I’m Jon Liebling and I’m a medical cannabis patient! What a fantastic month of campaigning for Legal Access to Cannabis Therapeutics we had in January. 

Special thanks for Dale Beaumont-Smith, independent film maker for following us all over England filming for the upcoming Grassroots Documentary: 

Saturday 17th Jan 2015 19:30 Portsmouth The Lodge Arts Centre

We ran our very first Cannabis College where we aim to teach and discuss the latest science on medical cannabis and cascade some tips for effective activism. The venue was a fabulous little Arty place in Portsmouth  free flowing tea, very welcoming hosts who support our cause and a lovely little bar/garden out the back.

For the first hour Faye Elk, Alex Fraser and myself gave talks and presentations starting withCannabis and Cancer then covering some of the top arguments used by supporters of prohibition and the status quo, Cannabis makes you Stupid and lazy, Cannabis and Mental health, Cannabis the "Gateway" drug then Clark French ran a session on Speaking their language: Discussing the best way to speak to the media, MPs and other ‘influential and important‘ people.

This first half was received very well by the 30 strong audience, but it really was time for a medication break in the garden! Ah, that’s better! Discussing prohibitionist arguments does get me all rather angry and anxious – in fact bloody furious is closer to the mark, but of course it is rarely a productive thing to vent your spleen though it does make one feel a little better sometimes.

During the second half, I gave a brief summary of the major differences in look/feel and actions of the Cannabis Types mainly Indica and Sativa though having just done that, it would appear that we may just have to change all of this according to a recent article in Leaf magazine so according to some senior biologists they should be: Indica (formerly Sativa), Afghanica (formerly Indica )and Sativa (formerly Ruderalis) <- Only time will tell if this new nomenclature takes with the cannabis culture and community as a whole.

To finish off, Faye and Alex organised an effective fun debating game to help get everyone more comfortable with all the things discuss throughout the event. Then of course it was back to the bar and garden for a little more socialising. Met some lovely new friends, got great feedback so that we can make this even better next time. Success!

Ok so then this month really got moving as we entered the United Patients Alliance January UK tour taking us to 4 locations in 4 days; Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Cambridge. Four of us, Clark French, Faye Elk, Alex Vitagliano and myself together with all our kit stuffed into a Vauxhall Meriva.

Thursday 22nd Jan 19:30 BirminghamThe Eden Bar

Faye and I were picked up in Reading by Clark and Alex travelling from Brighton and but for a few wrong turns we would have been there really early, but as it happened we arrived just in time to get set up.

This time a Marquee attached to a Gay bar in the centre of Birmingham and perhaps it should not have been a surprise that the events room was simply fabulous – Big thanks to our hosts who did a great job and bigger thanks to Bee Troot for sorting out such a great venue for FREE!! Wow!

I’d managed to get a brief slot on FreeRadio and Clark was interviewed on BBC Radio WM too. Local printed press coverage was good and so another room packed full. There were a few bonuses with this event in that there seemed to be a high number of Media and PR students covering the event and offering their assistance in furthering our cause. We want their support, they want to run projects on us – Win (for them) Win (for us)Win (for you)!!

A couple of reporters from Birmigham Eastside News Site covered our event live on Twitter, interviewed Clark and myself and published this great report (with a little questionable English):

We heard patient perspectives from Clark, Faye, Myself and Bee who defeated her nervousness to tell her story – very well done! Biologist Sarah Davis gave her presentation on “Is Cannabis Safe?” and then we heard from Green Party candidate for Birmingham, Margaret Okole, who expressed her support for Drug Policy Review and confirming her parties’ position. 

“This law needs to be reviewed. Remember that homosexuality was also criminalised in the past so we know we can win. We just have to have the courage to stand up”

 – That’s what we are doing Margaret and thanks for coming along. I hope we can get many more MPs to “Stand Up” too!

Back to Bee’s for a little getting to know you and social session before collapsing on an available couch. I can’t thank Bee enough for organising the venue, putting us all up in her house, overcoming her public speaking fears and making the event a huge success – Love you Bee!

