Blog Voices from the Frontlines

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

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 - Americans for Safe Access

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


  • 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 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


  • 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.

Jun 252014

Hey, CA, let’s hang out tomorrow night - Americans for Safe Access

Let’s hang out and talk about medical cannabis in California tomorrow night. Join ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer and me for a live Google Hangout online at 7:00 PM. We will be talking about:

  • The outcome of a key vote on a medical cannabis licensing bill in the Assembly Public Safety Committee on Thursday afternoon – including a discussion of the latest amendments
  • A bill that allows patients and caregivers to receive reasonable compensation if their legal medical cannabis or plants are damaged or destroyed by the police
  • A proposed bill that will save patients’ lives by preventing discrimination against medical cannabis users in organ transplants
  • Local bans, referendums, and initiatives
  • The biggest and most important citizen lobby day yet on Monday, August 4, in Sacramento

The decisions lawmakers make this summer could affect you and your loved ones for years to come. You need to be a part of the conversation, so don’t miss this chance.

What:  Medical Cannabis in California - A Live Google Hangout with Steph Sherer & Don Duncan

When:  7:00 PM (PDT) * Thursday, June 26, 2014

Copy this URL into your web browser to join the conversation:

A Google Hangout is a live interactive event online, which you can join on your computer or mobile device. The event is free.

Don’t forget to register and make travel arrangements for the California Citizen Lobby Day in Sacramento on Monday, August 4, 2014. I will make an appointment for you to meet with your Assembly Member and Senator when you register.

See you tomorrow night!

Jun 242014

ACTION ALERT: Don't let Congress block the progress of the DC Medical Cannabis Program - Americans for Safe Access

Right now, some members of Congress are considering offering an amendment that could completely undermine safe access to medical marijuana in the District of Columbia. The assault on safe access is a double whammy against D.C. patients because they have no voice in Congress, and therefore need your help to contact your House Representatives.

Members of the House Appropriations Committee are looking to insert an amendment that would block the District government from carrying out D.C.’s Medical Marijuana Program. The measure is nearly identical to the “Barr Amendment” that blocked D.C. from implementing it’s medical marijuana ballot measure from 1998 to 2009.

Don’t let Congress turn back the clock on safe access to medical marijuana for D.C. patients! We need you to call your Representative on the House Appropriations Committee and urge them not to support the amendment with the following message:

Jun 242014

San Diego's Higher Love Cooperative Sentenced to Summary Probation for Manufacturing Medical Marijuana Concentrates - Americans for Safe Access

San Diego, CA – Three medical cannabis patient defendants were sentenced on felony manufacturing and possession charges after butane canisters and hash oil were discovered in their home - the friends were free to go yesterday when the judge sentenced them to summary probation and a couple weeks of volunteer service. 

The case began when one of the defendants, Jason Lujan, member of the Higher Love Cooperative delivery service was pulled over by a San Diego sheriff deputy for “intermittent brake light failure.”  During the encounter, deputy Nicklo noticed a hemp bracelet on Jason’s wrist and questioned him.  Based on facts that came out later, it is believed that surveillance, such as trailing and viewing electrical usage at Higher Love Cooperative, began from that questioning.  

A search warrant was issued on the three’s Poway home but the affidavit used to obtain it was incomplete with regard to probably cause which was attributed to a “concerned citizen’s report.”  During the preliminary examination hearing in December, 2013, defense attorney Nathan Shaman attempted to get the warrant overturned base on the questionable probable cause but Judge Louis Hanoian bound the defendants over for trial. 

Jun 232014

Oases on the horizon! - Americans for Safe Access


  • Message from the CA Director
  • California & National News
  • Public Meetings & Events
  • Court Support
  • Take Action Now
  • ASA Website Spotlight: Are You Facing State or Federal Charges?
  • ASA Chapter & Affiliate Meetings

Message from the CA Director

The California Supreme Court ruled last year that nothing in state law prevents cities and counties from banning medical cannabis patients’ collectives and cooperatives. More than 200 local jurisdictions do so already, and there are sure to be additional bans in the future. Patients living in access deserts, areas without practical legal access to medicine, are not likely to get relief from the state legislature in the near future. No state lawmaker has stepped up to challenge the authority of local government to ban, and a bill working its way through the state legislature this summer would further establish the right of cities and counties to regulate or ban patients’ associations.

That is a sobering reality for patients in the state’s access deserts, but there are some new oases on the horizon. Riverside County is notorious for its opposition to medical cannabis, but lawmakers in the tiny city of Blythe have just voted to repeal their moratorium on medical cannabis facilities and allow two or three to open. Another small city in Riverside County, Desert Hot Springs, will soon join neighboring Palm Springs in allowing legal access. And voters in Cathedral City and the City of Riverside will soon get to vote on whether or not to allow patients’ associations. The trend is not just limited to Riverside County. Voters in Santa Monica, San Jose, Butte County, and Nevada County are all running voter initiatives to create local access.

Some of the measures are motivated by a desire for revenue, and others are the result of years of work by local advocates. Despite these motives and efforts, we are probably going to have persistent access deserts in some rural and southern communities for years to come. However, the current legislative and initiative efforts are an indication of the possibility to make progress where a committed grassroots base has the skills and resources to mount an effective campaign.  ASA can help. We have free organizing tools, professional support for campaigners, and a free online training program for advocates  – including strategic planning, media, coalition building, and more.

We are going to talk more about local campaigns and how we can help at the California Citizen Lobby Day in Sacramento on Monday, August 4, and on a live Google Hangout this Thursday, June 26. A Google hangout is a free online event you can join from your computer of mobile device. Please join me for both.