OTTAWA: American medical marijuana advocacy groups were quick to
seize the spotlight and capitalize on the revolutionary Canadian law, in
effect since July 30, that makes it legal for people suffering from
terminal or debilitating diseases to grow and smoke marijuana.
Washington-based Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) gained exposure with the
AP, on CNN, and on public radio stations throughout Wisconsin and
Michigan. The MPP's strategy for drawing attention to the issue was to
release a reminder to the press two days before the law was changed.
Another organization, Drug Sense - whose mission is to provide accurate
information on drug policy - targeted reporters who had previously used
the group's Web site for research. Members of the group were interviewed
on radio talk shows, and encouraged members to write letters to
newspapers around the country.
NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) contacted
a list of reporters who had written about the group before, and also
targeted healthcare reporters. The group appeared in the AP, on NPR's
Market Watch, a Seattle radio station, and in National Review magazine.
NORML will hold a rally in Seattle on August 18, where the Canadian law
will be addressed.
Other groups, such as Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the
Lindesmith Center - Drug Policy Foundation offered editorials to local
papers or encouraged emails to Congress.
"The PR machine on the opposite side of the issue has tried to demonize
medical marijuana as much as possible," said Thomas. "But even the
opponents of medical marijuana find it hard to say that patients should
be arrested for breaking the law."