Blog Voices from the Frontlines

Mar 042015

Federal Jury Acquits Medical Marijuana Defendants on Four Out of Five Charges - Americans for Safe Access

In an unexpected verdict today, the jury in a widely watched federal medical marijuana case from eastern Washington State, known as the Kettle Falls Five, acquitted the three remaining defendants of all but one charge of manufacturing less than 100 marijuana plants. The charge carries no mandatory minimum sentence and defendants Rhonda Firestack-Harvey, 56, her son Rolland Gregg, 33, and daughter-in-law Michelle Gregg, 36, remain free until sentencing on June 10th at 10am.

Mar 022015

Medical Marijuana: The Elephant in the Courtroom of the Kettle Falls Five Trial

Associated PressOn the third day of trial in the widely watched federal medical marijuana case of the Kettle Falls Five, the Department of Justice (DOJ) called several witnesses to help prove their case, including co-defendant Jason Zucker, who took a plea deal one day before trial began agreeing to cooperate against the three remaining defendants.

Mar 022015

ASA California Weekly Roundup: March 2, 2015 - Americans for Safe Access

People talking graphicDo you want to talk to other patients, advocates, and professionals about medical cannabis in California? There is a lot to talk about! The campaign to pass the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act is underway, and lawmakers in Sacramento have introduced eleven other bills related to cannabis and medical cannabis this year. There are bills to regulate and license commercial medical cannabis activity, increase penalties against cultivators, regulate vape pens, and more. And that is not including local efforts to regulate or ban medical cannabis.

Join the ASA California Campaign for Safe Access (CCSA) email discussion list to be a part of the important conversation about medical cannabis issues at the local, state, and federal level.

The ASA-CCSA mailing list is a members-only discussion list where you can share your thoughts on medical cannabis and hear from leading advocates, grassroots volunteers, doctors, lobbyists, patients, and industry workers. The list is moderated to prevent spam. You can decide how often you get messages from ASA-CCSA, or just go online to read messages at your convenience. Join the conversation today!

Mar 012015

Medical cannabis hearings in Annapolis this week! - Americans for Safe Access

MD_logo.pngThis week, the Maryland legislature will be holding hearings on the medical cannabis bills introduced this session. Lucky for patients this year, almost all of the bills being heard are ones that ASA supports strongly.

If you can, please try and come testify Tuesday and Wednesday in Annapolis in favor of these bills. Unfortunately, written testimony can only be submitted in person, but if you want to submit written testimony and can’t make the hearings, please submit them to and we’ll make sure they get delivered to the right people.

Feb 272015

Federal Trial of the Kettle Falls Five Continues at Taxpayer Expense

The trial of the Kettle Falls Five, a widely watched federal medical case against a family from eastern Washington, began on Wednesday with jury selection and opening arguments. After the second day and no end in sight for the prosecution, presiding U.S. District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice told the government he was "losing patience with too much cumulative evidence."

Feb 262015

Virginia Becomes 12th State to Add Patient Protections of CBD Extracts - Americans for Safe Access

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) signed a cannabidiol (CBD) extract affirmative defense bill earlier today, making Virginia the 12th state in the country to pass legal protections for patients with a medical necessity for CBD extracts. Today's bill signing now brings the total number of states with some sort of legal recognition and protection for marijuana-based medicine up to 35. 

The bill, HB 1445, resembles many of the CBD laws that were passed in 2014, but has at least one unique feature. Like nearly all of the 2014 CBD laws, the new Virginia law is limited to seizure disorders, and the law only grants protection from prosecution, but does not create protection from arrest, nor does it set up a system that will allow patients in Virginia to acquire their medicine from within the Commonwealth. Another similarity is that this bill does not allow access to products in which THC is the primary cannabinoid, but has a slightly higher THC cap than most CBD states, with a 5% max. However, the law requires that extracts have a minimum of 15% THC, which is highest CBD floors of any state with this type of law along with Mississippi, South Carolina, and Utah. The standout feature of HB 1445 is that in addition to the legal protections for CBD, it also protects patients for THC-A. Like CBD extracts under the law, the caps for THC-A extracts require a minimum of 15% THC-A and a max of 5% THC.

Feb 252015

New D.C. Adult-Use Marijuana Law Will Likely Have Minimal Impact on the District's Medical Program - Americans for Safe Access

elex-2014-legalize_wide-d14548544ee8578f7639487367a766e90fe07b5a-s1100-c15.jpgAccording to District government officials, the adult-use marijuana law,  Initiative 71, will go into effect at 12:01 am on February 26, 2015. While there is much attention surround the implementation of Initiative 71 regarding the District-Federal showdown, as some House Republicans have threatened to take legal action against the District's mayor and employees if the law gets entered into the D.C. Record, little attention has been given towards the impact the law will have on D.C.'s medical marijuana program.

