By Christy Billett, October 28th, 2015
It was certainly not a long process to get the Altoona Rally PA SAFE ACCESS organized, but it was very labor intensive. Ryan Hollingsworth and myself worked tirelessly for 12 days straight, setting every detail for the rally from who would speak, what band would we have, what hoops the city going to make us jump through, up until the day of the event when we were still wondering if we had the bathrooms to use.
But we did it, and WON!
From the Altoona Mirror, and WTAJ-TV 10 doing lead in stories the day before, the patients that came out to support us, to the great press we got the day of the rally, I definitely consider Altoona a success.
In 12 days, we set everything up using facebook to pretty much promote the event.
Now that its over, for months to come, they will continue to talk about it.
WE opened minds, WE educated people. Some of these people never heard of the endocannabinoid system, didn’t know that THC killed cancer, or that CBD kept cancer from metastasizing. They got to hear from M.S. patients, Cancer Patients, a Veteran, and several parents with epileptic kids. We had patients with canes, walkers, and wheelchairs lining Heritage Plaza to hear what we had to say. It was amazing. The cannafamily, that welcomed us into Altoona, was one of the greatest crowds we have ever experienced. There were only a handful of familiar faces, but a trove of faces affected by not having safe access to safe medicine. We united patients, and advocates for the common goal. We broke down the stigma associated with this plant.
During my speech for the press conference I called out WTAJ for their lead in story for the rally. “WTAJ did a great job at leading into this rally today, but they lead their story with videos of people doing bong hits, and smoking, like cheech and chong. DOES IT LOOK LIKE WE ARE DOING BONG HITS OR SMOKING? I asked the crowd. When they did the lead in to the story about the rally at 11, they used plants growing, instead of the bong hits. I guess they must of heard me call them out.
This rally was about patients, it was about families, and the quality of life that this medicine can help families encounter. When we first started this path two years ago, I never imagined I would be where I am today. I must credit my friend Ron Enyeart. He said something to me one day that really resonated. “You can change the world, but you have to start in your own back yard.” Its time bring these rallies back to our hometowns.
PA Safe Access is in the process of working on a Town-hall style Information Session/ Q & A in Huntingdon, Lewistown, and State College. Dates and times to be announced.