The Faces Of Activism: Kari Boiter

By Tawnee Lynee Cowan

WASHINGTON: Last year I found myself wanting to do more than sit behind my computer and gripe about the government. I wanted to become part of the voices that created the change we so desperately need in our world. So I joined protests against GMO’s. I joined rallies for patients rights to medical cannabis. I started volunteering for non profits benefiting my community.

The first time I went to Olympia was in November, to speak up against the fleecing of our medical cannabis laws. That was the first time I saw Kari Boiter. She was busy rushing to meetings and greeting patients she knew. She was speaking to committees on behalf of safe access for patients and protection for providers.

A few weeks ago I saw Kari on Lobby Days with many advocates I already knew, working on a project called, “Health Before Happy Hour”. She greeted me with a friendly smile and then rushed off to another meeting.
Last week I was able to sit with her and talk. Kari empowered me to speak again to the Legislature about my needs as a patient. She offered to help me get meetings with key lawmakers I had been trying to get meetings with. She listened when I told her my thoughts and views, and that was important because I feel like she is the first person that has really cared enough to ask and then listen. She told me that my needs are important, and that the things I feel are valid, and then she helped me collect my thoughts enough to be able to speak them effectively to the lawmakers.

Yesterday I spoke to the Legislature, and I think I did okay. When I think of activism, I think of Kari Boiter. Kari empowered me to become part of the process.

“I really feel that the state of the medical cannabis community is hanging in the balance right now. We need some diplomatic messengers,to take our message to the lawmakers and make sure they are doing this correctly. That does involve diplomacy. That involves finding the most effective way of being heard. What I am trying to do is create a space where lawmakers want to listen to us. They are hearing us. They are not just listening to us and hearing us, they are taking those considerations into account in the bills they are passing. If we continue to say to them that we disagree with them, and do not explain why we disagree and what we want changed,providing solutions for them not just criticism, I really feel it will be difficult for them to understand and craft laws that protect patients.”