The good news is, the new shouldn't adversely impact medical marijuana patients and the program, but first here's a review of what's in the new law. The new law will allow any District resident 21 years or older to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to 6 plants (3 mature/3 immature). Group houses can have no more than 12 plants total (6 mature/6 immature).  Use of marijuana in public will still be illegal, and marijuana possession or use is still completely forbidden anywhere on federal property, which makes up a significant portion of the District. Bars, restaurants, and even front porches are considered public places under the law, so use is basically limited to inside private residences, including decks and enclosed backyards. It is still strictly illegal to sell marijuana in the District, except from medical dispensaries to patients or their caregivers; however, adults may transfer up to 1 ounce of marijuana between each other for free (trying to "backdoor" sales is illegal, for example, you can't sell a jar for a marked up price and then offer to fill up the jar with marijuana for free).

Feb 242015

Federal Trial Starts Wednesday for Kettle Falls 5

The Kettle Falls 5Trial starts Wednesday in a widely watched federal medical marijuana case from eastern Washington State known as the Kettle Falls Five. The Obama Administration is aggressively pursuing marijuana trafficking charges against a family of patients who claim to have been growing for themselves in full compliance with Washington State's medical marijuana law. The Department of Justice (DOJ) is also choosing to try them in defiance of a recent Congressional ban on DOJ interference in the implementation of state law.

What: Trial of the Kettle Falls Five, medical marijuana patients growing for themselves in eastern Washington State
When: Jury selection begins Wednesday, February 25th at 8:30am and the trial is expected to run until next week
Where: Room 902, Thomas S. Foley U.S. Courthouse, 920 West Riverside Avenue, Spokane, WA 99201

Last week, the federal government agreed to dismiss charges against Larry Harvey, 71, who has been diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer, but fought against the dismissal of charges against the remaining four defendants. Earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice denied a motion to dismiss the charges against the Kettle Falls Five based on DOJ funding restrictions established last year by Congress, however the defendants have vowed to appeal.

Feb 232015

California Weekly Roundup: February 23, 2015 - Americans for Safe Access

Hand signing petitionI need your help to make sure that the state legislature passes AB 258, the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act, this year. Can you sign ASA’s online petition in support if the bill, and then ask your friends and loved ones to do the same? Our goal is to have more than 1,000 signatures before AB 258 is heard in the Assembly Health Committee as soon as next month.

AB 258 will save lives by preventing discrimination against medical cannabis patients in the organ transplant process. Patients are routinely denied a place on the national organ transplant wait list if they test positive for cannabis use – even doctor-recommended medical cannabis. Legal patients have died after being denied a place on the list and others are in jeopardy right now. AB 258 will prevent unnecessary suffering and avoidable deaths by protecting legal patients.

Thanks for signing and asking your friends and loved ones to do the same. Don’t forget to share this link with your email list and on social media sites:

Feb 202015

Congressman Cohen Urges AG Holder to Use his Statutory Authority to Reschedule Marijuana - Americans for Safe Access

Dear_Holder.jpgThis week, Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder urging him to use his remaining time in office to use his statutory authority to redesignate marijuana out of Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. The letter came in response to comments that AG Holder made at the National Press Club on Tuesday that hint at Holder may be thinking the same thing that patient-advocates have been thinking for decades - Schedule I designation is of marijuana is inappropriate.

While AG Holder did not directly take an affirmative position one way or the other, saying "I think, a legitimate debate to be had on both sides of that question on where marijuana should be in terms of scheduling," the very fact that there is a legitimate argument in favor of the medical efficacy and relatively low potential for abuse certainly undermines the argument for keeping marijuana's current Schedule I status. Despite the fact that marijuana's Schedule I status (along with the even more research-inhibiting Public Health Service review process) has stymied large scale cannabis research in the United States, a mounting body of medical evidence keeps building that demonstrates its medical value.

In terms of abuse, marijuana is certainly less harmful than Schedule II drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine, as Rep. Cohen pointed out. While some may say that marijuana is more likely to be used than cocaine or methamphetamine, drugs such as caffeine and over-the-counter pain medicines are more likely to be used than marijuana, therefore frequency of use alone is a poor indicator of abuse potential. With that in mind, it's difficult to see why marijuana should placed in Schedule I or even Schedule II, or if it even belongs in the Controlled Substances Act at all.