With so many strains of cannabis that can be grown, packaged, and distributed, medical marijuana patients are worried about the current 21-and-over law. They are participating in the annual Seattle Cannabis Freedom March, on May 10, to ensure that a wide variety of high-quality marijuana strains will be available for purchase when stores open. They march to protect their interests, and to protect the public from low-quality products.
The rally begins in the front grass pavilion at Volunteer Park at 10 a.m. Local bands perform until noon, then speakers take over from noon to 1 p.m. The 2.2 mile march begins at 1 p.m. with an expected arrival at Westlake Park by 2 p.m., where more music and speeches will ensue.
Some activists at the event will rally to end the war on drugs and to end the prison state. Others will be raise money for those incarcerated, whose lives they say have been raided and ruined thanks to the criminalization of marijuana. A raffle will be held to send money to those incarcerated for marijuana-related reasons, so they can have a higher quality of life while behind bars.
According to organizer Melissa Hysom, mom of four, there’s more at stake when selling legal marijuana retail than looking at the value gained from marijuana’s smell, taste, and “highness” qualities. “We are all humans, and have different physiological needs,” Hysom said. “The primary goal of Seattle Cannabis Freedom March is to help other people stay alive and live longer.”
A medical marijuana patient herself, Hysom uses cannabis to treat multiple sclerosis. She believes that some people self-treat with recreational marijuana long before they realize what is wrong with their health, sometimes even before they’re clinically diagnosed with a medical condition.
In her case, before doctors pinned the MS label on her, Hysom learned that cannabis made her think more clearly, her body functioned more efficiently, and she felt a whole lot better.
“Some people use cannabis to eat, to treat cancer, for HIV, for all kinds of ailments,” Hysom said.
In spite of being grateful for advancements made with recreational marijuana laws, Hysom is concerned that Washington is still too prohibitive when patients with a green thumb want to grow their own particular strand in an organic way that best treats their individual health needs.
“Certain strains of marijuana behave quite differently from others,” Hysom said. “Add to that fact, many patients are poor, living out away from the city, and while they can afford to grow their own cannabis, they might not be able to pay for the high cost of a commercialized product.
“A lot of them come across a particular strain that treats their specific condition better than any other strains. Maybe it eases problems with spasms, eating, or pain. Yet another variety might affect them quite differently.”
The editor for Sativa magazine often writes about allergies and how different strains may cause an allergic reaction while others don’t. In his articles, Michael Carter states that he suffers from allergies himself. Some marijuana he has tried caused sneezing, itchy eyes, headaches or more, while other strains caused no allergic backlash for him whatsoever.
Hysom said that the current law, which allows the liquor board to regulate the legal sale of marijuana, is a little scary because who knows who is choosing what is going to be in that marijuana store?
“Are they choosing what is going to be given to patients? Patients are very very sensitive. Someone with cancer may have insides that are really sensitive to minute changes in cannabis varieties. I don’t want that to be the case out there,” Hysom said.
“I don’t want cannabis to be spun in a bad way because I think that’s why cannabis had been underground for years,” Hysom said. “Yet I’m going to say ‘no’ when I get medicine from someone else because it could mess me up. Not the kind of cannabis I want to take. You can be a grand smoker and take something else (a different strain) that knocks you on your butt.”
Recently, Hysom used a strain of cannabis that she had never used before and said that it messed her up for three hours.
“With marijuana, you really have to be careful,” she said. “From now on, I am not taking anyone else’s medicine. I’m not using my body as an experiment.”
Meanwhile, regardless of the strain, Hysom said that she would rather take cannabis and not have her judgment impaired as happens when someone consumes alcohol. “With cannabis, you know when you are too impaired to drive,” she said.
Hysom is optimistic that new laws that allow allowing anyone age 21 and over to use marijuana will mean more studies are done to test the different strains and various attributes of marijuana. She also hopes that it means getting better strains into the market for medical patients and recreational users alike.
Lineup of speakers at Volunteer Park:
- Demaris Strom, long time Washington cannabis activist and founder of The Wormhole-patient access for low-income patients
- Gloria Kalteich, cannabis spiritualist
- Jared Allaway, public facing activist, I-648 sponsor
- Farmer Tom, master cannabis grower, breeder and author of the Cannabis Consumers Guide
- Don Skakie, cannabis reform activist, volunteer organizer, signature gatherer, and spokesman for I-648 and public speaker for Real Legalization.
Lineup of speakers at Westlake Park:
- Joanna Mc Kee, Icon for Washington cannabis reform, patient, 692 activist
- Steve Sarich, long time supporter of patients
- Doug Hiatt, long time pro bono attorney for cannabis patients, founder of Sensible WA
- Sharon Foster, WA Liquor Control Chairperson