Blog Voices from the Frontlines

Jul 212014

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

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Contents:

  • Message from the CA Director: Take your seat at the table
  • State & Local News: News From Communities All Over California
  • Public Meetings & Events: Live Google Hangout, State of the State Conference, & more
  • Court Support: Redding & Sacramento
  • Take Action Now: Register for the CA Citizen Lobby Day & More
  • ASA Website Spotlight: Return of Property
  • Chapter & Affiliate Meetings: Nevada County

We are expecting two hundred patients and other advocates in Sacramento on Monday, August 4, to talk to lawmakers about medical cannabis bills that will affect our community for years to come. Will you be there to take your seat at the table two weeks from today?

Register today for the CA Citizen Lobby Day in Sacramento on Monday, August 4.

I will make an appointment for you to meet with your California Assembly Member and Senator when you register. Do it today. Time is running out to make the appointments. ASA is requesting a $25 donation from participants to help defer the cost of the event, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. Lobby day participants will be advocating for important amendments to current bills and laying the groundwork for patients’ rights legislation in 2015.

Jul 162014

Breaking News: ASA Members Score Two More Victories in Congress! - Americans for Safe Access

MMJ_Business_House_Victory.jpgMembers of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) scored two more victories for medical cannabis patients and providers in Congress today. The US House just approved a last-minute amendment to next year’s spending bill that will further prevent federal interference with cannabis and medical cannabis businesses in states where they are legal. And in a related vote, the House defeated a sneaky amendment that would have blocked progress on allowing legal cannabis and medical cannabis organizations from having bank accounts.

ASA is working hard to end federal interference and intimidation in medical cannabis states and to finally change federal law. These two victories come on the heels of an historic vote in May to cut off federal funding for medical cannabis enforcement. Taken together, these votes signal a sea change in Washington, DC. 

Can you help us push our advantage in Congress right now? Make a generous one-time contribution to ASA or an affordable monthly donation to support our work today! 

Jul 152014

Missouri adopts the latest medical marijuana law...sort of

Governor Jay Nixon signed a medical cannabis (marijuana) law yesterday, making Missouri the latest state to adopt such a law. Unfortunately, Missouri, like 10 other states over the past few months, has passed a law that benefits a narrow segment of patients and failed to establish a safe and legal means by which they can obtain their medicine.

In an effort to evaluate the vastly different medical marijuana laws across the country, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) just issued "Medical Marijuana Access in the U.S.," a report that evaluates the array of existing laws. Missouri, along with Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin, received F-grades for failing to meet the needs of patients.

Jul 142014

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

Contents:

  • Message from the CA Director: Your Voice Matters
  • State & Local News: News From Communities All Over California
  • Public Meetings & Events: Santa Ana City Council, State of Marijuana Conference & More
  • Court Support: No listings this week
  • Take Action Now: Register for the CA Citizen Lobby Day & More
  • ASA Website Spotlight: Work With ASA
  • Chapter & Affiliate Meetings: San Francisco, East Bay, & Lake County

  

Do you think it doesn’t matter if you speak up about medical cannabis to your lawmakers and their staff? Think again. According to a survey of congressional staffers published in 2011 by the Congressional Management Foundation, Members Congress are more likely to be swayed by concerned citizens who visit, write or call their offices than by the efforts of paid lobbyists.  

This news isn’t earth shattering, but the survey provides some valuable insight about how crucial the work of grassroots advocacy is to manifest change and about which tactics work best.  For instance, nearly the entire sample of respondents, 97 percent, agreed that personal visits from constituents had “some” or “a lot” of influence on an undecided Member --- more than any other influence group or strategy.

In fact, visits from constituent representatives, like lobbyists, came in second.   And, a close examination of the survey reveals that even personalized letters, e-mails, phone calls and telephone town hall comments were more likely to change a member's mind than a lobbyist's efforts. The study also explored the type of advocacy that staffers believe is most effective. Turns out that content matters more than medium.  Specifically, staffers indicated that hand-written or personalized notes — even when they are fewer in number — have a bigger impact than form letters and emails.

The point is your lawmakers want to hear from you!  You will see action alerts every week in this email. You will also see events like the CA Citizen Lobby Day on Monday, August 4, in Sacramento. Speak up and make a difference. Research shows it matters when you do.

