Starting and Running an AAMC group
I have been asked several times now, how to get an AAMC chapter started and keep it going. Starting one up is the Ďforumí with speakers from all over. Keeping one going is up to the folks themselves. Those are you two primary focuses, to start.
The Garden Valley chapter of El Dorado County AAMC (California), is a model. They have been holding regular meetings and helping patients network with Doctors and Attorneys for over four years now. They have elections and built a very functional board from the patient contact list that was created at their medical cannabis forum in 2001. AAMC organized and sat at many round table meetings working with local law enforcement to create new guidelines that are in effect in El Dorado County. AAMC also volunteers at all the local events for one task or another, just to be included in the neighborhood hoopyla. They have even put on a free blood pressure booth at our local 4th of July parade and celebration, as well as acted as security for a concert in the park and a rally at the state capitol.(Sept.2003)
You will need a few people that are willing to make phone calls, emails, hang flyers and basically spread the word. These will be mostly close friends that are like minded, at least at first. You are going to create a `medical cannabis educational forumí. There are very learned people regarding the history of cannabis and of its prohibition. Try to have someone speak on this subject in fact the more people that realize that cannabis was a medicine before the word medicine was a word, the better. Ask your medical cannabis friendly doctors to come speak. Get in touch with you local Norml representatives, and ASA representatives and of course any medical cannabis friendly attorneys. Visit our website www.ElDoradoCountyAAMC.com or www.letfreedomgrow.com and download information to pass out also. ASA www.safeaccessnow.org and Norml www.norml.org have great info at their sites.
The health dept. is sometimes a good group to work with (doesnít hurt to call) although they lean heavily on regulation and sometimes take a little convincing. Also invite local law enforcement and have them explain their policies regarding medical cannabis, and then you will be able to invite further dialog and perhaps start a round table with law enforcement, allowing you the ability to make a positive change or at least be a liaison between law enforcement and the patients.
You will of course need a place to meet. Practically every township has a grange hall or an elks lodge that isnít being used, also churches may be a good place to go depending on your neighborhood or denomination.
That is where it starts.. there is of course follow up phone calls to all the invitees, and of course you need a moderator to keep things going smoothly. Invite written questions to the panel.
Have a box, with cards, so people can write their contact information confidentially and start contacting people every month for your monthly meeting.
The people that dedicated themselves to start this project become leaders by default, and after the group has established to have regular meetings, they can then elect board members.
The real trick is to keep contact with those that have shown an interest, even if they donít come to every meeting.
At these meetings, talk about the first amendment, about current laws in force, and what, if any, your current guidelines are. Keep people appraised of current legislative hoopla, and whom is working for us. Ask for donations, not a membership fee, as people will give more than they will pay. Ask for people to bring a gift to raffle, and thats how you pay for your hall rental.
The people of this movement are some of the most caring and compassionate on earth, and you will find yourself making many new friends and realizing so many talents...Those talents will be yours to borrow and use, because everyone wants to help, but not everyone knows where their nitch is.
Also always remember that we are all volunteers and just coming to the meeting and taking home a bit of information to pass on to your friends is something. Never criticize folks for not being totally ready to be arrested as the AAMC has spent a lot of time and effort to teach its friends, how Not to get arrested and still make a positive change. The El Dorado county AAMC has an excellent philosophy and approach.
We of the El Dorado County AAMC, believe that our strength as an organization lies in our diversity of education, of profession, of ability, belief, background and personality. Every one of us brings our own unique self and contributions to this assembly. It is up to each member to determine his or her own level and areas of participation and responsibility. Every one of us is valuable and valued.
So when you take this approach, you will find that people will not feel pressured, and are more likely to volunteer there personal talent, whatever that is (secretarial, computer, networking, even political)
So there it is... most everything you need to know to startup and keep going your own local support group.
Thank you all for all you do,
P.O. Box 834
Garden Valley, Ca. 95633