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Congress took an unprecedented step on December 12th, 2014 to help protect medical cannabis patients in states with medical programs already in place. Passing both houses of Congress, an omnibus spending bill had an amendment introduced by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (CA-R) that would prohibit the Department of Justice (DOJ) from interfering in the implementation of state medical cannabis laws.
Patient advocates argue, with concurrence from law enforcement, that this historic measure will dramatically impact DOJ enforcement, including ending federal medical marijuana raids, arrests, criminal prosecutions, and civil asset forfeiture lawsuits, as well as providing prisoners with a way to petition for their release.
On behalf of the Connecticut Chapter of Americans for Safe Access, I’d like to formally announce our chapter’s newest initiative, amending the list of “Debilitating Illnesses” that qualify under the Connecticut Medical Marijuana Program to include:
- Arthritis/ Osteoarthritis
- Chronic Pain
U.S. Attorney for Western Washington Jenny Durkan resigned recently and our U.S. Senators are now considering who to recommend as her replacement. It is very important that Senators Murray and Cantwell recommend a replacement who has at least as much respect for the state medical cannabis program as former U.S. Attorney Durkan. Please take a moment to fill out the following letter to both Senators Murray and Cantwell to make sure they recommend a U.S. Attorney who will help preserve the rights of medical cannabis patients in Washington State.
Peace for Patients is a campaign to end the war on medical cannabis patients. To date, 20 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing patients to access medical cannabis under the recommendation of their doctor. Over one million people in the US are legally using medical cannabis and 85% of Americans support the US of medical cannabis. Yet the federal government continues to use precious resources to wage a war on these medical cannabis programs and in the its path disrupts the lives of patients, displaces workers, tramples on state and local governments and takes individuals away from their families.
Join the Peace for Patients Campaign by calling on Congress to stop the war on patients and resolve the conflict between federal and state laws once and for all. Sign the Petition TODAY!
UPDATE 08/14/2014 - SB 1262 was held in committee today and will not pass this year. Please help by participating in another action alert!
The California Assembly will soon vote on SB 1262, a bill to regulate doctors who write medical cannabis recommendations and people and businesses that commercially cultivate, process, test, and sell it. Research conducted by Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and our experience of almost twelve years of regulation at the city and county level show that regulations preserve safe, legal, and dignified access to medicine for patients; while reducing crime and complaints in neighborhoods. That is a win-win situation for most Californians.
Send an email to your California Assembly Member today asking him or her to vote yes on SB 1262.
Every year, The Senate approves a series of appropriations bills that formally sets the budget for various governmental departments and agencies. The Commerce, Justice, Science, and other Agencies (CJS) appropriations bill determines the budget of the DOJ and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) for the coming fiscal year.
The US House of Representatives voted late Thursday (May 30, 2014) night to cut off funding for federal medical cannabis raids, arrests, and prosecutions in states where it is legal. This is arguably the biggest victory yet in the contemporary fight for medical cannabis rights. By a vote of 219 to 189, the Republican-dominated House approved the bipartisan Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment to the Commerce, Science, and Justice (CJS) Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2015. Forty-nine Republicans and 179 Democrats voted in favor of the amendment.
As historic as this vote was, the same CJS amendment must still be introduced in the Senate and pass there as well. We're doing our part by lobbying on Capitol Hill, but we desperately need your help contact your Senators and asking for their support to this amendment.
On August 29, 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder and the DOJ announced a shift in policy regarding federal enforcement of state-sponsored marijuana programs. A memo was also issued by Deputy AG James Cole to US Attorneys that explained the new "trust but verify" approach as well as instituting new guidelines for prosecution.
This is great news for our community, but it is a shift in policy not a change in law which means cannabis is still illegal at the federal level in the US. Help us turn this shift in policy into actual law by reaching out to your Congressperson to support legislation like HR 689.
As of now, the federal government will permit states to regulate their own cannabis programs without interference so long as state law complies with the new DOJ guidelines. However, these guidelines are just recommendations to be taken into consideration by federal prosecutors and can be deviated from. To help answer questions about what this policy shift means and how the medical cannabis community should move forward, ASA has published our analysis as a report.
