Americans for Safe Access
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Americans for Safe Access Director begins petition drive in Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Eau Claire Leader-Telegram 11/16/2014, Page F03

VOICE OF THE PEOPLE

Relax pot laws

I am the Wisconsin Chapter chairperson of Americans for Safe Access, a disabled nurse practitioner and an outspoken medical cannabis advocate.

This month we began a signature petition drive to support an advisory referendum that asks the Eau Claire City Council to essentially decriminalize the first conviction for personal amounts of marijuana. Instead of a first offense having a $300 forfeiture plus $215 in court costs, and the second offense a felony with imprisonment and a maximum $10,000 fine, the referendum asks if the first offense should be a simple $5 fine.

Think of how a criminal record affects someone. No student loans, trouble getting credit, a reduced pool of jobs, etc In short, the way the law is now written, someone convicted of drug possession has little, if any, real chance at success. Arrests for small-scale possession in Eau Claire have increased by almost 50 percent between 2011 and 2013; a time when almost half the states legalized medical cannabis use.

Please listen to your friends, children and grandchildren about the many proven benefits of cannabis consumption for chronic diseases, cancer, MS, epilepsy, unremitting pain, cerebral palsy, even chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. There are literally hundreds of rock-solid, peer-reviewed studies. Just do a Google search.

We need at least 5,000 valid signatures in November and December to get the referendum on the April ballot.

Many people have stepped up and asked for a petition to be emailed to them so they can enlist friends and family in the effort. Petitions are available for signing at local establishments too.

This is not so much about legalization as it is about compassion. Please consider signing even if you would never use marijuana.

ELLIE STRAND

Eau Claire WisconsinASAinEC@gmail.com

Americans for Safe Access

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