Blog Voices from the Frontlines

Apr 192014

Research gone awry - Americans for Safe Access

NBC’s Today Show camera crew was five minutes away when the producer called to say they were killing the story. They’d looked more closely at the instantly infamous study that claimed to find differences in the brains of 20 casual marijuana users and decided it wasn’t worth talking about. “You’re probably glad,” he said. I told him I was disappointed. The authors’ grossly overstated claims were one thing, but how the findings got turned inside out is important to consider.

Apr 182014

Probation Department Ordered to Allow Probationer the Use of Medical Marijuana - Americans for Safe Access

Alex_Ayres_with_mom_joyce_and_mcCabe.JPGSan Diego, CA – I wrote about medical marijuana patient defendant Alexander Ayres last month as he took a very good plea - when balanced with the consequences of a trial - in his marijuana transportation charge. The plea was negotiated by Alex’s attorney Michael J. McCabe early last month and offered by Landy Spencer-Daly, a prosecutor with the San Diego District Attorney’s northern office in Vista.  Ms. Spencer-Daly has been dropping charges and offering summary probation plea deals in medical marijuana cases all week.  In early April she also stood in for prosecutor Brock Arstill in the Deborah and Dennis Little case and made a concession to a jury question that was fair but certainly not required of her. It’s a welcome change to the battering medical marijuana patients usually get in all things court-related and I hope it continues.

Yesterday, when Ms. Spencer-Daly was to argue against the motion Michael McCabe filed, she didn’t even show up but handed the case off to the duty prosecutor assigned to the courtroom. The motion will allow Alex to use his medical cannabis while serving the summary probation term under the plea he had just signed with Ms. Spencer-Daly and it was successful.  The defense came armed with a letter from Alex’s doctor, Bernard Smyle MD, saying that the pharmaceutical drugs typically used to treat Alex’s ADD had been harmful to him and in the doctor’s medical opinion marijuana was the best treatment option for his patient. 

The prosecutor, out of his element, said he would submit to the court on the motion but then went into a long diatribe about the alleged seriousness of the crime of transporting medical marijuana. The Judge - who had just been treated yesterday to cheers from supporters as Ms. Spencer-Daly dropped charges against two patients in two different cases – read the defense motion and the doctor letter and said he was skeptical but he wished to give Alex Ayres the benefit of the doubt. Judge Carlos Armour wrote out a minute order which stated: 

 

Apr 182014

Roadside saliva testing for marijuana use gets House hearing in Michigan - Americans for Safe Access

LANSING- The Michigan House of Representatives considered making the state’s citizens subject roadside saliva testing for the presence of marijuana and other drugs in a Judiciary Committee meeting on April 17, 2014.

Michigan already has laws and procedures to protect citizens from hazardous drivers, including liberal rules defining reckless operation of a motor vehicle and a visual analysis of drivers to determine if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If impairment is suspected officers already have the ability to order a blood test, to seize a motorist’s vehicle, and to arrest the individual involved. Saliva tests have been rejected for use by the federal government and the industry reports no FDA approval for the methodology.

Michigan has a per se drug law. Anyone operating a motor vehicle with any presence of cannabis in the bloodstream is committing a crime, even if the driver is not driving recklessly or has no detectable signs of impairment. A Michigan court case ruled that the presence of a specific marijuana metabolite in the bloodstream did not constitute impairment, which stands in opposition to the per se law. 

Apr 162014

Update: Victory for Defendants in Two Medical Marijuana Cases - Americans for Safe Access

San Diego, CA – Over a handful of weeks three state legal medical cannabis patient defendants have had charges dropped against them in two different courts.  Congratulations to Andrew Turner and his attorney, Mark Bluemel and Daniel Gregg with co-defendant, Donna and their attorneys Lance Rogers and Logan Fairfax.

Andrew Turner’s preliminary exam was heard before judge Herbert J. Exarhos in the El Cajon Courthouse on April 1st, but the legal patient’s ordeal began back in August of 2013 when a fire outside of his Santee residence brought the local fire department. After the fire crew was admitted to Andrew’s house for a safety check, the fire chief tipped off the San Diego Sheriff to Andrew’s medical cannabis grow of 83 plants in the garage. When Sheriffs demanded admittance to Andrew’s garage, Andrew demanded a search warrant.  After an hour the Sheriff returned with the warrant, the medical grow was discovered and Andrew was arrested on sales and cultivation charges.  The only evidence of sales was pure assumption based on the amount of cannabis plants found in Andrew’s garage. 

However, when the case came before the court for a preliminary examination of the evidence against Andrew, in an unprecedented decision, the judge found there was no evidence to show sales and the case could not move forward. Judge Exarhos declined to bind Andrew over to endure a jury trial, citing lack of evidence and clarity in the law. Helping the judge in his decision were defense expert witnesses, Eugene Davidovich and Michelle Sexton, ND. 

