The late Jimmy Wheeler, a medical marijuana patient in Washington, created this artwork. Now a proposed patient protection bill will be named in his honor.
By Steve Elliott at Toke of the Town
As most medical marijuana patients in the state already know, the current medical marijuana law in Washington doesn't protect patients from search, arrest or prosecution.
The recent Washington Supreme Court ruling in State v. Fry further highlighted how little protection -- as in almost none! -- the current law gives "legal" patients.
Medical marijuana activists Ken Martin and Steve Sarich of patient advocacy group CannaCare contacted every Senator and Representative in Washington at the beginning of the current 2010 legislative session, attempting to find a sponsor for their new bill that would finally offer legal patients protection from arrest and prosecution.
"We could not find a single sponsor for this bill," Sarich told Toke of the Town. "Those I actually spoke with told me they were 'too busy' this session."
"This made us curious about what, exactly, these legislators were so busy working on (besides new taxes on just about everything)," Sarich said. "What we found amazed us."
"Here are just a few of the bills that our legislators believed were more important than protecting sick and dying patients in Washington," Sarich said.
Concerning mute swans.
Allowing dogs in bars.
Allowing local governments to create golf cart zones.
Recognizing Leif Erickson day.
Designating Aplets and Cotlets as the state candy.
Concerning taxation of little cigars.
Protecting landowners' investments in Christmas trees.
Prohibiting the sale or distribution of certain novelty lighters.
Concerning colon hydrotherapy.
Allowing fishing license holder to use two poles in selected state waters.
"Perhaps these bills are truly important to some people," Sarich allowed. "That said, I think it's insulting to tell patients that making Aplets and Cotlets the official state candy is more important than keeping patients from being searched, arrested and prosecuted."
"It's time to send the message to our elected officials, and Medical Marijuana Lobby Day is the opportunity to do that!" Sarich said. "Show up and have your voice be heard."
"We are gathering at 1 p.m. on the north stairs of the Legislative Building," Sarich said. "We'll have white booths there with literature, posters and special medical marijuana patient scarves with buttons that say "STOP ARRESTING PATIENTS."
According to Sarich, the goal is to educate legislators, "let them know we are voters and activists," to to gather legislative sponsors for the "Patient Protection Act" for the 2011 legislative session.
"The bill will be named the 'Jimmy Wheeler Memorial Patient Protection Act' in honor of my friend and longtime activist who was providing medical marijuana to patients before there there was legal medical marijuana," Sarich said.
"Jimmy died recently without ever seeing patients free from arrest and prosecution in his lifetime," Sarich said. "Please ask yourself how many more of us have to die before they realize we are not criminals."
"How many patients need to be persecuted before our elected officials provide us with the same protections offered to the rest of the disabled and terminally ill patients in this state?" Sarich asked. "I'm tired of being a second class citizen!"
"We will do our best to arrange transportation for you to this historic event," Sarich said.
For more information, contact Ken Martin at (509) 235-5485 or Steve Sarich at (206) 407-3017.