Blog Voices from the Frontlines

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. 

Feb 162015

ASA California Weekly Roundup: February 16, 2015 - Americans for Safe Access

Steph ShererASA Executive Director Steph Sherer visited six cities in California last week to talk about local and state medical cannabis policies. ASA will be reporting back on what she heard from members about our proposed “Points of Unity” for commercial medical cannabis regulations in the state and other issues soon.  

A federal judge in Sacramento said last week that she was “very seriously” considering whether or not medical cannabis is misclassified by the federal government. Her ruling will affect nine defendants in federal court, but it may also have national implications. In a separate case, a judge granted the Berkeley Patients Group a temporary reprieve in a federal civil asset forfeiture case.

Assembly Member Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) introduced ASA-sponsored legislation to protect medical cannabis patients who need an organ transplant. Meanwhile, lawmakers have started the controversial debate about regulating commercial medical cannabis activity in the state. Read about a new law enforcement-sponsored bill to license medical cannabis business and another measure to prevent negative environmental impact associated with medical cannabis growing below. These are just two of the growing number of medical cannabis bills on the table in Sacramento this year.

Feb 112015

ASA California Weekly Roundup: February 10, 2015 - Americans for Safe Access

CA Assembly Member Marc LevineCalifornia Assembly Member Marc Levin (D-San Rafael) has just introduced ASA-sponsored legislation to protect medical cannabis patients who need an organ transplant from life-threatening discrimination. Legal patients can be denied an organ transplant right now based solely on their status as a medical cannabis patient, but AB 258 will protect patients and save lives. 

Click here to read more about AB 258 and see a new video about the bill.

Do you have questions or input about AB 258, state regulation and licensing, or local medical cannabis issues? ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer is in town this week, and she wants to talk to you. Steph is talking to medical cannabis patients and other stakeholders about their role in local and state politics in a series of events entitled “Our Health Is In Our Hands.” Look for appearances in San Diego, West Hollywood, San Francisco, Sacramento, and Santa Rosa this week in the Events section of this message. 

Feb 102015

Enter to Win FREE trip to the National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference - Americans for Safe Access

PhotoContestAnnouncement.jpgHelp us celebrate Medical Marijuana Week February 8-15, 2015 by entering the #MMJWeekUnity15 Photo Contest. Since 2002, ASA has celebrated and hosted activities during Medical Marijuana Week to help build solidarity and bring attention the therapeutic value of cannabis.

This year we holding a photo contest to help promote evidence-based medical marijuana policy. We know that when patients and concerned citizens are involved at the highest levels of policy making, everyone benefits and that is why the winner of this years contest will receive a FREE trip to the National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference.

So how do you when a free trip to Unity 2015? You + a Pic = A chance To Win! Simply snap a photo of yourself with the hashtag #WellnessIsWinning, tag it with #MMJWeekUnity15 on Instagram, Twitter or upload directly on our Facebook page under Photo Contest.  Winners will be announced on February 20, 2015 and determined by the number of votes they receive on Facebook.