Lanny Swerdlow, a registered nurse from Riverside County, California, has long been on the frontline against the prohibition of medical marijuana. Swerdlow spoke before an ASA (Americans for Safe Access) meeting in San Diego on Tuesday and argued that the problems marijuana patients have obtaining safe and legal access is purely political.
Swerdlow believes local politicians are being pressured from the more organized campaigns of law enforcement and other pro-prohibition groups.
"The recent refusal of the local governments in California to implement Prop. 215 and allow safe, reliable, local, and affordable distribution of marijuana is a political problem and it’s time for the cannabis community to get involved in politics,” Swerdlow said.
Taking a cue from the LGBT community, Swerdlow founded the Brownie Mary Democratic Club. Stating the importance of showing the critical role of women in the marijuana movement, Swerdlow named the group after Mary Jane Rathbun, who distributed medical marijuana brownies to AIDS patients in San Francisco hospitals even after a number of arrests.
Swerdlow hopes that the Brownie Mary Democratic Club can advance the cause for marijuana consumers like the Stonewall and Harvey Milk Democratic clubs did for the gay community.
“These days it’s hard to say who suffers a greater political stigma, two men that want to get married or patients who are trying to gain access to medical marijuana,” Swerdlow told the ASA audience.
Swerdlow believes that the LGBT Democratic club's success in transforming the Democratic Party from mere moral supporters to legislative political advocates can be attributed to their ability to organize as a political unit. By raising millions of dollars in campaign contributions and delivering countless volunteer man hours for democratic candidates, Swerdlow believes the LGBT Democratic clubs forced the Democratic Party to respond to the LGBT community’s needs.
As of now, the Brownie Mary Democratic Club of Riverside County is the only politically affiliated and chattered cannabis club in California, but Swerdlow hopes there will be many more to follow. She encourages people who want to start their own Brownie Mary Democratic Club to visit the club's website.
The founding of the Brownie Mary Democratic Club presents an interesting political dilemma for voters who identify as independents. Many who see themselves as independents chose so because of their disillusionment with the current two party system.
However, the reluctance of city council municipalities and state legislators to back the will of the California voters who poll in favor of ending marijuana prohibition lends to Swerdlow’s argument that passive support for marijuana legalization is not getting the job done.
Swerdlow believes the quickest way for marijuana legalization to happen is through the political party system and she thinks the Democratic Party offers the best chance of advancing the issue. Do you agree?