Denise Martellacci – Graduate of the Sept. 20, 2008 Classic Seminar
Whom am I?
I came of age in Oakland in the late 60’s and early 70’s. My generation had experienced the Kennedy’s and MLK assassinations, the Vietnam War, Watergate and Nixon. Locally we were tear gassed at People’s Park, participated in Vietnam War protests, oil spill cleanups, and knew a different Jerry Brown and his girlfriend, Linda Ronstadt. The local music scene we listened to was anti-war protest songs by Country Joe, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, and experiencing the demise of the scene with Altamont. This experience no doubt influenced me to be who I am today. I learned participation gives the right to a voice.
I’ve been married since a kid, have two great kids, and now a grandmother of two. I was always involved in the kid’s schools and their activities by participation on school boards and fundraising activities. As the kids got older I started volunteering in causes closer to the heart like delivering food to AIDS patients through Project Home Hand. After becoming a medical cannabis patient I saw the importance of stepping out of my comfort zone and speaking out on behalf of medical cannabis.
Why I care?
I voted to legalize marijuana in 1972 and here it is 2016 and I hope, finally, this is the year!! I got involved as an activist beginning in 2005 when my local dispensary started having compliance issues with the city’s strict 3 lb. regulations. I had been a patient for several years but was not involved in the movement until I saw the DEA raid our local dispensary and the devastating effects to them, the workers, the patients, and the City’s reputation as a compassionate city where medical cannabis had been tolerated for years. I had spoken out on behalf of the dispensary and its contributions to the community etc. but was really unaware of CaNorml or ASA at that time.
It was witnessing that raid, being hand-cuffed detained for hours and robbed by the DEA at a dispensary I opened in 2007 that motivated me to become involved. I had just been invited by Richard Lee to audit Oaksterdam’s weekend program that encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone to fight for safe access to medical cannabis for patients where it is inaccessible.
Then Hayward City Council member Bill Quirk and I led a campaign for over 2 years to bring a medical cannabis ordinance back to Hayward to no avail. I also lead the successful campaign after being asked by a city council member for a medical cannabis ordinance in San Leandro.
I have always enjoyed my 25 yr. mortgage career and helping make someone’s, whether it was a client, employee, or an associate, life better has always been fulfilling to me. It wasn’t until I opened a dispensary on the Peninsula and found that offering education, quality medicine to help alleviate patient’s symptoms, in a warm and inviting environment, that made a profound change in my passion in life. Hearing daily the stories of returning patients reaffirming the medical benefits of cannabis. I knew the medicinal attributes of cannabis and how it has helped me vs. the Rx route and wanted to share that to older adults. And to take the topic out into the broader community and make it acceptable.
Through my activism in the southern end of the county, my Assembly member, Bill Quirk, named me his alternate to the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee. With legalization approaching in 2016 I thought it was the perfect opportunity to start a Brownie Mary Democratic Club after hearing Lanny Swerdlow’s call to action. We were just awarded Club of the Year by the County Democrats and recognized for our resolve to generate awareness and acceptance of legalization, perseverance and organizational abilities. We have quarterly meetings at the World Famous Turf Club Club in Hayward at 7:00p.m. On the last Monday of the Month. This month we will have featured guest speaker Attorney Robert Raich speaking on the recent cannabis legislation that has become law, signed by Governor Jerry Brown. My objective is to bring the message of legalization in 2016. The less people in our jails, or marred records that decrease employment or education opportunities for people in our communities the better for all. It is time for people to come out of the closet and help bring acceptance of cannabis that still believe it is the demise of a community.