Blog Voices from the Frontlines

Aug 252014

ASA California Weekly Roundup: August 25, 2014 - Americans for Safe Access

CA Senator Noreen EvansContents:

  • Message from the CA Director: One more battle in Sacramento this year
  • State & Local News: News from communities all over California
  • Public Meetings & Events: Santa Rosa, Riverside, and Online
  • Court Support: Submit dates for court support!
  • Take Action Now: Oppose SB 1193 and more
  • ASA Website Spotlight: Patient Focused Certification
  • Chapter & Affiliate Meetings: Submit dates for local meetings!

The 2014 legislative session is almost over. Lawmakers have until August 31 to pass hundreds of bills through the state Assembly and Senate, and Governor Brown has thirty days to sign or veto each. One topic not on the agenda will be SB 1262 (Correa/Ammiano), the bill that would have created statewide regulations for doctors who recommend medical cannabis and for the medical cannabis industry. That bill was held in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on August 15, so it will not be adopted this year. Both co-authors are serving their final terms in the legislature according o the state’s term limit rules, so it is back to the drawing board for statewide regulations in 2015.

Pictured: California Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), author of SB 1193

 The Assembly may still vote on a badly amended version of SB 1193 (Evans) – unless we stop them first! SB 1193 was a win-win compromise for law enforcement and patients in California. The old version of the bill, which ASA supported, reduced the amount of cannabis and cannabis plants police and Sheriff’s departments have to keep as evidence, but required law enforcement to pay reasonable compensation if they damaged or destroyed cannabis or plants later found to be legal. Unfortunately, the Assembly Appropriations Committee removed language requiring the return of wrongfully-confiscated property and reasonable compensation at the August 15 hearing.

Aug 242014

Regulations in California will have to wait - Americans for Safe Access

The California Assembly Appropriations Committee held SB 1262 (Correa/Ammiano) in committee on August 15, meaning the bill will not proceed to the floor for a vote or be adopted this year. The controversial bill would have regulated doctors who recommend medical cannabis and commercial medical cannabis activity. Because both co-authors are serving their final term in the state legislature this year, it will be back to the drawing board for statewide medical cannabis regulations in 2015. This is the third time that the legislature has failed to adopt regulations for the state's seventeen year-old medical cannabis industry.

Aug 212014

I wish I could do more - Americans for Safe Access

Match_Grant_Meme.jpgIf you’re like me, you sometimes think, “I wish I could do more to help medical cannabis patients.” Well, we can do more right now. A very generous donor has pledged up to $25,000 in matching donations through Friday, August 21st at 5:00 PM PST. This means , dollar for dollar, any donation you make in the next 30 hours will be matched, doubling your donation.

www.safeaccessnow.org/donate

You have helped ASA score some big victories for medical cannabis patients this year. In May, you helped us win one of our biggest victories yet, when the US House of Representatives voted to cut off funding for federal raids, arrests, and prosecutions in states where medical cannabis is legal. And then in July, the House voted again to protect the rights of cannabis businesses to serve the needs of patients in medical states.

These are historic victories, but we are not finished with the campaign to secure safe, legal, and dignified access for everyone who needs it.

Aug 192014

Oppose SB 1193 in California! - Americans for Safe Access

oppose_CA_1193.jpgLast-minute amendments turned a good medical cannabis bill into a bad one, and ASA needs your help today to stop SB 1193. Patients and advocates have supported this bill all year, because it required law enforcement to pay reasonable compensation if they damaged or destroyed lawfully-possessed medical cannabis or plants. But the Assembly Appropriations Committee quietly deleted those provisions last week and sent a bill devoid of patient benefits to the Assembly for a final vote.

That is not fair, and we need to speak up now to be sure that lawmakers know that this bill is not what we have supported for months. Can you do two things to help stop SB 1193 today?

