Last Saturday, a group of Mass citizens concerned about cannabis occupied Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office in protest of her recent comments showing some reservations regarding this November’s vote to legalize medicinal marijuana. We spoke with one of the rally’s organizers, Mike Cann (pictured on the right below), about what’s at stake for prescription smoke.
What are your thoughts on Martha Coakley’s comment that legalizing medical marijuana would causing a “huge headache”?
I think she’s against the initiative, that 65 percent decriminalization support in 2008 and a 30 percent margin of victory would be a landslide in any election, any race, any state.
The fact is that there is over 70 percent support for medical legalization and 62 percent voter support in the state of Mass. She shouldn’t be speaking out against something that is so popular with her constituents.
Do you feel that she hasn’t done her research?
Yup, absolutely. A lot of us think that Martha is great in a lot of respects, but we think she needs more education on really what’s going on. I feel like she is getting close—she made some statements right after decriminalization that were compassionate toward patients.
What is the most important thing she needs to know?
She needs to know that this plant is not harmful: it’s nontoxic, it doesn’t kill anyone.
For someone like myself who is a medical patient, it’s the first line of defense and one that’s the least harmful—
compare it to over-the-counter Tylenol, which I take a lot because of the pain in my back. If that doesn’t work I move to the stronger Tylenol, if that doesn’t work I move to the even stronger Oxycodone. Really, medical cannabis is a much safer alternative.
Is the concern strictly medical?
There are elements in this protest, especially the occupy theme, that go beyond medical. But we know that we’re going to win this on medical. This is the start toward legalization.
The big thing about legalization is that it’s not about getting high;
it’s about our jobs.
For so long, people have talked about CORI-reform and all these other issues around jobs and these nonviolent drug offenders. Marijuana is the one that ends up with the most arrests. And theses arrests follow you for the rest of your life. I got arrested for a joint 13 years ago. That arrest will never be erased in my CORI report, it’s there forever. And they can do all the CORI reforms they want, but it will never get rid of that arrest. The only way to stop these things from happening to people, to patients and to working class kids, is to end the drug prohibition. Especially marijuana, that’s the biggest one. It’s the least harmful.
Can we learn something from the 16 other states that have already approved medical marijuana?
It seems like the caregiver system does work. If you look at Maine and Rhode Island, they really haven’t had many issues.
There’s also a dispensary part in this initiative that we’re voting on—I think that’s what people need to know is that nowhere else is going to be like California in terms of cannabis.
This is New England, things are much more regulated here than in California and that’s always the way it’s going to be
How have some of the other candidates responded?
I staged one against Scott Brown a few years back. He may never support our cause, but he will never speak out against medical marijuana again. And eventually we’ll question Elizabeth Warren—when she was asked if she supports medical legalization, she said that she doesn’t support wholesale. So does she support medical marijuana? Does she support retail legalization? Does she support grow-your-own legalization? What kind of legalization does she support if she doesn’t support whole sale legalization?
We’re going to be out there. We talked to Barney Frank recently and he said this is what we need to do: go after the candidates, be public, and that is what we’re working on now.
Do you think Martha Coakley will have a similar response as Scott Brown’s?
She’s definitely going to listen to us. She will realize that we’re here. I don’t think that she is going to be campaigning for medical marijuana, nut hopefully we get her to not campaign against it.
What is your favorite euphemism for marijuana?
Ah. Hm … [laughs] The KOP. The king of pot.
If you have the KOP that means you got the best.