Blog Voices from the Frontlines

May 262015

A Memorial Day Surprise for Veterans - Americans for Safe Access

salute.jpgThe US Senate Committee on Appropriations voted to add the Veterans Equal Access Amendment (VEAA) to the 2016 budget for the Veterans Administration (VA). This landmark amendment would end the current gag order that prevents VA doctors from recommending or even discussing medical cannabis with veterans in states where it is legal.

There is now real chance that federal law will change and veterans who depend on the VA for health care will finally be able to discuss medical cannabis with their doctors and use it to treat serious conditions like chronic pain, PTSD, phantom limb syndrome, traumatic brain injury, and more.

Make a special donation to Americans for Safe Access, the nation’s leading medical cannabis patients’ advocacy organization, so that we can keep fighting for veterans and others who need safe and legal access to medical cannabis.

May 252015

California Weekly Roundup: May 25, 2015 - Americans for Safe Access

Google Hangout Banner

Voters legalized medical cannabis in California when they approved the Compassionate Use Act (Proposition 215) in 1996.  That was a milestone for patients, but only the beginning of a long campaign to fully implement medical cannabis laws at he local and state level. ASA is bringing hundreds of patients and advocates to Sacramento June 14-15 for our annual California Citizen Lobby Day to keep pushing that campaign forward.

So what dies implementation look like at the local and state level? What do more than a dozen pending bills touching medical cannabis really do? How does an anticipated vote on legalization affect medical cannabis law? And how can you best participate in implementation?

I am hosting a live Google Hangout from the Sacramento ASA chapter meeting this Thursday, May 28. The broadcast is entitled “Legislating Compassion: Passing and Implementing Good Medical Cannabis Laws.” Join us in person in Sacramento at 6:00 PM or online from anywhere at 7:00 PM to be part of the conversation. Scroll down to the events section for all the details.

May 222015

PA Senate Passes Medical Cannabis Bill - Americans for Safe Access

Sen. Mike FolmerLast week, the Pennsylvania Senate passed SB 3, a legislative proposal that would create a functional medical cannabis program in the state. Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) and Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) co-sponsored the legislation and built up bipartisan support that lead to the bill’s passage by a margin of 40-7. 

“The support of so many in the Senate and the many, many advocates has been overwhelming and I cannot thank everyone enough,” said Folmer.  “I believe in its present form Senate Bill 3 represents a balance between the advocates who want greater access to medical cannabis and those who continue to have concerns.  Hopefully we have established a solid foundation for consideration and deliberation in the House.”

May 212015

Senate Committee Votes To Lift VA Gag Order On Medical Cannabis - Americans for Safe Access

US Senator CochranIn a landslide vote, the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations voted to the add the Veterans Equal Access Amendment (VEAA) to the FY2016 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilConVA) Appropriations bill, which sets the budget for the Veterans Administration (VA). The VEAA would end the current  gag order preventing VA physicians from recommending or even discussing medical cannabis to veterans in states where medical cannabis programs exist. The bi-partisan amendment was introduced by Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and succeeded by a vote margin of 18-12.

The victorious vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee is nothing short of historic for medical marijuana patients. Although states have been implementing their own medical marijuana programs since 1996, the Senate has never officially weighed in on the subject. Now the Senate Appropriation Committee has done so by affirming that the gag order on V.A. physicians should be lifted. 

May 182015

California Weekly Roundup: May 18, 2015 - Americans for Safe Access

CA Citizen Lobby Day

ASA believes that good public policy is created when those who are most affected by laws and regulations have a seat at the table. That is why it is so important that California lawmakers hear your voice this year – before they vote on more than a dozen medical cannabis bills. Do you have something to say about patients’ rights, licensing and regulating commercial medical cannabis activity, environmental standards for cultivation, penalties for manufacturing concentrates, and more? If so, you need to be at the California Citizen Lobby Day June 15-15 in Sacramento.

ASA is bringing 300 patients, doctors, researchers, industry workers, and other stakeholders to the Capitol to talk with lawmakers and staff from every legislative district in the state. But before we do, we are going to have a special insider’s legislative briefing about the most important bills for participants. You will get expert fact sheets on legislation and information about your lawmakers, including their priorities and major campaign donors. This year, the fact sheets will have a place for you to add your own comments and suggestions about pending legislation.

What happens in the state legislature this year is going to affect medical cannabis for years to come. It will also determine the political landscape for an anticipated vote on legalizing adult use of cannabis in 2016. Don’t miss your chance to be a par of it. Register for the California Citizen Lobby Day today!

