From our Board Member Len Armstrong
My name is Len Armstrong, I am 56 years of age, and I am a father of four sons, and grandfather to 9. I reside in East Tennessee near Knoxville.
I am a retired iron worker with disabilities resulting from injuries to my lumbar and cervical spine, and ulnar and radial nerve damage which are the result of two separate job accidents spanning a 30 year career. I am also dealing with skin cancer and prostate issues.
Despite these physical issues, and the pain and discomfort associated with them, I have not allowed it to slow me down too much in my efforts to work with others for a collective well-structured effort for legislative change that would legally permit the use of medical cannabis in the state of Tennessee.
I have been an activist for medical cannabis reform since 2002. My activism began as simply as a letter writing campaign to my federal representatives, and my state legislators.
On May 3, 2013 I had an appointment with my U.S. representative, Rep. John Duncan Jr. The nature of this meeting was to request and push for his support for a house resolution (HR 689) that would remove cannabis from Schedule I of the Federal Control Substance Act. The meeting went very well. This congressman had lost his own father to cancer, and holds some knowledge of the medicinal aspects of cannabis use as a medicine, and has an understanding of the compassion aspect of the changes requested.
I am currently an active member of NORML Tennessee, and also work with other cannabis advocacy groups, to make a united effort for positive change mostly on both state and federal levels.
I recently contacted all 33 state senators, and contacted all 99 state representatives on the issue of medical cannabis and industrial hemp. The responses were quite astounding, as some responses demonstrated how far Tennessee has advanced, while some responses demonstrated clearly that the evidence and information about the medicinal properties of cannabis had not reached them. This is why education on the issue of medical cannabis is so important.
This month alone I have made three trips to Nashville in regards to business related to changing Tennessee law concerning medical cannabis. These trips are financed by me, a volunteer.
In addition to these meetings I attend, I also assist in monitoring, and posting educational information, current events, and news stories on the East Tennessee NORML page. I also help draft and collaborate on educational materials created and prepared for our legislators. I am also active with contacting state legislators with the NORML Legislative Committee for a medical cannabis agenda.
One of these recent meetings was held by NORML Tennessee Legislative Committee on October 8, 2013. This meeting was held in the office of Rep. Sherry Jones in regards to the Tennessee Compassionate Care Act (medical cannabis bill). This meeting has provided NORML TN with great insights on how best to focus our energy and where to direct it.
On October 25th, I attended a meeting with the NORML TN board of directors. During this meeting, the board interviewed a prospective lobbyist with extensive experience in lobbying Tennessee legislature. Upon completion of this interview a vote was taken and a unanimous decision was made to employ this lobbyist to represent the Tennessee Compassionate Care Act for 2014. A bill that all Tennesseans should be supporting and rallying behind.
There are many Tennesseans who want to see a medical cannabis law passed in Tennessee, yet they are either afraid to get personally involved, and would rather attack and criticize those of us who are spending our own money in travel expenses to participate in a real effort for change.
Changing current state laws requires personal involvement, and it requires contacting representatives and senators who have a responsibility to their district constituents. It requires voting and participation in our civic process. It requires educating others to the medical science and research documentation that supports our agenda.
NORML Tennessee is an all volunteer organization. We have no paid positions in this organization, in fact, it is our active members that are the benefactors that pay for the promotions, ad campaigns, and events, and we incur the personal expensive of our travel, lodging, food, and are also the ones paying for the lobbyist who is pushing the issue in legislature on behalf of all Tennesseans. This is volunteer work at it’s finest.
Despite the self-sacrifice of active members in NORML TN and other state advocacy groups, and the personal contributions that they make, now comes the “un-involved malcontents” that seem to enjoy bashing and ridiculing the work done by volunteer organizations like NORML and others…yet these malcontents never seem to be doing anything positive…only bitching and whining about what we aren’t doing, while they continue to do nothing constructive at all. If they were doing anything positive, why wouldn’t they share their efforts in a post, instead of bashing the time and efforts of others?
I am not going to be able to continue on with this struggle forever, as my physical disability issues remind me that soon I will have to reduce my trips and personal involvement. My hope is that intelligent, compassionate, and dedicated people will step up, and step forward, with these concerted legislative efforts.
My days of involvement in working for change as an active advocate are getting shorter. I wish to see less negative comments from malcontents, and more pro-active involvement from people who can and will make the difference that will bring the change Tennesseans seek in order to obtain the medicine that bests works for them.
There are many ways you can support the effort for change…being a malcontent posting negative diatribes and rhetoric to advocacy pages is not one of them. Be a part of the solution, not a contributor to the problem.
We invite positive participation from others for changing the laws in Tennessee, but the participation sought is from those who can bridle their own negative thoughts, who have their own demons in check.
Reactive and negative behavior never brings a positive results, in fact, it is counter-productive to our goal.
Medical Cannabis is a compassion issue, it’s about legalizing a plant that can be used to relieve seizures, reduce pains and inflammation, and can even inhibit cancer and tumor growth…let’s focus on that!
It’s Time To Change The Laws!
Len Armstrong NORML Tennessee firstname.lastname@example.org