Register for the CA Citizen Lobby Day today. ASA is requesting a $25 donation, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Jul 092014

Big news about the CA Citizen Lobby Day on August 4 - Americans for Safe Access

I haMember Tom Ammianove some exciting news to share with you about ASA’s CA Citizen Lobby Day on Monday, August 4, in Sacramento, and I want to hear from you about legislation that will affect medical cannabis patients and others for years to come. Will you join me for a live Google Hangout online at 7:00 PM tonight? A Google Hangout is a free interactive event you can join from your computer or mobile device.

What:  Medical Cannabis in California – A Live Google Hangout

When:  7:00 PM (PDT) * Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Where:  Log on to https://plus.google.com/u/0/events/csadjb5qgj0qd3csdb2dq9r89uc

We have a lot to talk about! I am happy to report that two California lawmakers will be joining more than 200 ASA members and allies in Sacramento for what promises to be our biggest and most important medical cannabis lobby day yet. Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) will be our special guest speaker on Monday morning, and Assembly Member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) will be our guest of honor at a reception that evening. This will be a great chance to hear directly from the co-authors of SB 1262, a regulatory bill for doctors and commercial medical cannabis activity in California.

Jul 082014

San Diego Sheriff’s Cheerfully Release Truckload of Medical Cannabis Evidence to SocalPURE Cooperative - Americans for Safe Access

10513357_10202567439093259_2521339380212645425_n.jpgSan Diego, CA - Many years from now, if I ever have the occasion to single out my most telling turning point in the undoing of medical marijuana prohibition in my town, it might be today.  Not because an important memo was released or some great local legislation is one notch nearer to becoming law, but because today San Diego’s NBC News watched the Sheriff’s office return, what their deputies themselves say is 40 pounds of cannabis flower, boxes of vape pen cartridges and grams of concentrated cannabis. The medicine was returned, due to lack of evidence, to SocalPURE, Inc and several of its patient members waited with trailers at the San Diego County Sheriff's Regional Crime Laboratory in the Clairemont area on San Diego to pick it up. 

It was a tense half hour while Laura Sharp and her son Nelson, the two charged in the raid of SocalPURE, a non profit mutual benefit corporation, disappeared behind an overhead door and inventoried the cooperative’s belongings with the sheriff deputies.  The NBC cameraman had been instructed not to film inside the facility and the reporter, Artie Ojeda was skeptical that the sheriffs would even release the medicine. He waited with us anyway. 

As I sat there, my back to a concrete wall, waiting for the two recently-freed defendants to emerge with the first load of property, I recalled the Felix Kha case Americans for Safe Access fought and won against the City of Garden Grove in 2005. The City lost the fight to return Kha’s cannabis property and then was required to pay Kha’s attorney fees at the end of a legal fracas that lasted years and cost the city millions. 

Jul 082014

ASA Issues Medical Cannabis State Report Card in Hopes of Improving Programs for Patients

SOS_Cover.jpgWith Monday's signing of New York's medical cannabis law, there are now 23 states with comprehensive medical cannabis access programs for patient's living in those states, but the rights of legally recognized medical cannabis patients and their ability to access medicine is varies greatly from state-to-state. In an effort to improve each of how each of these laws facilitate medical benefit across the country, ASA developed a grading scale for evaluating the laws and regulations applying to medical cannabis in each state.

In a report released Monday, entitled Medical Marijuana Access in the U.S.: A Patient-Focused Analysis of the Patchwork of State Laws, ASA has graded each of the laws and regulations of each of the 23 medical cannabis state, as well as for each of the 11 CBD-only laws passed this year. The grading is broken down into four categories: Patient Rights & Civil Protection from Discrimination; Access to Medicine (Cannabis and/or Cannabis Products); Ease of Navigation; and Functionality (Effectiveness of current program). Each category looks at several components of the laws and regulations to generate a 100-point score. State's received a letter grade based on their average score. 