The report, "Third Time the Charm? State Laws on Medical Cannabis Distribution and Department of Justice Guidance on Enforcement," shows that states have already enacted regulations that meet federal concerns, and some would have stronger regulations if it were not for federal threats that disrupted the legislative process. The report concludes with recommendations for how federal and state legislators can protect patients and harmonize state and federal policies.
Support the The Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act (AB 480/SB 363)
What the bill does:
The Jacki Rickert Medical Cannabis Act would create a comprehensive medical cannabis access system for Wisconsin patients. The bill would allow physicians in a bona fide relationship with a patient to recommend medical cannabis for certain conditions or treatment of certain symptoms. Patients, caregivers, providers, and physicians are protected from arrest and prosecution for conduct allowed by the law. It authorizes the Department of Health Services (DHS) to issue regulations on the creation of compassion centers where regulations. Compassion centers may not operate within 500 feet of a school or park. Patients or their registered caregivers may cultivate their own medicine in an enclosed, locked space. DHS may impose a registration fee on patients and caregivers, as well as promulgate other rules related to the medical cannabis program. Patients or their caregivers would not be legally protected if they possess more medicine than is allowed by law or if the patient smokes their medicine in a school, on mass transit, or any other public place.
The bill appears to meet the 8 guidelines set forth in the August 29, 2013 memorandum from the U.S. Department of Justice, “Guidance for Marijuana Enforcement,” (A.K.A. the 2013 Cole Memo).
The federal war on medical cannabis has been a costly one, claiming both financial resources and the freedom of countless advocates. In ASA's newest report "What is the Cost", our research found that over the last decade nearly $500 million had been spent by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on raids, federal prosecutions, incarceration, and asset forfeiture suits. Even more surprising, $300 million of this was spent during Obama's short time in office where the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) spent up to 4% of their budget annually on medical cannabis enforcement in states that had already made it legal.
There are currently over 1 million legal medical cannabis users in 20 states plus the District of Columbia, and over 39% of the country's population lives in a state where it is legal. Additionally, recent polls have shown that 85% of Americans nationwide support the legalization of medical cannabis. In light of these figures, it seems ridiculous that the federal government would continue wasting taxpayer's money to fight a war on medical cannabis that no one supports.
Without Congressional intervention, however, the amount of funds spent on undermining state laws will only increase. This summer, the Senate will be reveiwing and approving the DOJ's budget for the coming year giving us a chance to end the federal war on medical cannabis. As the Senate Appropriations Committee reviews the DOJ's budget for next year, encourage them to support the cutting of all spending on medical cannabis enforcement, effectively putting an end to the federal war on medical cannabis!
This email will demand that your Senators support the CJS budget amendment to cut spending on medical cannabis enforcement as well as request a constituent meeting with their local offices so you can explain your position in person (with the help of our report).
In 2012, the voters of WA approved I-502, a bill to legalize and tax cannabis for recreational use. The voters were promised high tax revenues by the campaign for the state and that the medical cannabis laws would be left alone, but recent statements from I-502 consultants and the Liquor Control Board (LCB) may be putting that promise in jeopardy.
As Washington’s LCB moves forward with plans to fully implement I-502 and open retail stores across the state, some have suggested that medical cannabis be folded into the recreational system, even though it is still in the development stages. As the original intent of the state's medical cannabis laws were grounded in compassion and not a desire for increased tax revenue, patients and advocates are concerned that the LCB is not the appropriate entity to oversee the state's medical cannabis program.
Specific concerns about folding the medical cannabis program into the I-502 scheme include:
- Increased taxation of medical cannabis, even though herbal medicines are not subject to tax in WA
- Concentrated preparations of cannabis could be restricted
- A decrease in the availability of non-psychoactive preparations
- Retail stores under 502 are not legally permitted to discuss the therapeutic benefits of cannabis
- Patients continue to lack legal protections from arrest, something even recreational users are now entitled to
As a way to address these concerns, advocates have created the "Health Before Happy Hour" Campaign and are urging Governor Inslee and state lawmakers to pass legislation that maintains the original compassionate intent of I-692.
You can help by signing this petition to create a medical cannabis program wholly separate from the recreational I-502 program. This would allow for state-licensed dispensaries, explicit arrest protection, and ensure that patients have safe access to affordable medical cannabis.