Blog Voices from the Frontlines

Dec 152014

ASA California Weekly Roundup: December 15, 2014 - Americans for Safe Access

US Capitol BuildingContents:

  • Message from the CA Director: What's next depends on you, CA

  • State & Local News: National, California, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Yuba County, San Diego, Inland Empire

  • Public Meetings & Events: Los Angeles, Marysville, Washington DC

  • Court Support: Redding

  • Take Action Now: Support the Medical Marijuana Organ Transplant Act, Join the ASA-CCSA Discussion List, Expand the Green Zone

  • ASA Website Spotlight: National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference 2015

  • Chapter & Affiliate Meetings: San Francisco, East Bay, Lake County

By the time you read this message, it may already be illegal for the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate, raid, arrest, and prosecute medical cannabis patients and providers in California. Congress passed a historic budget bill on Saturday night that includes an amendment removing any funds for federal interference in states with medical cannabis laws. The President could sign it at any time. 

ASA started working on this amendment soon after patients and caregivers established the organization in California in 2002. I want to say a special thank you to everyone who helped us get here!

Dec 132014

Congress Passes Historic Legislation to Defund DOJ's War on Patients - Americans for Safe Access

Victory_Graphic.jpgThe Senate just passed the CRomnibus bill containing the historic Rohrbacher-Farr Amendment, and now the bill will make its way to the President's desk where is will soon be signed into law. In doing so, Congress has collectively sent a sharp and powerful rebuke to the Department of Justice's crackdown on state medical marijuana laws. The bill passed in the House of Representatives late Thursday evening by a vote of 219-206.

Passage of this legislation should serve as the catalyst for more comprehensive Federal medical marijuana reform, and one of the best ways to take advantage of this newly created opportunity is by taking part in ASA's National Lobby Day on March 31, 2015. We will be pushing for passage of the States' Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, which was introduced this session by Rep. Earl Blumenauer. The bill would reschedule marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act to Schedule III or lower, and would permanently end all interference with state medical marijuana conduct. Remember, as an appropriations rider, the amendment passed today will only carry through the end of the fiscal year (Sept. 30, 2015), so we must take advantage of this opportunity. 

Dec 122014

Celebrating the Life of Medical Marijuana Advocate James Lee Jim “Madfingers” Klahr - Americans for Safe Access

Jim_smiling.jpgJames Lee Jim “Madfingers” Klahr, died November 9th, 2014 at 1 a. m.  Sunday in Portland, after battling liver failure. He had been awaiting a liver donor at Oregon Health Science University. Jim was born November 5th, 1951 in the small town of Beeville, Texas and grew up in Caldwell, Idaho. Jim leaves behind a wife, Marilyn, 2 sons, Dallas and Alfred and many friends. Jim, celebrated his 63rd birthday just days before his death & after seeing one of his Dreams come true. 

Oregon had become the 3rd state in the Nation to Legalize Marijuana. He was best known for his advocacy on the marijuana front, but he was also an accomplished musician, small-business owner and politician. Above all, Jim was a better friend & teacher than another one could ever ask to walk onto their path of life and into your hearts. He had a love for good music and an even bigger love to teach others. Abstaining from the use of marijuana while being one of the strongest advocates in Oregon for the long over due changes. 

Running for political office multiple times in Curry county, Oregon. Jim  Klahr was a contender for the state representative seat on the November general election ballot — he was on the ballot two years ago — and fought for decades in California and Oregon to change legislation to legalize first, medical marijuana programs and later, recreational use. One of his strongest beliefs and I too agree and will carry on his work to quote his Lovely wife,  “Jim never believed a political seat should be won because someone ran unopposed”, Marilyn Klahr.

Dec 112014

Come out for a night of fun & support safe access! - Americans for Safe Access

Sherry Glaser's one woman show is coming to Sonoma County this weekend! After the Emerald Cup on Sunday, December 14th, Sherry is hosting an after party at Arlene Francis Center.

