Medical Marijuana Advocates Work to Protect Patients and Shape Debate

August 09, 2005

, Drug Policy News

Americans for Safe Access (ASA) has put out a call to patients who have been cited or arrested for possessing medical marijuana, in an effort to track law enforcement encounters. Since the Supreme Court decision was handed down on Raich, giving the federal government the legal right to arrest and prosecute medical marijuana patients, organizations across the country have been fighting to ensure that states protect their citizens.

ASA is worried that in California, local law enforcement will be patients' biggest problem.

Drug Policy Alliance executive director Ethan Nadelmann contributed to the discussion about medical marijuana recently with an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle and a presentation at a public forum. The forum, hosted by the Alliance, along with the Mayor’s Office, the San Francisco Medical Society and the Jewish Community Center, was called “Is San Francisco Going to Pot?” and can be viewed here. San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom gave introductory remarks about the city's medical marijuana issues before a large audience that included media outlets. The mayor stated that “access is imperative” and endorsed proposals to protect and legitimize medical marijuana distribution in San Francisco. 
The forum came on the heels of the reinstatement of California's medical marijuana identification card program. The program, which was suspended last month by the California Department of Health Services, was restarted a few weeks later after the ACLU and the Alliance threatened to sue the governor's office. The registration program, which is voluntary, provides cards to help patients more easily demonstrate that they possess marijuana legally if they are stopped by state or local law enforcement. 

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