Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Is It Too Late To Stop LA’s Ban?

City of Los Angeles Speaker Card

If medical cannabis patients and their advocates are waiting to speak-out against the citywide ban on collectives until the day the Los Angeles City Council takes its final vote , it will be too late.   LA City Council acknowledges that it only puts items on the agenda for a vote when the item has enough support to pass.  Similarly, since the ban has had two public hearings in committee already, the Council can choose to not take any public comment on the day of the vote, however, unlikely.  What is likely is that anyone who signs up to speak on the day of the final vote will get a minute or less to speak on a matter that has already decided. 

Patients who want to oppose the ban must do so NOW while council members are deliberating the issue behind closed doors.  Some of the LA City Council members are conflicted over the ban and appear to favor reasonable regulations instead of inevitable continued lawsuits.  Hearing from hundreds of concerned citizens helps sway votes by giving law makers the ‘political safe space’ to act by demonstrating that his/her constituents support a specific position. 

What Can Patients Do To Help Stop The Ban?

YOUR voice is YOUR vote.  Make phone calls, send emails or faxes to LA City Council.  Attend any LA City Council meeting before the final vote and speak during general public comment.  You can learn who your council representative is as well as the council representative of your favorite collective by visiting http://lacity.org/index.htm.

In the middle of the page is ‘Neighborhood Resources’ where you type in your street address/address of your collective to learn whom your council rep is.  You can get all of the necessary contact info from the council member’s web page. 

Form letters are NOT effective as a form letter is not YOUR voice.  It is the voice of a special interest getting you to support THEIR position.  Support your OWN position.   If form letters worked, then prohibition would have ended decades ago. 

What Should Patients Say, Write To The LA City Council?

If patients wish to speak during general public comment, see http://panorg.blogspot.com/2012/06/patients-want-to-stop-ban-on-las.html for detailed information about the Brown Act, filling out a speaker card and preparing a two-minute statement.  You do not have to speak for a full two minutes.  Statements can be brief and to the point.  Some like to educate the Council with facts as the Council is making up their own.

When writing to Council, think similarly.  You want to be courteous, concise and accurate.  You want to state your position in the first or second sentence or your message may get ‘lost.’ 

Make your statements true to you and your circumstances.  Here are a couple examples:

General Public Comment – “Good Morning Councilmembers.  My name is Patient Mary Jane and I live and vote in Silver Lake.  I oppose any ban on our City’s medical marijuana dispensaries.  I am very ill and cannot grow my own.  I do not want to be forced to the black market.  Please do not turn me into a criminal.  Please draft workable regulations like other cities such as West Hollywood, Palm Springs and San Francisco where collectives are NOT suing the city.  Please vote NO on banning collectives.   I thank you for your time and consideration. “

Written Comment – “Dear Councilmember…  I write to oppose any ban on our City’s medical marijuana dispensaries.  I am a long-time resident and voter in Silver Lake but I am too ill to grow my own medical-grade cannabis.  I have come to rely on ‘The Best Silver Lake Caregivers’ for my medical cannabis needs.  The patient consultants there have always taken good care of me and I always feel safe when I’m there.  Please do not push patients to the black market and turn us all into criminals.  Collectives like ‘The Best Silver Lake Caregivers’ deserve workable regulations and a fair hearing process for a City permit.  Cities such as West Hollywood, Palm Springs and San Francisco have workable regulations and are not burdened with scores of lawsuits.  Los Angeles should take note and learn from our sister cities.  I thank you for your time and attention to this matter.  As my Council Representative I kindly ask for the favor of your reply.  Sincerely, Patient Mary Jane  -  (310) 420-KIND mary@patientjane.com

If patients choose to write to Council, they should still make public comment during one of the upcoming Council meetings – even if it’s to read your letter (or a 2-minute portion of it).  Council does not always acknowledge correspondence and your voice-vote will not be counted unless a speaker card is submitted. 

Contact PAN if you have any questions or wish to host a patient empowerment event. 

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