Statement in support of a medical marijuana dispensary in Hyattsville

November 2, 2015

In front of the City Council Meeting; City Building, 4310 Gallatin Street

Good evening, Mayor Hollingsworth and members of the City Council.

My name is Shannon Wyss, and I’m a resident of Ward 4. As someone who is 43 years old and has never used any illegal drugs or even been drunk, i would like to speak strongly in favor of having a medical marijuana dispensary in Hyattsville.

As a part of the LGBTQ community, i have seen the devastation that HIV/AIDS has wrought on my world. Like many of us, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, i have watched or heard about innumerable people wracked by cancer, including both of my parents. And i have a former coworker with multiple sclerosis.

All of those folks could be – or could have been – helped by medical marijuana, which fights pain, stops muscle spasms, and decreases nausea.

Fewer than 10% of people who use pot get addicted. But even if someone does get hooked, is that really worse than the deep pain associated with cancer, the seemingly unending nausea that saps the appetite of those with HIV, or the uncontrolled muscle spasms of someone living with MS? I don’t believe that it is. But even if you do feel that addiction is worse, are you willing to look into the eyes of someone who can find relief no other way and condemn that person to a life of unending pain? If your answer is, “No,” then I would encourage you to support Hoye-Crest Apothecary’s request for a letter of support from the city.

If ultimately approved, I would also urge Hoye-Crest Apothecary to employ not just any local residents but our neighbors who have been convicted of a drug offense. One of the many appalling impacts of the so-called “War on Drugs” is the disproportionate impact that it has on communities of color, with African Americans and Latinos, especially, many times more likely to be arrested for, charged with, convicted of, and sentenced to long prison terms for selling or intending to distribute drugs. Many of those who oppose the “War on Drugs” have commented on the irony that white people are now making millions of dollars selling something that many men of color sit in jail for. Hoye-Crest Apothecary can do its part to right this racist wrong by ensuring that its staff is majority people of color who have a drug conviction on their records.

I am often proud to state that I live in Hyattsville, not only because of our diverse, progressive community but because of many of our laws and the resources that we offer to residents. I hope this becomes yet another reason for me to tout how wonderful our city is.

I strongly urge members of the Council and the Mayor to support the existence of a medical marijuana dispensary in Hyattsville.

Thank you for your time.

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