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Showing Up Is Half The Battle As A Medical Cannabis Patient

THE GIG IS UP! On September 26th, Maine Medical Cannabis caregivers and patients piled into 19 Union Street and filled not one, but two overflow rooms in addition to the main room. The sign-in line wrapped almost the whole way to the stairs. But one thing I noticed right off the bat is how almost no media coverage was there. There was a random station there for the first few speakers, but they left soon afterwards.

The only media coverage was my friend Dillon (@Ilovemewd), a small cannabis social media platform that helps patients and caregivers stay up to date with what’s happening and posts caregiver listings. Which is pretty crazy because the proposed adult use rule public hearing back on September 26th had three different well-known news sources there with a total of twenty-five showing up for that meeting.

(Below are Dereks videos addressing the board, click image to view on IG)

Meanwhile, the Maine Medical Cannabis program is still the leading cannabis program with $305 million in sales last year, yet we can’t get ANY coverage from our local stations. So as always, I am thankful for Beard Bros for allowing me to share this!

I kid you not, my eyes opened exactly at 4:20am on September 26th. I thought, this must be a good sign to start my day knowing that I had to be in Augusta by 10am. I started my morning medication to gather my thoughts for the day and decide exactly what I am going to say. I don’t have traditional methods when it comes to public testimonies.

While most write down exactly what they are going to say and practice that, I try to actually present something. It always seems that my medical program is facing 25-to-life and I have to come up with ways to prove its innocence, even though there are bad actors or “clerical errors” (LOL that’s a joke for later).

What most policy makers and legislators don’t understand about cannabis rule making is that it’s like one of those Chinese finger-traps you would win at the arcade when you were a kid…the harder you pull the tighter it gets. Meaning if you make “legal” cannabis so hard to participate in, your regulations actually become completely obsolete, and the traditional market will THRIVE. The regulators and policymakers need to realize this before it’s too late.

The resolution? “Arming” everyone with the right to grow their own cannabis. By doing so you are doing few things:

  1. Individuals who grow (personal or business) learn the VALUE firsthand by growing themselves.
  2. Giving the people an outlet of “protection” from the illicit market the governments make us fear so much by allowing them to grow at home. Because we KNOW people will access cannabis legal or not.
  3. Free of controlled contaminants, like pesticides, which the government also tells you are dangerous in cannabis but won’t let everyone grow at home as much as they can humanly consume.

You always hear governments and labs use fear-mongering media campaigns against illicit cannabis (and our Maine medical program firsthand), lingo in the cannabis community has dubbed it “Reefer Madness 2.0.” Isn’t the simplest form of protection from the “illicit market” Simply grow your own?

I personally always hear the argument “this would be bad for small and large canna businesses. But in reality, it’s like this, my dad is a mechanic in his own shop in my hometown in Pennsylvania. He doesn’t even think of Pep Boys (Curaleaf) as competition, he doesn’t think of the dealerships (Acreage Holdings) as competition, and he definitely doesn’t think of the independent guy changing his buddy’s oil in his garage (home grower) as competition.

Because at the end of the day, what keeps someone like my dad in business for 25 plus years is keeping his customers happy and his work is consistent. While an auto mechanic and a medical cannabis company are obviously very different, the fundamental core is the same.

Anyways, 19 Union St was jam packed! The atmosphere in the overflow rooms were similar to a bar during a sports game. You could hear grunts, sighs, and “he said WHAT?” Hell even at some point people would boo the screen. While in the main room, it was a more professional setting like that of a TV game show.

One thing that EVERYONE kept bringing up is the issue with the fence wording going from a privacy fence to a commercial security fence and locks for ALL cultivation including medical cannabis patients. This was an obvious huge violation of our patients’ rights and was designed to affect home growers. After talking to some friends and being a Zoning Board Member in my town, a commercialized security was defined as over 8 feet tall, and in a solid chunk of towns you aren’t allowed fences higher than 6 feet.

So, they could be telling medical cannabis patients to do something that was actually not in line with their town ordinance. After probably twenty or more people complained about this particular issue for an hour or more, even times OCP defending the fence.

Vern Malloch, Director of Operations spoke up between public speakers and said, “The fencing change concerning patients was a clerical error”. The room fell a silent as about 40 different faces start whispering, mummering, and shooting darting looks all around.

Of course, my smart ass says out loud for everyone to hear “This is exactly why we think you guys are idiots.”

I stormed out because I was PISSED! They literally heard so many medical cannabis patients come up and call this fence bullshit out, for it to be deemed a “clerical error” is just fucking comical. Out of 50-60 people that showed up almost half of them chose to speak, which is AWESOME!

Sometimes the most important thing is to just SHOW UP and take up space in those halls, you don’t even have to speak! Being present and accounted for is 60-70 percent of the battle to preserve medical cannabis. Make sure YOU show up next time you are called to stand up for your rights!


About The Author

Derek Shirley was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At the age of 19, he received a felony for 4 ounces of cannabis. After, he became a “cannabis nomad”  living in Ohio, Arizona, and Maine, which he now calls home, and lives with his wife Sequoia and son Haze.

Being a cannabis nomad had its advantages, like relying on all markets for his medical cannabis needs which gives him a unique perspective of the cannabis markets. Currently, Derek operates People Not Parties Consulting, which helps local people and small businesses navigate their local and state governments without picking a political party specializing in protecting and preserving the small medical cannabis farmers of Maine. For fun, Derek enjoys screen printing and making cannabis memes under the pseudonym @gettinghighwithcats on IG. 


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