Pages tagged "Colorado"

ASA’s DC Conference is underway!

Photo: Jim Tozzi, former OMB and regulatory expert, is the first speaker at the ASA conf @safeaccess #unity14 #mmot #mmjASA’s National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference is underway at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in the heart of Washington, DC. More than two hundred and fifty patients, scientists, industry workers, and other stakeholders will meet for a second day today, before taking their message to the halls of Congress tomorrow afternoon.

The opening speaker yesterday morning acknowledged that the standing-room only crowd might be surprised to see someone like him at a conference like this. Jim Tozzi, PhD., who holds a Doctorate degree in Economics and Business Administration from the University of Florida, is a national expert in the politics and practice of government regulation. Dr. Tozzi is an influential player in Washington, DC. He worked for five consecutive Presidential Administrations, including service as the senior regulatory policy official at the White House Office of Budget and Management; and was appointed to the Administrative Conference of the United States, the administrative agency responsible for overseeing the federal regulatory process.

Dr. Tozzi is also the author of the Data Quality Act, a law that requires government regulation to be based on good science. ASA sued the Department of Health and Human Services using the Data Quality Act in 2004. Although that lawsuit was ultimately unsuccessful, it marked an important milestone in our efforts to influence the administrative agencies in hopes of harmonizing federal policies with the laws of the states that already permit medical cannabis use. It was also the beginning of an important association between Dr. Tozzi and ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. Steph regards this unlikely ally as a mentor, and when a reporter asked Dr. Tozzi in 2004 what he thought of Steph’s work, he replied “She is doing God’s work.”

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Action Alert: Proposed Denver ordinance could make medicating at home illegal


A proposed Denver city ordinance on recreational marijuana use could put medical patients in a bad situation. 

"The ordinance, being introduced at a committee meeting Monday in advance of the legalization of retail pot sales in January, would specifically ban marijuana from parks and the 16th Street Mall. It also would prohibit smoking on private property if it is visible to the public, such as on a front porch or in a car, or if the odor of pot could be detected from a neighboring property.Read full article here
There will be a City Council hearing on Monday, October 14th on this proposed bill, so there is still a chance to let your voice be heard. Find more info on the hearing here.


Please take a few minutes and call or email your Denver City Council members and tell them not to support BR13-0736!

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Kal Penn of "Harold & Kumar" off-base for defending Obama attacks in medical marijuana states

Last week, Kal Penn, who plays Kumar in the “stoner” film franchise Harold & Kumar, spoke to Huffington Post Live about President Obama’s marijuana policies. During the April 26th interview, Penn defended recent Justice Department attacks on dispensaries in medical marijuana states like California, citing articles he read from a Google search.

Unfortunately, we cannot always rely on a pliant mainstream media -- that too often quotes Justice Department officials without any counterpoint -- to provide consistently factual information.

Take, for example, the rationale that forms the basis for the Obama Administration’s most sweeping closures of dispensaries in California, Colorado and Washington State: they’re within 1,000 feet of a school. Using threats of asset forfeiture and criminal prosecution, the Justice Department has succeeded in shuttering hundreds of dispensaries in the past couple of years.

However, if Penn had done his homework, he would have found out that in California, where well over 500 dispensaries have closed for fear of retaliation by federal drug enforcement officials, dispensaries are only required to be at least 600 feet from schools:

No medical marijuana cooperative, collective, dispensary, operator establishment, or provider who possesses, cultivates, or distributes medical marijuana pursuant to this article shall be located within a 600-foot radius of a school.

Also glossed over by Penn was the Obama Administration’s callous attitude about the impact of these dispensary closures. Each of the shuttered dispensaries provided medical marijuana to hundreds, often thousands of qualified patients who are now left with little option to find a medicine that’s legal under state law.