Friday 23rd Jan 19:30 Liverpool: Neurosupport Centre

Guest Speaker: Jeff Ditchfield from Bud Buddies and  Project Storm

Friday morning…..well Friday afternoon in all honesty, time to get all packed up again and off we went to Liverpool. On this occasion we had my house, you know, the one that I got my grow busted in! Certainly not luxury with no carpets or furniture, but it has a roof, is warm has a shower and facilities and a decent internet connection – all good for preparing for tonight.

What a great venue, again getting so much support for our cause from our hosts. 

“This is the most exciting event we have ever had here”

 said the Carolyn, the administrator.

 “We have a great deal in common as we are both interested in the Neuro protective and reparative qualities of cannabis”

Bursting at the seams this time with over 100 in attendance. The Liverpool Cannabis Club had definitely done their bit promoting the event here. We had people literally crowding around the doors outside to get a looksee.

Jeff Ditchfield, who has done so much both for the cause and for many long suffering patients by repeatedly risking his own freedom to help those in need, gave a brief talk and opened the floor to questions which were asked, answered and received very well.

After the event we were privileged to be invited to meet more new found friends in a relaxed atmosphere. Live music too! Great night. Liverpool you were and are amazing. Thanks for all the support and I am sure we will be back very shortly for more.

Saturday 24th Jan 14:30 Manchester

: Friends Meeting House

Guest speakers: Neil Woods (Former Undercover Drugs Officer and 

LEAP

 Member) and Kieron Turner-Dave – Green Party Candidate

This would be our first “afternoon” delight! Yet another great venue though in all fairness it would have been better if we could have used the projector, but that would have DOUBLED the price of the hall for hire so we just had to trust our words and impact without powerpoint!

Here we heard from many new supporters and patients including Green Party candidate Kieron Turner-Dave and most excitingly and movingly from David Hibbitt, who told his Medical Cannabis and Cancer story.  

"Months after being given a diagnosis of inoperable, terminal cancer and deciding to use cannabis oil, my tumours had shrunk so I could have the operation to remove whats left, I then refused more chemo and stuck to the oil. I was given the all clear recently". 

He is screaming it (and all the evidence) from the rooftops – Follow David 

here

: We are REALLY proud to have you on board.

We also heard from Neil Woods from 

LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition)

 who gave a brave and emotional talk from his perspective credibly regretting and apologising for his part in the unjust Drugs War highlighting some of the lives that have been ruined and granting his support to our cause. Thanks Neil. Great to meet you. Laura Crossley courageously gave her perspective on how cannabis has helped her with Depression and Anxiety, just like it helps me too and there were a plethora of others too - Sorry if I have missed you out, but I have to be a little careful about publishing names without given permission. 

Sunday 25th Jan 19:30 Cambridge

, Gonville and Caius College

Guest Speakers: Tom Lloyd and Julian Huppert

Finally to Cambridge where we were speaking in a lecture theatre at the same college that Dr Stephen Hawking attended. Wow we had such a diverse range of venues eh?

On a personal note, I was so happy to have members of my own family attending – now, obviously converts, and I think they now realise that the need for access to Medical Cannabis is real and important.

Julian Huppert MP opened the show with an impassioned talk about his and the LibDem view on cannabis and overall Drugs Policy. We then had our Patient Perspectives, thank you all, followed by former Chief Constable of Cambridgshire Tom Lloyd who continues to support us and the need for an evidence based and sensible Drug Policy.

Another highly successful event where we made yet more friends and supporters. Thank you Cambridge.

Thank you to all who attended, supported, shared, spoke and helped, it feels like we have some real inertia now which we will be exploiting over the coming months in the lead up to the General Election. The change necessary to free up more research and allow doctors to prescribe this effective medicine to patients that need it can be made right NOW with no changes to the law. It is currently in Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 which defines it as having “No Theraputic Value” – Lobby your MP to get this change made today. Reduce suffering NOW!

Jon Liebling – Political Director of United Patients Alliance

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