The Joe Boots Interview
It’s been a banner year for pot, with two states allowing recreational marijuana sales, and a “Stoner Super Bowl” to celebrate. Currently 20 states allow legal medical marijuana, 16 states have decriminalized marijuana, and 13 states have pending legislation to legalize medical marijuana, including our very own Keystone State. That’s nothing to cough at! There’s no doubt we’ve come a long way since California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. In fact a recent survey found 58% of Americans believe marijuana should be completely legal.
While PA still has pretty weird alcohol laws, we are finally opening up the medical marijuana conversation, and by all accounts the hearing on January 28th to discuss the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, or SB 1182 went well. Attendees noted a large majority of the people present at the hearing were in support of the bill across both sides of the aisle. Especially because the bill is focused on the life changing benefits of medical marijuana, for patients like children suffering from severe epilepsy. Like Hannah, who has tried 18 different seizure medications, a special diet, and an implant, to no avail. She’s left living with up to 300 seizures a day, which has severely delayed her development. Apparently Governor Corbett has promised to veto any effort to legalize medical marijuana, despite the fact it will help suffering children. (Guess who we’re not voting for next election!) That’s not discouraging the widespread bipartisan support of the bill though. Hopefully democracy will win at the end of the day and the people’s voices will be heard.
We had a chance to chat with our friend, Joe Boots who attended and spoke at the hearing. Joe is the owner of Boots Printing Company and WRK’n Class Clothing, as well as a military veteran. He explains how he got involved with the hearing:
I have been smoking medical marijuana for a while, and Patrick K Nightingale, President of PGH NORML, had known about my Stress Disorder from the military and we had talked several times about the legalization for Medical Marijuana. When I got diagnosed with MS, I was watching a program on PCN with Senator Leach talking about the proposed medical marijuana bill in PA. I thought of this as a “meant to be” moment and contacted Patrick and let him know I would be willing and able to help the legalization movement. He said he would be in contact, and he wasn’t joking!!
He described the day of the hearing for us:
I woke up on the 28th not really sure what to expect. I showered, shaved, got ready and suited up. We went to the capital building and well, there was a feeling in the air that’s hard to describe. Being in the building where all of our states laws come to fruition. This was where things happen. But I still didn’t think it would have the impact that it did. I just had to let it be known how I felt about the situation and the medicine in question. As my turn drew nearer, I felt as if I was speaking for so many who don’t have that opportunity. So I had to deliver.
He also explained why he is so dedicated to the cause:
I am passionate about this issue because it affects my life directly, and so many good people in this state’s lives as well. Having been to war, I am not the same person I was before I left. Something that has always helped has been marijuana. This was something I was just a bystander in really though. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with MS that I felt so strongly about the legalization. After doing research on my disorder I have found there is a strong notion that certain compounds in marijuana can help with the relief and possibly cure MS. Now this is still in the research phase but if it was allowed to be researched more openly and deeply they might find out it can cure a million things (million might be a strong estimate, but who knows).
How does Joe react when someone does not support the bill?
Well, to be honest, since I have started trying to inform people about Medical Marijuana, I haven’t found 1 person opposed. No one that I know personally anyway. Even my family is supportive of this (my dad is a born again Christian so this is kind of huge). There has been 1 or 2 people on FB that are against it but I don’t know them. What I say is…Alcohol and Cigarettes are legal, regulated, and taxed. How is this any different? Alcohol is celebrated in this country, and yet kills people on a daily basis and ruins peoples lives all over. Alcohol has ZERO medical benefits.
Marijuana on the other hand has ZERO deaths attributed to acute cannabinoid toxicity and a list of countless ailments that it can help in the relief / treatment of, and the only time marijuana ruins lives is when it sends people to jail because of outdated racist laws set up to keep people down.
We agree with Joe 100%! While recreational use may be a ways off here in PA, the benefits of medical marijuana are hard to deny at this point. You can watch the SB1182 hearing below, and help the cause by telling your legislators to support the bill.