Graduates get high honors

The smell of marijuana simmering in butter sweetened the air at the Northern California Center for the Arts.

Two women adorned with plastic cannabis lays welcomed attendees at the door, while handing out informational flyers and booklets. Interested people clustered around the marijuana gardens. People of all ages and kinds—many clad in cannabis paraphernalia—mingled, sharing a common passion.

Welcome to Medical Marijuana School.

One of California’s most high-profile marijuana patients’ rights group, the American Medical Marijuana Association (AMMA), held an all-day educational event in Grass Valley on Saturday, April 21.

The focus of the day was to educate interested participants in how to help treat their condition, how to get a physician’s endorsement and how to grow, prepare and ingest marijuana as a medicine.

“Students” of the Medical Marijuana School were encouraged to “graduate” and earn their “Proposition 215 Diploma” by taking part in the day’s activities and by completing an elementary exam.

Informative exhibits cluttered the main room. Classes and seminars focusing on rights, responsibilities and risks of marijuana patients were held throughout the day in the auditorium, featuring panelists of doctors, lawyers, experts and patients.

Sacramento resident Elvy Musikka, one of just eight people in the country receiving medical cannabis from the federal government, shared her testimony about why a court in 1988 ruled that the government must allow her to have pot.

Musikka said “marijuana miraculously works wonders” on her glaucoma, alleviating the pain and pressure in her eyes: “No other medicine can work this way without very bad side effects.”

Musikka is an activist for making marijuana accessible to those who need it for medical reasons and believes that it is within constitutional rights to permit its usage: “The preamble of the Constitution promises the pursuit of happiness. It’s hard to do when I can’t see where I’m going.”

The majority of speakers at the Medical Marijuana School believe there are flaws in the implementation of Prop. 215, the 1996 California measure that sought to legalize the medical use of marijuana.

While under state law, medicinal marijuana use is legal, federal law still holds that it is an illegal substance, thereby creating a host of potential problems among doctors, law enforcement officers and patients, due to uncertainty of the law and potential of being arrested.

Attendees were urged by the panelists to get informed, get involved and let elected officials know of personal opinions and concerns.

It was announced at the meeting that on Saturday, May 5, there will be an all-day protest of the marijuana prohibition held at the Capitol. Panelists, including Musikka, urged the crowd to attend.

“Get informed and stay informed,” said Kerry Arnett, the mayor of Nevada City, “and let your elected officials know how you feel!”