Marijuana Supporters Celebrate Victory at Arizona Capitol

Amy Donohue holds a homemade sign at a pro-marijuana demonstration at the State Capitol.EXPAND
Amy Donohue holds a homemade sign at a pro-marijuana demonstration at the State Capitol.
Nate Nichols

Cannabis supporters were out in force at the state capitol today to celebrate a victory for Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Program.

Supporters of medical pot were jubilant because state legislation, HCR 2019, sponsored by Arizona Representative Jay Lawrence (R-Fountain Hills), would have prohibited naturopaths and homeopaths from writing medical-marijuana prescriptions.

J.P. Holyoak, director of the Arizona Dispensary Association and chairman of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, addressed the crowd, thanking Lawrence for withdrawing his “misguided and uniformed bill.”

J.P. Holyoak holds a press conference to celebrate the withdrawal of a bill that threatened the medical-marijuana program.EXPAND
J.P. Holyoak holds a press conference to celebrate the withdrawal of a bill that threatened the medical-marijuana program.
Nate Nichols

Holyoak also thanked the medical marijuana community for “reaching out to Mr. Lawrence’s office and educating him on what cannabis does, who it impacts, and how the program actually works,” and called Lawrence “responsible and responsive to his constituents.”

Holyoak brought along his young daughter, Reese, a medical marijuana patient, to illustrate his personal connection to the cause, as well as the importance of the medical program for patients.

Protesters hold signs at the capitol.EXPAND
Protesters hold signs at the capitol.
Nate Nichols

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“The difference between her being able to stand here with us versus being in a wheelchair and unable to walk is cannabis,” Holyoak said.

Holyoak believes that continued attacks from legislators against the medical-marijuana program stem from a lack of understanding. He encouraged all patients to contact their representatives to make them aware of how cannabis has positively affected their lives.

“Tell them to keep their hands off the medical-marijuana program, to support it, and to not try to tear it down, and to support patients” Holyoak said.

Kathy Inman, director of MomForceAZ, holds a sign targeted at Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.EXPAND
Kathy Inman, director of MomForceAZ, holds a sign targeted at Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.
Nate Nichols

Arizona Representative Mark Cardenas (D-Phoenix), also addressed the crowd about his continuing efforts to support adult-use legalization and medical patients’ rights.

Cardenas commended Lawrence for “seeing the light, realizing that his vision of... the medical-marijuana program was actually incorrect and being the bigger man and withdrawing his bill. 

“For the second year in a row I’ve introduced a bill that would create a regulated system to dispense marijuana,” Cardenas told the crowd. “For the first year, it’s actually been assigned to committee.”

Representative Mark Cardenas tells the crowds about his efforts to advocate for marijuana users.EXPAND
Representative Mark Cardenas tells the crowds about his efforts to advocate for marijuana users.
Nate Nichols

Cardenas said that he is not a marijuana user but wants to advance the will of his constituents, a majority of whom, he believes, support marijuana.

“We see that a majority of Arizonans support it and that a majority of lawmakers in that building behind you don’t support it,” Cardenas said. “There is a disconnect between what the people want and what your elected lawmakers want.”

Protesters stand in front of the State House of Representatives building.EXPAND
Protesters stand in front of the State House of Representatives building.
Nate Nichols

Cardenas said the Legislature often is slow to act on issues that are important to Arizonans.

“When it comes to marijuana, it had to be taken out of their hands when we passed the medical-marijuana law,” Cardenas said.  

NORML in Arizona Director Mikel Weisser rallies protesters.EXPAND
NORML in Arizona Director Mikel Weisser rallies protesters.
Nate Nichols

In his first year in the Legislature there was a concerted effort to harm or dismantle the medical marijuana program, Cardenas said,  something he  was able to prevent.

“Now, they realize that if they try to kill the program, I’m here to stop that,” Cardenas said. “A lot of the prosecuting attorneys and lobbyists have backed off now, but it’s still something that happens every year.

“These victories that we have in Arizona are fragile. We have to be aware and vigilant and fight every year.”  


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