The Setting: Liquor Control Board Public Hearing
Over 700 concerned citizens came to Lacey on Wednesday, November 13th for their chance to give feedback on the Liquor Control Board’s recommendation that Washington state shutdown the medical marijuana industry. The energy, passion and advert hostility of the room stunned me when I walked in, 45 minutes before the meeting even began. The truth behind the prediction that we were in for a class-act show of political theater became apparent rapidly, as the crowed booed the rationale for specific sections of the proposal.
The crowd grew restless and hostile at points, booing, name calling and heckling throughout the official presentations. Even after the Chairman of the Board repeatedly threatened to end the public meeting immediately, the crowd remained unwilling to show courtesy and respect.
The crowd grew even more restless and angry when the Liquor Control Board members announced they were not going to call public speakers in the orders in which they signed up, but rather would randomly pick five names per page instead until time ran out. This risky move could have vast repercussions, but I’ll go into that in this post.
Hotly contested points included:
- Taking away the right to home-grow, which many patients depend on to afford their medication
- Destroying an industry built on trust and compassion for the ill, in order to generate more revenue
- The rationality of the Liquor Control Board developing recommendations for regulating a medical system
Common themes touched on during public commentary:
- That a vast majority of medical patients are NOT recreational smokers
- The high taxes built into the recreational marijuana industry are not appropriate for a medicine
- Patients will not be able to afford medication, thus many will suffer or die if the collective garden – dispensary system is destroyed
- Patients will turn to the black market, rather than go without their medication
- Patients will be forced to become criminals in order to grow their own medication
- Blatant attacks on the Liquor Control Board members and claims of corruption throughout the process
- I-502 was designed to pass, not work
- I-502 was designed to avoid dealing with medical patients completely
Rare but notable points made:
- A doctor warned patients not to use recreational marijuana until a proven system of assuring the safety of the crops is developed
- The global ramifications of this battle
- Thorough recommendations to change the provisions regarding standards of care and regulations of the medical community, provided by a representative of the Washington State Medical Association
- A call to unity, directed not at the board, but at the community in the room.
The meeting ran for over the three hours allotted, with passionate activists engaging board members and each other in dialogue afterwards. As the crowd drifted away, I was left wondering just what our community planned to accomplish by displaying so much blatant hostility and disrespect.
But I also left with the hope that speaker Arthur West spoke true when he said there is power in numbers and organization and, if we accomplish this, “we will run this show… not you [the Liquor Control Board], because you’ve proven to us you are incapable.”
To Learn More:
I think there were many people that spoke, that had respect, and were composed. I encourage everyone to make up their own mind by watching the video in it's completeness. Yes there were those that were angry, Prohibition has gone on forever, and now threatens to tighten the loop. We can only try to be a part of the rule process and help each other learn to be effective activists. We heard many "suggestions" from the Health Dept and the LCB and neither were medical professionals or patients, making rules about our medicine, our lifeline, our cure... and yet we still heard from a big handful of the people that wanted to speak. We can be civilised, we can have respect, we will learn to come together with one peaceful but strong message... It takes time. Just like their are bad politicians, you can not judge the whole by a few... please give our community that same respect.