Blog Voices from the Frontlines

Apr 302015

Washington State Update: Moving Forward to Guarantee Safe Access for Patients - Americans for Safe Access

Last Friday, Governor Inslee signed, and partially vetoed, Senate Bill 5052, titled the “Cannabis Patient Protection Act.” Americans for Safe Access and our members worked the legislative process every step of the way. It was a hard slog, and we didn’t get everything we wanted (not even the bill we wanted). 

I am committed to ensuring a system that serves patients well and makes medicine available in a safe and accessible manner, just like we would do for any medicine.” – Governor Jay Inslee, April 27, 2015

That said, due to your activism the final result was much better for patients than many expected. We now have the opportunity to build a medical cannabis system in Washington shaped by stakeholders, including medical experts, patients, and industry leaders dedicated to patient health.

Apr 302015

Register for the California Citizen Lobby Day today - Americans for Safe Access

CA Assembly Member Marc LevineI am happy to report that the California Assembly just adopted AB 258, the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act by a vote of 52 to 8!

This ASA-sponsored legislation will reduce unnecessary suffering and preventable death by ending pervasive discrimination against medical cannabis patients in the organ transplant process. Thank you to all of the ASA members and friends who signed petitions, sent emails, and visited offices to get the bill through the Assembly. The bill goes next to the Senate for a committee and floor vote, so keep up the good work.

California Assembly Member Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) introduced AB 258 after two ASA members visited his office last year as part of our annual medical cannabis lobby day in the state legislature. The bill’s introduction is a clear example of direct grassroots action making a real difference in the political process - and in the lives of patients.

It is time to bring that effective grassroots power back to the state Capitol. Registration for ASA’s California Citizen Lobby Day, June 14-15, in Sacramento is now open. Please sign up today for the biggest and most important citizen lobby day yet.

Apr 272015

California Weekly Roundup: April 27, 2015 - Americans for Safe Access

CA Citizen Lobby Day

Registration for the California Citizen Lobby Day, June 14-15, in Sacramento will begin this week. This two-day event will be the biggest and most important lobby day yet. We will have workshops on local regulations and voter initiatives, special legislative briefings, citizen lobbyist training, and much more. Be sure to respond to the registration announcement when it arrives via email. ASA will make an appointment for you with your state representatives or staff on Monday, June 15. 

There is a time-sensitive action alert for California patients and advocates this week. Please send an email to your state Assembly Member to support AB 258, the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act. The Assembly could vote on that bill to end discrimination against medical cannabis patients in the organ transplant process at any minute.

Thanks for helping! Read all the medical cannabis news from around the state, learn about upcoming events, and more in the California Weekly Roundup for Monday, April 27, 2015.

Apr 272015

Congress to Vote on Veterans Equal Access Amendment for State Medical Marijuana Programs - Americans for Safe Access

This week, perhaps as early as Wednesday, the U.S. House of Represenatives will be voting on the FY2016 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, which sets the budget for the Veterans Administration (V.A.). Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Tom Reed (R-NY), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) are planning to re-introduce the Veterans Equal Access Amendment, which would allow veterans to be able to obtain medical marijuana recommendations from their V.A. physician. Although the amendment failed in 2014, it received 195 YES votes, which at the time was the most any piece of medical marijuana legislation had received in the House.

Last week, an attempt was made in the full Appropriations Committee to add the Amendment to the bill in committee. However, Committee Chair Hal Rogers and others quickly rallied a sharp party line vote (see bottom for vote recap). While this spelled defeat for the Amendment in committee, it does not mean that the Amendment is doomed. To ensure it's success on the House floor, ASA is launching an action alert for members to call and write their House Representatives urging them to Vote YES on the Amendment. 

Under V.H.A. Directive 2011-004, V.A. physicians are explicitly forbidden from being able to fill out recommendation forms for state medical marijuana programs. This means that veterans who are dependent on the V.A. for their health care are denied equal access to state medical marijuana programs.  The VEAA would forbid the V.A. from using any funds to punish physicians who write state-legal medical marijuana recommendations. In doing so, the VEAA would allow veterans to have safe and legal access to medical marijuana in states that allow its therapeutic use under the recommendation of a physician. Veterans with PTSD and chronic pain who rely on the V.A. for their healthcare are not being afforded the same access to state medical marijuana programs as their non-veteran fellow residents. With 22 veterans or more committing suicide each day and an estimated 25 million veterans living with chronic pain, it is unfair to deny them a physician-recommended treatment option that those who did not serve have greater access to.

