California Campaign for Safe Access
The California Campaign for Safe Access is ASA's oldest state campaign. There are more legal patients, providers, and recommending physicians in California than any other state. Hundreds of thousands of patients have safe, reliable, and dignified access to medicine in the state, but significant challenges remain.
The mission of the California Campaign for Safe Access is:
- To monitor, implement, and improve medical cannabis law in California; and
- To protect and expand patients’ rights, using education, litigation, legislation, grassroots advocacy and direct support.
Growing our capacity and turning the tide are the two primary themes of Americans for Safe Access’ (ASA) California Campaign for Safe Access in 2013 and 2014. We are going to need a grassroots and “grasstops” base with more sophisticated skills and better strategy to win local and statewide battles and that means more training, more direct advocacy, and more coordination with coalition allies. This is important if we want to be effective in supporting beneficial legislation, stopping proposals that are bad for patients, and laying the groundwork for progress in years to come – including a statewide initiative campaign in 2014.
The California Supreme Court decision in City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center presents a new challenge in California. Over 200 cities and counties already ban storefronts maintained by patients’ associations. The decision affirming the local authority to ban patients’ associations is already prompting more aggressive enforcement, and is likely to lead to new local bans. This trend will limit or eliminate access to medicine for many patients. It will also further complicate efforts to adopt statewide legislation regulating medical cannabis activity.
A memo published in August 2013 by Deputy Attorney General James Cole indicates that, as long as states that have passed cannabis laws "implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems," the DOJ will continue to rely on state and local authorities to "address marijuana activity through enforcement of their own narcotics laws" and will limit its efforts to "certain enforcement priorities that are particularly important to the federal government." That sounds promising, but California must adopt statewide regulations if we hope to make that policy a reality here.
In addition to local bans and federal interference, patients in California face pervasive discrimination in employment, housing, parental rights, and access to health care (including organ transplants and pain medication). ASA has been the standard bearer for legislation for patients' rights since 2008, and we will continue to make protecting and expanding patients' rights a priority in 2014. We plan to sponsor new legislation in 2014.
Two big obstacles to overcome, whether to passing bills or achieving other goals, are stigma and bias. Strategic messaging and spokesperson training for advocates are part of the solution, but this year’s campaign will also include new training initiatives and a novel media campaign designed to break down barriers and ambivalence around medical cannabis. ASA will also be promoting new industry guidelines published by our allies at the Americans Herbal Products Association and working to expand our response to federal interference and intimidation in the state. Turning the tide of public opinion will be a key factor in creating the media message and political space for local and state progress.
In This Section
Detailed outline of CA Campaign for Safe Access 2013-2014
Find out about medical cannabis bills in the state legilslature this year.
The CA Medical Medical Marijuana Organ Transplant Act will prevent a patient from being denied life-saving access to an organ transplant based solely on their status as a legal medical cannabis patient.
The Principles of Sensible Medical Cannabis Regulation are a blue print for patient-center regulations for California.
This sample legislation reflects the principles ASA and our allies want to see in an effective regulatory bill.
Complete the CA Patient Survey to help ASA understand to impact of state and federal law enforcement activity and better communicate with elected officials.
The California legislature adjourned on Friday, September 13, without adopting statewide regulations for commercial medical cannabis activity. An eleventh-hour push to adopt Assembly Member Tom Ammiano’s AB 604 ran out of time in the face of tough opposition from lobbyists representing the League of Cities and law enforcement. That is too bad for patients and providers in the state, who along with Attorney General Kamala Harris and others, have been asking for clarity on the state’s seventeen-year-old medical cannabis law. They will have to wait at least one more year.