ACT UP! - Washington, D.C.
Sponsors of Initiative 57 - Medical Marijuana Initiative
Deadline for Signatures: December 8, 1997

For immediate release: November 11, 1997

Contact:  Wayne Turner
Phone: 202-547-9404

"Over my dead body" states 1-57 Sponsor Steve Michael
California firm admits plans to run own Initiative in DC

"I am angered that the California-based Americans for Medical Rights would actively  undermine the efforts of DC AIDS activists working to qualify a medical marijuana initiative in our community," states Initiative 57 sponsor Steve Michael.

In an article in today's Washington Post (November 11,1997), Fratello admits they intend to draft their own initiative next year, "We have people working on this right now."

Initiative 57 activists have learned that the AMR crowd has hired a "K" Street PR firm and is currently calling on community groups throughout the District of Columbia to convince people to support their effort.

"If AMR had any integrity they would be working with the AIDS, cancer and glaucoma activists campaigning for Initiative 57.  Instead they are spending thousands of dollars to destroy our efforts, and pick off the what they hope will be the dead carcass of Initiative 57, states Wayne Turner the head of the signature gathering effort.

"The only way AMR can come into our community and succeed in their efforts to undermine us is over my dead body," states Michael, who is HIV positive.

He continues, "We have managed to publish op-ed pieces in both daily newspapers, receive positive coverage from local and national media, obtain the signatures of six council members, the current mayor and his predecessor, fight General McCaffrey, Steve Forbes and still gather about 12,000 signatures for initiative 57.  Imagine how many signatures we could have gathered if the AMR people were supporting us, not opposing us."

"Why are they not supporting the current, patient-driven effort?  An infusion of cash now would be enough to guarantee that Initiative 57 gets placed on the ballot.  Instead, AMR is undermining local efforts.  They should be ashamed." States Archbishopp George Augustus Stallings Jr. of the African Amercian Catholic Congregation.

States Allen Ritter, a Washington native and organizer with Initiative 57, "I have seen this sort of thing before.  Outsiders with big money think they can come in and buy the votes of Washingtonians.  Well, they can't.  We will qualify Initiative 57.  AMR represents the worst kind of AIDS profiteers.  They can stay in California.  I say they are not welcome in DC."

Adds Lin Hagood, "It's like the AMR crowd is afraid that if we prevail they won't be able to cash in on our effort.  We are going public in the hope that those who funded the California Initiative drive like Mr. George Soros learn of our poverty status and will bypass the fat cats AMR gatekeepers and help the DC community activist based effort to secure legal and safe access for medical marijuana to serious ill Washingtonians.  I can't believe Soros has anything to do with the secret campaign by AMR to crush Initiative 57.

Concludes Michael, "This has been a long and draining campaign.  I have been frustrated by the leadership of the drug policy movement time and time again.  With a few exceptions they've ignored our requests for help, even the simple things, like postage, printing, signs, volunteers.  We've been left twisting in the wind"

To join the community-based activist campaign for medical marijuana contact Wayne Turner at the Initiative Workspace at 202-547-9404.

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