the right to use cannabis, then now is the time to do something about it.

There could not be a more important time to add your voice to the growing chorus of citizens who are calling for legalization. There could not be a better time to join forces with other like-minded people as the momentum shifts against prohibition. There could not be a more critical time to counter the Conservative government’s rhetoric.
This is a historical moment in Canadian cannabis history, and you can be a part of it. You can start by helping to protest against the new regulations that will no longer allow patients to grow their own legal medicine. Whether you currently use cannabis as medicine or not is irrelevant, for if we lose the legal ability to grow personal medicine now, it could be a long time before we get it back.

Time is short. There is a brief time period in which the government is accepting comments, ending Feb. 28, 2013. We must do everything we can to raise awareness about this backward step, encouraging concerned citizens to voice their opinions by every means possible.

On Thursday, Feb. 21, the International Hempology 101 Society will organize rallies at MP offices across the country to protest the MMPR. On the same day, we will organize a phone jam aimed at the Minister responsible for Health Canada, Leona Aglukkaq, giving those unable to physically attend a rally a chance to stick a wrench in the system, too. We will encourage others to write to newspapers around the same time, in a last-ditch attempt to raise awareness about this deplorable move by the federal government.

While we will not be able to coordinate an event at every MP office, we can at least focus on some prominent members of parliament. It is better than doing nothing in the vain hope the public will wake up to this nightmare. Even if all we do is educate some of the staff and random citizens with our signs, then we have accomplished more than we could sitting at home.

Without an existing network to coordinate these rallies, it will be a little scrambled. We are creating a web page to provide a list of offices that people have committed to going to, and will also build a facebook page to attract more protesters. The best time to hold these protests is 11 a.m., as that is not too early for patients to get to the location, and still gives the press lots of time to spread the story throughout the day.

hempology.ca/protest

Aside from making signs, another great way to get attention, if you have a license to grow, is to bring a plant with you. An image of a patient, or several, desperately holding a plant can have a lasting impact on people walking by, and gives the media something to add to the story that makes the government’s plan seem all the more severe. It is only a plant, after all.

These rallies will not be limited to members of the Conservative government, but will occur at MP offices of all parties. Individual Members of Parliament and their staff should have an opportunity to meet the people affected the most by this law, so they can see that the vast majority of medical cannabis users are nice, average folks. Those MPs in opposition who have spoken out against the MMPR should be given credit for stepping up to the plate, and those who have remained silent so far should be encouraged to make a statement.

Though we do not expect the Harper government to suddenly wake up and change their minds, it is important that we voice our opposition to their plans and that we try to win the hearts and minds of the public. By showing how the Conservatives’ policies hurt sick citizens, we can undermine their support and build allies in this campaign.
This will not be the only attempt to fight these new regulations, but it is important to do what we can while the period for comments. Another attempt is a class action lawsuit being led by veteran lawyer John Conroy. Hundreds of patients have started putting money into an account to support John in this endeavor. More information will be available in the next issue of the newspaper.

Of course, many will simply resist these regulations by continuing to grow after the licenses start to expire on Oct. 1, 2013. Do doubt there will be many cases before the courts, challenging the government’s attempt to take this plant away from the sick and dying. While I believe the courts will agree that patients have a constitutional right to grow their own medicine, it might not come until many have suffered by going without medicine or living with extraordinary stress.
Ultimately, I am convinced that the legalization of cannabis is possible around the world, especially after such an incredible year. However, these regulations are a big step back for patients—a big step back for the entire country—and we need to resist them in every way possible. Opening up the market to legal commercial operators should not come at the expense of patients.

Please join us Thurs., Feb. 21, as we protest against the MMPR.

By Ted Smith