Alva Review-Courier -

Protesters take up signs against Alva's medical cannabis regulations as being too restrictive


September 6, 2019

On Wednesday, Sept. 4, perhaps as many as 50 people gathered on the Woods County courthouse lawn in Alva's Downtown Square. The group was protesting the City of Alva's ordinance regulating the budding medical marijuana industry here, claiming the ordinance’s restrictions go beyond what is allowable under state law.

As protesters began to gather mid-morning in the unusually lush courthouse lawn, some rested brightly painted signs against tree trunks or benches, while others unfolded lawn chairs placing them in choice shady spots. They milled around, chatting with each new arrival. Later in the day speakers were planned. But for now, reconnecting with friends and calmly chatting about the issue of the day was top of the agenda. They planned to be there until 2 p.m.

Twice during the day, the protesters gathered up their signs and sunglasses and headed out to the sidewalk, where they walked in a long loose column of people – perhaps 25 on one trip, perhaps 50 on the other – around the downtown square, both the inside and outside tracks, holding or waving those colorful signs with slogans like “We Voted. It's Legal. Get Over It.” and, on a sign held by a young girl, “MMJ Saves People’s Lives … Including My Nana's!”

Alva's ordinance governing medical marijuana dispensaries and related businesses prohibits them from being within 1,000 feet of a residence – possibly the biggest sticking point that's not in either state law or in the municipal ordinances of other towns in northwest Oklahoma. The businesses must also be 1,000 feet from parks, playgrounds, schools, libraries, museums, churches, and day care centers.

Meanwhile, as the protesters grouped and regrouped in the courthouse lawn between marches, stories about the apparently near-miraculous health improvements cannabis has achieved make the rounds.

A sort of freelance medical cannabis lobbyist from Oklahoma City, Chris Moe, attended the protest, and talked about how his degenerative disk disease and other spine problems mean he was taking a lot of pills – in fact, he figured out exactly how many: 9,855 pills in a single year. After seven surgeries, he decided to try to replace the opioids he was on with cannabis and said that while he still needs a pain pill from time to time, the number of pills per year has dropped to about 1,800. Others murmured their own “amazing” stories.

Moe's goal right now is to find ways to let the public see that medical marijuana users – or marijuana users in general – are still productive, valuable members of society. He's working on an effort involving blood drives.

His enthusiasm for his subject and enjoyment of how he's using his life were evident on Moe's face as he talked. He knows he's found the right path for himself and added that if a marijuana lobbyist becomes an obsolete position one day, he would likely launch himself into another cause.

It may be that having a purpose in life is as beneficial to our health as even marijuana.


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