ASA Compels CHP to Revise Medical Marijuana Policy

August 28, 2005

CALIFORNIA -- The California Highway Patrol (CHP) is unveiling new procedures for handling medical cannabis, thanks to action by Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a medical marijuana patient advocacy organization. ASA research has shown that one-quarter of all medical cannabis arrests and seizures in California have been at the hands of CHP officers, but a suit filed against them by ASA for failure to uphold state law has resulted in a fundamental change in how officers are to treat patients and caregivers.

The victorious plaintiffs, attorney, and medical marijuana advocates with Americans for Safe Access will be holding both a media conference call and a live press conference to discuss the significance of their victory, next steps for the lawsuit, and implications for other police agencies and local governments throughout California.

Media Tele-Conference Call

WHEN: Monday, Aug, 29, 10:30 am PST
HOW: Call-in number 800-247-5110, code 25274
WHO: Americans for Safe Access Attorney Joe Elford, ASA Legal Campaign Director Kris Hermes, CHP suit plaintiffs Tiffany Simpson, Mary Jane Winters, and Anthony Bowles

Live Press Conference

WHEN: Monday, Aug, 29, 12:00 pm PST
WHERE: Alameda County Administration Building Plaza, 1221 Oak St, Oakland, CA
WHO: ASA Attorney Joe Elford, ASA Legal Campaign Director Kris Hermes, CHP suit plaintiffs Mary Jane Winters and Anthony Bowles

Background:

On February 15, 2005, ASA filed a group lawsuit against the CHP on behalf of six medical marijuana patients and caregivers who had their legitimately possessed marijuana seized by the CHP under a policy of mandatory confiscation. The lawsuit argued that the policy was illegal under California’s constitution, under which state law enforcement is compelled to uphold state law, including the state law allowing medical marijuana possession by qualified patients and caregivers.

On August 22, the CHP quietly changed its policy to officially recognize the rights of lawful patients under California's Proposition 215. This is one of the biggest victories for medical cannabis patients and caregivers in California since voters approved the Compassionate Use Act in 1996, and a legal victory particularly welcomed by California advocates since the US Supreme Court ruled in June that federal officials could still arrest state-legal medical marijuana patients. To see more details on ASA’s lawsuit, copies of the old and new CHP policies, and plaintiff biographies, see http://www.safeaccessnow.org/chpvictory

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