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Federal Medical Cannabis Protection Set to Expire at the End of September - Americans for Safe Access
As a medical cannabis advocate, you are probably aware that the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) budget has been helping defendants win in federal court. Beginning with the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana ruling last October, to dropping the case against Harborside this May, to the McIntosh victory in the 9th Circuit last month, the amendment has been protecting safe and legal access for patients. The amendment was passed in 2014 and 2015 thanks in part to the support and efforts of medical cannabis activists like you!
Earlier this year, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted overwhelming to include it in next DOJ budget. However, the amendment is set to expire at the end of September and the House has yet to vote on it. If the amendment expires, the federal prosecutions against those obeying their state medical cannabis laws could resume once again.
You can help by sending an email to your representative thanking them for voting yes last year or to encourage those who voted no to take another look at the issue.
As you probably know, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released its decision to keep cannabis in its current Schedule I status. Of course, we all know this is ridiculous!
ASA has just published a report challenging lengthy decision determination issued by the DEA. While Schedule I status means the DEA sees no accepted medical use of cannabis, ASA found that the DEA cited flawed data while ignoring many useful studies published since 2001. If the DEA is looking at bad science while turning a blind eye to recent research, it’s no wonder they came to such an absurd determination.
There is only ONE THING left to ensure patients are protected AND research on medical cannabis moves forward and that is PASS THE CARERS ACT! We need YOU, to contact your legislators TODAY and tell them you want them to support the CARERS Act.
Please take a moment to send this pre-written email to your reps and senators in Congress urging them to support the CARERS Act.
Congress is on summer break and now is the perfect time for you to arrange meetings in your district offices. With four simple steps you can help educate and inform legislators of the growing need for an alternate treatment for the millions of patients suffering from pain every day.
Here’s how you can help:
Step 1: Send the pre-written email to request an appointment with your members of Congress
Step 2: Print out and bring ASA’s latest report, Medical Cannabis Access for Pain Treatment: A Viable Strategy to Address the Opioid Crisis, with you.
Step 3: Print out and take with you, a copy of the CARERS Act Fact Sheet.
Step 4: Meet with your Members of Congress in your home district on the importance of medical marijuana as an alternate treatment and importance of the CARERS Act
In March, United States Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina signed on as a co-sponsor to the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act (S. 683). The CARERS Act is the most comprehensive piece of medical cannabis introduced in the history of the US Congress, and YOUR Senator signed on to it!
Unfortunately, the few who oppose medical cannabis, have been louder than the many like you who support it, and Senator Graham is feeling the pressure.
The U.S Senate has done more work on the subject of medical cannabis in the past year than any time since the passage of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970. While the Senate Appropriations Committee has taken steps to limit federal interference with state medical cannabis laws, most Senate offices are still focused on the issue of research.
While lifting barriers to research is important, it is also necessary that the federal government end the crackdown on state medical cannabis programs and the patients who rely upon them. The CARERS Act (S.683) would protect all existing state medical cannabis programs from federal interference, as well as ease restrictions surrounding research.
Please take action to let your senators know that medical cannabis patients need protection today in addition to easing restriction on research. Please call and email your senators to let them know that they should sign on to the CARERS Act in order to protect existing state medical cannabis programs and the patients who rely upon them.
And if your senator(s) have already signed on as cosponsors, please call to thank them for their support. Thanking legislators when they stand up for medical cannabis encourages them to do more on behalf of patients.
UPDATE: The Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee defeated SB 987. Thanks to everyone who helped stop this bill!
Tell your California Senator to vote no on SB 987 (McGuire), a bill that will add an additional 15% excise tax to medical cannabis consumption statewide. The bill would add this new tax on top of existing sales tax and any new or existing taxes imposed by cities or counties.
The Ohio Senate passed HB 523 on Wednesday by a vote of 18-15, which would create a retail dispensary medical cannabis program in state.The bill is expected to be signed by Governor John Kasich, which would make Ohio the 26th medical cannabis state in the country. While the program that will be created under HB 523 is no doubt a step forward for patients in Ohio, the are still major concerns with the program.
ASA submitted suggested amendments on the issues of (1) employment discrimination (and other areas of civil discrimination), (2) personal cultivation, (3) local government bans on dispensaries, and (4) patients right to access and use all forms and methods of use for medical cannabis. Despite the State Senate not taking action on these items prior to voting for HB 523, ASA is encouraging the legislature to address these issues in clean legislation this when the session reconvenes in the fall.
In a few days, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the Veterans Equal Access Amendment as part of the full committee markup of the MilCon-VA Appropriations Bill. The amendment will be Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and a bipartisan group of cosponsors. It would allow V.A. physicians to make written recommendations to veteran patients in states with medical cannabis programs. Current V.A. policy forbids their physicians from recommending or even discussing the benefits of medical cannabis.
The policy is set by VHA Directive 2011-004. This directive was set to expire on January 31, 2016; however, the policy remains in effect. This means that Congress must take action to fix the problem. The Veterans Equal Access Amendment would help lift this “gag order” that is currently being imposed on VHA physicians. Like the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment that protect state medical cannabis programs, this amendment would have to be renewed on an annual basis.
UPDATE: The Assembly Appropriation Committee held this bill in suspense on May 27, 2016. That means it will not be adopted this year. Thanks to hundreds of ASA members and friends who signed this petition. It is now closed.
A new bill in the California Assembly will make criminal out of legal medical cannabis patients. AB 2740 (Low) will "make it an offense for a person who has 5 ng/ml or more of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle."
A nanogram (ng) is one billionth of a gram, making the legal limit for driving with THC in your blood absurdly low. This standard is not based on any science. There is no reason to believe that drivers with this arbitrarily low limit of THC in their blood are impaired in any way.
Legal medical cannabis patients who use medicine on a regular basis will always have 5 ng/ml in their blood. This bill makes law-abiding medical cannabis patients into criminals - but does nothing to improve public safety.
On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee will vote on an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriations bill. The Mikulski Amendment is the Senate version of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which prohibits the Department of Justice (DOJ) from interfering with those abiding by their state medical cannabis law. The Committee approved the Mikulski Amendment last year by a vote of 21-9, but it must be reauthorized again each year.
The Mikulski Amendment has helped slow down DOJ’s efforts to interfere with state medical cannabis programs and the patients who rely upon them. The amendment has been shown to have real impact in protecting programs and patients. In October 2015, Federal District Judge Charles Breyer cited the amendment when ruling that the federal government may not interfere with a medical cannabis dispensary unless they are violating state law. Last week, DOJ dropped its appeal against the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, letting Judge Breyer’s ruling stand. This is why it is vital for us to pass the amendment again.