And, believe it or not, the dispensary operators and their landlords who are warned with letters of imminent legal action are the lucky ones. The dispensaries that are targeted with aggressive SWAT-style raids stand to lose much more. At minimum, those dispensary operators can expect seized bank accounts, computers, patient records, and other property.

However, if there are arrests, federal defendants can expect 5-10 years in prison. Over the past few months, several state-compliant dispensary operators and cultivators have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms, including California dispensary operator Aaron Sandusky (10 years), Michigan Cultivators Jeremy and Jerry Duval (5 years and 10 years, respectively), and John Marcinkewciz (5 years), as well as Montana cultivator Chris Williams (5 years). Another Montana cultivator, Richard Flor, died in federal custody last August while serving a 5-year sentence.

Indeed, Penn’s failure to understand the impact of the Obama Administration’s policies on medical marijuana is symptomatic of the lies being told to the American public and the impunity with which it’s being done. President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have both claimed that they are not targeting those in compliance with state law, but refuse to confront the evidence that belies such pronouncements.

It’s about time that the federal government admits that the devastating and costly effects of its enforcement policies in medical marijuana states are unnecessary and unproductive. All patients are asking for is a compassionate and even-handed policy that treats medical marijuana like a public health issue.

Medical Cannabis News in Review

Is Paul Ryan's statement similar to Obama's position on medical marijuana? Is there evidence that marijuana has accepted medical uses? Are there really more dispensaries than Starbucks in LA? Recent news about medical marijuana:

  • Paul Ryan’s position on medical pot: “up to Coloradans,” and “not a high priority” for a Romney/Ryan Administration. Associated Press in the San Jose Mercury News

  • What if Obama called a real marijuana user instead of actors? Huffington Post

  • From dispensary operator to illicit dealer. Is medical marijuana being driven underground? LA Times

  • Study shows marijuana use among teens in Colorado, a medical cannabis states, dropped even as it increased nationwide. Huffington Post

  • Far fewer dispensaries in Los Angeles than ban proponents claimed, UCLA study finds. UCLA Newsroom

  • Author Martin Lee presents slideshow of seminal moments in the post-ban history of cannabis - Huff Post Books

  • Summary of research in the Daily Beast finds strong evidence of cancer-fighting effects of cannabis. Daily Beast

  • Prescribing medical professionals launch sign-on letter disputing Federal position that cannabis has no medical value, in advance of the October 16th hearing. ASA

  • Southern California’s only Sheriff-permitted dispensary closed by US Attorney Laura Duffy. San Diego ASA

  • Senior learns to bust the myths around medical cannabis. HuffPost Post 50

Lee's HR 6335 Would End the Assault on Landlords in the War on Safe Access

There are many who suffer the "collateral damage" of the war on safe access to medical cannabis. Patients who must suffer or break the law to obtain medicine, as well as their loved ones and providers are some of the more well known victims in this federal assault. However, the overzealous actions of US Attorneys at the Department of Justice (DOJ) have brought to light another group suffering from our utterly nonsensical federal medical cannabis policy - the landlords who lease property to dispensaries.

On Thursday, Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced HR 6335 (text), the  the States’ Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act. The bill would stop the seizure of property from landlords of state law-compliant medical marijuana businesses, and was introduced less than a month after US Attorney Melinda Haag began forfeiture proceedings against the landlords of Harborside, the well-known dispensary who's Oakland location is in Lee's district.

Facing Peril Unforeseeable Based on Prior Federal Rhetoric

Landlords in states with medical cannabis laws have every reason to believe and expect that when a business presents them with a legitimate business license issued by the state and/or local municipality, that such a business is not breaking any laws merely for existing. In fact, based upon President Obama's instance that he was no longer going after medical cannabis patients and that we no longer have a "war" on drugs, it's perfectly understandable that the average person would not think twice about leasing such a property to medical cannabis dispensary.

