Cannabis activism is alive and well on the east coast of Canada. MUMM (Maritimers Unite for Medical Marijuana) has once again organized the local celebrations for Cannabis Day.
The annual event coincides with Canada Day, and while it seems like this event could potentially detract from our national holiday, it is clearly held to celebrate Canada and to push for more progressive cannabis legislation. Indeed, July 1st couldn’t be a more appropriate day. Plus the weather is beyond beautiful in Halifax at that time of year.
So if you have never heard of it, you’re not alone. The day of awareness is really only celebrated in Vancouver and Halifax.
We spoke with Debbie Stultz-Giffin, the 2014 Chair of MUMM. She has been involved since 2002 when she started speaking on behalf of the patients (being a survivor herself).
The main message of 2015 from MUMM during Cannabis Day is to emphasize that we need to: "Stop arresting patients."
Ms. Stultz-Giffin had a personal connection to this year’s message. She wants people to understand that "families are being ripped apart by prohibition." This is no exaggeration, her own husband was convicted of growing cannabis — the medicine she requires — and yet the current laws treat loving partners as partners in crime.
Ms. Stultz-Giffin suffers from M.S. It is not uncommon for the spouse of a MMJ patient to be relied upon to grow the required herbal medication. This is a serious problem for many patients with severe medical conditions who rely on growing their own cannabis as source of affordable medication. Without a willing partner, spouse, or sponsored grower, many patients are left only with the costly Health Canada options.
Ms. Stultz-Giffin said the current laws, "disallowed my husband to be my personal grower because he had been convicted. His conviction was growing my medicine."
As added by Ms. Stultz-Giffin regarding the Cannabis Day event: "We've never had a single arrest. We had one year where police strolled through the commons wondering what was going on, but showed no concern with people sitting on the grass consuming cannabis and having a peaceful and pleasant afternoon."
Due to the natural lifecycle of volunteers, the early pioneers of the event moved on with their other life priorities and obligations. By 2006 MUMM was the sole organizing body of the Halifax Cannabis Day celebration. The progression of MUMM’s involvement with the Cannabis Day celebration meshes well with their mandate.
The mission of MUMM is to:
As the Chair of MUMM phrased it, "we wanted to be educating and engaging people in the cannabis conversation." Ms. Stultz-Giffin noted that it was common for MUMM to be contacted by moms with epileptic children. There are a number of parents desperate to know where to go and how to navigate the health care system.
In 2015 the event was moved back to its former location after hosting the event at Victoria Park the previous year. The group respectfully relocated because the Victoria Park space was booked for another public event. If we can glean anything from this, it’s that cannabis consumers are pretty great citizens and respectful of the rights of others to enjoy public spaces equally.
If you live in the Maritimes and would like to help with the excellent work that this organization does, then please consider volunteering with the organization.
As drawn from their website (www.mumm.ca): "The work of the Board requires a balance of asking big questions, exploring possibilities, engaging in real dialogue, solving problems and offering direction."
Although even just starting the cannabis conversation in your neighbourhood would help. Our laws need to change. We need to stop the unjust victimization and criminalization of our medical marijuana patients.
This is why Cannabis Day really is a celebration on behalf of Canadians.