Scroll down for all the medical cannabis news, events, action alerts, court support, and chapter meetings. 

May 152015

Progress Comes To Our Nation’s Capital (Thanks To Activists Like You) - Americans for Safe Access

PA_Ave.jpgIn the fight for safe access to medical cannabis local and state-level action is always an essential step for progress. With so much of our success as a movement coming from state laws, an amazing 37 total state laws now allow for some type of legal medical cannabis use, it’s easy to forget about our nation’s capital.

This week offered some important reminders that victories are happening at the national level too. In fact as much progress as happens in the states, it’s absolutely essential that we work to ensure that the federal government doesn’t undermine state medical cannabis programs.

May 112015

California Weekly Roundup: May 11, 2015 - Americans for Safe Access

CA Capitol from the Rose GardenThe California Citizen Lobby Day is just one month away. Get registered now so that we have time to schedule an appointment for you with your state Assembly Member and Senator on Monday, June 15. We are requesting a $25 donation to help defer the costs of the event, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

This year’s lobby day is actually two days. We will have two workshops on Sunday, June 14, designed to support local advocacy. ASA Director of Patient Focused Certification Kristin Nevadal will be talking about challenges and solutions for regulating medical cannabis cultivation. Advocates can use this expert information to help stem the tide of city and county cultivation bans. I will also be presenting a workshop on using voter initiatives to adopt medical cannabis ordinances or repeal bans.

The workshops are from 1:00 to 5:00 PM on Sunday. You need to buy tickets in advance, because workshop space is limited to 100 people. Tickets are $15 for one workshop of $25 for both. Register, see the full schedule, and get all the event details online at

Scroll down for all the medical cannabis news, events, action alerts, court support, and chapter meetings. 

May 072015

ASA Activist Newsletter - May 2015

For recent developments affecting medical cannabis patients and advocates, check out ASA's latest Activist Newsletter.

In this month's issue, you'll learn what happened in Congress with the vote on equal access for veterans and a new bill to respect state medical cannabis laws, as well as the resignation of the DEA head and what you can do to help replace her with someone who respects medical science and state law.

On the state front, new developments in New York, Washington State, Pennsylvania, and California are affecting patients, and you can see what a group of moms in Pennsylvania did to inspire legislation and earn recognition as ASA's action group of the year.  Read all about it now.

May 062015

The Good, The Bad and The TBD Of Medical Cannabis Legal Decisions - Americans for Safe Access

Seal_of_the_United_States_Supreme_Court.pngThe medical cannabis movement has seen no shortage of pivotal court cases over the years. From Robert Randall’s landmark victory winning the right to use medical cannabis to Ed Rosenthal’s controversial conviction for cultivation that five members of the jury recanted when given information about Rosenthal’s role as a medical grower for the city of Oakland that had been suppressed during the trial the courts have played a key role advancing and sometimes blocking progress on the issue.

While we hope that with Congress and President Obama taking important steps to protect medical cannabis patients we’ll see fewer of the types of court cases that have caused so much senseless pain, there is little doubt the courts will continue to be worth watching in the coming years. Here’s some recent important court cases you might have missed.

May 052015

Congress votes to Deny Safe Access to Veterans - Americans for Safe Access

iStock_000041560408_Small-750x420.jpgI am a disabled veteran and survivor. My wife, children, and I live with PTSD every day. I have a tough time in crowds and must follow a routine. The antidepressants prescribed to me have caused more depression and suicidal thoughts. I became addicted to the anti-anxiety pills. I tried to kill myself with pills twice. The second time, I decided to get rid of all of those pills and self-medicate with marijuana illegally. Since that decision in 2011, I have also advocated with veterans and medical marijuana patients for access to a botanical remedy that is better for many than pills. That advocacy work carried me to Washington, D.C. this past week to lobby as a veteran with Americans for Safe Access, Drug Policy Alliance, and Marijuana Policy Project. We worked hard for two days, visiting approximately a couple of dozen offices of key legislators. Below are the actions of Congress following my trip.

Last week, Congress debated the Veterans Equal Access Amendment to the MILCON-VA Appropriations Bill. This amendment would have rescinded VA Directive 2011-004 which has placed a gag order upon Veterans Health Administration health providers and was offered by Congressman Blumenauer (D, OR-3) which had bipartisan support.

Rep. Charles Dent (R, PA) rose in opposition claiming this directive does not violate our rights, allowing us the freedom to participate with an outside provider in a state medical marijuana program. He also went on to say that this could be construed as an endorsement for medical marijuana.