Congress Blocks Veterans Equal Access Amendment Despite House & Senate Approval - Americans for Safe Access
Washington, D.C. - On Thursday, news broke that the Veterans Equal Access Amendment had been stripped from the House Conference Report of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA) and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017. The provision was removed from the conference version of the bill, despite passing in the Senate Appropriations Committee 20-9, and on the House floor 233-189. The removal of an amendment to an appropriations bill that has been approved in both chambers is unprecedented and defies explanation.
“Blocking this amendment at the conference committee stage is an assault on democracy and those Americans who risked their lives and health to defend it,” said Michael Liszewski, Government Affairs Director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA). “It’s shocking that House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers would allow a veterans health care provision that won by wide margins in a Senate committee and on the House floor to be stripped from the bill behind closed doors.”
The amendment would forbid the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from punishing its physicians who discuss the benefits of or recommend medical cannabis (marijuana) in accordance with state law. Currently, VA doctors can be punished by the Administration for recommending medical cannabis under state law, and veterans who rely on the VA for their health care are denied access to state-regulated medical cannabis programs. The amendment would not require VA doctors to fill out recommendation forms or allow anyone to possess medical cannabis on federal property, it simply would open up a path to access state programs for America’s military veterans.
Medical Cannabis Advocates and CARERS Act Sponsors Hold Senate Briefing Urging Immediate Protection for Patients - Americans for Safe Access
Washington, D.C. - Today, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) presented a briefing on the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act (S. 683/H.R. 1538) with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. The briefing featured policy experts and medical cannabis (marijuana) stakeholders who would be protected by the bill. Lead CARERS Act sponsor Senator Cory Booker spoke on behalf of the bill as well. The group urged Congress to take swift action to protect existing medical cannabis programs and the patients that rely upon them by passing the CARERS Act, a bill that is currently awaiting a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“Even though some form of medical marijuana is already legal in 42 states, federal law still makes it a crime to use this form of medicine, even in states where it is legal,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This is clearly a case of antiquated ideology getting in the way of scientific progress. I will continue to urge all of my colleagues in the Senate to support the CARERS Act, so we can help our families have access to the medicine they need without fear of arrest.”
“The recent discussion about lifting the federal barriers to medical cannabis research is an encouraging signal, but we must remember that there are millions of patients in the U.S. who need medical cannabis today,” said Steph Sherer, executive director of ASA. “Patients should not suffer while waiting for the fruit of this research, which may take years or even decades to accomplish.”
Medical Marijuana Research Act Removes Barriers for Research but Doesn’t Protect State Programs and Patients - Americans for Safe Access
Washington, DC - Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is encouraged by the introduction of the bicameral and bipartisan medical cannabis (marijuana) research bill, the Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2016. The original sponsors in the House; Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Sam Farr (D-CA), Andy Harris (R-MD), and Morgan Griffith (R-VA), and in the Senate; Brian Schatz, (D-HI), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chris Coons, (D-DE), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) are to be commended for their sincere efforts to remove federal barriers to medical cannabis research.
ASA is supportive of the objectives of the bill and agrees that it would do much to help facilitate clinical trials and medical cannabis research in the United States by decreasing the current barriers and increasing access to researchers. However, because the bill does not include protections from federal interference for the existing state medical cannabis programs and the more than 2 million Americans who rely upon them for their physician-recommended therapy, ASA can not endorse the bill at this time.
Iowans Kick Off Statewide Campaign Targeting Senator Grassley on Medical Cannabis Vote Patient-Advocates Across the State go Door-to-Door to Drive Support - Americans for Safe Access
Urbandale, IOWA - Today, patients, caregivers, and advocates held a press conference to kick off a signature drive for a petition addressed to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) asking him to give the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act (S.683) a vote in the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
Introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rand Paul (R-KY), the bipartisan CARERS Act is the most comprehensive piece of medical cannabis (marijuana) legislation introduced in Congressional history. The bill, which has been gaining momentum in the Senate with Judiciary Committee members Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Al Franken (D-MN) recently signing on as co-sponsors, has been stalled in the Committee since its introduction in 2015, with Chairman Grassley refusing to bring the bill up for a vote.
Iowa State Representative John Forbes hosted the event stating, "Iowans and people around the nation are urging Senator Grassley to allow a vote to come before the Judiciary Committee to give them and their loved ones access to cannabis medication that could have a positive impact on their quality of life. It’s time for Senator Grassley to allow this bill to move through the legislative process."
