Blog Voices from the Frontlines
Medical cannabis community must join together and resist any action taken against us - Americans for Safe Access
By Steph Sherer for The Hill
Yesterday, I awoke to the news that I have been fearing since Jeff Session was nominated as Attorney General, his Department of Justice is rescinding the non-interference cannabis policies from the Obama Administration, the 2013 Cole Memorandum. As I was trying to respond to the flood of texts and emails, I had to fight off flashbacks from events that plagued the first 13 years of my work at Americans for Safe Access.
Between 1996 and 2014, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) conducted 528 paramilitary-style raids (270 occurring during the Obama administration), filed civil asset forfeiture actions against property owners, and used bullying tactics to dissuade state elected officials from adopting or implementing medical cannabis laws. For each of these actions, dozens of lives were ruined and thousands of patients lost their access to medical cannabis. This was at a time when only twelve states had medical cannabis access programs.
By Jen Christensen for CNN
By Kyle Midura for KTUU 2
Advocates for medical marijuana patients and providers - like Steph Sherer with Americans for Safe Access - describe the protection as "a ceasefire." She said she hopes Sessions' move leads Congress to permanently offer the medical marijuana community protection, rather than renewing it every year.
By Kellie Meyer for GrayDC
“Many providers of cannabis products grow for both medical and recreational so it would be very difficult to for the DOJ to crack down without affecting patients," - Beth Collins
Trump administration targets recreational pot, placing thousands of marijuana businesses in California at risk - Americans for Safe Access
By Evan Halper, Joseph Tanfani and Patrick McGreevy for the Los Angeles Times
Sarah Armstrong, director of industry affairs for Americans for Safe Access, which advocates for legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research, said the Justice Department announcement was “really very upsetting and scary for patients who don't know, when they walk in the door, if there's going to be a raid.”
Even a crackdown solely on recreational marijuana could jeopardize medical users, Armstrong said, because many dispensaries will be serving both patients and other customers.
Sessions’ Actions Against Cole Memo Triggers Call to Action from Medical Cannabis Advocates - Americans for Safe Access
Still Protected by the CJS Amendment, Patients Prepare for A Return to Pre-Cole World
Washington D.C. — As first reported by the Associated Press, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is planning on rescinding the 2013 memo created by then Deputy Attorney General James Cole. The Cole Memorandum highlighted eight priorities when it came to the federal enforcement of medical and recreational cannabis laws including preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors and preventing diversion.
A recission of the Cole Memorandum, which deprioritized prosecution of marijuana-related cases allows U.S. Attorneys to use discretion in the cases they prosecute. Sessions, an ardent critic of all forms of marijuana has repeatedly called on Congress to not extend the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Budget Amendment that provides protections to medical cannabis providers and individuals complying with state law by blocking Department of Justice funds.
“The Attorney General’s decision to rescind the Cole Memo shows his true intentions on cannabis ” said Steph Sherer, Executive Director for Americans for Safe Access.“While the Cole Memo was not perfect, it created a workable framework for states to regulate cannabis. States work within the Cole Memo, not against it. However, it is important to remember that this memo is not what provides protection to patients and providers. They are protected by the CJS Medical Marijuana amendment and it is more important than ever for Congress to renew these protections in the FY2018 Budget.”
In the December 2017 Issue:
- Veterans Administration Loosens Cannabis Policy
- Federal Protections for Patients Extended to Jan. 19
- ASA Releases State Policy Blueprint for Medical Cannabis
- WHO Initial Report Says CBD Needs No Restrictions
- PFC Trainings and Talks Span the U.S. in December
- Activist Profile: Amy Catterton, North Carolina
- ACTION ALERT: Save Federal Patient Protections!
By Danny Reed for mg Magazine
“This change in policy is a victory for veterans because it encourages open and honest conversations between V.A. doctors and veterans about cannabis use. The men and women who put their lives on the line for our country deserve the best care and a wide variety of treatments, including medical cannabis to help them recover from the injuries of war. With veterans suffering from PTSD, chronic pain, and a variety of other ailments, cannabis cannot be left out of the discussion as a safe and effective treatment." -Steph Sherer
Washington D.C. — On December 8, 2017, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) quietly updated their policy in regards to VA doctors having discussions with veterans about medical cannabis, and clarified VA policy regarding access to Veterans Health Administration (VHA) clinical programs for veterans participating in state approved medical cannabis programs. VHA Directive 2017-1315 replaces an existing directive issued by the VA in 2011 (VHA 2011-004). The 2011 directive technically expired in 2016, but as no new policy had been put in place, VHA 2011-004 remained department policy until the new directive was issued. Most significantly, the new directive emphasizes “[v]eterans must not be denied VHA services solely because they are participating in state-approved marijuana programs.”
In a 1755 letter to the Pennsylvania General Assembly Ben Franklin wrote “those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." However, while its original context, which related to tax policy, may not apply, the words lend themselves to a conversation that lawmakers should be having. How should our country address liberty, but also safety, when it comes to firearms and cannabis?