Aug 132014

Suspense for California’s Medical Cannabis Regulation Bill - Americans for Safe Access

Member Mike GattoUPDATE 08/14/2014 - The Assembly Appropriations Committee held SB 1262 in committee today, so it will not pass this year.

The California Assembly Appropriations Committee placed SB 1262 into the suspense file this morning. The suspense file is where the committee sends any bill with an annual cost of more than $150,000. Suspense file bills are considered at one hearing when the committee has a better sense of available revenue. The deadline for bills in the suspense file to be approved by the committee is August 15, but the last scheduled meeting of the Appropriations Committee is tomorrow.

Pictured: Assembly Appropriations Committee Chairman Mike Gatto (D-Burbank)

SB 1262 may be approved by the committee tomorrow. If so, it will go to the full Assembly for a vote. However, SB 1262 may not make it out of suspense this year for any number of reasons. If that happens, we will have to go back to the drawing board for statewide medical cannabis regulations in January. Both co-authors, Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) and Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), are term-limited. Neither will serve in the legislature next year, so someone else will have to author a regulatory bill in 2015.

Aug 122014

Leafly Partners with Americans for Safe Access on NFL-Focused Chronic Pain Ads - Americans for Safe Access

ASA_USA_Today_NFL_Preview_Ad.jpgWith the NFL preseason already underway, cannabis activists are shining a spotlight on the professional sports league to soften their stance on medical cannabis use among players. Roger Goodell, the league commissioner, has stated that he'd consider allowing athletes to use medical cannabis to treat concussions and other head injuries if research supports it as a valid treatment option. The league itself, however, has so far remained firm on its anti-cannabis stance and has continued to fine, suspend, or release players who fail drug tests or are caught in possession of cannabis. 

But, as we continue to see for ourselves, change can happen gradually with enough time, persistence, and education. At this crucial moment for the NFL, Leafly has partnered with Americans for Safe Access to release a series of ads promoting medical cannabis as a treatment option for chronic pain, an ailment with which many professional football players are very familiar. 

Aug 112014

ASA California Weekly Roundup: August 11, 2014 - Americans for Safe Access

Contents:Photo: Mayor Jacob and me presenting an award to Assembly Member Ammiano at the lobby day @safeaccess #mmot #mmj

  • Message from the CA Director: Well done on the lobby day!
  • State & Local News: News From Communities All Over California
  • Public Meetings & Events: Sacramento, Santa Rosa, & Riverside
  • Court Support: Submit dates for court support!
  • Take Action Now: Support medical cannabis bills in CA & More
  • ASA Website Spotlight: Vote Medical Marijuana
  • Chapter & Affiliate Meetings: Nevada County, San Diego, Sacramento, & Yuba County

ASA’s fourth citizen lobby day in California was a big success. Approximately 150 patients and other stakeholders attended, and they visited more than fifty legislative offices – plus a lot of impromptu visits initiated by attendees themselves. Participants asked lawmakers to support ASA’s proposed Medical Marijuana Organ Transplant Act and SB 1193 (Evans), the return of property bill. They also expressed a variety of opinions on the controversial SB 1262 (Correa/Ammiano).

After the lobby day, a standing-room only crowd gathered to watch Sebastopol Mayor Robert Jacob, ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer, and me present term-limited Assembly Member Tom Ammiano with a certificate of appreciation for his years of work on behalf of medical cannabis patients. Assembly Member Bill Quirk, Senator Mark Leno, and staff members from several legislative offices joined us for the reception.

We spent a long time talking about SB 1262 at the lobby day. There is a lot of concern, indecision, and support for the bill among our base. Of the twenty five attendees who returned our survey on lobby day, eight supported SB 1262, six opposed it, and ten were undecided (one did not answer the question). Most had helpful input and suggestions. I will be interested in seeing how those numbers change as others return their surveys or complete them online. There are action alerts for the two current bills and ASA's Medical Marijuana Organ Transplant Act in the "Take Action" Section of this email.

