Why I Started the ASA Challenge: Bringing Funds and Awareness to the Urgent Need for Medical Cannabis Access

This post was originally published on SafeAccessNow.com

I became passionate about medical cannabis when I saw remarkable results using cannabis in treating my son Zach’s severe refractory epilepsy. He went from sleeping most of every day, barely speaking or comprehending being spoken to, having a life filled with seizures, to being alert, interactive, and seizure free for most of the year. My passion drove me to pursue a Master’s degree in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics and to pursue a career in advocacy helping other families like my own.

I started volunteering some time for Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country’s largest non-profit patient advocacy organization promoting safe and legal access to medical cannabis. Helping to secure funding for an organization that has done so much to help patients was an honor and an exciting opportunity I couldn’t wait to make the most of. However, I was surprised to find that an industry that was struggling because of constraints like 280e and lack of interstate commerce had a much more narrow focus which centers on marketing efforts to drive profits, rather than focusing on removing these barriers to profitability.

After weeks of being turned down again and again from major businesses, I felt alone and discouraged. I had heard a friend of mine remind folks that industry stands on the shoulders of advocates, but accepting that boards of directors of major cannabis and ancillary companies are perfectly willing to let struggling advocates bear the load alone was a hard pill to swallow.  What a shame to stand on the shoulders of adults and children that are challenged to stand at all!  Images of activists rolling up a hill in wheelchairs, and moms and dads carrying their children, sometimes stopping to deal with seizures or other disease related difficulties, with a select few from industry helping to push a heavy load up the hill replayed through my mind. All the while, boards of directors, armed with what they need, funding, cheering them on from the sidelines, seeing them weary from the fight, but not willing to pitch in, just waiting for the work to be done.  As a mom that is just doing whatever I can do to help her son, I decided I needed to bring back the focus to patients and create more awareness of this issue that was so near and dear to my heart.

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