Blog Voices from the Frontlines

Apr 242014

AZ Supreme Court gets it right - Americans for Safe Access

The Arizona Supreme Court overturned a law this week that made it a crime to drive with any detectable amount of an illegal drug in your blood, including medical cannabis. This is an important victory for patients in Arizona, and we hope, the beginning of a more rational national conversation about medical cannabis and driving while impaired. Patients are at risk when lawmakers ignore the science of medical cannabis use and criminalize those who are obeying state medical cannabis laws.

Regular medical cannabis users will almost always have metabolites for cannabis in their blood or urine. Metabolites are simple compounds that remain in the body after we digest and otherwise process food, drugs, or other substances. Cannabis use is usually detected in a blood or urine test by screening the sample for metabolites of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the active compounds in cannabis. These metabolites can remain in blood or urine for days to weeks depending on numerous factors. That means a regular medical cannabis user will test positive for metabolites long after he or she is potentially impaired to a degree that could affect driving.

Apr 242014

Court Support: Court hearing TODAY for two Medical Cannabis Patients in Santa Rosa - Americans for Safe Access

Court Support

What:   Court hearing for two Medical Cannabis Patients facing charges, 1358.5 Hearing for a Suppression Motion 

When:  Thursday April 24th at 8:30am

Where: 600 Administration Drive, Santa Rosa, Courtroom 3*

Who:    Defendants: Jimmy Chang & Joseph Smart Represented by: E. D. Lerman & J. David Nick

*The courthouse address is 600 Administration Drive in Santa Rosa. Please note that anyone entering the courthouse is subject to search similar to an airport, metal detector walk through & x-ray machine for purses. Do not bring your medicine, knives, pepper spray or any personal items that may be considered illegal. ID is not required.

Two patients were driving on Highway 101, when an officer pulled them over for questioning. This stop and talk, ultimately lead to charges for 55 pounds of medicine in the vehicle that was going to other qualified patients who were members of a participating collective.

Apr 232014

Medical Cannabis Forum with local D.A. candidates Shanahan & Ravitch in Santa Rosa - Americans for Safe Access

Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch and her challenger Deputy Prosecutor Victoria Shanahan, also from the Sonoma County DA's office will address the issues of medical cannabis in a public forum to be held Wednesday, April 23rd at the Sonoma County Library located downtown at 211 E Street (corner of 3rd Street) in Santa Rosa, CA. There will be a Meet and Greet beginning at 5:00pm with the forum starting at 5:30pm

Admission is free and the public is invited. 

The District Attorney plays a very important role in the county in determining how medical cannabis patients, caregivers, and collectives interact with the legal system. The DA holds the power to decide which cases go to court and which are dismissed. With so many cases currently pending, voters want to know where the candidates stand on these issues. The forum presents an opportunity to hear both candidates' positions on a number of relevant, local, medical cannabis issues. Moderating the debate will be Ernie Carpenter, former Sonoma County Supervisor. A question and answer period will follow the candidates' statements.

Apr 212014

Warning from Washington: Alcoholic Beverage Control Will Ruin Medical Marijuana in California

California legislators will vote Tuesday on a bill that would regulate the production and distribution of medical marijuana (cannabis) across the state. AB 1894, the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Control Act, was introduced by Assembly member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) and bring strict controls to how medical cannabis is grown, manufactured and sold in California. And, while patients should benefit from statewide regulations aimed at improving the quality and safety of their medicine, giving authority to the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC), as AB 1894 does, will spell disaster for the patient community in California and ignores the problems of its neighbor to the north, Washington State.

Proponents of Initiative 502, Washington State's legalization measure, promised medical cannabis patients in the lead up to the vote that their longstanding rights would not be impacted. Yet, soon after the initiative passed, the Washington State Liquor Control Board (LCB), an administrative agency that looks like California's ABC, recommended legislators do away with Washington's 16-year-old medical cannabis law and empower the LCB to oversee all marijuana activity. The prime motivation for this? The medical cannabis market represents a perceived threat to the state's expected tax revenues from I-502, which are in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

To many unaware public officials, the idea of rolling the medical cannabis market into the recreational marijuana market seemed to make sense. It's all marijuana after all, right? Wrong! The needs and rights of patients would be ignored under the authority of a liquor-based regulatory agency, and evidence of this can be seen in Washington.

Apr 212014

ASA California Roundup: April 21, 2014 - Americans for Safe Access

Contents:

Message from the CA Director - Is an ASA Chapter, Action Group, or Affiliate Right for Your Community?

California News

  • Support building to fix state medical pot system (California)
  • Local Government Groups Join in Effort to Establish Clear Regulations for Medical Marijuana (California)
  • Pot Smoke And Mirrors: Vaporizer Pens Hide Marijuana Use (California)
  • 420 College -Continuing Complications: Medical Marijuana vs. IRS (California)
  • Long Beach officials loosen restrictions on medical marijuana collectives in draft law (Long Beach)
  • Medical marijuana case dismissed against two men (Long Beach)
  • Pastors reach out on 4/20 (Los Angeles)
  • Medical Marijuana Distributor Sentenced To 22-Year Prison Term Wins 8-Year Reduction (Santa Ana)
  • Marijuana growers being driven from the Valley floor may be heading to Sierra foothills (Tulare County)
  • Martinez makes move to ban outdoor marijuana growing (Martinez)

Events

  • Monday, April 21, 2014 – CA Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee Hearing on SB 1262 (Sacramento)
  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 – Sacramento County Board of Supervisors (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)
  • Sunday, April 27, 2014 – Google Hangout for New & Potential ASA Chapters (Online)
  • Monday, April 28, 2014 – CA Senate Appropriations Committee Hearing on SB 1029 (Sacramento)
  • Tuesday, April 29, 2014 – CA Public Safety Committee Hearing on AB 2500 (Sacramento)
  • Monday, May 12, 2014 – Bloodganja: Medical Cannabis Movie & Panel (Santa Barbara)

Court Support

  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014 – Court Support for Shelby Lucero (Sacramento)

Take Action

  • Don’t Ban Indoor Cultivation in Sacramento County!
  • Oppose AB 2500 in California!
  • Join Americans for Safe Access (ASA)

ASA Website Spotlight

  • Work With ASA

ASA CA Chapter Spotlight

  • Sacramento ASA

ASA Chapter & Affiliate Meetings

  • Thursday, April 24, 2014 – Sacramento ASA (Sacramento)
  • Sunday, April 27, 2014 – Google Hangout for New Chapters (Online)
  • Sunday, April 27, 2014 - Nevada County ASA (North San Juan)
Apr 192014

Research gone awry - Americans for Safe Access

brain-2.jpgNBC’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.

The headlines laid out a sensational story: “Even casually smoking marijuana can change your brain,” the Washington Post billed it. “Casual marijuana use linked to brain changes,” said USA Today. Even the Society for Neuroscience couldn’t resist saying “Brain Changes Are Associated with Casual Marijuana Use.”

The only problem was the study said nothing of the sort, as one of its authors, Jodi Gilman, hastened to point out: "The conclusions were modest in the paper — we never say marijuana causes these changes. The media may have given that impression in headlines, but the study doesn't show causation."  That may look like a pretty good job of damage control, except that she slips in the word “changes,” just like all the headlines.

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.