Here are what veterans are saying about the Veterans Equal Accecss Amendment:

Apr 242015

Take Action Washington: Make sure the 502 fix bill is also a fix for patients! - Americans for Safe Access

Action_Alert.jpgWe just learned that as early as this morning, the Washington State Senate will be voting on House Bill 2136. The bill’s purpose is to fix issues plaguing the implementation of Initiative 502.

While we were able to create a separate licensing structure for medical cannabis businesses in 5052, HB 2136 would only exempt patients who sign up for the registry from sales tax, still burdening patients with a 37% excise tax. 

Apr 232015

You Say You Want A Medical Marijuana Revolution - Americans for Safe Access

YouTube_Thumbnail.jpgIn the wake of the third installment of CNN’s Weed documentary series Dr. Sanjay Gupta is upping the ante suggesting it’s time for a “medical marijuana revolution.” Dr. Gupta sees signs of revolution everywhere and isn’t equivocating about what he wants saying, “We should legalize medical marijuana. We should do it nationally. And, we should do it now.”

We couldn’t agree more. However, since there are so many subjects that can’t be fit into one hour of television it’s worth asking what would a medical marijuana revolution really look like? What would get in the way? On April 20th ASA hosted a Google Hangout to discuss Weed 3 and a three key themes emerged:

Apr 202015

ASA California Weekly Roundup: April 20, 2015 - Americans for Safe Access

President ObamaWhen asked if he supported the CARERS Act, in an interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta last night, President Obama said “I think carefully prescribed medical use of marijuana may in fact be appropriate and we should follow the science as opposed to ideology on this issue…” The President was talking about groundbreaking bipartisan legislation that would end federal interference in medical cannabis in California and other medical cannabis states. His comments are another sign of how far we have come. Read more about the President’s interview, an important case in federal court, bills in the state legislature, and local developments around medical cannabis in the California Weekly Roundup for Monday, April 20, 2015.

You can hear more about what the President’s comments do and don’t mean in a Live Google Hangout tonight. The program will feature ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer,  PA State Senator Mike Folmer, medical cannabis researcher Jahan Marcu Ph.D, U.S. combat veteran and activist with Grow for Vets Matt Kahl, and Weed 3 participant Dr. Sue Sisley. Join the interactive event live from your computer or mobile device tonight at 7:00 PM ET/4:00 PM PT at http://www.safeaccessnow.org/asa_live

Be sure to read ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer’s blog about our 13th birthday!
http://www.safeaccessnow.org/how_are_you_celebrating_today

And finally, don’t forget to email you California Assembly Member in support of AB 258. A vote on the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act in the State Assembly could come at any moment this week.
http://www.safeaccessnow.org/ca_assembly_support_ab_258_and_save_lives

Apr 192015

How are you celebrating today? - Americans for Safe Access

Birthday cakeToday is the 13th anniversary of the founding of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), which has become the nation’s largest and most influential patient advocacy group. ASA wants to say a very special thank you to the members, donors, and volunteers who have helped us accomplish so much! 

Can you help us celebrate by renewing your membership or making a special donation today?

We’re getting a big birthday present today. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who has brought stories of everyday Americans that obtain essential benefits from medical cannabis products into the living rooms of millions of Americans, is broadcasting Weed 3 on CNN tonight 9:00 PM ET/6:00 PM PT. We expect this broadcast to have a big effect on the national dialog about medical cannabis. You can talk with an all-star line of medical cannabis experts about the program and its significance on a Live Google Hangout tomorrow, April 20th, at 7:00 PM ET/4:00 PM PT.

Apr 192015

Not Just Another Conference - Americans for Safe Access

Grassroots action can yield surprising results. Just one week after medical cannabis patients and advocates were on Capitol Hill talking to lawmakers, two congressmen sent the Department of Justice a letter telling them to cease prosecuting medical marijuana cases.

That letter from Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA) is another example of why we had honored them as 2015 recipients of Americans for Safe Access Excellence Awards on the last night of our third annual National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference.

Every year at our annual conference, ASA honors individuals and organizations who have made extraordinary contributions to advancing the cause of medical cannabis. As cosponsors of the budget amendment that forbids the DOJ from spending tax dollars interfering with state medical cannabis laws, they deserved our recognition as Elected Officials of the Year, along with Senator Barbara Mikulski, who shepherded the historic amendment through the conference committee.

Apr 172015

Keep Up The Pressure! It’s Working! - Americans for Safe Access

As many of you know, Senate Bill 5052 sailed through the Senate concurrence process with a vote of 41-8. With the legislation poised to hit Governor Inslee’s desk in a matter of hours and a five day window to make needed changes to the bill NOW is the time to make your voice heard!