I want to say a special thank you to the volunteers who helped pull off the lobby day this year, and to our sponsors: The Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance, Organicann, Peace in Medicine, SPARC, Buds & Roses, and the Emerald Growers Association.

Aug 072014

ASA Citizen Lobby Day Makes a Difference - Americans for Safe Access

ASA’s fourth citizen lobby day in California was a big success. Approximately 150 patients and other stakeholders attended, and they visited more than fifty legislative offices – plus a lot of impromptu visits initiated by attendees themselves. Participants asked lawmakers to support ASA’s proposed Medical Marijuana Organ Transplant Act and SB 1193 (Evans), the return of property bill. They also expressed a variety of opinions on the controversial SB 1262 (Correa/Ammiano).

After the lobby day, a standing-room only crowd gathered to watch Sebastopol Mayor Robert Jacob, ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer, and me present term-limited Assembly Member Tom Ammiano with a certificate of appreciation for his years of work on behalf of medical cannabis patients. Assembly Member Bill Quirk, Senator Mark Leno, and staff members from several legislative offices joined us for the reception.

Aug 062014

SB 1262 and California Patients - Americans for Safe Access

photo2.JPGThe debate about SB 1262 in California has been a contentious one, and controversy is sure to persist until a final vote on the bill that will regulate doctors who recommend medical cannabis and those who commercially cultivate, process, test, and distribute it. About 150 medical cannabis patients and stakeholders came to Sacramento on Monday to talk about SB 1262 and other legislation. They debated the pros and cons of the bills, and voiced opinions for and against SB 1262 in more than 100 legislative offices. Well done!

The provisions of the bill related to commercial licensing have dominated the debate, but I am hearing an important question more often as we come to the endgame for SB 1262. What does the bill mean for patients? That is a good question, and the answer is good news for those who legally use medical cannabis in California.

Aug 042014

D.C. Empowers Physicians to Determine Medical Marijuana Patient Eligibility - Americans for Safe Access

Safe_Access_DC_Valentine_2014.jpgOn Thursday of last week, Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray took the bold step of putting physicians in charge of determining which of their patients should use medical marijuana therapy, quietly signing B20-0876, the Medical Marijuana Expansion Emergency Amendment Act of 2014. The emergency legislation, which was unanimously approved by the D.C. Council on July 14th, removes the restrictive list of conditions a patient must have in order for a physician to recommend medical marijuana, as well as increases the plant limit at cultivation centers from 95 to 500 plants.

The passage of B20-0876 is one of the most significant victories for medical marijuana patients in 2014. While most states that passed medical marijuana legislation this year seemed to be in a bizarre contest to pass the most restrictive medical marijuana health care legislation possible, imposing restrictive qualifying conditions lists and limiting access to conventional forms of marijuana, the District of Columbia opted instead to expand its program. This is particularly notable because the District, along with New Jersey, was one of the first jurisdictions to pass hyper-restrictive medical marijuana legislation when the District's B18-622 was passed, only allowing four qualifying conditions. D.C. now joins Massachusetts and California as the only current medical marijuana states that allow physicians to decide which patients ought to engage in medical marijuana therapy. By year's end, that list could become a genuine trend, expanding to an additional two states, as Pennsylvania's SB1182 and Florida's Amendment 2 both contain similar language empowering physicians. 

Just as important, this is a major milestone for District patients with conditions such as post traumatic stress, lupus, dystonia, spinal cord disease, chronic pain, and any other condition that medical marijuana can treat, as they will now be able to obtain a recommendation from their physician if that doctor determines medical marijuana would be a proper therapeutic option. The Safe Access D.C. chapter was instrumental in organizing patient meetings and testifying at hearings over the past four years, helping to bring about these changes in the law, even tweeting the Department of Health a Valentine's Day Card, pointing out that D.C. had the most restrictive program in the country. Many of the District's cultivators and dispensary operators also fought tirelessly to improve the program.