Apr 142014

Maryland Finally Becomes the 21st Medical Marijuana State

Governor Martin O'Malley signed HB 881 into law today, making Maryland the 21st medical marijuana state. The Maryland House of Delegates voted 125-11 last week to adopt HB 881, a medical marijuana bill that protect patients with severe pain, nausea, wasting syndrome, seizures, and severe muscle spasms from arrest and prosecution. Qualified patients will be able to obtain their medicine from licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, which will rely on licensed growers for their supply. Patients will be required to get approval from physicians who are approved by the state, and must obtain an identification card before they will be eligible to access a licensed dispensary.

Apr 142014

ASA California Roundup: April 14, 2014 - Americans for Safe Access

Message from the CA Director - A New Medical Cannabis Bill in CA

California News

  • Medical-Marijuana Advocates Descend on Capitol Hill (National)
  • California Gets Stricter Medical Marijuana Regulations (California)
  • Marijuana: Another Contributor to California's Drought (California)
  • How medical marijuana is helping Californian children with epilepsy (California)
  • Vague state marijuana rules cost cities (California)
  • Medical marijuana supporters launch effort (Costa Mesa)
  • Medical marijuana activist sues Redondo police (Redondo Beach)
  • Marijuana addressed by Gridley City Council (Gridley)
  • Permit issued for Arnold medical collective (Calveras County)
  • Lathrop just says no to medical pot dispensaries (Lathrop)
  • Long Beach voters favor Measure A tax on medical marijuana (Long Beach)

Events

  • Wednesday, April 16, 2014 – San Diego Public Safety Committee Hearing (San Diego)
  • Saturday, April 19, 2014 – CBD Seminar (Grass Valley)
  • Monday, April 21, 2014 – CA Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee Hearing on SB 1262 (Sacramento)
  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 – CA Assembly Public Safety Committee Hearing on AB 1894 (Sacramento)
  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014 – Medical Cannabis Forum with District Attorney Candidates (Sonoma)

Court Support

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 – Court Support for Ronnie Chang (San Diego)
  • Wednesday, April 16, 2014 – Court Support for Taryn Hughey & Ryan Metroka (Oroville)
  • Thursday, April 17, 2014 – Court Support for Joe Grumbine (Long Beach)

Take Action

  • National: Support HR 689 and HR 710
  • Join Americans for Safe Access (ASA)

ASA Website Spotlight

  • ASA Live

ASA CA Chapter Spotlight

  • San Francisco ASA

ASA Chapter & Affiliate Meetings

  • Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - San Francisco ASA (San Francisco)
  • Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - East Bay ASA (Oakland)
  • Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - Lake County ASA (Clearlake Oaks)
Apr 082014

Maryland is almost the 21st Medical Cannabis State - Americans for Safe Access

Maryland House Delegate Cheryl GlennThe Maryland House of Delegates voted 125-11 yesterday to adopt HB 881, a medical marijuana bill that improves upon the law that was adopted by the state last year. If signed by Governor Martin O'Malley, HB 881 will protect patients with severe pain, nausea, wasting syndrome, seizures, and severe muscle spasms from arrest and prosecution. Qualified patients will be able to obtain their medicine from licensed medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTC), which will rely on licensed growers for their supply. Patients will be required to get approval from physicians who are approved by the state and must obtain an identification card before they will be eligible to access an MMTC.

"We're excited to welcome Maryland as the 21st medical marijuana state," said Mike Liszewski, Policy Director with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), who testified before House and Senate committees. "This bill is a vast improvement over the current law in Maryland and will provide patients with needed protection from arrest and prosecution, and give them a means to safely and legally obtain medical marijuana."

Apr 072014

ASA California Roundup: April 7, 2014 - Americans for Safe Access

Contents:

Message from the CA Director - Californians in DC

California News

  • Supreme Court Approves Returning Medical Marijuana to California Patient Stopped in Arizona (National)
  • AAN endorses cannabis for MS (National)
  • More Pot, Safer Roads: Marijuana Legalization Could Bring Unexpected Benefits (National)
  • Rural County Representatives of California Report Medical Marijuana Bills to Develop Statewide Regulatory Scheme on the Legislature’s Agenda (California)
  • Long Beach’s Measure A would set tax on medical marijuana (Long Beach)
  • More than 450 medical pot shops file to renew taxes in Los Angeles (Los Angeles)
  • Group using cannabis oil to treat children’s seizures told to shut down by L.A. City Attorney (Los Angeles)
  • Stockton man heads to prison for supplying medical marijuana (Stockton)
  • 400 marijuana plants seized from underground garden in Hilmar (Merced County)
  • Council pledges to ban outdoor marijuana grows (Martinez)
  • State Medical Board issues settlement, disciplinary order for Upper Lake doctor; probation, courses ordered (Lake County)
  • Judge upholds Bakersfield's marijuana dispensary ban (Bakersfield)