Not only do these landlords have every right to expect that these businesses are OK to lease to, the cost to the landlord to get such a property ready to lease to another customer can be quite expensive. Furthermore, in a time when commercial property owners have a hard enough time finding any tenants, these landlords have made business decisions based on the presumed reliable income that dispensary-tenants provide. When you consider that each crime study regarding dispensary neighborhoods indicates that these facilities are assets rather than liabilities to the community, the wisdom of the DOJ forfeitures is questionable at best.

US Attorneys Running Roughshod Over Justice

Speaking of US Attorneys and "questionable" legal thoughts, check out US Attorney Melinda Haag's bizarre and unhinged rational for issuing forfeiture proceedings against Harborside. If sheer size and number of retail sales for things within the Controlled Substances Act was sufficient basis for forfeiture at Harborside, why isn't every CVS, Rite Aide and Walgreens of similar size to Harborside being raided as well. Based on their size, something illegal must be afoot! (Maybe US Attorny Duffy will take up that charge...)

Civil asset forfeiture is a rather extreme government tactic which some have noted treads dangerously close to offending at least four US Constitutional Amendments, the 4th, 5th, 8th, and 14th. It forces property owners to prove their innocence rather than have the government prove guilt. Property owners have no right to an attorney or a jury trial in these proceedings. Many have said civil forfeiture should be done away with all together, but if it is to exist, the government must be judicious in its application.

Lee's HR 6335 Would End this Tactic Against Safe Access

Americans for Safe Access thanks Congresswoman Lee and the cosponsors of HR 6335 for protecting the property rights of land owners who rent to state-approved and law abiding medical cannabis dispensaries. Contact your Representative today and urge them to cosponsor this much-needed safe access legislation.


Wake Up Obama: Cannabis Patients Vote!

This is a photo of me at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I had just heard one of the most politically motivating speeches of my life from a candidate for president. I was moved to tears, joyous, and inspired. This candidate not only filled me with hope about the future of our nation, but said he would not interfere with access to legal medical cannabis.

I was ecstatic to be shedding the dark days of the Bush Administration's war on medical cannabis patients. As a patient myself, I felt counted and part of the Change that would be coming to Washington, and I was proud to support and volunteer for Barack Obama's victorious campaign.

For his 2008 campaign, I donated money, I went to rallies to show support, I knocked on doors in VA,  and on election night I joined thousands in D.C. who descended on the White House to celebrate and sing "Na, Na, Na, Na, Good bye" to President Bush. I went to sleep that night excited about a new direction for this country that would include me as a recognized medical cannabis patient.

From the beginning, the new administration made supportive statements about medical cannabis, including that the President was "not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws." On October 19, 2009, we got the policy document we had been waiting for. Then-Deputy Attorney General David Ogden issued a memorandum, now know as the "Ogden Memo," instructing U.S. attorneys to limit marijuana enforcement to those operating out of compliance with state law.

With this legal guidance, the medical cannabis movement went to work to pass new state laws protecting patients and those who provided their medication. Advocates, community members, and officials spent thousands of hours drafting legislation and regulations in at least eleven states. But when legislators and other state and local officials came close to passing or implementing these laws, they received letters from U.S. attorneys, threatening federal arrest and prosecution.

Dismayed by this apparent reversal in the Obama Administration's policy, patients demanded the President rein in the US Attorneys. Instead we got the "Cole Memo," issued by Deputy Attorney General James Cole, laying out a new interpretation of the Obama Administration's policy. The memo gave the Justice Department free rein in medical cannabis states, to undermine state laws and coerce local lawmakers. The Cole Memo launched an unprecedented attack on the medical cannabis community unprecedented in its scope.

In fewer then fours years of President Obama, we have seen more raids on dispensaries than during the Bush Administration's entire eight-year tenure. The Obama Administration has taken property from landlords, threatened local officials, forced the release of patient records, used the Internal Revenue Service to bankrupt legitimate dispensaries, told banks to purge medical cannabis clients, evicted patients from low-income housing, and denied a petition to recognize the well-established medical value of cannabis.

