Medical Marijuana Week Memories

In case you haven't heard, February 11-17 is Medical Marijuana Week - a week to learn, take action, and to educate others. This will be the sixth annual Medical Marijuana Week, held during the week of 2/15 to commemorate the passage of Proposition 215, California's medical cannabis law. While helping Sonnet, ASA's field coordinator, brainstorm national action alerts for each day of the week, I couldn't help but reflect on the history of this week. Medical Marijuana Week was conceived of in 2003 in ASA's old office in Berkeley. ASA staff and volunteers joined together to organize a week of actions and events celebrating Prop 215. At the time, I was a student at UC Berkeley, leading our chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. It was a natural fit for our chapter to work with ASA to put on what would become the first annual Medical Marijuana University. Students and community member joined together to take courses on the law, political activism, the medical benefits of cannabis, and more. Though all of the instructors were excellent, two stand out in my mind - Joe Elford and Dr. Michael Alcalay. It was the first time I had heard Joe, ASA's chief counsel, speak, and he blew me away with his vast knowledge of medical cannabis law. Not even the most specific or random questions could throw him off. Dr. Mike was an expert on the medical properties of cannabis, as both a patient and a practicing physician, and he shared his knowledge with the group. But what impressed me most about both Joe and Mike was not what they knew, but how they presented. They treated every student with respect and explained complex subjects in a way that the participants could easily understand. Years later, the San Francisco chapter of ASA still hosts Medical Marijuana University. Joe is still one of the instructors. Dr. Mike passed away in 2006, but new instructors have been found to carry the torch. When I participated in that first Medical Marijuana Week, I never could have imagined how much our movement would have evolved and grown in the coming years. Even less could I have imagined that I would be lucky enough to still be involved with this movement and helping to coordinate this important week. So if you haven't participated in one of this week's actions yet, do it now. Who knows where it will lead you? And if you have participated in Medical marijuana Week before, what are some of your favorite memories?