Patient Advocacy Group Partners with Internationally-Recognized Accreditation Body - Americans for Safe Access
Washington, DC – Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) are excited to announce a collaboration to develop a cannabis specific laboratory accreditation program based upon the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025 and ASA’ s Patient Focused Certification (PFC) Program. This joint accreditation program will be recognized by the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) by virtue of A2LA’ s status as an ILAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) signatory for the accreditation of laboratories to ISO/IEC 17025. This accreditation program will offer the highest level of recognition and provide the most value to the laboratory and users of the products tested.
Washington DC - Late on Wednesday night, the Ohio Legislature passed a medical cannabis (marijuana) bill, HB 523, which would create a system of retail distribution in the state. The bill passed by a vote of 18-15 in the Senate, followed shortly by a 67-28 vote in the House.
Governor John Kasich (R) is expected to the sign the bill, which will make Ohio the 26th medical cannabis state and the 42nd state with either a medical cannabis or cannabidiol (CBD) law. This means that there are now more than 310 million Americans living in a state whose medical cannabis laws are out of alignment with the federal government.
Under the bill, patients would be able to purchase medical cannabis from dispensaries regulated by the Ohio Department of Commerce. There are currently 22 qualifying conditions under the bill, including chronic pain and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and new conditions can be added by the state medical board. Once signed by the governor, the department will be able to begin the regulatory and licensing process.
U.S. House of Representatives Approves Amendment to Create Access for Veterans to Medical Cannabis - Americans for Safe Access
Washington DC - Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve the Veterans Equal Access Amendment (VEAA) to the FY2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilConVA) Appropriations bill, which sets the budget for the Veterans Administration (VA). The amendment, which creates a path to medical cannabis therapy for veterans receiving their healthcare through the VA, was approved by a vote of 233-189 with 57 Republicans and 176 Democrats. The amendment was sponsored again by Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) with bipartisan co-sponsorship from Representatives Farr (D-CA), Gallego (D-AZ), Heck (R-NV), Lee (D-CA), Polis (D-CO), Reed (R-NY), Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Titus (D-CA).
Sacramento, CA – Hundreds of patients, advocates, care providers, industry workers, and other stakeholders from around the State are convening in Sacramento on Monday to meet with their elected officials and urge them to protect patients' rights, defeat taxation measures, and support beneficial changes to the new Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA).
Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the nation’s largest medical cannabis patients’ advocacy organization, is hosting its fifth annual legislative briefing and California Citizen Lobby Day to ensure that patients' voices are at the forefront as state policymakers debate several medical cannabis bills before the state legislature:
SB 987 (McGuire) - Adds a 15% excise tax on all medical cannabis sales in CA.
SB 1116 (McGuire) - Authorizes cities and counties to impose additional taxes patients who grow and use their own medicine.
AB 2740 (Low) - Makes it a crime to drive with any amount of cannabis detectable in your blood, even if you are not impaired.
AB 1575 (Bonta) - Adds new license types and makes other beneficial changes to the new Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act.
- And more
State Department Confirms Breaking Up NIDA Monopoly Does Not Violate UN Treaty
(Washington, D.C.) - The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement at the State Department has gone on record stating that the United States could issue multiple licenses for the cultivation of cannabis for medical and scientific purposes without violating the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs treaty. The statement came in response to a direct request from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) regarding whether issuing multiple licenses to grow medical marijuana was a violation of the Single Convention. The State Department’s interpretation is at odds with that of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) which has always maintained that the treaty only allows a single license, which is granted to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). This has created what is referred to as the “NIDA monopoly on cannabis,” which has stalled medical cannabis research for years.
National Medical Cannabis Advocacy Group Partners with Leading Global Law Firm - Americans for Safe Access
(New York) - Orrick, a leading global law firm, is partnering with Americans for Safe Access’ Patients’ Rights Project to provide pro bono support to medical cannabis patients, many if not most of whom are low-income, to navigate the often confusing legal landscape of medical cannabis laws. Forty-one states, DC, Puerto Rico, and Guam all have some type of medical cannabis law today. Each law is unique and presents varying challenges for patients trying to obtain treatment in these often complex programs. Once laws are passed, medical cannabis patients and providers are often unclear about the specifics of the laws, which leaves them vulnerable to arrest, prosecution, and incarceration. Furthermore, implementation of these programs has often required litigation. The services provided by this partnership will help fill a growing void for this type of resource.