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Monday, March 18,2013

Green gathering

Medical marijuana advocates gather at Capitol to raise funds, fight for rights

by Nyssa Rabinowitz
Friday, Sept. 2 — The medical marijuana community is doing more than just protesting at the Capitol on Wednesday. Its members are also raising money to fight back.

Two fundraising efforts will follow Wednesday afternoon’s rally.

One fundraiser will be hosted by the Greater Lansing Medical Marijuana Association at the Waterfront Bar and Grille in the Lansing City Market to raise funds to fight the state Appeals Court’s ruling that closed down dispensaries across the state by banning the patient-to-patient sales of medical marijuana. Attendees can also donate during the rally before the fundraiser begins about 4 p.m.

“We don’t know how much the appeal is going to cost because it’s a lengthy process,” Brant Johnson, the association’s secretary, said. “We hope we can just raise as much as possible. If we can get $10,000 that would be great.”

The other fundraiser is the After Rally Bash at The Loft, 414 E. Michigan Ave. following the rally This fundraiser, also hosted by MMMA, is geared towards patients and is to raise money for upcoming rallies, appeals and legal battles. Food, water and entertainment will be provided.

Rally attendees can stop by the MMMA booth during the rally and get a stamp that will grant them free entry into the fundraiser. Anyone who doesn’t get a stamp is asked to donate $10 at the door.

While there is no specific fundraising goal in mind, the MMMA’s Brianna Garrett said she would love to see enough money raised to have $1 for every patient.

“It comes down to human rights, Garrett said. “We as voters voted in (a patient’s) right to choose what makes their quality of life better.”

The rally at the Capitol will start at noon and last until 3 p.m., Garrett said. Rally attendees will also have an opportunity to register to vote and find out how to contact their state representatives.

Though planning for the rally began two months before Appeals Court ruling, Garrett said she hopes the decision will inspire more medical marijuana community members to attend and show their support. She said she expects between 1,000 and 2,500 attendees.

“It’s the people’s defense of the Medical Marijuana Act,” Garrett said. “It’s our job to stand up and protect it and protect our rights.”

Lansing dispensary owner Shekina Pena said she thinks the rally will have “a dramatic effect” by bringing all the different medical marijuana organizations together. She suggested that concerned community members should “be plugged into the laws that are changing and how they pertain to you.”

Johnson said the rally and fundraising will also serve as a warning to politicians that the medical marijuana community, as well as the 63 percent of voters who approved the Michigan Marijuana Act in 2008, is watching. The Legislature is considering a host of bills on medical marijuana.

“(The rally) means that there are people who are going to stand up and speak up for the community,” Johnson said. “There are people that are going to fight back against those that want to get rid of access for patients. It means that there are people who are going to push legislation. There are people who are going to hold our politicians and our reckless attorney general accountable.

“These politicians that hope to turn the tables back better hope that the 63 percent are not in their backyard,” Johnson said.
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