From 707 to the City of Angels

By: Diane Fornbacher

From the majestic redwoods of Humboldt county to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, the NORML Women’s Alliance’s Sabrina Fendrick, Kyndra Miller, Melissa Sanchez and I toured almost the entire Sunshine State for nine days prior to Thanksgiving to rally our sisters and brothers in preparation for what will be a mighty 2012 for us all in drug policy reform.
The tour began at a beach-side co-op in the company of our NORML Women’s Alliance colleague Annarae Grabstein of Steep Hill Lab. We enjoyed a brainstorming session and sunset barbecue, then prepared for the incredibly scenic drive north up to Humboldt county the next day to attend 707 Cannabis College’s Hempfest event at the Mateel Community Center in Garberville.

The panel was moderated by Terri Klemetson, News Coordinator for Redwood Community News (KMUD). Speaking were the esteemed Paul Gallegos, Humboldt County District Attorney; Mark Lovelace, Humboldt County Supervisor; Dan Rush, Director of the Medical Cannabis and Hemp Division of United Food and Commercial Workers International Union; Matt Witemyre, Chief of Staff at Medi-Cone; Alexis Wilson-Briggs, Esq., Criminal Defense Attorney/Pier 5 Law Offices and recently named San Francisco and Sacramento NORML Women’s Alliance Community Leader; Samantha Miller, President-Chief Scientist at Pure Analytics, LLC; and Paul J. Von Hartmann, Cannabis Scholar and Biodynamic Agriculturist.
The panel was very lively, and at times heated, with Wilson Briggs asking for clarification from D.A. Gallegos on many different topics, most specifically regarding enforcement tactics, difficulties reconciling state law versus the federal stance on cannabis and protecting local citizens. Overall, the energy was receptive, friendly and informative. Citizens addressed the panelists at the culmination of the event and what was most enlightening to us was how open and honest the farmers were with officials, genuinely wanting to work with the system, be respected in their industry by the government and have best practices so that they may do clean as well as successful business.
Afterward, we were treated to a tour of 707 Cannabis College with Kellie Dodds, Pearl Moon and Donna King. 707 is located in the heart of the “Emerald Triangle” where, “the highest quality education in the health benefits of appropriate cannabis use, sustainable cannabis horticulture and evolving cannabis law” is provided. We were delighted to see that the NORML Women’s Alliance has a huge presence at 707 with a permanent education access table, lots of enthusiasm and solidarity.
The next day, before heading to our evening fundraiser and screening of “A NORML Life” in San Francisco, we spent the day at the historic Pier 5 Law offices of Tony Serra, where NWA’s Kyndra Miller, Esq. has an office. Pier 5 has a long history of defending human rights and is an environment that has a strong female presence. While we were nearing the end of our workday, we were treated to a visit from the humble and sweet, Mr. Clint Werner. He stopped by with his amazing book “Marijuana: Gateway to Health”, a new release.

At the screening of Rod Pitman’s, “A NORML Life”, many NORML principals are featured in the film including Members of the Board: Dale Gieringer, Madeline Martinez, George Rohrbacher, William Panzer, Esq., Allen St. Pierre, and Keith Stroup . Tonya Davis, winner of NORML’s Pauline Sabin Award (In Honor Of And Recognition For The Crucial Need And Importance Of Women Leadership In Ending Marijuana Prohibition) was prominently featured in an inspiring narrative. Also in the house was Lynette Shaw (Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana), Paul Armentano (Deputy Director NORML) who gave a rousing speech in support of the NWA, Ellen Komp (CANORML), Jack Rikess (Toke of the Town), NORML Attorney Matt Kumin, actress Heather Donahue of the Blair Witch Project, and many others at the forefront of reform in California. Executive Producer of the film, Mr. Pitman, gave a very entertaining free form Q&A session after the screening. The event was hosted by NORML Board member Richard Wolfe and his terrific assistant, Grynn. Catering was provided by the lovely Caitlin Martens.
The next day, we headed south to Los Angeles and the Hollywood Hills for our fundraiser, A Cause to Laugh, at The Comedy Union in Los Angeles. The event was hosted by Brooks Colyar and comedienne Simply Cookie emceed. In the house was Co-Founder and Director of Unconventional Foundation for Autism, Ms. Mieko Hester-Perez, well known also as Joey’s Mom. We want to thank everyone who participated in making this event amazing, especially Enss Mitchell, purveyor of the Comedy Union for believing in the NWA and providing valuable insight to achieve our goals for all demographics. Also, special thanks to Cheri Sicard for volunteering, as well as Kandice Hawes (OCNORML) for attending with friends.
It’s really quite difficult to summarize the trip into words but Melissa Sanchez was able to really encapsulate the energy of what we experienced during our whirlwind tour. She explained that, “from the people of Humboldt – people with so much heart living in the beautiful old forest – to the people of San Francisco who are dedicated to the never-ending work of politics and activism to Los Angeles where we were reaching out to a community who knows all about the real impact of the war on drugs, it was inspirational journey. Our movement is large and encompasses people who are not yet active in it: People whose families are affected by the drug war in Latin America, mothers who are patients but can’t speak out because they are afraid of the state taking their children, seniors who are fed up with taking medicine that may end up hurting them instead of healing them, and many others. The NORML Women’s Alliance is here to help bring more people into the movement. The more diverse and broad our movement, the sooner we will see significant change.”