Now as President Obama approaches the vote on his reelection, I and other medical cannabis patients are finding it impossible to renew our support. How can I vote for someone who has broken his promise? How can I vote for someone who can't see very real public health needs? How can I vote for someone who wages war on my fellow patients and me?

There are more than one million legal medical cannabis patients across the country and millions more waiting to become legal. We have friends and family in every state, and there are many of us in states that are key to the Obama reelection campaign: Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico.

I care a lot about this country and my fellow Americans, and I have always volunteered for candidates during election years. Now, instead of going to rallies or buying tickets to fundraisers, I will be protesting at campaign stops like the one today in downtown Oakland. Instead of working to elect a president, I'll be joining thousands of medical cannabis advocates at Camp Wakeupobama, a virtual summer camp during which we will press our case to the President.

President Obama, you can move medical cannabis policy forward and win this election - 74% of voters disagree with your attacks on state compassionate use laws.

Medical cannabis patients will be on the campaign trail, however you can still determine what our signs will say.

National News in Review

A week of national news about medical cannabis, in review. If you live in Northern California, be part of making the news by protesting Obama's crackdown on state-legal dispensaries when he visits Oakland on Monday.
  • Federal Judge Orders Defendant to Stop Taking Marinol - Toke of the Town
  • University of Saskatchewan researchers have discovered the chemical pathway that Cannabis sativa uses to create bioactive compounds called cannabinoids -
  • Obama’s Pot Problem -
  • Most Active Constitutional Cannabis Lawyer - East Bay Express
  • Truth In Trials Act, Medical Marijuana Protection Bill, Proposed By Bipartisan Group Of Lawmakers - The Huffington Post
  • One in eight with fibromyalgia uses cannabis as medicine - Reuters
  • Obama's Attorney Has Come Unhinged: Melinda Haag's Crusade Against Medical Pot Jeopardizes California's Safety - Steph Sherer in the Huffington Post

Medical Cannabis News Roundup

News about medical cannabis from around the nation - or, everything you missed if you were reading about the unjust federal action targeting Harborside Health Center.
  • Government-sponsored study destroys DEA’s classification of marijuana - The Raw Story
  • Visa and Mastercard Reject Medical Marijuana Purchases - Vibe
  • Oregon Kills Medical Marijuana deduction for food stamp applicants - The Oregonian
  • Does Medical Marijuana Increase Teen Pot Use? - Wall Street Journal
  • CO federal dispensary crackdown widens scope with subjectivities -
  • California pot research backs therapeutic claims - Sacramento Bee
  • Backers of Arkansas medical marijuana legalization need more signatures - The Republic
  • Owner Of First U.S. Marijuana Pharmacy Now Broke And Fighting IRS - Forbes

Democratic Party grassroots break with Obama on cannabis

In a sign that the Obama Administration’s tough line on state medical cannabis laws is out of touch with his grassroots support, local Democratic Party organizations are formally endorsing medical marijuana laws - and even legalization.

The North Carolina Democratic Party is formally in support of a compassionate use law in this key swing state. At the state’s June 16th convention, party officials adopted a resolution (PDF) titled, In Support of Legalizing Medical Marijuana in North Carolina. The state party also adopted a resolution in favor of industrial hemp growing.

In California, the Democratic Central Committees of San Francisco and Alameda Counties, whose combined population is over two million, passed resolutions condemning federal government raids on local dispensaries. In addition to these statements from Democratic organizations in favor of medical cannabis, the Texas, Colorado, and Washington State Democratic Parties have adopted marijuana decriminalization or legalization resolutions.

With the American electorate almost evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, President Obama needs the full support of Democratics to win reelection. Will grassroots opposition to the administration policy toward medical cannabis split the party? As national Democrats prepare to convene in September, we will watch for new developments.

Jonathan Bair is ASA's Social Media Coordinator, as well as an officer of his local Democratic Club.