Jul 072014

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

Contents:

  • Message from the CA Director: Your CA representatives may be in town
  • State & Local News: News From Communities All Over California
  • Public Meetings & Events: Live Google Hangout & More
  • Court Support: No listings this week
  • Take Action Now: Register for the CA Citizen Lobby Day & More
  • ASA Website Spotlight: Resources for Medical Professionals & Researchers
  • Chapter & Affiliate Meetings: Nevada County, San Diego, Sacramento, & Yuba County

  

REMINDER – Don’t miss a Live Google Hangout on Wednesday, July 9, at 7:00 PM (PDT). We will be discussing current state legislation and ASA’s proposed Medical Marijuana Organ Transplant Act of 2015. These will be important topics at the CA Citizen lobby Day in Sacramento on August 4. Log on to https://plus.google.com/u/0/events/csadjb5qgj0qd3csdb2dq9r89uc a 7:00 PM on Wednesday to join the conversation.

Your California Assembly Member and Senator may be in your home town right now. The state legislature has adjourned for their summer recess, and many lawmakers are back in their home districts for the rest of the month. Why not use this time to make an appointment to see them? State representatives have one or more offices in the district they represent. One is probably close to where you live. You can call the district office and make an appointment to talk to your representatives or their staff today. Locate your representatives and find their district offices here.

District office visits are important, because they show lawmakers that voters who elected Assembly Members and Senators care about medical cannabis. You can talk to your representatives about pending legislation, the need to protect patients’ from discrimination, or barriers to local access to medical cannabis. You can even download one of ASA’s reports to share with lawmakers or staff.

Do not be intimidated about asking for an appointment. It is a normal part of the Democratic process, and elected officials and staff take meetings with people like you all the time. Just remember your ABCD’s – Be Accurate, Be Brief, Be Courteous, and Do Follow Up. Brush up on your citizen advocacy skills using ASA’s free online Medical Cannabis Advocate's Training Center, and you will be lobbying you elected officials like a pro.

Jul 012014

This Holiday Help us Send a Message to Congress - Americans for Safe Access

shutterstock_130720814-525x275.jpgFreedom. Americans dedicate an entire day to celebrating it, yet our country is home to the world’s largest population of prisoners. Several of these men and women are serving time for medical marijuana, even though they were following state law allowing their activities.

In a recent New York Times article entitled Lock ‘Em Up Nation: Mandatory Sentencing for Medical Marijuana, Timothy Egan writes, “if Larry Harvey, at the age of 70, with his gout and high blood pressure and bum knee, gets the mandatory 10-year term, he’s likely to die in prison, certainly not the last casualty of the assault on our citizens known as the War on Drugs. For him, freedom is just another word his congresswoman likes to throw around on the Fourth of July.”

Like so many others before him, Larry Harvey is staring down the barrel of a federal prosecution for growing less than 70 plants on his 34-acre property, along with four other authorized patients. U.S. Attorney’s have also indicted Larry’s wife, his son and daughter in law, and a family friend. Together, they are known as the “Kettle Falls Five.” If trial proceeds on July 28, defense attorneys will not be allowed to argue the cannabis was being grown for medical purposes. Just the opposite, a federal judge recently granted a continuance to allow prosecutors to alter video evidence in order to edit out doctors’ recommendations and a large sign with a green cross, so as not to “confuse the jury.”

Jun 302014

ASA California Weekly Roundup: June 30, 2014 - Americans for Safe Access

Contents:

  • Message from the CA Director: State Regulations Moving Forward
  • California & National News
  • Public Meetings & Events
  • Court Support
  • Take Action Now
  • ASA Website Spotlight: ASA Condition-based Booklets
  • ASA Chapter & Affiliate Meetings

  

Assembly Member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) has joined as a principal co-author to Senator Lou Correa’s (D-Santa Ana) SB 1262. That bill will better regulate doctors who recommend medical cannabis and commercial medical cannabis activity in California. The bill has been substantially amended since it passed the California Senate by a vote of 31-0 in May.  ASA and other advocates have managed to get most of the objectionable provisions in early drafts removed, and the bill now includes large portions on Assembly Member Ammiano’s AB 1894. Assembly Member Ammiano is our biggest champion in the legislature, but AB 1894 was defeated in the Assembly earlier this year.

I know many of you were surprised to see ASA supporting a bill originally authored by a moderate Democrat from Orange County and sponsored by lobbyists representing cities and law enforcement. Those are not our traditional allies, but early on, ASA recognized the value of a compromise bill that might finally get through the legislature and be signed by the Governor. That is why we decided to get behind SB 1262 and make it the best bill possible. That strategy is working.