She has done two showings of "Taking the High Road, Comic Confessions from Behind the Cannabis Curtain", this is scheduled to be the third. The Cup ends early in the evening, so continue the fun and support safe access all at the same time!

Sherry will be donating 10% of her proceeds from her show to the Sonoma Chapter of ASA!

Dec 102014

Congress Set to Pass Landmark Medical Marijuana Legislation - Americans for Safe Access

Blog_Graphic.jpgA historic provision to prohibit the Department of Justice from interfering with state medical marijuana programs has been included in the Congressional budget bill set to pass Congress later this week. On Tuesday evening, the final version of "Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act" (or "Cromnibus") was published on the House Rules Committee website. Pages 213-214 of the 1600+ page bill contain the Rohrbacher-Farr Amendment language, which was passed by the House back in May, but never reached the Senate floor. Both the House and Senate must now vote on the complete bill, and it is expected to be passed and signed into law later this week, which will make the landmark language official.

Including the Rohrbacher-Farr Amendment language in the Cromnibus was an accomplishment that was 12 years in the making, first introduced by Reps. Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA) and then-Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) in 2003. As support grew over the years, more sponsors joined the amendment, with 12 bi-partisan sponsors in 2014, six from each party; Don Young (R-AK), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Paul Broun (R-GA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Steve Stockman (R-TX), Dina Titus (D-NV), Justin Amash (R-MI) and Barbara Lee (D-CA). When the House vote took place in May, 49 Republicans joined 170 Democrats in favor of the amendment, one of the strongest bipartisan showings on controversial piece of legislation in the 113th Congress. In the other body of Congress, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) led the charge for patients during the conference committee negotiations. Senator Mikulski's leadership helped the language survive a major challenge from Rep. Wolf (R-VA), Rep. Rogers (R-KY), and Sen. Shelby (R-AL) to strike it. 

Dec 082014

ASA California Weekly Roundup: December 8, 2014 - Americans for Safe Access

CA Asm. Member Jones-SawyerContents:

  • Message from the CA Director: Two new medical cannabis bills in CA (and more on the way)

  • State & Local News: California, Fresno, Los Angeles, Santa Ana, Humboldt, San Diego, Santa Rosa, and El Dorado

  • Public Meetings & Events: Santa Rosa, Washington DC, and Online

  • Court Support: Los Angeles and Placerville

  • Take Action Now: Support the Medical Marijuana Organ Transplant Act, Join the ASA-CCSA Discussion List, Expand the Green Zone

  • ASA Website Spotlight: News

  • Chapter & Affiliate Meetings: Nevada County and Yuba County

Pictured: CA Assembly Member Reggie Jones-Sawyer

The debate about licensing and regulating medical cannabis in the state legislature is underway early. Lawmakers already introduced two new bills for the 2015-2016 session – and more are probably on the way. 

Assembly Member Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-LA) introduced AB 26, a bill that picks up where former Assembly Member Tom Ammiano (D-SF) left off when AB 1894 was defeated in the Assembly earlier this year. Like AB 1894, AB 26 seeks to reign in doctors who recommend medical cannabis, establish regulations and licensing for commercial activity, and authorize local taxation.  Assembly Member Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) introduced AB 34, but the initial draft is just a one-sentence placeholder. We will have to see what the Assembly Member comes up with in the weeks ahead.

Dec 062014

California Medical Association Unanimously Supports Medical Cannabis Patients - Americans for Safe Access


CMA logoCorrection (12/09/2014) - The original version of this blog contained links to an old version of the CMA resolution. The links here have been updated with the amended version, as approved on Saturday.

The California Medical Association (CMA) made a major decision about medical cannabis today that could reduce needless suffering and preventable death for legal patients who need organ transplants. The CMA House of Delegates voted unanimously to approve Resolution 114-16, which declares that the CMA opposes using cannabis use as grounds for denying an organ transplant.  

