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Global Marijuana Movement

Pubdate: Thu, 20 May 2004
Source: View Magazine (Hamilton, CN ON)
Copyright: 2004 View Magazine


Stymied by a Liberal government that dismisses change to Canada's marijuana laws-saying they would be going against UN treaties and "international obligations"-the national marijuana movement is slowly sowing its own seeds to overgrow the rest of the world.

And Alison Myrden is at the razor-sharp end of the hoe. Myrden-the NDP's Oakville candidate, a prominent marijuana cheerleader and sufferer of MS and Tic Douloureux-is building an international Rolodex with goals of launching a worldwide marijuana organization and movement within a year.

"I'm trying to bring people together from around the world," said Myrden from her home in Burlington. "It's important to learn what country is legal and what country is not."

Her networking abilities have sparkled as the feisty activist gathered other excited cohorts from around the globe, all talking about getting green in their hood.

Myrden is further upping her involvement by standing at the international podium, with speaking engagements booked as a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Though Myrden is new to the LEAP speakers series, plans are being made for her to talk at upcoming conferences in Boston and Dublin.

"We were created to give a voice to current and former members of law enforcement who feel the U.S. policy on the War on Drugs is a terrible policy that is very destructive," says LEAP President Jack Cole. "We support alternative policies that lower incidents of death, disease, crime, without destroying generations of our young people by arresting them. What we suggest is a policy of control and regulation.

"LEAP is an international organization," continues Cole. "It has to be international if you're talking about ending drug prohibition because it will effect the entire world. The world would come along eventually if we got it done in the United States. The whole idea as far as we are concerned is to take the profit motive, because if we do that we do away with organized crime."

Cole takes his message-through roughly 260 speaking engagements a year-to community groups, avoiding marijuana rallies only because there is little point speaking to the converted. Cole-a former officer-has never used marijuana.

"We're letting the governments know that we're keeping an eye on them," says Myrden. "And that soon we will be an international collective. We have friends all over the world, honey. They are part and party to this issue. It's easy to have a common goal. Culture has accepted us."

Kicking marijuana prohibition's ass on a grand, world-wide scale is fascinating because the people involved are remarkably similar in demeanor projecting happy, positive and uplifting attitudes-they're 'potheads' on a mission to change the world.

The likeness between Marti DeWolfe and Myrden is incredible, with only DeWolfe's Southern-Calfifornia accent separating them.

"Thank you," says DeWolfe, when told of the likeness. "I had thought that too. Isn't that amazing. ( Myrden ) is a fireball, so that makes me feel so complimented."

A former upstanding policewoman who was occasionally shot at, and missed, as well as a musician with three albums and a small business proprietor, DeWolfe has come to bat for the global team.

"The slow erosion of freedom kind of creeps me out," says DeWolfe. "This is probably going to sound perverse, but as much as ( speaking out ) scares me, it exhilarates me.

"Everything that grows must decline. All civilizations that grow to become great will start suffering and they decline. Their knowledge bases are eroded. The intellectuals are imprisoned. The people who disagree and don't march with the status quo are executed or disposed of. Those who become meek enough, I guess, are allowed to survive. The benefit of seeing the decline of the great civilization that I grew up so proud of and loved so much is that we got to be at the top of the roller coaster. Of course it's starting to decline! But we've gotten to see so much."

French activist and researcher for Association for the Research and Information on Cannabis ( ARICA ), Aymeric Longi echoes similar sentiments.

"I think the global marijuana movement is potentially very strong. Only potentially because until now, most lobby their own country or state. All organizations should federate into one single one for better and more effective communication. Each and everyone should know what is happening 10,000 kilometers away in the world of cannabis. If we unite and turn into one entity, the global marijuana movement can become really strong.

"This is why one of our tasks is to locate and 'recruit' isolated pro-cannabis peoples who need some international structure. There is some need to create some kind of "Cannabis International Agency."

"Some of us have been talking about this," Myrden says of establishing an international marijuana activist group.

"But we are so focused on local issues. We can continue to change the laws in Canada, but we have to go global. We can ultimately spread out along the globe."

Medi-weed clinic THC4MS of the UK has Myrden's story on their website.

The group distributes medicinal goodies via chocolate bars with a suggested donation of UKP5. They've also facilitated the licensing of GW Pharmaceuticals sativex spray, which organizer THC4MS Mark Gibson attributes to the international activism of Alyson, Lezley Gibson, Biz Ivol and Clare Hodges.

"We are in the process of setting up a group called Medi-Weed Affiliation," says Gibson. "Its aim is to self-monitor the medi-weed services in the UK. It ought to be extended globally to protect the vulnerable. Any group not meeting set criteria would not gain membership."

Victoria, BC medicinal marijuana activist Phillipe Lucas became so inspired by the lobbying strength of the 10,000 member Americans For Safe Access group that he launched Canadians for Safe Access.

"We needed an arms-length organization that could advocate not only for medical users," says Lucas, "but for the brave people who continue to give them safe access to medicine without putting the clubs themselves in jeopardy."

Lucas has been working closely with AFSA.

"They put out an amazing set of documents that patients can take to their doctor in order to get support for medical marijuana," continues Lucas. "They not only outline the legal restrictions in the U.S. but they also look at the research that has been done. These are condition specific, so there is one for MS, one for chronic pain, one for cancer. They are incredible tools. In the next few months I'm going to convert that information for here in Canada. This would take away the common excuse from doctors: 'I don't have enough information. There's not enough research.'

"This will take away that silly excuse."

Perhaps the most frightening response for international participation came from a fellow we can only call 'Indiana Indica.'

A Canadian living in Singapore, Indiana says that the "situation is that Singapore is extremely strict about drugs.

"Penalties for drug possession range from prison terms of a few years to 'death' and can also include caning, which is still commonly practiced here."

He wasn't exaggerating about the drug laws of Singapore. Indiana says that spies are "everywhere, especially using cab drivers as informants...

"My overall impression is easily defined by the warning given on customs documents received prior to entry into Singapore-penalty for involvement in drugs is 'death'-and this warning is actually echoed in person by staff of the airlines before landing... As a result of this situation, I have been very very quiet about any past or present involvement with marijuana."

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