Blog Voices from the Frontlines
Diverse Group of Organizations Join Epilepsy Foundation & ASA to Urge DEA to Reschedule Cannabis - Americans for Safe Access
On April 28th, the Epilepsy Foundation sent a group letter signed by patient organizations, including Americans for Safe Access, to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) asking them to remove the federal barriers to cannabis research, and to remove it from its current schedule one status. The letter was initiated in response to the DEA’s announcement that it would make a determination, based on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recommendation, on the scheduling of cannabis in the first half of 2016.
This announcement was made in a letter from the DEA, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), sent to the Senate. In the letter was the statement, “The DEA has received the HHS scientific and medical evaluations, as well as a scheduling recommendation, and is currently reviewing these documents and all other relevant data to make a scheduling determination in accordance with the CSA.”
The letter from the three agencies was in response to a 2015 letter they received from seven US Senators, including two of the original sponsors of the CARERS Act, Senators Cory Booker, and Kirsten Gillibrand.
A new partnership has emerged between Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, a global legal powerhouse based in San Francisco and Americans for Safe Access. Orrick will now be contributing, pro bono, its services to our Patients’ Rights Project, thanks to the work of ASA’s Board Member Bianca Green.
For more than 14 years, ASA’s Patients’ Rights Project has supported patients navigating the legal system, and it has helped tens of thousands of patients in areas such as employment discrimination, access to health care, housing, and parental rights. This new partnership will enable us to expand and improve our services, which are particularly important to low-income patients.
With access to legal medical cannabis expanding nationwide, more and more patients will find themselves in need of legal support as they try to navigate these complex laws and regulations. Every law is unique and patients often find it challenging to understand the specifics of the laws, which leaves them vulnerable to arrest, prosecution, and incarceration.
ASA’s California Weekly Roundup is your way to stay on top of medical cannabis news, events, action alerts, court support, and more.
There are only 29 days left until the California Citizen Lobby Day in Sacramento. Get registered today!
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Take a look at ASA's special anniversary Activist Newsletter.
In it you'll find out about the latest on what happened at the big UN drug policy meetings, the new law in Pennsylvania and important Senate action on medical cannabis, not to mention the 2016 Unity Conference, modifications to three state laws, and ASA's 14th anniversary.
Read it all online or download a PDF of this newsletter to print and share
In honor of ASA's birthday this week, you can take advantage of a special half-price registration offer for Unity 2017!
I am in New York this week to take part at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) where leaders from all over the world are joining together to discuss global drug policies, including what to do about medical Cannabis. This historic meeting will produce important ramifications for national and international medical Cannabis policy.
I am here with members of the International Medical Cannabis Patients Coalition (IMCPC), and we are meeting with UN officials in order to help in the effort of making UNGASS 2016 the starting point for the change in the scheduling status of Cannabis.
On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee will vote again on the Mikulski Amendment to the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriations bill. The amendment protects medical cannabis programs and patients. We ask you to take action and write your senators on the committee to vote YES on the Mikulski medical cannabis amendment.
The CJS Appropriations bill funds the Department of Justice, including federal prosecutors and the DEA. The Mikulski Amendment is the Senate version of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which prohibits the Department of Justice (DOJ) from interfering with people abiding by their state medical cannabis laws. Last year, the committee approved the amendment by a vote of 21-9 but it needs to be passed yearly.
It’s time to get registered for the biggest medical cannabis lobby day in California! ASA will host our 5th annual California Citizen Lobby Day in Sacramento on Monday, May 23. This is your chance to join 300 other patients and advocates to talk face-to-face with lawmakers and regulators about medical cannabis in California.
We are excited to announce some very special guest speakers from the new Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation this year. Chief Lori Ajax and Senior Policy Advisor An-Chi Tsou will be at our morning briefing to talk about the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) and what comes next for commercial medical cannabis regulation in the state.
The California Campaign for Safe Access (CCSA) is Americans for Safe Access’ oldest and largest state campaign. This California Weekly Roundup is your way to stay on top of medical cannabis news, events, action alerts, court support, and more.
Last week ASA…
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On Sunday afternoon, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed SB 3, making Pennsylvania the 24th medical cannabis state in the country. And with 17 other states offering legal protections for low-THC medical cannabis, there are now 300 million Americans living where their state law is at odds with federal law. The addition of PA as a medical cannabis state will no doubt help the federal picture, but for Pennsylvanian patients who need access to this medicine, the focus now shifts to implementation of the program.
ASA has observed that it typically takes a state anywhere between 18 and 36 months to get their medical cannabis program up and running once their law goes into effect. The challenge for advocates and state officials will be to make sure the program is implemented as swiftly as possible, but without cutting corners or rushing overly-cautious regulations that may harm patient access.
There are essentially three phases that a new medical cannabis state goes through when implementing a new program, (1) drafting regulations; (2) licensing cultivators, processors, labs, and dispensaries; (3) and registering patients and caregivers. To accomplish the first stage, ASA recommends that Pennsylvania looks to the American Herbal Products Association's guidelines for cannabis regulators. States such as Maryland, Nevada, and many others have used these guidelines to draft excellent regulations that ensure product safety. ASA plans to be actively involved with the process to help generate the most patient-focused set of regulations possible.
On Wednesday, the East Bay Express reported that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has dropped its appeal against Lynette Shaw in the federal civil action against her which forced the closure of her dispensary, the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana (MAMM). In dropping it's appeal, the DOJ accepts the October 2015 ruling by Judge Charles Breyer that Congress had forbidden the DOJ with interfering MAMM and Shaw unless it could show a violation of state law. Shaw has said that she intends to reopen her dispensary, restoring the access to patients that was cut of by federal interference.
By dropping the appeal, the DOJ has essentially conceded that there was no violation of state law, but also that it recognizes that the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment (aka the Mikulski Amendment) has practical value. When the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment was first signed into law in 2014, it was widely misconstrued by people on both sides of the federal issue. Some were saying the amendment was the end of federal marijuana prohibition, while many in the movement bizarrely sided with the DOJ interpretation that it was symbolic but meaningless.