Events

  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - CA Senate Human Services Committee Hearing on SB 1029 (Sacramento)
  • Thursday, April 10, 2014 – Book Signing with Peter Hecht, Author of Weed Land (Sacramento)
  • Monday, April 14, 2014 – Court Support for Ronnie Chang (San Diego)
  • Thursday, April 17, 2014 – Court Support for Joe Grumbine (Long Beach)
  • Monday, April 21, 2014 – CA Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee Hearing on SB 1262 (Sacramento)
  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014 – Medical Cannabis Forum with District Attorney Candidates (Sonoma)

Take Action

  • Support HR 689 and HR 710
  • Join Americans for Safe Access (ASA)

ASA Website Spotlight

  • ASA Monthly Activist Newsletters

ASA CA Chapter Spotlight

  • San Diego ASA - 2013 Chapter of the Year

ASA Chapter & Affiliate Meetings

  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 – Nevada County ASA (Grass Valley)
  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 – San Diego ASA (San Diego)
  • Thursday, April 10, 2014 - San Diego ASA (Imperial Beach)
  • Thursday, April 10, 2014 - Yuba County ASA (Foothills)
Apr 062014

ASA’s DC Conference is underway! - Americans for Safe Access

Photo: Jim Tozzi, former OMB and regulatory expert, is the first speaker at the ASA conf @safeaccess #unity14 #mmot #mmjASA’s National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference is underway at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in the heart of Washington, DC. More than two hundred and fifty patients, scientists, industry workers, and other stakeholders will meet for a second day today, before taking their message to the halls of Congress tomorrow afternoon.

The opening speaker yesterday morning acknowledged that the standing-room only crowd might be surprised to see someone like him at a conference like this. Jim Tozzi, PhD., who holds a Doctorate degree in Economics and Business Administration from the University of Florida, is a national expert in the politics and practice of government regulation. Dr. Tozzi is an influential player in Washington, DC. He worked for five consecutive Presidential Administrations, including service as the senior regulatory policy official at the White House Office of Budget and Management; and was appointed to the Administrative Conference of the United States, the administrative agency responsible for overseeing the federal regulatory process.

Dr. Tozzi is also the author of the Data Quality Act, a law that requires government regulation to be based on good science. ASA sued the Department of Health and Human Services using the Data Quality Act in 2004. Although that lawsuit was ultimately unsuccessful, it marked an important milestone in our efforts to influence the administrative agencies in hopes of harmonizing federal policies with the laws of the states that already permit medical cannabis use. It was also the beginning of an important association between Dr. Tozzi and ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. Steph regards this unlikely ally as a mentor, and when a reporter asked Dr. Tozzi in 2004 what he thought of Steph’s work, he replied “She is doing God’s work.”

Mar 312014

ASA California Roundup: March 31, 2014 - Americans for Safe Access

Contents:

Message from the CA Director - Maral v. Live Oak – Local Politics Matter

California News

  • Crime Reduces at Steeper Rate in States Allowing Medical Marijuana, Study Says (National)
  • Medical marijuana eases some MS symptoms, neurologists report (National)
  • California Supreme Court upholds ruling on local medical marijuana cultivation bans (California)
  • Police Lobby Wants to Gut Medical Pot in California (California)
  • Leland Yee corruption case: State senator faces uphill fight against strong FBI evidence(California)
  • On marijuana legalization in California and Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s remarks (Califonia)
  • Petition drive seeks to overturn Watsonville medical marijuana ban (Watsonville)
  • Shasta County expecting busy marijuana grow season as number of illegal farms explodes (Redding)
  • City to ban pot growth; Council requests ordinance draft before next meeting; mayor says public welcome to comment on it (Colusa)
  • Measure A Gives Long Beach Voters Option To Tax Medpot (Long Beach)
  • Fresno County imposes marijuana growing fines (Fresno County)
  • Fresno man pleads guilty in marijuana growing operation near Newman (Stanislaus County)
  • The 102 Los Angeles medical marijuana dispensaries closed since Proposition D (map) (Los Angeles)

Events

  • April 5-7, 2014 - The 2nd Annual National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference (Washington, DC)
  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014 – Medical Cannabis Forum with District Attorney Candidates (Sonoma)

Take Action

  • Oppose AB 2500 – Don’t turn patients into criminals!
  • Join Americans for Safe Access (ASA)

ASA Website Spotlight

  • Limiting Law Enforcement Encounters

ASA Merchandise

  • ASA Cloud Vaporizer Pen
  • ASA Condition-Specific Booklets for Kindle

ASA Chapter & Affiliate Meetings

  • Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - San Francisco ASA (San Francisco)
  • Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - Yuba County ASA (Valley)
  • Thursday, April 3, 2014 - Sonoma ASA (Santa Rosa)