On a cool December afternoon a group of patients came together for the 1st meeting of a new patient support and empowerment group called PACT; the Patient Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics! As Director of Patient Outreach for Texas NORML in culmination with The Austin420, in order to be more involved and interactive with fellow patients, I wanted to create a safe-place for patients who not only sought out a place to share their experiences, commonalities, and concerns, but who also sought out a place to obtain the empowerment and discipline to take action. And by action I mean, empowering ourselves with the correct knowledge, manner, discipline, and etiquette required to adequately address the Texas Legislature about the issue of seriously-ill patients and the numerous amount of benefits that cannabis as medicine can provide.

While we understand and agree about the significance of ending "marijuana arrests" altogether for everyone, we also understand and believe in maintaining the voice of patients whose issues and concerns go much further beyond just the bud. There is so much more to it when talking of oils, concentrates, topicals, tinctures, medicated edibles etc; we have only just begun to tap into the medicinal potentials of cannabinoid therapy and what it can do, especially when it comes to saving lives.

I was surprised, but yet not so surprised when I saw the wide demographic of patients who joined us that day. We had a couple of walk-ins who at first were just grabbing their coffee and had no idea of what the meeting was all about, but found it interesting enough to partake in our discussion. We also had a couple drive out from as far as Tyler, Texas which was quite motivating and simply a great compliment to PACT all by itself. We were happy to fill the "cellar" at Genuine Joes with about sixteen of us; I myself was excited considering that this was the place where I first began my public activism two and a half years before.

We went over establishing the core-objectives of PACT touching briefly on the topics of achieving empowerment, the cannabis closet theory, the discipline, manner, and etiquette required in addressing our issues, the art of spiritual warfare and conquering our own demons, and the intention to maintain PACT as a safe, sacred and compassionate place for patients. We then "opened the floor" for the remainder of the meeting and one after another, each person introduced themselves, told us a bit of their story. I was amazed by the commonalities we all shared as patients, but what "took me" the most, was the diversity of each person's story and how each story stood out in its own unique way. As we went about the room from one person to the next, it was clear to see that we only became more and more comfortable as time went by; the full essence of PACT came to life as there was a warm, intimate, and compassionate energy floating about, you couldn't touch it but you could most definitely feel it.

One of the most touching moments came by way of a mother who had expressed herself and shed some tears over her young child who currently suffers with epileptic seizures. The best part of her revealing that truth was in the fact that she had found a safe and comfortable place to have the courage enough to express it; that alone invoked tears of sadness, but it also invoked tears of joy, it was as if a terrible weight had been lifted. I'm happy that PACT can be a safe, sacred, and compassionate place that is able to provide some comfort, guidance, understanding, and consolation to an already stressful and painful situation; taking that first step to come out of the cannabis closet is truly where the first act of empowerment begins. The whole purpose behind PACT to help ease some of what patients and parents of patients are having to cope with, beyond the spectrum of cannabis, is what truly came to light. ~