Women Rise Against Prohibition


Over the fall and winter I had the privilege and honour to witness and help guide a renewed vision on the landscape of cannabis activism in Canada—the uniting, empowerment, and amplification of the voices of women who have had enough of the laws interfering in their lives, and the lives of their families.
I call it a renewed vision, because the idea is not particularly new. There were attempts in the past to draw the women together, before the dawning of the Internet era. The distance, sparsity of women ready to talk about this issue, and the difficulty keeping in touch, grounded those early attempts to create a true union of women ready to speak out.
With the help of the Internet, and a growing number of women identifying themselves as consumers or sympathetic to consumers, and the additional aggravation of Harper’s ill-conceived Omnibus bill, there is a perfect atmosphere to once again attempt create a unified voice for anti-prohibition women in Canada.
The idea behind the alliance was to build an organization from the roots up that would utilize our diversity and ability—one that would give women struggling with the assault these laws wage on their families to seek support and advice. The heart of the alliance was to build a sisterhood where seasoned activists and ordinary women like myself could work together, and combine our talents to counter the message that keeping cannabis illegal, and creating stronger and harsher laws, was safer for our children and families and good for the country.
Several meetings were held across the country, in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto. All the meetings were well attended, and essential for creating a network of willing women. The meetings were also deeply motivating for me personally, as I listened to dozens of women across the country share their stories of the damage that the laws around cannabis had created in their lives, and the lives of their families. One thing became abundantly clear: enlightened Canadian women have had enough.
With such diversity, it soon became clear that all the women uniting under one banner would be difficult if not impossible. The differences between east and west came sharply into focus, and as with all organizations, we experienced a succession of growing pains.
One form of the early alliance vision, the NORML Women’s Alliance of Canada, continues to meet in Toronto, under the guidance of Tracy Curley. Their mandate, which I helped craft along with Tracy and Lisa Kirkman of Calgary, states that they “are a nonpartisan coalition of socially and geographically diverse women who believe that marijuana prohibition is a self-destructive and hypocritical policy that undermines the Canadian people, sends a mixed and false message to our young people, and destroys the cherished principles of personal liberty and sovereignty.”
“The NORML Women’s Alliance of Canada are the mothers, sisters, daughters and caregivers of this nation and we are calling on the Canadian Government to end cannabis prohibition, re-prioritize spending to focus on our families education and healthcare and protect them from being further damaged by this failed government policy.”
The NORML Women’s Alliance of Canada is a satellite group established in accordance with NORML’s Chapter guidelines.
Tracy reports that they will be hosting their official launch on Thursday, May 3rd, and have been selected as the Grand Marshalls of the Toronto Global Marijuana March, On May 5th, 2012 at Queen’s Park.
They also anticipate participating in the Treating Yourself Expo, also held in Toronto. Their next meeting will be held May 6th at the 529 Community Center in downtown Toronto.
She encourages interested women to get in contact with her through their Facebook group, or at their web page <NORMLwomen.ca>
Alternatively, Moms for Marijuana, a grassroots network organization of parents and citizens across the world, has started the first chapter in Canada this Feb. with the assistance of Dianne-Marie Williams of Kelowna. Their latest chapter, Kitchener/Cambridge/Waterloo, just started at the end of Mar.
The focus of MFM is on raising awareness, promoting education, and creating discussion regarding the variety of uses of Cannabis. MFM believes the “access our children have to the drug, Marijuana, can be drastically reduced through legalization and regulation. In order to keep this drug out of the hands of our kids, Marijuana needs to be taken off of streets and away from the black market. We also believe our children, as well as many adults, should be educated on all aspects of Cannabis; from the thousands of medical, recreational, industrial, agricultural, environmental, spiritual, and economic benefits—to the repercussions, risks and history associated with the Cannabis plant.”
Diane-Marie informs me that chapter leaders meet online in a closed group once a month to cover any issues that may arise, and make plans for the upcoming months, such as “call blasts,” mailings, rallies, interviews or any other events being held by other organizations that may need their support. Each chapter has their own monthly meetings as well.
Moms for Marijuana was founded by Serra Frank six years ago in the U.S., and is now international, with chapters also in Israel, Canada, and as recently as last week, the U.K.
“I would like to see chapters across Canada, in every province and in every region. I foresee working with other organizations in networking support by attending each other’s events and coordinating activities in the same regions,” Diane said in an email.
The Okanagan Chapter will be at the West Coast Totally Legal Medicine Show being held on 4/20 eve, by the Medicinal Cannabis Patients’ Alliance of Canada, at the Streaming Café in Kelowna. They will also have a table set up at the 4/20 Rally in the City Park the following day.
Anyone interested in starting a chapter in their area, can reach Diane-Marie by email at <dianemarie@momsformarijuana.org>
I encourage all women to gather together and brainstorm ideas to inform and educate. You do not need to be under any banner to do it, you just need to have the courage and the will to send out an invite to other women you know and get together. Make it a potluck, and draw strength from the women around you. Brainstorm ideas of how you as a small group can create awareness and change in your community. Have letter writing parties where you contact politicians and other individuals about the issues. Go to court together in support of someone facing charges. Use your creativity and imagination.
There is no doubt that things are about to get more difficult in Canada with the current political atmosphere. The argument that legalization and regulation will protect our kids from dealers and gangs is one that, when made by women who have traditionally been considered protectors of their families, speaks volumes to the broader public, and will attract other women to add their voice to the growing chorus.
Perhaps Washinton Irving said it best when he wrote, “There is in every true woman’s heart, a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.”


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