This is an important and timely victory for some of the sickest medical cannabis patients in California. Legal medical cannabis patients are routinely denied a place on the national organ transplant waiting list or removed from the list when they test positive for cannabis use. These patients face a terrible dilemma: forgo the proven benefits of medical cannabis use or miss out on a potentially life-saving transplant. Patients using doctor-recommended cannabis to treat chronic pain, cancer, HIV/AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, and other serious conditions should never have to make that choice.

Dec 012014

ASA California Weekly Roundup: December 1, 2014 - Americans for Safe Access

Patient and surgeonContents:

  • Message from the CA Director: Sign the petition for organ transplant patients
  • State & Local News: National, California, San Francisco, Riverside County, San Luis Obispo
  • Public Meetings & Events: Placerville, Santa Rosa, Washington DC, and more
  • Court Support: Redding, Santa Ana, Los Angeles
  • Take Action Now: Expand the Green Zone (SF), Join the ASA-CCSA Discussion List, Support the Medical Marijuana Organ Transplant Act
  • ASA Website Spotlight: Legal
  • Chapter & Affiliate Meetings: San Francisco, Yuba County, Sonoma County

Voters in California legalized medical cannabis when they approved the Compassionate Use Act eighteen years ago. We have come a long way since then, but we still have important work to do here in California. Legal patients face pervasive discrimination in employment, housing, parental rights, and access to health care. ASA and other advocates are working hard to change this, and we need your help to do it.

Nov 262014

Veterans for Safe Access and Compassionate Care supports Blumenauer's 'Veterans Equal Access Act' - Americans for Safe Access

Veterans_Suicide.jpgVeterans for Safe Access and Compassionate Care is honored to support the bipartisan bill, Veterans Equal Access Act. I personally thank Representative Blumenauer, Representative Rohrabacher and all cosigners for taking a leading role in removing obstructive policies from the Veterans Affairs Healthcare system. The passage of the Veterans Equal Access Act will assist the VA in meeting their core values of Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect and Excellence. Passage of this bill will also fulfill President Lincoln's desire “to care for him who shall have borne the battle,” in which the VA’s mission statement is based. 

Of the 23 states that allow medical marijuana, 10 allow its use for symptom relief of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). My home state of Massachusetts, a global leader in healthcare, allows the medical doctor to determine if their patient’s condition warrants the use of medical marijuana as long as the benefits of use outweigh the consequences. Despite being the grandchild of a WWII P.O.W., a veteran of the Iraq War, a sufferer of chronic pain and a resident in a state that allows medical marijuana, my Veterans Affairs (VA) doctor is forbidden to even mention the potential benefits of medical marijuana.  

Nov 242014

ASA California Weekly Roundup: November 24, 2014 - Americans for Safe Access

US AG Eric HolderContents:

  • Message from the CA Director: Join the conversation about medical cannabis
  • State & Local News: National California, San Francisco, Fresno, Santa Ana, La Mesa, San Diego, Diamond Springs, Riverside County
  • Public Meetings & Events: Riverside, Santa Ana, Placerville, Washington DC, and Online
  • Court Support: No dates reported this week
  • Take Action Now: Expand the Green Zone (SF), Join the ASA-CCSA Discussion List, Support the Medical Marijuana Organ Transplant Act
  • ASA Website Spotlight: Resources for Policy Makers
  • Chapter & Affiliate Meetings: San Diego

Thanks to everyone who joined me last week for the latest live Google Hangout, What Legalization Means for Medical Cannabis. I appreciate the comments and questions. The broadcast is still available if you missed it live.

I know you have a lot to say about medical cannabis in California, too. While medical cannabis and legalizing cannabis gain momentum nation wide, California cities and counties are still cracking down. Read about increased pressure in La Mesa, Santa Ana, Diamond Spring, and San Diego in the News Section of this message. You will also see that Riverside and Fresno are using harsh fines to shut down cultivation. What does this mean for California? How is it impacting you? What can we do about it?