17 thoughts

  1. Why brainlessly support Ron Paul? I wouldn’t want to support an organization that advertises or supports him in anyway. Sure, he believes in the legalization of marijuana. He also believes in dismantling the EPA and gutting the tax structure that keeps our country afloat. There are more issues out there people. Not just marijuana reform! What about Tar Sands oil extraction? Coal trains exports that will pollute our waterways and agriculture in route, not to mention damage local economies and encourage the burning of dirty coal in China. Ever hear of global warming? I’m so sick of people just rallying around this one issue. We can’t just sit back and smoke our legal weed as the world goes to hell. If you are on the west coast get your licence already. Legalize but don’t anesthetize. We got to stay conscious people!

  2. It is great seeing good people being serious and active and flush this cannabis prohibition crap.
    “Prohibition is the root of all evil.”
    Please vote in the presidential primaries.

  3. If we are to support our cause and defeat prohibition,maybe we should come together as many. Like seeds and plants that we have sown. FOR WE THE PEOPLE ARE MANY!

  4. The best thing this country can do to immediately affect the environment in a positive way is to legalize the cultivation of cannabis hemp. Even tho Ron Paul would eliminate redundant agencies that are involved with the environment, those agencies main function is to protect the interest of the rich and famous. I worked in the Dept of Agriculture where the main focus is selling off our assets, and allowing them to be abused.

  5. Melody: We need to treat this election as a one issue election. Ron Paul as you say is flawed, but he is the only one running that will get weed relegalized. After being lied to for 75 years, I’ll take my chances on Ron Paul. When he fuck’s up, we’ll get rid of him anyway. But we should be willing to risk that. WE NEED WEED LEGAL YESTERDAY!!!!

  6. message to number 1. when there are men walking around with guns, bodysnatching, encaging, and tormenting people for the use of a plant that god put here one the earth for human consumption and medication then there is a serious issue at hand and yes it is a small thing in one sense but in another it underminds all the great things this country stands for and that is purely unexceptable and anyone who is human should not tolerate such a violation of human life. sorry im not trying to hate but i feel i needed to put a point across and im glad your here on the forum.

  7. Hey Melody, the organizations that Ron Paul wants to dismantle don’t actually go away. The are just transfered to the states. He just wants to get the federal government out and insert the state governments. The states are supposed to be independent experiments of democracy. What we have now is 50 counties of the same large state we call America. Where when one thing goes wrong the whole country suffers. If one doesn’t like the laws in one state, that person can move to a state that they do like. As it is now every taxpayer is on the hook for “no child left behind”, the “war on drugs”, and every other unconstitutional federally mandated solution. You must be young because it didn’t used to be like this. Ron Paul will take us back to the roots that made this a great country in the first place.

  8. No matter what I do believe that if Ron Paul is not elected then there will be no end to the war on drugs…or war in general.

  9. Given the chance I would vote for Ron Paul on this one issue alone. I want prohibition to end that badly! It has hurt, directly or indirectly, millions of good Americans. Even if he did a few things that I don’t approve of, ending prohibition would be a welcome trade off. Then, in the next presidential election, we could get someone who shows common sense regarding whatever got messed up during the Ron Paul presidency. I’m so fed up with the lies and abuse and harm that prohibition has caused that I’ve come to have that opinion.

  10. Although I follow the logic with regard to voting Ron Paul,as he (says he) supports state’s rights to “choose”- I disagree with this idea of being “forced” to register one-party or another to vote for its candidate. This, itself, is an example of how “Division”ism” has become America’s religion. You’ve heard it before;”You’re EITHER with us-or a traitor” .
    This is the 21st Century!~Weren’t we supposed to have flying cars, computers that talk and Cannabis as the FOREMOST Therapeutic agent in all of Pharmacology?!. The unfortunate reality is that our “Civil Rights” have,almost, all been stripped from us-and we argue “Legalize Cannabis?”-WHAT ABOUT this: “Support Civil Rights, support removal of all Governmental interference and penalties associated with cultivation or adult use of any form of any amount of Cannabis”
    ISN’T THAT THE REAL ISSUE?-The real political question should be: “Who will SUPPORT Civil Rights?”-The last time I checked the “Right to Self-Preservation” is THE MOST BASE of all Human rights. It trumps the government’s “right” to regulate Marijuana. It also forms the FOUNDATION of all other rights.
    IT IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL to have Federal resources used to regulate any state’s issues.-just as it is UNCONSTITUTIONAL TO incarcerate anyone for CANNABIS

  11. FYI–the “Sunshine State” is FLORIDA. California is the GOLDEN State.
    I’m now stepping off of my soapbox. Thanks.

  12. HEY ALL,
    Back, once again-from the “Sunshine” state-Not Cali-Speaking of good-will, , Ladies of NORML: :when are you going to “get around t” coming to Flori-DUHH. We REALLY need NORML’s help here-we are (one of the) largest state WITHOUT sensible Cannabis policies-HE*L, we can hardly vote!~(without shenanigans)
    SO HO ABOUT IT?-Police here re (randomly) pulling over ALL African-American and Latino’s for…”driving while brown”. a Reprehensible-yet court sanctioned-practice.

  13. I’m a Ron Paul supporter. He’s got the right idea. Let the individual states decide the issue. If weed were to become legal, nobody would be forced to smoke it. If you wanna toke, then toke, if you don’t want to, then don’t. It’s like guns. If you wanna own a gun, then go out and buy one, if you don’t like guns, then don’t buy one. It’s that simple. Maybe smoking weed is a vice, or a sin, but it ain’t no crime. If there is no victim, there is no crime!

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